Findlay, Ohio: The Capital of the United States of Awesome

It’s Flag City, USA.

It’s home to the Super Bowl-winning Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Belinda Carlisle was right all along. Heaven is a place on earth, and it’s a small town on I-75 in northwest Ohio.

It’s Findlay, Ohio, and it may well be the greatest city ever known to man. Forget Rome, London, New York, Gotham City, Metropolis, Tokyo and all those other fictional towns. Pretenders to the throne! The slow urbanization of mankind that began thousands of years ago in Mesopotamia has reached its apex in Findlay, Ohio.

And I’ve never been there. For that matter, I’ve never even been to Ohio.

And yet… and yet. I talk about Findlay all the time. My alter-ego Brian hails from Findlay. (For a while, I actually wrote a blog as Brian, all about his adventures in Findlay. More on that later.) I’d wager I know more about Findlay than a good chunk of the people who actually live there. The question is:

“For God’s sake, man… why?!”

Well, it’s a long story. A long, stupid story.

The story begins over a decade ago, during the heady days of the late-to-mid-90s, when the Internet was first starting to become A Big Thing. Realizing that we could be a part of said Big Thing, my friend Tom and I decided to start a website. And we used the tool everybody used back then: Geocities!

Yes, we had a crappy, ghetto, free Geocities page, and it was titled Price and Tom’s Stuff-o-rama! It was, theoretically speaking, a “comedy” site. One of the main features of the site was “Price’s Advices and Tom’s Tips,” a satirical advice column that turned into kind of a cult hit before it was all said and done. The advice column was so popular, in fact, that we dropped everything else and focused exclusively on doling out comic advice to strangers on the Internet. We were even featured as a “Hot Link of the Day” on the USA Today web site. Fan-freaking-tastic!

As we were planning this website (”planning” being a very generous term for what was essentially just the two of us throwing together whatever came to mind) Tom and I decided that although we were using our real first names, we didn’t really want anyone to know who we really were or where we really lived. So we created an alternate Tom and Price, Tom2 being a lonely loser working at KFC, and Price2 being a bitter loser trapped in a loveless marriage. (I know! Who would believe such a thing?) And because we didn’t want anyone to know we were living in Springfield, Missouri (in the off chance that we’d offend someone so intensely that they’d want to track us down and murder us), we decided that the alternate Price and Tom would live elsewhere. We pulled out a map of the US and picked a new hometown at random. Hidden under the greasy finger we plopped down on the map was a town neither of us had ever even heard of, but it was, nonetheless, a Town of Destiny.

Findlay, Ohio.

We checked it out a little on the then-kind-of-new Internet, and it seemed like a good fit. It just felt right, down in our stupid guts, and thus it was settled: As we generated our “funny” advice for the Internet, we would (pretend to) be from Findlay, Ohio. We did a little half-hearted web research so that we could throw out references to the mall (the Findlay Village Mall!), or the newspaper ( The Courier!), or a grocery store (Great Scot!), or unique street names (Main!). And for the couple of years that we faithfully churned out that “humorous” dreck, we kept up the ruse that we were from Findlay. We graduated from Geocities to our own domain. We briefly scraped the outer edges of D-list fame. For a while, we even had—get this!—an agent. We were flyin’ high!

But as with all things grand and noble and awe-inspiring that are also totally dependent on me, the whole thing ended with the lamest of whimpers, not even close to a bang. Traffic started tapering off. People stopped sending us questions. Our agent stopped returning our calls. It was harder and harder to find time to write our “comical” content, and, so, we eventually lost interest and quit. Our Internet dreams were dead. Dead and rotten and stinking and buried. In the ground. In a cemetery. In an empty, barren forest. Under the ocean.

But Findlay lived on! I never let anything go, and for whatever reason Findlay had established a beachhead in my psyche, and it proceeded to invade every other segment of my life. I started using”FindlayBoy” as an online alias. I snuck Findlay references into church skits. In my day job as a technical writer for a software company, I was responsible for creating a manual for a mapping application. Every map example in the entire 350-page manual? Findlay, Ohio.

When some colleagues and I first encountered famed Internet crackpot Gene Ray (he of the infamous Time Cube), we played a little prank on him. I started e-mailing him under the guise of “Brian McNair,” a unique and none-too-bright guy from Findlay, Ohio. I did more research on the city to keep the details straight.

After we were done tormenting that poor mentally ill old man, the character of “Brian” stuck with me, and thus was born, years later, Brian’s Adventures in Findlay, Ohio. For about six months, as an exercise in writing in another voice, I blogged as Brian, and to do so believably, I completely immersed myself in the world of Findlay. I consulted maps to make sure that Brian could easily get from Point A to Point B (Google Maps Street View would’ve been really nice around that time). For a post in which Brian reviewed frozen pizzas, I actually called the Great Scot supermarket to find out which brands they carried. I read The Courier’s website every day so Brian could reference current Findlayite events.

Given my short attention span and astounding lack of discipline, it’s a miracle I lasted a whole six months as Brian. Yeah, I eventually got sick of it and just quit like the quitting quitter I am. But I miss Brian, way more than a person should miss a fictional character that he created, and that’s why he shows up here from time to time. Brian—pitiable, lovable idiot that he is—is just too fun to write for me to let him die.

And Findlay is just too unforgettable to forget. (I guess that’s pretty much the definition of unforgettable, isn’t it?) And so I haven’t forgotten it. I still read The Courier from time to time, and what have I learned? It floods there. A lot. Maybe someday I can be there to fill sandbags on the banks of the majestic Blanchard River as it overflows its banks and inundates the picturesque downtown in the heart of America, leaving rich, fetid, black mud three feet high in the city that will forever be my imaginary home.

downtown Findlay, aka “The Ol’ Swimmin’ Hole”

But make no mistake: I will visit Findlay someday. Someday, all my dreams and aspirations will come to fruition, and I will walk the streets of Findlay in the flesh. Someday… some wondrous, magical day.

But until then, I hold Findlay dear to my heart, loving it from afar. Because after all these years, I still know this much is true: Man’s reach must forever exceed his grasp, or else what’s Findlay, Ohio for?

(Oh, and by the way, if you’d like to party like it’s 1999—assuming that the party involved browsing amateurish websites, which would make it the crappiest party ever—I have placed a copy of our old site right here on thekchorns.com. So take a look, won’t you? Enjoy the almost-funny wackiness of Price’s Advices and Tom’s Tips.)

7 Responses to “Findlay, Ohio: The Capital of the United States of Awesome”

  1. Jessie Says:

    And someday we might actually take you to Findlay. Although, I can think of other cities we’d rather introduce you to…how about Paris?

  2. Price Says:

    Something tells me Findlay might be a little easier on the budget.

  3. Shannon Says:

    Findlay has played a very important part in my life, too, as THAT’S HOW I MET YOU. Another long and strange story!

  4. Charles Says:

    Dude! Price and Tom!! I used to read you guys in college and you were awesome. I’m glad to know you’re still alive and you should totally stage a comeback.

    -C

  5. Price Says:

    Oh, so you’re the one!

  6. Tom Says:

    Do not come to Findlay
    I have lived here my whole life
    It is a barren wasteland of a community
    The majority of people living here are quite thoroughly terrible

    It is rather the Capital of The United States of Awful

  7. Price Says:

    Too late! http://thekchorns.com/?p=632

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