In the summer of 2003, a friend (I’ll call her Isabel) and I decided to go to a Phish concert. Isabel has been featured a few times on this blog, namely as the owner of the dog that raped me and my ill-fated gymnastics partner.
Now, I had never been to a concert before, so I was pretty excited about this adventure. However, the venue was in Noblesville, IN, which is an estimated 2.5-hour drive from the Cincinnati suburbs. I was prepared to have Isabel drive, since my phobia of driving had been well-documented here, here, and here. I would freely allow friends to use my car, as long as I was in the passenger’s seat. But for some reason, she couldn’t drive this time around, and so I was our only hope.
I would need to drive 2.5 hours in the hinterlands of Indiana, dodging corn fields and crazed hillbillies in equal measure. Would my Volkswagen Beetle be up to the task? Would I avoid a nervous breakdown? Would I be raped by the banjo boy from Deliverance? The answer to to all was a resounding NO.
We set out with Mapquest directions clasped tightly in Isabel’s hand. Everything went smoothly, even the feared highway driving, until we suddenly hit construction. Signs for a detour directed us to a seldom-used state route, but I figured we wold eventually find our way back to the interstate, and trusted in the signs to lead us to the Phish parking lot of our dreams.
But after a few twists and turns, the signs disappeared, and we drifted forward with only corn and crows to point the way. After driving for over half an hour with nary a sign, we decided to turn around and try again. But we must have taken a wrong turn AGAIN since we ended up in downtown Indianapolis. Well, at least this was a city where surely someone could give us directions.
I was searching for a fast food place when a yellow light abruptly turned red, and I had to brake rather hard. It wasn’t a crazy stop by any means, and we halted with space to spare, but this didn’t stop a Suburban from ramming into the back of my car.
The Beetle bounced into the intersection as if it had been launched from a cannon, and I think I handled things well by immediately screaming and bursting into tears. Isabel urged me to pull out of the intersection, where we waited for the soccer mom in her massive SUV. She blamed me for the crash, naturally, but I decided that the damage to the car simply would not stop us from getting to our destination. Who needs bumpers anyway? Or license plates?
Our next stop was a Wendy’s for directions, but nobody had any idea where Noblesville was. Most people hadn’t even heard of it. A homeless man who had flies buzzing around him directed us with surprising confidence, which in retrospect was rather suspicious. But for lack of anything better, we decided to listen to him.
Off we went again, immediately finding ourselves in more sleepy towns that looked eerily similar. Each stretch of road was the same: liquor store, pawn shop, church, liquor store, church, pawn shop, all in an endless loop. Shady characters peered warily at our busted Beetle, and we pressed onward. Hours had passed by this point, and we were beginning to worry that we wouldn’t make the concert at all.
We stopped again at a lonesome Kroger grocery, and the employee at the information desk attempted to give us directions, but she was nearly impossibly to understand since she didn’t have any teeth. She gummed and spluttered an elaborate route for us, and not wanting to offend her, we just nodded our heads and backed away.
We drove off in a random direction, and hoped for the best. Eventually, we were were among the amber waves of grain for which America is famous. No stores, no people, no nothing. Just pleasantly swaying fields of corn, but no signs of the dirty hippies that populate all Phish concerts. As late as we were, we were about to give up when we spotted a sparkling plastic surgery center in the middle of one of the fields.
The incongruity was not lost on us, and we wondered if this wasn’t just a meth lab disguised as a medical clinic, but decided to chance it anyway. After parking in the nearly empty lot, we wandered into the shiny and tastefully decorated center, where we were greeted by an amazingly chipper and kind receptionist.
“We’re looking for Noblesville, IN…” Isabel began, and the woman chirped, “You’re in it!”
We had miraculously found not only Noblesville, but were in fact only one cornfield away from the concert venue itself! Not only that, but because of the hour time difference, we hadn’t even missed any of the concert proper. I will never know how we were so lucky, but seeing that parking lot covered by a haze of pot smoke was like finding the Emerald City. I felt ready to weep with joy.
The concert itself was very fun, and is probably the most enjoyable concert experience I’ve had thus far. The ride back home was completely uneventful, but I still never want to drive in Indiana again.