Weird. In Texas, this much snow would close the schools and send everyone to loot Walmart for water and batteries. Here, I’m just warming up some chili.
Travelling to Cincinnati today, I knew I wasn’t going to make it all in one trip, so I decided I’d just pull over and grab a cheap motel, sleep a few hours, and get back out there.
As usual, I started looking for a place to pull over and eat, and also find a motel about six hours before I actually did it. For some reason, I am never able to just pull the damn car over and eat. I’ve always got to keep going, keep pushing it, on to the next town where there will definitely be something better waiting on me. That gambit is successful about 0.02% of the time, the rest of my attempts end with me ordering something from a drive-through at a joint where the lobby is closed, or getting something that’s semi-preserved at a gas station.
On this particular night, I ate royally. Burger King. I did get to try their new “Satis-Fries,” though, which weren’t that bad. They’re certainly not as “Terri-Frying” as their old fries, which are quite balls nasty.
Anyway, after eating my usual bag of crap, I saw a sign for a Days Inn, with room rates less than forty dollars.
I should explain first. I’m not exactly a dainty traveller. I don’t give a crap about amenities, or cable TV, or extra furniture, or anything else. If I could rent a hammock and sleep eight hours safely in the parking lot and leave, I’d do it. I’m not afraid of roughing it, and I need no luxuries.
However, this place was a bit below a “lack of luxury,” and firmly in the “tenement” stage. This is the kind of motel you stay in when you’re expecting a guest from Craigslist.
Walking to my room, I noticed the pool was closed. Not unusual, since it’s October, but it looked like it had been closed after some science experiment had gone horribly wrong. It was more like a lagoon, the kind of green, thick swamp that no one swims in, and eventually scary muck-monsters come climbing out of in search of human flesh, and the have to call in the cops and the Marines and the Justice League to stop them.
I got to my room, which was the kind of place where you didn’t feel comfortable setting your bags down, much less yourself. Worse yet, it smelled. Not like someone had smoked in there, but like someone had rented the room, loaded lumber in the bathroom for eight hours, and then used the carpet to dry the sweat off of his body.
If armpits had assholes, that’s what this place would look like.
So now, I have the choice of fighting for a better room for forty bucks and seven hours, or just going to sleep and trying to make it work. I’m going to do the latter, although I am sleeping in my clothes, and looking for whatever the opposite of a “Breathe-Right” strip is.
I’m also wearing a condom just in case.
– Reid Kerr thanks the woman letting her kids play at the pool outside his window, even though they’re not wearing swim trunks or swimming, and appear to just be running back and forth screaming and punching each other at 1am.
One last moment staring up at the beautiful East Texas sky before I go. After eighteen years in Tyler, I’m headed out.
I’ve reached one of my goals. I’m finally homeless.
And I mean that in the best possible way. After spending what seemed like forever in Limbo, my house is finally sold and I’m gone for good. After a year bouncing back and forth between Tyler and Cincinnati and months on the road in ten different states, I’m heading to Cincy to stay.
This is finally it.
Good-bye, Tyler. I love you.
I’ve lived in Tyler primarily for the last twenty years, but I’m really talking about the whole area. East Texas has been my home since I was twelve, back when the Cosby Show wasn’t on TV yet, and John was still Cougar and not yet Mellencamp.
Tyler means a lot to me, probably more than it should for a preacher’s kid who wandered rootless through the first half of his life. I finished college here (eventually, anyway). Tyler has seen the best of me, and certainly the worst moments in my life too.
This is where I lived when my daughter was born, and this is where my marriage finally ran to ground. It’s where I was a guest on Larry King Live and national ESPN Radio, and where I realized I was doomed in television, and where I got fired from the best radio show I ever put on the air. I was on television and radio in this area for twenty-five years, which means I’ve got a lot of great stories and no money to show for them. I’ve met some fantastic people and good friends, and also some of the worst people imaginable, usually in the same meetings.
I’ve seen a million games and final scores, and loved them all. I’m at the point where I’m seeing the sons and daughters of players I covered in high school now making their own highlights, which makes me feel both excited and very old. It’s been an honor to be a part of that, at every level.
Tyler’s where I got my big break(s) and made the most of some of them, but got sidetracked, and didn’t take enough chances and make enough mistakes. I’ve made a lot of great friends, and didn’t sit around and drink nearly enough beer with them. I did things around here, but I also settled into the same stasis everyone does, where we look forward to going other places and don’t do enough in the area where we live.
I’ve loved this place, and I always will. There’s just something in my nature that tells me I’ve got to go. I’m a minister’s kid who’s worked radio and TV all my life, so I grew up moving regularly. I’ve moved more often than I care to count, including once in the womb. My life has always been a series of U-Hauls, cardboard boxes, and tape guns. Part of me was just always on the road, and that’s where I can think the best.
