A silent drive from Holland, MI to Lansing, MI. Still hung over from the previous night’s nachos and soda, along with some apocalypse television (Neil deGrasse Tyson, thank you for your important work showing us how futile and short-lived our whole existence is, and how there will be nothing to do once a gamma ray burst is inevitably pointed in our direction), I float along the expressway in a haze. The trees, the green grass, the religious billboards, while all welcome memories from my former home, pass through my field of vision like blurry, unimportant, hard-to-notice objects…perhaps like motes of dust, or old crumpled-up pieces of paper that might be magazines or newspapers, but I can’t be bothered to find out.
I think I will have time to relax before the interview, but I was late getting going. I have to drive straight to Mac’s bar, where I get out of my car and stand in the parking lot across the street, wondering what to expect. I can see the film crew a few cars over, preparing their equipment. I’m still in too much of a daze to talk to anyone, so I just stand there, knowing they don’t recognize me and letting the knowledge of that fact give me some sort of feeling of empowerment. After I see them go into the large square building to prepare for my arrival, I set to the task of putting on interesting clothing. For I do not allow myself to be seen on camera or on stage or by anyone in media unless I have on a ridiculous outfit. Today, I chose a yellow suit coat and red button up shirt; an outfit I call “hot dog cart.”
I enter the bar and am immediately hit in the face with an undeniable and unavoidable cloud of thick, fresh air. That’s right, since I last left the great Pleasant Peninsula (I’m referring to the lower peninsula. The upper peninsula is a dangerous land overrun with bandits and marauders), the state government banned smoking in business establishments. Finally, I can perform a show in a club without my equipment being damaged. Smart thinking.
The daylight through the thin cracks of the windows would normally cast dull beams of light that do not illuminate their surroundings, on account of the smoke of the daytime patrons. Those usual people, on account of the new smoking laws, are out in the street, standing in the gutter, thinking about different things they can smoke and different ways to smoke them. One man, with half a beard, dressed only in burlap sacks and pants made of pieces of reusable grocery bags, discusses the possibilities that could be opened up by holding a cigarette with the middle and ring finger, palm-out, upside-down. Another man argues about the feasibility of a personal smoke-filled tank and other ways to survive in fresh air environments. With them gone, there is no one in the bar except for the most prudish of Lansing citizens. People with glasses and sweater vests. Unobstructed by smoke, the yellow sunlight shines freely and brightly on the floor and walls of the room. While at night, the club is a fun, happening place, during the day we can see the dirt and scum from years of tar and shoe dirt. Human bones litter the entry way to the bathroom. A spider the size of a Buick (Skylark) with glowing red eyes waits hungrily, licking its enormous lips with its surprisingly bovine tongue, in a crevice by the pool table. The green of the pool table, it turns out, is actually moss. A slime mold behind the bar mixes drinks for a couple of people who must have gotten out of work early.
I see the crew fiddling about with some electronic equipment in the corner. I approach them menacingly, positioning myself in just such a way as to allow my shadow to look many times larger than my actual body. As I approach them, the intensity of the background music heightens, their knees knock together, and their teeth chatter, as they stutter, in search of something in the English language to make sense of this approaching monster. I hear such passing phrases as “dog man,” “man ghost,” and “hot dog.” Upon realizing I am in fact a flesh and blood man just like the three of them (and only partially like the fourth of them, who is a woman), their knees relax, their teeth stop, and the tense looks of fear on their faces melt away into looks of relief. Once again, their lives would be spared and they would receive the gift of another day of life. But what horrible fates await them tomorrow?!
A man named Sean asks me innumerable questions about such varying topics as my likes and dislikes, my political stance, my religion, what kind of underwear I wear, who do I think I am, and an uncountable many more. He drills me on topics I am not prepared for. He takes me to task on my unfulfilled promises. Unafraid of me (now that it is clear I am not a man ghost), he reveals to me the dark heart of true journalism; the saliva-soaked jowls of the insatiable hunger of the journalistic journey for truth. I present to you here now, for your enjoyment, the fruits of his informational crusade. For what man is afraid of a mandog who himself is a dog of a man?
You can quote me on that.