Kelsey And Alex’s Big Adventure: Notes From Normal Gossip On The Road
11:02 AM EDT on August 16, 2023
When you spend thousands of hours together, in a small world of your own making, it is extremely easy—necessary, even—to create your own language. This can be a beautiful space filled with harmony and inside jokes and wonder. It is a place where you feel safe and warm. It becomes easy to forget that the deranged thing you built, the product of all the random jokes and asides you accumulated, all the mayhem transformed into tight five-minute segments with accompanying visual effects, is an actual show and a whirlwind of travel that transformed your life. It’s easy to forget all of this, at least, until you begin talking to someone new, and slowly all these little routines start erupting from you, and all you can do is watch their eyes expand and their mouth drop open.
This is what happened to us when, after four non-consecutive weeks on tour with Normal Gossip Live, we began to regale our editor Justin with stories of our travels. And now, it must happen to us again, because he assigned us to write this damn blog.
Let’s begin at the beginning:
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Alex Sujong Laughlin: Ah, the city of angels.
Kelsey McKinney: So beautiful. I love angels.
I want to begin with the most important thing that happened to us in New York, which is that we saw the home of the food trucks. They live inside a weird warehouse in Midtown, where we were staying in a strange hotel, and they sleep there.
ASL: We passed them every day and said hello while they got their rest after a long night of work.
The first show was in the middle of Intern Week, our early summer get-together where we have meetings and greet our new intern (Hi Abigail!).
KM: I want to be honest that at this point I had taken a beta blocker that my doctor prescribed me, on account of losing my fucking mind. I ran into Patty on the way to the office and I think immediately I was like, “HAVE YOU HEARD OF BETA BLOCKERS” and then, “My brain feels disconnected from my body! I’m a brain in a vat.”
ASL: I did not take beta blockers, but I did make a revolutionary discovery: Baby Negroni. Kelsey, Sabrina and I had dinner together and the server mentioned they were serving “baby Negronis.” As a girly with alcohol intolerance but a love for special little drinks, I was thrilled to be able to order the exact kind of drink I would have at home: cocktail, but make it tiny.
KM: Alex has a kind of child-like wonder in her body that I envy with every atom of my being. But of all the things we saw, the baby Negroni was by far the most exhilarating and influential. She literally clapped when the waiter explained that it was just a small Negroni.
ASL: Tiny Negroni!!
KM: Because the show we created for the stage was extremely weird and fun, Justin (and therefore all of us) began calling Alex “DJ Baby Negroni.” This bit, I expect, will live forever.
ASL: Then it was showtime!
KM: Razzle Dazzle, bay-bee! One truly hysterical thing about our first show that no one told us is that it was literally on Broadway. A sold-out theater on fuckin' Broadway.
ASL: Imagine our surprise when we navigated to the theater carrying our heavy bags with sweat dripping down our backs and that Rachel Brosnahan and Oscar Isaac’s show is just playing across the street.
KM: Rudely they did not attend our show, so out of spite, we did not attend theirs either.
ASL: One new showbiz word we learned was “shadow.” I want to do jazz hands every time I say this.
KM: The shadow was a man named George. He was very nice. All he did was follow us around and protect us from, well, nothing. There were no dangers to be found. But I am confident that if there had been, George would have helped us. The show went great! Even George laughed!
After the first New York show, my mood completely shifted from “abject terror” to “on the verge of weeping at any moment.” It was so surreal to stand on a stage on Broadway in front of 1,200 people and do this silly little podcast with all our strange bits, and then to have it be loved. I still haven’t fully processed how special it feels to be able to do something we have so much fun doing as our job.
ASL: Yes! We learned after our first live show in 2022 that performing with an audience was a completely different experience than making the show by ourselves on our little laptops. When you make jokes on the podcast, the best feedback you can hope for is an all-caps “LOL” comment in the transcript from someone else on the team. In a live show, we get 900-2,700 people laughing out loud with us. Every single download number in our metrics corresponds to a human being. That was one of the best parts of the tour: meeting all the human beings who listen to the show and hearing about all the people they’ve forced it onto in their lives.
ASL: The only other thing we have to say about New York is that we got vitamin IV drips in Union Square.
