Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Quiet Mountain Town

My significant other hails from a place where people actually use the phrase "hails from" in normal conversation. When we go to visit his parents, we have to bring our passports, take a blood test, and pretend we're cousins. It's a place where compost heaps aren't an idiotic "green" initiative, but an unavoidable fact of life. Mail takes an extra 2 days to arrive, no one's ever heard of trash collection services, and there isn't a Nordstrom in the entire state. I graciously tolerate our visits, though, because that's the kind of generous and loving person I am.

The great thing about living in a place like this is how much you can get for basically nothing. His parents live in a veritable mansion made out of two smaller mansions they picked up and moved on flatbed trucks and squished together. They have about 200 acres and 200 year old floors. The entire house is filled with priceless antiques, artifacts from ships sunk during the "War between the States," and paintings of barns. Also guns. The downside is that your neighbors live in trailers and you have to do all your shopping through catalogs, but it's not an unreasonable trade off.

Not satisfied with a mere colonial mansion in the "low country," however, his parents also purchased a mountain house. It lies secluded in a federally-protected forest sanctuary, which means they basically have their own, personal mountain. Yeah, I totally scored with this guy.

We decided to spend some time up at the mountain house, because 1. it was a cheap romantic getaway and 2. we could then use the uber-pretentious phrase "we're going to spend some time up at the mountain house." He gathered our supplies, and I gathered my tolerance for places that took their time ratifying the 14th Amendment. As we headed up the winding mountain roads, however, all my sarcasm melted away: this place was fucking beautiful.


"Wow," I said, "this is so gorgeous. Look at that valley!"

Sig. Other snickered, "You don't recognize that name?"

"That name?" I said, pointing to a school.

"Yeah," he said.


"That's the valley from Deliverance."

Suddenly it looked a lot more like this:

Except that's too many fingers for a hillbilly.

We ultimately made it to the mountain house with minimal anal rape and enjoyed a fantastically romantic weekend which was only enhanced by the misadventures and quirks of country living. The day before we had to head back, we decided to visit a coin shop in the town. One of the many things Sig. Other and I have in common is our belief that 1. the world will soon end and 2. when it does, the only thing that can save you is having enough silver eagles. Also guns.

 Fact: zombies are vulnerable to silver and shotgun blasts to the face.

We enter the coin shop, look around, figure the price is right and pick up a few new pieces. Then this old man, who is obviously a regular, comes in with his wife, and he starts talking to the owner and the other customers and us. We chat about the ecomony, and the Fed, and how currency is being devalued and really isn't worth shit anyway since we went off the gold standard. He bemoans how insane it is that we're willing to hand over real value for paper and zinc money, and in the next breath, starts telling us about a penny that's "worth" $5,000 according to some coin collecting book. Sig. Other and I glance at each other, but elect not to point out the logical disconnect. Besides, this guy is *really* excited about this book.

"You have to get this book," he tells us.

"Ok," we say.

"It's only $19.95 for the 2009 edition," he says.

"Ok," we reply.

"This book will be like your Bible," he says in his serious voice.

"Oh," we say.

"Are you Christians?" he asks.

", no we're not," I tell him.

"You're not?!" he cries.

"No," I respond.

"Well, you're young, you'll change your mind."

"I don't think so, but thanks."

We figure it's better if we don't elaborate our religious views (we're atheist), and anyway the shop's closing so we all walk outside. The old man and his wife are parked next to us. As we reach our cars, the man looks over at us one last time.

"Not Christian, huh?" he asks.

"No sir," I reply.

He starts to get in the car, then stops and calls after us:

"You're not Moslems, are you?"

"Uh, no," I managed while Sig. Other tried to suppress a snort by burying his head in the steering wheel.

"Oh, alright then," he says, still not getting in the car.

Then, just when I think I can't get any more offended slash amused by the exchange, before I have the chance to wonder what he would have said if we *were* Muslim, and before I can thank him for his generous approval of our religious preferences, his wife yells at him:

"Harold! Leave them alone! They're Jews!"

It was about five minutes before our laughter subsided enough to begin the drive back to sanity.*

*This is way funnier if you know how much Sig. Other and I do not look Jewish, but anyway...

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