Something is wrongPosted on September 15th, 2007 after 5244 miles by Dean Croshere.
This isn’t right.
My hand is damp, cold: clammy.
I’m a little dizzy. Disoriented.
Clink. I heard that. Barely. My ears are ringing.
A dark stain appears. It runs down my shirt. My shirt… wait, that’s not my shirt.
I’m wearing it, but it’s not my shirt.
I step forward a bit. Ungraceful, not purposeful.
Crunch. I definitely heard that.
The floor is wet. Covered in glass.
I start to raise my hand towards my mouth.
That’s the problem. My hand is empty. It wasn’t a moment ago.
I’m not that drunk. Am I?
It was a beautiful morning in St. Louis Missouri. On my car, dead bugs were begging to turn the front white. In the sky, the clouds were fast burning off and the temperature was steadily rising to a nice comfortable middling warmth.I had a short list of places to visit and take Boxer pictures, though I only really intended to go to one.
My first order of business was to get a camera. A nice, high quality, still camera. I would have started the trip with one had I accurately guessed the course the trip would take. If I knew I was going to have Boxer. If I knew how difficult it would be to film and edit while on the road.
I know now, so I got myself a nice camera. One that isn’t attached to my phone. One where I have manual options, a zoom, a focus ring, aperture, shutter speed, depth of field.
I decided it was necessary when I looked back over my favorite pictures so far from the trip. They look great on the phone, on the website. I’m incredibly proud of several of them.
Large size though? The full 2 megapixels? Terrible. Grainy, off color. This is the case even if well lit, especially distance. I couldn’t print them or do anything that required quality imagery. They don’t even look great as desktop pictures.
So I had my camera and I headed to the only St. Louis landmark I knew I had to get a picture at.
I enjoy taking pictures with Boxer. I love the added challenge. The first issue, naturally, is that Boxer is heavy. A pain to get on site.
The second issue that he is only a foot or so tall. Most things that are worth photographing are high in the air. This means I have to find a way to get Boxer off the ground (we return to the heavy issue) or I have to get low to the ground. I’ve spent a lot of time lying in the dirt, cameraphone in hand.
Then there is the issue of the fact that he is a metal Chinese dragon dog. I wonder if Boxer has ever been through an X-ray machine before. He has now.
It was rather fun convincing the guys at the Arch security to let me take Boxer up in the little trams (speaking of Campbell’s soup cans, those trams are NOT for claustrophobics…).
“What is it?”
“My school’s mascot”
“Why do you have it here?”
“I’m taking pictures of him across the nation.”
“So you want to take him to the top?”
“Does your school know you have him?”
“Would you tell me they did, even if they didn’t?”
“I would lie to you, yes.”
“I guess I can trust you then. He’ll have to go through the X-Ray.”
They wouldn’t let me take a picture of Boxer in the machine.
“So I have to know. Really, it doesn’t matter, but I have to know. Does your school know you have him?”
“I’m not sure if they knew when I first took him, but given that there is now a huge banner about it on campus, I hope they know.”
Waiting in line with Boxer seemed to take forever. The conversations with people about this thing were actually quite entertaining. It didn’t take long for people to get it and start offering suggestions about places to go and pictures to take.
When our little car of 5 people got to the top, stepping out of the door with Boxer was great. Gasps, laughter, I think someone even clapped. I’m not exactly sure why, but they loved the fact that I had carried that thing up there.
Pictures were tough. I still wasn’t terribly familiar with the camera and the lighting was far from ideal. It was too bright outside for the little lighting inside to do anything. I ended up with a lot of Boxer silhouettes against the square window.
I got one that came out all right.
After loading Boxer into my car I got a phone call. Jeff had warned me that he might not be able to have a place for me to stay. He would give it a shot, but things might not work out.
I was out of places to stay. I decided to leave my car in the parking lot of the Arch (I now have a collection of 3 parking passes) and walk to the nearest Starbucks for a net connection. I’ve yet to actually drink anything there, but the net connection is fast, the power is easy enough to get to, and the seats are comfortable.
I hit up couchsurfing.com. It was a desperate shot. 4 O’clock on a Friday. I sent out 10 emails with my plight. I finished a couple of other things up online and worked on my living arrangements for the next week. (I should be all set through next Wednesday night in Illinois, Michigan, and Indiana).
That done, I headed down to the sports bars across the street from the stadium to get a cheap bite to eat and a local microbrew.
I had just sat down when a local came in, sat down, and ordered his usual. He was so confident that I ordered the same, a sausage and pepperoni pizza. We chatted for a bit. He was a local guy, a programmer that had just moved to town from Illinois. He was a nice guy, said he usually gave his extra pizza to a homeless guy. A hard worker, also mentioned that he had no love for Muslims, all they know how to do is blow shit up.
He ordered us both shots of wild turkey, addressing the waitresses as babe, honey, or sexy. They were, but that’s beside the point.
He was right about the pizza. It was delicious. I’ve also got to give props to the bar for serving it on the oven pan it was cooked on.
By the way, St. Louis and Chicago have a bit of a rivalry thing going on.
I was just about to leave. To go find a Walmart parking lot in the middle of nowhere to sleep in when I got a phone call. It was a response to my couchsurfing request. This guy was going to let me crash on his couch, but we were going to go out on the town. It was Friday night after all.
I drove out to his place. It happened to be a few blocks away from the camera shop. It was a nice area of town, I had no problem leaving my car there overnight. We chatted for a bit before setting out for the bars, looking for all the hot babes, the sexy chicas.
We watched the end of the St. Louis/Chicago game at Bar Napoli, it got exciting. Two outs, bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, St. Louis down by two. They didn’t win, but the bar was into it.
We headed to a swanky rooftop club. It was really nice. It was one of those joints with round doors and red mood lighting. Unfortunately it was dead. We chatted with a couple of people before we decided to head to “the” bar downtown.
It “happenin,” loaded to the brim with guys with popped collars and bleached blonde women.
Now, if it wasn’t apparent by now, this isn’t my scene. I don’t go clubbing. I’m a terrible dancer and it isn’t my game. I’ll play the part, at least I’ll try, but I simply don’t enjoy it.
I understand the appeal. Going home with someone new is a thrill. It’s succeeding in your goal. It’s winning in the battle of wits and attraction, to have all of your careful preparation and grooming pay off. Maybe, in the morning, you’ll find that not only is she attractive, you can even stand to talk to her. Well then it’s love.
To further explain why I don’t enjoy this game, lets examine this little conversation I had with a woman who decided to tell me what I needed to change to “win.” Step one, she said, “pop your collar.” She even did it for me, helpfully.
“No.” I put it down.
“Fine, unbutton another button.” Sure.
“Then pop your collar.”
The conversation was over. St Louis, the “lou.”
They had some swanky clubs and some sexy bleached blonde women (I prefer brunette). I dropped my drink and had some fun. It’s interesting town, far more interesting that I had predicted, actually. All I knew about it previously was something about the Spirit of, and it’s flight across the Atlantic.
Tonight I’ll be in Chicago.