Some thoughts on living in the South…
Red Neck Birthday Party
I had been invited to a birthday party by Jen’s sister and brother in law Amy and Dan. There would be drinks, barbecue, and a bouncy house for the kids. I never imagined that bouncy thing would become a sporting arena for eight drunk adults.
It was raining so the kids weren’t interested in a wet, not house, but obstacle course disguised as a castle.
I was the only non-Marine male at the party. After an hour or two of drinking Dan announced, “Obstacle course. Guys versus girls!” We all mumbled and filed outside in the drizzle and stood in front of the castle.
“Men,” he shouted, “we’ll even give them a head start. Come on, they’re women!” It was four on four.
We stood with our drinks about 30 feet from the inflated castle entrance. The motor pumped air to keep it inflated in the rain.
“Girls over there,” he barked and pointed. His wife Amy looked at him, squinted her eyes and said, “We are going to tear you boys up.” She is ex-navy.
The ladies lined up five feet from the opening and everybody nervously looked at each other while Dan continued talking smack.
They headed face to face. I was third in line.
Now, bouncy houses are rubber and supposed to remain dry. Add water and they are as slippery as shit but with obstacles, hurdles, and wet unstable floors.
Their oldest kid counted down on her cell phone clock.
Amy took off like a hurdler. She dove into the first room; then dove over the four foot high inflated rubber mound. Dan, got stuck, slipped, fell, stood up again, dove and slid down the inflated mound and back out of the castle because of the wet floor. He dove in again. She was already halfway through. It took him three tries of falling before he grabbed the side of the house pulled it and with sheer will got over the first mound. She killed him through it. The next couple was quicker, but the ladies were in the lead when it came to me. Watch out ladies! Maybe I had been in a bouncy house once in my life. Twenty years ago. Dry. Without drinking. Smaller. Without being 6’2” and 200lbs.
I looked at Jen. She smirked and took off like a gymnast bounding into the castle on a mission. I stepped in and fell. Got up and fell and rolled around and eventually got myself over then rolled around on the next wet floor on the other side of the mound while absorbing all of the water.
I finally came out dirty, soaked, and breathing hard.
“Did someone spray Doug with the hose?” Amy mocked.
My shirt and good pants clung to me with moisture.
Dan was also soaked. The rest of them were dry.
Suffice it to say, the gals, umm, won. Easily. In fact it wasn’t even a competition…for them.
Country Music, Boating and Beer
It was a beautiful day on Dan’s boat. The sun was shining as we began cruising along the Neuse River towards the Outer Banks. Dan had problems with the boat’s speakers though. Only the front speaker was playing and it was crackling badly.
The boat had been sitting outside uncovered for a year while he had been deployed overseas. The country music was playing softly on the lone working front speaker. I could barely hear it, which worked well for me. I was the only one on board who proudly didn’t listen to country. I thankfully thought my day with country music had come to an end as the speaker crackled some more.
“Moisture must’ve gotten in,” he said.
“What a shame,” I said under my breath. Jen looked at me and shook her head.
“You don’t get out of it that easily New York,” he said.
He then pulled the speaker cover off and got it wired right. It was just a loose wire.
“You can thank me later.”
He then cranked up that one speaker with contemporary country for all to enjoy. The boat load of kids and adults sang along. My ears cried for quiet. I was a northerner stuck in the south.
A few minutes later Dan cracked open the beer chest. Amy had bought him baby beer bottles of Corona – 7 ouncers.
“They were on sale.” She shouted from the front. “Sorry. But be happy I got you anything at all.”
He handed me one. We tried to open the mini baby Coronas. But with no bottle opener we looked around. There was no metal surface to smack it on. Keys wouldn’t work. Our manliness was not yet in question, but close. The ladies looked at us and shook their heads. Jen the mom, his sister-in-law, my lady, came over and saved us by opening the beers with a metal spoon she found in the cooler.
“Here you go boys.” She sweetly handed back the opened bottles.
“Saved by a woman!” Amy shouted over. Those two are always in competition.
Dan and I looked at each other and nodded. After Jen walked back to the front we mumbled when she was gone, “Thank God she was on the boat”.
Night Time Alligator Watching
Some good friends of ours, Cookie a Marine pilot and his wife Julie, wanted to take us out on their boat. To do what I was informed by Jen is called gator gigging. Apparently late at night you float quietly on a boat bringing flashlights along to get up close to shore and shine a light on resting alligators. This way you can get a foot or two away.
The idea did not exactly entice me. In all my life I never felt the need to get a foot or two away from an alligator. Or be on a boat where I can fall off a foot or two from an alligator’s mouth.
So we got to their house. Jen looked at me and spoke to them.
“You should’ve seen his face when I told him what we were doing tonight.”
“And silly me,” I said, “I thought we might do something crazy like dinner and a movie.” I was the odd man out.
But Cookie, the pilot, saved me. “Too bad it’s gonna rain. One thing I’m scared of is lightning.”
Jen looked at me. “I’m sure Doug is heartbroken.” I nodded.
The Official Drink of the South – Sweet Tea!
They give sweet tea away with every purchase at fast food chains and at every store. It is the drink of the South it seems. Syrupy sweet to kill you kind of tea.
I explained to Jen that, “We have it in the North. It’s simply called sweetened tea.” She rolled her eyes at me.
“It’s not the same.”
“It’s tea with sugar. What could be different?”
“It’s not the same!”
Soon my family will be moving north. Me back home. They for the first time. I am heading home to my Mecca and holy land of New York.
We have cow tipping up there but no gator gigging. We have sweetened tea but not “sweet tea” said with a southern accent. We have drinking and bouncy houses, but not usually used as an adult Olympics. We have good people. They do here too.
One thing I did get from down here that I can’t get up north is moonshine. I drink it while I type this. It is smooth and comforting in its cough syrup like power. It heals my subdivision angst where everyone has perfectly trimmed lawns with edges running up to walkways and homes, except mine. Not that I am proud of that fact, but my rented lawn usually resembles an overgrown meadow.
I sit with the blinds open in this two story home on sub-division lane sipping apple cinnamon moonshine with lots of ice. The central AC is on while the heat and its accomplice, humidity, pour through the windows.
My days of living in North Carolina are coming to an end, but it hasn’t been without its interesting moments.
I will not say if I am naked writing this, but I am drinking moonshine. And it’s damn good.