Well, HK and I are still here. Huge sigh of relief! On Saturday, May 21, 2011, at exactly 6:00PM (CST) just outside of Heflin, Alabama, we took a long draw off our vodka-tonics and held our breath. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. All the good folks surrounding us in their campers and tents were still there, too. (And I know for a fact they were good, God-fearing Christians, given the nuber of Jesus fish and “God is my Co-Pilot” bumper stickers surrounding us. But this post isn’t about the Rapture, or religion, for that matter. This post is about observing the world from a new standpoint.
Hk and I, as you know by now, purchased a pop-up camper this spring. We’re heading West in a couple of weeks and decided to do a trial run with the 3 pups. We needed to stay w/in a 2-hour drive, because our friends Stef and Glenn needed to be back in Atlanta for a Sunday afternoon function. So we agreed on Coleman Lake campground in the Talladega National Froest outside of Heflin, Ala. The campground offered a lake (hence the name) and several hiking trails, along with wooded sites and electric hookups (a must in 90-degree weather).
So Friday afternoon, we popped-up the pup and settled in. As crowds of watermelon-shaped folks began arriving and claiming the surrounding campsites, we wondered if we were still actually in the United States?
“Whereyuns fixunta setche cayump upayat?”
“Dju hayar wandar cumdoyon seeyak?
OK, I am from the South, (Kentucky), and haved lived in Tennessee and Georgia for all of my adult life. I’ve been told I have an accent, but this gibberish our neighbors were spoutin’ out was, to me, unintelligible. I have friends from Birmingham- this is not the way they speak. After actively listening in to their conversations for while, I began to decipher the words. “Where are you setting up camp?” and “Did you hear Wanda got sick?” It almost became a game to see who could figure it out first.
The campground was, as promised, nicely shaded and the sites were of decent size. The bathrooms were large and contained showers, although I figured a nice brisk swim would suffice in washing the sweat-soaked mosquito repellant off. WRONG! On Saturday, after a nice hike around the lake–actually a very shallow pond, it turns out– HK and I put on our bathing costumes (I love that expression) and hit the “beach”. The beach was mud the color of butterscotch, with visibility of about 2 inches, and the roped-off swimming area was no more than mid-thigh-deep. Fuck-it. I really needed to cool off, so I put my sandals back on and began wading in.
“Ay Diddy, whatch ee-uss!”
A pre-pubescent boy was standing on a 6-foot wooden pole preparing to dive off head first in 3 feet of muck. I was obscenely drawn to the carnage about to unfold in front of my very eyes.
I held my breath.
“Git down offunthar, junior! I tolt jew hit ain’t deep’nuf!”
Thank God his Daddy had the presence of mind to call that one. Just then, a female child around 9 or 10 yells…
“Ah just pooped mah paynees!!”
In a flash I was back on shore, headed to the shower house.
A small sign on the bulletin board between the men’s and women’s room read–and I swear this is the truth– “Caution! For unknown reasons, touching the women’s shower fixtures while wet may cause an electrical shock”. I had seen such warnings in South American budget hotel bathrooms, but not in decades. I kept on my sandals and took my chances.
It got me! Sonofabitch that muther shocked the shit out of me! And I still had to turn the water off!
ZAP ZAP! Got me again! I looked at my watch. Only 5:00PM. The rapture wasn’t supposed to happen for another hour.
After rinsing my Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap from my body safetly back at camp, HK and I poured ourselves a drink and waited. At approximately 6:02PM, we glanced around. All quiet on the Southern Front.
We raised a glass in a silent toast to our neighbors.