KM: Oh yeah, that was crazy. Alex decided that we should get IV drips as a little treat in order to re-hydrate, but she did NOT tell me that she is terrified of IVs, nor did she REMEMBER that she is terrified of IVs until we were at the IV drip place and she began to panic.
ASL: We walked in and I was like “Ohhhhhh, fuck.”
KM: The most important thing that happened to us in Boston is that we discovered a local restaurant chain called Life Alive. Because we were both still feelin' nuts, we could really only eat liquids. And let me tell you, Life Alive has so many semi-solid foods.
ASL: Life ALIVE! We went to two different locations and had great times at each. The thing about the smoothies is that while we were on the road, I felt like I would have a mental and/or physical breakdown at any moment, but if I could have my morning smoothie then maybe it would be OK.
KM: Smoothie is life. Smoothie is god. Smoothie is sanity. When I did my expenses the other day (praise me, I never do this), it was like 40 percent smoothies.
ASL: The other most important thing about Boston is that the venue had a dog backstage. Her name was Duckie, and she was very good and nice.
KM: Yes. We loved the dog so much. Also a fan gave us Taylor-Swift-Eras-Tour-esque bracelets, which we wore on stage every single night after that.
After getting Life Alive one last time, we decided to rent a car and drive to Philadelphia. The main reason for this was ostensibly to pick up Alex’s husband and force him to come to Philadelphia. But the actual reason was that I wanted to meet Alex’s cat Pong.
ASL: The hotel I stayed in was the same one the DNC delegates used during the 2016 convention. I didn’t stay in the hotel because I was not a delegate, but I spent a lot of time there for one week in 2016.
KM: I did not stay in the hotel because I stayed in my own bed. This was nice. I love my bed. But Alex staying in that hotel did mean that I heard FAR more stories about the 2016 election than I preferred to hear.
ASL: I just want to say that back in 2016, this hotel had a Juicero in the lobby. It no longer has one.
KM: No! No!! Hearing ... that juice is not life alive.
ASL: The venue in Philly was our first and only rock venue, which made us feel cool.
KM: What also made us feel like rockstars is that it was SO FUCKING HOT IN THERE. I was dripping sweat. It was disgusting. We are actually Boygenius now.
KM: I’m so stressed even typing the word Chicago here.
ASL: Her Struggle, Book I.
KM: The shortest version of this story I can possibly manage is that I arrived (as I always do) at the airport 10 minutes before boarding began. I checked my bag. I arrived at my gate. The plane was there and I felt optimistic. This was a MISTAKE. In fact, there were no pilots and no crew, so for an hour and a half I was in limbo, trying to decide what to do.
ASL: Meanwhile, I am in the van with Dave Miller, our tour manager, and his wife, and we are trying to figure out how we could get Kelsey to Chicago in less than 24 hours.
KM: Jasper literally was calling me like, “I’m gonna ask people who might have access to a private plane to get you to Chicago.” And I was panicking because I was like, How am I gonna get over my moral aversion to private planes in ONE HOUR? But luckily he could not find one, so instead, the solution ended up being that I would drive to Chicago from Philadelphia. This drive is 13 hours long.
ASL: At this point I was so stressed out and we were also in terrible traffic, so I made Dave pull over on the side of the highway so I could vomit.
KM: Meanwhile, I was crying in the parking lot of a Dollar/Thrifty. Truly humbling. I ended up recruiting four strangers to drive in my car with me so that we could take shifts, and I spent all night driving. This was weird, but kind of fun, so I guess I’ll write more about it later. I did do one really good bit at this point in time, which was text a few friends "I am driving to Chicago with 4 strangers!" and then not look at my phone for like 15 hours.
ASL: Our hotel was beautiful (highly recommend the Chicago Athletic Association!) but I couldn’t enjoy it because I was so worried about Kelsey. So I ordered room service and watched her little dot on Find My Friends for hours.
KM: At about 3 a.m. we pulled over for gas and my phone sent me an alert that said: “Alex has been notified that you are in PODUNKVILLE, Ohio." What? Anyway, we made it. I slept for three hours, and then we went to the venue.
ASL: While on stage, I learned the hard way what Malört is. We have a game where we invite audience members on stage to play Mad Libs.
KM: Sorry, do you mean “Goss Gabs?”
