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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Jesus Billboards, Casper the Ghost & the Best Restaurant in Omaha

I'm not proud of the fact,but I've pretty much peed in every gas station that runs along HWY 35 throughout Iowa.

Typically your 3 options are Kum & Go, Q-T and Casey's General Store, but this afternoon I couldn't wait for my scheduled pit stop.

You can't really cross your legs when you're driving, so instead I rocked back and forth.

But thing were starting to back up hard, and my PSI was off the charts. I don't take a lot of solace in life, but one of the few things I can be proud of is that I've never been pee a in a milk carton or Gatorade bottle guy, like my civilized forefathers, I torture myself until I find a toilet.

When you cross Iowa, one of your entitlements is that their gas stations are almost always within 100 yards of the off ramp, shoot...just 25 hours earlier I was in the southern part of the state and urinated at a Kum & Go in the town John Wayne was born in, but I digress.

Yeah, it was hurting now, and I see a sign that informs me at the next exit is a Cenex gas station, now I'm annoyed because isn't that some kinda farm brand?

As I go tearing down the off ramp, the sign says to hang a left, and I did this, but as the bread truck lined up with the road....all I could see was silo's off in the distance.

Now even Jedi mind tricks are not working, I gotta pee so bad I can almost taste it. I start to think that maybe if Sue McGleno were awake that she could talk to me. Maybe that would distract my current situation.

But every time I take my family anywhere, whether it's planes, trains or automobiles....they simply treat me like I'm Casper the Ghost.......

"Hi my name is Klecko....won't you be my friend?"

Yikes, the mere thought casts a spell of sleep on them, and you can be pretty certain it will be 8 hours before they wake.

I made this Casper reference recently to my writing mentor Mike Finley, but he just started up a morose conversation about Casper being the ghost of a dead little boy.

Isn't that funny? I had watched that cartoon 1000+ times, and I guess I never stopped to think about the child his ghost was connected to.

Mike Finley did though, and that's why he is the teacher.

I've now gone 1 mile down a dirt road, still no gas station, I am not sure if I want to swear, cry or pull over and pee in the ditch.

But even when you are close to 50, there still is a sense of pride knowing that you didn't fail in maintaining your voiding goals huh?

The silos are on my left now, and I think they said Land O Lakes Study Grains, or something like that.

My mind must have been knocked off axis because now because it went back to Casper, and then it occurred to me that he wasn't trying to stalk anybody in particular. The poor little ghost was either an orphan or just wasn't close to his family.

If I died, I'd so stalk Sue McGleno's a** and boo her every chance I got.

Eureka.....it took 1.6 miles, but there she was.....the Cenex Gas station.

I hate to be the run in and pee, and then don't buy anything guy, but right now I ran past everybody, found the oasis and entered into a moment of bliss.

When I was done, I went back outside. This little rube station only had 2 pumps. I was parked in front of diesel so I had to sit patiently for the 2 townie vehicles to finish fueling up.

The first car wasn't actually a local. Their license plate was from Kansas, and they had one of those frames you can buy at souvenir shops, you know....the ones that frame your plate with a sports logo or clever quip.

This one said......

"Pray for Abortion to End!"

I decided I hated the owners of this plate shield, not because of their frames content as much as the fact that they left their car there, and then walked inside the station. I could have filled my tank had they just moved up 6 feet.

Dude on the other side of the pump was filling empty gas tanks and cleaning out his pick up truck simultaneously.

And yes.....Sue McGleno wasnt oblivious to any of this because she was still passed out in the back seat. So as I sat in silence, I turned to Polish Jesus and asked him......

"Really, do you want us bugging you about all of our problems? should we start lobbying folks to pray for the economy, pray for flour prices to go down, pray for wars to stop, pray for......etc-etc."

How about if that license plate holder just consolidated everybodys perception and opinion and we just made one standard license plate holders for all people of all faiths, and it could say.........

"Pray for people to stop being stupid."

Seriously, that encompasses all wrong doings, all sins and all irritations.

I think Polish Jesus smiled.

The guy filling portable gas tanks was finished, and so I pumped, and went in to get a Diet Mountain Dew and pay for my petro.

The woman who worked the counter was 60ish, had silver hair and wore a watch that sported L.E.D. numbers, and I don't think it was meant to be a retro wardrobe accessory, if you know what I mean.

Maybe I am a pompous doof, but when I encounter people who are engaged in mind numbing jobs, I try to cheer them up, throw them a bone of love, if you will.

