When I was still in college, my mom, my brothers, and I went to Kansas to visit my mom’s friend from college. I had to take three days off work for this trip, so I told her it better be worth it. She told me to get in the car and shut up. We left the safe haven of Kansas City, Missouri, and crossed into the forbidden land of Kansas. For those of you who do not know, Kansas City sits on the border of two states: Missouri, where pretty much everything worth living for is, and the Kansas side, where people go to die.
It was only a three hour drive, but Kansas has a way of making anything feel like an eternity. “Flat and boring” isn’t enough to describe the depressiveness that is the state of Kansas. You don’t even need to stand on top of a hill to see for miles around. Drop a ball anywhere in the state and it won’t roll away. I swear, the sign you see when you’re driving into Kansas should read: “Hey, buddy, I think you’re lost.”
We stopped at a rest stop that was literally in the middle of nowhere. You couldn’t see anything for miles; it was like looking out into purgatory. I couldn’t see any cows either, but there was a McDonald’s attached to the rest stop, so that probably explains that. I imagine this is what Hell really looks like. No lake of fire, just fields of nothing. No wonder everyone is so keen to do good these days. Maybe when you’re bad in a past life, you get sent to Kansas. I can’t see a real use for this state, so I suggested we make Nebraska and Kansas one big state, dig out Kansas and make it a new Great Lake. My mom asked where all the people in Kansas would live. I just laughed because obviously no people live here.
We made it to Wichita later that evening. I found myself wishing that I would have stayed home and gone to work instead. I don’t know how people live in these towns in the middle of nowhere; I would get too bored. It’s already taken me three days to write this article because I can’t concentrate on anything for too long. My wife is always yelling at me because I don’t listen to her. I try to tell her it’s not her, it’s everyone, but she still gets mad at me.
My mom’s friend lived on this street that was half-pavement, half-gravel. It’s like the people who were paving the street got bored, said “screw it,” threw down some rock, and got the hell out of Kansas. The house was nice enough, but it reeked of too many cats. I lucked out and got to sleep on the couch because I’m the tallest; my brothers had to share a blow-up bed. My mom’s friend had four little shitlin’s of her own. I couldn’t be bothered to learn their names while we were there, so I just called them “Hey you.”
At breakfast the next morning, she asked me what kind of juice I wanted. Everyone else had chocolate milk, so I asked for that. She told me no, that I was too old for chocolate milk. Woah, fuck off lady! Don’t you try and take the elixir from the Gods away from me because you think I’m too old, I want some goddamn chocolate milk. I spent the rest of breakfast sipping the abomination that is Sunny D, plotting my revenge.
Later, we went to the local amusement park called Joyland. Two of the rides were closed for ‘Safety Issues,’ so I’m assuming that means some people died on it. There was a wooden roller coaster in the park called ‘Nightmare,’ and for an obvious reason. This coaster, built in 1949, shook and threw you around like no one’s business. We ended up riding that the most, everything else was carnival rides that were still on the trailer as the park hadn’t bothered to anchor them. I saw some rides without a “years operating” sticker on them. Needless to say, we didn’t spend too much time in the park. Last I checked, the park’s status was SBNO, which means “Standing But Not Operating” in amusement park terms.
Wichita itself isn’t that big, but I’m not surprised as most towns in Kansas are small. There’s not much to do in that town, so we went to a tiny lake to try and beat the heat of the day. The beach was dirty and had lots of sharp rocks everywhere. I saw a few needles: we must have discovered the place where people come to do drugs to forget that they live in this soul sucking place. There was a sign that said the lake was closed due to high levels of bacteria, probably full of heroin. Thank God we were leaving the next day.
Have you ever been on vacation, and you’re about to go home, and you get antsy waiting for your parents to tell you that you’re finally leaving? That was me. I could not sit still. Before we left, it was time for me to go ahead with my revenge plan. I got into the fridge and chugged the last of their chocolate milk. I know I ruined it for the kids, but at that time I couldn’t care less. Kansas was doing me in. As we were loading up the car, I walked past my mom’s friend with a chocolate milk moustache and a smile. I know she saw me, ’cause she had an “oh you little shit” look on her face. Mission accomplished.
We drove three hours north to Formoso, KS to visit my cousins. It was worse than the drive to Wichita. At least we saw some town on our way down to Wichita. Not so much on our drive to to Formoso; there was nothing, and I mean nothing, but corn and wheat. I think we only passed one McDonald’s. That’s how you can guess the size of a town, by how many golden arches you can find. I saw a dead cow, which had probably died of boredom.
While driving to our cousins’, I began to think of different ways to reach the sweet release of death and be out of this hell. Then I realized that if I killed myself, I’d probably just end up back in Kansas, so I quickly changed my mind.
When we made it to my cousin’s house, I told them outright how boring Kansas is. They agreed and said when they graduated high school they were going to go to college in a bigger city, and that no matter where you go in Kansas it smells like cow shit. At certain times of the day, you can’t be outside because it really smells that bad. You shouldn’t live in a place where the smell of the day makes you want to stay inside your house.
We went to a local bar for dinner. There’s no age restrictions there, because it’s in Kansas and nobody cares. We walked right past a county sheriff, who tipped his hat and kept drinking his beer. The food was good, and everyone in the bar knew my cousins, so we ended up having a pretty good time. We played a few games of pools and darts. I’m rubbish at darts, but I beat everyone at pool, even conned my cousin out of $20. When we left it was pitch black outside. The nothingness of Kansas had literally disappeared. Staring out into the black abyss can really make you feel insignificant, alone, and very aware of your own existence. Not me, it makes me happy knowing that Kansas disappears at night.
The next afternoon we were off for home, and it could not have come sooner. I’ve heard of people dying as a result of being kicked by a cow, and that was starting to sound real good. The drive back was better because I knew I was going somewhere I liked: my house. I always think going home after a vacation is the best part. Being away is fun, but getting home to your own space is probably one of the best feelings in the world. Unless you live in Kansas, then just stay wherever you went to for your vacation.