“Have you ever heard the expression ‘bro it on out’ before?” Michael asks the waitress. We are sitting in a Waffle House in West Texas, but to tell you the truth it doesn’t matter where we are because we’ve spent the last four weeks asking this exact same question to waitresses, Republican deligates and folk from various other walks of life all across the North American continent. It is a question to which, of course, we expect no real answer. At least, we don’t expect them to say “yes”. If anyone said “yes” our mission would be over, for that would mean that there had been others forging the path of bro before us. There would then be no reason for us to be out here at all. That would certainly have punctured a hole in our brozone layer that we could never have repaired.
Indeed, “yes” was not an option.
“No,” replies the waitress. She is just as you expect a waitress in a West Texas Waffle House to look; overworked with a face weathered much like the dry flesh-colored landscape outside that stretches endlessly in all directions, only with make-up added. She looks very tired and for a second I find myself beginning to feel sorry for her, but then I quickly bro that out.
“Well, we’re like prophets,” Michael continues, “missionaries.”
“Oh really,” replies the waitress, sounding none too convinced. We hadn’t showered in quite some time, so we probably more so resembled, say, broed-out road trash than Missionaries.
“Yes, we are spreading the word of bro,” I offer.
“The what?” replies the waitress.
“We have brought this hot new expression all the way from California,” says Michael, with mounting excitement, “and we are spreading it all across America.”
“Yeah, we’re like the Johnny Appleseed of bro it on out,” I add, as if this would somehow clear things up.
“Bro it on out?” asks the waitress. Her name is Sue, says so right on her nametag. “Now what in the dickens does that mean?” she asks, a smile finally creeping ‘cross the barren West Texas landscape.
“Ya know, bro it on out,” replies Michael. “It kind of means like “chill out”, you know? Actually, it means a lot of things. Mostly people just say it like this..” at this point Michael adapts an absurd falsetto, sounding like a Muppet character, a very broed out Muppet character. “YEEEEWWW JUS GOTTA BRO IT! BRRRRRRO IT! BRRRRRRRRO IT ON OW-OOOOT!”
At this little outburst I briefly cover my face with my hands in something feeling suspiciously like shame or embarrassment. I can feel all the decent, hard working Texan folks looking up from their decent, hardworking breakfasts to find out just what in the dickens is going on with those two weirdo’s with the tape recorder over there with Sue, but then the moment is gone, my hands go back down under the table and I am once again broing it.
“Wow!” says Sue, laughing a bit. “Ya’ll certainly say it pretty loud!”
“Well,” replies Michael sheepishly, “we don’t always bro it out that loud. It just depends how things are broin’, you know?”
“I think so,” she says.
There is suddenly an awkward pause, and so as to bro that pause the hell on out I say “so, bro it on out, what do ya think, Sue?”
“Well, California does something it’s like five years later that we get it.”
“So, were broin’ you out in advance” I reply.
“Yeah, in like five years everyone will be out here broin’ it.” adds Michael. “Wow,” he says in faux astonishment, turning to me with a religious expression on his face, “just think, D: everyone broin’.”
“It’s only a matter of time, bro,” I say, shaking my head, “only a matter of time.”
“So ‘yall really spreadin’ it all across the country?”
“Bro yeah,” replies Michael.
“So, ‘yall taught people in like New York City and-“
“Bro yes!” I say. “New York, Milwaukee, uh....” suddenly my mind is too broed to remember anywhere else we had traveled. ‘There must have something between California and New York’ I think “..uh... Milwaukee.. and ...”
“We’re on a pilgrimage,” says Michael, bailing me out.
“For ‘Bro it on out’?” asks Sue.
“See? See? You’re broin’ it already!” yells Michael.
“Yes,” I add, “we have enlightened yet another one!” Michael and I slap hands over the table.
“Ya’ll are either real famous or just real weird” says Sue, laughing as she pulls out her ordering pad. “Now, whaddayall wanna bro out for breakfast?”
