I was grumpy when I rode in to New Boston because I’d taken a wrong turn with my mules and I wasn’t where I wanted to be. I was afoot and the extra 8 miles I’d walked in the heat put me in a crappy mood.
I plopped down across from the town bar and ate my sardine lunch in the shade of a tree.
A truck pulled up and a farmer told me a story. It happened in the bar across the street.
I’m going to paraphrase the story and it went like this. Here’s what the farmer told me:
I was at the bar and they were serving the Special and a guy walks in. His name is Art and he’s carrying a back pack. He says he’s walking across America. He says, ‘I’d like to have the Special like everyone else.”
The server tells him, “We’re out of the Special. How about a hamburger?”
The guys says, “no, I want the Special. I want to be like everyone else.”
Again, the server tells him, “Sorry. We’re out of the Special. How about a hamburger?”
“No,” the guy says. He’s getting irritated and he keeps saying, “I want the Special. I want the Special. I want to eat what everyone else is eating.”
So they end up feeding this Art guy a hamburger. He talks to us about walking across America. But he never really relaxes. He starts to get irritated when people find out more about him and then he just walks out of the bar.
This Art guy who’s walking across America is Art Garfunkel of Simon and Garfunkel.
Thinking About Art
I ponder this story in my not-so-grump-anymore mood. I think of how Art, the famous singer with 8 Grammys, was out there walking across America trying to be like everyone else.
And he can’t. Not really. He shows up. People ask him a few questions. And pretty soon they figure out he’s this famous guy and they start acting differently because that’s what we do around famous people.
That’s gotta be hard, trying to be like everyone else, having the Special and just blending in, when you’re that well known.
It makes me glad I’m not famous. I’d much rather slip in and out of the fabric of America unrecognized. If they feed me the Special that’s fine and if I have to eat a hamburger that’s fine too. If I have to eat lentils in a ditch that’s okay and if the sheriff asks me who I am as I’m eating raw ramen by the road, well, that’s hunky dory.
I do wonder what was on Art’s mind when he walked in to New Boston. Was he, like me, a bit grumpy because he’d taken a wrong turn and ended up in this tiny town instead of hitting something larger? Was he low on water? Were his bunions chaffing where his socks wore thin from walking? Or was he thinking about a concert date that was coming up when all he wanted to do was keep walking across America.
Art, if you’re reading this, it would be great to hear from you. Get your thoughts on walking and New Boston. That farmer remembers you fondly, even if they couldn’t serve your the Special and you had to settle for a hamburger.
I think you should go back to New Boston. I could meet you there. Or we could walk together in to town with 2 mules and eat whatever we find.
A few More Photos from New Boston
The Mules’ and my Current Position
The mules and I are walking west across Missouri. The last major town we visited was Trenton. We’re heading toward Rock Port and then hope to make our way across southern Nebraska.