“What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?” I think you can tell a lot about a person by how they answer that question. You’ve got the specific thing they do and then you’ve got the tone of voice. A person can be incredibly proud of the most awful thing or humiliated by the smallest thing.
Rather inevitably, my answer is pretty PG. I’m after all a rather quiet guy. I keep to a firm budget. I’m married. I have few vices now and never have had many at all. Even my taste for cider has far less to do with intoxication and far more to do with flavor. So yes, my craziest thing is a quiet one, but it was a wonderful moment.
It began with the discovery that the documentary Best Worst Movie would be playing 4 hours away in Springfield, MO. The doc, for the unaware, focus on Troll 2, one of my favorite b-movies. As someone who’s studied bad movies, I had to see it. But…well, I couldn’t go across state lines just to see a movie. It would be a giant waste of money. The idea stayed in my head though.
The day before I had a day off, I went to see Inception with my friend Lauren. (1) Lauren is one of the most impulsive people I know and I say that in the kindest way. I mentioned that yes, I was considering this idea. Lauren, being far from a voice of restraint (2), decided I should go. And she was right.
This is a perfect chance to pause to discuss rituals. I may or may not have done so in a full entry but yes, I’ve very diehard about my rituals. On vacations, I’m incredibly ritualistic. Usually
Normally when I plan a trip, I spend weeks prepping it. I plan out my entire schedule for every day. This time, I had mere hours. First things first: find a place to stay. I debated finding a hotel but opted instead to stay at my brother’s house about an hour and a half from Springfield. Arrangements were made for my yorkie. I shuffled the funds around, a fairly easy thing to do. I was set.
That morning, I headed down the highway with energy drinks at hand. My route took me up to Conway where I dropped off the pup and turned off the interstate to take the highway up. I made my way through the winding path up through Harrison on my way to Branson. Since I lacked time to find any trip audio, I used anything I could find in my car which worked. (3)
I paused briefly in Branson. I genuinely like Branson. I had a lovely visit in December 2001 when it was empty. I also ran up after an interview in 2007. (4) This noon it was absolutely swamped but not unmanageable. I stopped in at a surprisingly nice used bookstore on the strip. I also hit up an outlet mall but was decidedly nonplussed by it.
Then it was off to Springfield. I’d had a mixed reaction to the town to this point. No strictly comic stores. (5) This is something that I admit I consider heavily when deciding where to go on trips. But it was where the film was playing and so it was that I arrived in town at around two.
The film wasn’t playing until 9ish that night so I had 7 hours to kill. How was I to do it? Used bookstore shopping. I’ve always loved getting lost in a used bookstore, pillaging the shelves for undiscovered treasures. I visited a number of shops and found several good bookstores. Then I found an even more awesome store.
Eventually I will do a full entry on HFA and alcohol. For now I’ll pause to note that I do indeed drink on occasion. I like the taste quite a bit, having acquired it. I also concede a mild buzz has its benefits for some of the issues we face. I’m not prone to overindulgence on the substance but yes, I’m definitely not an opponent.
So it was that I found myself in an international wine and spirits shop. It was awe inspiring to me, the freedom to sample and try these new items from around the world. They even had Strongbow, my favorite brand which I couldn’t get in LR. (6) I purchased several new items and went on my way.
There was the inevitable pause for dinner. I have very mainstream tastes and I concede on this exciting night I went to Red Robin. Yeah, exciting I know. Dinner was solid as I kept my energy up. Honestly, this was the tone of the evening. It was mainstream but it was so satisfying to me!
I hit up a string of bookstores before I reached downtown. I pause here to discuss Downtown Springfield. In time I’ll hit up my other visits but I want to express my love for the district. Downtown Springfield is a beautiful place with a specific feel. It’s a grounded bohemian if that makes sense. I like the bars, the various shops, and as I would eventually find, the retrocade there. (7) Missouri is awesome overall. (8)
Then, we hit the climax of this story. I took a seat and watched the movie. I’ve reviewed it elsewhere but I can give a short review: it’s a superb film celebrating a very unique culture. It was a film that spoke to me and that’s really the joy of cinema. That we can be captured and reminded we’re not alone. I bought it once it hit DVD, still holds up.
The trip ended with a nice hour long drive to Huntsville where I crashed at one of my happy places, the house that was once my grandparents’ and now housed my brother. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day.
But why? As I lay out the details, the day doesn’t seem too exciting. Hell, another year and I would’ve just watched the film on VOD most likely. But the thing of it is days like that aren’t about the details. They’re about the music of the experience. The joy of going out and living. Maybe I didn’t fight a bear but I took a journey on a whim. I had a moment I’ll never forget. The craziest thing I’ve ever done? It’s simple, peaceful, and it made me happy. All it needed to be.
NOTE: I’ve been holding this one in my back pocket for several weeks as I tweaked it but as I’m finally ready to release it, the idea of a fun night in Missouri feels very different. While Springfield is a good 220 miles from Ferguson, the final polish of this was affected by the realization Missouri has a different connotation today.
(1) Lauren is identified by her actual name. Again, rule of in touch.
(2) Do NOT take this as an insult for my dear friend. I just mean that she encouraged me to have fun.
(3) This has happened since but I prefer it not.
(4) Teaser for The Gap Year. Coming within the next 6 months.
(5) No longer true to be clear. The last time I was in town I visited a lovely shop.
(6) No longer true either I’m pleased to say.
(7) Retrocades are trendy. I love it.
(8) Shoutout to my podcast partner who lives there.