When you get accustomed to your life, you grow fearful of change. Prior to now, I never got accustomed to anything. I moved eight times before I turned eighteen, and was pretty much homeless for part of that time. My family worked hard. My mom and dad never faced a mountain they couldn’t climb, and they taught me to work and fight for everything, and appreciate it when you get it.
It was nice to finally have some place I belonged for a while. But eventually, you realize what you are. In my world, the cowboy hero always rides away at the end of the movie.
I haven’t seen enough. I haven’t done enough. I haven’t made enough mistakes, and don’t have enough stories that are only funny because I survived them. I need inspiration, and I know I need to wander to find it.
So my house, the symbol of everything both good and bad in my time here, is now sold and gone. I can get back on the road, Cincinnati for a while. After that, we’ll see. It’s time to step out and take those chances again, to work hard to catch that break and ride it as far as it’ll go. Or fail spectacularly, whatever. Either way is interesting. I’m not saying it’s easy, not at all. But you reach a point where you have to cross the bridge or burn it down. What the Hell, whatever works.
A couple of things before I go, thanks to all of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter. The feedback I get from you guys really means a lot to me. Some days the “likes” really sustain me, seriously. If you want to support me, there’s a couple of ways to do that. First, feel free to recommend me to your friends. The more the merrier, assuming your friends will get the jokes, too.
Check out my writings here on the blog, on Project Shanks.com, in the sports section of the Tyler Morning Telegraph, in E-Guide Magazine, and on any bathroom stall wall I might happen to wax eloquent upon. And by all means, if you really like them, throw me some cash. There’s a Paypal tip jar on the top left of this page if you’ve really enjoyed some of my best columns, like this one where I ran into “Mr. Douche” at Chick-Fil-A. Or the guy eating barefoot in the seafood restaurant. Or the one about my two (2) vasectomies. Or the bloody children’s underwear. Or my battle against a spammer. Or the real difference between men and women, and romance and porn. Or my vacation to Cincy, or to Tijuana, or my Super Bowl timeline and NFL Draft columns, or…well, you get the idea. Just consider me a street lunatic, if you enjoy me, toss a few coins in my hat.
Also, my first book, “The Great Texas Trailer Park Escape,” is coming out shortly, I’ll plug it on Facebook when it’s out. It’ll be a great gift for friends, enemies, total strangers, meter readers, hobos, and pretty much anyone else in your life. Pick up a couple dozen copies when you can.
I’ll miss you guys, but let’s face it, about 80% of my human interaction these days comes through Twitter and Facebook. Except for occasionally bumping into me at Target and making fun of my hair, most of you won’t even know I’m gone. Well, except that I’ll have new things to hopefully be funny about.
So I’m off, and out of Texas and on to Cincinnati for a while. For those of you who live elsewhere, if you live somewhere I’ve never been and you’ve got a chunk of floor you can spare for a couple of nights, let me know. I’m always looking for the next adventure.
It’s been a lot of fun, Tyler. I couldn’t have made it without you. Thank you for everything. I love you, and I love the friends I’ve made and the times I’ve had.
– Reid Kerr, in addition to being an expert mover, is now also an acclaimed expert on garage sales.
I was added by a stranger on Facebook last night, and I almost immediately got a message from them. Seemed like a typical spambot, and I occasionally amuse myself by spewing gibberish at them. However, I realized there was an actual person on the other side of this conversation, trying desperately to scam me into doing something. I kept them on the line for about four hours, which I consider public service. Here’s the text of our conversation.
Disclaimer: All of this conversation really happened.
Spammy McSpamster (not the real name): Hello, how are you doing hope all is well with you over there i wonder if you have heard about the good news yet?
Reid Kerr (my actual real name): Spammy McSpamster, I’ve got good news hanging out of my rectum right now. Thanks!
Spammy McSpamster: Am so happy today because I got $150,000 cash from the poverty eradication organization. They gave me the money for a hearing,deaf,hoh support. I wonder if you get your money yet because I saw your name on their winners list and I ask, they told me they will bring money to you too.have you getting yours yet?
Reid Kerr: I haven’t gotten mine yet! Where do I sign? Do you think I could get mine in rolls of change? It makes it easier to hide it from the government.
Spammy McSpamster: You wil have to contact the delivery agent right now for you to claim your money too
Reid: How do I contact him? I don’t have a phone right now. I threw mine at a pederast at a truck stop last weekend, and I haven’t replaced it yet because I’m waiting to hear from my oral surgeon. He owes me money from a botched teeth filing.
Spammy McSpamster: i think you should contact the agent follow this link (removed) or via email to claim your funds his email is (removed) you can text him (removed).
