This weekend Husband and I went out on a date, which hardly ever happens so I was super excited. First we went to a trendy bar/restaurant downtown and had an appetizer and some foreign beers we never tried before. It was good, but not really our scene. It was a college kid kind of place. Next we went to this shitty little neighborhood bar we found a couple months ago. Neighborhood bars are our thing. We will pretty much go to any dive bar we come across. Except for that one time we pulled up and I could see through the window that it was a potential "Deliverance" reunion inside. I may be exaggerating, but in any case, it did not seem safe.
Husband and I first met in a crappy little neighborhood bar, back in California. The floor was sticky but the drinks were stiff, and our little hometown bar became our second home. The friends we made there became family. It was so comfy and the people were so accepting, all the women in town had gone there at their best and worst, some in their wedding dress, and all of us in our pajamas. That's where you went to get the real story on what was happening in town. That's where we had our baby shower and our wedding reception, and as strange as that may sound to some, if you lived in our little town, it would make perfect sense.
I don't know if we can ever find such a place again - I don't dare actively look for one, because the disappointment I'd feel at never finding one would be too great. But this place we went the other night reminded me of our home bar. Not in the way that we could find our new "family" there, but because the people we met there described it the same way I just described our second home. These people were adorable, and sweet, and a wealth of information. And they totally, totally blew up my head.
Husband and I are so Californian, it is impossible to hide. People here ask me where I'm from before I even speak. The people who we got to talk to at this bar were as southern as you can get. Now, I am not suggesting that everyone who lives in the south is a stereotype, just like not every Californian is a stereotype. I am merely saying that these people, were FROM THE SOUTH.
Okay let me set you up. This bar, we will call The Panther. It was an auto garage, I think they said, before it was a bar. It has no lights outside, but it does have a sick panther painted on the front wall. The inside is dirty and smells of cigarettes and regret. No, I am not romanticizing it, you can actually smell the regret. On a weekend night, the women's bathroom smells like Love's Baby Soft and meth. The pool tables don't all work, there are two statues of Spuds McKenzie on the shelf, they put a frozen water bottle in your pitcher of beer to keep it cold (the cap may be a tad stained), and the cutomers regularly bring in food to share. Pizza, a homemade peach cobbler, chili from the bartender's house...this place rocks.
After the required niceties and what-nots, the bartender and a regular named Chip proceeded to categorize us as "Yanks" because we are from above
the Mason Dixon line. For anyone who doesn't remember what that is, it
was merely a dividing line, often in dispute, between British colonies in colonial America. What it became was a cultural symbol of the division between North and South in the civil war. That isn't entirely accurate however, since half of Delaware was like, fuck you we want slaves...but nobody cares about Delaware anymore. Anyway...Husband and I glanced at each other with the look we both know as, "Did that really just happen?", and leaned in closer because I think we both knew this shit was about to get better.
These two people knew everything we didn't:
1. How to care for our pond and lots of details about the local ecosystem.
2. What really happened after the gulf oil spill
3. That we should not go to the beach on memorial day because "the gays" will be there (that is NOT the first time someone warned me of that here, hahaha)
4. How fucked up homeland security is (because Chip worked for them, and he knows)
5. How to make racing stripes on your truck with duct tape
6. How long to wait before you plunk the lit firecracker into the pond for fishing purposes.
7. Where the best hunting is, and that you can legally hunt an animal that comes on your property
8. That the bartender makes the best chili anywhere
9. That the regulars here are family and will defend one of their own no matter what.
10. If we accept the invitation to Chip's house for his annual fish fry and BBQ, he will give our kids a dollar for every chicken they can catch. And then we will kill and eat that chicken.
While Husband went to the restroom, I listened to Chip and Bartender lady tell me the horrors they see in Obama. They really, honestly thought that he is trying to take all of their guns away and turn America into a communist dictatorship. I felt like I was listening to Fox News. This and the "gays" part of the conversation made me uncomfortable, but I didn't want to get into it with people who own that many guns and live below the Mason Dixon line.
I left that night thinking about so many things. Were those people for real? How can you care so much about the nature around you, but not give two shits about climate change? Likewise, do any of those Prius driving yuppies in Cali have any idea how their local ecosystem works, or are they just buying rubber charity bracelets to look relevant? I suddenly understood that guns were part of life here, because they hunt for food and shoot for sport. It's part of the culture. And just because it's not part of MY culture, doesn't mean it's wrong. For the record, I am appalled by the lack of gun control laws in this country, in case you couldn't tell, but I do not think guns should be banned all together. Is "keeping life simple", as Chip described it, a bad thing? Does it make you less intelligent? Does it make you more down to earth, or a follower? How do so many people here segregate themselves still, when the black to white ratio is half and half? I DON'T KNOW!
Sometimes, you can't remember the details of an event, but you can remember the feeling it gave you, with no problem. The feeling that night gave me was....enlightenment. Curiosity. I saw a little light, and I want to learn more. I think that's a good thing.