Thursday, May 6, 2010
Travel is broadening
While CSB hived the bees and the chicks grew into polychromatic feathered chickens of still-undetermined-gender, I was flying down to South Carolina seated next to a man watching a B&W movie on his laptop. I wish I could tell you that my eyes did not stray from my sheaf of business papers, riddled as they were with mysterious acronyms. But my eyes did, again and again. There was Tallulah Bankhead, afloat in the ocean with a bunch of men, and her hair only looked better with every passing day of starvation, thirst, seasickness and death-defying waves. Trying to be subtle, I looked over again and again to see how Tallulah and the men were doing, thinking perhaps that I would learn something useful in the unlikely event of a landing over water.
Don’t let the sheaf of papers fool you, for most of the flight down I was trying to recall the exact words of the witches’ false assurance to Macbeth.
"Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be until
Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill
Shall come against him."
And why was it so important to know the exact words? Because all along the Whitestone Parkway there were forklifts moving good-sized cedars and poplars, looking like nothing so much as the Great Birnam wood on the move, and making me pity poor misguided & manipulated Macbeth.
Every day in South Carolina we drove from our hotel (think multiple prom dresses, some sketchy trips in the elevator and a whole girls’ soccer team) to the Leigh Fibers factory. (Leigh was started by my grandfather; my father, uncle, a brother and a cousin have all worked there since forever; the rest of us go down periodically in order to be less ignorant in the arcana of shoddy, combers, linters and aramids. )
On account of not opting for full coverage, I am not the person of choice to drive a rental car. But still, I experienced the gauntlet of temptation between the hotel and the ramp for I-85. Midway between the LOVE TEMPLE (U.P.H), about which certain imaginations get fervid, and the Krispy Kreme, about which my favorite daughter waxes poetic, is the world famous penis-burger of Spartanburg, SC. We don’t actually know if it is officially called the penis-burger, or if it is world famous, but we know what we thought it looked like. What else we don’t know is why.
Then came the OYSTER ROAST.
While I was eyeing the boiled peanuts and wondering how long it would take me to develop a taste for boiled peanuts, or whether I was genetically predetermined (the Walloonish strain) to never like boiled peanuts no matter how great the temptation, my father was coughing his way through yet another evening. His cough has persisted now for longer than any of us can remember; it is body-wrenching, esophagus-splitting, barrier-breaking and soul searching. It is beyond his control. Sometimes if he is very quiet it will stop for a while, but he likes to talk.
While we were shucking oysters with some of the finest oyster shuckers in South Carolina and Florida (try Googling oyster shucking mitts any time you seek some x-rated diversion), and slurping up those tasty members of the phlegm family, my father was choking on his dinner and passing out on his plate.
While we were digging into Low Country Boil, a dish hitherto unknown to me and now a favorite (among its many merits, it has neither boiled peanuts nor okra) my parents were in an ambulance on their way to the hospital, where they know the names of the children of all the ER nurses.
And I was in deep contemplation of chocolate covered strawberries when my mother finally reached the cell phone of one of her offspring.
(All of which may be one way of relating that I have been in South Carolina with all my brothers and sister and cousins, and then Massachusetts with my distressed mother and coughing father. He is out of the hospital.)