Sunday, November 24, 2013
Entering the quiet and closed, rural part of North Carolina to which we moved was like going backwards in time. The people with whom I interacted had very little awareness of the wider world. They would often stare at me with widened eyes as I talked about one thing or another. I was a musician and quickly found a band, which then led me to take up with one of the guitar players. I was 15 and he was 19. His friend sold pot out of his house. He would buy kitchen matches by the case, throw the matches away and pack the empty boxes with pot. When I showed him plastic baggies and suggested a scale to weigh the bags, he behaved as if I had just invented sliced bread. Years later, when I read Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, I totally understood how it felt to have people be in awe of you for knowings things that were common knowledge in the place from which you had come.
One thing I didn't know about was Moon Pies. I'm sure they were sold in Georgia. But in North Carolina, they were iconic. "RC Cola and a Moon Pie" was often mentioned as if it was mana of the gods. There were even songs written and recorded about the duo. But as often as I heard of the two as a pair, I do not recall ever seeing someone consume the items together. Within my own family, we were strictly Coca-Cola loyalists. The one taste of RC Cola I ever had just did not measure up. But I did eat plenty of Moon Pies during my years in North Carolina. They were huge, so one would be a sufficient snack that would stay with you for a while. And everybody's mother kept them stashed in the pantry.
My best friend, Linda, who no longer speaks to me because she is ashamed of our wild teenage activities, had a mother who would greet us as we walked in the door by reciting the entire contents of her kitchen. I can still hear her now. "Are ya'll hungry? I can fix you a ham sandwich. I got some Beanie Weanies. Ya'll want a Moon Pie? I can heat you up some soup. We got chicken and stars or chicken noodle. Ya'll want some Ritz crackers." The list would go on as we sidled past her and into Linda's room, politely declining each offering. "No ma'am. We're not really hungry. No thank you. Maybe later. Thank you, no, we're not all that hungry." Once in her room, we would collapse into giggle fits that would not stop. If the giggles started to run out, one of us would say "I got some Beanie Weanies", and we would crack up again.
My high school years were difficult because I felt like a fish out of water. There was really nobody I felt a true kinship with. (Even Linda seemed provincial to me.) I was unable to keep my mouth shut and would challenge teachers and refuse to be dominated. The great teachers attempted to challenge and guide me. The horrible teachers sought to stifle and punish me. And my classmates were mostly locals who had spent their entire lives together. I was strange and new, which in the south often translates to WEIRDO. Anything that is DIFFERENT is observed, but only rarely embraced. It was a strange three years! Thankfully, my college years were amazing, with a great group of friends and plenty of joyous experiences.