So, we’re on vacation to South Dakota.
At the time of this writing, I’ve been driving for two days through rain, and assiduously avoiding the internet. I know that MMO Champion has released tons of new info on Cataclysm, and I am proud to say I don’t actually have any interest in the details at all. I COULD check it out… but naaah.
As we have traveled through the delightful reaches of South Dakota, there have been two wonderfully trippy moments to share.
Both moments happened in Mitchell last night.
First, we went to the Corn Palace, a fine testament to the struggle of early Americans to come up with marketing ploys to suck people into bringing cash into their city.
No, that’s not sarcasm. The Corn Palace put on a 15 minute movie, and in the first 15 seconds, the movie made it clear, two guys back in the day of the wild west, before South Dakota was a state, were chatting, wondering to each other “What can we do to bring people to our city and spend money?” The answer? To steal someone else’s idea. “Another city has a wheat palace, and a different city tried to make a corn palace to compete but failed to build it. Why don’t WE steal their idea, build a corn palace, and use it as a draw to sucker people from miles around to come see it, and while here, spend their money on food and rooms to sleep?” “Good idea!”
To prove the efficacy of their idea, here we were, 80 years later, sitting in the Corn Palace, about to buy souvenirs, room booked at a local hotel, and dinner about to be purchased. Just another group of tourists, suckered in to see the Corn Palace. Go us.
Still, the actual first amazing trippy thing? The Corn Palace was filled with tacky gifts to buy. As Alex gleefully filled a bag with selected shiny rocks (only $4.99 per bag!) I browsed among the stuffed Jackalopes and carved corn sculptures (with stickers saying Made in China!), and made a glorious discovery that harkened back to my earliest childhood.
What did I find?
I found a display of candy… candy CIGARETTES!!!
Oh hell yes, these were the shit. I’d go to the Five and Dime store, and buy a couple packs of fake candy smokes, and pretend to light up outside. The candy tasted like crap, but they were cigarettes! A paperboard box stamped with a realistic logo, the little tax stamp faked at the top, the whole deal.
I hadn’t seen these in decades, and here they were!
I just had to buy a pack.
They sit here on my hotel desk, reminding me of a simpler time, a better time, a golden era of America. A time when seat belts didn’t even come on cars, where kids could sleep on the back seat during long rides, where everybody smoked, even the kids, where you didn’t care about cholesterol; you cooked with Crisco lard straight out of the can by the ice cream scoopful, where the hot new thing was this kickass video game called Pac-Man, and the rich kid down the block had an actual video game on his TV at home, this badass game two kids could play against each other called PONG!
Damn right, Pong was real, bitches! Now that’s hardcore.
I didn’t spend 59 cents on a tacky souvenir, I bought a gateway to my childhood. A childhood where, if someone had ever suggested someone would be stupid enough to spill hot coffee from McDonalds on themselves and then sued McDonalds for not posting a warning label that the hot coffee would be, like, hot, that we naively would assume they’d be laughed out of court, and then mocked for the rest of their lives.
Yes, a time of innocence, before reality crushed my spirit into endless cynicism that doubles in this world as being a realist.
Hey, I can really spin some words out of a pack of candy smokes, can’t I?
The second amazing thing I’m going to leave more to your imagination.
We went to a truck stop across the street from our hotel for dinner.
It was a truck stop with a fairly large home cooking restaurant.
Our waitress had a tattoo on her face. A tattoo that stopped me dead in my tracks with complete and total brain lock.
It is NOT overstating things to say that my brain tried to process what my eyes saw, and then broke.
I’ll preface this by saying, I drove a truck cross-country for a couple years after I got out of the Marines. A full tractor-trailer, 18 wheeler, yadda yadda rig. I lived out of the sleeper cab rather than use hotel rooms on the road, I ate out of truck stops and diners, and I saw every bit of the continental US.
I learned that there are certain… unsavory facts the kills the romance of our heroic long distance truckers.
One of those facts, is lot lizards.
Lot lizard, and I’m totally serious, is the term truckers use for women of negotiable affection who cruise the truck lots by night, looking for cash in exchange for hauling some ash.
Lot lizards. That’s what they call ’em.
Well, a lot of truckers are single and want to hump anything that moves. And a lot of truckers are family drivers that want absolutely nothing to do with lot lizards.
So, since the way lot lizards get business is by walking up and down the lines of rumbling, idling trucks tapping on windows and propositioning the drivers, there have been two methods developed on the down low to signal ones’ interests.
The drivers that want nothing to do with lot lizards can easily find and buy stickers that show a sleazy looking female lizard with scales and hideous lipstick, with a big circle/bar symbol over it, to signify “No lot lizards”. I’ve also seen handmade signs that just say, “No Lot Lizards”, for use by truckers that don’t own their own rigs but drive company ones.
Then there are the guys (and presumably ladies) that DO want to make a lot lizard hookup.
Hey, it’s just like gold sellers. Everybody says they don’t use ’em, but SOMEBODY is keeping them coming back, right?
Well, for truckers looking for lot lizards, there are these pictures you see of a sexy lady in silhouette, usually of solid silver color. You can get them as stickers, you can get them on bumper stickers or license plate frames, and you see them most prominently on big trailer mud flaps.
Yes, that’s what they mean. If you ever bought one and displayed it and had no idea what it meant, however it may have started, that’s what it means in the trucking industry now.
So, truckers who are seeking the attentions of the lot lizards make sure they display that prominently on their truck somewhere.
Which kind of trucker was I?
I’ll put it this way.
After a long day of driving, anybody rapping on MY truck window waking my ass up pisses me off. I’m a tired, grumpy old bear, leave me the hell alone.
So this brings us right up to last night, at a truck stop diner, a family restaurant, and our waitress… all properly attired in clean, neat uniform… hair up in a bun, pleasant smile… and one of those leaning lady nudes TATTOOED ON HER FACE NEXT TO HER RIGHT EYE!!!
I’m serious. I looked at her, my eyes noticed a tattoo on her face, my eyes tracked over, identified the image… and my brain tried to process the sequence of events that would lead a woman to choose to have THAT tattooed permanently on her face forever, and my brain simply went “Uh, wha? Huh? Whadafu?”
I still have no idea. Not a clue.
And you know what?
I don’t really want to know. I’m just going to chalk it up as a “Wow, every time I think I’ve seen it all, I find out that I haven’t even come close” moment.
So, with that lovely image ringing in your minds, I shall say farewell. May you enjoy your week of constant barrages of WoW info, while I check out the rough loveliness of the badlands of South Dakota, the Mount Rushmore faces, and as many nice meals out as I can scam out of Cassie.