Reid: I’d love to email him, but I got a virus last week that fills all of my emails with homoerotic fan fiction about the cast of “C.H.I.P.s.” what should I do?
Spammy McSpamster: You can add him on FB…Just click on the link and add him up right now. message that you heard about him from me and you are told that you are eligible to get the on going funds offer , so you are contacting him to help and claim yours too so he should help you out and tell you what to do
Reid: Are you sure he’ll add me? I had a close family friend tell me recently that my Facebook picture makes me look like a man who’s been half-eaten by owls. I don’t want to scare him off! Also, I don’t like wearing pants.
Spammy McSpamster: Yes he will accept..Just add him up right now
Reid: Should I do it right now? I usually like to think big decisions through, ever since I invested in that nightclub that turned out to just be a front for a gay cat smuggling ring.
Spammy McSpamster: You have to do that right now because the delivery agent is online now..He is a very kind and honest man. (Later…) Did you get it yet ?
Reid: Not yet, are you sure he’s honest? I had a bad experience once trusting a guy who wound up stealing all my carpet. I only deal with fine upstanding Christian men, preferably who wear ties and visors.
Spammy McSpamster: He is a honest man
Reid: Outstanding. Is he tall? I never trust men who are too tall. They tend to put their gum in my hair. I think the perfect height for a man is 5’7″. I’ll add him on Facebook shortly, right after I finishing shaving my nether regions.
Spammy McSpamster: Contact him now so that he can get back to you asap
Reid: Absolutely! Do I need a bank account for this? Right now most of my portfolio is tied up in overseas stocks and Arby’s coupons. Also, I can’t find my pants. I think the wombat is wearing them again.
Spammy McSpamster: Not at all..You will have to fill out a form so that they can location your destination..They will deliver you your money at your money door step
Reid: Ah, well if that just isn’t the widow’s tit! Spammy McSpamster, you’re solving my problems as fast as I can make them up! One problem though, due to a misunderstanding with Americard International, my door was recently repossessed. Could I have the money sent to another address that I could pick up? Perhaps my neighbor, or the massage parlor behind your mother’s house? Thanks!
Spammy McSpamster: Yes…You can do that but just make sure you follow their instruction so that they won’t deliver your money to another perosn
Reid: Oh, I would hate that! I really don’t like other people. I’m sure you know how it goes. One minute you’re the best of friends and neighbors, and the next thing you wake up in a hot tub bleeding, and someone has taken your dog and stolen your fireplace. Are these instructions complicated? I can read Farsi if that helps, although I certainly don’t speak it very well. I tried to ask for hummus once in an Indian restaurant, and I accidentally had a man follow me back to my hotel room to give me a footbath. He was a nice fellow though. Ten toes, although not the same number on each foot.
Spammy McSpamster: Ried i told you the man is a very kind and honest man…So you will have to contact him for you to get the fund
Reid: Oh, of course! I’ll contact him on Facebook as soon as the sores heal. What was his name again?
Spammy McSpamster: Jack Graham..Just click on the link i give you and add him up
Reid: Will do! I’ll be glad to add Mr. Jack Grammy. Will I need to show a drivers license? I haven’t had one since I was the lead car in the Christmas parade back in 2004, and I got hit by that flying turd.
Spammy McSpamster: Not at all
Reid: How soon will we meet? I need to catch a bus downtown for my weekly exorcism.
Spammy McSpamster: As soon as you get your money (Later…) Have you contact him yet ?
Reid: Contacted who yet?
Spammy McSpamster: the delivery agent ? Jack Graham
Reid: I will here shortly. I’m on my cell phone, and it’s not safe for me to contact pizza delivery people unless I’m on a landline. The last time I tried I was savagely beaten by an Episcopalian vagabond. Dreadful fellow, although he had the stride of a man half his age. Quite the shame what happened to him in that combine accident. I’ll add your friend Scott here in a few minutes.
Spammy McSpamster: Jack
Reid: Oh, dreadfully sorry to get the name wrong. That name reminds me of my friend Scott Grammy, who was unjustly accused of defecating from a traffic helicopter back in 2008. I wonder if they’re any relation? Have you ever met Mr. Jack?
Spammy McSpamster: Yes. they deliver me my money at my home door step
Reid: How much did you get? Cash? Any nipple rings?
Spammy McSpamster: Cash. 150,000$
Reid: Heavens! Where would I put all that money? I don’t even have any pants.
Spammy McSpamster: You will surely get your money as soon as you contact the agent
Reid: Is Jack Graham the agent? Or will he get me in touch with the agent? Or am I the agent? If I were, I certainly think I’d know it, my good man. Burrito?