I've worked "that" job for decades and know how one sentence can brighten a day, and when you work a job instead of a career, you just try to get through 1 shift at a time.

I didn't need to bother though, the gas attendant simply painted her eyes to my tattoo's and I could almost feel a force field of rebuke engulf me lol.

That's when I slowly turned my arm over to make sure that she saw my Russian tat, the one with the hammer & cycle. I'll bet that was going to be a topic at next Saturday nights bingo.

The one thing I forgot to mention is that when you pee in the country, it is totally different than peeing in the city, because in the city, well they just hang artful things on the walls.

Sometimes you'll get a Picasso or a Warhol, but in the country, aw shucks.....they hang crafts!

So as I relieved my self, I did duly note the hand made plaque that announced......


"In this rest room, we aim to keep it clean.

You can help us with our goal, if you keep good aim as well."

As I drove into northern Iowa and southern Minnesota, I saw Jesus commercials on bill boards. I'm not making it up.

Some of the following are just samples of what I saw on the road side........

JESUS SAID NOBODY COMES TO THE FATHER, EXCEPT THROUGH THE SON.

JESUS SAID BELIEVE IN ME AND I WILL GIVE YOU EVERLASTING LIFE

JESUS SAID I AM THE TRUTH, THE WAY, AND THE LIFE

OK, how many times do I have to say this? I AM ON THE JESUS TEAM! But really?

Dude that was thousands of dollars to repeat verses that anybody who isn't biblically illiterate already knows. And if they are not hip to those scriptures, will those words and a cheesy painting of a dove really get across what this faith is all about?

Now I can already hear the bashing, and be that as it may, but I think if you used those billboards to put a picture of Hollywood Jesus holding a chimpanzee that was smoking cigs, you'd actually germinate healthier seeds.

Kids would ask their Grandma what it meant, husbands and wives would start dialogues, the real message would be that Jesus was inclusive.....not exclusive.

Jesus didn't hang with the "Church" crowd. He hung with blue collar slobs, grimy tax collectors, whores and thieves.

Why? I imagine those were the peeps he wanted to influence.

So who were these existing billboards for I wondered.

Now I'm 1 hour and 12 minutes (according to my GPS) from home, but there is road construction happening on our Sunday freeway, long story short, this turned out to be a 75 minute delay.

As much as I hate to wait, I used this moment to reflect what had transpired over the last 24 hours.

I popped in to Omaha to make a cameo appearance to my daughter and her family.

Typically I don't like to go many places much longer than that, but with your kids, it's even a little trickier.

I know what it's like to have parents at my house.

If they come for 24 hours, I treat them like royalty, but every hour after that.....well let's just say the mood switches exponentially.

Young people do love their parents, but their lives are busy, and I think my biggest fear on the planet is to lose the respect and loyalty of my wife and children.

I can prevent that if I show up often, but bolt before I say something stupid.

So last night, my son in law took us to this German restaurant called Gerda's and I swear on a stack of Polish bibles it was the best meal / environment I have seen in years.

When you walk in the front door, you step into a bakery retail spot that offers apple strudel, cream puffs, Neapolitan's and cakes - cakes and more cakes.

But, the bakery has an adjoining room which they open for dinner and my family was blessed to dine there with a dozen other families.

The menu offered about a 15 options of standard German fare, but I gotta tell ya, everything-everything-everything down to the German potato salad was made from scratch, it sure wasn't plopped out of a #10 can that was shipped in by the case from Sysco.

And the beer menu, do I even have to go there?

My son in law guzzled 4 or 5 of the dark ones, but I prefer the Pilsner.

When all the other families left, Sue McGleno mentioned we were holding the staff up, so I asked how much it would cost for me to gain permission to spend the night. Our server laughed and said.......

"OK kid, I'll get you an answer."

So now an older women comes out to the counter, showers my granddaughter with compliments, and asks which one of us was the baker.

She knew though, and she kindly told me about her operation, it's history, but then she kinda confessed that she had fed Omaha for so many years, and often times she secretly wondered if her concept would remain float in other regions of our country.

When I asked her what her secret to longevity was for her, and her bakery/restaurant she smiled and told me, as if she knew me........

"You know what the secret is. If you own it, you work it. Why would anybody start something like this if they were just going to hire somebody else to run it. That would just be crazy."

Then she handed my granddaughter some free cookies.

As I sat in the traffic jam and reran this event through my mind, I thought how I wanted to get a license plate frame for my bread truck, but I wanted mine to say.....


"Pray for Gerda's - it's the Best Restaurant in Omaha!"

I bet that would make Jesus smile.

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