And God bless Tennessee, truly. I do love that place, and there is aways a moment where we cross the border and I know I'm home again. Oh, sure the landscape is the familiar rocky hills I grew up with and the accent is sweet and twangy, but what really makes it feel like home are the billboards. Since we come in from Virginia to the east, we pass close to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, and if you know anything about those places you'll know that they are the craziest tourist trap towns in the entire southern U.S. and much of the, um, attractions are devoted to, how shall I say, the indigenous culture of the east Tennessee hills. Hillbillies, in other words. Even when I was growing up and we would vacation there every year, back before Dolly opened her Wood and before the place really took off, there was a miniature golf course called Hillbilly Golf (it's still there, but apparently they're too hillbilly for a website). Now they have those big dinner arena things, like Medieval Times, but with feuding lumberjacks. Every other billboard for miles was for Lumberjack Feud. And then there was one for moonshine! Somebody got the bright idea to legally distill and sell corn liquor. IN MASON JARS. And I'm cursing like a—well, like me—as we pass these magnificent roadside advertisements because I can't just whip out my camera and get a picture of them for you. I love it that I get hate mail when I make fun of my redneck brethren, and yet Tennesseeans are exploiting it themselves left and right.
|I couldn't fit the pickled pig's feet in the shot. No lie.|
But the ones that really get me are the billboards that truly show that Tennessee is God's country. You know, a place where good, decent, church-going folk live and raise families the moral way, never letting their teachers mention the word "gay" in or near a school because all you have to do is hear the word and suddenly all you want to do is find the nearest same-sex individual and go to town on them. Everybody knows that - it's in the Bible. And down there, in the land of the righteous, you can see tons of huge, in-your-face ads for guns and porn. GUNS, GUNS, GUNS—WORLD'S LARGEST SELECTION OF UNNECESSARILY DESTRUCTIVE WEAPONRY. WHY KILL A DEER WHEN YOU CAN ANNIHILATE IT? And then 100 yards later, ADULT WONDERLAND—WORLD'S LARGEST POON AND WANG EMPORIUM.
Oh, and fireworks. I'm not sure how that fits in with the guns and porn, but apparently Tennesseans love fireworks as much as high-powered firearms and girl-on-girl action.
And then I saw the most wondrous thing of all. Not one, but TWO billboards for quilt shops. Now, perhaps in other parts of the country this is a normal thing, but I never thought of any quilt shop as being a big enough business to even afford a gigantic roadside sign, much less be able to benefit much from it. But there they were.
And then it hit me. When I retire, and we move back to the hills of my ancestral home, I will need something to do to keep me busy. And I have the perfect enterprise, one that can't possibly fail to succeed in that environment. And then, as I was fantasizing about this, I realized that in the recent name game we had here for giveaway day, I had the perfect name. So, in about 20 years, you'll all be able to find me in Tennessee. Just look for the billboards.
P.S. Katherine, aka the real Streaker Beaver, email me. I'm sending you the book and calendar.