One very important thing that people should know about me is that I have one of the worst memories ever. People ask why I read some books so many times, often it is because I have forgotten so much about it. My favorite series of books, tied even with Harry Potter, is the Dark Tower novels by Stephen King. I read all that had been published in 2002 and then read the others upon publication. One day, after finishing them all, I was telling a friend about them and to my horror I realized that I had forgotten a character's name, a VERY important character. It was horrible, the first thing that I did was to go grab one of the books and find it. But that wasn't enough, I had to read them all again.
The importance of this is to make you understand why I am telling the story of my trip to Myrtle Beach to see AFI in the manner that I am. Even though it was a horribly hilarious and heartbreaking day, the details have begun to slip and, without the assistance of those who went with me, I might have forgotten everything except the fact that I did not see my favorite band that day, November 15, 2009.
On Nov. 15, after having driven several hours, me and my friend Amanda were sitting in a mechanics trailer. We decided that we would ease the tension for ourselves by writing a comical letter to AFI concerning how we had ended up watching a mechanic play X-Box. And it is because of this letter that I have been able to retain so many of the details about what happened to us that fateful day.
What follows is the letter that we wrote which should suffice to cover the entire day...I still cry a little...
(If the letter reads a little weird it is because we made a conscious effort to include song titles into the writing)
Letter to AFI concerning the ill-fated trip---
It all began on September 29, 2009 when William Farnsworth and Amanda Hodge decided they were finally going to see William’s favorite band of 10 years: AFI. William began a Facebook countdown right then and there, which he updated religiously until November 15.
Their friend Lindsey, also a fan, was initiated into this Celluloid Dream as the driver. Several weeks of happy anticipation passed…then came the Boy Who Destroyed the World. Lindsey’s womb was full of zygote and she was going to no concert anytime soon.
Panic ensued. How would they get to the concert? With the days to the show dwindling fast, many alternative methods were considered. Including, but not limited to, renting a car, air travel, hitching a ride with the loathsome girl down the hall, and that most vintage form of travel— walking. Seriously.
On a Friday, before the show, Amanda hit upon the seemingly brilliant idea of asking Jamie Hummel, spontaneous roadtrip-taker extraordinaire. Jamie readily agreed and what follows is only history:
We woke up, opened the door, and thought we would escape to the sea…
How’s it going? We hope you are enjoying your tour.
We know you were expecting us at your Myrtle Beach show, (we were expecting us there too) but a series of great disappointments brought us instead to the house of B.T. Johnson, Camden, SC, mechanic.
As the day began, we thought we would be Dancing Through Sunday. With a roadtrip, an AFI concert, and the beach ahead of us, our hopes were high and our spirits light, we were escaping to the sea.
We departed from our alma mater, Lenoir-Rhyne University at approximately 12:21, a time of no coincidence. On our first stop for gas, we received our first clue that God Called in Sick Today. Amanda’s attempts to get cash back inside the gas station were thwarted by the evil cashier lady, and Amanda bought Maui Melon gum for nothing.
Still oblivious to the cloud of doom drifting ominously behind Jamie’s ’92 Taurus, the three Fall Children made their way to Wal-Mart, where they procured cash from the self-checkout.
For a while life was uneventful as we sped down I-40. The wind was in our hair and Black and Mild’s were in our hands (except William’s, he doesn’t smoke).
We received our second Wake Up Call when we pulled over for refreshments and bathroom breaks. “Open Your Eyes! And Face the Truth!” screamed Jamie’s check engine light. But we paid it no mind, for Jamie’s Walkman had abruptly Ended Transmission and the sad lack of tunes demanded our full attention.
After discovering the old Walkman we found in the backseat would work if held just right, we rolled on. The colors of the Third Season decorated the trees of North and then South Carolina. But somewhere along I-77 our tunage died a second death as that Walkman sputtered and fell silent.
With the help of Advances in Modern Technology (William’s iPhone) we found the world’s tiniest Wal-Mart in the seemingly quaint and benign town of Chester, SC.
But, lo and behold, the miniscule Wal-Mart was a big fat rip-off. Selling Walkmen— a form of technology know even to the cavemen of 1984— for a whopping thirty bucks!
Disgusted, we inquired of the teller where a reasonably priced CD player might be found. She directed us to “Fred’s” where one can apparently acquire substandard products at poverty level prices.
At A Glance, it appeared Fred would be our savior. Walkmen were only $10.80. As we carried our new darling to the Taurus, we were sure that it was a Perfect Fit.
