September 30, 2003

Day I – Home’s All Right

Let us see if the loose threads of the last few days can be captured.

I arrived in Minneapolis Wednesday night, and the first bit of news I caught (besides the late-breaking story that professional women picking up their luggage at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport are freakin’ hot) was that some kid shot up some more kids at a small Minnesota school. Well. My first thought was that we need to run a public service campaign to keep these things from happening. Kids need to know that homicide isn’t cool. It would be something that needs to run during the commerical breaks for after-school cartoons. “Hey kids? Do your peers make fun of you at school? Don’t have any friends? No one wants to sit with you on the bus? Maybe suicide is the answer you’re looking for! It works for thousands of Americans every year. Perhaps this will be the year it works for you!”

Whoa. This line of thought brought me to a complete stop in the path of the automatic door to the parking garage. I cocked my head to one side and considered. Yes, I decided. I didn’t want to press it any further, but it was definitely a job for Something Awful.

I went out to eat with the folks at the Gold Nugget in Minnetonka, a little hole-in-the-wall goldrush bar that has the best onion rings and burgers you’ve ever tasted. It used to be called Alkali Ike’s back in the day (whatever day that was), and it shares a parking lot with an auto body shop. Proud to be back in the Midwest I slapped the table with my palm and ordered a Grainbelt Premium. “Gimme a Primo!” It came straight from the tap in a frosty mug.

Wednesday being my birthday, we needed a cake. I wanted an ice cream cake so we went to the Dairy Queen right down the street. I wanted a cake with a clown and balloons and maybe a chainsaw and a triple-jointed arm. They had a giant smiley face cake, which I decided was just fine. The 15-year-old girls behind the counter, who were giggly and busy making eyes at me, offered to write something on it. I considered the infinite options: funeral announcement, classified ad, a dirty limerick or two… but decided on “HAPPY BIRTHDAY DANE.” Dane being my name, usually. I let the girls choose whatever color they wanted. They chose blue. I told them I loved it.

When we got back to the house my friend Diggity Dan had just showed up. Willis was home as well, so we all gathered around the table and ate ice cream and talked and laughed. They were all good things. We thought how funny it would be if a town had both a Dairy Queen and a Poison Dairy Queen, and people would knowingly buy Dilly Bars and such from the Poison Dairy Queen, just because it was in a more convenient location than the real Dairy Queen. The conversation quickly spiralled beyond anyone’s comprehension but my own, and that too was eventually lost in the fray.

Too soon it was late and time to retire for the evening, as tomorrow was to be another day.

We know time.