“I swear to god, I saw these big signs, they all said “Welcome to Wisconsin” says Michael.
“You are fucking broed,” I reply. “How can we be in Wisconsin already if it keeps sayin’ “Illinois Turnpike” all the time, man!?”
Michael and I were both fucking broed, in all actuality. We were getting close to the end of the second of a series of all-nighters, and we were both getting broed constantly. Michael and I would take turns driving about every hundred miles or so. We would know that it was time to switch seats when the person behind the wheel begin to make video game sounds or speak at length about the invention of the zip lock bag. These are both signs of heavy broin’; the kind of broin’ more appropriate to the passenger seat or a rest stop gift shop.
We had also discovered that not knowing what state we were driving through at any given time was another sign of one’s going dangerously over-broed.
“I swear to fucking god, D, it said Wisconsin!” We were both extremely exasperated. We had been arguing over this one for about an hour and a half. Michael was of course swearing up and down that he seen this big ol’ sign, a whole host of signs, actually, saying that we had finally broed it all the way to Wisconsin at the last toll booth. I thought we were still in Illinois because I kept seeing these signs saying “Illinois Turnpike” all the time, but, then again, I couldn’t even remember going through the last toll booth whatsoever. We were like two senile old men arguing over who took a crap last.
Michael then began making video game sounds over the Amon Tobin music we had playing on our new car stereo. Our old one had broken back in Nebraska so we stopped at a Wal-Mart in Walnut, Iowa and purchased a new one on one of our credit cards. Between Walnut and Des Moines, a distance of about 60 miles, Michael installed the thing while I drove. We were very proud of ourselves.
We celebrated by getting really broed out in the parking lot at the next rest stop.
Anyway, Michael’s Atarian outburst should have prompted me to evict him from the wheel but I saw, through the rain falling against our windshield, what looked to be the lights of a tollbooth looming up ahead through the night. Impulsively, I ducked my head under the dashboard of the car and proceeded to get more broed out, just in case there was some sort of wait at the tollbooth. One for the road, as they say.
Michael stopped his Space Invaders revival and said “oh shit, D! Another tollbooth! Okay, maybe this is Wisconsin, man!”
I opened up my mouth to respond but all that came out was “a-wooba wooba, a loopable poophole loophole!” which was something that Michael and I had chanted over and over again across the entire state of Utah. I began to laugh uncontrollably.
“D!” replied Michael with a broed little smile crossing his face, “you know what you are?”
“Hee, hee, hee....what?” I responded, trying to pass him the tool with which one usually bros oneself out.
“You are broed.........to the heart!” yelled Michael, prompting us both to launch into the theme song of our cross-country tour, sung to the tune of “You Give Love a Bad Name”.
“Broed to the heart, and you’re too broed, you bro love a broed name!”
After a few minutes of additonal hysterics, Michael got really serious, saying “Seriously D! We gotta bro this shit, man.”
Michael did indeed sound serious, and suddenly it scared me. I somehow climbed a few feet out of my bro hole by taking a deep breath. Then I noticed something. Our car smelled like the primate section at the zoo. Then I noticed something else.
“What does that sign say?”
“Automatic Toll” is what it say,” replied Michael in a silly voice.
“So what does that mean, that there’s no one there to bro your money?”
“Probably, D” responded Michael, giving me a look that said, “did you break your brain?”
“Alright, man, we’ll figure this out. There,” I noticed another sign, “it says 65 cents. You got that?”
“Ohhh,.....” replied Michael, switching to some weird, diabolical evil guy voice, “oh, I certainly do, D! Ha ha ha ha!” He held the three coins in his right hand, performing a little dance with them on the dashboard, like a very primitive marionettist. “Bloop! Bloop bloopie! Bloopie Bloop!” came the soundtrack to the dance. He had lost it completely.
“Okay man, bro yourself a bit. We’re gettin' close.”
