You Ain’t From ‘Round Here, Is Ya?

I had to travel for work today and found myself in the back woods of Tennessee, somewhere between Deliverance and Egypt. It was a tiny little town, my destination; one that would fit a description I heard growing up as a “spit town.” I’m from rural Alabama, so for me to be impressed by the lack of civilization is a pretty unusual thing. I knew the area was economically challenged before I set out and I had prepared myself to witness the typical poor, rural items that are common place, such as half buried tires around the perimeter of a trailer forming some sort of semblance of a fence, barbecue served by the roadside from half rusted old barrels filled with wood chips and the smell of sweet mesquite, and shotgun houses set almost on the shoulder of the highway with one of its inhabitants either resting comfortably on the front porch or tinkering with an old lawnmower too close to the road. I dropped the top on my Jeep and tuned the radio in to a “God fearin’, meat eatin’ country station” and figured I’d slip on into town without calling any attention to myself. I didn’t realize that I had innately set myself apart from the locals the moment I had put on lipstick and a bra. The county road on the way into and through one after another One Horse Town, Unincorporated, was littered with hand painted signs displaying Bible verses, firewood for sale and stump grinding services. I was almost surprised when I didn’t see any used cardboard and spray painted signs advertising “Rabbits for Sale: Pets or Meat.” I stopped into a local filling station and went in for a drink. The red-blooded, full bearded, overall clad, American and proud of it behind the counter couldn’t understand me at first, but then I did my impersonation of Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama and he was able to comprehend what I was saying and pointed me toward a cooler in the back. There I found not only a can of scrumptious Diet Mountain Dew, but it was so cold that it had frozen chunks of neon green deliciousness inside of it. In case you have ever wondered the whereabouts of that mid 80s Ford Escort that your friend in high school drove, I found it. In fact, the ratio of 80s model Ford Escorts to licensed drivers in this area was at least 4 to 1. It was a little unnerving to see so many of them in the same place. I felt like Suzanne Pleshette watching the birds gather on the jungle gym in the school yard in Alfred Hitchcock’s film, The Birds, only it was a bunch of Ford Escorts. The good people of this region apparently do not believe in storage buildings. Why would they, really, when they have seemed to do just fine setting extra sofas, buckets, small appliances, clothing, yard implements, toys and other superfluous items right out in their front yard. In fact, a few of the residents seemed so in tune with their surroundings that they didn’t even bother having doors on their fine abodes. There was one establishment that didn’t adhere to this practice, however. It was a little store named “The Inside Store.” Now don’t let your mind run away with you and think that this was a retailer of fine home interiors. It was simply a store that was housed inside of a building; and judging by all of the other vendors selling their wares out of the trunks of their automobiles, road-side shanties and lone, free-standing metal racks right out in the middle of nothing, this Inside Store was one of a kind. Well, there was a place named the Tater Sack, but it looked closed. The natives, I mean, locals made me feel right at home. They all waved at me as I went by. Those who couldn’t wave because their hands were busy whittling or opening a beer gave me a warm welcoming glare. I was feeling right chipper until I passed the white supremacy flag and had an image of Sandra Bullock’s little run in with the klan in A Time to Kill. The bummer about that was there was no Matthew McConaughey that was going to come looking for me. Even if there was, he’d probably be off biking shirtless with Lance Armstrong. Then I passed the most curious thing. It was this scarecrow looking woman. Not a real woman, but one made out of something like a scarecrow and she was wearing this Amish type dress. Above her head she was holding up this huge log. And by huge, I mean like twenty feet long and a good foot in diameter. It was the oddest thing I’d ever seen. It was right there in some person’s front yard next to a big stump carved into some goofy looking fellow and an old cast iron syrup pot turned upside down and holding up the front fender of a mid 80s Ford Escort. I wanted to stop and take a picture of it, but I wasn’t sure if any of the residents were there and I didn’t want to be spotted photographing their every day existence as if it was some sort of novelty. Also, I wasn’t sure they would know what a camera phone was and I had neither the time nor the inclination to assimilate them into the current century, so I just kept on driving. All in all, it was an interesting day. I think if I ever have to go back, I will take along a side kick, you know, someone to man a camera while I drive. And maybe I’ll take some trinkets like you see settlers or missionaries do in old black and white Zulu type movies. Yeah, trinkets sound like a good idea. Perhaps I will take lipsticks.


2 responses to “You Ain’t From ‘Round Here, Is Ya?

  1. I can hear the Deliverance music in my mind after reading your blog. Too bad you could not attach sound! Please next time take pictures!

  2. I hope that I will be so lucky as to join you for the next adventure in Backwards Land.

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