Spring, Sprite, Savannah & St. Augustine

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

We have wound our way back to Michigan from south Florida, our car fueled by near $4 a gallon gas, and us fueled by Pringles, Combos and Twizzlers, the base of any great food pyramid. Our two mutts, Mabel and Marge, loved the trip. Anything having to do with cars and sleeping ... they're in.

On our way back, we stopped first in St. Augustine, the oldest city in America. We toured the old Spanish fort and historic town, and Gary insisted we tour Ripley's Believe It Or Not. (You can take the boy out of the country ... ) For $20, I'd rather have gotten a handjob and souvenir postcard, but it made my man happy. There's nothing like seeing paintings made from lint, or two-headed chickens to make you think, "What a great country we live in."

We stayed in an old, old bed and breakfast, dating from the late 1700s, which is said to be haunted. We harrassed inn staff into telling us all their stories -- of doors being held shut, and seeing an old man rocking in front of the fireplace -- and they took us to all the rooms where they said they had seen ghosts. Gary, of course, said he could "feel a presence." He says he has "the gift" ... I tell him his "gift" is his ability to get his bang a foot high.

Fully creeped out, we headed to Savannah, which, natch, is also filled with ghosts. We stayed in a carriage house and walked the entire city. Savannah's parks and historic district are beautiful ... saw Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil house, and also toured Paula Deen's restaurant and had our photo taken with her sons (who are cutie-patooties). Gary gave them my card and talked up my books, and one of the sons slipped into his pocket, to be either tossed or washed later on. Paula so needs me and my dad on her show to BBQ ribs and drink salty dogs. And my mom could make her skillet beans and creamed peas and new potatoes.

We drove from Savannah to Beaufort, SC, a gorgeous drive over the low country. The town was quiet and graceful, and reminded me of Michigan gone south. A bit too many straight men wearing plaid pants and pink braided belts, though, for my taste.

We reconnected with Gary's family in Knoxville, TN (very pretty college town ... set in the hills and mountains), who he hadn't seen in 17 years. His aunt works at an indy bookstore (Carpe Librum), and I plan to get there one day to read and sign.

On the long drive back, Gary -- for some reason known only to him and his therapist -- stopped at a Burger King in Hog Holler, Kentucky, or something like that, where we walked in to find a man with his teeth on a tray gumming fries, which were falling out of his mouth and into his lap.

"We need to get the hell out of here," I whisperred to Gary, who couldn't hear a word, because he needs an earhorn.

Gary ordered a chicken sandwich, and requested no mayo and that the extra grease be dabbed off with a napkin. He also wanted a yogurt or parfait instead of fries. I ordered nothing, since I don't eat fast food, but did ask the counter girl, who had a hickey the size of Sputnik, where the nearest Starbucks was located, while I fingered my choker.

She looked at us as like I looked at those two-headed chickens at Ripleys, and stammered, "I ... I ... I don't think I can help you ... I can't help you. Vernon!" And then a man the size of an Escalade -- wearing black BK stretch pants -- emerged to ask in a heavy country accent, "If'un is'un there'un a puh-rob-uh-lem h'yare, fellers?"

Since I wanted to get home without being gang-raped, I backed up and stood next to the soda fountain. I began to fake-read it, and it was then I noticed -- which is the highlight of my entire trip -- that Burger King has now written on the soda fountains under each drink option, the following:

COCA-COLA
Pairs well with our BK Broiler and fries

PEPSI
Pairs well with our Whopper

Sprite
Pairs perfectly with our chicken tenders

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? IS THIS A JOKE?
When did Burger King become a 4-star restaurant and start pairing soda with fast food?

"Gary! Get over here!" I whispered to him.

He couldn't hear me, so I dragged him over and showed him.

We started laughing so hard, that Vernon came back out and eyed us from the fryer. "Can I help you fellers," he asked again.

"Could I get a pinot with my Whopper Jr.?" I asked.

And then, as God is my witness, a woman toting babies on each of her hips, walked up, looked down, and said, "How convenient. Pepsi, it is!"

We drove north, leaving the dogwoods and budding trees behind, knowing we were not only home but would also be enjoying a second spring.

More soon, I promise, on my upcoming memoir and release of CONFESSIONS in paperback this August!
Wade
www.waderouse.com

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