John Mellencamp made it cool to grow up in a small town. But, what Mellencamp failed to cover was the difference between a town that is small and a real, live, small town.
In a small town, everything shuts down on Friday nights in the fall for home football games. You can't go to the grocery without seeing someone you know, and you're surprised when you see a new face. In a small town, people have tabs at local convenience stores or coffee shops.
Most importantly, a true, blue, small town, has a haunted spot. The actual story behind such spot varies from town to town, but they all run along a similar line.
Zionsville, Indiana, was very much a small town during the time I grew up.
Our haunted spot is the infamous Holiday Road. It used to be called O'Neal Road, but the name was changed in order to make it more appealing. In a way, though, the connotation surrounding holiday is similar to the scariness of clowns. There is just something a little creepy about it.
The actual story of why Holiday Road is haunted definitely varies. However, the story I have chosen to believe goes like this: One evening long ago, on prom night, a couple was driving into town for their senior prom. He was the captain of the football team and she was the head cheerleader. The couple would surely be crowned prom king and queen. They were driving over the bridge on Holiday Road, and the car slid into the water, killing them both. The couple still haunts the bridge, hoping to finally make it to their prom. (It's so Susie Q that it's scary.)
Now, the challenge is to drive onto the bridge, turn off your car, take the key out of the ignition, and restart it. The activity is considered especially successful if you are with your high school sweetheart.
Loving to be scared as I do, I of course, had to partake in the challenge.
So, one cold January's eve, my friend Jenna and I, along with about six boys, drove out to the bridge. Just as we were going down the last hill before the old bridge, I drove over a patch of ice, slid into a ditch and hit a tree. We spent the next hour or so pushing the huge SUV out of the ditch, absolutely freezing.
The next day, I was talking to my sisters, Courtney and Ashley, about the whole debacle, and Courtney said, "Well how big is the dent?" I said, "Oh, not that big." And she said, "How big was the tree?" And I said, "Not that big, more like a twig than a tree..."
Ever since then, Courtney has proceeded to call me Twigs (this nickname very well may be the only positive outcome of Holiday Road.)
My sisters, like myself, understand the importance of a good nickname. I really judge whether a relationship will last on the quality of nicknames.
I once dated a guy and I had the best nickname for him. Unfortunately, all he came up with for me was "Whit". I knew we probably we're not soul mates. He lacked the initiative and creativity necessary to propel the relationship forward with a good nickname.
My entire extended family embraces nicknames; even if we don't all go by incredibly original nicknames, we shorten everything. We're too efficient for crazy two syllable things like Whitney, it's always Whit.
During the height of my Jackie obsession, I told my mom I wanted to one day name my daughter Kennedy (judge me). Instead of confessing that this idea was a little weird, she took a different angle. She said, "Well, what would we call her? Ken? Or Ned?"
Right then and there, I knew the name needed to be forgotten.
Although the dented-SUV has long since been retired and Jenna and I have parted ways, the nickname certainly stuck.
I guess it's only appropriate that Holiday Road has also been shut down for safety reasons. It seems symbolic that Zionsville is growing so quickly that it can no longer be called a small town and we no longer fulfill the mandated criteria of a haunted spot.
Luckily, my mom still has a tab at the coffee shop on Main Street. Once they take that away, I'll be concerned that Zionsville is trying to morph into New York City or something.