This was the weekend of the annual Kimberly-Eric vacation and excursion into the stranger side of life.
And our destination?
The Superman Convention in Metropolis, Illinois.
Now, I know what you’re all thinking. You’re all thinking that this sounds like the kind of event where a bunch of weirdos meander around dressed up like their favorite fictional characters.
And you’re absolutely right. In spite of the fact that the town was rather hoosier and redneck in the typical manner of small Southern towns, there were a number of people of questionable sexual orientation parading around in tights, leather, masks, spandex and/or any strange combination of the aforementioned items.
Which is why Eric and my initial preparation for the trip involved getting ourselves costumes. His was easy; I borrowed a Superman outfit from a friend at work. My outfit, however, proved to be a little more challenging. I wanted to be Wonder Woman but unfortunately, there wasn’t a Wonder Woman costume in my size in the city of St. Louis…I found an XS, which I heroically tried on but seemed to be made for a small child. Then I found a Plus size, which I could have wrapped around my body six or seven times in the manner of the Lariat of Truth.
It is interesting to note that while at the Convention, I saw not one but TWO different women who had no problem walking around in form fitting Plus size Wonder Woman costumes.
These are CLEARLY not women who share my body image issues.
Anyway, my next step was to put together a Lois Lane costume, complete with business suit, heels, steno pad, and ridiculous looking Daily Planet name tag. But then, when we got to the convention, we saw that Lois Lanes in the costume contest were not only being judged against each other but also against the Supergirls. And the Supergirls walking around the first two days of the convention were basically slutty little sex kittens.
Which, in my younger, thinner days I probably would have seen as a challenge and immediately changed conservative old Lois Lane into a slutty little sex kitten all her own. But since I am now a mature, responsible grown up (I can hear you people snickering and I don’t think I like it) I decided not to subject myself to that kind of humiliation.
But I’m getting way ahead of myself…let me backtrack slightly. Eric and I left for the convention on Friday morning at 10:30…which was about an hour and a half later than we were scheduled to leave.
I blame Eric.
I, you see, was completely ready to go at 9:00…at least, I was ready if “ready” means packed but still needing to stop at Walgreen’s and the post office before hitting the road. Personally, I think it counts but Eric seemed to think not.
Anyway, we made it all the way to Metropolis, Illinois without getting lost once…and since Metropolis is a small town of only about 5,000 people one might think we could make it through the rest of the weekend without getting lost at all.
One would, however, be horribly wrong in that assumption.
Somehow, while navigating this little town, we still got lost not once but twice…and here’s some advice should you ever get lost in a small, redneck town:
When stopping to ask for directions in a gas station, do not honk wildly in the direction of 2 locals who are roughly the size of cattle as they will proceed to glare at you in a threatening manner for your entire trip throughout The Huck Stop.
When driving up and down a side street, looking for the correct turn, do not become so mesmerized by the sight of a bizarre combination of trailer/home/garden/trash heap all smashed into one tiny lot, that you drive back and forth in front of the lot five or six times snapping photos—in spite of the fact that the owner is standing outside watching you with what can only be called horrified fascination.
Some people, you see, find that offensive.
Some people also find hysterical laughter inside various and sundry Superman and Hollywood museums offensive. But we couldn’t help ourselves…I mean, the Superman museum had some cool stuff (like a bunch of costumes that Christopher Reeve wore in the Superman movies and a bunch of special effects gear) but also had some really weird stuff that didn’t look like it belonged in a museum. Like, seriously, how many life size Superman cutouts do you need to qualify as a museum??
The Hollywood Museum (owned by the same guy) was even worse. First of all, when a museum actually has a pig pen right outside it, it is hard to take that place seriously. Second, it seemed like it was a tribute to the Hollywood greats but quickly degenerated into a montage of large-breasted Hollywood women…I mean, is PAMELA ANDERSON really the first person who jumps to mind when you think of Hollywood greats? And is an exhibit of some of her tacky outfits draped over extremely busty mannequins really art?
Call me a purist, but I think not.
