the origins of ‘wildfire at the billings logan international airport’

Ali and I went to Montana for a wedding. Dave was supposed to come, but he was doing a show with Michael Domitrovich at 59E59, so I brought Ali instead.

We flew into Billings. And from beginning to end, it was probably the most time we’d ever spent sort of alone together, and it’s not like we were super friends. flying across the country to Billings, Montana, for five days at a mutual friend Stacy Rock’s wedding.

We went to the airport bar at the Billings Logan International Airport could even remotely be considered international? Also the bartender didn’t know how to make a vodka/soda. Eventually Randall showed up, and we headed out in the notorious Rock Force 1 van into the far reaches of Northeast Montana, through the badlands, to Fort Peck, Stacy’s home town.

It was a beautiful drive, if you have a thing for the desolate American landscape, like me, although I must admit I had a mild case of nerves when cell phone reception died for what seemed to be several hundred miles of scenery that belonged more to the Moon than planet Earth.

We stayed in some cabins across the street from a little dive bar where I took the time to teach the bartender just how to make a vodka/soda, while she insisted I just have a shot and a beer. We Cate Bottiglione for the first time, we watched the groom’s brother sing the most sincere karaoke I’d ever seen. So sincere was he in fact (and a good singer) that Ali had to convince me it was not ironic.

The wedding weekend was loads of fun, and eventually I gave up and had shots, although I forwent the beers. Stacy’s Dad Roger Rock drove us back to Billings. Since he’s a writer too we talked about plays and art and words, and shared a meal at Denny’s with some Miller High Life before he dropped us at our hotel.

I was horrified to realize that our room had no mini-bar (wtf Marriott, for reals), and while we were ready to venture out in search of a liquor store, the packs of men roving the streets outside our hotel with nary a woman in sight led us to abandon the plan.

We took a cab to the airport the next day, and as we hopped in we wished Billings well, saying: bye bye Billings! It’s been okay!

I wrote a play about it. It’s called Wildfire at the Billings Logan International Airport. And it’s happening tomorrow night at Script Tease, in Brooklyn.

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