Yesterday I struck a collegiate pose and sat underneath a tree on the OSU campus. I was trying to read a book and think complicated thoughts when a shadow fell over the pages of my book. I looked up to find an Army Corporal in fatigues standing over me.
"Hey, how's it going?" he asked me.
"Pretty well," I answered.
"Hey, uh, are you going to Ozzfest?" He said OUT OF NOWHERE.
"Oh," I paused, "I can honestly say I hadn't thought about that."
"REALLY?!" He said with an enthusiasm that stunk of intensive marketing training. "I thought you'd know about it."
"I mean, I've heard of Ozzfest but I'm not making plans or anything," I said.
"Huh," he said, stumped.
Army Corporal paused and looked at his feet like he was baffled that I'm not a raging Ozzy Osbourne fan and didn't know where to take the conversation from there. For whatever reason, I helped him.
"When is it?"
"End of July," he perked back up, back on track.
"Oh, I'm not going to be in Columbus then anyway."
He asked me where I'm going to be in July and I realized I'd just steered the conversation from point a) Ozzfest to point b) American Idols Live. I informed him that I would be working for the AI concert tour and he took it in stride. He remarked that I must get to see a lot of the country and I replied that I'm definitely exposed to a different side of America.
"You ever been to South Dakota?"
"Yeah, I like South Dakota."
"You DO?!" He was incredulous.
"Sure. Sturgis, the Black Hills, the Badlands...," I start.
"Wall Drug, the Corn Palace, Mount Rushmore...," He finished.
"And that Crazy Horse monument!"
Now I'm getting wound up. It's as if South Dakota has paid us to do a commercial for the state. Note the distinct omission from my South Dakota appreciation of February's anti-abortion legislation which I was not in the mood to discuss with Army Corporal. He pulled a handful of AN ARMY OF ONE business cards out of his pocket, handed them to me and told me to pass them out to the American Idols.
I took them but say, "I'm pretty sure they're more interested in breaking into the entertainment industry than the military."
He nodded coolly and told me to have a nice day.