My Feet Actually Were Ten Feet Off Of Beale

I was in Memphis. I'd never been to Tennessee before, but I'd taken the trip from Abilene to Memphis in a weekend because my roommate's (soon-to-be-ex-) fiancee was from there, and he and I drove out for the weekend to hang out and drive around for no other reason than that we were young enough to make the 1,300-mile round trip in a three-day weekend.It was Halloween, too, or a couple days before, which lent the downtown scene an air of considerable decadence and insanity, evidenced mainly by the fact that I was strolling down Beale looking for souvenirs when I passed a man who'd painted his body black and adorned himself with matching wings and horns. His intent was apparently to look like Satan or one of his lesser minions, and he pulled it off. I just kept looking for shot glasses. But the best part of the night was our decision — our being me, my friend, his fiancee, and her friend, who was to be a bridesmaid — to visit a haunted hayfield. It's basically the same as a haunted house, only you pay a few bucks and wander through a maze with a group of other strangers while employees dressed as psychos occasionally jump out at you, wielding chainsaws and clad in blood-spattered masks and doing their best to make the young girls in the crowd lose it, at which they always succeeded. To prevent the evening from feeling too much like you had actually been exiled to a hellish limbo with no exit, the paths were clearly marked, and there were sporadic bits of metal catwalk that allowed you to climb up and see where to go and how close you were to the exit. Most of the employees — at least the ones not outfitted in masks — were young, normal-looking, generally attractive men and women. While making our way through the maze, my friends and I wound up stuck behind a group of girls whose median age was maybe 13, which isn't a good time for anyone. I don't remember much of what they looked like beyond the broad stereotypical stuff that could at this point be guesswork: blonde, thin, probably some braces. But they stand out in my mind because they talked incessantly, and because they often talked about their newly burgeoning womanhood so loudly and weirdly graphically that I can only guess/hope/pray it was to catch the attention the older boys employed by the haunted hayfield company whose job it was to make sure everyone stayed safe. Specifically, I remember being on one of those short metal bridges with my friends, waiting for the girls to push on, when one of the girls said to the others, "Y'all, I've got menstrual cramps!" She pronounced "menstrual" like "minstruhl," her Southern tongue collapsing the dipthong and shattering the semi-spooky atmosphere. The boy nearby grinned a little but remained unfazed by this statement. My friends and I exchanged looks and laughed about it later, but at the moment we were too surprised to do anything but hate the girls a little and mainly feel sorry for them. We eventually reached the end of the maze, and most of the rest of the evening passed without incident. My roommate and his girlfriend broke up a couple months later. I never saw the fiancee's friend again.