Let me start by saying 'I love Alabama.' I have ALWAYS loved Alabama. And what's not to love? The accents, the incredibly sweet people, the 10-years too late fashion with a disturbing reliance on anything John Deere, the questionable dental hygiene...For my dime, you can't get a better state.
Which may be one of the reasons I was STOKED about the prospects of this weekend's road trip to the barbecue festival at Alabama Adventures--an apt and ironic destination, as what ensued yesterday was most definitely an 'adventure.'
The day began hella early as, with crusties on my eyes, I drove to Vinings for the scheduled carpool rendezvous which included my bestie Joe, my lovecup J.M., and her S.O. Justin, for whom I should have some sort of embarrassing monicker but have not yet found one that 'sticks.' Three hours, 4 chicken biscuits with bacon and a CD of impromptu car karaoke later, we arrive at the amusement/water park.
An hour before they open.
Seems we forgot to account for the time change.
We. are. awesome.
With an hour to kill, we decide to check out the local scenery. Let the adventure begin!
Stop #1: the local outlet malls.
For those of you force-fed AP Lit, picture Alas Babylon. For the rest of you literature Philistines, think "I Am Legend" meets "Zombie Apocalypse." With a cow sweater.
Every store was eerily vacant, and I had this sudden and odd urge to prepare myself for a reinactment of Mad Max. Good thing I wore my skulls and roses bathing suit!
Already delirious from the sweltering heat (post-apocalyptic civilization is rather warm at 10 a.m.), the gang and I decided to follow the lonely sounds of what seemed to be gospel music on an ancient PA system to the back of the shopping complex. What appeared over the horizon--an oasis in our Bessemer County desert--began as a haze, and soon materialized into cultural gold.
My first discernible image? A woman walking a lizard.
As the scene solidified, the crew and I approached in awe. Terrified awe. But awe.
Seems we had unwittingly stumbled upon the cultural event of the season--a yard sale. In an outlet mall. Is it possible to literally beam with delight? Pretty sure I managed it. Though none of my party can confirm, as I was off like a shot. First stop, the bathroom, where they literally had a sign posted that said, "Please remember to flush." Apparently this is not a given in central Ala. As I turned to point out this treasure to J.M., I realized the rest of my party were huddled in a corner in fear. It was up to me to guide them through this Bible Belt land o' plenty.
I took their hands and gently lead the three--the only three dressed in matching apparel of the appropriate size and from the current decade--through the Land of Glee. First stop, the clothes. Where I found this treasure trove of wonderful: Yes, my friends, it IS a cow-print sweater with tablecloth-checked sleeves and...wait for it...crocheted cow buttons! Would that there were two in the world!
Onward to the toys...where I found two Elmo dolls, out of the box and questionably displayed in what is either 1. a mugging scene or 2. a red and fuzzy demo of S&M. It was like Muppet Rorschach. Either way, Joe, J.M. and Justin all fled when I squealed and began taking pictures. Seems no one appreciates a good toy mug/scrump anymore...
As I scurried to meet my fellows at the exit, I noticed that the trio had taken up refuge by the coup de gras of Alabama culture and class: a wedding chapel. In the outlet mall. Next to the yard sale. Within feet of the lizard lady, the cow sweater and the violent and sexually active Elmos.
I can only imagine--a proud tear in my eye--those wedding photos. What a proud day for the happy couple!
Joe, J.M. and Justin had seen enough. They began to make their way to the car. But I decided it was in my best interest to befriend the lass with the lizard. She was just telling me about her albino snake with pink on its face when Joe literally dragged me to the car.
I pouted all the way to Walmart.
Now one would anticipate many things about the Bessemer Walmart. My friends and I? We were on a mission of cultural significance (ie. gathering photographic testimony for peopleofwalmart.com) and, secondly, for water, beer and a cooler. Cameras at the ready, we enter the store with a game plan: do one lap around the periphery, eyes peeled for the multimedia jackpot. We were but inches inside the door when I found it: not in the form of an extremely overweight and underdressed Walmart patron, but on the front page of The Birmingham Times, where ran two 'lead' stories:
1. HIV Dad Rapes Infant Son
and 2. Mom Kills Son; Shops With Body
Welcome, my friends, to Alabama.
In what will no doubt be seen as a quick cop-out ending to an otherwise verbose blog, I can tell you that the remainder of the trip consisted of many rides, interesting people, and a barbecue coma--all of which I thoroughly enjoyed. But to whet your appetite for all things 'Roll Tide,' I will tell you this:
1. In our bathing suits with bbq bellies, wet hair and no make-up, we were SMOKIN' HOT representin' the Atl.
2. No amount of rickety rollercoaster ride can justify 2.5 minutes of a teenage boy burying his head in your lap. Yep. This happened. And, of course, to me.
3. Paw's Avenue 'Q' has the. best. damned. bbq. ever.
4. The wait is officially over! Faux snakeskin lycra hotpants now come in rainbow colors! And when you purchase them (as I know you will) the tag reads: "You are welcome America! Courtesy of Alabama."