Congratulations to our April Scribble winner, Alex Tronson! Check out his piece:
Cold Snap in Nevada
By Alex Tronson
I got off the plane around 11:00 P.M. and it was quiet as I crossed through the terminal toward baggage claim. The couple I’d been sitting next to, patchy skin and yellow teeth, had told me they’d come to Vegas to get married. I told them I didn’t realize people actually did that and then they refused to say anything more. I knew they were nuts from the way they asked the flight attendant for ice cubes to put in their coffee. When I got outside, waiting in line for a shuttle, the air was hot and thick. Spring had come, but these people, in this ridiculous neon desert, they hadn’t even noticed.
The shift of seasons is undeniably a Midwestern obsession. Weather patterns and temperatures transition radically in the guts of America. And once it gets just above freezing, students break out into salmon-colored cargo shorts. The polo tees and bright, ugly, tank-tops. People assume cheery personas, nice weather we’re having! They smile and wave to complete strangers. Kindness drips from every tanning pore and drivers curse quietly, passing cyclists, instead of shouting in their faces.
Last year, I missed the transition into Spring, because a few days after my twenty-first birthday I jumped onto a plane out of Minneapolis for Las Vegas, an overnight stop on my way up through the armpit of California. Winter in the Chippewa Valley had lasted too long, sporadically coughing up snow in March, even April.
Later, after checking into the Best Western on Paradise Road, I carried myself down the street and stumbled toward a Cantina built into a strip mall. There were plastic palm trees covering the entrance and a few great, blue surfboards hanging on the walls. I sat down at a table in the far corner, away from the regulars. A sign above me said: Happy Hour, Daily—3am to 5am.
The waitress was decked out in beach garb, one of those dressy, long overshirts you might layer on top of a swimsuit. She was asking, “What can I get you?”
I looked at the clock. It was almost 1:30A.M. so I ordered a beer. The waitress nodded and disappeared behind the heads at the bar.
A few minutes later she returned and set the drinks down at the table, she was saying “Your not from around here, are you?”
“Not even close,” I said. “I’m from the Midwest. Where they’ve got seasons.”
“We’ve got seasons, too,” she said. “We just don’t notice it as much.”
“Wouldn’t you like to?” I asked.
“Everyone gets so depressed and angry in the Winter.”
“But they’re nice again in the Spring.”
“I’d rather be here,” she said. “We fly our true colors year-round.”
I said, “So you’re bitter and miserable all the time?”
“At least we’re consistent,” she said, and slipped away.
I got up, left a few bills on the table and wandered out into the dry air, listening to the whispers of desert brush and the dirt, wondering if maybe we’d spent so much time clearing the front walk, the driveway, that we’ve forgotten what we’d left, buried in the mound on the side of the road.