30 Nov 2011

Ham and Pigs, Y’all.

Written by sally @ 3:08 pm — Section: sally

1. “I grew up eating ham and pigs, and then 30 years ago I moved to Mississippi and learned to love pizza!”– Mennonite man on a tractor

2. The award for Best Meta Vanity Tag goes to:

3. You should probably go on and read A Good Hard Look by Ann Napolitano. Flannery O’Connor is one of the characters — if that appeals to you, awesome! If that makes you roll your eyes, WAIT. It’s very well done AND there is bonus grostesquery. And peacocks!

What you should not read: The House at Riverton by Kate Morton. Have you ever wanted to rip out the last page of a book so that future readers won’t have to endure the stupid ending, and can instead imagine that everything went a different way? If you haven’t, feel free to read this book.

And have we already talked about Blood, Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton? The first part — Blood — is good. Great, even. Perfect? Maybe. I was feeling a little woozy and starry-eyed about how much I was loving it, and then I started the middle section and wow. SOMEONE gets an MFA in creative writing and plays around with narration and WOW COMES OFF AS A HUGE JERK FOR THE REST OF THE BOOK. You should get it from your public library just to read the first part.

16 Nov 2011

Weirdos: A Love Story.

Written by sally @ 4:06 pm — Section: sally

Last week, you may have read, a guy live-tweeted a couple’s argument at Burger King. While this is something I read with gusto and endorse a million percent, he did something I would not do: take and post their photos. It may seem like TALKING about weirdos and SHOWING some weirdos are the same thing, but I diasgree. Without a photo, it could be anyone. A few weeks ago, yes, I wrote about a little weirdo I keep seeing at discount and craft stores, but no, I didn’t post her picture (just a poor drawing! of her from the back!). Somehow this feels at least 7% less mean. I may be wrong.

I took a work trip to Florida a few weeks ago and encountered a bunch of interesting folks: a guy with gigantically baggy pants that were tight-rolled! a woman singing the Mr. Big song “To Be with You” to herself in the bathroom! a woman taking her photo over and over again with her laptop camera! a lady wearing brown suede fringed short shorts and matching booties! a man who simultaneously sucked his teeth and hummed! I also encountered two weirdos who got me thinking where the line is between the weirdos I find delightful and the ones I want to destroy with the power of my hate-filled mind.

On the way from Atlanta to St. Petersburg (did you know that it is some kind of LAW that you can’t go anywhere in the south without first going to Atlanta?), I was busy hating the teeth-sucking humming man, who was sitting in the aisle seat of the three-seat row where I was in the window seat. I should have known that thoroughly despising him was only going to make the universe give me something worse to worry about, so it was sort of no surprise that a big old Gomer Pyle-esque guy in his 60s wedged himself over the sucking hummer and into the middle seat. He had a Diet Pepsi in his pocket; when he sat down with a great harrumph the bottle was tilted roughly 100% upside down.

I hope that lid’s on tight! I said.
What? he said.
Your Pepsi. I hope the lid’s on tight.
Oh. Yeah. Me too, he said.

He sorted out his seat belt, and then he said, So are you a schoolteacher or what?
What makes you say that? I said.
He was a little taken aback. He looked at me. Then he said, Well, you’re wearing glasses.

After I admitted that ok, fine, I’m actually a research emporiumist, he then proceeded to tell me everything he knew about libraries, to ask a million questions about ebooks and cataloging, and to list all the various times he visited Mississippi. Talking about Mississippi reminded him of all the other states, so he told me about them, too. When he turned his head to ask for a Coke AND a water, I noticed a scar that went from behind his ear down his neck. His hair was military-short and he had retired from the Marines. He had seen Old Faithful eight times. He had seen Stone Mountain three times (once when it was just a mountain, once when it was in progress, and once when it was done). He had been to Niagara Falls a bunch of times. It impressed him every time.

His fingernails were long, and he kept using the edge of his index finger’s nail to draw things on the back of the seat in front of me: diagrams of where he lived in relation to cities I recognized, the shape of a state highway sign as opposed to a federal highway sign. His hands were puffy. There was another scar on the inside of his left wrist. The reason he had seen all 50 states, he said, was that after his breakdown, the chaplain at the VA hospital told him to take his money and do some traveling. So that’s what he did.

