The City That Smells Like Cookies
WE HAVE PHYSICALLY and electronically arrived in Western Michigan. While my wife, the lovely and brilliant Dawn, is taking care of the business that brought us here to begin with, I am exploring.
Provisioning my exploration party (me) with coffee from the local Biggby Coffee I have set off to figure out what is happening hereabouts.
Immediate quick and dirty answer: not much. More details to follow.
We are staying at the Comfort Inn in Marshall, Michigan. We are here because there are no facilities in Olivet, Michigan where Dawn is working for the next few days.
At first, Marshall did not impress me as anything more than a motel near the exit off the Interstate Highway. After we decided to pass on the usual dining options by the highway we drove into downtown Marshall and were greeted with a beautiful, well lit and busy small town. I later learned that Downtown Marshall has been awarded status as a “National Downtown Revitalization Program Winner,” or something similar. Yada, yada, yada.
This morning I went through Downtown in daylight. It looks great – but there are a surprising number of empty storefronts that don’t show up at night.
And they don’t have a branch of St. Arbucks in Marshall. Heathens.
After that disappointment I drove the other direction, heading toward Battle Creek which is about 15 miles away.
My first impression as I entered Battle Creek was that the city smelled like cookies baking in the oven. My kind of town!
I continued on and tooled around for about twenty minutes. While Battle Creek may smell wonderful and be the home of Breakfast for millions of us, I got the impression that the city is somewhat depressed. Depressed, not suicidal, just depressed, like a few coats of paint might help. The municipal equivalent of Retail Therapy for a human. Feeling down? A new toy or a new outfit can perk you up.
About halfway between Marshall and Battle Creek, rising from the flat terrain like a vision from Star Wars, is the “FireKeepers Hotel and Casino.” This is not one of those puny little things you see huddled up against a pier on a riverfront or a man-made lake in Missouri or Indiana. This FireKeepers joint is serious looking like, ”If you don’t come in here and spend your money we’ll come out there and take it from you, Dammit!”
Naturally, I pulled into a gimp spot in the parking lot and went in.
I don’t know who the FireKeepers were or are. All I know is that Billy Joel didn’t start the fire. (Look it up if you are under thirty)
I’m the only person I know who can spend two hours in a Casino and not gamble – as well as the only person who can spend two hours in a Casino, not gamble and not get thrown out for spending two hours there and not gambling. I tend to hit the snack bar and people watch.
While this Casino may be in the Michigan countryside it shares much with Casinos in Las Vegas or Reno.
The average age of the gamblers falls somewhere between 75 and 367. There were more of those Emergency Heart Attack Jumper Cable things than there were cocktail waitresses.
There were plenty of one cent slot machines, and none of them were being underfed. Push the walker and the oxygen tank to the side and risk it all for the Jackpot of $7.37.
“Go for it, Grandpa! Granny needs a new pair of Dr. Scholl’s Inserts!”
For the “High Rollers” and “Whales” in the casino there were also rows of two-penny slot machines.
As I sat there sipping on my Diet Pepsi I was afraid I was going be carded by Security to make sure I was old enough to legally be there.
For some reason, looking around that casino, it came to me that I might be looking at a vision of what Purgatory might be like. I’m just not sure if it is a Purgatory for the gamblers or for the Casino staff who probably have to be cross-trained as Blackjack Dealers and as Paramedics.
“We have a Jackpot Winner on Carousel 12 and a Coronary on Carousel 17.”
We’ll be here for two more days. I don’t know how anything is going to top the Casino and the City that smells like cookies.