Dispatches from a Rural Southern Town – Hop to, Eagleville!

We have been having a lot of rain in Tennessee, and even when it’s not been raining, it’s been very overcast and dreary.  I went out to the mailbox yesterday, and talk about 100% humidity… my skin felt wet, as if I was in a misting rain—but it wasn’t raining. 

But today it was very nice.  The sun was shining.  There were only scattered white, fluffy clouds in the sky.  The temperature was just perfect.  I opened up the moon roof and rolled down the window in the car and enjoyed my drive into Eagleville.

I went to the library to use the internet (since we only have dial-up at home) and was serenaded for two plus hours by a young woman (she looked to be college-age) who couldn’t go one minute without saying “shit” or “fuck” or huff very angrily at her computer.  I felt a growing sense of alarm the longer it went on, because I don’t think anger like that is normal in young women.  It was like road rage, except at a computer.  I kept one eye on her and one hand on my husband’s ancient laptop.  If she had pulled a gun or knife from her Louis Vuitton backpack, I was going to whack her upside the head with that 50 pound laptop before she could get a full head of steam behind her rampage.

The irony was there were four teenage boys sitting in the same small area, using computers, talking to one another, or waiting patiently for her to get off the computer so they could use it.  They were quieter than she was, and I don’t think they uttered the first cuss word the entire time.  One boy spoke quietly to his mother on his cell phone at one point and replied “yes ma’am” to her repeatedly.  I mean, Eagleville is a “yes ma’am” and “no sir” sort of town.  Where this chick with her sailor’s mouth and really expensive backpack came from, I don’t know, but she had a distinct “you’re not from around here, are you?” quality about her.

So after I left the library, I went to the new grocery store—our old grocery store having burned down a couple of years ago.  It has quite a wide variety of things in it for a such a small grocery store—some of which are quite exotic.  Being a rural, farming community in the South, I can understand that somebody, somewhere eats calf and chicken livers.  Or at least goes fishing with them.  I might can even understand that someone has come up with a use for calf brains—tanning leather, perhaps?  But what I have not yet been able to puzzle out is there really a demand for frog legs in a place like Eagleville?  A sign on the edge of town used to advertise that we have a population of about 600 people.  How many of those people need a box full of frog legs?  You kind of expect to see that at, say, The Fresh Market, next to some pâté and escargot, but not in Eagleville.

Of course, whenever some worker comes by and notices a hole in the display of Blue Bell ice cream, and he shifts one ½ gallon container of pistachio almond to the front of the shelf, he may very well be wondering the same thing: who eats this?  (It’s like ice cream crack, man.  Soooo addictive.)

While I was driving back home, the news came on the oldies station out of Columbia, Tennessee.  Don’t ask me why, but the new guy they’ve got reading the local news is British.  I’ve also heard a woman on there with a British accent, but I’m not sure if she does it on different days, or if he replaced her.

Have you ever heard of Columbia, Tennessee?  I didn’t think so.  So why on earth are there two British people there reading the local news?  Or do they send news dispatches to a freelancer in England who records them and e-mails them back to the station? 

And just what does that say, really?  Yes, we’re a small, rural, Southern city, but we don’t want to hire any local people to read the news on air because they all sound like rednecks and the rednecks listening to the news won’t take them seriously?  I mean, isn’t that kind of implied when you import people from another country to read your news?  And there’s always been something hoity about people with English accents doing voice work in America anyways.  Like English people sound more dignified or educated.  It’s one thing for English people to think that about themselves, but do we have to buy into their marketing campaign?  Well, I’ve got news for the radio station in Columbia, Tennessee: the lady they’ve got working for them does have an upper-crust British accent, but the guy is middle class.  I’m not fooled.


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