So when I went to the rental place, the guy’s like, uh, “Where you headed?”
A nervous little fellow with a red—kind of perpetually blushing, this fellow.
Uh, “Where you headed?”
“I’m going to… uh… the Gulf Coast of Alabama,” I said.
“Oh, yeah? I was there last weekend!” he said.
I said, “Where did you go?”
And he said, “Uh, Grand Bay.”
And I said, “That’s where I’m goin’!”
And he said he went to a surprise birthday party in Grand Bay. And he didn’t even know… he had never even heard of Grand Bay. They were in Pascagoula, Mississippi. And then his wife said, “We’re goin’ to Grand Bay.”
Here’s his response: “And I was like… ‘Huhhh?’” That was what he said to cap off his story. And he said “huh” in such a way that going to Grand Bay sounded to him like going into the pits of Hades itself. Which…
I’m shouting. Not shouting, but, uhh…
Once I was [short laugh] teaching a class… and… have I told…? I may have told this story.
It’s hot in this car!
It’s almost sixty degrees outside! Yesterday it was below freezing. It’s still winter, technically, for a few more days. I do believe today is St. Patrick’s Day.
[Loud road bumping.]
Let’s see about this air conditioner …
That’s a nice little breeze.
[Loud road bumping.]
“Passenger air bag off.” I guess that’s okay. There’s nobody over there.
Whoa! Hello. I just got on the “fog line.” You know how I know that’s called the fog line? Because one time a cop stopped me and said I was “ridin’ the fog line.”
Gosh! I wonder what I was talking about!
Something that reminded me of the past. I was about to launch into quite a… story I was afraid I’d told before about the… past.
That was a little “Strangers in the Night” for ya.
Seems like it was a tale of intrigue!
Well, you know. Uh, I don’t know how worried to be about not remembering anything anymore.
Oh, I know what I was gonna say!
Uhhh… the shouting. I was, uh, lecturing a class on the first real day of class. I believe… the day before we had only gon—gone over the… Gosh, I hope I’m still on Highway 7!
Well, as my mother often says, you can’t get lost in the United States.
Anyway, I was, uh, saying, “Yes! And Jack Kerouac drowned in his own blood!” And [unintelligible]…
It was in this very strange room with bad acoustics. I think it used to be a… a locker room! That had been transformed into a classroom. There were weird pipes comin’ out of the walls… a clock with no hands, just a, an electrical socket in the middle of its face… uhm… strange… just ver—I c—can’t even tell you all the strange things. And it was hard to make oneself heard. So I was yelling, probably, about Jack Kerouac drowning in his own blood, and, and, uh, one young woman just jumped up and marched to the front of the room and shoved her syllabus in my face and said, “I can’t take it anymore!” And, and… ran out of the room.
And, and then I said, “What, what did I do to her?” or something, and one guy said, “You were kinda yellin’ at us.”
And I said, “There’s the door!”
I was very…
Annoyed… and embarrassed I’m sure.
I guess I showed him!
Ah, the triumphs of the academic life.
I don’t know what the speed limit is, I don’t know where I am, I’m just havin’ such a good time.
[Road roar. Long pause. Lip smack.]
La la la la laaaaaaa. Laaaaaaaaa!
Oh, here’s a rural post—postal person. A letter carrier with a white siren on his quaint red vehicle. The old rural postal person!
[Pause. Road. Very, very long pause. Sigh.]
Ah, here we are in scenic Water Valley.
The… place with the restaurant that’s given me the most diarrhea over the years.
It’s no longer in operation. But every time I ate at that restaurant…
I, I went to a poetry reading across the street and, d-uh… Melissa Ginsburg was reading, and d-uh I was sweating and swooning and I had to be [laughter]… I didn’t have to be carried out. Anastasia did not have to carry me out, but I was… clutching at her saying, “Uhhhh, we need to leave.”
It’s all thanks to that terrible restaurant.
Once we ate there with [laughter]… with, uhh, Frankie and Cassandra. And, and when we came out… uh… there was a sign taped to the door… [laughter]… something like, “Sewage Problem. Please Come Back Later.” I mean, I’m not exaggerating. Erruhhurrrerruh, I’m, I’m misquoting it, certainly, but the… uh… the spirit of it is intact when I tell you that the sign said something like, “Sewage Problem, Come Back Later.” So we had just been eating… nobody told us about the sewage problem.
Once again, probably not the world’s greatest restaurant.
Why did I—why did I eat there more than once? I… don’t know.
Oh, yes. I always pass this sign for the Casey Jones Railroad Museum and I always think, “You know, one day I’d like to go to the Casey Jones Railroad Museum.”
I never stop because it’s so close to home…
It’s so close to home that if you’re leaving home, you’re not going to stop and go to the Casey Jones Railroad Museum and yet also if you’re coming back it’s… you just want to get home by that point. “Well, I’ve traveled for six hours… I’m almost home, but you know what? I think I’ll stop by the Casey Jones Railroad Museum.”
Oh, my lips are getting really dry. I should’ve brought some water.
You know, when you’re gonna talk to yourself for six hours [stifled laugh] you should bring some water. That’s my new… insight.
Jack Pendarvis has written five books. He won two Emmys for his work on the TV show Adventure Time. During a period of light employment, he spoke into a digital recorder whenever the mood struck him and transcribed the results, accumulating the two thousand pages from which this column has been extracted.
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