Spammy McSpamster: Yes..Jack Graham is the agent in charge of your money
Reid: I sent it. I think. I clicked on the link, and my screen went dark and I got a very painful erection. When will we become friends?
And with that, the spammer’s shift apparently ended.
– Reid Kerr is well aware he’s a jackass sometimes, but enjoys having fun at the expense of criminals.
According to KSL in Salt Lake City, the state of Utah spent more than thirty thousand dollars to drug test people who are on welfare, and out of 4730 applicants, they only caught 12 people with positive tests.
From the article: “The data from August 2012 through July 2013 indicates the state spent almost $6,000 to give 4,730 applicants a written test. After 466 showed a likelihood of drug use, they were given drug tests at a total cost of more than $25,000, according to the Utah Department of Workforce Services, which administers welfare benefits and the tests.”
Two things here, I’m not surprised at all they didn’t catch many people. And more importantly, what kind of “written test” do you give someone to see if they’re on drugs?
Question #6: Do you own Bob Marley’s “Legend” album?
Question #9: Does Jesse Pinkman seem like a good role model to you?
Question #11: Do you have a favorite album cover?
Question #14: Brownies. Always a good idea, or what?
– Reid Kerr thinks we should also drug test political office holders.
My garage sale find of the day…it looks like someone is selling the chair from Casino Royale.
If you haven’t seen the movie, you won’t get that joke, but you also won’t cross your eyes and get a headache at the memory of it, either.
– Reid Kerr prefers to think of the days when James Bond never lost.
(Trailer Parked is a new feature here on RAI.com where I’ll do the same thing everyone does while sitting in a movie theater, sit in judgment of movie trailers. Here goes.)
“R.I.P.D.” is a new comedy-action movie starring Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds, due for release on July 19, 2013.
Quick Synopsis: It’s Dead Men In Black. Or Gunfighter Ghostbusters.
Ryan Reynolds needs to understand we don’t like him in comic book movies, or even in movies that seem like they come from comic books. Or in movies where he basically is interchangeable with Dane Cook. Or in movies, I guess is what I’m saying.
Jeff Bridges seems to be playing the same gunfighter character he’s always done, and Mary-Louise Parker is the dead version of her character from “Red.”
Verdict: Pass. This looks like one I might enjoy on cable for free, but not paying to see it. If Ryan Reynolds is going to kill anyone, it needs to be his agent.
– Reid Kerr laughed at “This Is The End,” but not that much.
Okay, that’s probably a pretty boring way to start off a blog. I should probably start off by saying “Jenna Jameson naked pictures” or “Sarah Palin Girls Gone Wild video” or something.
Anyway, I’m sure you’ve all heard of Wikipedia. It’s an website billed as “the on-line encyclopedia that anyone can edit.”
And that’s the problem, but more on that later.
I discovered Wikipedia a few years ago, corrected some wrong information on some article, and soon became a regular contributor. By “contributor,” I didn’t do a whole lot that was constructive on Wikipedia, I just kind of hung out and watched what other people did. I helped write some articles on things I knew a lot about and I did a lot of “vandal fighting.”
That “vandal fighting” is something that’s rampant on wikipedia. Since anyone can edit it, anyone can mess with it, which means when some junior high kid added “Poop!” to an article, I took it out. If I saw somebody on a high school’s page adding alumni like “Big Rod Johnson” to the list of names, I deleted it. I wasn’t exactly defending the castle, if you know what I’m saying. As David Lee Roth says, it ain’t rocket surgery. It happens pretty constantly, and they don’t really do anything about it.
It’s not the article pages that are worth watching, it’s the shouting matches and edit wars that go on over trivial details that become unintentionally hilarious “Springer” moments. As you learn more about the social aspects of it, you realize that Wikipedia is really like a neighborhood bar. Except no one has a date, everyone is trying to get their way, and whenever you try and get them to help you, you realize everyone has high-level Aspergers.
Wikipedia quickly becomes a big timesink, with so much effort put into keeping the word “poop” off of pages that actual information kind of falls by the wayside. I’ve probably flushed enough time down there to finish two novels and a short story, and all I have to show for it is an epitaph that’ll read “Here Lies Reid…He Kept ‘Poop’ Off of Jennifer Love Hewitt’s Internet Biography’.”
It’s the encyclopedia anyone can edit. A quick glance at your Facebook feed will indicate why that’s a pretty foolish idea.
However, there’s something even weirder. Wikipedia is such a mess, there are other sites dedicated to criticizing it. And by “criticizing,” I mean “screaming gibberish on the internet at other people.” There was a called Wikipedia Review, which appears to be composed of current and former Wikipedia editors who spend all day making fun of other Wikipedia editors. That one wasn’t enough, so now there’s one called Wikipediocracy. There, current and former editors can rip not only Wikipedia editors, but also people who are over at Wikipedia Review.
