Happy Wednesday, everybody. Or Hump Day, if you prefer (I prefer). Right about now we should be rolling into my mother's driveway, half dead with exhaustion and painfully sick of every CD in the car. I'm not entirely sure what we'll be walking into upon our arrival in the Mother Land, (feverish, early-morning prayer or everybody sound asleep, it could go either way), but one thing is for sure: We will be in Arkansas.
Ahhh, good 'old Arkansas, home of the fleas, the ticks and the chiggers. Fortunately, this time of year we shouldn't encounter many of those pests. Smack dab in the middle of the bible belt, or what I like to call Hypocrisity City. The state itself is rather beautiful, at least the portions in the Ozarks where I grew up. Lots of rivers for drunken canoeing, tree-covered bluffs for drunken lake jumping, and scenic vistas galore (mostly used for drunken golfing). Truly, it's beautiful. If you can overlook the dude living in the converted chicken shack over yonder. Seriously, I've seen it.
Located in the northwest corner of the state, and (in)famous for the Wal-Mart home office and the first Super Center in the country, this area boasts a much higher dollar to person ratio than much of the rest of the state. Dude in the chicken shack? He sends his kid to the same high school that the Wal-Mart executives' kids attend. Only difference between those kids? One walks ten miles uphill in each direction, shoeless of course, and the other drives a brand new Hummer and stops at Starbucks with daddy's credit card. It's a strange juxtaposition, the meeting of the very poor and the very wealthy. Of course, there are plenty of people in the middle of those two extremes, in the gap between $100 and $100,000,000. I fell somewhere in that gap.
I have photos of us as kids at the Sugar Creek Days parade on the Bentonville Square, playing with two of Sam Walton's grand kids (I want to say the boy was Tom and the girl was Sam, but who the hell knows if I'm remembering that right). I have no idea how my mother knew that family, or WHY IN GOD'S NAME she didn't sleep with one of Sam's sons, for christ sake. Seriously? How awesome would it be if I was writing this from space? Because with that kind of money, I'd totally buy myself a space ship. I'd be an astronaut right this minute, except not the kind that has to do math and science and stuff. I'd be more like the astronaut monkey that goes for the ride and looks cute and all, but doesn't have to contribute to the mission. That's what money will buy you! Guaranteed laziness at zero gravity baby!
I remember one of those Sugar Creek Day parades ending in tragedy at the frog races. Yes, they had big fat frogs and you could lay some money down on them. Mostly they just hopped around aimlessly, but the length of their legs kind of guaranteed a forward propulsion, and they were separated by lanes to keep them going in the right direction. It was like the most bass-ackwards version of horse racing I've ever seen. These frogs were huge, but that didn't stop people from accidentally stepping on them every so often. The guy running the frog races didn't seem to care if one of the frogs was injured. So long as the dollars were coming in, those frogs would keep on racing.
I confronted the frog racing man when I saw that one of the frogs was trailing some kind of innards along as he hopped. Yeah, he was pretty much split open right down the side and all his guts were starting to leak out. After a few moments of haggling, I don't remember exactly how it went ("Excuse me mister, but your frogs are leaking." "No, no...that's just their shoelaces, little lady. Wanna race one?"), I was able to take the big, leaky frog along with me. Now my mom and I had to figure out what to do with it. There was no rushing this frog to the vet for an emergency frog-ectomy, that much we knew. It was going to die. The only question was, how long would it have to suffer? We decided to put it out of it's misery. That's right, I committed frog-ocide at the tender age of 8 or so.
How would we kill it? Well, that got us thinking about how frogs normally die. Any guesses? Anyone? Bueller? Yeah, that's exactly right: we decided to run it over with the car. Fast, painless (??), natural as this racing frog was going to get at this point. Except he kept hopping away before my mom had time to run him over.
And then I think we went to Dairy Queen, so you know, it was a pretty standard day in Arkansas.