With A Rebel Yell
Tug "Vince" Baker, of "Saddest Thing Ever" fame, grew a moustache. Then he wrote about it. Go check it out.
Anyway, when I got out of bed today at four PM, I figured I'd already knocked sloth out for the day, so I might as well go for gluttony, too. That's why I found myself at a restaurant on the fringes of the SMT called the Golden Corrall, or, as my friend Naco refers to it, "the feeding trough."
It's your typical mile-long buffet joint, featuring literally tons of waddling southerners with unintentionally hilarious t-shirts loading up plates with six kinds of chicken while waitresses dart between them holding baskets of yeast rolls. I saw one scowling mountain of a woman in a dangerously stretched pink t-shirt that read, in glitter, "Friends are Forever... Boys are WHATever!"
It was a beautiful sight, like coming home after a long journey.
Or at least it was until I got sight of a dude sitting diagonally from us who was wearing one of those hats that just makes me cringe a little bit.
First some background. I live in a relatively small city in South Carolina, the lovely state where the Civil War began in earnest, so I'm no stranger to the kind of Confederate flag propaganda that's usually accompanied by a bumper sticker with a heartfelt slogan like the "Charlton Heston is MY President!" ones that were so popular in the Clinton administration. But it never ceases to amaze me that this die-hard love of the Confederacy can coincide with the post-9/11 patriotic fervor that's so common around here.
That type of thing is also a mystery to me. Don't get me wrong; despite what you may have heard, I'm not entirely heartless. I was as saddened and outraged as the next guy by the terrorist attacks, and I think we all know that I have a healthy thirst for revenge. But still, the lengths people go to mystify me. Last week, for instance, I saw something that boggled my mind. I was dropping some stuff off at Goodwill last week and I caught sight of a building across the street that had been freshly painted in bright red, white, and blue. It was a garage, and on the door they had a mural of the Twin Towers erupting into flames, which I don't remember ever actually happening, with the phrase "We will never forget" stenciled in script off to the side.
I related the story to David over at Manifest, and he burst out into laughter, telling me that the only thing that could've made it better would be if they had a big mural about "The Intimidator" painted on the side of the buliding. Yes, that is a tattoo of Dale Earnhardt's face. Brother, people around here love that guy.
It's a weird thing to see, but like I said, I can understand it. How you can hold the idea that America is great while simultaneously reserving a sepcial place in your heart for the Confederacy, which tore the country apart in an effort to violate the principles that America was founded on, well, that's the one I don't get.
To be fair, I'm not against the Confederate Flag as a concept. If somebody gave me a bright orange '66 Dodge Charger, you better believe that bad boy'd be on the roof faster than you could say Strom Thurmond. I understand that a lot of people see it as nothing more than a symbol of rebellion, or of a crucial and fascinating part of American history. Unfortunately, it's also the symbol of people who wanted to, you know, have slaves. So there's that.
Sarah Vowell talks about it in Assassination Vacation. When she goes to see the grave of John Wilkes Booth, she notes that a lot of the people who slap American flag bumper stickers on their trucks (a sure sign that you're in for a bad time if you happen to get behind them on the highway) have them right alongside the ones claiming the South will rise again, apparently not quite clear on against whom the South would rise.
Which comes crashing back to me and my plate of hush puppies and Bourbon Street Chicken at the local Feeding Trough. I look over, and there's this angry old man with a black baseball cap with the Confederate Flag and the American Flag crossed, reading in big white letters: THESE COLORS DON'T RUN. NEVER HAVE. NEVER WILL.
I'd offer up a picture of the hat, but while looking for it, I found this [WARNING: THAT IS THE WORST AND MOST HARROWING THING YOU WILL SEE TODAY OR EVER UNLESS YOU ARE THE WEBMASTER OF GOATSE.CX]. The fact that the store selling those... dandy little things uses the same store layout as Homestar Runner was especially jarring, and made me cry for about ten minutes.
Regardless, exactly how this guy can hold fast to this statement when it's a historical fact that the representative of one of those colors signed a treaty surrendering to the representative of the OTHER boggles the mind. Clearly, this man is insane.
But that's just how we roll in the SMT.