Thursday, September 1, 2005

Deep Fried Yankee

I'm sure you see it every year.
The northern tourists flocking through your town.
These Ijits not taking advantage of the temperate seasons but streaming down during the hottest part of summer.

When I was just a little tike my family packed itself together and heading for that slow journey through the south pulling a metal box on wheels behind us. The logic was that this box would afford us freedom to explore the more intimate regions of the south and to sample the flavors and people that are not propped up for the typical tourists. The joke was on us. There were thousands just like us playing a different game of tourism and slowly crawling through the south and spending time in those tourist trailer parks.

We saw the fields, we saw the Stuckey’s, we ate the pecans and we thought we saw the south. Now we could talk about the differences of what the real south is and what a Yankee's perception is, but being a New Yorker I am just in too big a hurry to get to my point so I'll avoid these details. (Plus I am too stubborn to admit that I really don't know the real south)

Imagine a fifteen-foot trailer, four kids and two stressed out parents riding hour after hour through the heat of the south. Being ages ago there was no air conditioning. There was simply hanging your head out a window and panting like a dog. Being ages ago there was no patience. A dad using this time to unwind from the stress of a job to find himself in close quarters with kids who were bored out of their minds. Amusement was found by nagging each other and testing the patience of cranky and tired adults.

Finally after years of traveling we reached the first beach where we would stay a few days. The parents were ready. The kids were ready. Being outdoors was the only solution for cooped up travelers. We hit the beach with other tourists. Southerners knew better.

I was northern bred. I was northern born. I am blue eyed, blond haired with fair skin. Sunscreen came in one strength and was not water proof. It wasn't long before I was red. Deep red. My parents hustled us off the beach and used cold cream to cool my redness. I continued to burn. I started to blister. I became delirious and experienced chills and shakes. It hurt to move.

Even with sun poisoning I had to crawl that ladder to an upper bunk that had no head room and barely let you roll over. Yep, we were tourists. We were Northerners. We had no clue that beaches during the height of the day during the hottest part of the year could be deadly.

We were deep fried Yankees.