i haven't seen my brother in years. it's been a while. my father asked me a few months ago that we should see 'em. i said naturally. love my brother, was my best friend. now he's going off to afghanistan. already did two tours in iraq, the lucky bastard.
i was sad to leave kansas. i'm not surprised i had fun in kansas. a fella can find fun anywhere, provided you have the right attitude. i started off kansas by procuring a sixer of copperhead pale ale by free state which was recommend. it was delicious as he said it would be. it was good to see my brother and his wife. they live in junction city in a house just as i imagined, tucked away in a neat cul-de-sac. they hadn't a basement, which i found odd considering it's kansas.
while my brother toiled away for the army man, his wife (lisa), my father and i went fishing the next day. we procured licenses at a wal-mart. my father suggested i buy the five day license and i moaned, "we're going to fish everyday?" he said "yup."
our first fishing expedition was a small pond behind the wal-mart. my father will throw down anywhere. i cast my line into tree branches. dad was upset. this would be a recurring theme.
man made milford lake was next and i caught a fish. almost immediately too. a 3-4 lb large mouth bass. first fish i've ever caught even though i've never fished before. my father shouted instructions which i tried to follow but somehow didn't. in the end he succeeded in getting the fish and unhooking it. i reluctantly placed my thumb and ring finger upon the fish's lower lip and posed for pictures all the while thinking "hurry up and let's throw this thing back in the water!"
we actually only fished for two days and my father never caught one as big as i. i also didn't catch anything else, save for tree limbs and the occasional weeds. all in all i broke three strings, lost two fake worms, and took about a year off of my father's life. the last lake we fished at was designated for handicapped people and children under sixteen. my father didn't give a shit. we walked along the bank and i saw one kid with his line caught in a tree. a little further, the same befell his brother. their dad helped untangle the mess. i saw my fate as i was about the age of the dad. i threw a couple lines, didn't catch anything. and then i caught a tree. my dad came over to assist me in getting my line down. somehow i caught a bigger fish than him. i asked him, "was that beginner's luck?" he laughed. we both knew the answer, though secretly i'm sure he was ashamed.
after fishing on tuesday, i reclined with one of my remaining copperheads and watched a hilarious arnold schwarzenegger action film, resigning myself for the night. out of the blue, lisa asked me if i wanted to go to aggieville. aggieville the affectionately named bar district where students of kansas state congregate. aggieville, i presume, because it's an agricultural school. i could be right. anyways. thank god. this girl's from milwaukee. i would like to have some fun. she said she wouldn't drink.... only to appease any listening audience outside of me. she did only have two beers and ended the night with a non-alcoholic coor's. it does exist if you're interested.
well aggieville in manhatten is fun. the bar district was set up like many other small college towns. streets and side streets packed with drunken coeds. if you've never been in a college town, it was essentially like your typical college town. now, we wanted a game of pool and didn't find it at auntie mae's parlor. but we found a real swell bar instead. you're ushered downstairs as that is where the bar is. the ceiling couldn't have been higher than seven feet, in fact it was probably a few inches shorter. it was surprisingly not claustrophobic. i ordered me a tall glass of tall grass ipa that went down fantastic. it was an improv comedy night the bowl haircutted, drunken student next to me said. he had been to many bars in troubled eastern europe and throughout africa, he told me, but this was his favorite bar. i nodded my head in approval even though i hadn't even been to those parts of the world. the first comedic act had a man retelling a nickleback song, lisa informed me. good thing i didn't laugh as much as i would have, as she's a big nickleback fan (i didn't ask her outright, but i gathered as much). next i had tall grass' stout, which was like nectar to a snobby bee. so sweet, so sweet. it invited you to savor. it invited you to contemplate how fucking good it is. ethereal.
we found our game of pool alas, at some roadhouse off the interstate. lisa hesitated as the place looked like a roadhouse. i insisted we enter. the place was empty. it was maybe midnight, a little after probably. the woman at the bar differed to a man when i entertained the possibility of drinks. i asked the man if was possible to get a drink at this hour, he said "whaddya want." splendid. so i had a pabst and we played a game of free pool. turns out my brother's wife spent her formative years in pool halls. this is why i don't play for money.
my hangover vanished once along the curvy roads leading to the konza prairie. i secretly hoped that there was a spigot i could draw water from near the trailhead, as i foolishly had no water. there was none. my posse abandoned me at a fork not too far from the aforementioned trailhead and left me with four marlboro lights. i was thankful they did as this trail was meant for me alone. and it was magnificent. the sky was blue, the land was open, and everything was mine for the taking. rolling hills, green tall grass, not a soul in sight, not a destination in sight. just me and the prairie. time stood still for a moment. i couldn't hear civilization. i could have been in the 1800's. i could have been a vagabond headed west with nothing more than my haversack. a phone call reminded me that i was of this era. good thing too as we had reservations at the brookville hotel in abiliene. i made haste to reunite with my family as there was fried chicken on tap.
our last night together, we sat on the spacious couches and recliners and bitched about why one of us wanted to watch what we did. we settled fittingly on the coen brother's epic, o brother, where art thou? and blissed the night away.
long story short. on the way back i thought we might hit up one of them kansas city bbq joints. however, my father has a condition adverse to bbq and it annoys me. our meal on the road was munchos potato chips and other gas station fare. a bag of rold gold pretzels he had me empty into a bag of lays potato chips and then crunch them together. it was an elaborate process and i don't think i'm quite doing it justice. anyways, he liked them both together.
thought of a souvenir t shirt. it's called kansas hippies. someone is hugging a tree, their feet are off the ground cuz a tornado is close by. tornadoes were always on my pops' mind. he would have the weather station on whenever we were in the house. i remarked to anyone that could hear me, while adjusting my britches, "seems like we came to kansas to watch the weather channel."
you might be wondering what little this has to do with spending time with my brother. the trip had more to do with spending time with my pops. our first road trip together. i am not lying when i say that i will always remember fondly at this time in particular. i always knew that i had an incredible father, even if he isn't my biological one. when my father told me about the trip, i knew what it would entail, just father and son chain smoking across the heartland. i didn't know that i would become that much closer to him. most of the stories involving my father on this trip, i've learned, are best heard while high.