Big Country Little Car Tour, Day 5
I ran errands Saturday morning. It's weird running errands in a town not my own. I feel like an impostor, a little bit. "You can't just mail something here — you live in another time zone!" Mail I did, though, for mail I had to; I'd brought a bunch of books for last-minute research tweaks to my presentation, none of them paperback, and Campbell was like, "Tennessee is hilly, boss. It's them or me," so they went.
Campbell is my car. Buntings name their cars and assign them genders. We name them after horses, Sesame Street characters, fictional '80s action shows we made up while playing mini-golf, Shoeless Joe Jackson's bat, and senior CSIs. And groceries. My car is red and silver, like a can of Campbell's tomato soup, and about the same size.
I had Junior Brown's "The Gal From Oklahoma" stuck in my head for days. I sing it to the car when she's having a hard time, rough road, long hills, things like that: "She's the sweetest little gal from Shelter to Brush Hill (sweetest one) / She's the sweetest little gal from Shelter to Brush Hill / Well, I'm proud to be her owner and I know I always will / Yodel-ay-heeeeee-hoo, yodel-ay-hee-hooooo." (I think he says "Shelter." Could be "Chilton." Don't email me.) Cam hauled a pretty heavy load up and down every 6% grade between here and Philly, most of it in the rain, the last few days, so I've sung it a lot.
I finally got it dislodged, but I'd forgotten one of my favorite things about the Crestwood Suites: it's near railroad tracks. Now and then, a long train comes through and sounds the whistle, long mournful blasts. So then I got the other verse stuck in my head: "When I hear a lonesome whistle blowing by old 75 / When I hear a lonesome whistle blowing by old 75 (think I hear it now) / It reminds me of my Campbell, where she always lived her life."
Cam and I took state highways to Memphis, TN-96 to TN-100 to TN-64. A very nice, very quiet drive through logging areas and little farms, and at several points, I didn't see another soul for 15 minutes at a time, or any evidence of human activity; the "busiest" it got, passing through Franklin, I had two cars ahead, two behind, and a kid on a fence making the "pull the horn, trucker" gesture. When he saw the Smart, he waved both arms madly, so I waved back. In the rearview, I could see him looking frantically around for someone to tell. That's a strangely frequent reaction to the car on the part of children, the "Big Bird trying to prove the existence of Snuffleupagus" manic tugging on the parental sleeve. Kid: "Mom. Mom. MOM MOM MOM MOM MOM lookit that car MOM LOOK."Mom, on the phone: "Uh huh, it's red." Kid: "…Mom."
I arrived in Memphis to find everyone at my hotel already amiably drunk at 5 PM. Bachelor parties, NCAA, Lord knows what all else. My room is right above the rooftop pool as well. Dear fellow guest who bellyflopped in wearing nothing but sneakers: the seventh floor is unimpressed for a variety of reasons.
I could also have done without the prodding from the hotel on the reading-material tip; the photo above is how I came upon the Bible when I entered my room. Thanks, but I've got this.
Next stop: Graceland.
Tags: Big Country Little Car Tour Campbell CSI intrusive religiosity Junior Brown Sesame Street Shoeless Joe Jackson