ASL: Oh! Sorry, yes. Everyone’s favorite childhood game, “Goss Gabs.” So we invited people on and one of them suggested Malört as a drink. Everyone laughed, but I didn’t know what it was. So I asked very clearly and CALMLY into the mic what it was.
KM: I want to be clear that the minute Alex asked “I’m sorry; what’s Malört?” on stage, the full 2,100 people in the theater booed her.
ASL: It was humbling. My two older cousins were in the audience—born and raised in the Chicago area—and they immediately delivered on my education.
KM: Cousins! I loved Alex’s cousins because unlike me, they are capable of peer-pressuring Alex. I watched her DOWN a drink before we even left the hotel for the bar and it was stunning. I was like, who is this? But the Cousins made her wild.
ASL: We got to the bar and one of my cousins immediately bought like 10 shots of Malört. We all lined up to take it and … it was fine.
KM: The Cousins had to buy 10 shots because Kalyn was that night’s guest, so obviously all her millions of friends were also there.
ASL: And that’s how I got my first hangover of the tour.
KM: Before we move on, I have one more thing. All of Chicago felt like a dream to me on account of being both very sleep-deprived and very overstimulated from my 13 hours talking to strangers in the car. But what did NOT help this feeling is the fact that NASCAR was setting up for a street race right by our hotel, so there was NASCAR shit everywhere.
ASL: Before I left, I made sure to get us NASCAR Chicago t-shirts from the CVS by our hotel.
KM: Dave tried to drag you for that, but he was wrong. The shirts are cool.
ASL: We landed in Austin, and I was immediately thrilled by the insane heat. I spent most of the summers of my life in Austin, and Kelsey is famously from Texas.
KM: Alex kept throwing her arms out on the sidewalk and going “UGH!!!” But it was a happy ugh, somehow. She loved it! So I took her to eat BBQ.
ASL: Lizard time!
KM: Because I went to school in Austin, I was playing tour guide the whole time. Showing Alex where I got married, where I lived, and all sorts of stupid shit that I’m sure was very boring.
ASL: We went to the bench where she got engaged! It was so sweet!!
KM: Ew. One thing I was happy to show her, though, was this bar White Horse which has good two-stepping and local bands.
ASL: When we got there, I stuck a Normal Gossip sticker on the door, which was covered in stickers. The bouncer said, “Is that Normal Gossip, the podcast?” And I said, “YES! Are you a listener?” And he said, “My wife is.” And I said, “Oh my gosh, you listen to the show?” And he said, "My wife does.”
KM: Thank you to that man’s wife, ONLY.
ASL: This is a thing that happens to us a lot. It would not be the last time on this trip that a man deliberately made the point that his partner is a listener.
KM: What else happened while we were in Austin? We got you boots! That was exciting. Baby’s first boots.
ASL: I got the best red cowboy boots. Every day I’ve worn them, at least three people have complimented them.
KM: Most haunted city in America!!
ASL: The thing about Los Angeles is that my hotel room was haunted. On my first night there, I heard my skincare bottles clatter to the floor in the bathroom. I was reading and I was very uninterested in investigating that, so I went to sleep. Then I was taking a nap the next day, and I dreamed there were two men in my hotel room looking at my bedside table (which also had skincare on it). I asked them what they were doing there, and they said, “Just passing through.” Then I woke up to the feeling of two hands on my chest, like they were tucking me in.
KM: They were nice ghosts, at least!
ASL: Friendly ghosts who were clearly very interested in skincare.
KM: My sister was in town, on account of me wanting to see her and her wanting to see the show. Also, my sister is very spooky. She was like, "Do not worry, I have a pendulum that I can bring to Alex’s room and simply clear it of ghosts.” We were both like, “Ohh ... OK ... great?”
ASL: She came down and cleared the room for me. That is when I also learned that I have a pendulum that I bought in New Orleans, thinking it was a crystal to hang in my window and make rainbows.
KM: I am still reeling from learning that Alex bought something in New Orleans, did not ask what it was or how to use it, and then BROUGHT IT INTO HER HOME! Fucking psycho shit.
ASL: When I got home, I immediately took it down from the window, gave it a little wash, and apologized for not knowing what it was.
KM: A thing that I had to apologize for was constantly spitting out my worst take, that Los Angeles and Dallas are the same place. I stand by this take, but would like to clarify that part of why I felt this way is that our rental car was the biggest car on the planet.
