Wednesday, July 30, 2008
When I was 20 years old I worked for a meat company. Seriously, how hot is that? I’d take phone orders from restaurants for the sales people, because they were usually back in the cutting room smoking. One particular chain of Denver-based family-owned Mexican restaurants ordered all kinds of nifty sounding things like pork butt, tripe, and (yum) cheek meat. This weekend, I realized that we all happened to be hungry and were driving by their original location under a viaduct and across from a dog food factory, so I swung in and parked. The three dudes were all like “Really? We’re eating here? For reals?” And I was all, “This’ll be the yummiest grub you’ve ever had and you’ll thank me later get out of the car seriously GET OUT OF THE CAR.”
Initial impressions: Lineoleum. Formica. Samsonite chairs. A swamp cooler on wheels that was bigger than my first car. You couldn’t walk in front of it without losing a contact lens and a layer of tan. Granted, it was easier to get up to the counter with the wind at my back, but the thing belonged on a movie set. Like for “Twister," or "Oklahoma-The Story of a Windy Damned Place." To cut to the chase, they had those amazingly effective Styrofoam cups that I love, (ozone be damned, those are great cups) and crushed ice for the Pepsi, (why even have any other kind of ice, really?) but...the food sucked. I’m almost certain they were using government cheese.
Next stop – (insert echo-ey radio announcer voice here) the BIG GAME EXPO…(po-po-po) which we’d heard about from an acquaintance who happens to be the top record holding female bow hunter in the country, as well as my husband’s high-school girlfriend’s cousin. It’s kinda like I'm famous, huh? You’re probably worried that we’d be hard pressed to find parking at such an event, but no – there were plenty of spaces. Go figure. We pretty much had the place to ourselves save for a few weary looking overheated vendors of rugged RVs, an elk-like creature with reindeer antlers, and twenty or so folks wandering around in different variations of camo and shirts that said “my dog gives me the bird,” or “if you don’t hunt, I don’t want to talk to you.” Well. That’s good news for me.
Here’s the deal. Doug hunts, I’ve hunted, most of his friends hunt, the little dudes hunt, several people in our somewhat respectable neighborhood hunt, and there’s not a single one of them I’d consider redneck. They’re smart, ethical, and believe in conservation. They care about wildlife, the environment and not a single one of them totes a gunrack in their vehicle. Not an NRA member in the bunch. But these people were frightening in their redneckianism. I’ve always thought the stereotypes of hunters were mean, rude, and plain wrong – but most of these folks rolled out’ the trailer and came to town for the show in they finest camoflauge. The only thing it made me want to hunt down was a shower. The little dudes had a blast – they got to live out all their fantasies of shooting paintball guns down a little alley, shooting arrows at huge foam dinosaurs, and ooooooh, there were REAL LIVE PUPPIES. Labrador puppies. In every color. Number two son loved them so much he started adding up in his head how old our oldest dog is (times seven) just in case there was a chance we might come home to him dead, and NEED A PUPPY RIGHT NOW TODAY.
Somehow, though, the day just didn’t seem complete. Sure, we’d visited both Mexico and Louisiana right in our own backyard, but there was something missing. So I took every single one of them on a drive down Broadway to Wedgle’s Music & Pawn Shop. It’s been there for decades and there’s usually a really cool selection of vintage guitars, drums and dusty things that you don’t want to ask about. It smells like an old couch on a front porch. It’s awesome. Unbelievably, neither my husband or children had ever been there before. What’s with schools these days? Seriously, they’ve been on field trips to the zoo, the museum, the capitol, blah blah blah… and never a pawn shop? That right there is where we should start when discussing public school reform. Not only can you see GEN-U-INE pieces of Americana in pawn shops, you also get to see (and smell!) all sorts of diverse folks you’re never gonna meet down at the planetarium. In fact, while we were there a real neat guy with a glass eye came in to see what he could get for it… unfortunately, they were full up of glass eyes so they couldn’t help him, but it was enlightening nonetheless.
Not wanting to leave empty handed, we bought a sweet red Yamaha bass guitar and amp for Number Two Son who is having masculinity issues with his current musical instrument – the violin. As we were leaving, Big Dude said, “we are the most random whim-ish family there is.”
Exactly why I love us.
In the the span of just a few hours, we took our children to a questionable burrito joint under a viaduct, a redneck festival with a live elk-caribou-reindeer thing walking around, AND a pawn shop on Broadway. Who needs amusement parks? Someday those kids are going to thank me.