Can You Go Home Again?

Chaos in Print

Well, I’ve been home for 24 hours now. “What?” you are asking yourself. “Were you gone?” Yup, I was. It was an eventful five days for me, in which I returned to my former haunt. Was it to visit old friends? Or search for things lost? Who really cares. It got me out of the basement for a few days. It all started on a sunny Saturday afternoon. . . .

My mother was taking me into Edmonton. I was going to meet up with one of my old buddies from the Camrose area, and I was going to head down for a few days and just chill. As always, I was going to meet them at Comic King, the only comic store in West Edmonton Mall. As always, I was early (even though my watch said I was five minutes late). So, I browsed through the comic books. I browsed through the neighboring stores. I browsed through the mall-within-the-mall. (Yes, to the uninitiated, West Edmonton Mall is so big it contains a smaller mall, called the Galaxyland Marketplace). By now, I was a good twenty minutes late, so that meant my friend was going to be there. I returned to Comic King and yup, he was there. Oh, and let me say this: I’m changing names to protect the innocent (although innocent is such a relative term).

There was my friend, whom we’ll call Chuck. Chuck had brought his best friend and landlord, whom we’ll call BigGuy, and his girlfriend, whom we’ll call Didi. They were browsing through the comics, acting like they had been waiting for a long time. I walked up to them and we all hugged in that way that we do. Pleasantries were exchanged, and it wasn’t long until we were back to browsing through the comic books. I decided to head over to the action figures. Oh, if only I had more money! Thanks to the surge in action figure collecting, comic book stores are starting to get a lot of exclusive stuff. Man, I want one of those new Lara Croft figures! Anyway, when you are in a comic book store with three comic-loving geeks, you tend to be there for a while. But, soon everyone had bought the latest X-Men and it was time to move on. Now, we hit the mall! I wish I had grown up in a city. I would have been a perfect mallrat.

First, to HMV. Much to my disappointment, they still did not have the Batman Beyond soundtrack. I must get that! And I did what I always do when I’m in HMV: drool over the DVD titles and wish for more money. I did get the single for Look At Me by Geri Halliwell. That song sure grew on me over the summer. From here, it was the quest for beads. Seems that Didi (the only one of us still in university) needed beads for some group she was in. So we searched for beads. We eventually found a store that sold them after the bead store didn’t have what she was looking for. Since we were all a bunch of movie-loving geeks, we decided to see a movie. Three theaters in West Edmonton Mall. Theater one: “Oh, I’ve already seen that and it sucks.” “Is that all? Not really much there.” Theater two: “Universal Soldier 2? That can wait until video.” Theater three: “Am I the only one who wants to see Wild Wild West?” “YES!!” So, we didn’t see a movie. Time to pile into the car and go home! But, we couldn’t. Didi still needed more beads, and knew of a better bead store on Edmonton’s world-famous Whyte Avenue. (Oh, but I can’t forget to mention that one of the highlights of the WestEd trip was getting mauled by an old friend, who just happens to work there now.)

Well, sadly, we got to Whyte Avenue too late, and the bead store was closed. But, Didi needed string to put the beads on, and she could think of nothing better than hemp twine. So, it was off to the nothing-but-hemp-products store, which just happens to be Edmonton’s #1 supporter of the legalization of marijuana. This is not the place for my views on the legalization of marijuana, but let’s just say I was a little on edge the whole time I was there. That, and the store smelled funny. The whole time I was there I just kept wanting fresh air. But, not wanting to offend my friends, I kept my mouth shut and browsed. I’m sure I looked like some kind of narc. But hey, that’s me. We soon left, but that store seemed to have given Chuck the munchies, and we went by IGA, where he treated everyone to doughnuts. And I just couldn’t turn down a good ol’ chocolate covered boston cream. From here, I finally got to go to a place I’ve been told about my whole life.

