Tales from the Trip 1

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.


14 thoughts on “Tales from the Trip 1

  1. Candy Cigarettes… Yup, back to the childhood I go, when we played in the street on the weekend and moved out of the way of the occasional car. Germany, not the USA, but that’s a minor detail.

    I enjoyed this post and the chance to get another glimpse at your life, past and present. Whenever you get into those odd moods where you wonder why you blog and all that, pour yourself a drink until that mood goes away. Some of us need your posts, whatever they’re about 😀


  2. I loved candy cigarettes, too. My brother and I used to beg for a box from my mother at the grocery store. And sometimes we got it and shared them. Sometimes we got bubblegum instead. But it was fun to pretend to be big boys and girls and eat the candy cigarettes. I was fascinated by the red tips. I liked the taste, too. But they disappeared about the time I entered high school, although I’d forgotten I liked them long before then.

    Thanks for the memories….


  3. I used to love the candy cigs as well. Here in Oklahoma they outlawed them, because they reasoned that kids get into the habit of smoking by buying and eating candy. Go Figure!!! It was great to remember those wonderful times when you could eat enough candy to make yourself wonderfully sick for 50 cents, and you could ride your bike anywhere without worrying about some pervert kidnapping you. I can still remember the day my Dad brought home our Pong!!! We played it for hours on end.


  4. Well i hope you had a great time Here in South Dakota. I am from Rapid city, SD. And Yes the Corn Palace is a Joke, i got suckered into it too…….lol
    Even After a Million signs I hope you just kept driving past Wall Drug also. The Only Crappy thing is Been Real RAINY around here lately, heard the news say we have gotten more rain than seattle for the month of june so far.

    But Welcome to our Little Corner of the World.


  5. Welcome to the billboard state! Atleast after driving 340 miles you have the beautiful black hills to enjoy. I hope you didn’t get suckered into wall drug though. That’s the worst trap of them all. Be sure to go see the cosmos place though. Its real cool and trippy


  6. Always something to learn her on the BBB. Great story… and good to know!

    I’ve seen that logo – if you wanna call it that – on road trips. I usually saw it on the mudflaps (had to google that!) of the big rigs. It kinda creeped me out as a kid (creepy truck driver guy + naked lady symbol = gross) and I’m wondering if they meant the same thing back then… the same back then as yours.

    Came across this wiki about the mudflap girl – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mudflap_girl


  7. I loved candy cigarettes, too. My brother and I used to beg for a box from my mother at the grocery store. And sometimes we got it and shared them. Sometimes we got bubblegum instead. But it was fun to pretend to be big boys and girls and eat the candy cigarettes. I was fascinated by the red tips. I liked the taste, too. But they disappeared about the time I entered high school, although I’d forgotten I liked them long before then.

    Thanks for the memories….


  8. Wow! I never knew what those women were for. I just thought truckers were like generic guys and wanted women all over there stuff.


  9. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!

    Sorry the fact that the woman in question worked at a truck stop and had to know what it ment and yet had it inked onto her face makes me laugh. Also makes me think where the bulk of her money came from. Lizards go figure. Enjoy the faces on the Hill, it’s a neat sight. Makes me sad though to think that it could be done and yet oil can’t be stopped from a busted pipe in the ocean.


  10. There is a candy store right around the corner from me that sells candy smokes in 3 different varieties. They have a website you can buy them from if you want to. A direct link to the candy smokes is: Jumbo Jelly Beans (I hope the link works right, never tried a link here before) If not, see link below, click “Order Online” and then “Nostalgic Candy”.

    They mainly do jumbo jelly beans (I have several pounds at home from my trip there over the weekend) that are awesome. The main site is http://www.jumbojellybeans.com/index.php and no, I don’t work for them or have any connection other than I like their stuff. Oh, if you like jaw breakers, they have them in all sizes from about 3mm to around 6 inches wide.


  11. I am so jealous… the badlands of south dakota… the areas around Interior and all that… are my favorite places in the US to drive through. Have fun!


  12. We were in South Dakota for two weeks for training while we were in the Army, nice place. Interesting thunderstorms during the summer. I bet you guys are having fun.


  13. Ya know, now I think I know more than I wanted to know about the trucking industry. The term is spot-on, though… happy and safe travels!


  14. omg, candy cigarettes….. I grew up in USSR, but some our relatives on a paternal side, moved to USA in early 7oties I think it was and once i an while they would send us sort of care packages. cheap but super bright neon children clothing, brick a brack trinkets that now that I think of it were really nothing special, but its not something that we had, so it seemed special by the virtue of it being so rare and…..candy cigarettes. my grandma used to have a box, that she kept displayed one of those giant sectional bookcases/display cases and every time I stayed over, I tried to get her to let me eat one. while I was trying whine them out of her, I used to pretend to smoke them and generally carefully played with them, making sure to preserve the box. eventually my persistence payed off and over the course of several years (yep years) I ate away at the box. god that candy was awful. It was especially awful to someone who grew up next to chocolate factory and had a chance to have a pick of super fresh candy of all sorts, few times a week (my parents even then were a bit health freakish so I had a lot more daily access to fruit then to candy 😛 ) But the sheer incongruity of eating a cigarette, pretending that it was shrinking not becasue you were nibbling on it but becasue you smoked it away… /goes off to see if one could buy those things online


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