I’ve learned a lot about the City of Lansing (population 114,297) in the six months I’ve been here.
The wife and I came down from Charlevoix County (population 26,000) this spring after the state made her an offer she couldn’t refuse.
I, being an aspiring novelist (deadbeat) and full-time hypochondriac shut-in, can work (Breaking Bad reruns) from anywhere.
So, on April 2—as April 1 would have been far too ironic—we loaded up the truck and moved to Holt, which they tell me is in Lansing but isn’t. It’s a city … but not really. A community, actually. Kind of. I guess.
So, what have I learned?
You have an inordinate number of chain-smoking pirates.
I can’t see them, per se, but in my apartment complex I can hear them in the walls and ceiling thumping around and always the smell of cigarette smoke follows.
Sometimes the pirates waltz—thump thump thump—and sometimes they boogie—thumpity-thump-thump, thumpity-thump-thump. And, sometimes, like his morning, they tap out the Gettysburg Address in Morse Code.
You have smeed.
I don’t know what smeed is, exactly. They say it’s cracked wheat and dried tomato but it tastes like heaven.
Our first day here we ordered from a place called “Woody’s Oasis,” which sounds like a hillbilly truck stop but is actually a middle-eastern restaurant.
I won’t say smeed is the best food ever but I have eaten roughly 26 quarts of it since moving down here.
You have crime.
We had crime up north but it was the folksy rural kind.
Our town drunk would let himself into the jail at night. Someone might steal a pie off a windowsill. The occasional bathtub meth operation would explode.
You know, real Mayberry R.F.D. type stuff.
Our third night here I was awakened by a noise. I decided to look up your local crime stats.
Did you know this is one of the most dangerous U.S. cities with a population of under 200,000. (lawstreetmedia.com 2015) You’re ranked at #8, in case you were curious.
I was curious.
And, by “curious,” I mean paralyzed with fright.
Turns out what I thought was The Purge happening outside my window was a cat in a potted plant.
One can’t be too careful.
You love college football.
Everywhere you go you see green and white and that mongoloid Spartan head with the angry eyebrows.
It’s like living in a Salvador Dali painting minus the melting clocks.
I’m not much of a sports fan. I follow the Lions but only to satisfy some latent masochism developed when the parents divorced.
My analyst says it stems from feelings of abandonment.
I think daddy, I mean Stafford, just needs to get a handle on the got-dang turnovers.
You have traffic.
Where I come from, a traffic jam is six cars stuck behind a slow-moving tractor. Which is good because I don’t do well on crowded roads.
I do less well on interstates.
Lansing has somehow managed to jam the chocolate into the peanut butter and combine those two things into a Mad-Maxian hellscape.
To keep things interesting, you sometimes have bank robbers who abandon their vehicles in the middle of the crowded expressway while state police and helicopters swarm the area.
My lips and hands are numb just thinking about it.
I haven’t seen any tractors on your roads yet but I’m holding out hope.