I’ve already mentioned that we are a group of comic book geeks, and Warp One Comics was just a hop, skip and a jump away. For the uninitiated, Warp One Comics is the largest comic book store in the City of Edmonton. They even have a section devoted to anime, and that goes under the name of Anime 1/2. I entered the door, and gazed upon the promised land. Vintage movie posters. Incredibly cool and rare action figures. Collectors cards. Anime 1/2. T-shirts. Life sized cut-outs of Princess Leia in the Gold Bikini and Seven of Nine. And comic books. Lots of comic books. Heaven! I immediatly started flipping through the movie posters. Soon, the clerk was handing me a paper towel and saying “Forgive me for being anal.” Turns out my hands were still covered in chocolate from the donuts. I thanked the man and cleaned my hands. Fortunatly, none got on the posters. I ventured further into the store. Chuck desperately wanted to see my reaction to the life-sized Princess Leia in the Gold Bikini, to see my reaction. I was a little underwhelmed, as I already have the action figure, which has the bonus of being in 3-D. I drooled over the book Batman Animated. The complete guide to the Batman cartoon, featuring some of the show’s best artwork. I ventured upstairs, where I met more action figures than I could shake a stick at. I peered into Anime 1/2, where I was greeted with all manner of mechs and pokemon. Sheer bliss. BigGuy was over in the collectors cards, where he was picking up a deck of Pokemon cards. Didi ventured into the underground comics section. Chuck was looking through back issues of X-Men. And I was wishing I had more money. I told BigGuy that I could drown of coolness in here. So happy. When we finally left, I vowed to return one day with a fistful of dollars. So many cool things. And now, the drive to Kingman!

See, Chuck and BigGuy live just outside of Camrose in the tiny town of Kingman. The drive was uneventful. We got there, and promptly figured out how to spend the evening. BigGuy and I started playing the new video game he got, called Deer Avenger. You are a deer, hunting hunters. It rocked. Chuck and Didi did whatever it was that boyfriend and girlfriend do. It was a slow evening. It ended the way all my Saturdays end: watching Saturday Night Live. A classic show! And then, it was to bed, where I learned that Chuck has quite a comfy sofa.

Sunday was quite uneventful. See, I hate hanging out with a person and their lover. They spend all their time getting all kissy-face, and you are left to amuse yourself. You know, you have to wonder what they were doing when it results in her sleeping until 3pm. I’m sure Chuck would have slept until 3 too, but he comes from a good church-going family, and had to go to church at 11am. So, most of the day was just me and BigGuy. We watched John Carpenter’s Vampires and Kull the Conquerer, two examples of classic cinema. That evening, we fired up the N64, and played countless hours of Star Wars Rouge Squadron, Super Smash Bros., and GoldenEye. Soon, BigGuy was in bed (he’s one of those early-to-bed, early-to-rise kinds of people) and Chuck had to take Didi back to campus. I amused myself with Chuck’s vast collection of old Jem cartoons. That is one classic show from the 80’s. I soon got tired of waiting for Chuck and went to bed.

Monday morning, I discovered BigGuy’s dark secret: he gets up at 6:30 am not because he has to go to work, but because that’s when Rocky and Bullwinkle is on. In reality, he doesn’t have to be out the door until 8. I should know. Even though I was sleeping on the couch, he would come into the living room, and crank up the volume on the TV as he made himself breakfast. Most of the time, I would fall back asleep after 10 minutes. Then, I would crawl off the couch at a more reasonable hour, like 10 am, get my morning glass of milk, and watch TV until Chuck woke up.

When Chuck got up around 11, he said that this was like day one. Now that BigGuy and Didi were gone, it was just him and me, like we were planning from the beginning. So, what were we to do? Well, first order of business was food. It was almost lunch time. As I said to Chuck, one of the great things about living on your own was that if you wanted to, you could have cookies for lunch! So, we had cookies for lunch. And I have never had a more satisfying meal. Then, more N64. About this time, Chuck thought it was time to show me the thriving population of Kingman! Population: 75 (if I remember correctly). What a quaint little town. A little anecdote with every stop. I was shown the gravel pad that used to be Chuck’s school. The field that was the home to many schoolyard games. The house with a gargoyle on it. The town’s two churches. The skating rink, where we just had to do a lap walking around the tops of the boards. The post office. Yup, Kingman is a nice little town. With nice people. Almost like the town of Springfield in the G.I. Joe comics. And we all know the dark secret of Springfield. But I’m sure Kingman has no dark secret. Positive.

So, we spent the afternoon talking, playing on the computer, and just plain screwing around. Then, as the supper hour was drawing near, I finally spoke up and said what I wanted to do: I wanted to head on down to Camrose and say hi to some people. So, we did. Got there just as the cafeteria opened, and I ran into everyone I wanted to see as they were heading off to the cafeteria. The (remaining) gang hasn’t changed a bit. As I dined with them in the cafeteria, it was just like old times. Same old conversations. Same old meals. I was home.

