I once had an existential crisis at a chuck wagon dinner and show in South Dakota.

If you’ve never had the pure joy of being on a such a dinner, then hold on to your tits Betsy, because I am about to shake the foundations of everything you consider fun. You pay some dickhole $40 per person to sit in a Home Depot Conestoga. There’s usually some cowboy tomfoolery, possibly a shootout in which, disappointingly, no one dies, and then you eat the shittiest food you can possibly imagine while people from Ohio make-believe John Wayne. If you pay $50, you get to eat around a Duralog campfire while swatting away grasshoppers and feelings of wanton despair.

I hate it so much.

We had already been on three other chuck wagon dinners in 3 other states, each one more kitschy than the last. This one promised to be different because they advertised that it was the location where they filmed Dances With Wolves, Grace’s favorite movie. Filled with visions of tatonka and movie sets, we paid Union Soldier Private Ance-Prone, and he mumbled while pointing at a rickety shack. Upon entering said shanty, we noticed 50 midwesterners wildly photographing a post-it note scotch taped to the floor. On this note was scrawled, in a couple of pens that were nearing the end of their existences, “Kevin Costner Stood Here Once.”

The hate began to rise in my 12-year-old heart.

It was the room where they filmed one 9-second scene, filled with no other indication of its movie history. I was done, and no one had called me ‘lily-livered’ for not wanting to eat any cornbread yet.

“Fuck this place,” I whispered, and Grace stared me down.
“Just smile and deal with it.”
“This is some bullshit, and you know it.”

She was silent–she did know it. It was bullshit, and it was only going to get worse. We were herded into a waferboard prairie schooner (because realism, you guys) by a recently-immigrated nebulously-asian cowboy, who insisted we were going to have a, “rootin’ tootin’ cowboy shootin’ good time.”

Lies, across the board.

Pulled by one mangy fucking donkey and what I suspect was a massively deformed camel, the Triumph Of The Prairies drove us proudly across the parking lot to the Wild Ass Saloon and Hate Buffet. At the head of the buffet line, we were handed a very thin metal plate and cup and were told to move quickly through the line. To save time, I immediately placed my cup on my plate, and a hair-netted she-beast ripped it right back off.


Not one second after my tender pre-pubescent hands had wrapped back around the cup, the She-Beast dumped a ladle full of searing hot beans into it. Into a handle-less metal cup. At the beginning of the line.

“MOTHERFUCKER! IT SEARED OFF MY HANDPRINT.” I shouted, no longer giving any fucks who heard me. My mom, who under normal circumstances would have beat me to death for that, just shook her head in solidarity.

“These beans are HOT,” I shouted at the She-Beast.
“Yeah. Ther beans, what der yer expect?”
“Not to put them in A METAL CUP?”

Fucking. Whore.

My metal plate was soon filled with corn, ‘brisket’, hot-ass apple cobbler, and corn bread (“SHE AIN’T NO REAL COWBOY IF SHE DON’T EAT NO CORNBREAD.”) The cup of lava beans burned through all layers of my skin and were now charring bone. At the end of the line, Ernie Oakley hatefully shook a cup of lemonade at me.

“How exactly am I supposed to carry that?”

That bitch shoved the cup right on top of my beans, which sent the still-on-fire beans overflowing to my hand, mimicking the fountain of disbelief in my soul.

It was then that I started to laugh, because in the deepest parts of despair, that’s all I know how to do. What the fuck was even happening? I wasn’t convinced that these people were even real anymore, because no one was capable of niceness or forethought or even a production that might hint towards being Western in any way.

As I burned my digestive tract on those goddamn beans, a cowboy approached us with a microphone. He shoved it in Grace’s face and asked her to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and was not pleased when she called him and did. He then turned to me, hoping to catch some yokel in embarrassment, and demanded I sing, “Git along little dogies.” I stared him down like a cornered wolf for an uncomfortable amount of time, daring him to keep asking me.

“What’s wrong, little lady? Prairie Dog got yer tongue?”

