1. It is really, really dull there. And cold. And dark. I spent two winters and one summer there, which may have influenced my opinion. The locals used to say that there was nothing between Des Moines and the North Pole but a couple of barbed wire fences. They thought it was funny.
2. I was working as the assistant manager of a waterbed store. I almost got fired for failing to keep my manager from playing fast and loose with the store's finances, even though I had reported everything she was doing to her boss a year before and been told not to worry about it.
3. My soon to be ex-wife was unemployed and depressed almost the entire time we were there.
4. One of my employees became obsessed with me and started phone stalking me. It took almost a year to figure out who it was. She left the store a short time after the whole thing came to light and claimed she joined the Army, but that was a hoax. As far as I know, she was watching me until we left the state.
5. The place we lived in West Des Moines was small, dark and crappy. Our landlord was a total douchebag, and we ended up having to send a lawyer after him just to get out of town. The lawyer was also a douchebag, but I'm not here to make lawyer jokes.
6. Okay, maybe just one lawyer joke. This is the only one I know that most lawyers will laugh at.
Q: What do you call a lawyer with an IQ of 75? A: Your Honor.
7. I had a big car accident -- my fault -- and totaled my favorite car I've ever had, a 1982 Subaru Brat. Yep, just like the one Joy drove in My Name is Earl, except mine was tan. I was a nervous driver for years afterward.
8. All my hair fell out. Well, all of the hair on my head, and a good deal of the hair elsewhere. I looked like that kid Henry from the old Saturday Evening Post cartoons. We never did find out why, though this list is giving me ideas. There are also a lot of agri-chemicals in the water, which could have done it. A dermatologist gave me some experimental apricot goo that made my head itch and turn purple and we switched to bottled water. Most -- though not all -- of the hair eventually grew back.
Me in Des MoinesImage from here
9. My parents divorced while we were there. The worst part of that was having to listen to my father tell me things about my parents' sex life that I still haven't been able to wash out of my brain.
10. Did I mention it was dull? I didn't get the people at all. I mean, they were decent, hardworking sorts and all, but they would watch a good time pass them by and just say, "Yup. There it went." There was only one parade the whole time I was there, and no one threw anything. I made exactly one friend the whole time I was there, and he joined AA not long after I left. True story.
It was about 10 degrees F when I left Des Moines in late January. When I got down here it was about 55, with a low expected of 27. And everyone was freaking out because it was going to be so cold. I knew I was in the right place.