And so the trip to Pine Mountain, GA commences. Our cabin-hotel hybrid: delightful. Family time: Perfection. Giant batch of cookies courtesy of Habitat for Humanity Cookie Sale: delicious. We’re all stuffed with sugar and board the shuttle to see some Christmas lights.
We tend to be perpetually early as a family (This rule doesn’t apply to me as an individual, but when you’re in the Bassett Crew, you show up, at minimum, 30 minutes prior to the start of any event.), so we had a good 45 minutes to kill before our actual lights tour departed, which meant we got to take in the kill-some-time-and-give-us-your-money attractions that come along with the Fantasy in Lights tour. The funnel cakes stationed next to the goat cheese, wild mushroom and roasted red pepper pizzas…The inexplicable 20 minute wait for hot chocolate, and then there was the giant Christmas Village. There were adorable kids dancing with an evil-eyed gingerbread man, a grown-ass man who apparently requested a Priscilla Queen of the Desert inspired Rudolph at the face painting station, and my father mistaking a mentally challenged man declaring his excitement for seeing reindeer for my sister. “Was that you?” he asks. “Dad. That was the special guy behind us. What the hell?” Woops.
And then it’s time to line up for our tour. The only Christmas lights tour I’ve been on was at the Montgomery Zoo about six years ago—We bundled up and rode a cute little train all around the property, so that’s the mindset I was working with…Instead we were herded like cattle in preparation to board giant trucks. I leaned over my sister and asked, “Dude. Are they carting us to Auschwitz? Are we in Krakow? What the eff.” When the time came, we filed into our trucks and I awaited Schindler to hose us down at the first stop. Little did I know what the trip actually had in store…
As Ma said, there’s an asshole in every bunch. And ours was sitting directly behind us.
To give you an idea the guy sounded like:
And looked like:
The mean D3: Mighty Ducks Prep School Coach. Right down to the mock turtleneck.
This guy. Woof. Apparently it's his family tradition to load up the wife, daughter and son in law and ruin everyone else's vacation. We knew we were in for trouble when we passed a fellow truck on their way out of the tour while we were on our way in and he hollered "MMEEEEEERRRRRYYYY CHHHHRIIIIIISTMAAAAAS!!!" with all the strength his hot air-filled lungs could muster. We had not been instructed to do this. He knew it would be asked of us later in the tour. He'd done this before. And the quoting of the pre-recorded tour can now begin. Our truck was being led by an imaginary horse named Snowflake. Douche bag neighs as if he's Snowflake. And we all appreciate it. Because we don't know what horses sound like. And in order to fully comprehend, we need to hear said neighing at 200 decibels.
What really got us was this guy's continuous stream of free association bullshit. "Look at them trees. Spooky trees. Spoo. Spaah. Spaghetti trees. Look at them there spaghetti trees. You see them spaghetti trees? Think you can eat those spaghetti trees? Bah wah ha ha huh yuck!!!" Or maybe the best part was how his mind seemed to be set on loop. Like he was a fuckin annoying, boisterous, Pentecostal preacher version of the forgetful, fishy, just-keep-swimming Dora. (While driving through the enchanted forest stretch of road) "Fireflies and butterflies. Look at them fiiiire-flies and buuuterflies. Butterflies and fireflies. Poin-set-ias. Pone-set-as. And there are them there fireflies and butterflies." Good Lord, make it stop. Put him down. Put me down. Do whatever we gotta do to shut this mother up or make me not care. He stomped along to "Jingle Bells;" he thought Swan Lake was a song. Then a book. Then a play. And that fella drowned. He can't wait to get him a fried Oreo. He's gone get crazy in Gatlinburg for New Years. Just you wait til he's all hopped on Mountain Dew. He's gonna come after you like a spider monkey. WHAT? There are grandparents trying to show the kiddies the toy soldiers, to practice counting the froggies. And you can't SHUT THE FUCK UP. We all hate you. You've ruined Christmas.
The tour finally comes to a close and we hop off as soon as our truck rolls to a stop so we can get just far away from the devil's earshot to talk about what an asshole he is.
Oh, the lights were pretty, too.
Our hunger only momentarily distracted us from our recent twatwaffle encounter; We sniffed around at the vendors, but the thought of paying $12 for a Polish dog didn't quite appeal to us. We decided to get out of the sea of dicks, pick up some takeout and eat at the cabin. Because we're not assholes. And we needed some time around non-assholes. After weeding through a gang of octogenarians, we hopped on the shuttle bus to head back to the rental property. But. We weren't quite done with rabble-rousers yet. We made a stop at a sister-property to drop of about half the shuttle, and guess what? Those seats were gonna be replenished with a rowdy, shitcanned group of miscreants. I'd say there was a gaggle of 40 waiting to get on. And only 20 seats open. They filed in one by one, each hoarding vodka cranberries. When capacity was reached, and the driver was closing the door, there was a sudden swell of drunken exclamation: NO!! THERE'S ROOM!! THERE'S A SEAT RIGHT HERE. HE CAN COME ON. THEY HAVE TO COME ON!!! WE'RE ON A WORK TRIP; WE ALL HAVE TO BE TOGETHER!!!" At that, our driver said, "Well, then you can get off then, because there's no more room. So sit down or shut it."
She's my hero.
We make it to home sweet parking lot and venture out yet again in search of food, basking in the glow and warmth of our superiority and non-fuckdudgery. Well, after a quick look around we found the historic restaurant district of Pine Mountain, GA.
Ah, yes. Nothing but class. We could've either had fried chicken next to the gas station or fried chicken next to a malt liquor store. We chose the former. As we pull into the parking lot, a man stumbles out and welcomes us with a massive purge. We are in for a treat. The 80 health rating is proudly displayed in a broken frame. A bucket of mashed potatoes sits atop a pile of styrofoam plates. Gravy-colored grease pours like lava out of an industrial faucet into a fryer. KFCs should not have open kitchens. As we await our bucket and its accoutrements, we watch a grandmother pat her husband's crotch and the purger refill stomach with Subway. I can't help but wonder how long it's actually going to stay put. In near unison, we all ask, where the fuck are we??
Finally we're home. Away from people, food in hand, happy to retreat to our Fortress of Solitude.
The next morning we have to get ready for our complimentary breakfast at the Country Store down the road (And you only have to wait for an hour for it. Awesome. Great deal. I was hoping I'd have an hour to check out your selection of "made in China" local wares and muscadine byproducts before I enjoy your bastardized Cracker Barrel breakfast.), but before we left I peak into mom and dad's room to find this:
Well shit. We are the Cleavers. Right down to the separate double beds for Ma and Pa. Who knew assholicness could be so volatile to a relationship?
Of course I kid. Kind of.
Next year, I say we stay home. Just to be on the safe side...