I think my general distaste for the midwest at large is well-documented. I'm perfectly happy to live my life keeping the fly-over states just that: flown-over. However, this November, that was unfortunately not an option as my dear friend Dorene got married in her home town of Indianapolis. Dorene is one of those people that keep me from advocating for a mandatory mass-secession for all states that don't directly border an ocean; in fact, I would happily allow the ocean-bordering states to be the ones to secede. I don't care. After all, according to them, we aren't real Americans anyway. Dorene, however, having been born and bred in Indiana and currently living in Texas still manages to be a sane, fun person; she really throws a wrench in my easy stereotyping.
In any case, Dorene was getting married and I was going, so to the midwest I went. I'll just say in general that fun was had, though Vinay didn't enjoy it when I insisted on speaking in a Southern-fried accent as often as possible (despite his warnings, my homage to the locals never caused us to get our asses kicked). However, beyond that, I came back with some information that I think the coastal cities could use.
For one thing, don't emphasize form over function. Dorene had a simple, beautiful wedding cake...and it actually tasted good. I've been to many weddings, and by and large there appears to be a lack of caring about the actual flavor of the dessert. They've ranged from fairly decent to nearly inedible concoctions of dry cake, overly sugary icing and a healthy dose of fondant. Fondant, if you aren't aware, is the substance used to sculpt all of those grandiose elements that you often see on various desserts. It's disgusting. Dorene, however, was smart enough to make the cake look good and not sacrifice the taste. She had three different kinds of cake cooked into that bad boy...THREE! A yellow cake, a red velvet cake and a chocolate mint cake...I can't claim to have tried the first, because honestly who would waste calories eating yellow cake when you have red velvet and chocolate mint available? I'd never thought of a chocolate mint cake, and I hang my head in shame for the oversight...in fact, I'm now thinking about cakes in the flavor of each girl scout cookie. Well, Samoas and Tag-Alongs at least; a Trefoil cake is basically just a yellow cake redux.
Further, I constantly forget that the entire midwest has free refills on all drinks. Apparently, this is common practice all over the country except in New York, but it still shocks me every time I encounter it. In New York, in some restaurants, you can get free refills on coffee and tea, which is probably a result of people generally being afraid of confronting an under-caffeinated population. In Indy (and, rumour has it, everywhere else) you can get refills on anything. Well, anything except liquor; if they offered bottomless glasses of wine, Indianapolis would become a gay travel destination in about 25 seconds. But let me say, it feels positively sinful to have a waiter constantly refill your unsweetened ice tea. You feel like you're getting away with something. And it becomes even more fun when the waiter in question is clearly the only gay in the village and he's staring at your table and everyone sitting at it like they're made out of ham. It gets better, Zach!
However, the most fantastic thing that I found out in the midwest was the fact that grocery stores carry liquor. Not just a small selection of beer. Not a rack or two of local "wine." I'm talking about two complete aisles, fully stocked with enough booze to satisfy the biggest lush this side of the Mississippi. A wine selection from all over the world. Sweet tea flavored vodka. 24-hour service! Needless to say that by the time we were preparing to leave the fair city, the employees over at Kroger's knew us by sight. "Where's the party?" they would ask in wonderment, as we scanned our five bottles of wine through the self-check-out. "Wow, can I come?" one queried as we bought a bottle of vodka. "Again??" one let slip when Vinay returned five minutes later to buy another bottle of vodka after the first one fell out of the bag and broke on the floor of the hotel lobby.
In a side note, I think the few moments directly after breaking that bottle of sweet-tea vodka may be the closest I've ever seen my boyfriend to tears.
Of course, not everything about the midwest is perfect. For one thing, they may have a 24 hour liquor-I-mean-grocery store, but they don't sell ANY booze on Sundays! What!? I mean, I was shocked last week when I found out that I couldn't get a brunch cocktail before noon in New York City, but in Indy there's just a complete ban on it. That might be enough to ruin it's chances as a gay destination right there, even if it did offer bottomless glasses of wine...one doesn't get in between a gaggle of gays and their brunch drinks. But I think the whole trip was a nice step towards reconciliation; I'll no longer call for secession provided the entire section of the country keeps their noses out of my business. And who knows, if they lift that Sunday ban we might even become friends one day.