Much Ado About Omaha

I live in Omaha, Nebraska (by the way, Katie Couric, Nebraska is in the United States, not Uzbekistan), and I’m supposed to tell you how great a place it is to visit. But before you rush over to your local banker and withdrawal all your money just to run out on the road and throw it in the face of some random driver who is swerving to hit you, hear me out. Omaha is not a big deal. Omaha is, in fact, the littlest deal I can think of. You are all honest, hard-working type individuals, relentlessly skimming away the profits of your bureaucratic and uselessly large corporations, and I want to level with all of you who dream of visiting the bustling tourist trap that is Omaha. It’s nothing special. Sure, we have the eighth largest concert venue in the world and are home to one of the best underground music scenes in the country, but that’s nothing! The people in this town all speak in one large, audible voice and with all their hearts want to tell you “meh”.

Despite the urges of countless Omaha denizens, many of you may have already cashed in your frequent flyer miles and ditched out on extended family vacations in order to enjoy the lush humidity and over-sized nests of mosquitoes in this fair town, but stop now and heed my crucial advice: don’t come to Omaha! Anyone who’s lived here longer than a nano second will tell you exactly the same thing: “There’s nothing to do in this town.” You may try to squash their apathy with a well-timed comment about the College World Series, or retort with the fact that Omaha’s theater community is where many of Hollywood’s best and brightest call home. Listen to the locals; they’re right and they care (despite their complete lack of interest). Allow me to suggest a top-notch summer activity that will accomplish the same goal as a real vacation: it will deplete every penny you have and leave you feeling completely exhausted, frustrated and stressed-out.

Instead of visiting the historic Old Market, or relaxing at one of the numerous high-class country clubs that Omaha provides, stay at home and try out a new awesome summer idea: plan a fake wedding! What better way is there to take away any chance of peace and comfort that an unplanned summer might provide, and use of every cent in your checking account at the same time? You are probably thinking to yourself that planning a wedding may be splendid fun, but you’re concerned because then you’d actually have to spend the rest of your life with the other person. Well folks, this is no longer a problem!

Thanks to a reader of mine named Dorothy Harris who sent me a wonderful article from the Dennison Sun Times (“Always a Dull Moment”) in Dennison, Iowa, I learned of a woman who, every July for the past fifteen years, planned and hosted a spectacular wedding ceremony and reception in her back-yard. Never was one detail missed. The cake was the richest and most delicate chocolate, covered in a frosting that looked as if it were pulled from a cloud. Flowers guided you along a path of exquisite beauty, and everyone danced until the sun rose the following morning. Here’s the key to her success: she’s not married, nor has she ever been. At her weddings, there is no actual marriage! The “service” part of the wedding encompasses a lovely reading of the dinner menu, to be held later. And your guests won’t care if there’s no actual nuptials; most likely they are just there for the free drinks.

Thus, I have a lovely suggestion for you. Get engaged! Who cares if you never actually make it down the aisle, you’ll gain more enjoyment planning the wedding than actually attending it. Trust me, I’ve done it twice and it’s way more fun than chasing your inebriated uncle through the park while trying to get him to put his pants back on. So this summer, instead of wasting your time by miserably pacing through the exhibits at the Joslyn Art Museum, or sulking through a dramatic performance of Romeo and Juilet at Shakespeare on the Green, go find yourself that all-important boyfriend or girlfriend and propose. Shop for the perfect dress, interview every caterer in town, scream your way through seventeen different florists, and then break up with your significant other just before you say “I do”. Your guests will be singing your praises all the way through the eighty-fifth box of supermarket champagne. There is no better or more deeply enriching way to pass the dog days of summer; that is unless you can get hired as Dan Rather’s replacement on the CBS Evening News (“Knowledge of current events is optional”).

So what should you do with your summer this year? The truth is I don’t really care. Actually, that’s not true. Despite there being absolutely no reason to visit my home town, I hope you come. I hope everyone comes. I hope that so many people visit Omaha that our streets turn into clogged arteries making my blood pressure rise high enough to make an aneurism seem like a day at the beach. And I hope you see me, which you will, as I will be the guy stuck in traffic next to you on the interstate screaming at the top of his lungs while our friends on the road construction crew (“your tax dollars at play”) take their mandatory fifteen minute break (which oddly enough occurs every ten minutes). I look forward to seeing you, and who knows, maybe we’ll get along and decide to kick off this summer of fun by planning a wedding together. Don’t worry, we’ll break up before any papers are signed, and you’ll be back home by the end of the summer; tired, angry and missing your twelve inch by twelve inch cubicle. And just like with every broken engagement, your passionate hatred of me will keep you warm through those long winter months. It will be absolutely wonderful.

After a second thought, maybe I’ll just go to France. I think that’s somewhere off the coast of Australia.

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