I'm back from my brother's graduation from vet school at Kansas State University.The campus is located in this little college town in Kansas called Manhattan, because this little rural patch of obscure land uncannily resembles the bustling concrete district in New York, and also probably because this is a great way to deceive tourists to come to this town. On the bright side, there is plenty of peace and quite here, so long as you avoid the student residence neighborhoods, the pub district, or the campus altogether. Of course I can fit a five-day, four-night trip into one post, because there is really nothing much to do there.Me and my parents met up with my brother at Kansas City, which is really located in the neighboring state of Missouri, because other than naming small towns after major cities and districts, there really isn't enough geographic ambiguity in this region to generate the confusion that makes the National Geography Contest interesting.
After an hours-long drive to Manhattan, we made it to our hotel.
The next morning, we went to my brother's apartment.My brother also proudly showed off his Wii and Playstation 3, both of which probably took him a day of waiting in line at Wal-Mart in the company of the socially inept. The graphics on the PS3 were impressive, but the overall gaming experience was not much different than the PS2. The Wii, however, was something entirely new and fun, and a good indication that Nintendo is about to steal a big chunk of Sony's market share.
There were boxes and bags all over the place because he was moving out and into our house. Since airplanes still don't let you check in your car with your luggage, he was planning to make a road trip all the way up to Vancouver with his girlfriend, which was also how he was going to celebrate his graduation.
Most importantly, we were introduced to his cat Oliver, which we were charged with bringing with us on our flight because a long road trip would be hell on the poor animal. Fortunately, my brother could easily procure from his vet school all necessary documentation to allow us to bring Oliver home on board the plane. Furthermore, he had one of the vets prescribe some pills for the cat so that he mellows out on the plane. I gingerly stashed a few for myself. Oliver is much slimmer and better-behaved than Fat Bitch back home, and far more active and friendly. I immediately took a liking on the cat.
I considered strapping the player 2 controller on the cat and see how that would further improve my gaming experience when he runs around freaking out.
The day for the graduation ceremony finally arrived.
My brother was definitely agog to see the culmination of years of hard work, but didn't do a very good job coolly hiding it with an attitude of indifference. The theatre for the ceremonies was packed with family, all eagerly waiting for their kin's name to be called out. Everyone was quietly listening, with the occasional cheer when someone hears the name of their friend and/or family member. Well, that and the incessant, tympanically devastating bawling from what appears to be a nursery in the back rows.
Nevertheless, I wasn't surprised. When you have more than 200 people gathered in any venue, chances are good that at least one of them is a baby. Babies cry over all matters severe or menial, such as lack of milk (or more like the lack of the warm comfort of the mother's breast to satisfy their Oedipal urges), soiled diapers, the need for diversion with toys, unfamiliar environment, the big scary head of some creepy stranger making a pathetic attemt to amuse them, or the unsupervised pitbull gnawing on their faces.
Therefore, the question is not whether there will be a crying baby, but how long the babies cry. The proper metric is the percentage of total ceremony, movie, or trip time, rather than number of minutes spent crying. Nevertheless, the only thought that could divert my mind from contemplating infanticide was the satisfaction that someday, those babies will grow up to have one or more babies of their own, thereby depriving them of sleep and peace with more crying. Yes, just a sliver of hope splintered from the Wheel of Kharma when it hits a speed bump.
In the evening, me and my brother's friend's families went to a celebratory feast at, of all places in Kansas, a Korean restaurant. I had no idea what a Korean family is doing in this state; even if they are stauchly mea culpa Catholic like many Koreans, this region of the US is not a place for Catholicism, despite being called the Bible Belt. I think I overheard from the parents' discussion that some Korean lady married one of the servicemen from the nearby air force base, and this her family that she managed to bring over. The food was pretty good, and I could be pretty damn sure that I just had authentic Korean home cooking. The evening concluded with a dessert trip to Baskin-Robbins.
Aaahh, 31 ways to deliciously widen your ass...
The day to go home had finally arrived.
Time sure flies when you're having fun. Unfortunately, this wasn't the case, as small rural towns are apprarently surrounded by temporal anomalies that makes time stop. After going over all the cat's vaccination and physical examination documents with us, my brother stuffed his beloved drugged-up feline into the kitty tote with some toys and a blanket.
When we finally made it to the airport, we said our goodbyes to my brother and went in. After examining the documentation, the check-in and security staff let us and the cat through with little trouble. So far so good...until I got on the plane.
Once again, as discussed above, I had to spend most of my flight with a crying baby across the aisle from me. As if that wasn't enough to torture the passengers, airlines have the gall to force its passengers to sit through chick flicks. I've enough to worry about sitting for hours in a steel tube hurtling at near supersonic velocity at an altitude incapable of sustaining life, than to have to sit through propaganda made to cultivate a puppyishly and unrealistically naive view of relationships in women as a great disservice to the male gender (or "romantic comedies" for short). My emotional scar resumé from such meaningless crap include Never Been Kissed, Forces Of Nature, Win A Date With Tad Hamilton!, and...oh God help me...The Wedding Planner.
This time, the emasculatory media du jour was Music And Lyrics, starring Hugh Grand and Drew Barrymore. Although it did well to incorporate fun music, like all romantic comedies, the cast and premise may change, but the plot always remains the same - guy meets girl, they bond, some major conflict drives them apart, they somehow get back together to end the movie with a kiss and a tampon commercial.
Fortunately, I do have remedial measures against such a terrible ordeal in aviation - I take off the headphones and try to imagine what the characters would be saying. Thus, a conversation in my ad-libbed version of Music And Lyrics would be something like this:
Hugh Grant's Character: Shall I partake in nuzzling my head betwixt your lusciously bewitching mammaries?
Drew Barrymore's Character: Methinks not. My bosom is to avail not but for the affections of my lesbian companion.
Hugh Grant's Character: Ah, woe is me! O love is save a crimsom dagger to be plunged into the fathoms of a desperately beating heart of lust! Let's go watch nude mud wrestling and solicit the kindness of the county brothel instead.
Because Hugh Grant is British, I decided to give it a bit of Shakespeare's Elizabethan air for the sake of cultural enrichment.
Throughtout the flight, my poor Dad was unwell with airsickness, but would've been alright had the plane not passed through a storm front. Near the end of the trip, he suddenly puked all over the place, the barf bag inconveniently tucked into the seat pocket, so close, yet so far. The cat, however, looked on with drug-induced(?) indifference. My mom asked if he was alright, then chastised him for not heeding her warnings when he downed that greasy burger before the flight. He would eventually fill two plastic bags with his gastric contents. Ironically, we were so worried about the condition of the cat throughout the flight, but in the end, the cat held out far better than Dad. Maybe we should've given Dad the same drugs we gave the cat.
If there is ever a next time that my family goes to Kansas, it's best that my Dad come home in ruby slippers instead.