Alright, fuck this noise.

I shoved my maimed hand into his microphone, which slammed delightfully into his lopsided-moustache face and rang out my rage to the entire banquet hall. I stormed out indignantly and sat on the porch of the Wild Ass Saloon. My mom strolled out to make sure I wasn’t planning to run away to California for gold/drowning myself in the ocean.

“He’s going to make us stay to watch the show.”
“I know. I don’t care. I refuse to go back in and make those bastards think this is okay.”
“Are your hands okay?”
“No. But if you need me to rob a bank or murder someone soon, let me know, because I’ll never have fingerprints again.”
“Well, at least you’re looking on the bright side.” She left me to stew in my own rage.

South Dakota had already been a smorgasbord of utter terribleness, and now we were there eating magma, being harangued by Michael Landon Fanboys while high school drama rejects sad astride sawhorses and sang, “Rawhide.” My entire childhood was nicely summed up by this experience: forced, uncomfortable and usually western-themed fun had only by my stepdad, and the rest of the family using sarcasm as a defense mechanism to fend off the awfulness.

I’ve never felt more further from faith than this moment. Surely all of the events that led up to this were punishment for some deed that wronged Jesus. Is this what happens to people who, while dressed as presents for the Church Christmas Pageant, slam into the baptismal font and shout, “GODDAMNIT” in front of their pastors?

I pondered my hate and regret for everything that had apparently led to this night when the truth dawned on me.

This was all Kevin Costner’s fault. Kevin Costner was the reason we were here, the reason I was burned, the reason why everything that had gone wrong in my life. He was a terrible actor and a giant asshat, and oh how I wish he was here for me to whip beans at while shouting, “YER BEANS ARE HOT.” Kevin Costner was the source of all bad things in the universe. Kevin Costner was my Satan. I felt a little lighter then, throwing anything I could pick up towards the shanty, cursing the name of Costner.

I never let go of that hate. To this day, whenever anything goes wrong, I blame Kevin Costner.

What an asshole.

Who do you blame when things go wrong?

Favorite Comment From The Last Post:
From Carrie: “Not so much wondering about fictional people, more like projecting personalities on objects. For example, whenever I take an egg from the carton I imagine all the other eggs saying “Oh no, not Larry! There goes another good egg. Wonder who will be next?” Weird, I know.” 
Mayor Gia July 25, 2012 at 7:05 am

Hahahha. Sometimes I’m really glad I’ve never ventured west of PA.
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Rachel July 25, 2012 at 9:54 am

I firmly believe that 90% of the things we hate as adults stemmed from childhood vacation trauma. I won’t go into details, but to this day I hate station wagons, teepees, and Oklahoma.

Bill G. September 22, 2012 at 10:11 am

Totally agree. I think it’s the reason that I don’t do camping. I like hiking, fishing, and doing stuff outside. I just don’t want to sleep there. It must’ve been the spider bites, getting chased by a skunk that was probably rabid, and waking up at 5 AM so fucking cold that I couldn’t see straight. I just don’t feel the need to put my 5 year old daughter through that. She LOVES to go fishing with me but we’re coming home when we’re done.

Dani July 25, 2012 at 11:06 am

I blame Ashlee Simpson. Because, you know… it’s always Ashlee Simpson’s fault.
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Chooplah July 25, 2012 at 11:17 am

I blame baby Jessica who fell in the well. Fuck that bitch for getting stuck and hogging all the attention. “Oh look at me, I’m so cute and helpless in this well I’m such a hero for living here for days while a bunch of fuckwits try to get me out of a hole in the ground.” Fuck you baby Jessica.
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Chooplah July 25, 2012 at 6:34 pm

Wow, that came from a very dark place of childhood envy.
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nadine July 25, 2012 at 11:23 am

Naturally, I blame my cunty mother for everything that goes wrong in my life ever.

