Monday, August 30, 2010

A Trip to Alabama

I guess after that last post I needed a little lightening up...enter: this weekend.

It has been said that Huntsville is just a short drive from Alabama. It may not seem like it after that Antoine Dodson guy (I saw it when it was actually on the news), but a short 2-hour drive will give you a whole new perspective on what it means to live in Alabama.

Unfortunately the circumstances were grim...one of Chris's relatives passed away last week, so we made the trek down to Gadsden, AL in the RX-7 (a tribute, since the man who died helped Chris rebuild and re-rebuild and re-re-rebuild it). I would say this was my second lesson in learning what Alabama is really like.

Last time we went to Gadsden I met a bunch of real "Alabamians". Some missing teeth, many with tattoos and piercings, plenty with four wheelers, pounds of delicious barbecue, and the lady with the pet alligator (which she wrestled at the family reunion). People....I can't make this stuff up. Her name is Nancy and the first time I met her she wiped off the barbecue sauce on her beat up jeans and offered me a handshake. Searching desperately for a way to make conversation with this woman, I commented on her dirty Alice Cooper t-shirt, "You like Alice Cooper? I played 2 concerts with him back in high school." She replied with an "Of course I like Alice Cooper." And that was all.

She wasn't trying to be mean, that's just how she was, and in an attempt to reach my inner-redneck, I promptly hopped on a four wheeler and cruised over to the alligator cage.

This time we were on our way to Gadsden because her husband had died. The funeral was simple and he was cremated, so there were no trips out to a cemetery. Before the memorial service we were all hanging out, talking, reminiscing and reading that little pamphlet about Jerry's life. It came as a shock when we read "Rev. Boatright" officiating...Brian Boatright was a family friend, but as far as we knew, definitely not a "Reverend". But this is Alabama, so no one even shook a finger when it was realized that Nancy just had him listed as a Reverend, even in Jerry's obituary. And to top it off, one of those tattoo/piercing guys casually told us before the service that he had just gone online to get his "Reverend" license, "It was about 10 bucks and now I can marry 'em and bury 'em, pretty cool huh?!?!"

It was hitting me that I was again far from my beloved Huntsville, and in the company of those famed Alabama rednecks. Everything just hits me as ridiculous out there in the wild redneck wilderness.

We drove to Nancy's house after the service for an informal meal. Basically, it was a lot of Buckets-o-Chicken, beer, platters, and Cokes (you know, the Mountain Dew kind). We sat around on her porch with the snake cages and the fold out chairs remembering Jerry, making plans for the next family reunion and sipping our [diet] Cokes and sweet tea.

Unfortunately she wasn't really up for wrestling the alligator this time. Dangit.