Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Vacation Story #1--Strange Things are Happening...

A general overview.

I started to use the predictable David Bowie reference in the title (and all of his ch-ch-ch-ch-changes), but I went the Randy Newman/"Toy Story" route instead. Not sure why.

I have spoken before of some of my motivations for the trip, the closing of the old book, beginning of the new one.

It helps when the Norman Rockwell town you remember goes for some massive changes while you were gone.

Okay, not "massive." But certainly big enough to notice. I'll mention only two.

Change #1--the G.C. (Geiger Center, for all you non-Bison), my alma mater's student union-type building. Here's what I remember. A wide open rectangular room with support pillars spaced out periodically. Lots of ratty couches, a few nicked side tables. One big projection-screen TV. Then, the Game room, with its three pool tables, air hockey table, two ping pong tables, and chessboard. As well as several old-school or semi-old-school arcade games (Galaga, Lethal Enforcers, Killer Instinct, 1942, that old Neo-Geo four-pack). A pinball machine even. Also in the GC was the "snack bar", cleverly named the Geiger Counter. It was just that, a snack bar. There were two soda fountains, a glass refrigerator case of bottled drinks, and a counter with small shelves of various snacks. Behind the counter was a grill, where you could order hamburgers, hot dogs, whatever.

Now. The GC has all sorts of weird walls, turning the one wide-open space into five or so. New furniture, ceiling-mounted flat-screen TVs (four of them, I think). The game room is completely gone, replaced by a semi-enclosed study area with a bank of five DSL connected computers for common use. And the snack "bar" has turned into a campus grocery store, with five aisles, seven or eight glass refrigerator cases and a coffee bar. It's a frickin convenience store. What the crap.

Now you may say, "Dave, that all sounds great. They've made some nice upgrades. Outside of losing the gameroom, it sounds like a vast improvement." And I would agree. But I liked it the way I remember it. And that's gone. Out with the old.

Change #2--Even more disappointing is finding that your favorite "greasy spoon" is trying to become high-brow, or at least appear so. The Rainbow Inn, God's gift to small town dining, tore down the cheesy, six-shades-of-brown, "fake bookshelf" wallpaper with all its terribly misproportioned books, and painted the two walls it covered white. They took down all the cowboy decor and horseshoe art, and hung impressionist paintings. What the crap? You trying to be Denny's now?

And insult added to psychological injury occured when I ordered my favorite meal, the meal that the great and illustrious Marty termed "what God eats on vacation", and this delectable dish was absolutely awful. They ruined it. And i was furious.

Now you may say, "Dave, every establishment needs a facelift. Sounds like they're trying to be a bit more respectable and classy, which is no crime." And I would agree. But I liked it the way I remember it. And that's gone. Out with the old.

Picking up on the theme yet? That's okay, it's pretty much repeated throughout the weekend.

Memory being replaced by reality, and the ensuing disappointment.

It really was a good weekend. But it was good like getting punished is good. Like breaking up is good. In retrospect, and only if you learn your lesson. Which I have.

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