Monday, March 31, 2008

Fort Dwayne

A few weeks ago I was on a road trip with some friends and our pre-mapped route provided us the underwhelming privilege of experiencing Fort Wayne, Indiana. I'm sure Fort Wayne has something going for it, and I have even thought to call Mayor Tom Henry to ask what exactly that is, but I've just not gotten around to it. Wikipedia tells me that Fort Wayne is defined partly by the geographic anomaly of being nearly equidistant from Detroit, Cincinnati, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Columbus. This is sort of like being the asshole of the Midwest. The city in which my Alma Mater is located has the similar distinction of being located almost exactly between Austin and Dallas. The result is that the city -and I use "city" loosely- has been confined to a history of mediocrity and underdevelopment. I remember thinking upon my arrival at the campus that the city seemed to be shingle-tacked together with things that fell off trucks making the trip between Austin and Dallas. Downtown was dead and the leaking urban sprawl blazed all the glory of a melted wad of gum in a hot summer parking lot. Most of the sensible people who grew up there had long since scattered to one of the big cities. Fort Wayne has the same sort of atmosphere...but more so.

It was in this state of observation that I realized Fort Wayne is not accurately named. At least, the name does not seem to fit the character of the city. Wayne is a classy name. It's Old English and means "wagon builder." I don't know too much about Old England , but I'm sure the wagon builder was a solid member of the community and a staple of the emerging gentry post Dark Ages. Sort of like a precursor to Ford back when that name meant something. John Wayne. Bruce Wayne. Wayne Gretzky. There are some pretty important and culturally significant Waynes out there. An Academy Award winner. Batman. The greatest hockey player of all time. Wayne is a good name. Too good for Fort Wayne, and certainly not in keeping with the character of the present populace, which is why I am proposing a name change.

Ladies and gentlemen, I submit for your approval: Fort Dwayne.

I love it. I love it because it fits. "Dwayne" is Gaelic in origin and means "swarthy". If there's one thing Fort Wayne is, it's swarthy, and I'm not talking about demographics. It just seems to be a dirty city, as if the accumulated exhaust from all of those trucks on their way to Detroit or Cincinnati or Columbus or Indianapolis or Chicago has tainted the whole city and left with its character. That, and the guy in the gas station we stopped at who was looking at porn and chewing on a massive wad of tobacco looked like he could be a Dwayne. Is there anything more perfect?

So, let's make this happen. All in favor of Fort Dwayne, stand up and be counted! Get on the horn to Mayor Tom Henry and demand Fort Wayne, in the name of justice, truth, and progress, rename itself Fort Dwayne. If they (or he) ask you why, respond, "You live there, right?"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Dusting Off the Letter Jacket (Not Really)

I am officially old.

I knew this was coming. I knew it when my knees started to hurt after long runs. I knew it when gray hairs started to sprout like weeds in places that had once been a dark, golden brown. I knew it when my hair line began its slow withdrawal from my forehead. I knew it when, after playing a soccer game, I became sore the day after the day after the game. I knew it when my feet hurt, and my back hurt, and legs ached...for no reason. I knew it when I didn't want to sleep with every attractive girl I met. I knew it when I started to say things like, "Hey guys, it's almost ten. I have work tomorrow. Take it easy."

Mostly though, I knew it when I got an invitation this week to my ten year high school reunion. Ten years. It doesn't seem like it's been that long. Now, I know the trendy thing is to groan and roll my eyes and talk about how much I don't want to go and how ridiculous high school was and on and on and on. I have to confess though: I had fun in high school. Lots of fun. Big amounts of fun. I want to go to the reunion. I'm not saying I want to go back and do school all over again, but I am curious to see how people are doing...and what they look like (another confession). Who got fat? Who got hot? Who is married with ten kids? Who is wildly and deliriously successful? Who is half drunk and belligerent? Who do I wish I had know better? Who am I embarrassed to have held in high esteem?

So far, I have only spoken to a few people about their intentions to go to the reunion. Two of those people are ex-high school girlfriends who are now both married and trying to make babies. I can't help but think those interactions may be a little awkward.

"Honey, I want you to meet the guy I used to sleep with in high school!"

I'll also be going alone, which could make the preceding even more awkward and casts my reluctant aging in stark contrast with where I thought I'd be at this point in life. That's another entry I don't feel like wrapping my mind around at the moment....

Maybe I won't go? It did occur to me that I would have neither the time or the money to make a trip to Texas for a high school reunion unless the reunion was somehow magically scheduled for the same weekend I will be appearing in the wedding of a friend of mine. I'd just have to wait for the twenty year reunion. This would allow me time to settle and be well and truly on with my life before I had to meet any exes' husbands or worry about why I didn't quite feel like an adult yet. Well, you guessed it. The scheduling genie nailed that one. I really have no excuse.

Probably for the best. I'd be almost forty at a twenty year reunion. God knows what my "This is how I know I'm old" list would look like. More gray hair...everywhere? Sagging belly? Buick? Rampant conservatism? I'll go and feel awkward and physically old yet practically immature. Could be fun.