Bill G. July 26, 2012 at 12:40 am

Fuckin’ A. I originally blamed Norfolk, VA. But it’s really my mother-in-law’s fault. And she’s not even my real mother-in-law. My wife’s mom died when my wife was 13. This bitch is her father’s ex-wife that nobody in the family can bring themselves to cut loose. When she goes bankrupt-and SHE WILL-she’s not living in my fucking house.

The first time I ever met this skiff was at the doorstep of my new house with my new wife. I shook her hand, said hi, and the only thing she had to say to me was, “My luggage is in the trunk. I need the large suitcase brought in, leave the small overnight bag.” Wow, did that bitch just talk to me like a hotel bellboy in my own fucking house? Yup. Thank God she was only spending one night. I purposely brought in the wrong bag. Then I faked an emergency phone call from work and spent three hours at Barnes and Noble drinking coffee and reading books.

The next morning, when she was leaving, she TOLD me to put her luggage in the trunk of her car. I took it outside, threw it into the middle of our cul-de-sac, and drove off to work. But I digress…

nadine July 26, 2012 at 10:14 am

Fake mother-in-law sounds godawful. This sounds like a cartoonish cliche of what a snobby MIL is.
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Bill G. July 27, 2012 at 10:02 am

Yeah, pretty lousy. I’d like to say that I really told her what’s what and put her in her place, but all I could muster was some passive aggressive shit to piss her off, then ran for it. When she comes around once a year for a few hours, she doesn’t talk to me like I’m her hotel concierge anymore but she’s still a bitch. The relationship of ex-mother-in-law is about as worthless as ex-brother-in-law. When she goes bankrupt and loses it all, she’s not living at my house. She can go sell her ass on 25th street.

ColinP July 25, 2012 at 11:29 am

My philosophy has always been: “I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was going to blame you.”
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Carrie - Cannibalistic Nerd July 25, 2012 at 11:39 am

I misread “waferboard prairie schooner” as “waterboard prairie schooner” and didn’t think twice about it.
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Dani July 25, 2012 at 12:00 pm

OMG… so did I. I totally didn’t realize I’d misread it until I read your comment.

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Smart Ass Sara July 25, 2012 at 12:41 pm

I, no lie, have a “Visit South Dakota” book sitting on my kitchen counter because I have this goal of seeing all 50 states before I’m 50. This post makes me want to put South Dakota at the top of the god damn list because it would be the worst vacation ever to drag my kids to. I want every possible chance to make memories for them that they will use as examples of why we suck as parents.I mean, if that’s not the American Dream I don’t know what is.
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Dana the Biped July 25, 2012 at 12:47 pm

I’m pretty sure South Dakota is proof of God’s own existential crisis, the point in creation when He realized, this whole planet is going to be populated by McDonalds-eaters, anyway. What’s the point?
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Jen July 25, 2012 at 12:55 pm

I blame that anorexic duck-face Natalie Portman for every ill that has befallen the Earth. I present into evidence the following…

1) 1997: Natalie stars in “Mars Attacks” and Princess Diana is killed in a horrific car crash.

2) 2001: Natalie plays a white trash teen who gives birth in a Wal-Mart in “Where The Heart Is” and terrorist planes careen into the World Trade Center.

3) 2004: Natalie dry-humps Zack Braff in “Garden State” and a tsunami wipes out half of Indonesia.

4) 2009: Natalie plays an adulterous whore with a heart of gold in “The Other Woman” and “Jersey Shore” premieres on MTV.

5) 2010: Natalie wins an Academy Award for losing a shit ton of weight for “Black Swan” and an earthquake kills thousands in Haiti.

6) 2011: Natalie Portman gives birth to son, Aleph and the moon turns to blood, locusts fall from the sky, and the Baby Jesus weeps.

Coincidence? I think not.
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NATurally Inappropriate July 25, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Wow, that’s a lot of hate for Natalie Portman. I actually really like her, but can’t STAND Kiera Knightly. Every time I see her face I want to punch her in the throat.
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Christine July 25, 2012 at 6:00 pm

I have bone-deep hate for both Natalie Portman and Kiera Knightly. Anyone that thin and perky has got to be an alien on an advance scout mission plotting our extermination.

