Baptist Churches and Gun Shops
I woke up the next morning at the Best Western Belle Meade to the sound of my father’s fist pounding against the door. I lifted up my sequined eye mask and rolled over to see the time on the alarm clock: 7:06am. I rubbed my eyes, stretched out my arms, and began the painful process of getting out of bed. Outside my hotel window, the sun shone bright while the birds chirped and the interstate roared.
I opened the door to greet my father and watched his expression turn from excitement to disbelief when he realized I was dressed in nothing but a designer pair of hot pink Calvin Klein briefs.
“Rise and shine,” he stuttered, passing me a cup of take-out coffee he had brought up from the lobby.
It was obvious that he had a lot to say; except the neon colour of my under garments had drained the colour from his face. I have often wondered what it would feel like to be the heterosexual father of a homosexual son. In retrospect, I think it was a good thing I dated girls in high school. I don’t think my father could have coped with the thought of his beloved daughter and son both out on a Friday night riding in cars with boys.
“Thank you good sir,” I reached out my hand and took the steaming cup before he dropped it on me.
It was apparent he was not going to a form a full sentence until I found a pair of pants, and so I reassured him I would not be late for our long-standing family tradition of complimentary continental breakfast. It is amazing how a small box of Frosted flakes can really bring you back to your roots.
I shut the door and turned on the television with the remote control. The plan for the day was to drive to Memphis. Our first stop was Graceland, where we were scheduled to rendezvous with my sister and her partner as well as take my dad's photo in Elvis Presley's "jungle room." The evening was reserved to party on Beale Street with excess amounts of live blues and beer. My own secret agenda for the day was to find a boy who looked like Justin Timberlake.
I unzipped my suitcase on the bed and tuned in to the weather forecast. The kind lady with the big hair on the tv screen informed me that it was going to be 98° outside. Luckily, because of my extensive knowledge of boy bands I knew that meant it was going to be hot. Whether or not it was going to be Nick Lachey hot or Drew Lachey lukewarm I was unsure.
I began sifting through my limited summer clothing options, and found myself growing upset. The fact is, fashion and I simply do not get along when the temperature rises. There are basic fashion truths, andyes, less is more when you have a six-pack and a tan that you bring with you to the beach. However, when your upper body resembles one of the white dinner rolls you pass around in a basket at Christmas dinner, proper layering is vital to maintaining one's sense of self-esteem.
I glanced at the clock and knew that I did not have much time to wade in the shallow end of of life. I still needed to moisturize, update my Facebook status and decide on an outfit.
Debating between one of two possible outfits, I finally made the executive decision to go nautical. I would bring a little bit of the West Coast to Nashville. I reunited my navy blue shorts with a classic blue-and-white striped shirt from Club Monaco and finished the ensemble with a pair of matching Hugo Boss socks pulled up to my knees. Satisfied with the final look, it did not occur to me until hours later that day that I had dressed up as the American flag.
One miniature box of cereal later, the three of us pulled on to the interstate to Memphis. Peering outside the window, it was not long before it hit me I was in the land of gun shops, Baptist Churches, college football teams and hit country FM stations. The adventure had officially begun.