"Let Us Cater Your Next Event," proposes the sign outside a convenience store in Canon City, Colorado.
Yes, a convenience store, a Toot N' Totum, a Kum N' Go, a Loaf N' Jug, Gas N' Snacks, or some other N' some place wants to cater my next party. I'm picturing the smorgasbord they'd bring: slim jims, Red Bull, cheetos, those greasy rolling hot dogs, weak coffee. I'm seriously considering it for my wedding.
No. I'm not getting married, but I almost want to so I could have a convenience store cater my wedding.
I've got just the location for my imaginary wedding: The Dunkard Brethren Ministry church in Quinter, Kansas.
Highway 70, Eastbound, closing in on Quinter, Kansas, there's a series of billboards that mimic the old Burma shave ads, or the ones I remember, the Beef Council ones. They were a series of one right after another, one word on each, "Watch" "Your" "Curves!" (then a bug-eyed cartoon man gawking at a curvy gal) "Eat" "More" "Beef!"
This series of billboards East of Quinter encouraged me to seek eternal salvation at their local church. "Save" "Your" "Soul!" "Worship" "With" "Us!" The final billboard gave the eagerly anticipated name of the place where I could redeem myself, "Dunkard Brethren Church."
Rolling down the road at 75 mph, my mind added a consonant and made it...come on, you're doing it, too and you're not driving, "Drunkard Brethren Church."
First thought: At last! I've found my spiritual home!
Second thought: Damn, it's in Quinter, Kansas. Which, although it's fun to say, whether you say Keenter or Kwinter, Kansas is not a place I want to hang my hat again. "Been" There!" "Done" "That!"
Mama and I were on the fourth, fifth or sixth leg of a journey that's got more legs to it than a centipede. I planned a trip that will truly redeem my sinner's soul and earn me an especially sweet place in heaven, like front row at a John Denver concert. I picked Mama up from Texas, drove her to Kansas to pick up her older sister, drove them both to Colorado, then we went out to Georgia to see another sister. They've not seen each other for decades. Then I did the whole trip in reverse. It's about 48 million miles of driving in a very short period of time.
We had a great time, lots of laughs, lots of stops for the "Clean Restrooms," and lots of jello salad in Kansas and Georgia. I learned a thing or two. It's not going to be fun getting old and don't be afraid to ask for assistance. I wanted to drop onto the ground and praise Allah for the wheelchair assistance in Atlanta's airport. But it was Atlanta's airport and a filthier floor could not be found, not even in one of the falsely advertised "Clean Restrooms" on the road. So I resisted the urge.
If you're reading this, then you're familiar with my body of work. It contains lots of trees. Trees hold a certain mystery for me, since I grew up in the west, out on the plains, where trees are a rare commodity. But Georgia has too many trees, they could use some clear cutting, if you ask me. No horizon to be had, squishy ground underfoot, I craved the crunchy sound of gravel as I walked.
Squishy ground makes it easier to bury the dead, not a slogan you see on the Pretty as a Peach Come Visit Georgia website. But a fact, for sure.
I'm glad I made that trip with my mom and her sister. Time marches on, before and after our people die. Get in step and do the important stuff with your people, stop at clean restrooms along the way so you can laugh hard and freely.