He was on his way to visit his two sisters in Florida. One of them, he said, was trained to be a hairdresser but her husband was a plumber so now they run a nursery. This seemed like a perfectly logical turn of events. (It occurs to me now that it IS logical if you just omit the “so” and change where the “but” is. She was trained to be a hairdresser and her husband was a plumber. But now they run a nursery.)

Several times, he got quiet enough for me to pick up my book. Then he would start talking again, usually about another state monument or attraction that I should make it a point to see. My favorite thing he said during our brief relationship was this, appropos of nothing:

“You know what you’d like? Moo goo gai pan.”

He told me his name and we parted as friends.


On the way back, in the Atlanta airport, I sort of laughed that there was a Krystal among the 10,000 food options, and then when we were boarding, a woman grunting into her phone clutched a bag of them. Ugh, I thought, whoever sits next to her is in for a treat. It did not occur to me that thinking this thought would seal my fate as her seatmate.

She fought with getting her suitcase in the overhead compartment (it’s tough while talking into a phone and clutching a bag of steamy oniony hamburgers). She plopped into her seat. She argued with me about whose seatbelt was whose. Oh, and then she started eating. Still talking on the phone. There was a lot of grunting. To free her hands for more food-cramming, she put the phone on speaker. It sounded like the other person was grunting as well. Your grandaddy laid the concrete at this airport, she said. Then she read aloud all the signs she could see through the window. Ter-min-al A. Del-ta At-lan-na’s Home-Town Air-Port. (Is this a function of old age? My grandmother used to read every road sign she saw, which drove me absolutely crazy.) They weren’t having a conversation; they were just saying words to each other.

The Krystals disappeared at a rapid pace. Then it was time to take off, thank god. But after she got off the phone, then she got comfortable. She sat with her legs spread wide, Larry Craig style, and set about pulling the money out of her bra and counting it. She had a lot, y’all! I tried not to look but spotted at least one $100 bill! Then she fell asleep and snored the whole way.

When we landed, she tried to get up and get past me when there were still at least 10 rows of people in front of us and I had to sternly tell her that that’s not how it works and that we had to wait our turn and she sat down and asked me if my book was good and then I felt bad that I had been kind of mean to her.

So here is your assignment: figure out why Weirdo A didn’t annoy me and Weirdo B did. Both were physically kind of gross, both were about the same age, both were up in my grill. What made the difference in my annoyance level?

(Later, at the baggage claim, I saw this tall guy picking up at least 5 pieces of luggage. A week later, he and his wife were touring a school Larry and I were touring, and yes, I am enough of a weirdo myself that I said HAY WERE YOU ON A FLIGHT FROM ATLANTA LAST FRIDAY? I didn’t mention the luggage.)

7 Nov 2011


Written by sally @ 12:27 pm — Section: sally

It is worth confessing that I ate at McDonald’s for lunch today in order to tell you about the things I saw there. Look, I do these things for you.

–You can now purchase, and I am not making this up, a 50-count Chicken McNugget meal. To be fair, it comes with two giant fries and two giant drinks. It is $15.99 if you’re interested.
–A lady with a baaaad scar across her cheek (my non-expert opinion is that it got there via a broken beer bottle) was wearing an airbrushed tshirt that said “What’s a Goon 2 a Goblin?” on the back, only the way her body was shaped it was really hard to read goblin. (I am old and just Googled it to find out it’s a Lil Wayne lyric. The lady is now redeemed in my eyes, as I thought it was an inside joke airbrushed on a tshirt, and somehow that is way worse than a tshirt with a favorite song lyric on it.) (Also I double checked to see if it was Lil’ or L’il or ‘Lil or god forbid, Li’l, which looks Hawaiian, but it’s just plain old Lil.)
–A lady fighting with a McRib. The McRib was armed with itself and the lady was armed with her teeth. The lady won, but it was a valiant battle. That McRib don’t play!
–The man behind me in line had a lot of awesome questions, like “What comes with a Big Mac meal? Is there a Big Mac meal that comes with a small fries? What’s the price difference between just ordering the Big Mac and then a small fries and drink and the Big Mac meal?”
–A lady eating some Chick-Fil-A nuggets. The nearest Chick-Fil-A is 5.1 miles away. I checked!
–Ok, I actually overheard someone say this at a store this weekend, but I’m lumping this in here: “If it turns out to be a boy, I’m going to name it Semaj — that’s my daddy’s name backwards.”