In lieu of recording my popular travelogue series in which I ridicule the Midwest in my own particularly embittered way, I will be ridiculing the Midwest in a simple, angry prose because I forgot my microphone.
My trip to Kalamazoo started with my arrival at LaGuardia in a gypsy cab that I'm still convinced was the automobile equivalent of a ghost ship. It had all the charm of my grandmother's living room, each pleather seat protected by an additional plastic covering that looked as if they'd been applied with a tape gun. After Spooky Cabberson and I parted ways, I proceeded to check-in. Now, there's something wonderfully horrifying about learning your driver's license has expired by way of an airport security guard telling you so. Airport security guards have similar senses of humor as former concentration camp prisoners, so my easy charm and lopsided smile only seemed to have an inverse effect on her increasingly sagging face. I'm not sure if it's possible for someone to achieve a "gravelly" face, an adjective usually reserved for a person's vocal tone, but our special guard gave me the ol' Stonepuss. After producing a health care card (apparently this is a suitable alternative, though it doesn't have a picture on it), I was allowed to proceed to the x-ray zone where one is required to take all his clothes off.
It only occurred to me once seated in a hulking mass of plastic and metal several thousand feet in the air that because I had an expired driver's license, I am an expired driver, and I would not be able to rent a car as was arranged by the gods of Pfizer. My initial panic was followed by heart palpitations and imagined cardiac arrest.
The most poignant difference between Kalamazoo and New York City is not how hilarious the name Kalamazoo is (just say "York" over and over again and bask in its silliness). What sets the people of Kalamazoo apart from New Yorkers is that they're all robots. Robots programmed to be pleasant, regardless of how rude or dismissive a guest to their fair town is behaving. An actual exchange:
ME (exhausted and irritable): I'd like to get a wake-up call tomorrow morning.
DESK WOMAN: I'm sorry, sir?
ME (semi-sarcastically): I would love a wake-up call tomorrow morning. 6:30 AM.
DESK WOMAN (no sense of sarcasm whatsoever): Well, I'd love to set that up for ya!
This happened at the coffee bodega the next morning as well:
COFFEE GIRL: That'll be $3.20. Would you like a receipt?
ME: I would love one.
COFFEE GIRL: Well, I'd love to give you one!
I bet you would. What the fuck is going on here? And speaking of "fuck," no one swears in Michigan. Well, at least on a normal day. It turns out that, under stressful circumstances, Midwesterners lose their cool and go batshit insane. While awaiting the flight back to Detroit, a certain nuclear family was a little late for their plane. The father was a little uptight:
WIFE: Dale, we don't have a lot of time.
DALE (face red and enraged): NO SHIT!
Huh. Now, the Kalamazoo airport isn't big. They have two gates. But, I couldn't help but laugh at the father who, following his family's somewhat awkward passage through security, yelled "RUN!" at his children. Now, I'm no sociologist, but I'm pretty sure screaming "RUN" in an airport (that kept playing a terror alert announcement over the intercom, by the by) isn't the best tactic to ensure one's seat on a plane. Who knows what happened to that family. I'd like to think they made their place. I'd also like to think they were shot execution style in a pasture adjacent to the airfield.
What I'm trying to say here is that it isn't all that shocking that most serial killers come out of the Midwest, frothing at the mouth and carrying a sack full of baby torsos. They put a lot of time into being affable, however, for the most part, it's all an elaborate hoax. In New York, sure, we have a great deal of crime and murder, but it's pretty straightforward crime and murder. We wear our hearts on our sleeves. Midwesterners let that shit seep into the very deepest crevasses of their souls and after awhile, whattya know, they have to meticulously peel the skin off of a seventh grader. It's nature's law.
Anyway, I'm glad to be back. This weekend, I'll be going home to Pennsylvania and its subtle racism. God bless the USA.