My Las Vegan Lake Woebegone.

On my way home from work today I listened to some of the Prairie Home Companion. I love this program, but almost never get to hear it. (Why oh why can’t you have an easy to download podcast for me to listen to on my runs??)

While the fiddle struck up to introduce the jingle for Powdermilk Biscuits (which give shy persons the strength to get up and do what needs to be done. Heavens, they’re tasty and expeditious.) I noticed my throat tighten a little bit. And my eyes were a little damp. This is exactly the type of irrational emoting that makes me think it’s time to stock up on feminine supplies. But it’s not “That Time”. WTF, mate? It’s just a little ol’ tyme fiddlin’! What’s going on here??

Garrison struck up a conversation with a couple of fancy chicken farmers from Minnesota and I found their no-nonsense, “just the facts, ma’am” answers exactly the kind of answers you just don’t get in Vegas. I’m not gonna cry about a couple of overly concise Minnesotans. <Sniff.>

It’s been a while since I’ve been back up to The Frozen North. I don’t like it there. I don’t miss it and I don’t want to go back.

Maybe though, it’s just that I miss having people. I was introduced to Prairie Home Companion through KT. I was visiting KT, her dad Scott, and girlfriend Carol at her dad’s trailer on the front forty, next to the woodworking shop. After dinner and a game of cribbage that I was thoroughly losing, we listened to the radio. I was introduced to Guy Noir, Powdermilk Biscuits, the trials of being an English Major, and the happenings at Lake Woebegone. I loved every second of it.

Most people don’t listen to the radio like that anymore. While we listened we challenged each other. We had to keep up with the punchlines, mentally follow the sound effects, and the clever euphemisms that Garrison Keillor and company come up with. (They really are truly clever.) There were long stretches where the cribbage game had to hang on while we just laughed and entertained ourselves.

I miss people just getting together and hanging out, or carving pumpkins together and watching old horror movies. Nothing has to be fancy or planned out. It’s enough to bring yourself.

I miss these shared experiences.

I’ve been looking for these experiences more lately. Since I left Michigan and the awesomely close Geek community, I feel left out. Or left behind. I’ve been rushing through the tubes of the internets trying to catch up with the memes and the youtube hits that I’ve never found myself but always relied on my friends to bring to me. That’s the kind of thing that only happens when you’re in the same room. Otherwise it’s a link that they forget to send you, or they just say, “Google it.”

The exact point that I tuned in, Garrison was singing a song. It was about the things that didn’t exist when he was a child. He sang about how there were no seatbelts, and you stood on the seat next to your father as he drove with a beer in his hand, or maybe on his lap and helped him steer. And how there were no iPods, so the only thing to listen to in the car would be the sound of your parents. And so on and so forth. He sang it so much nicer than I can say it.

It’s not nostalgia that got to me with this song. It was the implication that we’ve over-insulated ourselves from those around us. Strapping everything down to make it safe and then plugging up our ears so we don’t have to see who’s in front of us. It’s the memory of being stuck in a room together with some people you’ve known forever and have so many shared experiences that you can joke about together. Laughing with your friends over something, that if anyone not in the know heard it, would be completely lost.

For anyone lucky enough to have people in the room with you to laugh with, take the damn opportunity while it’s there. You’ll be glad you did.


~ by jesstracey on September 3, 2011.

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