Monday, October 6, 2008

thoughts upon being steeped like a tea bag in country culture

Perhaps it's the election that has me hyper-aware of culture this autumn. The book I'm reading too, is so full of deep Appalachian roots it feels like it should be a heavy, coal dusted object and not this small, slightly yellowed thrift store paperback. Between sales and pleasantries, I'm reading Storming Heaven. Every chapter draws out tears for worn, exhausted miners or an earth gutted for profit. Once I cry for the canary. I don't know why I'm so sensitive today. Fall season does that to me. The chill in the air strips things away and makes me feel raw and exposed. The sun's so clear and crisp it's too beautiful.

I'm working a booth at the festival two counties from home. Like always, I'm simultaneously at home and in culture shock in my mountains. In the past few years I think it's worse as the state shifted from a stronghold of the Democratic party to a consistently red state. I'm pissed off that the GOP has hijacked my people on a platform of preaching and gun worship and perfectly crafted, faux-folk charm.

There's an anti-choice booth close to ours with fat, airbrushed, white babies smiling out from huge posters.

I'm brooding about it all, about feeling like an alien in my home, about feeling both protective and critical of this old, hilly place. I wonder about anti-intellectualism and how the insult "elite" is the worst possible sin here. How I'm called pretentious sometimes for liking gallery art better than these crafts. I'm pouting and stewing and have decided that perhaps I really am an uppity asshole when I hear a lady talking to my neighboring booth workers. She's got the tone of a hellfire & brimstone preacher, but she's lecturing another older lady about the morning after pill: "It aint 'n abortion, it's a high dose a' contraceptives. Prevent pregnancy; don't end one. And you aint gonna tell me if yer granddaughter got raped you wouldn't want her to have an abortion raht now!" She lowers her voice and I hear them murmering together, then the preachin' continues: "and they aint NO WAY  they're gonna steal this election. John Kerry shoulda told Bush 'at least I showed up to Vietnam insteada doin coke with all my frat buddies'. Swift Boat mah ass..."

I grin from ear to ear- can't help it. She comes by my booth and I shake her hand and tell her she made my day. She listens to me mourn for the old Democratic West Virginia and agreed that the right wing is manipulative and stupid. We share scathing remarks about Governor Palin and agree it's a shame people can't remember nothin' but Bill Clinton's blow jobs. I love her fiery piss & vinegar eyes and straw gardening hat over hair that's steely silver.

My cell phone rings. Papaw says the Bird has just said her longest sentence yet: "Midnight kitty get your butt in here right now fore I beat your ass." I sigh, and ask him to please thank her Mamaw for me. Then I laugh with Papaw and call her my sassy girl. I go on a fruitless hunt for pumpkin fudge. There's the sign: says "Punkin Fudge," but they're sold out. I get a jar of pumpkin butter, then a mango-strawberry smoothie at a trailer that sells cappuccinos too, and they're real- I see the machine. I try to make some sort of assessment of this fact- the intrusion of espresso into the Pumpkin Festival but I decide it's just coffee.

Photo credit: CBCS from


  1. This is how I feel when I attend the Apple Festival in Harrisburg every year (though Ive missed the last two years :sadness). Though it seems like every year the apple booths get smaller and smaller while all the other random booths begin their hostile takeover of my memories.

    you make my day <3

  2. You are being featured on Five Star Friday's Intrepid Tuesday:

  3. I would like to give that woman a HUGE HUGE HUGE hug!!!

    And you, my dear (((((((((((((((((((love))))))))))))))))

  4. Oh, honey, laughing hysterically at Molly's sentence! Makes me think of a few weeks ago when Ciaran piped up, not five minutes after I'd said it, "GO AWAY STUPID SQUIRREL! GO AWAY STUPID SQUIRREL!"

    Oh, how it sounds so much worse when it comes from a little person's mouth!

  5. I already shared this in G-Reader & I just grabbed the URL to show a friend. Thought I'd drop in & say how much I like this entry. Raht nail!

  6. @sioveva Yes... often she echoes me in scary, four-lettered ways:) Somehow I'd rather hear the F-bomb than "aint" and "beat yer ass" but that's just my thing:)

    @Eden, Thankya darlin'. Ah pershiate it. *wink*