Thursday, February 25, 2010

No Man’s Land and Leopard Pants: The Kansas Chronicles

Ever since the beginning of our road trip, people have asked whether we are taking the Northern or Southern route through the U.S. Our answer has remained the same. “We’re going straight through the middle!” we’ll proclaim, excitedly. After admitting this, we’re consistently met with mortified faces. “Oh, God,” someone will say, “That means you’ll be hitting Kansas!” “Yeah,” we say “we know.”
Just about everyone Brit or I spoke to expressed concern over us driving through Kansas. We were told we were crazy, and that Kansas would be just ‘god awful’ and a tremendous waste of time. In the face of these accusations, we feigned confidence and assurance. “Oh don’t worry about us,” we said, “we’re going to rock Kansas like nobody’s business. We’ll dominate that state like it’s going out of style! We’ll have road-side dance parties galore, and we’ll be invited in homes for pot pie dinners, and…” the list went on and on.
Naiveté and denial never reeked so badly.

What really happened
We left Boulder, Colorado at 7:30 in the morning, with the hopes of allowing plenty of daylight for our nine hour trip to Kansas City, Missouri. For the most part, everything East of Denver is flat, brown, and visibly unappealing. Everything was covered in a thick gray, forging an indiscernible line between highway and sky. We had planned on cruising upwards of 80 miles an hour, but given the icy roads and otherwise terrible road conditions, we were forced to coast at half that speed.
At some point in the afternoon, the road conditions cleared up. As we picked up speed, our moods improved and we began to get pumped for our night in Kansas City. Lady Gaga blared from the car speakers, and we laughed in the faces of those who said Kansas would be a nightmare. We laughed and laughed, until…

The Helicopter

Suddenly, Brit overheard what she thought to be a helicopter flying over us. She turned down the radio, and sure enough, we heard a loud thumping coming from somewhere nearby. “Is there a plane flying over us?” she asked. “It sounds more like a helicopter,” I replied. For the next 1 ½ minutes, we searched high and low, looking through the sunroof and passenger window for the plane overhead. It wasn’t until we hit the brakes that we realized the noise was closer than expected. The noise was not coming from a ‘copter. The noise was coming from our own car.
We pulled over to examine the potential vehicular damage. I checked the bumper, and looked under the car for C.P.D’s (car part danglers). Zip, nada, nothing. I wiped my hands clean, and was about to declare that the car was in okay condition when I caught sight of the flaccid rubber. “Shiza, Brit,” I said, “we’ve got a flat!”
To our dismay, our rear tire was demolished. It looked like it had been stabbed with a finely-sharpened instrument (pitchfork, perhaps?) and emitted an overwhelming smell of burning rubber. With no evidence of civilization in sight, we had no idea where to go.
Brit and I usually manage to keep ourselves relatively composed, but for one reason or another, we chose to handle this situation with irrational, erratic behavior. We screamed and shouted expletives towards Kansas and its peoples, and lashed out at the vehicular Gods who condemned us to such demise. After five or so minutes of manic ranting, our tantrums subsided and we called AAA.
Giving directions to the people at AAA proved to be difficult, as our only visible landmarks were a tractor trailer and billboard for an adult superstore (Turns out, these generic landmarks are found near almost every single exit throughout Kansas). Finally, after a bit more research and exploration, we learned that we were in a small town called Hays.

Welcome to Hays, Kansas. Can I take your order?
A half hour later, the AAA representative arrived. He patiently waited around while Britt unloaded her trunk (formerly known as her apartment) to locate the donut. A dozen roadside piles later, the spare tire was located, and securely placed on the Civic’s rear. We were then told to follow the tow truck to a nearby Walmart in order to purchase a new tire. As darkness neared and the snow continued to fall, we couldn’t help but declare to one another that the day had, in fact, totally sucked. Our moods were getting worse by the minute.

The Walmart experience: Consumerism Cures
As it turns out, our visit to the Walmart auto garage was just what we needed to enhance our mood. The auto mechanics said it would take a half hour to put the new tire on, and that we should stay put inside the store to hear our name called over the intercom. As unexcited as I was about scouring the Walmart racks for a half hour, I tried to put my best face forward and stay positive, as everything related to Kansas, thus far, had been miserable. Brit and I walked out of the auto garage and straight into Walmart’s neon-lit aisles. Walmart is a metropolis, and stores that claim to ‘have it all’ (fishing poles, thongs, rifles and whole-grain cereal) tend to overwhelm me.
After glancing around for a minute, my eyes caught sight of something I hadn’t expected. I looked at Brittany, and realized immediately that she was looking at the same thing. We turned back around to stare at the brightest area in the store, a gigantic One dollar clearance sign dangling directly over a rack of glimmering, animal-print spandex. Leopard, cheetah and zebra prints hung together, side by side, practically begging to be ripped off their hangers by two desperate and fashion-clueless girls.
At that moment, I knew the flat tire was the best thing to happen all day.

Oh no you didn’t…

After trying on half a dozen pair of the aforementioned spandex—and some equally noteworthy hideous/awesome costume apparel—Britt and I were ready to make moves. We strutted back to the auto garage with our heads held high, feeling good about our confident, spandex-infused swagger. The auto mechanics gave us each a nod of approval as they checked out our new gear…Britt in leopard, me in cheetah. We smiled as they tallied up our individual bills (remember, each pair of pants was ONE DOLLAR), and while the tire was a bit of a pricey fix, the sheer bliss we experienced through our clearance find made the whole hassle and experience feel justified.

The Smaps Moral
Britt and I survived the tedious, bland hellhole that is Kansas because we chose to jazz up our drawers. By choosing to impress, rather than depress, we managed to end our 14 hour journey through Kansas on a positive note. Instead of slouching through Kansas’s finish line, we skipped through it.

Money may not buy happiness, but animal-print spandex can.

1 comment:

leopard print pants said...

cute post i like it ^__^