ASL: For what it’s worth, both your sister (a native and current Dallas resident) and my friend Ángel (a native and current Angeleno) agreed with you.
KM: Yes, because everyone who knows those two cities knows they are the same, and everyone who “likes Los Angeles” wants to fight me. Which is fine. I will fight!
ASL: I don’t know that I “like” Los Angeles, but do you know what I LOVE?
KM: Oh, Jesus. Here she goes.
ASL: The La Brea! Tar! Pits! Right now I want to check to see how many of you have been to the tar pits because they are one of the great wonders of the world.
KM: There are many things Alex is obsessed with. She fucking loves the tar pits. And not in the “If you don’t come back to 10,000 BCE with me, your family can’t go home” kind of way. She literally loves the tar.
ASL: You just walk around and you have to watch out because you might step in a little pothole full of tar!! And the woolly mammoth statues are incredible.
KM: She was all amped up on tar. Alex, do you want to tell them your big idea?
ASL: My big idea is a party called TÁR ON TÁR ON TAR. Everyone has to dress up as Lydia Tár, in tasteful oversized button-downs and slacks, and we’ll eat chocolate pudding with gummy dinosaurs sinking into it (like tar, get it?!). We’ll drink mezcal because I think it tastes like rubber, even though apparently no one else thinks that. And we’ll have two speakers going simultaneously where one plays Gustav Mahler and the other plays the Land Before Time soundtrack.
KM: Thank god we have a Defector offsite company retreat in the fall and I’m on the events committee! I want everyone to know I have tried to talk Alex out of this Mezcal take for weeks, but it is a lost cause. I like to drink mezcal, so I endorse it being at the TÁR ON TÁR ON TAR.
ASL: It will be the best party ever, and everyone is invited to throw their own version of it. May the tar be with you.
KM: Wow, that’s very generous of you.
ASL: The tar pits really put things into perspective. You could sink into a tar pit any day while your husband and child watch you from the shore and do nothing!
KM: Yeah. And speaking of life being meaningless, short, and on the brink of ending at any moment: We also got tattoos while we were in Los Angeles!
ASL: To the disappointment (or relief?) of many friends, we did not get the Normal Gossip logo tattooed on us.
KM: Alex REFUSED to get tattoos of horses wearing Oakleys with me, so we just got our own separate not-Normal-Gossip tattoos.
ASL: Shoutout to Kenny at Rabble Rouser. He was cool.
KM: He was cool, but he was also one of MANY Californians who tried to warn us about our drive to San Francisco.
ASL: Including my husband and Jae and Diana.
KM: Everyone in California is spoiled. It seems nice to be spoiled, but it also makes their warning about "ugliness" deranged. They act like Highway 5 is the ugliest road in America and that anyone who has to drive on it is cursed, but they are wrong. It’s fine! It’s kind of pretty, actually!
ASL: I’m sorry, I think you mean "the five."
KM: I’m sorry, I think you mean "the pasta highway."
ASL: PASTA HIGHWAY. Tell them about the pasta highway.
KM: Once we got out of Los Angeles on our way up to San Francisco, we began to see these trucks. They were like 18-wheelers, but instead of having a big box on the back, they had what were essentially two giant bathtubs strapped down. Inside the bathtubs were thousands of big red tomatoes! Not even strapped down! Just piled inside the tub. Immediately, we decided that this was good luck.
ASL: They were Hagrid-sized bathtubs, to be clear.
KM: Tubs big enough for a tar pit. Then we saw a couple of tubs filled with onions! After this, we began calling it “the pasta highway” for obvious reasons, and then we encountered a bunch of traffic. The traffic was because a bunch of tomatoes were STREWN ABOUT the highway! Pandemonium!
ASL: We salute the fallen soldiers on the pasta highway.
KM: Ah, the windy city.
ASL: After traveling through several HOT cities, some of which were so hot I got a little woozy, I was shocked to discover that there are different climates throughout this great country.
KM: Yeah, we were both concerned that we were gonna freeze to death on account of only having brought shorts and tank tops to wear. We were so cold that we separately wandered into the Levi’s store to try and obtain something warm. It was cute that we both had the idea, but not surprising since the Levi’s store was right next to our hotel. Levi's, please email us, we love you.
