Saturday, April 11, 2009

Post Titled: MUSKEGON

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non-fiction, michigan:
Earlier today I opened up a magazine and there was an article about a young black physician in Muskegon... thinking: "gosh, Muskegon... where have I heard of that town before..." which induced a flashback (I can't remember if I blogged this and if I did, bear with me because this is how I remember it now) but on my way to a wedding in SF in Nov. 2008 I had about eight hours of downtime at the Detroit airport, so of course six of them were spent sitting at the bar at the FOX Sports Bar and Grill. At one point a girl somewhere in her 20s and actually somewhat attractive with a royal heaping nest of ringlet-ly permed platinum blonde hair sat next to me at the bar. For an hour we said nothing, just watching the four flatscreens mounted above the bar until she commented on what was going on on one of the court-TV shows:
"He did it, he cheated on her. He cheated on her. Yep." (nodding)
"He... that guy?" I gesture towards a normal looking guy on the screen sheepishly defending himself against the militant questioning of a angry overacting judge
"Yep. Seen it all before, he totally cheated on her. And that it his kid."
She goes on to imply her mistrust of Ellen DeGeneres for her lesbianism, and I just watch her profile as she chews gum while smoking endlessly (in one of the only airport bars in America where smoking is still allowed) as she plowed through her 2nd or 3rd mixed drink while never really looking me in the eye, never really even turning her head towards me as she talks, she just looks at the tv square-on.
"Flyin makes me nervous. Don't like to fly too sober, y'know? I... I have only done it... I have only flown on a plane 2 times before. It freaks me out." she states.
I try to talk her down. Use the typical "it is safer than driving" arguments, which kind of works.
After a lot of chatting she tells me that she is from Muskegon.
"Muskegon. It is a real small town. On the Lake Muskegon. But my mom lives outside Buffalo now with her boyfriend, that is who I'm goin to go visit."

Due to my own ingnorage of the geography of the Great Lake states I have to ask to confirm that that is in Michigan, which it is. It turns out that she is a hairdresser. With small periodic questions I try to figure out who and what this creature is, but don't get too far. For example:
"What do you guys usually do when you go to visit your mom?"
"Oh, not much. We talk, I do her hair, then we make dinner... not much really."
"What is Muskegon like?"
"Oh, it ain't much. I work a lot. I gotta car, so I can go out and do stuff. I talk to my girlfriends a lot. Not much, really."

When I tell her that i live in Berlin, Germany she seems genuinely disinterested, but I pick up later that that apparent disinterest might be masking complete and total ignorance. Later she asks: "Do they have toilet paper in Berlin?" and I calmly answer "yes, there are basically the same modern conveniences there as there are here in the United States..." but I kind of think that our conversation will make me want to visit Muskegon for the rest of my life, or at least every time I see the word.


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