4:30PM Thursday:Â As I sat in my car, ready to begin my journey to the film/interactive portion of SXSW in Austin, Texas, I was reminded of the fact that while I have many great qualities—I can eat an entire pound of bacon and watch three episodes of Luther right afterwards, I can pee in the shower without splashing any on whoever might be in there with me, and, while I haven’t tried to do this in some time, I’m pretty sure I can dunk a tennis ball—one quality I do not possess is the ability to not procrastinate, even when I know said procrastination will cost me money.
I first learned I would be a panelist at SXSW a few months ago, and could have very easily purchased a plane ticket to Austin while the rates were still reasonable. (I don’t remember exactly how much it was, but I know it was in the ballpark of $350-$400) Naturally, I didn’t purchase them then, and as the weeks passed, the rates continued to climb. When I checked back a couple months later, they’d nearly tripled.
After seeing this, I began to talk myself into driving.
“I always wanted to make a long road trip. I’d save money, get to drive through a bunch of states I’ve never even been to before, and if the Gay Reindeer came with me, itÂ wouldÂ be fun! Plus, what’s the point of buying a Charger if you’re only going to drive it to LA Fitness?”
After a couple days of this, it sounded better and better. So what if Pittsburgh to Austin is a 1,400 mile, 20 hour long trip? So what if between the pre-road trip checkup I got on my car, the gas, and the food we purchased while driving, I’d really only end up saving a couple hundred dollars? And, while I enjoy the Gay Reindeer’s company, so what if 50 hours of car time together in an 100 hour span could potentially turn us into Iago and Othello? I was convinced this was a great decision.
5:30PM: After sitting in Pittsburgh rush hour traffic for an hour, and realizing we still had at least 20 hours of driving to go, I began to regret my decision. Luckily, the Gay Reindeer purchased a bunch of snacks and drinks before leaving, and I began to drown my regret in aÂ cascadeÂ of granola bars and Naked juice.
11:00-ishPM: I take the wheel from the Gay Reindeer as we make it Kentucky and do our first scheduled driver switch. Highlights so far:
***A theme throughout the trip would be my surprise whenever we’d stop at a gas station or drive thru and see Black people. Basically, I was the stereotypical northerner who’d never been south and assumed that everywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line could pass for a deleted scene from Mississippi Burning. But, not only are there Black people everywhere, the White people we encountered on the trip wereÂ exponentiallyÂ friendlier than the White people I’m used to. Like, suspiciously “They’re not really cannibals, are they?” friendlier.
***I talk occasional shit aboutÂ Cincinnati—I’m a Pittsburgher, so I’m contractually obligated to do so—but I have to say that it’s a very pretty city at night.
***Being from PA, a state where most highways have 55mph speed limits, the 65s and 70s we’re seeing as we head farther south is taking some getting used to. It almost feels like a ploy to punk out of towners into speeding tickets.
2:00AM Friday: I felt myself getting a little groggy while somewhere in the middle ofÂ Tennessee,Â so I turned up the music and started violently and excitedly singing along in my seat. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work very well when listening to Forrest Gump, so I needed to find something moreÂ appropriate.
2:03AM: “Deez niggas won’t hold me back!!! Deez niggas won’t hold me back!!! Deez niggas won’t hold me back!!! Deez niggas won’t hold me back!!!”
2:05AM: This outburst wakes up the Gay Reindeer, who starts freestyling as soon as she opens her eyes.
“Wack niggas wanna wake me up!!! Wack niggas wanna wake me up!!! Wack niggas wanna wake me up!!! Wack niggas wanna wake me up!!!”
I guess this would be a good time to explain how the Gay Reindeer got her name. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m prone to spontaneous bouts ofÂ ridiculouslyÂ off-beat and off-color freestyle rapping. During one of these sessions a couple months ago, I encouraged the Gay Reindeer to try. She’d never done it before. But, as I explained, I’ve been doing it for a decade and even though I still sound like I’ve never done it before, I feel like I’m getting better. And, feeling like you’re getting better is all that matters. Just ask Dwight Howard.
She agreed. And, surprisingly, she was able to stay on beat and even rhyme a few times in a row. But, she did something with her voice where she tried to change the pitch, but it ended up sounding something like a bigger, drier, lisp-heavy chipmunk—basically, a Gay Reindeer. From that moment on, the Gay Reindeer has been her “rap name.” (My rap name? Well, it changes every couple of months. But, right now it’s “Monster Shits.”)
8:00AM: We wake up after napping for a couple hours at a rest stop. Before stopping, we’d leftÂ Tennessee,Â crossed the Mississippi river, and made our way into Arkansas, the wackest state ever made.
Why exactly is Arkansas the wackest state ever made?
8:30AM: We see a sign for Arkadelphia, the most prominent example of Arkansas’ wack tendency to hijack another name, put “Ark” in front of it, and pretend like the name wasn’t hijacked from another name. The entire state even did this to Kansas!!!
9:45AM:Â To say that our car has begun to smell, um, “interesting” would be an understatement. Without getting too graphic, let’s just say that it seems like the Gay Reindeer and I started playing a game called “Fart, Burp, or Both?”
10:30AM:Â After passing “Arklanta” and “Arktimore,” stopping at an Arkdonald’s, and mentally preparing ourselves for the longest single straight stretch of the trip—a four hour long trek between Arkansas and Texas—a few things began to dawn on me
1. This trip started roughly 15 hours ago and we still have 8 f*cking hours to go.
2.Â This trip started roughly 15 hours ago and we still have 8 f*cking hours to go.
3.Â This trip started roughly 15 hours ago and we still have 8 f*cking hours to go.
—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)