Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
For the last few years, my wife and I have spent our respective birthdays together finding some new place or attraction to visit as a one-day road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on this most frabjous day, partly to explore areas of Indiana we’ve never experienced before. My 2014 birthday destination of choice: the town of Muncie, some 75 miles northeast of here.
Sure, many people would spend their birthday drinking, partying, and making the day wild and regrettable. We have our own agenda. Finding creative ways to spend quality time together. Embarking on road trips that wouldn’t occur to our peers. Searching for gems in unusual places — sometimes geek-related, sometimes peculiar, sometimes normal yet above average.
We’re the Goldens. This is who we are and what we do.
Part One was a general “hey, wow, still got a pulse!” birthday entry. Part Two was a salute to artwork around Muncie. Part Three covers the results of our primary objective, the twisted plan we knew no one would approve. It was a quest we’re sure many have tried, but few have confessed to attempting.
As it so happens, Muncie was once the town of residence for Garfield creator Jim Davis and his company, Paws, Inc. (Both now officially reside in Albany.) In honor of that intellectual property’s 25th anniversary in 2003 and its impressive long-term survival against all internet snark, dozens of Garfield statues stand in his honor all over Grant County and in Muncie. We weren’t prepared for a tour of neighboring Grant County, but Muncie boasts eleven of the known Garfield statues. We wanted to see how many we could track down. Because they were there.
We stumbled across our first one while visiting Minnetrista, inside their Orchard Gift Shop. Each statue has a name; this one’s “The Spirit of Minnetrista”. Coincidence, I’m sure.
Statue #2 was inside Jack’s Cameras, whose helpful sales rep gave us clues for tracking down some of the other Garfields. In return for this favor, please go buy many cameras from him. Much obliged.
Oh, and this one’s called “Feline Exposed”. You can write your own joke for that.
Statues #3 and #4 were deep inside the Cornerstone Center for the Arts, the former Masonic temple I mentioned in Part Two. We had to navigate its labyrinthine structure to locate the receptionist on duty, who was kindly enough to lead us upstairs to each specially themed specimen.
#3: “Paw Gliacci”. Some might look at the name and think opera, despite how they didn’t bother reproducing much of his costume beyond the color white. I see the name and I can’t help being reminded of the Comedian’s breakdown from Watchmen.
Statue #4: “Yo Yo Paw”. Yes, I know the cat puns aren’t getting any better. Let’s be honest: does any series of puns ever get better as they go? Stop judging poor Garfield according to your unrealistic expectations of cat puns, and instead spread some blame to other heinous perpetrators such as Heathcliff, Catwoman, or nearly every speaking cat in Disney history.
Statue #5 was in the window of the local Red Cross chapter. They were closed on Saturday, so shooting through the window was the best we could do. My wife took this photo and, despite my moving farther away at her request, still captured my reflection in the glass. So now she owes me my soul back.
Its official name is “The Angel of the Battlefield”, which should be innocuous enough to placate the pun haters out there for a moment.
(And while I’m thinking about it: for Garfield haters in general, if you think it’s the worst strip out there just because the internet said so, you really ought to pick up a hard-copy newspaper sometime and see how some of his obsolete competition are creaking and groaning. The current Paws Inc. team does an admirable job of finding different topics to mine besides Mondays and lasagna. It’s no Pearls Before Swine, but it’s still in the upper tier in its medium.)
Minor issue with our quest: nowhere in our pre-planning process did we find any indication that all the Garfield statues are located inside their respective businesses. Perhaps it was our fault for assuming Muncie would take the same approach as Punxsutawney, PA, which boasts a few dozen groundhog statues stationed outside on its city streets.
Nor were we aware that many Muncie businesses are closed on Saturdays. Despite the helpful tips from the guy at Jack’s Cameras, this meant some Garfields were beyond our grasp on account of closures. The Garfield allegedly in Muncie’s City Hall, for one. Due west of downtown, a medical imaging center had a Garfield inside that I could just barely see behind their furniture and walls. Because the sun was behind me and turning all their windows into mirrors, I had to stretch my arm out to one side and shoot this pic awkwardly through my own shadow on the glass just to snag a Bigfoot-level glimpse of his ears and upper eyeballs.
Our reference map says his name is “This Cat Has Nine Lives”, but I couldn’t see what he was wearing. For all I know he may have been dressed like a big bag of Nine Live cat food.
The most annoying offender was the Muncie Visitors Bureau, which has a Garfield but moved at some point without relabeling their location on their own Garfield statue reference map. That would’ve been good to know before we walked several blocks out of our way to where their map said they still were. Not cool, tourism guys.
We also walked around the Horizon Convention Center in vain for one that’s in there somewhere. Curiously, they had no events scheduled, but their doors were unlocked and no one stopped us from wandering around their big empty place alone for a good fifteen or twenty minutes. We appreciated the free restrooms, drinking fountain, and complete lack of trespassing accusations.
A couple more were listed on the outskirts of town, but by late afternoon we were tired and needed to tend to our dog at home. Besides, we had no reassurance that those Garfields would be any less locked up than the others who denied us.
Thus ended our quest with a mere five complete Garfields acquired, plus one set of blurry Garfield ears. We were awarded no bonus points and didn’t unlock the Tourist Equipment Upgrade that would’ve made our next road trip so much simpler. Better luck next time, I guess, should we choose to play again.
To be continued!