Sunday, September 12, 2010

Different Down South

On its best days, there is not greater city in the world than Manhattan. On it’s worst days, this city can make you want to walk through the streets screaming expletives and throwing manhole covers at tourists.

That is why it is always a good idea to get out of town for a little while, if only because manhole covers are expensive to replace. I enjoy heading down south to visit my parents a couple of times a year. I refer to their house as the “South Carolina Writer’s Retreat.”

I call it that because the pace of life is so much slower down there that I have a bunch of time to work on whatever writing project I am currently focused on. But since life slows down so much when I visit I am also able to pay attention to just how different life is down there.

Like when I get off the plane at the Savannah airport I am greeted by a sign advertising robotic surgery.

Now I’m no expert but I’m pretty sure that guy isn’t a robot. But maybe my robot knowledge isn’t what it should be?

I have mentioned that people in my parents’ area call it the “low country.” Now I think this was a geographic nickname but I think low stands for a couple of other things. Like a low interest in healthy sandwiches.

For example, New York is so health conscious that they post the calories for food on the menus, and they don’t allow you to fry foods in oils with trans fats. And there certainly are very few restaurants in New York where a “fried sandwich” would be featured prominently on the menu.

But after I landed and my parents and I stopped for lunch near the airport… that is exactly what I found. So naturally I ordered it.

And it was just as amazing as it looks. I thought it came with a side of fruit…

I guess raspberry dipping sauce counts right? The whole weekend down there was pretty much one big commitment to “low” health standards. I don’t keep cookies in my house so of course I harass my mother as soon as I walk in the house that there are no cookies in the jar. So she went out and bought 3 packages… that I promptly ate.

My parents have their friends come and visit so staying in the guest room there is kind of like staying at a cozy bed and breakfast. The bed is super soft and the room is very comfortable. So comfortable that when I walked in and tried to turn on the lights, I actually got to second base.

I accidentally groped this metal mannequin my mom has in the room. Over the course of the weekend that mannequin and I would have quite the weekend tryst based on how many times I felt her up trying to turn on the lights.

I do love that room though. When I fall asleep there I wake up never knowing what time it is. I don’t mean in the sense that time just seems to stand still.  I mean literally.

The clock doesn’t work so I have no idea what time it is when I wake up.

I roll out of bed when I’m finally rested and then stumble into the kitchen to raid my parents’ cabinets for all the food that would normally last them 2 weeks, but that will now be gone in 18 hours.

At home in New York my life moves so fast and is so hectic sometimes that I don’t spend a lot of time just sitting on the couch eating cookies or sitting on the porch taking a nap. I mean, I also don’t have a porch. And taking a nap on the fire escape outside my window really isn’t the same.

The only time I fall asleep is on the train, and falling asleep on the train doesn’t really count as a nap, that only happens out of necessity. It’s usually all I can do to keep from drooling on the stranger next to me.

Eating is always a strategic affair as friends and I are always picking specific times we have to eat for dinner, rushing to meet up, texting to coordinate. When I visit the retreat, nobody has anywhere to be so we just eat when we’re hungry. And I just leave my phone on my bed. What do I need it for? If it rings its just going to wake me up from my nap.

But its not just the slower pace of life that catches me off guard, it’s the interactions I have when I visit stores and restaurants. Like when a server asks me if I want some coffee or tea after my meal, sometimes I order a tea, or a chai tea if I’m feeling adventurous.

I have ordered chai tea before from many nice places and chain establishments like Starbucks. I usually have a level of expectation of what I’m going to receive. Never does that level of expectation involve a teakettle wearing a dress.

Things are just different down there. I really miss it when I accidentally end up in SoHo during Fashion Week and nearly punch a sea creature in the face. (She wasn’t an actual sea creature, but she was so awful she might as well have been.) Not one of my finer moments.

Anyway, my point is for as different as it is down there, I love it. Even just writing this is making me long for the time I get to visit, albeit with a couple less cookies maybe. In fact I think I will go make myself a healthy dinner… with a side of raspberry dipping sauce.


Anonymous said...

Robotic or not, I'm not having any urological surgery performed by a guy named Dr. Stubbs....

Rebecca said...

Seems like someone had the monte cristo from Bennigan's maybe?

Krysten @ After 'I Do' said...

I love getting away and going to visit my parents. Although they don't live far enough away that I'm out of state, they do live in a very small town and that means I get to just hang out around the house eating my mom's good cooking, sleeping till whenever I want and not having to worry about a darn thing. Love it.

Pat said...

I love South Carolina! It sounds like such a contrast for you from NY! But there's plus and minuses wherever you live. You'd probably get fat and bored if you lived in SC, so it's nice that you can just visit for a bit and then go back to the BIG APPLE!

Michelle said...

Rich! I can relate...except now, this has become permenant life working in Apopka and I miss NYC. The slow life is nice to visit as a retreat, but not a place to try to get stuff done...and especially not when you want others to get stuff done too! Sometimes, I feel like grabbing people by the shoulders and shaking them to see if they are even alive.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised I haven't encountered that sort of sandwich yet. My folks hail from the land of
-fried oreos
-fried cheesecake on a stick
-fried pickles on a stick
-fried cheese on a stick
-fried hotdogs on a stick
-fried onions not on a stick's a greaseball heaven.

Heather said...

After living in Connecticut for 41 and 44 years (aka their entire lives) my parents decided to up and move to South Carolina back in December of 2007 (They live in the Greenville/Spartanburg area). I've been to visit them once since then in 2008...

The difference in the pace of life down there is astonishing. I could never live down there permanently, I would go completely insane. 2 weeks was enough for me!

Caroline B said...

Perhaps it's just as well you only visit as too many of those fried sarnies would kill you - why on earth raspberry sauce? What is it with you Americans and putting pudding ingredients on savouries??;0)

Only you could make a tea-cozy look sinister......

Hannah said...

A few points, if I may.

1. I'm so jealous you got to go south.
2. Fried foods are always the best and that sandwich looks spectacular!
3. Maybe that mannequin is the robot that performs those surgeries? Did you ever ask her about it?
4. Hope you're having fun in South Carolina!

Stephanie Ann said...

And now you know why I'm a Southern girl through and through. Also, why I never want to leave the South for anything more than a visit.

DangGina said...

I'd pay to see you punch a "sea creature" in the middle of fashion week! Maybe not one of your finer moments, but I sure hope God hit the record button when that went down!

PS Is that a Monte Cristo sandwich? I totally love those things!

DangGina said...

PS I'm listening to Tom Petty's "Down South" right now because of the title of your post. I love Tom...

Los Schoenys said...

As far as I'm concerned, birds, especially pigeons, are the most foul things on pun intended!!

Flitterbee said...

Cute :)

Deanna - The Unnatural Mother said...

A change of pace is always good, even if it means eating a few heart stopping sammies!!

Nancy said...

Fried sandwiches, really?

My beds are very soft - I take great pride in having rooms that are hard for visitors to leave. I also make cookies - but with two GIRLS - they never get eaten. In fact, it's hard to figure out what they eat these days. One is no carb, no sugar, only organic and the other is vegetarian. It's taken any fun out of cooking for them. Thank goodness they're cute and I love 'em.