Country Roads Take Me Nowhere

Iwas recently driving to Temecula for reasons I won’t go into because I have forgotten them when I noticed a sign saying, “Clinton Keith Road, Next Right.” I hadn’t been down that direction in a while, so I decided I would get off there and see what this “Clinton Keith Road” was, exactly.

The only thing I found was a hospital. That’s all. So I began thinking, “Why did they name the street ‘Clinton Keith’ instead of ‘Hospital Street?’ Or ‘Doctors Avenue?’ Or ‘Ambulance Chasing Lawyers Circle?’ Or ‘We Won’t Even Look at You Unless You Have Adequate Insurance Coverage Lane?’ Who is this Clinton Keith person and why is he so all-fired important? Did I just run that stop sign?” I should really stop thinking when I’m trying to drive.

Anyway, when I returned home, I called up my friend Ed Farrell to see what he knew about it. I chose Ed because 1) he used to live here, and 2) he has the ability to make embarrassing noises with both armpits AT THE SAME TIME, so his name just naturally springs to mind when I think of Lake Elsinore.

Ed told me he didn’t know, but that he thought we should investigate and write a column about it. “You want to do research?!?” I said, laughing. “What, are you nuts?” But research we (kind of) did.

Our first step was to see what the populace of Lake Elsinore thought, and the obvious way to do that, of course, was to go to Kmart. The most popular response we received there, before we were thrown out by the management, was, “Clinton Keith. Isn’t that a road, or something?” When we informed them that we weren’t looking for some obscure freeway overpass, but, rather, an actual physical presence, the main reaction was, “I don’t know.” One particularly inspiring “I don’t know” came from a young man who asked that we not use his name, which is Brian McKay. His “I don’t know” wasn’t just your garden-variety moron’s “I don’t know,” but the “I don’t know” of a man who is sincerely lost . The kind of “I don’t know” that takes teams of scientists years and years of careful research to formulate. We could tell that Brian was just as obsessed with finding the answer as we were pretending to be.

Our next approach was to attempt communication with the residents of a place called “Elsinore High School,” or, sometimes, “Heck, with a Gym.” It was at this bizarre place that we encountered two persons named Jay and Clint, or maybe Bob and Marvin. We can’t seem to recall exactly. At any rate, this is the conversation as we recorded it.

ERIC: Pardon me. Do you know who Clinton Keith was?

JAY, or maybe BOB: Clinton Keith. Sounds familiar. He’s some kind of historical dude or something.

CLINT, or maybe MARVIN (We would prefer CLINT, if we were him): He’s dead, isn’t he?

JAY/BOB: Yeah, I think so.

CLINT/MARVIN: So who cares? He’s just dead, that’s all.

ED: (Whispering to ERIC) Imbeciles, both of them.

Our last remotely intelligent theory came from someone who claimed that Clinton Keith was a two-headed man with one head named Clinton, the other, Keith. This supports the legend that the ancient Incas had, but goes against the beliefs of the fanatical religious cult called TFEE (True Followers of Ed and Eric, you may have seen them at the airport), who believe that Clinton Keith is the blind idiot god of chaos residing atop a throne of human skulls somewhere in the underworld. Or perhaps that was Saddam Hussein. At any rate, we can’t believe we have any strength left after this much mental aberration. We also can’t believe we just used a word like “aberration” and thought we could get away with it.

Our research ended on an auspicious note. Several sightings, it seems, have been made behind Circle K’s across America. Footprints of what appears to be our man have been plaster casted. We will continue the search as long as we live! We will never give up! It is our sole obsession.

Until next week.

Ed Farrell, mentioned in this column, was two years ahead of me in school. He had a near-genius I.Q. and was a brilliant thinker. He was also tremendously odd. I don't recall ever meeting anyone as odd as he was. He originally had this idea -- looking for the real "Clinton Keith" behind Clinton Keith Road -- and wrote about it in a column in the high school paper. I liked the idea and wanted to plagiarize it, but decided to have him work with me on it instead.

Is this column funny? No. But it reflects actual teamwork, and for that you should be proud, or at least tolerant.