1. The shocking incident involving phallic violence.
So, we pull into Whataburger along the way, because we’re pigs and we like grease. As Terry dashes inside whilst I stay in the car and do nothing of importance concerning this lark, I spy one of those little cylindrical stands where you can drop off your cigarette butt before purchasing cholesterol-affecting consumables. And I see that some fool has tried shoving a banana into the tiny hole on top, and the operation has failed.
Really? First, who the hell would even have a banana at this place? It’s certainly not on the menu, which means that somebody actually brought the damn thing with them. Second, right next to the cigarette obelisk is an actual trash can. Yet the Banana Bandit chose to use the smaller vessel, knowing it wouldn’t fit, and then walked off and left the fleshy fruit dangling for the world to see. What kind of person would do that?
I quietly locked the car doors, just in case.
2. The further west you travel, the examples of probable inbreeding increase.
Is there only ONE woman in this half of the state that can get pregnant? Geez.
3. Cows are fun to watch.
I don’t know why they amuse me so, but they do. Maybe it has something to do with driving past so many thousands of them that I had to either love them or hate them. I chose joy. Besides, there’s just something very appealing about the word “cud”.
4. These people love them some Jesus.
Every other billboard invites passersby to come fellowship at yet another entry in a very long line of houses of worship. Which is fine and dandy. Then we hurtle past the latest example, like Truculencia Baptist Church, the Leviticus Lodge, or Bubba’s Christian Bait and Tackle Shop (“Get hooked on the Lord!”), only to find that the years have not been kind to many of these places.
Maybe at some point the faithful flocked here in droves to attend a Praise Palace that was splendid and inspirational and people couldn’t wait to throw money into the gilded offering plates. But now all I’m seeing is a rundown shack with nary a parishioner in sight and a rusted, wheel-less pickup truck being the only thing now bearing witness. Sad, really. But don’t worry. Stick around fifteen minutes and another church will open up next door, because these folks can’t stand it if Jesus doesn’t take the wheel.
5. Apparently the crime rate is very low in these little towns.
Because all of the police cars are lined up along Interstate 20, just waiting for you to do something stupid so they can turn on their sirens, rather than cruising around the neighborhoods and protecting the citizens. We just passed five squad cars in a 10-mile span. Like that’s not overkill. I’m thinking maybe these little towns can spend their payroll budget on better things. Like schools. And birth control.
6. They sure have a lot of queens in West Texas.
Dairy Queens, that is. For the uninitiated, Dairy Queens are food joints that specialize in deep-fried and gravy-drenched offerings. There’s not a single healthy thing on the menu, and there never will be, that’s the whole point. You don’t really see these all that much in urban areas in any more, but you get out here, and there are almost as many Dairy Queens as there are abandoned churches.
But unlike the churches, the Dairy Queens in this part of the state rarely go out of business. Devotion to the Savior can ebb and flow, depending on how local sports teams are doing in a given year, but the need for onion rings is a constant. Besides, a Dairy Queen burger basket has a heft similar to an offering plate, so it’s quite easy to combine the sensation of worship with the rapture of dipping chicken strips in a little plastic cup of bubbling gravy. Praise the Lord and pass the salt.
7. “The Flying J”
This is a fascinating complex just outside of Abilene, a combination of convenience store, restaurant and truck stop. I could get an entire blog out of the mesmerizing things to be encountered within, but for now I’ll tantalize you with just one thing. It’s not uncommon to hear something like this come over the intercom while you are perusing the beef jerky and the fishing lures: “Shower customer 64, your shower is now ready. Please proceed to shower number 3.”
Totally not making that up. It’s real, people. Real.
8. Okay, I lied, one more thing about The Flying J.
The pre-made chicken salad sandwich they have available for purchase? Don’t ever get it. I just sampled such, and it completely hit the failblog in ways that you cannot imagine and shouldn’t. Blech. I should have known something was up when I noticed that the expiration date someone scribbled on the package was still nearly three weeks away. For something that theoretically contains chicken and mayo, the two things that begin decomposing the very second they are exposed to air. Post-consumption, I still can’t confirm that either of those ingredients were actually in that mess.
9. Why are the barns so much bigger than the houses?
Sure feels like a violation of the laws of nature in some way. Then again, the same could be said of the haphazard set of teeth I just got a gander of in a passing truck. Bucky Don might never get married, but he’s got a grappling hook in his mouth that could rip a manhole cover out of the ground in two seconds flat. The Lord provides vocational skills in mysterious ways.
10. This part of Interstate 20 will suck the joy out of your life.
We have been driving in a straight line for what feels like 3 days. A straight line. As in no curves, no hills, no scenery, no validation that my life is worthwhile in any way whatsoever. I am quietly going crazy. Someone please help me by sending an amusing text or a naughty picture. Anything to break the monotony. Oh wait, scratch that. We still have to drive another hour to be anywhere near a cell tower before I can even get a weak signal. We are on the desolate backside of utter hell.
Anyone interested in half a chicken salad sandwich? I know it doesn’t taste right, but you might be here for a while so you should make do with what you’ve got. Interestingly enough, that last line is also the town motto of Big Spring, Texas, which we are currently passing on the left.
Keep your doors locked.
Originally published in “The Sound and the Fury” on 03/26/11. Considerable changes made, although I’m not sure that it helped in any way. It feels like I may have shared this travelogue before on Bonnywood, but I can’t find any trace of it, much like the questionable chicken in the salad…
Story behind the photo: Suffice it to say that a recent cleaning binge at Bonnywood led to a startling discovery. To share more would only increase the shame…
Categories: 10 Reasons Why