You know you’re in the south when…

Comfort food: those edibles that bring us to a safe, warm-fuzzy place–the gustatorial counterpart of sucking our thumbs while holding our worn flannel bankies next to our cheeks.

In the south, whatever comfort you find in your foods, they will most certainly be fried.

The smell of hot grease alone is enough to bring down a true southerner’s blood pressure a notch or two. Stick something in it while hot–anything; doesn’t much matter–and you’ve cooked up a batch of Southern Sedative. Let’s see. What might be fry-able. How ’bout pickles?

Yep. We went to two restaurants in Birmingham last weekend, and Fried Pickles were on the menu both places.

I hate to admit they were good. So good they made me want to curl up right there and take a nap.

Would You Look at That!

One advantage of living, well not exactly off the grid, but well out of the lava-flow of change usually associated with modern “civilized” parts of the country is that visiting said civilization is always replete with surprise. Things change, and years later, we discover what has already become mundane technology to city folk. I can think of two such visual surprises from our recent Mobile trip.

To wile away a few hours while Ann was touring her high school with fifty of her classmates, I found a reasonably close super-multi-megaplex moviehouse to see the newest James Bond movie, Casino Royale. I don’t guess I’ve seen three movies in a theater in the last ten years. (Finding Nemo: I took my mom, who sees even fewer than I do, and remember being automatically being given the SENIOR discount. Reality check!)

So, cinematography has come a long way since the days of reel to reel. This was probably the first totally digital movie I’ve ever seen. And to be honest, while I appreciated the “improvements” I sort of missed the tickticktick from the projection room, the bright shifting beam of light that danced overhead to the beat of the hero’s movements, the little lines-and-spots artifacts of wear and tear that appeared subliminally as the frames of celluloid zipped by. But that’s just my nostalgia talking. For purposes of visual clarity, the new technology to this country bumpkin seemed quite impressive. And the movie was pretty good, too.

The other visual memory was the outdoor “billboards” and other signs that were either direct projection or some pretty sophisticated LCD technology, replacing paper, tubes and translucent backlit panels. Said billboards may rotate through a half dozen different “scenes” as the gawking backwoods boy stood slackjawwed and amazed. Even in full sunlight, the colors were saturated, text clearly visible, irresistably pulling the consumer’s eye to motion, color and sharp edges. However, the prospect of having every sign in a shopping-mall-sea of them become its own movie screen (it’s just a matter of time) makes me happy to live on Goose Creek, where our only full-motion billboard is the sky. Clouds now showing, sunset at 6.

Back to the Future

I woke up in a panic: Oh my gosh, another deadline looming for the newspaper column, and I hadn’t a clue what I would write. And so this morning’s blogging time on the first “free” morning at home in a week has been given over to obligations. I will eventually post the whole piece here, but for now, just an excerpt from a piece about Ann’s recent high school reunion in Mobile:

Friday’s Meet and Greet under the vaulted atrium of the hotel lobby was an informal gathering. I consented to go briefly to be introduced to a few of her most cherished friends. It wasn’t long before I found myself standing among the Ficus trees along the margins, conspicuously disengaged as gray-haired folk passed by for a quick look at my nametag. Was I was another of their classmates grown unrecognizable over the decades?…

…Soon, I slipped away to our fourth floor room; she didn’t even notice. I stood there in the dark quiet and watched the crowd and my wife of thirty-six years, one of the strangers mingling in the lobby below. Hugs, back slaps, handshakes–a hundred ants touching antennae and moving on. We’ve come so far together to be so far apart for these two days, I thought. But such is the stuff of high school reunions, of separate realities that have made us who we are, for better or for worse.

I read it to Ann a little bit ago with the certainty that she would object; it’s rather personal and she is a much more private person than Fred the Blogger. But she is fine with it, and I think this prospect of facing a high school reunion is enough of a shared reality for married folk that it will be of some interest and value for the Floyd Press readers next Thursday.

At any rate, I got that to-do item checked off my list. And now, oh wow, what a beautiful sunrise. I gotta go.


image copyright Fred First

“It’s rumored that in the early ’90’s, civic authorities ordered the Peachoid water tower repainted so it would look less like a big butt — reducing rubbernecking fatalities on nearby I-85. It may be safer today, but from the right angle, the one-million gallon watersphere STILL looks like a bright orange butt.” link

We knew to expect it this time down I-85 through South Carolina. The first time–twenty years ago, when the kids were young–it came upon us quite unexpected, like spotting the plumber’s rump protruding out from under the kitchen sink when you walk into the house with an armful of groceries. It just sort of demands one’s attention, and this is even with the purported taming down of its buttness since those days.

If I had time before work this morning, it would be fun to put some low-slung Carhartts about mid-cleavage, playing around in Photoshop. Be my guest, show us your best “just say no” picture.

The other thing I wish I had a picture of from our trip–but never went back with the camera–is the collection of identical signs that appeared about every 20 feet on the wall behind our motel in Mobile. Under a large, standard-yellow smiley face, were these words: YOU ARE BEING VIDEOTAPED AND RECORDED.

What a country.