Archive for May, 2009

For your listening pleasure…

Just got home from Gatlinburg.

Am tired.

BUT! Didn’t want to go another day without posting something for you guys, so I thought I’d share this:

(Ever hear a Bach fugue performed with feet?)

Of course, you guys know me well enough to figure that if I was at FAO Schwartz, my show off-y, trying-to- be-funny self would probably look much less like those two talented women above and much more like this silly yutz below:

Well dang, you don’t have to agree with me!

And that’s what I love about the South.

So it’s Memorial Day and I’m in Gatlinburg– yes, on purpose.

We come here every year for Family Fest and thoroughly enjoy ourselves. I love this town; there, I said it! Look, I know it’s tacky and overcrowded and apparently an irony-free zone where everywhere you look there are people wearing tee-shirts with teddy bears holding hearts on them, and substantial women who have crammed their child-bearing hips into terry cloth streeeeeeetch shorts that say ‘Juicy’ across the the rear, and heavily tattooed men (possibly done by themselves in prison) who feel compelled to hold onto their pants (and genitalia) just to keep them (the pants, not the genitalia) (hopefully) from falling down around their oversized sneaks. I know all that. But I am from Arkansas, remember? I have a high tolerance for fried foods, rednecks and traffic so actually, this whole area is like a match made in heaven for me.

And also? There are these:

During Family Fest we always stay at the same nice little family-owned hotel. It’s conveniently located right in the middle of town and every morning they bring you homemade donuts which automatically raises it to 4-star status in my book. But when Family Fest is over, we like to move up onto the mountain and spend a few days just hanging out. We try to find a chalet with the best view possible– that’s my priority anyway, the girls are a little more focused on whether or not they have to (God forbid) share a bed and whether or not there is a pool table. We lucked out this time and got all of the above PLUS foosball, so everybody’s happy.

I have to tell you guys about something that happened today.

Since we’re settling into our little rental place for a couple of days, we need some groceries because schlepping down the mountain to eat out at restaurants three times a day is expensive and time-consuming. After all, the whole point of being up here is so we can loaf around and watch TV read books and every once in a while look out of the window and go, “OH! Beautiful!” So we need a well-stocked larder. Now I could’ve gone for a serious grocery-shop at the WalMart in Pigeon Forge, but I wasn’t that motivated so I just headed for the closest store, which is a Food Lion in Gatlinburg. I got my cart and my list and headed inside, pausing at the produce area to peruse a display of locally made jellies, preserves and pickles. I picked up a good-looking jar of homemade salsa, found some big fat strawberries to slice over our cereal, and started leisurely shopping my way towards the rear of the store and the meat case. As I stood there trying to decide between two different brands of Italian sausage, the store’s intercom system suddenly made that squawky static noise that usually precedes an announcement. But instead of hearing something like “Clean-up on aisle four,” a twangy middle-aged male voice said in a ponderous tone, “Shoppers, I’d like your attention for a moment, if I may.” There was a pause– and I was really only half-listening because this Italian sausage thing was commanding all of my attention– and then he said, “Ladies and gentlemen, in honor of Memorial Day the management and staff of Food Lion would like to invite you to join us in a moment of silence to honor our armed forces, especially our fallen heroes who have died on foreign soil to protect the freedom we all hold so dear.”

I’ll be honest with you, I immediately started looking around and grinning at my fellow shoppers because, come on, really? We’re going to have a Moment of Silence right here in the meat department?  I was surrounded by whiny kids, harried moms, a burly guy picking up a six-pack, teenagers in flip-flops, an older woman in one of those scooter-things… It just seemed a strange time, place and audience for an impromptu Salute to the Troops! But as I placed my sausage selection in the cart and turned around to start up the pasta aisle, my grin faded as I suddenly realized that I was the only one moving. As far as I could see in every part of the store people were standing stock-still, many of them with bowed heads. For a full 60 seconds, the only sound in Food Lion was the whirring of the air conditioning system and the hum of the freezers. The cash registers were still. No one moved. I quickly bowed my own head and squeezed my eyes shut, more out of embarrassment than anything else. But in spite of my snarky little self (and because I’m highly suggestible), my thoughts did indeed turn to the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families, and then to the veterans of the Gulf War, and Vietnam and every other war, everywhere. Unexpectedly a prayer began forming in my heart, and I pictured it joining all of the other prayers that I just knew were drifting up out of that store like smoke. I prayed for mercy and forgiveness for this country, and for His peace to triumph over all of our violence. It was the weirdest thing. Tori, the Reluctant Patriot, having herself a little epiphany right there in the middle of the dang Food Lion!  I actually blinked away a tear and just then the man’s voice came over the intercom again and said simply, “Thank you. God bless America.”

The store came back to life, like flipping a switch. Everybody went on about their business. I finished my list and drove back up the mountain. Tonight while I was making my baked ziti dinner, I found myself thinking again about that moment in the grocery store. “Only in the South,” I thought, shaking my head and smiling to myself as I folded the Italian sausage into the marinara sauce. But it wasn’t a cynical smile this time. It was actually tinged with something that felt a little bit more like… pride.

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