ASL: I did have my Liquid Death hoodie (LIQUIDDEATH.COM/GOSSIP to get 20 percent off, lol) but I couldn’t wear it with every outfit. Especially not to the nice dinner we had planned that night!
KM: Yeah, instead me, you, and my husband all wore our slightly different brand-new Levi’s denim jackets to the dinner, which was a totally normal thing to do.
ASL: We ate at Chez Panisse, which was very exciting for me because I am a big fan of Samin Nosrat, and also food!
KM: It was very exciting for me because I love eating food in nice restaurants, and I love having fun with friends! Plus, Patrick and Lexi joined us, which was a delight. Let’s hear from Patrick.
Patrick Redford: Chez Panisse is the crown jewel of Bay Area dining, less for its very good quality than for its philosophy. Alice Waters, the vigorous 79-year-old patron saint of North Berkeley, is widely credited for popularizing the notion that a restaurant's most important suite of relationships are those with the farms it sources its food from. That agricentrism, along with CP's craftsman-style, treehouse-ass aesthetic, tucked away from Shattuck Avenue by an iconic hulking Monkey Puzzle tree, forms the backbone of its identity, and we had a lovely time dining in the upstairs cafe. I got to meet Jae for the first time; they're great! Alex and I split two entrees, a wise choice for variety's sake. Kelsey and my partner Lexi tactically eavesdropped on a loud man sitting behind them (if I recall, he was talking about attachment styles?). Everyone was feeling giggly and light and indecisive about food, so Lexi took charge and dealt with the ordering and the tasting of the wine. The highlight was the sweetie treaties. Kelsey's husband and I lusted after this little apricot galette, so I ordered two. I think we ordered every dessert off the menu and everyone wound up having a different favorite dessert. Alex knew a chef or something, and that got us a little tour of the downstairs kitchen, where they have a dumbwaiter (not a dumb waiter). Everything was copper and brass for some reason. Most importantly, Jasper approved the expense. Thank you, Jasper!
KM: Thank you, Patty!
ASL: It was a beautiful delicious dinner, and we finished it with a pot of fresh mint tea served in these gorgeous carved crystal glasses.
KM: Alex allegedly asked me to do a crime for her, on account of her drinking two glasses of wine (drunk!).
ASL: If we committed a crime, I would say handing something to Kelsey to slip into her nice new Levi’s jacket would be the way to go.
KM: We plead the fifth!
ASL: I do not have a new [redacted] in my cabinet.
KM: Speaking of beautiful things, the venue we played in San Francisco was ridiculous. It was called THE PALACE OF FINE ARTS, and we were like “Hm, are you sure we should be here?”
ASL: A PALACE! And we are the fine art! That was the most ridiculous venue, I think.
KM: We were walking around before the show, and dozens of people were literally getting engaged.
ASL: A couple shoutouts: We met another boyfriend of a listener; do not call him a listener because it’s his GIRLFRIEND who listens. Also, shoutout to the extremely drunk woman who snuck into the meet-and-greet after the show.
REDWOOD NATIONAL FOREST
KM: Back when we were young and dumb (May), I thought we would need a break between the SF and Seattle shows. Also I wanted to drive because I hate air travel, so I rented us a house in northern California, and we added an extra day so that we could go to the redwood forest. Alex had been feeling weird and bad for a few days on account of “air conditioning.”
ASL: Asthma girly ✌️
KM: Tell them about your honey.
ASL: By the time we were driving into northern California, my tongue was raw and sore from sucking on cough drops for two days. I had to take a break, but I still had a tickle in my throat. And then I remembered: honey! Honey is like lotion for your throat.
KM: Ew, don’t say honey is like lotion for your throat.
ASL: It is, though. We decided to stop at a farm stand to buy berries and honey. I hoped they would have honey sticks in nice, clean single servings. Unfortunately they did not.
KM: I want to add something important here, which is that the farm stand was run by a teen girl, who was reading The Great Gatsby, and she was one of the most amazing teens I have ever seen! What the fuck? Is this a rom-com? Why are you out here? When will she be discovered?!
ASL: What the farm stand did have was a whole glass jar of honey. So I bought it and went Pooh Bear mode.
KM: What she means by Pooh Bear mode is that while she was driving, I unscrewed the lid of the honey for her and then she DUNKED HER TONGUE IN IT—while keeping her eyes on the road—and went “Mmmm, honey.”