Rosa August 3, 2012 at 2:27 pm

I kind of like Kiera Knightly–mostly b/c when she does interviews, she curses a fucking blue streak. Oddly enough, that scores points with me.

Jake July 25, 2012 at 12:57 pm

South Dakota has more kitsch per capita than should even be physically possible. Seriously, a palace made out of corn? Statues carved out of fucking mountains? And everywhere surrounding Mount Rushmore, it’s like all four presidents projectile-vomited every kind of tacky-ass shit imaginable, all the way out to Wall Drug.
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Jen July 25, 2012 at 12:59 pm

I blame the Air Force for placing me in the the exact area of South Dakota where the above mentioned chuckwagon show from hell still takes place daily. My husband keeps trying to convince me we should try it out but now I have extra” fuck no we won’t go” ammo in my arsenal. South Dakota, the land of unisex mullets, little boys with rat tails, and people using checks at restaurants.

Jackie G July 25, 2012 at 1:10 pm

The air force is also to blame for me being in this shit hole state.

You forgot to mention people saying the world “eye-talian” and “beg” instead of “bag”. God Bless AMERICA.

Jackie G July 25, 2012 at 1:11 pm

*word. Fuck.

Jen July 25, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Eye-talian and Beg make me CRAZY. Don’t you also just love that you can’t go anywhere without hearing the hiss of portable oxygen tanks? Welcome to Marlboro Country mother fuckers! OH and the guys that walk around the mall in full cowboy gear from hat to spurs. It’s not even like they are real cowboys b/c their outfits are spotless and they climbed out of a fuggin Honda in the parking lot. My three year old saw one and loudly asked me if he was dressed up for Halloween. I nearly pissed myself laughing.

Bill G. July 26, 2012 at 12:25 am

You just described Park City, Utah. It’s full of rich old people that deserted reality 30 years ago. Half of them are trying to look like Willie Nelson, the other half are trying to look like every modern Hollywood sterotype of the American Indian minus the head-dress.

Bill G. August 26, 2012 at 1:33 pm

It’s like the people who say “Nev-ah-dah”, “Ore-uh-gone”, and “care-uh-mel”. What the fuck, Chuck?

Mandi July 25, 2012 at 1:35 pm

I blame garden gnomes. Those merry little freaks spend all their time looking tiny and benign. Then shit hits the fan and they’ve mysteriously disappeared from your front lawn, only to be found in the rectory of the local Catholic church three days later. Local hoodlums, my ass. Those bitches were asking forgiveness for their gnomey little sins.
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NATurally Inappropriate July 25, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Is it a coincidence that a friend of mine has repeatedly said that I remind her of a garden gnome?
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Eleanor July 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm

So you didn’t get dragged into a tour of the Corn Palace as well? It is a giant building completely covered in corn. Yup. I must have been 11 when my family thought that was a good idea. Every year they pull off the rotting cobs of corn and replace them. When I went, there was a chicken in a booth that looked like it should have a metal claw and stuffy toys in it. You put your quarter in and it would peck at one of the levers to tell your future. Besides the obvioius cruelty (where did that chicken shit anyway), my fortune said I was going to die. My sister spent the rest of the 3week trip taunting me about when and where it was going to happen. The only thing worse on that trip was getting groped by teenage boys in the gift shop at Mount Rushmore and my mother telling me it was my fault for being in thier way.

Good times.
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Chooplah July 25, 2012 at 6:36 pm

Noa, this is very cathartic for all of us.
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Valerie July 25, 2012 at 9:51 pm

I’ve hated Kevin Costner ever since my husband made me go to the movies to watch Waterworld. I wasted 135 mins of my life that night. Needless to say, I wrote Mr. Costner a very strongly worded letter that very evening, which he has yet to answer. Still, though, whenever I’m sad, I like to think that Kevin Costner is out there somewhere, rereading my letter and crying himself to sleep. Makes me feel better immediately.


