What's with the change?

Tennessee: Twang and Tornadoes

Toronto to Tennessee: the first leg of the 'Fallopian Tube' road trip

When I told my mum I was driving to Tennessee, she casually asked (in that downplayed frantic mother fashion) about tornadoes. "Oh no, it's not a tornado region," I reassured. I wasn't just making her feel better- I really did think tornadoes were only in Tornado Alley.

Down the I65 we cruised, full from a surprisingly decent White Castle meal where after six attempts at saying, "Combo 15" we'd had a nice conversation with the cashier who, like everyone else we met in Kentucky and Tennessee, insisted we all have a good day now. I found the southern niceness pleasantly cliched, but coming from the North-East, I was almost suspicious of such frank friendliness: were they really just making fun of my accent?

We were an hour outside of Nashville when we saw the storm clouds: a huge mass of indigo with white wisps to show just how dark the rest of the clouds were. We marvelled at how we'd driven straight onto the set of Twister. We summoned our best Bill Paxton buffoon voices, "Dorothy's gotta fly!"

"They don't actually get tornadoes down here to do they?"
"Nah, she'll be right."

In Nashville, we checked into one of the crummiest hotels I've ever seen. I'm still chasing the money that they offered to refund because they let somebody else in our room, leaving us locked out at 1am. It seems their idea of a refund is an accidental charge of the refunded amount. Gotta love paying extra for the experience!

Our room was on the ground level of of three storeys. We drew the curtains to hide from the loitering permies * and checked out some local TV. All the stations were crossed to special weather broadcasts, tracking the tornadoes that had touched down where we'd just driven through. "If you know anyone driving on the I65, tell them to get off and seek shelter." We gawked at the TV. Nashville was now on tornado alert for the evening.

What to do when your plans for a birthday bender** in honky tonk bars are looking grim? You sit in your hotel room and drink beer of course. To quell my silly notion that drinking probably wasn't the safest thing to do under the circumstances, we practised hiding in our safe place under the sink (not a typical household bathroom sink). The beers came too.

The threat eased eventually and we made it out where I discovered:

a) honky tonk doesn't mean Jerry Lee Lewis
smashing out on a piano

c) "Burgers and chips" means just that: potato chips, not fries

d) You shouldn't stand on Elvis


* permies = people who live permanently at the hotel
** the use of 'bender' is to insinuate that I am somewhat cooler than I am.

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