People who donate their time to an online encyclopedia are accused of having no lives by people who contribute their time to an online forum dedicated to cataloging the wasted time spent on the encyclopedia.
I wonder if somewhere there’s a Wikipediocracy Review, which makes fun of the people making fun of Wikipedia.
– Reid Kerr wants to know if there’s a ReidAboutItReview.com.
Everything I’ve ever accomplished in my life, I’m just building on what my mom and dad taught me. Happy Father’s Day to my dad, and all the fathers out there.
My dad taught me to count and add by watching football with me. In fact, we once stopped our family Christmas celebration to watch Monday Night Football with me, the night Brett Favre threw for four touchdowns and three hundred yards in the first half against Oakland the night after his father died. After watching such an inspirational performance, he told me that when he died, he wanted me to take the day off.
My dad has a Facebook account, but only to check on me.
My dad is the two things that don’t actually exist, an retired minister and an ex-Marine.
My dad has retired from the ministry at least once a decade since the 1980′s, but is still preaching a couple of times a month, every month. I doubt he’s ever been more than a month without giving a sermon somewhere.
My dad will always be known as “Ol’ Hole In One” Kerr. And yes, he hit one.
My dad taught me to play golf and fish, and then didn’t get upset when I decided they weren’t for me.
My dad took me to my first concert, Styx, in 1983 on the “Kilroy Was Here” tour. He still thinks concerts would be better if they all had storylines.
My dad loves watching drummers, because I started out as one. He also loves Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girls,” probably because it’s got a great drum track.
My dad found out that my tiny hometown was starting a kids soccer league, so he got with some other dads and drove to Dallas one weekend to learn to play the game just so they could teach it to us.
My dad will watch anything you can keep score at, but loves to watch ESPN for the Sports Reporters show on early Sunday morning because they’re both well-informed and respectful in their discussions, unlike the rest of ESPN’s shows.
My dad is a proud fantasy football champion, and can talk strategy with the best of them. His team? The Chile Cheetahs.
My dad is a minister, a Marine, and a Dallas Cowboys fan, which means he doesn’t like to use profanity, but he does have some experience in the field.
My dad has always been “Uncle Red” in my family, even though he hasn’t had red hair in my lifetime, which was pretty confusing for me as a child.
My dad’s favorite movie is an obscure Western called “My Name Is Nobody,” and when I was growing up, it aired on Channel 11 about once a year. That night was like an annual holiday in our house. I still love it, too.
My dad once drove six hours round trip on a weeknight just to see me do stand-up comedy for fifteen minutes.
My dad would teach at church camp every summer and come home with a new batch of funny blessings for the dinner table that Mom wouldn’t want him to use. My favorite? “Rub-a-dub-dub, thanks for the grub, Yay Lord!”
My dad still loves Bo Jackson for running over Brian Bosworth.
My dad was a Marine in the Korean War, and loved M*A*S*H, but not the later years when it got too preachy.
My dad let me file down the nut on his old acoustic guitar to fit it for four strings just so I could learn to play bass. At least, I think he said it was okay. He didn’t yell at me for doing it afterwards, in any case.
My dad never said “Let me teach you something,” but somehow he always did.
Happy Mother’s Day, pop. I walk every day of my life in the footsteps you laid for me. love you, and I hope I’m not through making you proud yet.
– Reid Kerr knows Mom was a big part of all that too, but she got her day on Mother’s Day.
Sometimes things happen in my life that are so confusing, they set me back for days.
I went to my local Walmart on Sunday. Yes, this indicates a definite lack of planning on my part, but that’s not the story.
As I was getting out of my car, I noticed something on the ground behind the next car over. I walked back there to make sure it wasn’t something sharp, and there I found it.
A bowl of spaghetti.
It’s 1:00 pm on a Sunday afternoon in a Walmart parking lot, and there’s a plastic bowl of spaghetti with a metal spoon in it sitting on the concrete directly behind this car.
My mind is officially blown. I was so confused, I forgot what I was there to shop for.
Did they put it there themselves? Is that how they heat up their lunch while they shop? Were they driving around eating spaghetti in their car, and didn’t want to take it in the store with them, but couldn’t leave it inside the car because that’s where they keep their dogs?
Maybe they weren’t even aware it was there, and it had been placed there by someone else. Perhaps that’s some way of marking them for death from the Mafia. Did this family anger the Boyardee Mob, and now they’re paying the price?
(My phone’s camera takes wavy pictures in direct sunlight, by the way, that’s not actually the fabric of reality tearing around this bowl of spaghetti.)
