Thursday, June 30, 2011

I Went to Texas and Came Back a Disciple of Friedrich Nietzsche--What Are the Odds?


If I started this post in any other way, I was worried you wouldn't recognise me. Plus, the word "penis" is a fantastic ice breaker. Transform any first date, job interview, or play audition from AWKWARD to AWESOME. Just shout out "penis" and the tension in the air is guarenteed to disappear--poof--or your money back.

Well, I'm back from Texas. No, please, please, hold your applause. Not only are you ecstatic to have me back, but I'm ecstatic to be back. Going on a whole month without writing on The Nerd Archives was like withdrawing from a year-long heroin addiction. I experienced restlessness, aching pains, and drastic mood changes. It was difficult, but ultimately rewarding. My trip to Texas this year was my best yet. It was filled with life-changing experiences, stories to share and cherish for years to come, and an angry rash that has begun to develop on my elbow, which I think might be infected.

The actual drive to Texas and back is one of the best parts. We take four days to drive over there in our cool-gray Honda Odyssey, seeing family along the way in Louisiana and Mississippi, some of which we are actually related to, and some of which is only our "family" in the same sense that The Godfather is anyone's godfather. Which is to say, we're connected through drugs.

I know, four days is a long time to drive from Georgia to Texas, but we see a lot of people along the way--kissing babies, curing lepers, and blessing pregnancies--and we also make a lot of stops. I have a freakishly small bladder, so I require my family to stop at a filling station at unreasonably frequent, twenty-five minutes intervals. Consequently, I have gotten to know gas station restrooms very well, and I'm a good judge of their quality. I've also observed that when Southern homosexuals advertise their penises on the walls of bathroom stalls with sharpie markers, they frequently refer to them as if they were steaks. "Call this number for tender, succulent cock," for example. It's when they begin to discuss seasonings and sides dishes of steamed vegetables that it just gets ridiculous.

As one drives from Atlanta to Birmingham to Jackson to Baton Rouge to Austin, you notice the people getting steadily fatter and fatter. By the time you get to Texas, it just gets depressing. Some people are irritated by fat people, and even more are disgusted by them. I am neither. They just make me really sad, just as elderly people or three-legged dogs do. I get all depressed, and I have to compensate by eating a lot of ice cream.

Of course, the combination of obese Texans and cheesy Texas banter is just overwhelming. Every time I witness another Texan massage his quivering belly and growl with a Southern drawl, "If I had one more slice of that divine chocolate pecan pie, I'd die," I make sure to be standing there with a solemn expression on my face, saying, "Yes. Yes, you would."

In Mississippi, my cousin let me ride on his motorcycle around the hotel parking lot for a few minutes, which was my first ever motorcycle ride. It was fantastic, until I ran over a nine-year-old kid and had to hide his body under a pile of dead leaves. The same night, we went to a Mexican restaurant and I got to put my Spanish into practice for the first time in a long while.

I ordered the chicken enchiladas, asking if it was impossible to have them without the mole sauce. He didn't understand because he hardly spoke English, so I asked, "Yo quisiera las enchiladas de pollo, pero puedo pedirlas sin mole?" He smiled--relieved--and said, "Claro," and I bristled with pride. For the rest of the night, he assumed I spoke fluent Spanish and asked me a bunch of questions I couldn't understand, to all of which I answered "Sí." It seemed to work fine, but I should have been more careful what I answered yes to. I decided this when, after giving us the bill, he winked at me and said in broken English, "I off work at 11. Tonight we going to get very, very hot."

Two days after arriving at our grandparents' house in a small town of 3,000 in the Hill Country, my brother, sister, mom, and I departed for a two-hour drive to Longhorn Cavern, one of the largest caverns in the world. At the gift shop, I bought this worry stone with a moose on it.

At the time, I thought you were supposed to eat it, but it turns out you're supposed to rub it whenever you're nervous or scared. It's okay, though, because it didn't taste half bad. It was the emergency surgery that I really struggled with.

The best part about the tour, however, wasn't the gift shop. The best part was that every time we go on this tour, and I've been four times now, there's always someone from a different country, because the cavern is a worldwide attraction of sorts. Last year we had a lesbian French couple, the year before we had a Spanish guy, and this year we had a German family.

They were amazingly German. I've never had a particular fascination with the Germanic peoples, but for some reason something sparked inside me when I met these particular Germans. And I'm pretty sure it was the German ancestry inside of me begging me to unleash my inner yodel and embrace my German heritage. Since that day I have become obsessed with the German, Swedish, Swiss, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Hungarian peoples. I yearn to return to the Homeland so that I may be reunited with my fellow Aryans and together we may conquer the world.

