It was March of 2004. Christina and I had been e-friends for almost a year by then and I finally decided I would make the 4+ hour drive to Cincinnati to visit her. Henry made sure I had directions (printed out from MapQuest—it was 2004! No GPS, no smartphones. Not like I would have used that shit anyway. I’m directionally stubborn like a man), snacks, water and an encouraging “You can do this!” hug and a kiss. Meanwhile, I made sure I had the Important Stuff: MUSIC.
Again, this was 2004, so I didn’t have any mp3 players that plugged into my car or even a CD player that played mp3 CDs. The horror! This was “old-school” 80-minute mix CDs days. I filled a blank CD with a bunch of music that I had recently (legally) acquired but hadn’t really had a chance to listen to yet. My all-time favorite Metric song was on that CD (“Siamese Cities”), some tracks from Open Hand, Murder By Death, Armsbendback, Acceptance and even a yacht rock throwback (Ambrosia).
Even though Henry printed out a play-by-play list of directions and a map and explicitly told me, “Just stay on 70 west forever,” I still managed to get navigationally fucked. Why? Because I’m a fucking idiot and can’t follow directions. I can fly to Australia on my own without a hitch, but drive across Ohio on my own? That’s a real map for disaster. I was about 2 1/2 hours into the trip when I saw an exit sign that corresponded with the exit in the directions. It was same exit number*, and it even said “Cleveland / Cincinnati” like the directions said, except it said “77 N” instead of “I-270.” I panicked and took it, figuring that maybe 77 and 270 were the same road. Because why couldn’t that be possible? ROADS ARE CONFUSING. Still, I had that nagging sensation in my chest telling me to stop driving before I got too far into the unknown. I didn’t have a cell phone back then so I couldn’t call Henry for help every 3 minutes like I do nowadays.
ex: Henry: Tell me what you’re near. Me: A black woman in tall boots.
[* I found out later that it was actually the reverse of the exit number I needed. Driving dyslexia will get you every time.]
I took the next exit I came upon and it landed me in Kimbolton, OH which I also could not find on my map because hey, let’s go to Kimbolton said no one ever. I spotted a BP gas station and pulled over to get help. It may have actually been the very first, original BP it was that rustic. Print-outs in hand, I went inside and ask the older fellow behind the counter if he could show me where I was. Two girls behind me began to laugh. Like, the rude kind of snorting laugh that you do when you’re making fun of someone. I turned around and said, “Yeah I know – I’m retarded. It’s ok, you can laugh.” And then to really illustrate my sarcasm, I let out a dry, staccato ha ha. Instead, they took this opportunity to fucking whisper about me behind my back. I couldn’t believe that they would treat me like shit even after I offered to let them cut ahead of me and pay for whatever crap they were buying. Trying to ignore the demonic voice of Bobcat Goldthwait in my head, telling me to fuck their shit up, I sucked in my breath and asked the old man employee if he could help me get back onto 70. He held my map up to the light, and said, “This map looks like it was printed off that there Internet.” Seriously, he said this. I checked my LiveJournal and that is exactly what I wrote in 2004 so it must be true. I told him that it was and he informed me that it was useless. USELESS.
BLAME HENRY, 2004 EDITION.
Anyhow, when he saw where my final destination was, he exclaimed, “Well, why did you even get off 70 west!?” This made the fucking lot lizards behind me laugh even harder. Omigod guys, I know, right? What a dumb ass I am. Because I drive through Ohio every fucking day. The one girl was wearing two-day-old black eye liner and Wet n Wild fuchsia lipstick, which she probably purchased from the same streetwalker store where she bought her clothes. Her sidekick was pregnant I think, and wearing a belly shirt. Totally classy. I was completely envious of the stains on her clothing and the growth on her lip.
Sighing, I asked the old fuck if he could just tell me how to get back onto 70 west. He looked at me like I asked him to help me count to five and said, “Well, you go 10 miles south!” Well, shit son! Problem is that I had NO IDEA which way was south. Of course, I couldn’t ask him to point me in the right direction, because that would have just given those whores more unnecessary ammo. I pretended to understand, gathered up my useless MapQuest print-outs, and turned to leave.
Except the quasi-pregnant girl was blocking the door. I politely said “Excuse me” and she totally looked the other way. Bitch, best not ignore me! At this point, I had accumulated approximately 25 and a half things to be angry about, and I began envisioning myself ripping her fucking greasy hair out of her ugly fucking head. Instead, the miniscule shard of rationality that I store in the back of my brain surfaced and reminded me that there were two of them, and only one of me. And if we’re sharing secrets, they were really rough looking. I didn’t want my last role in life being some hackneyed-toothed hillbilly’s punching bag, so I took the bitch way out and literally ducked and squeezed between her bloated gut and the door.
Then I went back to my car and indulged myself in a total crybaby sobfest.
Sniffling like a bitch behind the wheel, I managed to find my way back to 70, and decided to take the exit for 70 east and just go the fuck home. I was scared and disoriented, not to mention BORED (driving alone is hard!) I took it out on my snack selection. At one point I even wailed out loud, “Soy Crisps don’t taste so good when I’m driving!”
Eventually, I focused on my music and it was a familial band of Texans called Eisley that got me to calm down. To this day, when I listen to Eisley, I think of that drive and laugh. And then promptly relax. I’m so picky with girl singers, so the fact that I still like Eisley 9 years later really speaks volumes. I can listen to those girls sing all day long. The video at the top of this post is one of my favorite songs ever from them.
Epilogue: A few weeks later, Christina took a Greyhound to Pittsburgh and then we drove back to Cincinnati together. We made a pitstop: A certain decrepit BP station in Kimbolton, Ohio. Those bitches weren’t there though. AND HOW LUCKY THEY WERE.