“Are you walking?” my mom said.
“Yes, I am walking,” I said.
“You should ride your bike,” Mom said.
“I can’t ride my bike because it’s a part of the problem,” I said.
“Is this about corporatism and brand identity?” she said.
“Yes,” I said. “I can’t support Huffy.”
“Do they force small, third-world children into indentured servitude?” she said.
“No,” I said. “They offend my sensibilities, with their textured paint spatter on the boy’s bar. Plus ‘White Heat’ sounds potentially racist. Plus why is it called a ‘boy’s bar’?”
“Because boys don’t wear skirts,” my mom said, and let me know that she bored of the conversation by turning around, going inside, and shutting the door.
If you walk in the sun in absurd humidity, over a mile, you make yourself a better person, because you’re doing something difficult just for the purpose of doing something difficult. Or mainly for that purpose. I thought, what if it snowed right now? What if I was walking in snow, and not walking on gravel in leather sandals, stopping every few feet to shake tiny stones loose. Is it more difficult to shake the tiny stones out, or to walk with tiny stones in the sandal? I wasn’t masochistic, I decided, just penitential. So I would continue to shake out the tiny stones.
I walked past the cornfields. I planned out some crop circles I would create. I would create a crop circle in the typeface of the title for the TV show Full House, and the text would be “Full House”. I would create a crop circle depicting an ear of corn beholding a bag of Fritos and crying. I would create a crop circle depicting the face of the guy from Men’s Wearhouse commercials.
The car coming up behind me, I could hear it, slowed down and stopped. Someone wanted to give me a ride. It was Constance Detweiler. She used to have a perpetual kool-aid mustache, but has since learned to either not drink kool-aid or to wipe the edges of her mouth after drinking kool-aid. She’s no Joey Lauren Adams, but she’s an attractive girl.
We continued to drive past cornfields and it turned out that neither of us were doing anything all summer, which made it, for the most part, impossible to talk about anything. I started talking.
“An Amish man my dad knew had been harvesting corn, my dad said, and something had seized up the harvester, or whatever it was called. A blockage. So the Amish guy—let’s call him Ammon—Ammon reached into the harvester without turning it off and removed whatever the offending blockage was, which meant that the spinning blades started up. Maybe they aren’t spinning blades. They could be more like crushing teeth. Whatever they are, they’re metal and produce force measured in horses, X number of horsepower, and this harvester, by whatever means, grabbed his poor little Amish arm and just shredded it. Or mashed it up. So Ammon tied his poor little Amish arm off, so that his poor little Amish veins didn’t soak the ground with his plentiful, ancient, Amish blood. Now Ammon had to walk through the cornfield, back to where someone could heal him with their traditional Amish wisdom. But his arm was mainly just a bundle of exposed nerves, and I don’t know if you’ve ever just walked through a cornfield . . .”
I allowed room for Constance to interject.
“Yeah,” she said. “I have.”
I nodded, indicating that this was something we shared.
“Have you ever run through a cornfield?” I said.
“Hmm. I don’t know,” she said.
“You know Ivan Cosgrove? He and I used to run through cornfields, when we were trying to make crop circles, which it turns out is illegal and can incur heavy fines, and we would get tiny little cuts all over. Running through a cornfield, it turns out, is basically a gauntlet of paper cuts. And Ammon, our Amish friend, he’s got a shredded arm, that’s just raw, exposed nerves, so walking through the cornfield is the most unbearable pain that he’s ever felt. And he’s Amish, and they’re constantly in pain. Most Amish people just have migraines all the time, but work through the pain. They’re expected to. So he had to walk through the entire corn field backwards. And finally got help at the side of the road. And now he has one of those clamp, claw prosthetics. Have you seen anybody with those? There’s a Mennonite stock guy at Farmer Brown’s, the grocery store, and he’s got one. The guy that sort of has sock monkey lips? Do you know who I mean? I find Ammon’s story to be a triumph of the human spirit, like a modern day WWII POW type story.”
Constance didn’t accept my offer to buy her a cheesesteak at the deli. I ate a cheesesteak alone at the deli and walked home. I thought about more crop circles I could make, including one about how I forgave Constance.