It was an 8-hour trip home from Kansas City, Missouri – a city split by two states, which I find quite relatable. Also, as I learned on the visit, it’s one of the busiest corridors for sex trafficking in the country. Likely this is due to its Celtic cross of freeways, bringing customers from every direction.
While I drove I listened to Michael York, that yummy English muffin, read the second installment in The Chronicles of Narnia. Audiobooks are another invented industry of the outsourced society, wherein we can’t even read a book, we must have some specialist do it for us. But a moving car has the same effect as eating a gigantic meal – it drags me into the undertow of deep sleep – and no one keeps me upright like Michael.
In the story, the spoiled brat Edmund (the one most like all of us) is manipulated by the White Witch, because she promises more Turkish Delight. Since I’m an Anglophile, not an Anglo-Saxon, I Googled the dessert. It’s a “sensuous pleasure imbued in its melting, gelatinous texture, and, when made in the proper way, delicately perfumed with rose petals, flavored with oils and dusted with sugar…[it has a] power as sweet and seductive as Arabian nights.”* So it’s candy. Cheap and sweet, but you pay for it later.
Just off the freeway, I saw a building without windows, like those anonymous municipal things outside of town that contain some power supply. So did this one, I realized, as I read the sign: Lion’s Den Adult Bookstore. The lion imagery was conflicting, considering the book I was listening to and The Book I believed in.
On my 18th birthday, I drove around with a friend whom I wanted to be more, though I knew little of what that meant. I said, “I’m 18 – I have to do something.” He smiled, “Like what?” I smiled in a different way, “I don’t know.” He thought. “Do you want to buy some cigarettes?” I pretended to think. “No.” I pretended to pause. “Let’s go to that store next to the freeway.”
They’re always next to freeways. And they’re all the same. We walked in and showed our ID’s. We walked around, he looking at the merchandise, me looking at him. We left. I never went in another place like that. I never had to. It was all only a laptop, click and a hump away.
“This was enchanted Turkish delight…” Read Michael York. “…anyone who had once tasted it would want more and more of it, and would even, if they were allowed, go on eating it till they killed themselves.”
As I passed the store, I stared at the cars in the parking lot, waiting for their drivers.
*So says Jenny Colgan, some britchick who writes chicklit.