Saturday, August 27, 2011

Speaker’s Circle

Anyone familiar with the University of Missouri campus knows about the infamous “Speaker’s Circle.” Right in the middle of the path you have to take between classes, or from your dorm to campus, Speaker’s Circle almost never fails to have some sort of excitement to entertain you.

It also happens to be one of Gonga’s favorite spots to sit and play his accordion. He loves getting out there at 11:30, just before the noon rush. He’ll set up his white-board, complete with his employer’s logo, and open up his briefcase. Then he settles into a relaxing couple hours of accordion playing.

Part of the reason Speaker’s Cirlce remains one of his favorite haunts is the fact that he is not the only source of entertainment.

Someone is always handing out flyers to something. During election season the Republican and Democrat student groups set up competing canopies and try to out-represent their sides to the passing students, most of whom rush by without a glance. Music groups pass out invitations to their concerts. Hapless psychology students stand about with the stack of surveys they have to get completed for their class projects.

There’s even a bean bag tossing performer of sorts who shows up occasionally. He wears very short shorts, reminiscent of the 70s basketball teams. No shirt. Usually sets up a camera to record himself. And he has a small bean-bag, or ball type object which he sends spinning high with a swift pop of his toe, only to have it to glance off his elbow and knees or whatever other hard point of contact he can use to stave off the imminent ground contact.

Today, Gonga hopes the bean bag tosser will show up. He has the perfect accordion accompaniment all worked up just for him. Maybe together they’ll set a record!

But most of all, Gonga is just glad to be back on campus, holding down a steady job and having a ball with his music.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Steal Your Dollar City

After the unexpected good fortune of inheriting a U-Haul full of textbooks, Derrick was primed for adventure. He paced the five steps back and forth in Gonga’s living room, eyes darting from side to side.

Gonga pealed another banana.

“I know!” Derrick whirled and planted himself in front of Gonga. “Silver Dollar City.”

Gonga looked blank.

“It’s a theme park, roller coasters, funnel cakes, hand-made knives...”

And that is how Gonga found himself in the car rubbing his eyes at 4 am one morning as Derrick pulled out of the driveway and headed down to Springfield.

At first Gonga balked at standing in line, packed amongst people twisted back and forth around wooden barriers. But after his first ride on Wildfire, it was all Derrick could do to keep up with him as he flew from the exit back around front to get in line again. And again. And again. After the fifteenth ride on Wildfire, Derrick finally managed to grab Gonga’s arm and explain that Wildfire was not the only ride in the park.

Powder Keg, Thunderation, The Barn Swing and Fire in the Hole followed in quick succession.

Toward the afternoon as the adrenaline surges began to wear thin, Gonga noticed the food. Ice cream, funnel cakes, fried potatoes, fried chicken, fried tacos, fried everything. And more and more ice cream.

“Here’s to textbooks,” Derrick lifted his plastic cup of shaved ice and strawberry slurry.

Gonga grunted, too busy with his banana split to respond properly.

When the park finally closed, Gonga and Derrick were the last to leave. Gonga was fairly bouncing with excitement. His whole family wouldn’t believe the stories he would tell them now! Gonga kept doing scissor-kicks and beating his chest. Derrick shook his head.

“Ok buddy. I can’t handle this. You drive, I’ll sleep.”

With Gonga’s hands and feet occupied, Derrick hoped the drive home would be uneventful. But he had forgotten to account for Gonga’s mouth. He groaned and rolled over in the back seat, trying to shut out the noise.

He heard every mile of the 215 mile drive home.