Dumb little moment in time: driving back from Flushing, Michigan on Saturday night. Fun room, tired Keith, not my best set but it mostly went over well. Two hours home in a cold, steady rain, listening to Morbid Angel and fretting about the money I'm spending. I wanted Taco Bell -- bad. But I had made a huge pan of scalloped potatoes before I left home. It was waiting for me, so I passed each Taco Bell with a growing sense of crankiness, trying to rationalize spending money I didn't have on food I didn't need.
Stopped at a truckstop for coffee, and there was a display for "Amish Fry Pie" fruit pies. I used to love Hostess fruit pies as a kid, but outgrew them quickly, and I haven't had one in years. For some reason, though - maybe the cold and rain, maybe the pouty self-denial at passing up all those Nachos Bellgrande -- I decided I'd give this allegedly Amish pie a chance. I also loaded up my coffee with sugar and powdered creamer. I've taken my coffee black for almost two decades now, but when it's bad gas station coffee at that hour, I doctor it up in self-defense.
The "fry pie" was for shit. It was the same as a Hostess pie, only it cost about twice as much. But man! I had the strangest pang of nostalgia, drinking sweetened coffee and eating that sugar bomb peach pie in the rain and dark. I hadn't thought about this in years, but when I was in high school, I delivered newspapers for a while. None of that wussy throw-the-paper-from-dad's-car-window shit, either. When it rained, I put a garbage bag over my Times-Reporter sack and trudged down the street. When it snowed, I took a shovel with me and made an extra twenty bucks digging my older customers out of their front porches.
And oftentimes, before I'd start my route, I'd stop into Lawson's (later Dairy Mart, and now I think it's a Circle K) on Tuscarawas Ave, and I'd get coffee and a fruit pie. I'd stand in the doorway of the store, peering out into the murk, waiting for that early-morning sugar buzz to kick in and knock the edge off my sleep deprivation headache. Then it was down the hill, past West High, and through some back streets and sleeping neighborhoods, back up toward downtown.
The combined flavors of the pie and the coffee sent a jolt through me that was almost physical. It was a weird connection with my teenaged self, and it may be a completely different job, but this part of comedy - the solitary drives at weird hours, the crappy weather and darkness, the alone time inside your own head - is a lot like schlepping down Ray Avenue at six in the morning, Walkman humming, sharing the streets with bread trucks and watching the sky turn into a swirling purple bruise ahead of you.
Where I write about the stuff I do when I'm out doing the stuff I do.