Two thousand and twelve had gotten off to a rocky start.
After moving, dealing with a mouse and roach infestation, and ultimately having to move again, my roommate, Tilly, and I decided we needed to do something awesome for ourselves. After all, 2012 was supposed to be our time to shine and we’d already wasted the first half of the year chasing vermin around our apartment. We needed to make up for lost time. And what better way to do that than to take a two week trip through the South?
I hadn’t been on a real vacation in three years, and had never been on one in my “adult” life (aka that my parents didn’t pay for / weren’t a part of). The whole experience was amazing, but there are definitely moments that stand out as the most hilarious, awesome or bizarre.
Read on and live vicariously through me and the best trip I’ve ever taken…
Washington D.C.: While the White House was a bit underwhelming, the day we spent in D.C. checking out all of the memorials and nationalistic stuff was pretty darn cool. Much better than the last trip I took there. But I think my favorite part of my jaunt in the capital was hanging out in the window seat at The Big Hunt in DuPont Circle, watching a unique mixture of punks and preps roll past me, while sipping on a Lagunitas and reveling in the fact that my two week vacation had just begun. (Oof, now I’m depressed.) I also enjoyed when Tilly and the bartender had this really awkward moment of uneasy laughter after Tilly pointed out an extra beer charge on our tab, and the bartender didn’t believe her.
Knoxville: We were in Knoxville for a grand total of four hours, almost all of which we spent killing time at a Shoney’s Diner. I hadn’t showered since our first night in D.C., and since that time I’d puked on myself on a Megabus, so I was feeling pretty grimey. The taxi driver who dropped us off at Shoney’s (whose gender will be forever shrouded in mystery) assured us that he/she would be back in time to bring us to our bus. But he/she wasn’t. We stood there helpless as the minutes whittled away; I started checking my phone for other bus options as I had resigned myself to the fact that we’d missed ours. As fun as that all sounds, my favorite part of our stop in Knoxville happened when a sweet southern couple asked us where we were going and immediately offered us a ride when they heard our plight. We made the bus by the skin of our teeth, and got to do a little detour through the downtown. Love the Southern hospitality.
Nashville: Let’s get one thing straight: I am NOT a country girl. Sure I know a few tunes [cut to me singing along to literally every song we heard during our time there], but cowboy hats and leather boots were never my thing (although I do love a good pair of assless chaps). But there was just SO much to love about Nashville. The live music flooding out of every bar on the Broadway strip, the friendly vibes from all the locals, the hot-ass dude flipping burgers at Robert’s Western World. But I think my favorite thing about Nashville is the
moonshine people. Tilly and I stayed in an amazing hostel filled with travelers from all over the world. We spent our first night sitting at a table with folks from Australia, Norway, Switzerland, England and Scotland, talking shit until 4 A.M. I got to play the role of Token American Girl- so, uninformed and uneducated- and kept having to convince everybody that I actually love using the C word. Mission accomplished.
Memphis: For a place with so much history and cultural significance, Memphis was kind of depressing. Sure you can party your ass off on Beale Street and buy 32 ounce beers for FIVE DOLLARS, but besides the massive amount of booze and rib consumption Tilly and I didn’t get too much out of the city culturally. Don’t get me wrong, we still had a blast. But the fun was more about the freaks that we met rather than the things that we saw. Which leads me to my favorite memory of Memphis: the hot conspiracy theorist named David. We met him while trying to escape two carnies we’d met on the street earlier in the night. (Yes, carnies.) We met the carnies while trying to escape another creeper we’d met even earlier at the bar who claimed he could get us an ounce of weed if we took him back to our hotel room. So by the time we had finally landed in the arms of David, a young southern buck with two full sleeves of tattoos, we thought we’d been saved. All was well until he started regaling us with his many theories, some of which included: Freemasons are basically Scientologists, Mark Zuckerberg is a practicing Luciferian who wants to take over the world, and everybody at Apple wants to monopolize all the technology on the planet. (The last two are probably true.) Maybe it doesn’t sound so crazy on paper, but at 3 A.M. at a Denny’s in downtown Memphis everything feels a lot stranger. The real fun came when Tilly started talking about her heartburn and David instantly got “the worst heartburn he’s ever had,” and told her she was a vampire-psychic. Then he proceeded to ask us if we thought we could drink a full glass of semen, and told us if a man eats celery he will produce a bigger volume of ejaculate. Ah, the craziest theory of them all.
New Orleans: Since moving to New York I do this annoying thing where any other city I go to I compare the two, thinking “this place is cool but it’s no NYC.” New Orleans was the first place I’ve been to where I didn’t think that. There is just sooo much going on in that city and the culture is so unique. Tilly and I spent the bulk of our trip there and had a complete blast. We went on a swamp tour, hung out at a (free!) local festival, ate crawfish, gumbo and gator (well, I did, Tilly just stared on with meat envy), and hung out like a couple of locals all week. It’s hard to choose, but I think my favorite thing that happened in New Orleans was the crawfish boil I took part in at The Maple Leaf. The bar had a long table set up in the main room with about 40 people lined up on either side of it, watching as the cooks dumped 200 pounds of fresh crawfish out for all to enjoy. I had no clue what I was doing, so all the friendly locals gave me some lessons on how to crack, suck and peel the little crustaceans. It only took a few tries until I was a pro, cracking the heads off the buggers like a barbarian. Also included in the boil: potatoes, corn, boudin, kielbasa and rabbit. I stood at the table for over an hour and tried it all. By the time I was finished my lips were burning off and I stunk like the sea, but it was still one of the most magical and erotic experiences of my life. I could go on and on about all the other amazing things Nawlins has to offer, but you’ll just have to go there and see it for yourself.