A strange, broed out silence sat between us. The tollbooth was quickly approaching. It looked sinister, evil. We had spent the last who-knows-how-many hours on one straight, endless road that cut up through Illinois or Wisconsin or whatever the hell; perhaps both. And now this, this interruption. This clot of a tollbooth standing between us and our continuing flow through the arteries of America’s freeways.
I looked over at Michael who was suddenly wearing an army helmet and camouflage gear. His face was painted all green and black. Then I looked down at his hands and noticed that they were not planted, as they should have been, on the smooth, black, steering wheel of the Acura, but instead were busy manhandling a complicated network of large, cumbersome rods and levers. The window had shrunk down to a small rectangular port and there was a gatling gun sticking out of it. From outside I heard and felt some sort of explosion during which the sky lit up a pale purple and then faded back down to night. Then I heard the unmistakable sound of machine gun fire.
I was really broed out.
“Are you ready for this?!” yelled Michael over the wind rushing through the vision port on the front of our tank. Instinctively I grabbed some controls, I believe they were the ones to the gatling gun. That tollbooth was only fifty feet away or so, and I knew we had to destroy it, or die trying. We couldn’t let them take us alive.
“Alright man! Slow down and I’ll let ‘em have it, motherfuckers!” I yelled back to Michael. My hands tightened on the controls.
“D, what the hell are you talkin’ about? Bro it out, man! I’ll put the money in, not you, you freak.” came Michael’s voice. Suddenly it wasn’t so loud in the car anymore. Then I looked down at my hands and they were clutching the handle right under the glove compartment of the Acura. “And why are you yelling so loud?”
“Sorry man,” I mumbled, “broed to the heart I guess.........”
“Yeah, well, here we are.”
The tollbooth was right there. There was only one spot to drive through. To the right of the booth was a big sign saying “Welcome to Wisconsin” which proved that Michael had hallucinated all those other signs celebrating our triumphant arrival to the state, the place where the first show of the Scatter-Shot Theory “tour” was going to happen. I was about to start calling him on this when I noticed that Michael wasn’t slowing down very much.
“Hey man, bro it down” I said.
“Sure,” said Michael.
That strange silence returned. That thick broed-out silence, sitting between us like a fog bank of confusion. We drove a few more feet and the tollbooth was upon us, or we were upon it. I don’t think that either one of us could tell. Motion is all relative, especially when one is broed on the road.
I felt like we were about to land a plane through this tollbooth. Michael was slowing her down, slowing her down, but I could feel something, some other unworldly force pulling us through the booth at 15 miles per hour. The tollbooth was now a space ship, all aglow with lights and signs in foreign languages, and the Acura was being pulled in by some sort of energy beam. A glowing black energy beam, twice as thick as our car, with yellow dashes cutting up through the middle of it.
I looked over at Michael again, and to my surprise he didn’t look afraid. “Sure,” he replied, even though I hadn’t said anything new since he said “sure” the last time. As the Acura was sucked into a short passage on the underside of the spaceship, he coolly rolled down the window. There was a plastic receptacle, much like small plastic urinals that you see occasionally installed in some porto-potys, that you were supposed to throw change in. In fact, there was a big red arrow pointing to the thing, with a symbol of coins underneath it.
Michael hurled the coins out the window of the still moving car. The sound of them hitting the ground and bouncing off of the wall was barely audible over the car’s engine. Then he rolled the window back up.
A mile or so down the road I turned to Michael and asked, “What the hell was that?”
“I don’t know, D. It sure was something, that’s for sure.”
“You missed all of the coins. Technically we didn’t pay the damn toll.”
“Yes, well, technically,” replied Michael, turning to me, “you just gotta bro it on out.”
He was right. What was done was done. At least we had finally made it to Wisconsin.
“So, you saw the sign back there, right?” I asked Michael. “The one that said, “Welcome to Wisconsin”?”
“What sign? I thought you said we were still in Illinois.”
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