by Lauri Fraser

Just recently, my boyfriend Bill told me that his best friend was getting married in Nashville and that he wanted me to join him on a trip down south to go to the party. I have never been to the South and this sounded good, because my acupuncturist, Dr Zoo had just told me that I have “NO MORE RESERVE energy. You depreted your ying and yang energy. You have to srowwww dowwwwn. Srooow down and Stopppppp. Oh right. Like it’s really easy being from LA....to slow down, but I say ok. Good I’ll go.

So I call Forrest and Lane. My friends from Alabama. Well, they live in Malibu, but Forrest is originally from Tennessee, and they have a cottage on the bay in the Florida gulf on the Alabama side. I call Forrest and tell him about the wedding and he says well come on down to the cottage and spend a couple of days with us.

Wow. This is going to be so cool. Well, hardly. It was August. No matter.

“Well what do I bring Forrest?” He says”Well, you bring tank tops and shorts. We don’t go out much. We eat all our meals on the porch. I hope you like crab, cuz I make ie fiftly different ways.We don’t watch T.V.” “What about movies?” “ Honey, NATURE’S your movie.”

“Well I tell him, we’re going to Nashvile first” “Well, in Nashville you’ll slow down....but in Alabama, you’ll stop.”

So we land in Nashville and there’s people singing in the airport.! And they were good! It was sooo cool!

Two things you will NOT be able to find in Nashville or Alabama are JEWS and WASTE LINES., Now the women in the south are fabulous. They put themselves together and in Nashville they all have something that sparkles. Real or not, they sparkle. They will also cut you up one side and down the next but they’ll finish it with a little “Bless you’re little heart. Bless his little heart. Bless their little hearts.”

So we’re at the party and the first thing they ask me is my name and then what church I go to. Well, if this (as I point to my frizzy hair) isn’t a dead give away, I say well,, trying to break the ice a bit, “The church of Latter Day Rabbis?” I’m Jewish.

“Oh...well Alex is a JEW, and he’s coming to the party. Isn’t Alex a Jew?” “Yeah....he’s a JEW. Um hm...” So Alex and I.....the “chosen two”.....

I’m introduced to Charlotte. A handsome woman in her early 60s. “Oh. Hello, and do you live in Nashville?” “Why no, I’m from New Orleans.” “Oh , well New Orleans. Now that’s a place some good jazz isn’t it?” “The only place for jazz is in New Orleans.” In another attempt to blend I ask, well, do you go to the French Quarter?” “Oh honey, nobody FROM New Orleans goes to the French Quarter. Why that’s for Charletons, harlets and tarts......bless their little hearts.

Something else I noticed. There’s a lot of cakes in Nashville. And I’m not talking country western jeans. There’s cakes coming and going. “Oh Hi, come on in. I’m just putting a cake in the oven.” Oh hey. I’m just getting a cake out of the oven.” :Hey are you going to the store? Will you pick me up a cake mix” Jimmy!!!!Get you’re little ass in here. Did you eat the last piece of cake?”

I mean in California the Pillsbury Dough Boy sounds like this (Pillsbury Doughboy imitation) but in Nashville it sounds like this (Big, evil laugh).

That night Bill told me that the bride and groom had already gotten married earlier in the year, and that the party we went to was just that. A party. The real wedding reception for all the friends and family was going to be later that year and that we would come back for it. I thought this kind of strange, but apparently nothing is done on a small scale in Nashville . We got them a hammock for two as a pre wedding before the real wedding gift, and

and the next day we headed out for Alabama. We past the Cracker Barrel and bill says no, he doesn’t want to go there, but I’m hungry and I see an IHop, “Hey there’s a familiar place” He pulls in and I am salivating thinking about breakfast. Now I eat pretty healthy in California, but I was in the South and this was I Hop and when in Rome.....

