Of Folly And Of Vice

Project Dodecastate
March 30, 2009, 3:59 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I guess it really was hard to explain where we were coming from.

Ryan stammered as the police officer asked again, “Where y’all from?” West Virginia State Troopers were not kind to out-of-towners.

He looked at Dreyfuss. “Where are we from?”

Dreyfuss did not hesitate and said, “Alabama.”

This was partially true. We had been in Alabama the previous morning. We had also been in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina the day before and spent the night in Virginia. We were a fair way through West Virginia. We were headed toward Ohio. Ryan’s Explorer which we were traveling in had California plates; he was from San Diego. Dreyfuss was from outside of Madison, Wisconsin. Lou was from a corn and soybean farm outside of Springfield, IL. I was from the Chicago suburbs, but technically, I was from New Jersey.

A seemingly simple question with a complicated answer.

“Y’all got any alcohol or firearms in this vehicle?” The officer asked. If only we had.

We had been driving for two days, with occasional stops: bathroom, food, the Unclaimed Baggage Center in rural Alabama, a night in a Days Inn somewhere in Virginia. We were tired. We had our crabby pants on. I am confident we may have smelled. We had showered the night before, but for some reason, I had neglected to bring a brush. The radio had just gone out (I would later claim it was because Ryan kept listening to the Eagles), and we had been looking for an exit so we could try to fix it.

That’s when we got pulled over.

Lou was sleeping next to me, and he wasn’t wearing a seat belt. I don’t think I was either. I shook him.
“Get up! Get up!” I shouted through gritted teeth.

He cursed me under his breath.

“We are getting pulled over!”

He sat up, quickly, and belted himself in.

* * *

I had called my parents on Thursday, a day before we left, and acted like nothing was going on. I knew they wouldn’t call again until Sunday or Monday night. I packed my bag for the weekend. My first road trip. We were going to drive to the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama, spend the night, and head back the next day. I took my $60 of birthday cash I had already received and packed my back pack. It was the weekend before my 19th birthday.

We left Friday afternoon, stopping in St. Louis to drop off a friend who wanted a ride home for the weekend. We drove through the southern portion of Illinois, Indiana then south through Kentucky and into Tennessee. We plotted our route the old-fashioned way, with a map found in the car, illuminated by dome lights as we headed deeper into the South.

In Tennessee at about 3 am we saw a 24 Hour Fireworks Superstore clear the horizon. It was obvious this was going to be our first stop. There was a girl working there, probably about the same age as us.
“Can we shoot these off in the parking lot?” Dreyf asked. The girl said she didn’t care. I bought a t-shirt.
We were riding high. Fireworks, road trips, middle of the night? My God, this is the greatest experience ever.

We continued to drive, ending up in Alabama much too early for the Unclaimed Baggage Center to open. So we drove to Georgia, because it was close.

At a gas station in Georgia, Lou and Dreyf smoked. Dreyf was the only one of us who had a cell phone and Lou called his friend, Jon. The scenery was gorgeous. We were in a valley of hilly forests and the sun was coming up. He was telling Jon how beautiful everything was, here, in Georgia. Possibly, also, in life.

We were getting ready to head back to Alabama and Lou wouldn’t get in the car.

“Hey, we’re leaving,” I said. “Get in the car.”

“I can’t sit down, “Lou replied, eyes wide.

“Please just get in the car.”

“I can’t sit down.”

“Lou – get in the car!”

Silence. As he climbed into the backseat he said, “I am going to live here.”

We were headed back to Alabama, were we ate at a Shoney’s. During breakfast Dreyfuss was talking to us about Southern gentility. While I was asking a question about grits, Ryan and Lou flipped a hunk of chicken nuggets into my drink.

The Unclaimed Baggage Center was a bust. They claimed that it would be all the things that were gleaned from lost luggage. It ended up being a lot of things that looked like it fell off a truck. We decided to abandon our original plan of spending the night in Alabama and driving home.

New goal: Drive to as many states as possible before Sunday night.

And so we did. We were intercepted by local police only once in West Virginia.

Our other hiccup occurred shortly after “claiming Ohio”. To “claim” a state to add into the total, we had to stop there and use the bathroom. We went just barely over the border. We were heading back on the bridge toward Kentucky again and Dreyf opened the passenger side door.

“Oh, buh-bye,” he said as, from the back of the car, Lou and I could see the map burst into shreds behind us.

“What did you just do!?” Ryan was upset.

“We know the way home now,” Dreyf said.


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Ohhhh I like this. This was pre-bitchcake days… but the way you write it and tell it, I feel like I was there. Luj ju girl.

Comment by bitchcake

Love it, natch. Georgia’s still beautiful in certain parts, by the way.

Comment by Au$10

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