Despite my inherent snarkiness, I was going to miss Georgia. Specifically John’s family. For the past three days they had personified Southern hospitality. Each morning we awoke to a breakfast of eggs, bacon, biscuits, and hot coffee. I had my own room, where I spent most days reading. On a rainy afternoon, I took a stroll around the neighborhood pond, followed by The Flintstones. One evening the whole family gathered, and welcomed me as one the clan. I ate pizza with the nieces and nephews while we all listened to P-Funk. It was the best way to go about loafing.
St. Petersburg was 500 miles away. We had to get going. The house was out of coffee, but the neighbors lent some to us. Thank you again, Georgia. On the way out John’s mom gave us a warm bag of biscuits and bacon, and John decided to try Capri Sun.
“Goddammit! These things are just fit for a baby!”
While John took the first leg of driving, I caught up on Caught Up In Atlanta. For $1, a weekly tabloid’s worth of local mugshots have been collected and presented as entertainment. DUI, drug possession, assault, they’re all here! Funnier-looking criminals received captions like “I Knew I Should Have Fixed My Hair This Morning”, while the more attractive ones were labeled “Bad Girls (Everything You Do Catches Up With You)”. It did prove entertaining and funny for the first five minutes. Then I read pages and pages of pedophiles. And suddenly all of it was very sad.
To further emphasize sadness, we stopped at a Vienna, Georgia gas station. A pair of hay-haired tramps hawked their fleshy wares next to a station wagon. ”Dirt eaters,” observed John. What the men’s room lacked in a front door it made up for in stinky strips of flypaper. Inside the small, messy retail portion of the sadness, I spotted a deck of trick playing cards – the perfect gift for my mentalist friends Napier and Estlin.
In Arabi, we visited the Plantation House Gift Shop. Jams, pecans, coonskin caps. John’s expression sums it up.
For much of our travels, we’ve been listening to new country on FM radio. It’s a hoot for sure. Songs about red Solo cups, girls that like to fish, camouflage… But after 4 hours man, who are these people? Over-heroic, Impossibly authentic caricatures of salt-of-the-earth Christian America. It’s pro wrestling. We switched it to the AM Mexican station. An accordion waltzed around a giggling payaso. Today’s real country music.
After sleepy mid-afternoon pulled pork sandwiches at the Pit Stop BBQ in Tifton, I took the wheel for a spell. While John nodded off in the sunset I admired the last bits of a jaundiced autumn in The Peach State.
At the Florida state line, the topography instantly changed. The trees were suddenly green, as if fall had never happened. The air breathed back at you like a panting sandal. And the motorists were mostly assholes. Elderly hot shot doucebags trying to prove something, dopes on phones, and inconsiderate numbnuts stagnating in the passing lane. Some kind of college football horseshit had happened, and everyone sucked balls.
At a grimy rest stop overrun with swampy Gator-crazed cretins I gave the wheel back to John. This Florida was ugly.