July 5, 2007

Slightly Retracted for One Day Only

I hope you had a HAPPY FOURTH! As some of you clever commenters noted, one of Gilbert King’s new color author photos is up. This is not the one that will be on the bio page in the end, I do not THINK, and definitely not the one that will be on TGWSS. It is, however the one that will be on the ARC of TGWSS. It’s the sample he sent me while the others are being finished. But I put it up anyway because it is a HUGE improvement over the old one, which made me look like I wanted to sell you a condo.

Tomorrow, my ragged lot leaves for a week at the beach with my parents and my brother and his clan. I shall post sporadically. Which will make next week just like every week, bloggily speaking, so why’d I even bring it up?

After I spent my WHOLE last blog entry hating on Powder Springs, the town responded by being SO adorable and perfect and great that I felt as low and yicketty as the accumulated sock scum of a thousand nasty troll feet. Our town’s 4th of July celebration was last night. Herds of darling little families, some friends, some strangers, showed up in Old Navy 5 dollar flag T-shirts to eat hot dogs and do the chicken dance on the town square. Both my old dear friend Amy Go and Mir
came to town for it, all of us toting our loin spawns and some husbands for good measure, and we met up with my friend Julie's family to put out our blankets and folding louges on the grass around the center fountain.

A band played Mustang Sally and Brown Eyed Girl in the gazebo and there were inflatable slides and jumping castles and a dunking booth and another booth where teenage girls used fuzzy wire and glow sticks to make little girl’s hair into light up red white and blue beribboned head-splosions. Every other family brought their stupid dog, and I had to stop and pat them all, including a 12 week old Bassett puppy with ears that dragged the ground and that clean baby smell to his breath.

The Baptists lined the streets in green T-shirts, handing out bottles of ice cold water, and every other child had a blue tongue from the cotton candy. Last year, the men’s club at our church had a Fried Pickle booth – DO NOT MOCK IT TIL YOU HAVE TRIED IT --- but not this year, more’s the pity. You have to win a lottery top get to have a food booth, and all we got to do this year was sell light up wands and spray fans. THERE WAS a booth selling homemade FRIED PIES the likes of which I have not tasted since I had scabby knees and pigtails.

I put the buttery corner of a hot apple fried pie in my mouth and my eyes closed inadvertently and I traveled in space and time back to Alabama. There was this flat place with an old cemetery and incongruous picnic tables up on top of a low mountain. I do not know the name, but our family called it Swit Bee Park. I never once went without ending up bitten and crying. I think I used the name Swit Bee park in gods in Alabama…I do know that they are really called Sweat Bees BUT my family says “Swit bee,” and the kids would run to play among the crumbling tombstones and the grown-ups would yell after us, “They’s Swit bees all up in thet grass! Don’t get bit!”

First time I got bit, a great uncle boosted me up onto a table and tore apart one of his cigarettes. He wet a little pinch of tobacco in his mouth, rolled it into a wad, and then pressed it to the red bite.

“Teks down the swellin,’” he said. Sure enough, it quit hurting. The NEXT time I got bit, I shocked my mother by marching phlegmatically down to where the men sat drinking sweet tea and spitting brown juice and said, “Whose got a Marlboro?”

I opened my eyes and forgave Powder Springs MANY things, and forgave it even MORE when full dark came and firework after firework opened up like improbable flowers in the night sky. Their light showed us the smoke spiders the previous fireworks had made. Glorious color filled the sky, the spiders sailed north on the wind, and Bruce Springsteen told us all over and over where he had been born.

Maisy said, “I forgot fireworks. Were they so beautiful like this last year?
I said, “Yes, baby, they are always just this beautiful.”
She said, “Next year I’ll remember and wait for them better.”

Sam said, “I like this song!”
I said, “Well, you should. That’s’ the Boss!”
He said, “The boss of what?”
I think it was Mir’s new husband who leaned over and whispered, “The boss of coolness, kid. The boss of coolness.”

After, we walked back to the car we'd parked at the church along with everyone else, and on the way out of the crowded lot, people just waited and sweetly took turns and waved everyone in ahead. I was one of them, a Powder Springs local, all of us tired and a pound fatter and smiling and happy to live here in this good, good place.

Posted by joshilyn at July 5, 2007 3:24 PM

I used to work in a little tiny restaurant where the special was fried pickles and they were the best fried pickles that ever were. I managed to finagle the super top secret recipe and if you are ever in Arkansas, I will fry you up some.

But only if you bring me one of those fried pies.

Posted by: megan at July 5, 2007 3:34 PM

OK, that's more proof that Sam needs to be hearing good music!

Posted by: dynagirl at July 5, 2007 5:01 PM

"The boss of coolness."

What a perfect response! We all could use more of The Boss.

Posted by: Daily Tragedies at July 5, 2007 5:05 PM

I love where I live but you just made me wish for a second that I was a southern girl.