We walk in and there’s no one under 290 lbs.. We get to our table and as I open the menu I glance over at two women diving into their whipped cream and cherry filled plate hiding a waffle in there somewhere, and the guy next to me searching for the egg hidden deep in the gravy and biscuits, and the waitress comes to our table.”Hi there. Welcome to IHop. Do you know what you want?” “Uhhh......what’s in your smart fit omelet? “Well in most IHops there’s just tomatos peppers, and eggs, but in OUR Ihop, there’s potatoes, cheese, eggs, biscuits, gravy.......” Christ, it was the 2500 calorie, smart-fit omelet!

“Uh...I’ll just have toast.”

Back on route to Alabama and we pass a Vitamin store. I had run out of Glucosamin Chondrodine. Now I don’t even know if the stuff works or not, but someone told me that you won’t know if it works until you stop taking it. And I thought you know, if I’m going water skiing this would probably NOT be the time to stop taking it. So we pulled in. I go in and ask the guy for it, and he said”Well.......Glucosamine would be.....over......there.”

Ok. Well do you have it with, um, um, MSM? No. Vitamin C? No. With MSM and Vitamin C?”

“Well.......Vitamin C would be.......over.....there. You want the Glucosamine and the Vitamin C (and he does this direction thing with his arms like the scarecrow in Wizard of Oz .). Just then he sees a customer coming in and says/” I’ll be right back.”

I look but don’t see what I’m looking for. I say to him.” I don’t think that you have it.”

“Well...(imitating his very slowwwww speech).....you can go on to the internet. You know......you can find anything you want.....on the internet.”

(In slow motion) Ok. Thanks. Hey....Bill.....I’ll be right.....there...... and we are starting to slowwwww down .

We arrive at Forrest and Lane’s in Alabama on the bay on the Florida side, and it’s different and tropic. The Sepia tone tropic like Hawaii must have been, eeons ago. They have a little cottage and a big porch screened in so the mosquitoes can’t get ya. And they were waiting for me I assure you. (in mosquito talk) “Hey save some appetite, sweet blooded Jew on the way! Yippee! Meanwhile we meet their neighbors, June and Jim. June had a ring the size of Nebraska and every time I talked to her she would answer to the ring. “Oh. So you’re from?” ‘We’re from Montgomery. We come down to our cottage right here on the gulf every year. I just love the cottage. I’m hard pressed to ever leave. One year Jim found himself in the emergency room, and as soon as he could get up and walk on his own, I hightailed myself right back down to the cottage. But we always get ourselves back up to Montgomery before Hurrrrrikin season. Then Lane says hello to someone walking by and June says’”Huh. I wouldn’t go out with him if he was the last man on earth. Look at the way he’s dressed and have you seen his teeth?......bless his little heart.”

That night we went to sleep listening to the Zacada. It’s a bug. When you hear it it sounds like a swarm, a locus a symphony of sound, but it’s ONE Zacada.!

The next morning, Silence. I look outside to see 4 Adirondack chairs, and the bay, about 50 yards in front of us. I walked down to the bay, get into a kyak, and row myself out into the almost rippleless bay, the sun glistening on the water and shining on both me, and the sepia toned pelican perched on a pole. I place the oar on my lap and sit still in the boat, and I think to myself. Ya know Forrest was right. In Nashville we slowed down.....but in Alabama .....we stopped.

When we returned home, Bill got a screaming email from the bride of his best friend, saying that she was very upset with Bill for continuing to be friends with the ex-wife of her groom. She thought he was betraying his best friend, and for that reason, she didn’t know how Bill could have come to Nashville in the first place. Now Bill is the kind of guy that everyone likes, always positive, thoughtful, and just happened to be friends with both his best friend and his then wife for the past 25 years, and although this would turn out to be a big misunderstanding and lack of communication turning into a group hug, I could see that he was very hurt by this, I told him that if he wanted me to I would call that selfish , rotten, two faced tramp, and give her a piece of my mind......bless her little heart.