Manhattan, population ~60,000, was at once adorable for how well it personified small town, middle america, and surprising for how well it also didn’t.
This Kansan city is not Boomtown, but we’ll get to that.
“Why did you go to Kansas?” Yeah, I hear that a lot. The majority of the 2018 road trip was curated based on a curiosity — the influence being varied: ABQ and my positive intro to it three years prior; Vancouver because of my favorite band; “you gotta go to Austin”; St. George as I’ve never spent time in Utah, and so on. The more I researched Manhattan, the more curious I became of it, but the city itself played second fiddle to the primary impetus of my heading its way.
My best friend, and longtime once-roommate, grew up in Wamego, KS [Boomtown! Ah, you see!? But still, that’s for later] which is a mere 19 minutes East of Manhattan. It’s a bit more than that actually… but, so, here’s the thing:
Comedians formulate jokes for audiences — of whatever demographic they’re trying to entertain — in which the joke requires a setup so as to bring the audience into alignment, which is then followed by a punchline now that the audience is prepped to receive the humor it intends. Humor with good friends can come more naturally. There is a history present there for the involved parties to source from, and thus the joke can advance to the punchline with only a half-hearted setup to make it land.
Four years ago, I was the Best Man at said best friend’s wedding, which included three or so days of hanging out with relatives before the event. What I quickly came to learn during that time was that humor, laughter, and jokes are mutually exclusive entities wherein one does not require the others — and the experience was a bit otherworldly. With a person whom I had never met before, the nature of conversation transmogrified from subject-verb-object into funny-hilarious-LOL. And the subject matter that would make us go silent with laughter had no bounds. Just now, I looked up “transmogrify” to confirm it was the term I wanted, and my computer’s dictionary had this as the ‘usage example’: the cucumbers that were ultimately transmogrified into pickles. I chuckled heartily at this, and I know what you’re thinking: “Pfft, y’all just have a dirty mind and got all tickled talking about cucumbers — grow up!” But, for this, you would be wrong. I read that example sentence, and I thought pbj (peanut butter and jelly) because, for us, pickles and pbj was funny-hilarious-LOL. And even now I don’t really know why. Having an explicit reason behind humor would effectively make it a joke; its formula available for retelling. Sometimes purposefully serious commentary couldn’t eke out unscathed. Maybe more significantly, mundane filler would produce giggles. It didn’t really matter; there is no answer. Pterodactyl; 19 minutes to Wamego. This stranger whom I had just met is my best friend’s cousin, and she was why I spent a month in Manhattan, KS. Laughter is a wonderful drug.
So how was the Little Apple? Well…