SLOWING DOWN, THANKFULLY
If you're ever interested in slowing down the inevitable march of time, I highly recommend Auburn, Alabama around holiday time. The hotel bill reads two nights thus far, but I'm fairly sure that we've been here something closer to say, I don't know, eternity?
It's fun to dress up the animals before slaughtering them.
That's right, the pace of Going South has taken a right turn straight into lethargy. I feel like we just stumbled into the never-ending repeating time warps that made Donnie Darko and Groundhogs day so philosophical and sassy. Which isn't to say that we're not enjoying our time here. It's actually quite pleasant. The small town has been abandoned by its usual drove of students, leaving behind only the hearty locals and everybody's favorite, intrepid roadtrippers.
The feeling is that this small, lovely little haven belongs to us and around every corner rests some new tidbit of information to give us some insight into the local traditions. For instance, did you know that before the previews at the Auburn movie theater they play a five minute music video by Three Doors Down called "Citizen Soldier?" Which is actually an undisguised recruiting video for the National Guard.
War Eagle seems to be eyeing Matt in a rather suspicious way.
Not exactly the kind of pre-film fare this Bostonian is used to. But, for me that's what makes this trip so spectacular. There are times when I've felt like I might as well be in my own backyard, and there are times when I have to take a quick inventory of the surroundings, just to confirm that I'm still on planet Earth.
Today, for instance, the Wax and I attended Cheng Dou for lunch (highly recommend it if you're in the market for some good Chinese food). There were about four other groups of people in there - all fairly normal looking people - and one solo gentleman who looked like he could've been a linebacker for the Falcons. Matt and I were discussing where we thought Les Miles would end up at year's end, when we realized that every single person in the restaurant was talking about football. Five separate conversations all about pigskin. The only person who wasn't talking - the solo flier - was reading about football... in a Chinese newspaper.
"I've just taken up reading Chinese recently," he said, as he quietly passed judgment on whether or not Nick Saban was losing perspective with his 9-11 comments. "It's tough, but I enjoy it."
So it's Thanksgiving evening, and while I'm not usually in the practice of making public statements about what I'm thankful for, now's as good a time as ever to start. I'm thankful for getting the opportunity to run around the South for three months and bear witness to some of the more over-the-top, niche, and nuanced culture America has to offer. There's really no better way to spend an Autumn. And the fact that we get treated like we belonged here in the first place, that's just icing on the cake.
Last thing, if you're looking to cruise through Auburn campus today or tomorrow, be prepared to show some credentials. They've got the place on lockdown. Why?
"We gotta keep the tailgaters out until Friday," said one security guard, as if they weren't there, the townsfolk of Auburn would celebrate their Thanksgivings right outside the Stadium. "Believe me... if they could, they would."
The vestiges of a simpler time, presented in a postmodern type way.