The honeymoon begins

Mark Green
Mark Green

The plans of the new couple were to drive to Memphis and stay at one of the downtown hotels. It had been an early afternoon ceremony, which would allow time to arrive at their destination before the evening was out, right? Ah, you have not yet grasped the potential for disaster which existed with Mr. and Mrs. Woodrow Dexter.

How, one asks, does one get lost on Interstate 40? It runs from Fort Smith to Memphis. One only has to follow the white lines. We might become confused in downtown Memphis, but surely not when traveling down I-40.

If you have never traveled across eastern Arkansas, you cannot appreciate just how flat this spherical planet can be. There is only one geographical feature worth mentioning, that being Crowley’s Ridge. Other than the Ridge, the entire area is tabletop-flat. For fertility, it is one of the richest in the world. For beauty, it lags badly behind.

At some point deep in the confusing wilds of eastern Arkansas, Woody and Cindy made a rest stop. They exited the interstate, drove a couple of blocks, stretched, rested a while, enjoyed a soft drink, and renewed their adventure.

Now, I can understand how a man could turn the wrong way out of a parking lot. I myself have a terrible sense of direction and have done so many times. However, if I know that I am only a couple of blocks from the interstate, and if after driving for a comparable distance I have not encountered said interstate, I at least have enough sense to admit my mistake, turn around and try the other direction. With this dysfunctional duo, two blocks became 10 miles, at which point Cindy batted her beautiful eyes and purred, “Woody, do you think we missed the turn?”

At this point Woody fell victim to two fatal factors: The first was the fault of being unwilling to ask directions; the second was the deceptive nature of eastern Arkansas. Despite the vastness of the landscape, because of its flatness things seem to be closer than they are. Everything is just “right over there.”

“The highway is right over there,” he assured her. “Right over there,” as usual, turned out to be well over 10 miles, at which point they came to a little burg named Whistle according to the highway sign. I have since found Whistle on a good map and it is not close to anywhere worth mentioning.

“This is not the interstate, Woody,” Cindy respectfully noted, those big eyes working overtime.

“Well, it can’t be much farther.” “Much farther” proved to be about 30 miles over as desolate-looking a stretch of real estate as one is apt to encounter in that part of the continent.

“Woody-y-y-y-y,” Cindy sniffled.

“Now, don’t worry. You can’t get lost here. There isn’t anything to get lost in. If we don’t find it in a minute or two, we’ll stop and ask directions.”  

“A minute or two” turned out to be an hour; but finally, at a little hamlet that had a small store that was still open, our hero finally consented to stop. A grizzled local who looked as though he should have retired decades ago was closing up shop.

Woody engaged the gentleman in conversation. After a time of this, the old-timer nodded, uttered some final words, confidently pointed a bony finger, and went about his business. Woody strode optimistically back to the car.

“Did he know where the interstate is?” Cindy asked.

“Sure. He said it is right over there.”

Will our heroes ever actually make it to Memphis? Stay tuned.