Thursday, September 10, 2009

Junktique, Soul Food, Toad Suck Park and “too many foreigners”

Woke up to lots of rain, which totally does put a damper on being a wanderer. Regardless, I went to historic Morrilton’s downtown and donated my stuff to the shelter and headed to the junktique stores to fill up the car again. Junktique was a term I learned at the rest stop when I asked about where antique shops or flea markets might be along Route 40. Let’s just say, the term is accurate. There were some stores where I wasn’t sure it was an area to shop in. Kind of like that damp corner of your basement where you just don’t go anymore. Gross! But those can be the best places to find treasures because they don’t know what they have. So sure enough, I did find one piece for $4 and it was McCoy. Cha-ching! The tag said “old ashtray” but meanwhile, it’s totally a candy dish. There aren’t even those valleys for a cigarette to rest so obviously the previous owners just used it for ash. Needless to say, I will wash it thoroughly. I can see it now… all my friends reading this will now question any dish I serve things in from now on.

On my way out of Arkansas, I stopped at one last town known for their antique shops, Brinkley. Unfortunately, this town also has been hit hard by the economy and doesn’t seem as booming as I’m sure it once was. I had to get gas and the strangest thing happened. I pulled up to the pump and realized that there was no gas station, just pumps. Now that’s cutting back, right? Took a turn to the left and saw this Soul Food restaurant. No one else was in there but the food looked great and I had smothered pork chop with beans and mac & cheese with cornbread and sweet tea. YUM!

I parked myself down at a table and watched The People’s Court on the big screen. This place probably used to be hoppin’ back in the day. You could tell. Shame.

And after lunch, I ventured into the last shop I saw on the strip and was met with an “Obama Sale” sign advertising 40% off everything. I wondered. Is this meant to say, “Thanks a lot Obama. Now we have to put everything on super sale” OR “Isn’t it great that Obama is President! Let’s have a sale!”

Oh and in this town, I saw a John Deere bureau. I asked the shop owner if someone would actually buy that and he rolled his eyes and said, “oh yea” but fully understood my disgust. He was as gay as the day was long so he had taste. He he.

One place I went into today had a man and woman chatting in a living room set in the front of the store. I was their only customer so it was super quiet without the typical Christian radio station blaring throughout. So I could hear their conversation and it was a doosie. The woman (owner) was telling this guy that she was “done” when it came to her daughter. She had already given her $42,000, “$18K for a house and the rest for the lawyer and cigarettes and food and stuff.” I love how cigarettes figured into the budget recollection. Anyway, I was soooo curious to find out what she did to get into a court situation but the shop didn’t have anything I was interested in so I moved on. I hope it wasn’t meth-related because I’m getting depressed hearing these constant radio addresses about the evils of meth. It’s so sad. But when I walked out and said ‘thanks’ to the couple, she hollered, “Come back and see us, k?” Everyone, and I mean everyone, says this when you leave a store or restaurant. It’s so stinkin’ cute!

Some highway/radio observations: at Exit 129 on Rt. 40 the area is called Toad Suck Park. Nice, eh? And what is up with all the torn up tires on the highway? How did the car survive that? It just blew and they left it there on the road? If someone knows what this is, do tell. Great bumper sticker on a filthy pickup that drove past me: “This vehicle is undergoing a scientific dirt test.” There was an ad on the radio today for a jeweler that is buying gold but they used an Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonator to say that his state was in economic distress and if you go and sell your gold at this store, you can give California the money afterwards. Now, why would an Arkansas jeweler choose this to market their gold buying deals? Who knows? But it’s especially insensitive right now due to the fires that are making the deficit even worse and the recent loss of his uncle-in-law. Oy vey! That impersonator must have cost a pretty penny to keep that spot running.

I also saw a billboard that read something like, “Use the rod on your child and you will save their life.” Underneath was a bible passage. I couldn’t get my camera out soon enough to shoot it but trust me, it was very odd to read on the interstate. Then again, I also saw an 18-wheeler drive by and on its rear was a HUGE sticker that had a bible passage. And that is on a commercial vehicle representing a company. I just find it so odd that companies are fine with putting religion and business together. But like I said, all the shops I go to have Christian music or commentators on all day long. While listening to some of the radio around here, I wondered whether they would think it was just as shocking to listen to Brian Lehrer or Leonard Lopate or NPR in general. Maybe that would sound completely maddening to them. Who knows? I did get angry though when one shock jock said that “Americans had all lost confidence in Obama.” I was like, “WHAT?!”

Checked into a motel in Corinth, Mississippi and the young man at the counter reminded me that there are still lots of folks in this country that forget that we were all foreigners here at one point. He saw my ID and asked where I was from in New York. He said he had been there and Niagara Falls. I asked if he liked NYC and sure enough, shook his head. I said, “Too many people?” and he nodded but added, “too many foreigners.” Wow. To add insult to injury, he gave me my room card and said, “Thank you ma’am.” MA’AM! What about ‘miss?’ I thought all of my kids got MISS from their Southern roots. I hate ma’am. UGH.

Just hit 5,000 miles. Crazy! Had to drive through suburban Memphis area to get to Mississippi, which by the way I keep singing the spelling of this state in my head [ok, out loud]. The housing developments there are so icky. I mean, they’re nice to some but too cookie cutter for my taste. Thank goodness I live in Queens where the architecture varies from house to house, even within a house). Variety is the spice of life I say. Oh wait, someone else must have said that first. I’m sure of it.

Off to the Waffle House for din-din. Who knows what I will find there. It’s open 24 hours though so it’s gotta be good. Right?

Radio highlights: “Open Arms,” Tina Turner, “Jump (for My Love),” “Hard Habit to Break,” “Dead or Alive” (Bon Jovi), “Open Your Heart.”

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