Chapter 6: Notes From The Road (MO to OK)

[Drive Through Oklahoma With Oneida]

“Pretty much every road I’ve been on has undergone serious construction and it really… it kind of, um…debilitates my driving when there is just one lane open on a two-or-three lane road. The very small number of cars on a given stretch will pile up quickly. It handicaps my ability to get places on time. I’m one-hundred miles outside of Joplin right now. Some of these structures might be hold overs from old dustbowl-era, Depression-era Missouri. Barns look rundown and generally decrepit, huge planks of wood are missing and roofs have collapsed. This is a part of America that development has forgotten. For all the press overpopulation gets…you wouldn’t know it existed if you just drove through this. There’s a beautiful field of sunflowers out the window to my left. Rows and rows of beautiful, tall sunflowers basking in the midday sun.”

[Bob Dylan – “I Want You” MP3]

“I’ve seen horses and I’ve seen cows, but in Bates County, Missouri I spied my first outdoor sheep. Fuck knows how many indoor sheep I’ve missed lo these first thousand-plus miles. Is it any surprise that nobody dares swim in the Bates County Ditch Drain? The Bates County Drain Ditch is not meant for swimming. That’s what the sign says. The Bates County Drain Ditch is for draining waste. At least I like to think it is…why else would they name it a drain ditch? By the way, you can only see so many exits for Ozarkland before you actually want to stop at one. I must admit, peppering the sides of highways for hundreds of miles with countless billboards really works.”

“This city of Carthage in Missouri boasts that they are the home of astronaut— I know the anticipation is killing you—astronaut…Dr. Janet Kevicki! I don’t know who she is, what the she did, where the she went, or how she got there — I mean she probably got there by spaceship but maybe she had a bitchin’ jetpack like the Rocketeer — but it’s quite likely she lived in Carthage. At some point.”

“116 miles until Tulsa. 116 miles of dead end, red clay highway; one-way through the plain states. Bright blue clouds. Big, fluffy, white clouds as far as the eye can see. In case you want to know what I listened to today …I listened to Blob…(laughs). I listened to Blob Dylan. Blob on Blob. (ringing sound) That’s a text message from Emma. I talked to her in Carthage and we’ve text-flirting for the last fifty miles or so. Blob Dylan, ladies and gentlemen. Blob Dylan. I listened to Bedhead’s “What Fun Life Was.” This has been such a beautiful drive. I listened to Blonde Redhead, and then Blob Dylan. There was a movie once, called “A League of Their Own” starring Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell. They were, like, the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers of their generation. One of the female characters, Dottie Henson, had a little sister named Kit who was traded from the Rockford Peaches to a women’s baseball team based in Racine, Wisconsin. I am just passing Racine, Missouri. I’m just sayin’… Anyway, this message has been brought to you by Ozarkland: gifts, t-shirts, jewelry, candy, fudge, bracelets and moccasins. Located off Interstate-71 in Missouri.”

“The last rest-stop in Missouri before you cross into Oklahoma is actually quite advanced as far as highway rest-stops go. It’s nice, it’s tiled, it’s clean, and when you zip up your pants after you piss, you step away and the toilet flushes itself. You don’t have to touch anything. Don’t look at me like that, I know full-well that this is common in public restrooms across the country. But check this out. Then—and I thought this was the coolest part—you walk over to the sink, which is also clean and shining like-new, and they have automatic sink starters. Cool. You’ve seen this before also, it’s nice. But then, when you’re done, they have the hand drier located right in front of the sink nozzle, and that starts automatically too! So it’s like, this incredible one-two punch, you can wash and dry your hands all without touching anything. This is fucking great, because I don’t like touching anything in a public bathroom. Even the start buttons on standard hand dryers. At this one rest stop on the border of Missouri and Oklahoma I can finally lake a leak, wash my hands, dry my hands, and never come in contact with a single button or lever. There are no paper towel levers to pump, no faucets, no soap dispensers, I can walk in and do everything with my hands in my pockets if I want…then, you turn around and you have to pull the fucking doorknob to leave the bathroom. So, in effect, this marvel of modern engineering pretty much defeats the purpose of everything else in the restroom. Some fucking genius conceptualized the greatest germ-free bathroom in the history of mankind and then forgot to make the door open outward. And to make matters worse the automated sink and dryer negate the need for paper towels so there’s nothing to grab the doorknob with. And the people who don’t like the automatic sink and hand drier—you know, the ones who don’t wash their hands after they piss or shit—they’re allowed to fucking ruin it for the rest of us. You should have seen my face as I moved from station to station, toilet to sink and hand dryer, you would have thought this highway reststop was my Disneyland. And then I saw the door and I wanted to cry. It’s a germaphobe’s worst nightmare. Missouri, you almost had the perfect public restroom and you blew it. You fucking blew it.”

“This is God’s country. That’s why billboards scream at you ‘Abortion stops a beating heart’ dot-dot-dot ‘Three Thousand Times a Day.’ Ladies and gentlemen, I am so far removed from any semblance of progressive thought it scares me.”

“Miami, Oklahoma is the birthplace of Mickey Mantle. I stopped to walk around for a few minutes. Today wasn’t my day at the Stables. I walked into the casino with twenty bucks thinking I could turn it into a fortune. So, I sat down to play some slots. Or, should I say, the slots, they played me. At one point I was up about five dollars. No, I must’ve been up ten. That was the closest I came to striking it rich. I cashed out with thirty-five cents to my name. Which will almost pay the toll to enter Miami—which I already had to pay—so overall I’m down twenty dollars plus toll fare. This is why I don’t gamble.”

[Sunburned Hand Of The Man “Camel Backwards” MP3]

“When I saw the world’s largest McDonald’s here in Vinita, Oklahoma, the day’s quest became obvious: A two-cheeseburger value meal. It was the first time I’ve eaten McDonald’s in three years. I remember the day. January of the year two-thousand two, driving through New York state on my way to Montreal. I considered this fast food stop, well, like coming home after fighting a war or a surviving a long bout at sea…All the road signs in Oklahoma read, “Keep our Land Grand!” and “Don’t Drive Into Smoke.” I saw a woman with a moustache before. I smiled at her, but inside I was crying (laughs). I was crying out for her, “For the love of God look in a mirror! Don’t you see that? Don’t you care? ! Get that shit taken care of, lady. If not for you, do it for the rest of us.”

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