ASL: It helped a lot. I felt better the next day, but that might’ve been because it was the first night without air conditioning I’d had in weeks.
KM: The house was gorg! We made ourselves dinner, which was the first home-cooked meal we’d had in weeks, but we also learned that Alex is like a little bear in other ways in that she is fucking obsessed with blackberries.
ASL: OK, to be fair, the blackberry thing is because I lived in the Pacific Northwest in middle and early high school, and I have the fondest memories of running through fields and feasting on the fattest, warmest, sweetest blackberries all summer. It was one of my warmest memories and I had kind of forgotten about it until I saw them growing on the side of the road again.
KM: Practically what this meant was that she was screaming "BLACKBERRIES!" while driving 50 mph around hairpin curves. It ruled. I love living on the brink of death.
ASL: But then we picked blackberries, and wasn’t it amazing? Aren’t they a fundamentally different fruit than what you can get in stores?
KM: Oh yeah, they were incredible. Plus, now I know how to identify blackberry bushes, which is exciting.
ASL: The last big thing about this leg of the trip was that we went to see the redwoods and it was magical. Biggest trees ever.
KM: Listen, I was excited to see the big trees. I love the wonder of nature. But the big trees were so much more enchanting than I imagined. They were very overwhelming. I kept just patting them on their big sides like they were dogs. Alex, Jae, and I all felt wild. We ended up leaving because our heads felt all floaty from the trees.
ASL: After we left I googled “feeling high from trees” because I felt intoxicated, like my body was all tingly and my head was floating in the air. Then I actually got high and slept the whole way back to the house while Jae and Kelsey drove.
KM: The next morning, we had to drive 10 hours to Seattle. Jae took the first leg, which was essentially a four-hour death trap on unmaintained roads through a national forest with 500 switchbacks. I looked back at one point and Alex had her hoodie on backward with the hood up over her face. At one point she said, “I'M HAVING INTRUSIVE THOUGHTS,” which was very relatable.
ASL: It was also extremely spooky because the valley had burned, and all the trees were black and bald. But you could also see how the forest was growing back, and that was very cool.
KM: It was very beautiful, but also I was very happy when we returned to the highway. I have almost no memory of driving through Oregon except for me and Jae having road rage and Alex being very judgmental in the back.
ASL: I was not judgmental!!
KM: You literally were like, “Wow, I don’t relate to this at all. You are both so worked up.” Someone was driving FORTY-FIVE miles per hour in the left lane.
ASL: I am that little worm that drives an apple in the Richard Scarry books. What about you, Jae?
Jae Towle Vieira: I've spent many a long hour driving between Sacramento and Portland on 5, but never behind the wheel of such a tank. I was nervous at first. I have always been the car that scuttles away from passing giants. But now I had become giant, buoyed by Kelsey's engine sound effects and chants of "MAX VERSTAPPEN!" After a while, I leaned into it! I expected the other cars to scuttle away—it felt only right. In my defense, our acceleration was so poor that I could not afford to lose any of our hard-won momentum. Why that one yellow car was so determinedly camped in the left lane while going the same speed as all the semis in the right lane—for at least 20 miles—I will never know. We had plenty of time to analyze them, but came no closer to understanding.
KM: The only other thing I remember about Oregon was the Taco Bell saga.
ASL: We’d been driving for about six hours at this point and it was around 2:00 pm. We weren’t going to get to Seattle until 7, so we decided to stop for a snack so we wouldn’t have to stop in Portland (no offense, we love you Portland. The traffic was just really bad). So we found a Taco Bell on the map, but when we got there, it was CLOSED. Our hearts were all set on Taco Bell and we were all about to cry, and then Kelsey found another one 10 minutes away.
KM: We got to that one, and it had this big fence around it and everyone screamed! I think someone threatened to burn the Taco Bell to the ground if it wasn't open (it was in fact open, thank god). So then we spent most of our time at the Taco Bell discussing who we would call if we were arrested for the arson of a Taco Bell, and we all decided Jasper.
ASL: Jasper would be the best combination of lawyer, money person, and dad to call. He was ready to get a private plane for Kelsey!