I stayed in the parking lot for a while, hoping to see them come back out. I eventually went inside, grabbed my purchases and rushed back out to see what happened.
But the car was gone. And so was the bowl of spaghetti. There wasn’t a broken bowl left behind, nor was there a drop spilled in the parking lot. It looked like it had been rescued.
And so, I’ll never get any answers, and I’ll just keep wandering around wondering what happened. This is why I can’t focus on anything important these days. I’ve got too many unanswered questions left in my head.
– Reid Kerr wishes he made enough money to only shop at Target.
A lot of people like to do something special for their birthday. I chose to spend my birthday weekend working with my buddy Matt “Mattie 5” Bellner, covering him on the Professional Putters Tour in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Why? Why not?
FRIDAY: The Road Never Starts
We decided Friday afternoon to make the trip to Fort Smith, a place neither of us have ever been and according to various maps, a place it’s fairly difficult to get to on purpose.
We initially decide to leave around four for the five-hour trip from Longview, Texas. The two trademarks of Mattie 5’s time on the Pro Putters Tour are spectacular attire and late arrivals, so we actually wind up leaving around 8:45 Friday night.
It’s not a bad trip for the first few hours, but somewhere near Texarkana we realize Mattie’s GPS is drunk. Instead of taking Highway 259 all the way as a straight shot up through Oklahoma, it veers us off to a series of smaller roads in Arkansas. We wind up driving through tiny towns, barely two lane roads, nameless intersections, and various people’s back yards. We get the feeling that the scenery around us is nice, but it’s two in the morning and we can’t see any of it. We’re basically looking for road signs and listening for banjo music the entire time.
About 2:30am we pull into the hotel on the outskirts of Fort Smith. We’re staying at a La Quinta, which is a Spanish phrase meaning “Next To Denny’s.”
When I get into a hotel room, I immediately want to do two things: Have sex, and turn down the air conditioner as low as it’ll go. It’s part of our male nature to procreate, and also to get the most out of our money. Since I’m alone, I settle for cranking down the AC and going out to find something to eat.
It’s 2:30am on a Saturday morning in Arkansas, so the only lights on the highway are from a Walmart. We duck in there to grab some kind of foodstuffs at an odd time, as the Fort Smith Walmart employees all take one simultaneous smoke break as we walk in the door.
Which means we’re in the quietest Walmart ever.
It’s like a Walmart in “Night of the Comet.” It seems to be completely abandoned, which is actually nice. There’s no disgruntled minimum wage employee rolling a pallet of potato chips behind us to block us into an aisle, no sullen neck-tattooed burnout in a vest pushing a buggy of broken merchandise in front of us, and then just leaving it there. Walmart should really think of that for a new marketing scheme.
“Walmart…more quiet, less nimrods.”
We wind up buying a couple of pre-made sandwiches and some drinks and heading back to the hotel. At about 3:20am, I take the ham and cheese sandwich out of the microwave, and discover it’s the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten in my life (Walmart category). Sure, it’s probably the exhaustion and starvation, but still I’m awed by the heavenly delight of a Walmart sandwich. It seems somewhat fitting that it happens in Arkansas.
I turn in for bed and get a couple of hours sleep before it’s time to get right back up again, late as usual, and get to work.
SATURDAY: Putt-Putting Right Along
For this weekend, I’m covering the Professional Putters Tour, which is playing at the Putt-Putt in Fort Smith.
The Pro Putters Tour is probably something you might vaguely remember seeing on Saturday afternoons on television in the 70’s and 80’s. Putt-Putt was big in those days. Sure, there was a little bit of comedy and irony in it, but the tour was on television and there was big money at stake. Guys could win ten, fifteen grand by winning a single tournament stop.
Fast forward to now, and the PPA is made up primarily of those same guys who are still out there every weekend, driving themselves all over the neighboring states, paying for their own food and hotel rooms while trying to win pots of a hundred bucks or so.
It’s totally a love of the game thing, and if you’re expecting some cheap jokes at their expense, I’m not going to do it. I’m better than that.
Okay, I’m not really better than cheap jokes. I’ve made my career on them, really, but not here. I have a deep respect for these guys, and really anyone who does something like this out of a deep-seeded love. Whatever you did when you were 5-18 years old, you always have a love for it. Whether it’s comic books, slasher movies, baseball, Pokemon, or whatever, that’s always a part of you. I can totally understand not wanting to leave that behind.
These guys play together, drink together, bid against each other on eBay for vintage putters together, and just generally keep their childhood dreams alive. I can completely understand.
We roll out early to the Putt-Putt, which is a really nice 54-hole course. The State Championship starts with a three-round competition to narrow things down among the twenty people playing.
