Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Before we settled in at our hotel, we detoured for one exploratory stop in the famous li’l town of Punxsutawney, annual Party Central for the American celebration known as Groundhog Day. The town’s most famous resident is Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog who supposedly determines America’s winter destiny by crawling out of a hole and letting the sight of his shadow, or lack thereof, foretell whether or not winter would end on schedule. The town is littered with artistic tributes to Mr. Phil himself. Walk twenty feet with your eyes closed and you’re liable to trip over one of Phil’s many simulacra.
I wasn’t kidding by much. In addition to the individual works, Punxsutawney also sports a collection called “Phantastic Phils” — over thirty different fiberglass groundhogs scattered all over town. Each Phil is between four and five feet tall, has its own title, and is painted by different local artists in assorted fashions or practical occupations. My wife captured a fraction of them on camera, as a sort of self-appointed scavenger hunt with a time limit.
Most indulgent on Phil’s part: “The Wizard of Weather”. In this scenario, Phil clearly dreams of controlling the weather so that his forecasts would never, ever be wrong again, even if he had to alter reality and fix the weather to match his predictions. This is a glimpse into our new way of life if Phil ever turned to the dark side.
“It’s Springtime for Phantastic Phyllis” introduces a female counterpart for Our Hero, who shows his devotion by wearing a shirt with her picture on it. Phil insists this does not make him codependent. Phil also wants to know if you’d like fries with that.
Community plays a role in “Look at the View”, where Phil hangs out with his local animal friends. Phil also offers you the gift of fire, which he holds captive in the palm of his hand. Such wonders are well within the scope of Phil’s unimaginable power.
The pastoral-minded “Phillnomenal” salutes small-town life and shines a light on the plight of the American farmer, who’s curiously missing from the farmhouse scenery on the right, possibly because he was evicted. The animals seem fine without him, begging the question of whether or not they needed a master in the first place. This question will be answered once they realize none of them know how to drive a tractor or negotiate produce pricing with Wal-Mart buyers.
“Freedom Phil” is based loosely on another world-famous statue that many of you should recognize.
…no, not the Colossus of Rhodes. WHO SAID THAT? Nobody likes a smart aleck.
“Fireman Phil” is among the most obviously named, though the name of the baby he’s rescuing is not quite clear. The cursive writing on the baby blanket is open to interpretation, but I think it says either “Jamers”, “Gamers”, “Gamera”, or the Latin abbreviation for “George Alexander Louis”. When he grows up, this diorama will no doubt remain a nostalgic touchstone for the esteemed Mr. Louis.
Lest you question the fashion sense of all of Phil’s personae, let it be known “Phillage” proves once and for all that every girl’s crazy ’bout a sharp-dressed groundhog. According to Phil, anyway.
To be continued!
[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for previous and future chapters, and for our complete road trip history to date. Thanks for reading!]