Breaking Stereotypes. Kind of.

On Friday I had two dates in two states.  That's a first!

I got into Springfield Thursday night and was invited to a church small group at Mr. Missouri's house.  It wasn't until we were singing song number two that I thought, "You know, I should have asked what kind of church this is . . . I hope they won't try to convert me later."  But they were all really cool people and I ended up having a great time.  We even played Bananagrams, one of my favorite games.  I won the first two and thought maybe I should throw the third so these people wouldn't hate me, but I lost legitimately.  Good times.

We had our actual date over breakfast, because we didn't exactly get a chance to talk when all of those people were around.  We ate at a local breakfast place and had a really great conversation.  I've seen pictures of this out-of-control beard he used to sport, and I figured anyone that could rock a giant beard had to be pretty cool.  Now he has a well-groomed beard and a handle-bar mustache, which is also pretty unusual.  I was impressed by his ability to keep his breakfast out of it.  He was a fan of travel, too, and wandered around Europe for three months not too long ago.  He'd planned to stay longer, but was ready to come home after about half the time he'd planned.  I admitted that I sometimes wonder if I'm going to get through all fifty states or wear out sooner.  No one will want to buy a book called Thirty-Seven Dates in Thirty-Seven States, so I hope I can make it.  He was really easy to talk to, but he had to get to work and I had to get on the road.

Arkansas was surprisingly scenic!  After New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma's flat, boring highways, I rather enjoyed the twisty, tree-lined roads.  I flew in and out of my new friend Jana's apartment (my friend Nina had asked her to host me for the night) to get to my evening date at Wildwood Park for the Performing Arts.  I'd considered changing into my hiking boots but decided to stick with the two-inch heeled boots I had on.  Dumb, dumb, dumb . . . I was wobbling all night long, walking along the romantic luminary-lit paths.  It was such a cool date, strolling from Asia to Morocco to Venice and sampling foods along the way.  And did I mention that Mr. Arkansas brought me daisies?  So sweet!

When I got back to Jana's she had some guy friends over who wanted to hear all about this "experiment."  I told them a bit about it, and then they wanted to hear about Mr. Arkansas.  I said I felt bad about the stereotypes I had about Arkansas, because my date had been very classy and not at all redneck.  They assured me that there were plenty of rednecks around these parts, and they could find me one pretty quick.  I said no, I'd just write about the good date I'd had, thanks.

They then proceeded to tell me a true story about some people in the northeast part of the state that they thought personified the Arkansas stereotype.  It seems that a case worker got a call from some of her clients out in the backwoods.  "We caught us a leprechan!" they yelled.  Because these two were mentally challenged, she didn't think much of it.  The next day, though, she was still thinking about it and decided maybe she should drive out there and make sure everything was okay.  When she got there, they were agitated.  "We caught us a leprechan, but he won't give us his pot of gold," they said.  She was confused, then got worried when she heard thumping.  She followed the noise to the closet.  "That's where we're keeping him," they said.  She opened to door to find a midget, tied up and gagged.  Seems he'd come around to tell them about Jehovah's Witnesses.  I'm betting they crossed that address off their list after that.

When I went to leave Little Rock today, I still had half a tank of gas, which could have gotten me the two hours down the road to Memphis.  I filled up, though.  There was no way I was pulling over in any little town after that.

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