Thursday, June 26, 2008

I awoke Friday morning . . .

. . . in the parking lot of Showtime Video. The smell of the gasoline that spilled in the trunk some months back had forced me to roll the windows down. With the fresh air, in came a wave of humidity that covered me in a sheen of syrupy sweat. It was nine AM. I'd arrived in Wolfeboro, NH through a maze of winding single-lane roadways that curved through forest and green hill. The 'empty' light was ablaze. I coasted down each hill with the A/C off, and the windows up - following every urban legend regarding the conservation of gas. The car sputtered onto Main Street. The storefronts and inns on the strip resembled any of a resort town. They each had some picture perfect quality, while seeming useless at the same time. The shops served no more purpose than their replicas for sale in any of the gift shops. At twothirty AM, mine was the only car for miles. At this point, I'd been driving for about nine hours. I awoke that morning somewhere just inside the PA border. I had been bound to reach Philadelphia before I slept. The idea was to eat a cheeseteak at Pat's in the southtown, catch a few hour sleep, then proceed North to wherever the road took me. As long as I made it to Wolfeboro, NH before five on this day, Friday.

A late start and too many stops compromised the timeline. My first exit came at South Bend, Indiana. My brother has always been a fan of the Fighting Irish. I wanted to call him from the grounds so his voice would be within earshot of the Touchdown Jesus. Also, Notre Dame holds something else great. It was inside Notre Dame stadium that Daniel Ruettiger - a wimpish fan - was allowed to suit up and record a sack against a Georgia Tech quarterback. The event would later be depicted in the movie Rudy . That popularity would allow Ruettiger to tour the country on a motivational speaking bill. In 2002, Rudy would give a lecture to students at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. My friends in attendance started a contest. The rules were simple: Be the last person clapping. this doesn't sound like too extraordinary a feat. But if you play it against others vying for the same title, the challenge emerges. Ten minutes into the lecture they were still clapping. They had played one another into a stalemate. Seeing no end in sight, they left. After hearing this story, I made it a point that mine will be the last clap heard.

South Bend resembles any down trodden town, anywhere. It's the same grime that covers a city like Great Bend, Kansas. The main street is only few fast food joints, and a Chinese buffet. The girls in the gas station glance coquettishly at any man that walks by. Maybe it's from want of something better to do. Or maybe it's hope for a way out. I placed my Cherry Coke Zero on the counter. "Pack of Marlboro Reds, too. Hard pack."

She corrected me, "They're cowboy killers."

I left East.

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