I love the "swit bees park" story too. We live near Horn Pond, which, due to regional accents, I thought was Hawn Pond (ryhmes) until I was a teen.

Geez, tell me how you just got me to have one of YOUR childhood memories?

Posted by: Em at July 5, 2007 5:06 PM

Otto says it was the other Otto who said that. ;) But true 'nuff, anyway.

I hope to have some pics up later tonight! Thank you again for a lovely, lovely time, pretty Tulip!

Posted by: Mir at July 5, 2007 7:28 PM

Wow, and I went to bed at 9:15. Hmmmm, of course I'm also 2500 miles away, so it wouldn't have been the same. But Maisey's right, I'm remember and wait for them better."

Posted by: Cele at July 5, 2007 8:21 PM

Oh yeah, the sweat bees. They're good for armpit stings. And they give me a good excuse not to give up the Virginia Slims :-)

(...which I'll do...eventually.)

Posted by: Angie Poole at July 5, 2007 8:33 PM

...fried pickles?...I'll believe because you say so, but...oh my.

The first Fourth of July I ever spent in Minnesota was a revelation to me because it was just like what you described, all Norman Rockwelly and NICE, and I was in no way prepared for that kind of small-town kindness.

When my son and his best friend came up to stay with us and went to the very same Fourth of July celebration the following year, with coolers filled with lemonade, with hot dogs and sassy-cool girls, Ty and Shane looked around suspciously for gangs and incipient violence, which is what we were used to back in New Mexico. Culture shock occurred, you could feel the impact thwocking through them.

It was pretty cool.

Posted by: Fran at July 5, 2007 10:37 PM

I had an uncle do the tobacco-n-spit cure on a bee sting for me once. I've hardly ever run into anyone else who's ever heard of that.

It sounds like a wonderful time.

Also fried pies....mmmmmm......

Posted by: DebR at July 5, 2007 11:57 PM

Ditto on the fried pickles. . .wonderful cuisine, best eaten hot right out of the tin plate. When I was 5 I stepped on something in the grass at my Granny and PaPaw's house. The stinging began momentarily, and I cried and cried and cried until PaPaw spit a plug of Red Man Chewin' Tobacco in a clean, white handkerchief and applied it thusly. It was magic, I tell ya.

Posted by: Roxanne at July 5, 2007 11:59 PM


I'm coming to your house next year for the 4th. LOL

It sure bit the big one up here in Canada!!

There was a lunch at the American consulate, but we didn't know about it until it was done. :(

Posted by: Heather Cook at July 6, 2007 1:15 AM

BTW, I really like the photo you have up, too. It's really, really good. If the others are better, they're gonna rock! I also really like your hair color.

I swear your childhood sounds so similar to mine. I haven't thought about Swit Bees in years. I used to go to a summer camp run by a man named Beefy who used the chewing tobacco cure for stings, except he never used a clean white hanky to apply it!

Posted by: Leandra at July 6, 2007 6:21 AM

I'm glad you live here too. ...And able to paint such sweet pictures that remind me what a good good place it is too.

ANX for sharing your thoughts and making me feel better.

Posted by: Jeff at July 6, 2007 9:36 AM

Don't be surprised if half the internet shows up in Powder Springs for the 4th, next year. The very *thought* of fried pie makes me swooooon. Not too sure about fried pickles, but I'd like to try 'em before passing judgment.

Posted by: Aimee at July 6, 2007 10:28 AM

Anything fried is wonderful - fried pies, fried pickles, fried turkeys, and my personal favorite - fried Twinkies.

Posted by: Kristin at July 6, 2007 2:18 PM

Oh, and I loved the post you wrote about the beach back in the archives. . .the sand bombing of the poor beetle by the "manlings" of various ages. That was one hilarious (and accurate) post.

Posted by: Roxanne at July 6, 2007 2:19 PM

Believe, Fran, Believe.

It was lovely, wasn't it? We're home and safe and missing you terribly already, Tulip.

And The Boss of Coolness? Should be an office in the Beautiful Tulip Society. As you are Queen, and I am Princess-elect, and since apparantly Julie was coveting Pie-maker Extrordinaire (who knew?) I propose we make Mir The Boss of Coolness. As a way of welcoming her to Georgia. What say you? ;)

Posted by: Amy-Go at July 6, 2007 5:45 PM

you should try the fried green beans at the paradise grill at sandy plains and shallowford in east cobb....

Posted by: dramamama at July 7, 2007 1:12 AM

LOVE the fried pickles. Just love 'em. Used to be able to get them all over where my Grams lived, but so many of the smalle mom-n-pop places went the way of the dodo, and you sure as heck can't get fried pickles at Applebee's!
Maisy sounds like her usual beautiful little self. As does Sam.
And can I just say...
THANK YOU, MR. HUSBAND, for saving the next book!!!

Posted by: dee at July 7, 2007 1:46 AM

Oh no! I forgot to say how bee-you-tee-ful the new picture is. Seriously. You're stunning!

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