With all of the controversy lately surrounding insensitive media personalities, I thought it was a good time for me to explore new experiences.
No, I did not go see Cats. I did not take mind-altering drugs.
Nor did I have a child with Britney.
But for a long weekend, I did take a working vacation down south—to the deep, deep south—to spend time seeing the local sights, tasting the local tastes, and smelling the local smells.
Regular readers here know that my batteries aren’t normally charged by the charms of the region, be they musical or cultural. That was no obstacle—I was a man on a mission to celebrate diversity.
For most of five days I listened exclusively to country music. This was probably more of the genre than I’ve subjected myself to, combined, in twenty-plus years.
And here’s what I discovered: Country music is damn repetitive. The stereotypes are true, because here are the things I heard the most warbling about: (1) bad husbands/wives/girlfriends; (2) beer, with the occasional nod to whiskey or moonshine; (3) pickup trucks.
I’m not kidding.
My voyage of discovery did not end with aural stimulation. No, on Sunday afternoon I also went to a delightful local culinary establishment (aka dive, aka hole in the wall, aka sticky-floored white trash hovel) to watch, live in all its glory, a NASACR event.
This place had all the stereotypes:
A waitress at least seven months pregnant, devoid of wedding/engagement rings, missing a few prominent teeth.
Beer, onion rings, and fried anything-you-can-imagine.
Fellow diners—drinkers, really—shouting out support/hatred for their most/least favorite drivers (which, despite their alcoholic consumption, they seemed able to identify very easily by their car numbers, sponsor logos, or crew members).
I reflected on the experience a bit later under the southern sun, which was the only thing that saved me from poking my own eyes and ears out with broken glass from the bottles of beer that I gulped to dull the pain.
And, indeed, I did learn some things.
On one hand, I can understand why the South lost the Civil War. The traits that country music glorifies don’t exactly say “ambition” or “success.” And the only physical activity car racing encourages is the 12-ounce curl.
On the other hand, NASCAR doesn’t get the credit it deserves. On the third lap, I got to see a great spin-out, with at least six cars smacking into each other at nearly 200 miles per hour. Who knew crashes were so much fun to watch?
For the twisted among us that enjoy ski jumping for the monumental face-plants and watch ice skating hoping to see spectacular falls, car racing has much more to offer than I ever suspected.
So I not only survived my journey but also gained a little something. It’s rarely a bad thing to become better rounded … and this experience left me a better-rounded man from the experience.
Mostly from the fried food and beer.