My husband and I just returned from a week-long jaunt through much of Tennessee, spending most of our time in Memphis. I was blessed to have several television appearances and book signings up there, and trips like that are always so much fun. This one was no different, and we were doubly blessed to be able to spend some time with much-loved family while we were there.
One of the most entertaining features of road travel is the stops along the way, in my opinion. People fascinate me, and people-watching is one of my favorite pastimes during these stops. Most of the humor in my writing is about everyday people and the everyday funny stuff we do, whether we know we’re doing it or not.
On the drive back home, we stopped at a giant new Love’s convenience store/gas station/truck stop. Talk about a great place to watch people. Love’s has a great reputation for having clean restrooms, so when we find one, we stop. Gas station restrooms are among my Top 3 Nightmare Scenarios, as some of you may already know.
Anyway, this Love’s did not disappoint. As I hobbled on my crutches from the front of the shiny new store to the back (where the restrooms are) I felt supremely confident that I’d find clean, roomy accommodations. Along the way, I was both amused and surprised by the merchandise that I saw for sale. There were flat-screen TVs. Yes, TVs. In a gas station. Now who goes to the gas station prepared to make such a purchase?
Of course, there were the standard baseball caps, but many of them were bedazzled with rhinestones, and even some with lights and sound. There was a whole aisle of cell phones and accessories. On the other side of that same aisle, there were deer hunting accessories (is that what they’re called?), beer-logo’ed tee shirts and the requisite shot glasses with naked lady silhouettes on them. I think those designate club membership, like belonging to the Bloods or Crips, but just here in the South. Every gas station along I-40 has them.
Without a doubt, my favorite merchandise display was a locked glass cabinet with diamond (OK probably cubic zirconia) rings, ready-made for popping the question if that thought occurred to you on the way to the restroom. Engagement rings for sale in a gas station. There are so many takes on that concept that I feel sure I could write an entire book off that fact alone.
Now I know you’re dying to know what was for sale right alongside the sparkling rings, so I’ll go ahead and tell you. Ready? Pork rinds (twenty-plus varieties) and Elvis bobble-head figurines. On my mother’s grave, it’s true.
Only in the South, right?
Carole Townsend is also a Gwinnett Daily Post staff correspondent and author of the recently-released book, “Southern Fried White Trash.” The book takes a humorous look at families and how we behave when thrown together for weddings, funerals and holidays. She has been quoted on msnbc.com, in the LA Times, USA Today and the Christian Science Monitor, been featured on FOX 5 News and CNN, and is often a guest on television and radio shows nationwide. Her next book, “Red Lipstick and Clean Underwear,” is eagerly expected in summer 2012.