Performer: Pearl Jam
Songwriters: Jeff Ament, Eddie Vedder
Original Release: Backspacer
Definitive Version: none
Laurie used to go home to Kansas City all the time until her father died in 2000. Then it became an every-three-years thing. She took me for the first time in 2006, as I mentioned.
The second time was in September 2009, the weekend after Backspacer came out. I bought it and set it aside, so I’d have something completely new and cool to listen to as we drove around town.
We flew in on a Friday, and the first order of business, after getting the rental car, was Hayward’s for lunch and then go see Laurie’s mom. As we drove around I-435, I saw a sign for the local Renaissance Festival. That struck my fancy, because Laurie met her long-ago ex at the KC Ren Fest, and word through the grapevine was that he still was a juggler there. I took a rip at the ball set on the T.
Hey, check it out. Ren Fest is going on right now. We can swing by and say hi to your ex, catch up on old times. What do you say? He was a clown, right?
Believe it or not, Laurie didn’t pull over and leave me at the side of the road. I guess the pull of Hayward’s was too great to resist.
This time, I had a better idea of what to expect, and I promised myself there would be no hike around Loose Park feeling as though I was about to split my seams. After all, dinner, again, would be at Stroud’s. I had only a half-sandwich at Heywards … even though I really wanted a full sandwich. I thought of the bigger picture here and denied myself.
After that, it was back south to see Mom. I pride myself on having such a keen sense of direction that if I get somewhere and paid attention to where I’m going, I can find my way a second time without directions just going off memory.
But this time, my sense of direction led me astray. Even though we had been there just three years before and it seemed to be an important visit, we had to wander around the cemetery for a while before we stumbled over Laurie’s Mom’s gravesite. My defense: Leaves covered the marker, so I didn’t see it when I first went by it.
There was no need for me to find our way to Laurie’s friend’s place, nor was I needed for direction consultation to Stroud’s. My only requirement was to contribute more to the decimation of the fried chicken mound that was placed before us. No problem. This time, I prepared myself properly. Hayward’s is good, no question, but Stroud’s is sublime. I’ve never had as good down-home food as there.
The next day was devoted to new adventures in KC, new to me, anyway. The first was a stop at Laurie’s favorite hamburger place—the Westport Flea Market Bar & Grill. I kid you not: According to Laurie, the best burger this side of Moody’s Pub was at a flea market. OK … if you say so.
When we got there, we found to Laurie’s dismay that although the bar & grill still was there, the flea market was down to a measly six stalls of stuff. It used to be so much cooler, she explained disappointedly. Minutes later, she was voicing the same disappointment about the burger—if not more. It was OK, but it wasn’t the greatest burger this side of Winstead’s let alone Moody’s. But, hey, where else can you hang out and drink pitchers of beer on a warm Saturday in a parking lot?
Finally, it was time for the main event. The first time we went to KC was to see the Christmas lights on the Plaza, as I mentioned, in 2006. This time, it was all about a Royals game. I had never seen a game there.
Because the Royals have been horrible pretty much for the past two decades, plenty of good seats were available before game time. We bought from the box office and sat in the upper deck behind home plate.
The park was nice, and you could see why people said it was the best Seventies ballpark, but after the ballpark renaissance of the Nineties, Kauffman Stadium definitely seemed a bit dated with its cold, gray concrete. The team had just finished a major overhaul of the park that added a whole bunch of stuff to the outfield concourse, which used to be nothing but grass and fountains, of course, but it couldn’t compare with the new retro parks.
The game was fun, and the Twins beat the Royals in a game that kept the Twins in the playoff hunt. Considering that they ended up tied with the Tigers for the division, it actually was an important victory, although we didn’t know it at the time. At the time, we were more concerned with the thunderstorm that was moving into the area. The forecast called for a high probability of tornadic activity. Fortunately, the only breeze we felt as that of another Royals player fanning futilely.
KC 2009 was a quick-hit trip, but we had a good time although not as good as the first time there. 2009 also was the last time we’ve been back. It’s now been four years since Laurie has been home, and the other day we talked about it when she said, it’s time to go back. Maybe this time we’ll do the Nelson-Atkins art museum. I know I’m already looking forward to getting some more Stroud’s.