Ode to a Town Best Forgotten
22 May 2008
Montana and Wyoming are not unattractive states, but as the mountains flattened out to hills flattened out to farms, the scenery was getting tiresome. It rained all day, at times hard enough to completely obscure the tiresome scenery, not to mention the unlit motorists with whom we were sharing I-90. So pretty much everything about the drive made us look forward to ending it. We did so upon arriving at Gillette, Wyoming, where we chose to spoil ourselves with a slightly nicer hotel than the budget shoe boxes we’ve been patronizing thus far. I’m unsure if it’s a blessing or a curse that this nondescript hotel is the most exciting thing in town.
Gillette’s main thoroughfare, Douglas Highway, is currently enduring some major construction, and its poorly-designed temporary traffic-routing system demands lightning reflexes and off-road vehicular capabilities. This favors the truck-heavy local populace quite a bit more than pavement-bound visitors in matchbox cars, and that’s fair enough. There’s absolutely no reason for Gillette to expect visitors; I’m not even sure why they have a hotel.
Some escapism was in order, and one of the two movie theaters within sixty miles was showing the newly-released Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. A haiku:
the Nazis are gone
Russians have taken their place
they can’t aim either
Seeing a movie was exactly what I needed to make me feel more at home here. Like my fellow Philadelphians, these people are cinephiles. Their unbridled passion for narrative on celluloid won’t allow them to wait until the film is over to begin discussing it. In the likely absence of subtext and symbolism, their excited chatter revolves around the humorous screen time given to small, furry animals. Their children can’t be indoctrinated into this grand tradition soon enough, paraded ceremoniously into the theater as infants in the hopes that spiritual enlightenment might penetrate them through some sort of transcendental Technicolor osmosis. And perhaps most importantly, these savvy filmgoers are clued in to the toxicity of closing credits, ready to begin a clamorous evacuation of the theater precisely on cue, at that perilous moment when the pretty pictures on the screen are overtaken by ugly, ugly words.
It will be a tearful goodbye tomorrow, Gillette, one that I’m sure your poor drainage system will be unable to handle and your strange abundance of water slides will gladly absorb.