Going into a southern bookshop on the main downtown drag, you can find the same books as you might find in the innocuous tables up against the door at any local Barnes & Noble, with perhaps a slightly higher percentage of Paula Dean cookbooks. The clerk's conversation with customers, however, varies greatly. The majority of suggestions at this particular shop focus around right-wing economist treatises and books in the vein of Michael Zak, all delivered with that tell-tale twang that you may or may not hear, depending on the locality of the Floridian, though chances are you get more "down-home" locals the further north you travel in the state. Fine, good enough -- nothing wrong with a little political talk on a Saturday morning.
The coffee shop next door is perfect. The smell of the roasting beans hits your nose immediately upon entrance, and makes you forget about the aroma of the five biker men outside, who were precariously close to being confined to that other great two-wheeler -- the wheelchair. The coffee comes pipping hot, and you pay your gracious server the under two-dollar fee with a sense of triumph in only having to travel across five or six states to find such a beverage of low cost. You pay with the silver dollars spewed out of the metrocard machine when you last received change, thankful to get rid of such cumbersome, heavy coinage. The gracious server looks at the coins, then looks at you, then at the coins, then at her friend behind the counter. "Are these American?" she asks in utter befuddlement. Staring at her, you wonder how living a few states north could immediately put you in another country. "They're silver dollars" you say. Getting a reassuring nod from her friend, she plunks the coins in the register, and then proceeds to stare at the change in front of her, wondering what, if anything, she should give you back for such large and alien currency. Without wanting to abed such ignorance, you slowing tap your foot, waiting for your 39 cents. She realizes that money should be returned, and proceeds to take out a small calculator, and correctly commute your change. Who knew this foreign exchange necessitated calculations by hand?
At dinner, the waitresses press dec-a-dent brownays upon you like it was Jesus coming to save you, in chocolate-incarnate (and believe it, they love them some Jesus down there). Or the key-lime pie made with their signature citrus, which, many would argue--goes better in cocktails then with whipped cream. They deep-fry everything, and it must be wondered as to whether or not the style of southern hospitality aids in dulling the true flavor of their sentiment-- when you're beleaguered with dec-a-dent brown-nays, it's easier, in the digestion haze, to forget about the problems and not-so-innocent viewpoints. Right-winged, warped views is fine to some extent, we're all allowed opinions. And to characterize the south as some evil place disguised in creamy pastry-form would be a misconception. But like it or not, a trip to the south shows you just how much your naivete is overblown. Overhearing a conversation between what could only be construed as a bunch of "good ol' boys" on the corner, this is what was offered:
- "So, what do you think of that Obama? How would you like him as president?"
(the other man leans in)
-- "I'll tell you what -- he'll be assassinated, he will!"
So, despite what was said in this opinion, backtracking needs to be made. Although, it must be said that if hideous statements like these are being made in northern Florida, they're being whispered in spots across the country: north, south, east, and west. And this is a sorry, sorry state of affairs. We think of ourselves as so progressive, but the feeling of entrenched and overblown entitlement is getting real old, real fast. Our economy is bleeding, and our worldwide stance is waining, and we wonder why we have such problems. We sugar-coat and chocolate-cover everything that is wrong, to the extent that some, this sadly blogger included, forget that such hatred and insidious comments are alive and well across the country, and in your local town. Non-exposure is no excuse. If we don't change that awareness, and do something about the injustice of it, we are headed for a collapse, albeit a sugary one.
So no, we wouldn't fancy a dec-a-dent brown-nay, thank you.