One thing that has always struck me as odd in my travels is that most people are horrible at recommending things to do in their own city. I’m not sure if it’s because most people truly don’t explore where they live like you would a vacation destination, but upon asking for what to do from a local, I often receive a simple shrug, head scratch, or worst of all – a recommendation for a huge chain like Joe’s Crab Shack. This pattern that I’ve experienced across the country has not only made me make a more conscious effort to appreciate what’s awesome about where I’m from (namely, cheese and beer) but also has made me more aware of when people rave about their hometown – which I experienced a lot in Kansas City.
The first thing I did in KC was get a much-needed haircut, where I had to inevitably explain to my hairdresser what I do and why I was in town. She immediately launched into a spiel on how she couldn’t imagine living anywhere else, followed by an entire list of restaurants to try and places to see. My team and I experienced that same enthusiasm when we visited our fellow Hotdogger, Rosie’s family our first night in town. The Hutchisons treated us to an elaborate pasta dinner, kept us laughing the entire time – I could definitely see where Rose gets her awesome sense of humor – and sent us home with a huge list of Kansas City do’s and don’ts. We were officially ready to take on the town.
One thing the Hutchisons made sure to point out was the prime location of our hotel, which was situated right in The Plaza. This portion of KC is apparently sister cities with Seville, Spain, and was designed after it with Spanish architecture and tons of fountains. The Plaza was filled with stores, restaurants and coffee shops, and I enjoyed a good stroll along its streets nearly every day. Our hotel was also right down the road from the Kansas City Art Museum, which is home to the famous giant shuttlecock statues. Unbeknownst to me before I wandered over there for a closer look, the shuttlecocks are actually part of a whole sculpture path that weaves its way around the museum with interesting statues and art pieces along the way. Conner and I walked the whole path and even tried a glass maze, which Conner was ultimately able to complete faster than me.
We also utilized our wealth of KC knowledge to help us properly celebrate the birthday of my one and only guy partner – PeConner. After spending nearly all of his 22nd year with him, I knew Ner would want to do 23 big, and he did not disappoint. The day before, I received an invitation to a detailed e-calendar letting me know what the day would consist of. For starters, we had a big brunch and mimosas at a highly-recommended breakfast place, followed by a stroll around the Power and Light District of KC. At night Tanaja and I treated Conner to a big Italian dinner and drinks in The Plaza before we headed to see a show called Viet Gone – Conner was a theatre major and is hoping to pursue directing, so this was an ideal birthday activity for him. Unfortunately, the show was rather bizarre and we spent most of it trying to stifle our laughs at the horrible rap numbers, which was quite hard because it was a small, intimate audience setting.
The last highly recommended thing we had to try was a sports bar called No Other Pub. When I say sports bar, I mean the place was filled with sports and games of all kinds: ping pong, darts, bowling, giant pool that you play like soccer, and more! For someone who loves games and some friendly (usually) competition, this place was right up my alley, and I carried Conner and I to a W in more than one of our games against Tanaja and Torry.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: being a Peanutter is an awesome job. But even the coolest jobs can get old, and Kansas City marked just about 11 months of handing out peanuts and playing simple table games like “guess the peanuts in the jar” (sidenote: that game is extremely difficult and I’ve heard guesses ranging from 37-17,000 peanuts from adults). During one of our events in Kansas City I finally lost my cool over a particularly awful guess and the monotony that had become our events, and I marched myself into Walmart to purchase a state-of-the-art, 100-piece sidewalk chalk set. After that day, our events would typically be chalk activities like “draw a picture of the NUTmobile,” which I probably enjoyed more than most of the kids that participated, but it was the breath of fresh air we needed to keep us going. I was set to go for another year with the Nut.
I think Kansas City helped me solve my mystery on why people are so bad at recommending things to do where they’re from – familiarity dulls excitement. My first few months on the job I was jazzed to hand out nuts and talk to new people, but as time wore on I became a little jaded. The same thing can happen with partners or traveling, where after awhile you feel like there isn’t a single thing left to talk about or a cool activity left to try. But I think there’s always a way to spice things up whether it’s buying some chalk, trying a new KC BBQ joint or learning something new about a person you spend 24/7 with. I’m really scared that after a year of every single week being a fresh, exciting place, being in one place next year will make me stir crazy. But I’m going to try and meet my new, everyday life with the same enthusiasm the people of Kansas City have for their city and let the familiarity of a place be exciting and comforting rather than daunting.
Holla at ya soon Home Nuts!