But these displays had a strange effect on Eric, clearly bringing out the testosterone in megadoses…in fact, when we went back to the convention, Eric seemed to think he had actually morphed into the Man of Steel…as evidenced by the fact that when we hoosiered out and went down to watch the Superman/Iron Man lifting contest and were, in fact, surrounded by a bunch of no-neck-having, steroid-using, wife-beater-wearing freaks with GINORMOUS muscles and shaved heads (a group not typically known for their universal acceptance of the gay lifestyle), Eric decided to announce that he thought he should enter the contest because he could match the lifters’ feats of strength.
The muscle bound freaks actually looked him up and down and laughed out loud. And what did Eric do? Said indignantly “Did they just LAUGH at me?” and actually considered confronting the aforementioned freaks and arguing his point.
Isn't it sad how a little bit of vodka , an overdone boob display, and a lot of Superman can affect one person’s sanity?
Honestly, I would have been afraid for his life except for the fact that most of the contestants in the lifting contest were also in this group called Omega Force Christian Strength Team, basically power lifters for Christ. In fact after the lifting contest (which I didn’t really understand the rules and regulations of…much less the lifting/grunting/beating self on the chest correlation) the Omega Force Christian Strength Team put on another little lifting demonstration of their own. They picked up different huge weights labeled “sin” and strapped themselves up in chains labeled “temptation” and dragged a bunch of crap around in the blazing sun while exhorting people to come forward and find their way to heaven.
And let me just say, I'm a Christian, I go to church...and that, honestly, is more my version of hell.
Then I was really, really tempted to jump up and “out” Eric to the Omega Force Christian Strength Team just to see if they could pray the gay away but then I had a vision of him getting tackled, wrapped in chains and dunked in the “pool of salvation.” A pool, might I add, that had seen a bunch of sin because it was none too clean…
Anyway, we both decided we needed a break from the strange combination of masked marauders and muscle-bound maniacs and went off in search of the grave of the Birdman of Alcatraz…apparently, he was buried just outside of Metropolis
After a lot of searching, we found the appropriate cemetery and immediately began a grid search for the grave.
Ok, to be honest, we don’t really know what a grid search is but we’ve heard the term on shows like CSI and Bones and it sounds impressive…what we actually did was traipse back and forth up the cemetery rows, complaining loudly about the blazing sun and knee-high weeds, while swilling vodka and Sprite in a noble effort to avoid bursting into flame.
But we found the grave.
A simple headstone with the guy’s name and a couple of fake stuffed birds jammed into the ground next to it.
It was a little anti-climactic.
Undaunted, we pressed on and went back to the convention for the Christopher Reeve Memorial. Which was cheesy but kind of touching…until these 2 obnoxious, slightly inebriated, hysterically laughing idiots burst into the room where the fans were having their moment of silence, interrupting the whole thing.
Ok, yah, that was us.
And you would be surprised how seriously some of the Metropolites take this memorial. It felt like we were back at the Omega Force demonstration except Superman was their version of Christ…the two people next to us actually began preaching to us in evangelistic manner, hoping we would come back to the convention every year so we could continue to learn and spread the ideals of Superman throughout the world. Luckily, we didn’t have a chance to explain WHY we were at the convention because we all had to turn our attention to the stage where they were actually having an open mike where people got up and talked about how Christopher Reeve A MAN THEY HAD NEVER MET affected their lives.
Anyway, this is getting pretty long so I will just jump to the final day, which was the costume contest, which as I mentioned earlier, we had decided to bow out of…but that doesn’t mean we were costume free. Because, you see, the last event of the entire convention was the town’s attempt to set a world record for the most people dressed as Superman gathered in one place. So, Eric and I bravely donned Superman outfits (not too figure-flattering by the way), tried again not to burst into flame, smashed together with over a hundred other similarly clad freaks, and stood in the blazing sun smiling for the official camera until the announcement was made.
Please ignore the horrible frizzy hair...heat and humidity are my Kryptonite
We set the record and actually made the Guinness Book of World Records!
Try to hold back your envy...and check out these other road trip stories!