KM: He and Justin were traveling to the Seattle show, so he’d be nearby. Plus, he’s calm. And we would need calm after going to the clink for burning the Taco Bell to the ground.
KM: At this point I was driving 500 mph and also tired, so Alex put on an emo playlist, which only made me drive 600 mph.
ASL: We got to Fort Lewis even faster. Fort Lewis, for those of you who are not from my culture (military), is a joint Army-Air Force base about an hour south of Seattle, and it’s where I lived for three years in middle and high school.
KM: Alex had been talking about Fort Lewis (see above: blackberries) for days.
ASL: My family very cruelly relocated after I finished freshman year and I never returned again, so I spent most of high school yearning for Washington, and Fort Lewis specifically.
KM: Whenever we talked about Fort Lewis, though, it was funny and kind of jokey, so when we drove by Fort Lewis, Jae and I decided to salute from the car as a bit, which would've been really funny if Alex had not been literally weeping.
ASL: I missed her! I didn’t realize how much I would feel seeing an ugly-ass military base!
KM: Honestly, it was really beautiful seeing Alex love it so much! Then we listened to “Misery Business.”
ASL: It was a really appropriate soundtrack, honestly. We got into Seattle right around 7 and it turned out our hotel was literally across the street from Pike Place Market, which made me feel like we were in a movie.
KM: Yes, all of Seattle felt surreal. Especially because we saw Justin on the street and yelled at him from the car window, then dragged him to a restaurant that I found on a list. It had a pink door and was also down some stairs.
ASL: When we walked in, the host said, “Great, there’s one more show tonight.” I said, “Show?” And she said, “You’ll see,” in kind of a menacing tone.
KM: At this point, my body filled with terror. Justin and I were just staring at each other with panic in our eyes.
ASL: We look up, and there are aerial silks hanging from the ceiling. Then the lights go down and the music comes up, and this jacked woman in a glittery costume walks out.
KM: Alex moved from her chair next to Justin to the other side of the table next to Jae so that she could watch better.
ASL: She did aerial silks! Like, wrapping herself up in the silks and hanging upside down in wild shapes. I do have a video of her performance, but I cannot share that with you all because soon after I stopped filming, our server came over to chastise me. So that is my special little video.
KM: The pasta was very good! The aerial performance was weird, but also very good! What was weirder, though, was the bar that I found for us to meet with the Seattle show guest Rachelle Hampton. It was on the same street, the Google reviews said it was a good dive bar, and also it was named White Horse, and I love continuity, so we went there.
ASL: I enjoyed the vibes, but it was an extremely Irish bar in that they had no mixed drinks and no ice. Just straight whiskey or red wine.
KM: It was like if a Mojo Dojo Casa House were a bar.
JTV: There was a bathroom that to be both tiny and labyrinthine, containing several tiny sets of stairs and an ATM.
ASL: I drank nothing, but I enjoyed the ambiance. We cleared the bar of spirits using Kelsey’s pendulum, which her sister gave her.
KM: That was probably good because the next night, after the final show, we drank so much.
ASL: The final show was also extra special because we had a special guest! The band Who Is She? opened up for us.
KM: Who Is She? rules, and I’m so glad they agreed to play with us! It was so fun! Then they were also at the bar, so I was even more excited. After being extremely tame and not drunk the entire tour, Jasper kept handing me tequila sodas! We were all yelling! It was fun!
ASL: I also got drunk (had 1.5 Rainiers over the course of three hours)! The decor at that bar (Jupiter, in Seattle) was so fun and I left a Normal Gossip sticker on the paper towel dispenser in the women’s bathroom. Go find her.
KM: Then we went home, and have been asleep ever since! Alex, how would you rate our tour experience?
ASL: I give it 11 Life Alive smoothie bowls out of 10! I enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would. Getting to meet people who actually enjoy the podcast was so affirming, since publishing on the internet usually just means hearing from all the people who hate you. And working with Ethan and Dave from Mills was such a blast! What about you?
KM: I would rate it one La Brea Tar Pit out of one La Brea Tar Pit. I had the best time!
ASL: If you got through all of this and are thinking “But I want Normal Gossip to come to my town,” may I suggest filling out this little survey? It is the only way we make decisions about where to go!
KM: Yeah, maybe next we will go to the Big D (Atlanta).
ASL: Ah yes, the city of brotherly love.