Due to circumstances beyond his control, Jonny found he was unable to continue his education at his current school. He started looking at schools out of state, and after several months of searching and weighing his options, he got an acceptance letter from the number one school on his list.
One day, Collins answered a call from Jonny out of the blue. When he picked up the phone, all Jon said was “Pack a bag; we’re taking a little vacation.”
So it was that Jonny and Collins went on a road trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Jonny was in the process of buying a new truck (which was promptly wrecked, but that’s another story for another time), so his parents let him borrow their SUV for the trip. It was a very comfortable ride, and much more importantly, it had a great stereo.
You see, this trip marked the beginning of a very awkward tradition between Jonny and Collins: they began to sing to each other. Now, the young men were already quite comfortable with each other (Jon had a habit of calling Collins while he was in the bathroom and having very serious conversations from the porcelain throne), but this was a whole new layer of friendship.
Collins was a music major at the time, and thus had a very extensive library of songs on his MP3 player, many of which he was not exactly proud of. During the 9-hour drive, the guys decided that one of them would drive half the way, and the other would control the music. When it came time to switch places, Jonny climbed into the passenger seat and began digging through Collins’ track list. The embarrassing portion of Collins’ musical taste seemed to call to Jonny, and as soon as Collins started the vehicle, this came pouring out of the radio:
“I’m all out of love; I’m so lost without you…”
Immediately turning the radio down, Collins turned beet red and asked, “What are you doing?”
“Collins, the rules were plainly spelled out two states ago; you drive, I get to pick the music. As you can see, I am going to have quite a bit of fun with this. You can either sing along, or you can sit there quietly while I serenade you.”
For twenty miles, Jon played that song over and over again. Finally, Collins joined in. The only problem was, despite how many times they had heard the song by now, neither of them knew any of the lyrics except that line. So they mumbled along until that line came up, they belted it out, and went back to mumbling.
Eventually, Jon grew tired of this song, and continued to look for awkward love songs. It became something of a game. Jon would try and find a song Collins was too ashamed to sing along to, and Collins would do his best to sing without laughing.
TLC, Air Supply, Journey, and some other sappy music made its way through the stereo over the next hour or so. And then an absolutely epic thing happened: Bohemian Rhapsody began to play. The men looked at each other for a second, then turned the volume up, and rolled the windows down. At about this time, they had to cut over to another highway, so they happened to be going right through the middle of a city. They pulled up to a red light, and a car full of attractive women pulled up beside them. Already singing too loud to try and cover up what they were doing, they just started singing louder.
This particular light was a rather long one, so the girls in the car next to them were subjected to this Queen sing-along for about a minute and a half, before they rolled their windows down and belted out the lyrics as well. The light changed, and the ladies kept pace with the guys until the end of the song. After it ended, they honked their horn and sped away. Collins and Jon high-fived as Jon searched through the track list for another rock-anthem to pump through the sound system.
The rest of the trip was a musical ride through rock and roll, driving all the way up to the coast of Lake Superior, and then east along the lake. After they were too hoarse to sing, they turned the music down and talked, laughed, and admired the scenery. The landscape was just captivating, and there were times where they would come around a turn and conversation would simply stop due to the breathtaking view.
When they were about half an hour from their destination, Collins saw a gold Impala creeping up behind them. It had half a dozen antennas on top, and since he was driving approximately 30mph over the posted speed limit, he panicked a little bit. Slowing down to just under the speed limit, he waited for the lights and sirens to go off, knowing that if they were pulled over, he was quite possibly going to jail. That would be a difficult situation to explain to his mother…
As the car came closer, it pulled into the lane to their right. Heaving a sigh of relief, the two of them were curious: why was the cop just letting them go?
“Is that a cop? It’s got to be a cop…” Collins worried.
“I don’t know. Sure looks like it…oh…wait…nope; it’s just three geriatrics and a fat Italian.”
Sure enough, as the car passed them, Collins saw three elderly women wearing thick, dark sunglasses being driven by a rather large woman in what appeared to be an unmarked squad car.
Collins laughed. “What?! So some old people and a ‘fat Italian’ stole an unmarked police car?”
“Yeah, maybe. Aaaaaand now they’re pulling into the Indian casino.”
“Wait, how did you know she was Italian?”
Jon shrugged, “I was taking a page from the book of Collins and making it up as I went along.”
The guys had a good laugh, and soon enough, they had reached their destination. They were staying in a small hotel just outside the city limits, right down the street from the school. They spent the remainder of the day relaxing and exploring town.
The next day, Jon dragged Collins along for his meeting with the admissions advisor. This was a private meeting, so Collins wound up sitting at the children’s play table doing puzzles while Jonny did his thing. They took a tour of the campus, Jon did all of his business for the trip, and the gentlemen went back to the hotel after dinner.
When they got back to the room, Collins asked him how his meeting went.
“Well, it went fine. The advisor was hard to understand, since she had a weird accent, so it went a lot longer than it should have.”
“Accent? Like, did she have a really strong Canadian drawl or something?”
“I don’t know; it was more Eastern European or something. She was like, “Hello. Please have a seat. I would like to discuss your proposed class list right away.”
“Jonny, that is the WORST Eastern European accent I have ever heard. It sounded more like Robocop.”
“Hey, accents aren’t my thing, man. And who knows, maybe she moonlights as Robo-Admissions when she’s not at work.”
Throughout the evening, Robo-Admissions was given an origin story and the guys thought about starting a comic book with her as the lead villain, but eventually they realized this idea might land them in a bit of trouble with every college admissions advisor in the country and let the idea go.
- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
While the hotel they were staying at was small, the hallways were a little confusing. They zigged and zagged and if one wasn’t paying attention, they could easily get turned around. At about 8 o’clock that night, Collins left the room to go get some ice, and had to search the entire place for the one ice machine in the building. When he had retrieved the ice, he realized he had no idea how to get back to the room, and simply began wandering the halls.
After Collins had been gone for a while, Jonny started to wonder what had happened to his friend, so he left to search for him. One hallway over, there was a room with the door propped open. There, he found Collins sitting on the floor of the room of an elderly couple watching a nature program.
“What on earth are you doing? Leave these poor people alone. Did you just waltz in here?!”
“Yeah, I got lost, and saw Bill and Nancy’s door open, so I decided to step in for a minute and get directions.”
“Get directions? You’re one hallway over from our room, how did you get lost?”
“Dude, this place is confusing, and they seemed like nice people. They even shared their popcorn with me and offered to let me watch TV with them for a while.”
Turning to the elderly couple, Collins introduced his friend, “Bill, Nancy, this is my buddy Jon. He’s the guy I was telling you about.”
They smiled, Bill waved, and Nancy said, “So you’re the nice police officer who is transferring up here to be closer to his two-year-old son in Canada? I think that is a wonderful thing. Your friend was saying the mother of your baby wasn’t doing so well, and moved up this way to be with her parents.”
Collins grinned. Jonny was confused. “What? Uh, sure, yeah, it’s a complicated situation, and I don’t really have time to get into it right now. Collins, let’s get back to the room so that these HONEST people can get some rest.”
Jon grabbed Collins by the elbow and pulled him out of the room.
“What the hell was that? I don’t have any kids!”
“I know; it just seemed like a better story than the truth. They really find imaginary you to be quite admirable.”
“That’s wonderful. How did you come up with that, anyway? That seems like a pretty in-depth story to just come up with on the spot.”
Collins shrugged. “I have an over-active imagination. What can I say?”
“You astound me sometimes.”
“Why, thank you, sir.”
“It’s not a compliment, dumbass.”
“Sure sounded like one to me…”