“Oh, Don’t Make Me Ill,” said Amanda as the newly purchased Walkman failed to respond to our desperate touch. Apparently it was a dud. We exchanged that cheap piece of crap for another one of the same model. (Can you tell we’re not very bright?)
Alas, Salt for Our Wounds! The Walkmen were Two of a Kind: they both failed us utterly. Reluctantly, we went to ask the scary manager lady for another refund. Miss Murder gives us a look to slay The Checkered Demon, but gave Amanda her money back, nevertheless.
Disillusioned and filled with Self Pity, The Lost Souls trudged back to the car. Chester was not the “Picture Perfect Town” it claimed to be, but a Half-Empty Bottle of crushed hopes and destroyed dreams.
Tortured by the radio Amanda, Jamie, and William continued on. A few uneventful hours passed as we sang off-key and broke the speed limit.
On I-20, Jamie happened to notice that we were low on gas. Reluctant to stop, but obliged to, we got off at the next exit.
Flash Flash Car Crash!! We didn’t even get Three Seconds Notice that the Taurus would run no more.
As we pulled into the BP somewhere between Bishopville and Camden, Jamie’s trusty car began to smoke alarmingly. “Maybe it’s just overheated,” we told ourselves. Amanda and William assumed The Prayer Position as Jamie lifted the hood. All appeared well, but then, we noticed a brackish puddle oozing from beneath the car. We sat and watched the Taurus Bleed Black all over the BP parking lot.
Some good Samaritans inspected this failure of technology—A Modern Epidemic—and informed us that’s Jamie’s car was not a Totalimmortal.
Then we reached the lowest of the lows. Stranded hours from home and hours from AFI. We called friends, but dreaded calling our parents. Amanda attempted to write her frustrations out through poetry, but No Poetic Device could alleviate the Despair Factor.
William sat with Cold Hands as Amanda went to the bathroom and Jamie called all of her relatives who might pick us up. The nice ladies in the gas station told us of a bus station 15 miles away and a mechanic right down the road. While waiting for the mechanic Amanda and Jamie smoked like Veronica Sawyer as William bemoaned his vow to drink only water.
A bit later, our new Patron Saint and Angel, B.T. Johnson, the Benevolent Mechanic, arrived to the fanfare of trumpets. But our Song of Sorrow was far from over.
Dear B.T. informed us that Jamie’s transmission had Ended Transmission, and would take three days to fix. Even better, given the circuitous bus routes, it would take thirty hours to get home.
Conceding defeat, Amanda called her father. Unimpressed as he was, the good man agreed to come and pick us up. And kind B.T. offered us shelter in his majestic abode until the happy hour when Dad would arrive.
For 3 ½ hours, a veritable eternity of awkward, we sat in a Camden trailer and watched B.T. beast at Xbox. Apparently a closet nerd. B.T. was the proud owner of what was probably the biggest TV in Camden and the most extensive collection of video games of any mechanic anywhere.
A fire of anger and disappointment raged inside of us as we watched B.T. blow up terrorists. When William’s iPhone notification went off at 7:00, reminding us that the show was about to start, we wanted to put a 37mm to our heads.
Knowing that you were as grieved by our absence as we, the three of us decided to write this letter chronicling out tribulations.
So here we sit, on B.T.’s couch. Dad still isn’t here, and we’re laughing uncomfortably at B.T.’s favorite vulgar stand-up comedian. Our hearts are heavy and our spirits black. We hope to gain Strength Through This Wounding, but right now all we see is a Carcinogen Crush.
We Were Trying Very Hard to be There but this odyssey was ill fated from the start. Thus ends the journey of these sad misfits. The doom cloud rains down on us as we watch B.T. crack open another beer. Please forgive our absence; these events were just beyond our control.
The Greatly Disappointed
P.S. Ever and a Day later, we’re back at LR. Camden, Chester, and Jamie’s car are far away, but the painful memories are still very close. We assure you that every word of this sad tale is true. We thought writing this letter would Medicate our pain but we still cannot stand to listen to AFI. Your music only reminds us of our Great Disappointment. We felt it was only fair to explain our absence for we know you were eagerly anticipating our awesome presence.
23 Nov. 2009
Next time we will learn about the fantastic change of events that led to me coming into almost direct contact with the band and a little piece of irremovable body art.
But, until then, here is another video from 2006's DECEMBERUNDERGROUND, Love Like Winter: