the undisclosed location

Last night I was watching a Rockies game, and after the game the team beat writer came on to discuss the game wearing what is apparently his usual uniform of a huge Stetson and blue jeans, looking like an more-sweaty-than-is-typical statue in commemoration of a particularly successful massacre of Indians or something. Which looked impressive in a way, but in Cincinnati? At night? My dad said, “Well, he was born and raised in Wyoming.” And I have noticed that being from Wyoming seems to be a perfectly acceptable explanation for any fevered bit of madness that grips the human heart. A woman tries to break into an animal shelter to get her pit bull back? The sitting vice-president shoots his friend in the face? In most cases the “he/she is from Wyoming” is probably an expression of relief that the person isn’t engaging in one of those other pastimes apparently popular among so many enthusiasts in Wyoming, like drunk driving or beating homosexuals to death. Actually there aren’t that many enthusiasts of these activities in Wyoming, since there aren’t many people of any kind in Wyoming.

I remember when I was little my strongest impression of driving through Wyoming was of endless bleached prairies, vultures perched on seemingly every single telephone pole and with that look of inexplicably self-confident suspicion so common to isolated rural people, who often are totally convinced that everyone from the outside wants what they have, when in fact nobody wants it. This paranoia is particularly unwarranted in a mangy black bird roosting on the top of a splintery wooden pole and subsisting on decaying corpses. No, really, no one is trying to hone in on your digs or your food. It reminds me of one time on the ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki when a Russian friend and I were talking with a drunken Finn who was sharing our cabin and who had become convinced that Finland was a delectable prize coveted by both East and West and would surely soon be conquered by one of the vying contestants, most likely Russia, and whom we had to reassure by stressing the total lack of desirability of his country. Thousands of miles of Arctic marshland populated by mosquitoes, belligerent train conductors and politicians that bear a disturbing resemblance to Conan O’Brien, where it gets so cold in the North in the winter that you have to put a scarf over your nose and mouth outside to prevent the air from burning your lungs, and which lists as one of its greatest national accomplishments, according to the signs that face visitors leaving the ferry, having had a Finn finish third in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1982 (then again, the greatest moment in the history of Argentina, which happened in 1986, consisted of cheating to win a soccer game, and everyone in the country couldn’t be prouder). One thing worth plundering in Finland is Nokia, but come on, it’s a manufacturer of mobile phones: the Artists Formerly Known As The Red Army could make off with those in about half an hour, probably without even bringing an extra satchel to carry them in.

Anyway, the fact that the most colorful characters that I recall from Wyoming are carrion-eating birds of prey suggests a certain isolation, which actually makes the drunk driving somewhat more logical, since when a truck is bucking and veering alone on a highway and not likely to encounter another within hundreds of miles, the possible outcomes are likely to only improve humanity. But the homophobia is less understandable: when there are as few people around as there are in Wyoming I don’t think you can afford to rule out any marriageable options. I’ve always thought the phrase “rugged individualism” sounded like a euphemism for masturbation.

2 Responses to “the undisclosed location”

  1. shonk Says:

    Well, to be fair to the drunken Finn, Russia still has a good chunk of Finland that they conquered 60 years ago.

  2. Curt Says:

    Well, they had a lot more than that before the Revolution, but unpopulated wilderness isn’t exactly something they need more of.

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