On Day One of the Putt Putt tour, we pause and eat at a nearby Subway. I decide to “Eat Fresh,” so I get a foot-long meatball sub with mayonnaise and cheese…but on wheat bread.
Day One ends with winner-take-all match play for the Arkansas State Championship. We get to see the seven-time Arkansas State Champion squaring off with a twenty-four year-old kid whose dad also won the title once back in the day.
For a minute, it’s big-time again. The whole tour is following these two guys around from hole to hole, guys are taking pictures, and there’s something big at stake. In the end the kid gets the trophy his dad once owned, and the former champ gets the Rocky III-“Eye Of The Tiger” drive to come back and win it back next year. Good stories all around.
After the day of Putt Putt and camerawork ends, we stop off at Outback for dinner. Due to exhaustion, starvation, and desperation, my Ribs on the Barbie quickly become the best meal I‘ve ever eaten (Non-Walmart category).
Back at the hotel, we get the gear ready for the next day and adjourn to our rooms. My wife calls, so I mute the TV and scan around for something to watch while we talk. After flipping by ESPN and Saturday Night Live, I stop on boxing.
Well, I think it’s boxing. I don’t follow the sport closely anymore, but I tune in as two Hispanic guys are beating the crap out of each other, so I figure I should stick around.
For a moment, I’m not sure exactly what I’m watching. There’s nothing else on the screen to indicate what this is, and I’ve got the volume off. I’m wondering if it’s FOX’s UFC coverage, or Showtime’s boxing after dark, or HBO’s fight night. Eventually, the round ends and the graphics pop up to indicate what’s going on. I don’t recognize the boxers, and I see that I’ve actually landed on one of the Spanish networks.
Disappointed, I change the channel.
And then I think, “Man, how racist am I?”
For some reason, I didn’t want to watch boxing on a channel in Spanish, even though I wasn’t actually listening to the broadcast. It was muted. But somehow, finding out the silence wasn’t being broadcast in English disappointed me enough to change the channel.
I felt fairly stupid, although certainly not enough to flip it back to the boxing.
Perhaps because of my disappointment but more likely because of my early descent into a meatball sub, I’m king-Hell sick Saturday night and I don’t sleep well.
SUNDAY: Oklahoma Comes To Arkansas
We get up early the next morning and hit the breakfast in the hotel, which is very similar to the leftover breakfast you’d get if you broke into someone’s summer house after they had already left to go to the beach. I grab some cereal and a piece of barely-singed toast and then we’re off.
Honest question, do you always take the hotel key card with you when you leave? I do. I don’t know why, maybe I just want to make sure I’m carrying the phone number of a local Dominos with me when I go. But I always do.
Sunday, we go back for Day Two of the tour. Same course, most of the same golfers, but this time it’s a stop on the Oklahoma Putters Tour. Yes, the Oklahoma state tour comes to Arkansas, which makes perfect sense if you know anything at all about either one of those states.
They play two different three-round tournaments on Sunday, which means I have a lot of time to stand around, apply sunscreen, and think about how very little cushion Converse sneakers provide you. It’s not really hot, but it’s definitely too hot to be standing around for two days lugging a camera and tripod around on the Arkansas asphalt.
One of the best things about hanging out on the Putt Putt circuit is the game rooms, which all are stocked to 80’s-90’s standards. Fort Smith had Gorf, Donkey Kong, and Galaga, with a “Peter Jacobsen’s Golden Tee” golf video game on the back wall.
I’ll confess, even though I’ve covered professional sports for television and radio for twenty-five years, I was a lot more excited to see “Gorf” than I was to see Peter Jacobsen.
Sunday was a long, trying day. At various points during our time there, my senses were assaulted by a guy who appeared to have shat himself, and the smell of a Long John Silver’s next door. It was a tie as to which was more breath-takingly disgusting.
Seriously, though, what the Hell is that smell? Long John Silvers has a blast radius of horror, and it’s filled with a smell unknown to man. A Burger King smells like burgers. A KFC smells like chicken. A Long John Silvers smells like a decaying deep-fried bucket of fuck. It’s not fish, nor is it chicken. It’s not a smell that occurs organically in nature.
We wrap things up around five, shake some hands, get some extra footage to use later, and head out of town.
This time though, we take 259 into and all the way through Oklahoma, driving on what appears to be a time machine. It’s nothing but forests and winding roads for most of it, pausing a few times to open up into tiny towns that time forgot. We see several locally owned businesses that have the word “Store” in the title, just so the local folks will know you can buy hardtack and flour there, I guess. There’s video rental stores still operating, and signs for national chains that use old logos we haven’t seen in a decade. I felt sure my debit card wouldn’t be accepted or even recognized at most of these stores.
