Though I was born in Monterey, CA, thanks to my father being in the Army, I’ve lived almost my entire life in the deep south–mostly Alabama–the place Leonard Skynard immortalized back in 1974, the year after I was born. My best friends growing up listened to country music, though I probably hunted and fished more than most of them, and I’ve driven a pickup truck pretty much since I purchased my first house and realized that you can’t tote sheetrock in a sports car (I had a 240SX).
Despite all that, I’ve never really fit the redneck profile that so many non-southerners hold so dear, thanks in no small part, to the media. And truth be told, most of the people I know from the south, aren’t like that either (that includes you DN!)
But those people do exist, as I found out on my recent trip to Dollywood.
Dollywood is located in Pigeon Forge TN, which is touted as the most visited tourist attraction in the country. Pigeon Forge is also right smack dab in the middle of the Great Smokey Mountains, in the middle of Tennessee, in the middle of the south…
Do you see where I’m going here?
My mom and her husband moved to a town just outside Knoxville, TN about 14 years ago. This year, for whatever reason, they purchased season tickets to Dollywood and with those tickets came some 1/2 off tickets for guests. When we went up this past weekend, they suggested we all head on over to Dollywood for an afternoon of fun and frivolity.
Now, anyone who knows anything about me, knows that I abhor crowds. I’m that really good looking guy standing just outside the crowd (holding a beer) at parties. I don’t do large concerts. I don’t like to sit next to people I don’t know at church. Heck, I don’t even like answering the door at home if it’s someone I don’t know. People just make me uncomfortable! Despite all this, I’ll do just about anything for my kids, and so we all drove over the mountain (literally) and went to Dollywood on Saturday.
When I wasn’t squirming in shame for the aged Wal-mart rejects working the kiddie rides and saying things like, “We’d like to thank you for riding the “Lucky Ducky” and please enjoy your visit to Dollywood,” I was dodging sweaty, plus-sized, halter-top models and doing my best to stare down Bubbas determined not to deviate from their path while walking five across and taking up the whole avenue!
Don’t get me wrong, on the whole, these people are the salt of the earth. When aliens finally figure out we’re more tasty than we are smart, I’m robbing the closest gun store and heading for the hills, where I’ll slip into my best southern drawl and where me and my family will hunker down until it’s all over. But I gotta admit, the stereotype isn’t completely without merit!
So if you’re planning a trip to Dollywood anytime soon, gimme a holler. I’ll be happy to give you the lowdown on the 1/32% of the park that we saw before the kids got too hot and tired, forcing us to beat an early retreat back to our oasis on the Little River.
Oh, and for all you Tennessee fans out there: ROLL TIDE!