Friday, July 25, 2014

How I Wound Up in Muncie, and What I Found There

I didn't really have a good reason for moving to Muncie.

I'd left my first wife in the spring of '88 and returned to Ohio. I rented a bungalow at a vintage motor court on the Dixie Highway and got a pizza job. By August, I still hadn't found an apartment and was getting discouraged. A girl I worked with told me it was shame I wasn't looking in Muncie, Indiana. She was returning to school in the fall and one of her roommates had backed out of their lease. She said there were plenty of pizza joints in town, and I should check it out.

On a whim, I traveled to Indiana and did a walk through. My room had double pocket doors, a marble fireplace with a mirror and columns all the way up to the twelve foot ceiling, and a private entrance. My portion of the rent would be $150.00 per month. On the way out of town, I got a job managing a pizzeria on campus. By September, I was living with three sophomore girls; two topless dancers and and the sweetest little architect student.

When I called my dad to tell him about the move, he said I was dumber than owl shit.

Friends from Dayton threw me a going away party and we dropped acid. At about 2:00 am they headed back to their wives and girlfriends and I got on the road west. I took the interstate and there was one lane from construction all the way from Dayton to Richmond. Large barrels crowded in on me, festooned with flashing lights that sent my LSD high into overload. My forearms were sore from clenching the wheel so hard and I kept forgetting to breathe. Even though I had the cruise control set at 40, I alternately thought I was creeping or racing. I should have stayed at John's place, or at least taken the farm roads.

Somehow, I found my way to Muncie and located my new home. The girls weren't due for another week. I wasn't really supposed to be there myself, but I knew the house was empty and I had a key and couldn't see paying another week at the motor court when there was adventure and exploration ahead of me. I stashed my grass, unloaded the hot rod, hung a hammock, and slept until four the next afternoon.

I posted a few posters and considered myself unpacked. I grabbed a manageable amount of buds from my quarter pound and jumped in the Buick, eager to see where the hell I landed. My first stop was the pizzeria, where I let them know I was in town and would report for work the following week as planned. Then I just drove around getting high and familiarizing myself with my new environment.

I found a street on the south side that was about thirty or so blocks long and bumper to bumper hot rods. The parking lots were full of pretty girls milling about in frilly little skirts and teased bangs. On one end of the cruising strip was a genuine old fashioned burger joint. It was like going back in time. On my third pass down Madison Street, I found a race. A '69 Nova lined up with me at the Memorial Drive stop light and by time we reached the railroad bridge about twelve blocks north, I had him by two lengths.

Suddenly, he turned off and just as I was thinking he was a sore loser for not pulling into McDonalds to meet me and talk cars, I saw the cop falling in behind me. First day in town, out of state tags, reefer... no thanks. I went the wrong way down a one way and punched it, turning off before the officer showed up in the mirror. I did that a couple of more times, and then headed back to campus where they had different cops.

I checked out the village, and was impressed by the counter culture scene. There were some good bars, and great music. I walked down University Avenue smoking fat joints and meeting groovy people. I fell in love with that town

I thought I'd end the night by stopping by the pizzeria for a take home pie and meet some of my new co-workers while it cooked. The pizzamaker was a pale, skinny, brooding fella who reminded me of Edward Scissorhands. The closing driver that night was an Irish guy with an afro who looked like a Hanna Barberra character. The shop was built in an old house and business was slow since classes hadn't started yet. The Hair Bear dude had a guitar out and played some old Cat Stevens and Don McLean on the porch while we watched the pretty girls go by.

Scissorhands offered me the pizza for free if I'd stay and help close. We locked up and the three of us smoked the last of my night's walking around stash in the walk in. Hair Bear invited me back to his place to sample his doobage when we left. I remember heading up the street I lived on and turning just before the fairgrounds and winding through a neighborhood to a huge yellow house. I tried to go to his house the next day and see if he wanted to hit the bars, but had a wild adventure trying to find it.

I turned just where I thought we had the day before, but it looked a little different. This street curved to the left and came to a tee at a dirt road. If I turned right on the dirt, I figured I might come out somewhere near where I was heading. I did so and a little while later the road curved to the left, then again. Then AGAIN! I had almost gone in a complete circle. Then, looking up, I noticed the grand stand. I had unwittingly driven onto the horse track at the fairgrounds.

I thought I was probably already busted, and anyway, when would I get another opportunity like this? I dropped it into first, floored it, did two laps and got the hell out of there. I headed to the village (where they had different cops).

Once again, I gravitated to the pizza joint where I thought I might get better directions to Hair Bear's place. I was told he was at another driver's place helping him move and they showed me a note on the bulletin board from Lucky Tailor, requesting assistance and accompanied by a map and the promise of free beer.

I now had plans for the evening.