Even the casinos there seem old. There’s a giant flashy sign out front for a “Cherokee Casino,” but the building itself looks like an old aircraft hangar. Oklahoma people are content to give away their money in rural settings, it seems.
Part of Oklahoma are so winding and hilly, my ears start to pop. It’s like going on a airplane trip at sixty miles an hour, surrounded by trees and areas that look like you could wander off into them and never be heard from again.
About halfway through our trip across the Eastern part of the state, we hit the Broken Bow/Beaver’s Bend tourist area where there are at least some people who’ve come to camp out and live at the lake for the holiday weekend. We stopped in Idabel (Population: 198, Town Motto: “What Are YOU Looking At?”) for gas just as a crowd of angry young bored slab-headed men stomped across the parking lot, coming up from their cabin in search of anything they could beat up or have sex with. Luckily, we fit into neither one of those categories, so they settled for walking across the road to a bar and grill of deep fried stuff and beer.
We decide it would be both safer and more hygienic to just keep driving, so we make it out of the state and back to Texas, where we dine like royalty at Ye Olde Dairy Queen in Omaha.
We finally check back into Longview around 11pm, and after unloading the gear I grab a shower at Mattie’s apartment to wash the sunscreen, sweat, and Arkansas off of me before I drive back to Tyler. I throw on a pair of old basketball shorts and a t-shirt to make the drive.
My birthday weekend ends with me taking a midnight drive home while not wearing underwear, but not for any good reason. That seems about right.
– Reid Kerr is actually looking forward to going through a box of old Putt-Putt DVD’s.
To say my mom and dad are my biggest fans is to make a ridiculous understatement, somewhere along the lines of calling the Beatles a rock band, or referring to Vin Diesel as just another thespian. Everything I am in my life, I owe to them. Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, and all the mothers out there.
My mom always wants to read my writings, although she warns me not to send her anything too dark, and I respect that.
My mom hangs out on my Facebook and supports me, and waits until later on to ask questions about how Facebook works.
My mom doesn’t really like fantasy football, but she’ll always offer to play if we need one more to make an even number of teams. Her first draft pick will always be Peyton Manning, because she thinks he’s a good person, and she hates people who make a lot of add/drops because she doesn’t think that’s the right way to coach a team.
My mom has always let me feel my own pain and make my own mistakes, and then when the moment came that I realized it and needed help, was there for me.
My mom worked harder to try and explain algebra to me than my algebra teacher ever did.
My mom found out I actually graduated college twelve years after she thought I did, and didn’t kill me. Barely.
My mom has never forgiven the Baltimore Colts for cutting Johnny Unitas.
My mom never missed me in one of my high school sports events, even though every one of them was awful.
My mom broke her ankle at the age of 75, playing on the monkey bars with her granddaughter.
My mom still let me drive, even after I plowed through the side of the garage in her car.
My mom once drove six hours round trip on a weeknight just to see me do stand-up comedy for fifteen minutes.
My mom always let me talk her out of an extra nickel for the tax when I bought comic books with my one dollar allowance, especially if I was buying one with the Thing in it. She liked him because even though he was a famous super-hero, he was still his “Aunt Petuniah’s bashful blue-eyed baby-boy.”
My mom eventually gave me a raise on my allowance, and made me keep a ledger with it so I could learn to handle my own money. It sort of worked. She also tried about a dozen times to try and help me to organize my comics, but we both eventually gave up.
My mom let me move out at seventeen to finish high school with my friends three hours away, even though it hurt.
My mom found out my favorite food in the world is the Seafood Bisque from Gaido’s in Galveston, so she bought their cookbook and learned to make it. And every single time she does, I eat so much I make myself sick on it. And I’ll continue that tradition.
My mom wants me to be able to handle failure too, so she always asks about that when she asks how things are going with the writing.
My mom would straighten my hair for me growing up when I was in high school, and wanted long hair because I was playing in a band. It made my hair as dead as hay, but it was still what I wanted, and she could sympathize because she knew what it was like to have curly hair and want it straight. That’s the curse of curly hair, especially in the humid Gulf Coast conditions of Beaumont.
My mom took years and years of piano lessons growing up, but when I told her I didn’t want to take lessons because I didn’t want “anyone telling me what to do,” she didn’t make me. I was seven, by the way, and already raging against the machine of authority. I play piano now, but not nearly as well as she does. Last time I was in town we worked our way through some old songbooks with me playing the chords and her playing the melody, and it was the most fun I’ve ever had playing music.
My mom is sometimes amazed at the things I can do, and I don’t think she realizes I can only do them because of her and my dad.
Happy Mother’s Day, mom. All that I am is because of you. I love you, and I hope I’m not through making you proud yet.
– Reid Kerr wants to be sure Dad knows he gets credit for most of those things too, but Father’s Day isn’t here yet.