Friday, August 23, 2013

Theory 14: People try to force things to be what they just can’t be.

People are often and oddly guilty of trying to create the all-powerful, in-your-face-to-nature oxymoron: outdoor living rooms, indoor grills, luxury camping, rain-free weddings. I hear the trite phrases on HGTV, “light and airy,” and “bring the outside in” and think if you want light and air, you can find it in your yard, which is already outside. No need to bring it in. Go HVAC! It is so odd to see a squirrel nibble an acorn in front of a plasma TV. What’s up with eating outside? I’ve never been able to balance a plate on my lap, and certainly can’t do so while swatting flies. Tall Child refuses to dine alfresco – even at restaurants.

Delicious won’t camp.

She must have air conditioning. She is no princess. As a matter of fact, she and my father kept The Crippled Beagle Farm house (where she still lives) cool with a window unit air conditioner and warm with a kerosene heater and space heaters. Because such heaters were dangerous, I’d crank mine up full steam as soon as I got home from school. At bedtime, I’d layer on a sweatshirt, sweatpants, flannel nightgown, and tube socks (Tall Child, if you are reading this, please calm down) to survive freezing nights in the holler. When I woke, I could often scrape ice from the grooves in my wood-paneled walls. Delicious is tough and does not complain, but she does enjoy creature comforts. She, Pooh (my daddy) and I tried to camp once – way up on a hill on our farm. Well, we didn’t sleep too well on our Walmart sleeping bags under Pooh’s tarp cover. Partly due to bugs, partly due to nature’s stone-riddled mattress (Good Ole Rocky Top), mostly due to our beagles’ excitement over having rack buddies on their turf. They licked and slobbered and snuggled us right off the hill. Delicious declared, “Pioneer women and men roughed it and went through heck to learn all these lessons and create a better way to live. I will never camp again. It would just be disrespectful to the pioneers.”

Motorcycles can’t be cars: Four wheels are twice as comfortable as two wheels.

Ladies, think of all the stuff we absolutely need with us at all times. Where do you stash your handbag if you are a motorcycle mama? I have seen motorcycles far away from home. Remember, I grew up in Pigeon Forge so I scanned license plates my whole childhood. And, if you are wondering, Ohio and Alabama tour-ons are the worst drivers in the Smoky Mountains. Not judging, just observing. As a child, I marveled at how motorcycle people drove 8+ hours through unpredictable weather, by choice. They packed on extra compartments and often dragged cute little motor-cycle sized campers behind them. Delicious and I could never do it. We could never ride motorcycles because when we go on road trips the best part is talking all the way and sharing boiled peanuts. Neither would be possible or safe on motorcycles. One of us would have to ride Andy/Barney style in a sidecar. Not happening. How would we pass the peanuts? Plus, I don’t want my rear end four inches from I-40.

Delicious and I pack heavy duty make-up bags. We could share a duffel bag for our uniforms. For day: miracle-ish swimsuits and gracious cover-ups. For night: colorful blouses and Capri pants. Evening wear: pajamas. But jewelry and make-up are a different deal. Jewelry: We take it all (most isn’t real) but we’ve been collecting earrings since the early eighties. At home, I store jewelry in ice trays in a deep drawer. As Delicious says, you just never know what kind of earring mood you’re going to be in. So, we pack it up and haul it all with us! Make-up bags and hair products: We don’t have big hair, but we have big products. Like many teachers, we are paranoid about lice, so we employ an arsenal of mousse, gel, and spray (Delicious likes Aussie). Trust me folks, cooties are real. I’ve seen them. We “spray down” each morning to create a dome (figuratively and literally) to protect ourselves and are not about to tempt fate on the road.

We need a car. Plus, Sharky and the Gnome are typically in tow.  Also, I can promise you this, as much as he loves me, Tall Child does not want me straddling him from the back, “log fluming it” with my mouth right at his ear from here to Hilton Head. And there is NO way he’d let me drive. He can barely shotgun it in Big Red without passing a non-existent kidney stone. We’d never make it on two wheels.

Outside can not be inside. No matter how much money you spend.

Imagine the scene: A majestic doorway opens, a crowd of adoring friends and relatives stand and turn in awe of an angel in white. The angel’s newly tiny waist is announced with trumpeters. She is pulled through perfectly positioned white chairs covered in pastel fabric, in rose-dotted rows, under an enormous white canopy the size of a ballroom. The air is fresh. A breeze lifts her perfectly curled (and planned) tendril. She feels like a million dollars. She’s got a man full of promises and she is skinny and the weather is perfect. She has fooled Mother Nature! She is unstoppable!

But, do you know what happens outside? Thunder! Lightening! Rain! Bugs. It’s your parade, but it’s going to rain on your parade. You might want to take the parade inside.

And, guess what, usually, there’s a really nice ballroom right behind the tent.

Hey, we all admire a perfectly delivered outdoor wedding. Which backdrop is better: empty choir seats or a field of wildflowers? It’s just almost impossible to pull off, though. But, when you are in love, you don’t reason well. The worst are the outdoor weddings in the heat of Southern summers. Brides sweat through ceremonies, praying mascara doesn’t run. Often uh-hem, “dehydrated and really tired” grooms and groomsmen pray not to buckle at the knees and pass out in front in the sweltering humidity. Chignons become sticky buns of Aquanet and bobby pins. Female guests look like dwarf stilt-walkers as they stiletto-poke their way over grass floors to and from the food line.

Tents don’t take wind as well as, say, buildings. Once, Tall Child chased a UT tailgate tent down Panama City Beach. Good thing he’s an athlete. He spared the spearing of innocent sunbathers. What happens if your chignon goes sticky bun in the wind. Then the mosquitos get trapped in the Aquanet.

When it was time to marry Tall Child, I was a nervous wreck. Not because I fear speaking in public. I enjoy that, actually. And not because I am shy about professing my Christian faith. And not because I don’t like attention. I love attention. I’m an only child who wears bright red lipstick. No problemo. I was freaking out because I had to be fancy and formal. Delicious gave me half a nerve pill and I coasted through a ten minute ceremony and enjoyed delicious food and all my favorite people at the reception in Tall Child’s parents’ backyard. It was all good. I was even a skinny Size 10! My outdoor wedding reception was perfect. Until it rained. Regardless, we had a sweet wedding day.

I think for our 20th anniversary, Tall Child and I should piggy back ride a motorcycle to the Chimneys Campground, renew our vows under a canopy of poplars, and second honeymoon in a cozy tent or rented camper. 

Seriously, though, to me, there’s absolutely no better time than a super casual outdoor party filled by people with common interests, chowing down on good grub and drinks, which brings me to Theory 15: “Tailgate etiquette” is not an oxymoron.

See you next post! Until then, think outside the barn.

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Just thinking outside the barn...

Just thinking outside the barn...