Y`all Keep Out Now, Ye Hear?

Tasty Kakes. Soft pretzels. Philly Cream Cheese. Cheese steaks, my God, cheese steaks! Oh how I’ve taken all of thee for granted. The Counting Crows said it best when they quoted Joni Mitchell as saying, “You don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone.”

For my third and final co-op experience, I decided that it was time for me to spread my wings: time to see something new. Philadelphia had shown me all it has to offer and I was ready to try my hand at adapting to a completely alien culture and an exotic locale like nothing I’d seen before. I made it as far as Raleigh, North Carolina.

For starters, I have this vague feeling that southern citizens aren’t completely satisfied with the turnout of the Civil War. For one thing, there is the overabundance of Confederate flags painted on pick-up trucks, hanging from store windows and flying from government buildings. Also, there’s the fact that they consistently refer to the Civil War as “Round One.”

One of the most apparent things I’ve noticed is that there is definitely a slower pace of life. People walk around at a speed more suitable for going to their own execution. Whereas in Philadelphia, people move like they are running away from some sort of execution. In most cases, they actually are.

Sadly, this envious ability to be completely relaxed at all times is not always so desirable. For instance, when you’re supposed to be moving fast, like on the highway. If you like driving 23 MPH in a 65 MPH zone, that’s cool, just stay the hell out of my way... which happens to be the left lane. It’s sometimes known as the passing lane? The whole way down, they have these signs that read, “Slower traffic keep right.” I’m not sure if that’s referring to driving speed or the mental aptitude of the person behind the wheel, but either way the message is not getting through.

The same thing happens to me every time I’m on the highway. I’m trailing some jelly-footed bumpkin who slams on his breaks every time he comes within 15 miles of the speed limit. I grip the wheel viciously and grind my teeth. I ride his bumper for miles at a time. I flash high beams; I throw on the windshield wipers. I curse at him. I threaten his children. When I finally see an opening in the middle lane I spring for it, race past and make sure not to make eye contact as I think to myself, “That should teach the bastard.” Oh yeah, he’s definitely getting the point. I get about one tenth of a mile before I reach the next Gomer Pyle. I grip the wheel viciously and grind my teeth.

What I don’t understand is how people who drive so slow can be so damn enthusiastic about watching car racing to the point of being religiously devoted to NASCAR. If you find any kind of pleasure in watching other people drive around in circles, then you are way too relaxed for me.

From what I’ve been told, and this is completely honest, NASCAR was founded as a weekend activity for moonshine bootleggers. No lie, they got tired of outrunning the police on twisty mountain roads, so they decided to race each other on an oval shaped track for 500 laps. Do these kids know how to party or what? That all puts it into perspective, doesn't it? The fact that this bizarre legacy actually gives NASCAR fans an added amount of pride leaves me all the more confused with its popularity and frightened by the stupidity of its followers.

Another thing about the driving down here is that you can’t go one mile without seeing a leg hanging outside of a car window. There’s nothing quite like the experience of passing someone at 60 MPH, looking over at the driver next to you and seeing a giant foot staring back. By the way, feet are not pretty. How the hell did this craze ever catch on anyway? I guess the thrill of driving isn’t enough with just the roar of the engine and soothing vibrations of the road underneath. Apparently, the icing on the cake is the feel of 60 MPH winds rushing through your gangrene infested toes.

I should have known that things down here were goofy before I even moved in. On my way down I was driving through the countryside, taking in some fresh southern air. What should appear within 10 miles of my new home but an actual drive-in movie theater. For the huge fan of retro anything that I am, this was my Garden of Eden. I was nearly ecstatic. I had always wanted to go to a drive-in move theater. That is until I glanced at the sign reserved for movie times, which suspiciously read “Gun shop. Open 24 hrs. Closed Wednesdays.” Let’s forget the ridiculousness of needing a gun at 4 in the morning. Ignore the injustice of not catering to those that can only replenish their artillery on Wednesday. They paved paradise and put up a freaking gun shop. Great.

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