Small Town America



Is that smoke in the distance? And just like that, bum-rushed by clouds, and an almost blinding rain. I’m the one guy in a matchbox car with four women who have to look at anything except the road. My buzz wore off before we even hit the highway, which we’re presently careening down at 70 miles per hour. I’m conversing with a teen whose dad doesn’t believe in dyslexia, which his daughter happens to have. I see it now in the fields–fire.

Everything starts simple enough, a farewell Facebook post, half a pot of of coffee, and a beer. Just in time for the arrival of my wife’s mother, sister-in-law, and cousin. It’s a decent drive from here to our destination, so we all loaded up on food from Sckavone’s restaurant. When you haven’t seen someone in a year, the first few hours of “conversation” are all bullshit. I buried my face in a book and prayed we could all hold our piss for the duration of the passage. Mile after mile of desert, plains, and fields. In fact, the the one scenic part of the drive ends about an hour out of Portland, then it’s just another long drive. This journey came to its end with lightning setting fire to a field quickly fleeing from us.

This odd little town is known nationwide for its Walla Walla Sweet Onions, but when you really step inside and engage you get a distinct ’50s kinda feel. Tourism makes the city ever expanding. The introduction of various new cultures to the city has proved to be socially taxing, only tolerated due to its fiscal benefits. As for tonight though, we won’t be in city, it’s straight to the outskirts–farmland.

The evening begins with a taco dinner, and the uniting of both sides of my wife’s family–Red vs. Hick Red–with their respective renditions of christian family values. It’s calm, but I sense a very awkward undertone. I ignore it, we all have racist relatives who deny climate change. Despite all that bullshit, tacos were being served.

If I don’t eat I have to talk. What does a liberal say to people who think Bush was a hero? My wife sits nervously, her eye’s jolting back and forth between family members. She has the patience to carry a dead conversation, so all I have to do is eat, and nod my head from time to time. It’s a dry house and I’m growing restless as the family thins out for the evening. Luckily, nature provided its own entertainment, which far outweighed the prospect of family movies–a lightning storm.


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