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Bill G. July 26, 2012 at 12:20 am

I wasn’t even real impressed with the films that he did well in. Dances With Wolves was a decent flick, but not because of Costner. It was a strong enough story to carry any actor through it. (Think of The Matrix and Keanu Reeves–good movie but he’s the shittiest actor on the planet. That fuck gets movie roles because somebody up high wants to fuck him-or has.)

Bill G. July 26, 2012 at 12:14 am

Great post, Noa, you sure nailed this shit. I don’t know whether to laugh, cry, or slam my fucking head in the door. Chuckwagon, there’s a great fucking word. “Chuck” is the operative word here. But on the plus-side: if I ever get shingles or butt-cancer, I’ll know what to name it.

Being from Wyoming, I got to experience the chuckwagon experience as a kid. My father’s relatives rolled into town one fine summer day and decided that a hoedown 10 miles out of town would be just the place to spend an entire evening. If I had known what was in store, I would’ve gone to great lengths to fake a disease from the 1920s, including bleeding from the eyes.

Paying $50 for food that is only marginally better than what you get at the ballgame is only the beginning of an evening rife with taking it up the ass. You’ll get the full fuckin’ and you will be faithful. You get to hang out with the worst of the Wal-Mart crowd and if you have the luck of the navigator of the Titanic, you’ll get singled out by some hick, unceremoniously made fun of, and the whole fucking crowd that you’ll later unflichingly dream of carpet-bombing gets to laugh their asses off at YOU. And we wonder why some people resort to firebombing.

But the biggest joke of all is the fact that you’re surrounded by rednecks, you’re within spitting distance of one or more whimsically named saloons/taverns, and there isn’t a drop of fucking alcohol on the premises. Satan is somewhere laughing his ass off, I just know it.

Somehow, this is all Norfolk, Virginia’s (No-fuck, Vagina’s) fault.

Starle July 26, 2012 at 11:01 am

Oh my god. That is awful! That is a thing? How is that a thing???
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Mad Shady Girl July 26, 2012 at 11:30 am

I blame God’s wicked sense of humor for everything that goes wrong. I imagine him up there with a group of ass kissing angels, saying, “This is gonna be great! Just watch how mad she gets. Its. HILARIOUS”. Apparently, my sole purpose in life is to provide the Lord with endless entertainment and a fun escape from doing any real work, like answering prayers. Or curing cancer. It’s the only possible explanation.
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Bill G. July 27, 2012 at 10:05 am

No joke, I have no doubt that God has a sadistic sense of humor.

Banana Stickers July 26, 2012 at 1:27 pm

First, I would like to give you kudos for not going on a murder spree while being subjected to all of that fuckery.
I tend to blame Nickelback every time something goes wrong. Bad juju goes out into the Universe every time someone buys their album or tickets to see them live, and NO ONE is safe from bad juju when it’s running around, fucking shit up.
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Louise July 26, 2012 at 2:26 pm

When I was a little girl, there was a show on CBBC (Children’s British Broadcasting Centre) called ‘The Queen’s Nose’. Basically, there was this girl who had a magically fifty pence piece, and when she rubbed the queen’s nose on one side, then her wishes came true. To this day, over a decade later, I still rub the nose on every fifty pence piece I get my hands on. My wishes never come true, so clearly I blame the Queen. She’s supposed to be the monarch of my country and looking out for me? She gave all those wishes to that dumb girl on TV, where were all my free bikes and ice creams? Damn you, Elizabeth! You’ll pay one day.

Todd July 26, 2012 at 7:39 pm

I blame Sam Walton. Always have. Wal-Mart is pure concentrated evil, and he’s the fucking antichrist. Wow… that came out a lot angrier than I intended. I, apparently, REALLY hate Wal-Mart.
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Marina September 22, 2012 at 7:49 am

Hi, Noa. I just wanted to say that I’m really sorry all of this happened to you, and I also wanted to say that Kevin Costner and I were both born on January 18th. But you see, I don’t like Costner either! So does this make me…. the Anti-Costner or something? You know, sorta like Jesus.

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