We talked to them and they said that at first glance they thought were Germans as well, on account of my brother, mother, and my blonde hair. And we really do have blonde hair. Blonde hair that people feel the need to touch all the time. In sixth grade, my middle-aged female music teacher walked up behind me while I was taking a test and started stroking my hair. She stayed there for a minute or so, and when I looked up at her, she smiled a little and said, "You have such beautiful hair." True story.

Do I still have an England fetish, you may ask? Psh, that was so three months ago. Now I have only fantasies of broad-shouldered Swiss farm girls tugging sensually on the straps of my liderhosen and whispering that they long to touch my Wilhelm. Even now, the thought of a stocky Dutch girl, perhaps named Gerda or Liesbeth, dressed in clogs and a dirndl, makes me squirm with lust.

That was a fun week. At one point, we even saw a guy with a sign that said, "Honk if you love Jesus" while we drove to the local Episcopal church. Delighted, I honked furiously for several seconds and tried to get his attention. I told the Episcopal priest at the church that we should have guys with those signs in front of our church and he said, "I don't think that's a great idea, Christopher. We're Episcopalians. We take Jesus with a grain of salt."

I got to grow my beard out during those two weeks. I photographed it and made sure it was well documented. You see, one of the most infuriatingly irritating things my friends do is doubt my ability to grow a beard, considering our school has restrictions against facial hair. At my age, the thought of inability to develop adequate facial hair is terrifying and humiliating as a threat to my manhood, right up there with the possibility of breast developement or sexual impotence. When I try to convince my friends, on the verge of tears, that if I wanted to I could have a beard by now to make Karl Marx quake with jealous rage, they nod their heads reassuringly and exchange knowing looks, often saying things like, "Sure you could, Christopher. But right now, just try to calm down a bit. Would you like a glass of warm milk?" And it's the most I can do to wipe the tears from my eyes with the back of my hand and nod."

After a week in the Hill Country, my brother, mother, sister, and I left for a four-day mission trip in New Orleans. That was such an eventful and amazing trip, I'm going to tell you about it in a different post. I'll talk a little about visiting Bourbon Street, so stay tuned.

On the trip home, we saw my Great Aunt and Uncle in Norman, and then my grandfather in the little town of Mcallester, Oklahoma. I never really like nursing homes at all, but I played piano for them and my brother played guitar, which was one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done. Rather than being bored, disappointed, or put off by the fact that I prefer to play piano naked, they were absolutely delighted and clapped wildly at the end of every song. For the first time ever, I had groupies.

At the hotel in Memphis, somehow we were chosen as the Guests of the Day, and so we got our own special parking space and two little goody bags. Apparently it was a very esteemed position, because everyone kept congratulating us and giving us little gifts. I think the power went to my sister's head, who repeatedly asked other guests to kneel before her and lick the mud off of her shoes.

At one point we were in the elevator with a guy who was holding an enormous hunk of meat in his hands. As we ascended the next six floors in silence, he slurped it and chewed on it vigorously. When he noticed us staring at him in awe, he withdrew from it for a moment and said, "Good ol' turkey leg." He took another furious bite and then added, "I sold my soul to the devil for barbecue and don't regret it." It was a very strange experience.

Upon arriving home yesterday, I started having back problems again. Remember how that happened on the exact same day last year after returning from our trip to Texas? I couldn't stand up for three hours, and my family finally had to wheel me out of the hotel to the car on a borrowed luggage cart. Is that not weird that it happened on the exact same day?

If you think that's weird, then listen to this. When we got home and were eating dinner, my dad--who had stayed in Atlanta throughout the trip working at the elementary school where he's headmaster--told us that he had an awful story with a happy ending. Lucky, one of our two cats, which aren't allowed to leave the house, escaped through the door one day and didn't come back. Dad was horrified and e-mailed the neighbors, put signs up all over the neighborhood, and called nearly all of the vets in Atlanta. The first one he called, he said, didn't pick up, but he got a call from him. The vet, he said, told him that he couldn't possibly not return the call, because my dad's voice sounded so pathetic.

Dad didn't tell us about it, and he was beginning to think that he would have to flee to Canada to escape the wrath of his family when we returned home. Finally, though, he got a call from a neighbor that said they had found our cat, Lucky, and he could come and pick him up.

The reason they found the cat, they said, was because their dog started growling and pawing at the screen door in the middle of the night. When they went to see what was wrong, they saw that he was staring at a cat in the backyard: our cat.

That dog was the reason that we found our missing cat--whose name is Lucky. I think it's also important to mention that coincidentally, the name of the dog was also Lucky.

This is the reason I still believe in God.

That Blond Guy