It was during this meal that I was approached by this year’s radio station manager. Seems that he wants to have a top DJ award at the station, and wanted to name it after me. Of course, I said yes. I was honored! I was touched! Then, reality set in. No matter how many good things a station manager does, none of them carry on to the next year. So, I’m sure that this award will no longer be given out after April 2000. But, for the time being, I congratulate all future winners of the Scarecrow Top DJ Award!

Now it was time to do some good old fashioned hanging out. Chuck wanted to go hang out with Didi, so it was just me and the old gang! And, as always, we ended up in a floor lounge, watching TV. You know, those great buddy shows of Friends and Frasier. When 8 rolled around, it was time for a good old fashioned Sev-Run! This is the Augustana slang term for “7-11 Run.” The tradition is you gather a good size of your friends (4 tends to be the average), and head on down to 7-11, for a Slurpee and some other form of sweet treat. If you are doing an assignment or studying for a test, then the Slurpee is usually replaced with a bottle of Jolt Cola. And I missed the Sev-Run! Sure, it sounds like a simple act, but the comraderie! The sharing of tasteless jokes and anecdotes about professors! And, there is nothing like a Slurpee. Ah, yes. I miss it. I just miss too much of it.

Then, an evening of more hanging out! One of my buddies had the brand new game Star Trek: Starfleet Command that he wanted to show me. Great game! Then, someone had to take some movies back to the video store, meaning a nice, hour long walk. Like the Sev-Run, only longer. We got back to the dorm just in time for Ally McBeal. I am the only one in my gang who enjoys that show, and no matter how many times I try to inaugurate them to it, they just don’t get it. As the show came to a close, Chuck came by, and it was time to go back to his place. So, I said my good-byes, and promised to come back down when my friend with the DVD player gets The Matrix. And it was back to Chuck’s place. On the drive back to Chuck’s place (and into the wee hours of the morning) we had one of those deep, meaningful conversations about life, love, fears, and the like. You know. One of those conversations. Good stuff.

Next morning. This would be Tuesday for those of you keeping track. It was getting to the time where Chuck and I were running out of things to do. So, we played video games, read comic books, and began working on our magazine. Yes, we got this idea to do our own magazine! It’s going to be called Toonage, and be all about the world of animation! Even though we are all at our respective homes now, we are still planning it. If it takes off, we’d be set for life. So, wish us luck! That was the day. For the evening, it was back to Augustana. We wanted to catch the first meeting of the Anime Club, and just watch some cool anime. And there I picked up another task for myself. Seems one of the new members has put in a request for Beast Wars the Second, the Beast Wars anime. Of course, they came to me, the resident TransFan of the gang. I said I had no idea how to get my hands on it, but I’d keep my eyes open. And my eyes, they are open. But, when we were done with the anime, I did something I wanted to do: head on up to the radio station and check out my old haunt! There weren’t many changes. A new CD player. One that can hold 20 CD’s, so we no longer have to re-broadcast another radio station! There were two freshman DJ’s up there, and they both had a lot of attitude. The usual “We’re gonna change this station! We’re gonna be famous!” attitude that DJ’s tend to have in the early months. If the trend holds, they’ll be bored with it come December. And then there was that one: “Gimme your name so I can report you!” He needs to work on his people skills. But, they were having fun up there, and that should always be the #1 mandate of the station!

Then, I just wandered around campus a little more. Very little has changed. I hope they never remove my bench under the tree. That is just a perfect bench. Soon I met up with Chuck, and it was time to go. After he spent 20 minutes saying good-bye to Didi, that is. I was feeling hungry, so we stopped by McDonald’s on the way out of town. I just had a craving for a McChicken Sandwich. And, back to Kingman!

Wednesday, and time to go home. Chuck and I headed off to the city, where I was to meet up with Mom. But, first I was going to drag Chuck to see The Iron Giant. It seems I always have to drag Chuck to good movies. It’s the only way I got him to see Blade. But, he agreed with me in that The Iron Giant is one of the best animated movies ever, so go see it! Then, just more chilling at the mall until my Mom showed up. Chuck and I hugged each other good-bye, and then it was off to home for me!

And that concluded my return to Camrose! So, can you go home again? I’m still not sure. Part of me thinks I haven’t really left yet. But, for the time being, it is yes. And now, my hopes are renewed that soon I will get out this basement, and be free once again! But sadly, freedom now means getting a job. But, free I will be again! Someday. . . .

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