ROAD-TRIPPING IS QUEER. PT.2
Early in the morning we were attempting to catch a ride — after about an hour an off-duty cop pulled up and told us we needed to leave (even though what we were doing is legal). This off-duty cop then passed me $5 and recommended a homeless shelter downtown. I got the impression that he would drive by later to see we had left so decided to catch a Greyhound to Springfield, Missouri (much to satisfaction of Tom & Abi).
This turned out to be the weirdest bus ride to the weirdest city.
Thus far our theme song has been the expected Route 66 by Nat King Cole, then something happened. On the fourth day there was a shift — our consciousness has been infiltrated by the, what I like to call, Road People. Now all I hear is the reflective freak show song People Are Strange by The Doors.
The next 8 hours were spent listening in on conversations of the Road People — there was lots of swapping stories and bonding, meanwhile Alice discovered her love for The Rolling Stones — the beautiful Mick Jagger in particular.
Allow me to take a moment to try and explain exactly what I mean by the term Road People — I’m not sure that I even have a complete understanding of this term. Road People are people who have some connection to travelling or travellers (within middle America) — though they aren’t always travellers themselves. Half are travellers and the other half are people who live in towns or neighborhoods that seem to serve only travellers — whether that be truckers or adventurous and stupid kids such as ourselves. Road People always appear to be under the influence of some kind of drug, though they typically aren’t. Road People really do seem to be high on something toxic all the time, the difference being that the “fun” of drugs isn’t present. The “fun” either never existed or ran out. These folks stagger, they don’t walk. These folks will come up to you and go on some angry rant about a broken lighter — not because they think you had anything to do with it; they aren’t being aggressive toward you — they vent to strangers typically in a hot-headed manner. The drug induced colour and insightful perceptions of Hunter S. Thompson don’t exist with these Road People — there is however fear & loathing…enough for everyone — enough for us. These people are on a constant and, most likely, eternal comedown. They’re tired and weak, unenthused and finished. Road people say “fuck” and “shit” a lot — but they also say “hi” and “where you folks off too” — they are friendly and mean at the same time, they are just peculiar. I feel as if I just described your typically junkie. These people aren’t junkies, they aren’t in this situation because of something they did to themselves — they are in this situation because they never left the situation they were handed. The only food on offer in places like this is McDonalds, KFC, Taco Bell, truck stop hotdogs and microwavable burritos — I’m sure this has something to do with the assumed depression.
I recently made a friend back home, a new muse and quite possibly a new obsession. Her name is Grace Sparapani and she is from Springfield, Missouri — we had to visit this town to see where my divine grew up. It’s the morning after and I am so god damn confused. I do not understand, and will never understand, how someone like Grace could’ve been created in somewhere such as Springfield. This is a town where the function of Grindr is sincere — this is no town for my Grace.
Martha’s Vineyard is, to quote one of their patrons “The hottest gay club in the shittiest town”. The place was absolutely huge and absolutely empty. We thought people may have been in the smoking yard…nope.
There could not have been more than 20 people there, I suppose it was a Wednesday night but still…I can’t imagine many people from Springfield coming here. I also can’t imagine begin gay in Springfield and not coming here every night. I thought it was odd in St. Louis that most people knew each other — at Martha’s everyone knows each other and everyone is a friend with one another. It was almost like having a clubhouse as a kid; where you gather all your closest friends to hangout in an out-of-home location. A regular took us under his wing to explain Springfield (after he reassured me numerous times that he’s from Seattle and only came here because his sister has 9 babies — he also wanted to make it clear that he’s Bi, most likely out of fear), he said “Springfield is a place where drag queens have their tires slashed and windows smashed”. All of a sudden I looked over and saw 3 girls (the kind of straight girls that think a gay man is the perfect accessory) climb up on stage and start performing a “sexy dance” – holy Jesus! What are these god damn animals! I’m sorry to reference David Lynch again but I can’t resist — have you ever seen Inland Empire? Remember the locomotion scene? That’s exactly what it was like and exactly how it felt.
The one good thing about Martha’s Vineyard was the fact that we got two shots of whiskey and two beers for $10 and happy hour had passed many hours ago. Although I don’t think I’ll return to Martha’s, I can definitely see why it exists and certainly applaud it and it’s undeniable importance. These boys simply have nothing else — Martha’s Vineyard didn’t feel like a nightclub to me, it felt like a safe haven, a closet of sorts.
The next morning we were offered a lift to Mount Vernon, we didn’t even stick our thumbs out. This 2-hour trip was the most peaceful experience thus far. The drivers were a couple — between the ages of 18 and 20 most likely. In the back seat, next to us, was their 9-month-old daughter who made us very happy travellers. Oddly enough these lovely folks were the most normal we’ve come across. At first we were talking about life in Springfield versus life in L.A (Alice’s home town) and then the drive became a smooth cruise with great tunes. I centered myself and I am wildly grateful. I needed this.
Then in Mount Vernon we were stranded in an intense thunderstorm — we ran over to a truck stop and go thrown out — then we ran to a nearby gas station absurdly named Kum and Go. We were there for a few hours waiting for the rain to stop so we could head to Tulsa. After a few hours we gave up and rented a room at a funnily terrible motel. After we paid the rain stopped. This was definitely our most unsuccessful day so far — we made it a mere 33 miles. I was frustrated so I tried to take a cool picture. This is the result.