It didn't start out as a redneck vacation. But we were just a few hours into it when I realized I was actually living a bit from the act of a self-proclaimed "hillbilly comedian." It was too late. The vacation theme was firmly established.
So. There we were, driving through Tennessee, when, as Tim Wilson says, I started seeing mirages and thought I was in Las Vegas. But no, it turned out I was here:
a fireworks superstore.
Not a fireworks stand, mind you. This was a place for serious shoppers.
It had air conditioning.
It had check-out lines.
There were employees with name tags.
There were shopping carts.
And the reason for the shopping carts was quickly apparent. No one walks in a fireworks superstore and says, "I just need to pick up a dozen sparklers and a couple of bottle rockets for the annual hog roast at Cousin Murvil's this weekend."
Oh, noooo. This is bulk purchasing at its finest. At the fireworks superstore, you can only buy cases of explosives that are labeled with names like, "ENOUGH SAID. (CAUTION: SETS OFF CAR ALARMS)," and "WAKE THE NEIGHBORS."
It was obvious that this was a store that catered to men, because 1) there wasn't a public bathroom in the place. I don't know what it is about men, but it's like admitting a gross character weakness for them to have to use a bathroom when they're away from home. My guys would rather ride 150 miles in bladder-bursting pain ("CAUTION: KIDNEYS MAY EXPLODE!") than use a bathroom at a store or service station. Knee-deep in poison ivy and fire ants, fine. Clean restroom at Target, definitely NOT fine.
Anyway. The other obvious sign that this was a guy store was the fine print on every single fireworks package on the shelves:
That's right. It's a warning that the enclosed fireworks "shoot flaming balls." Have you ever known a man who could resist anything that shoots flaming balls? I'd even go so far as to say any guy that isn't a fan of shooting flaming balls is probably unAmerican. He probably drives a Volvo and has a name like Pierre, or Hans. And if Pierre or Hans were to actually purchase a box of fireworks that shoot flaming balls, he would most certainly read the cautions on the back panel, unlike every American guy who thinks cautions are for lily-livered pseudo-men who use public bathrooms. And this reasoning explains why Cousin Murvil no longer has a back porch and his dog is missing an ear.
In the end, we left with a lot of fireworks, and I came away with a suggestion for the tourist industry in Tennessee: Why doesn't someone open a chain of underwear superstores? I bet you could draw a lot of mom shoppers who need boy's underwear in cases of 30 pairs.
Surely I'm not the only mother whose sons have lost their underwear while in the fast-food drive-through. That's right. Somewhere, between hearing "Grouk bub [static] first window [static] vlexd," and receiving my bag of Cholesterol Burgers with cheese, my sons' underwear disappeared. Vanished. Flew off their bodies, out the leg of their pants, and hid in the bushes by the intercom, I guess.
I've always thought that instead of coming with a choice of a toy for girls or boys, kid's meals should come with a choice of underwear or socks. "Okay, that's a 3-piece chicken meal. Would you like underpants with that?"
Oh, and one more request for the underwear mega-store owner: Please, in the name of all that is decent and holy, do not include packaging labels that say, "CAUTION: SHOOTS FLAMING BALLS."