Sooo…Kentucky. The primary purpose for my trip was to visit my sister – I had no other plans other than to share in her every day life, until I got there and suddenly I wanted to see everything. I wanted to buy a floppy hat with a big pink bow and head to the derby, I wanted to meander over the acres and acres of horse property and pose in front of dilapidated barns while listening to the babbling brooks. And I wanted to go to church. Despite previous efforts to experience a legit Baptist church, I still yearned for the real deal. In my head the “real deal” is a small, white chapel around the corner where most of the neighborhood attends, where the people wear their emotions on their sleeve, call me “honey” after knowing me for 8 seconds, and have a closet American Idol contestant in their choir. They serve barbecue and grits after the meeting and don’t make fun of me for clapping my hands during the music or look cross-eyed at me for wearing a hat. (I love hats, but wearing them in a Mormon church makes people turn their heads and go, “Who the heck does she think she is?” because even though we’re not supposed to be judgmental, the wearing of hats suggests that all bets are off.) I hardly did any of that, but I still had a great trip. Despite its rocky start.
Gate A-38 at the Denver International Airport is where I sat to wait for my plane to board. A couple of rows in front of me a young woman began raising her voice to a couple that sat a few seats away from her in the waiting area. She was accusing the guy of stealing her phone, and he was vehemently denying it. They yelled a few profanities back and forth, and it seemed as if they were finished but the young woman wouldn’t let it go and soon everyone became aware of the conflict. That’s when the woman sitting next to the accused got up, went over to the young woman and stood about 3 centimeters from her face, grabbed the back of her hair and yelled, “Whatcha gonna do about it, huh? WHATCHA GONNA DO?!!” The young woman showed her exactly what she was “gonna do” and smacked her across the face. And that’s when the chick fight broke out. “Security!” yelled the gate attendant and in the meantime another gentleman, a neutral party, stood up between the women and broke up the fight. I was also very helpful, because from 3 rows away I yelled, “Hey! Settle down!” but I don’t think they heard me over all the f-bombs that were being dropped. Security finally showed, and all parties were carted off and removed from our flight. It’s like they know I have a blog or something!
I thought the fun was over until I found my seat on the plane and discovered that I was surrounded by a group of senior citizens returning from a trip to Las Vegas. The gentleman across the aisle wore a hat that said, “2010 National Farm Machinery Show”. Boy oh boy, do those folks know how to party! At one point the woman next to me declared that she was “parched”. “I need a piece of gum or something!” she announced. “I have a pack in my purse, would you like a piece?” I offered. “Oh no,” she answered. “This one time? I was chewin’ on a piece of bubble gum and wouldn’t you know it but my partials got all jammed up and gave me lockjaw. The only gum I can chew now is Freedent.” I tried to stay quiet the rest of the flight, but it didn’t prevent me from taking notes. Upon our landing the flight attendant announced that it would be 5 minutes before we reached the gate, and that’s when National Farm Machinery Hat Man said, “Open the door! I gotta go wee wee!” and then all of his senior citizen friends laughed. I think he tried to distract himself from wetting his pants by asking questions like, “How come the Barenaked Ladies and the Goo Goo Dolls are all men?” I gotta hand it to him, he really made me think.
Here’s the main thing I learned about Kentucky – southern hospitality is for real! This whole time I thought Paula Deen was the only genuine article, but y’all, Paula Deens are everywhere! I couldn’t believe how welcoming people were. As someone who is not particularly friendly, I thought this might annoy me but it was quite the opposite – it was surprisingly refreshing. On a walk one day we met my sister’s new neighbor. Straight out of Steel Magnolias her blonde locks were perfectly coiffed like cotton candy framing her face, her heels elevated her a couple extra inches off the ground, the makeup appeared fresh and her earrings dangled loosely from her lobes reflecting the sun’s light. She was sparkly all over, and greeted us like long lost cousins. What was she doing in high heels and red, shimmering earrings? GARDENING. Naturally. Another afternoon found us at an antique show up the street. Browsing through one couple’s treasures the man gestured, “You be sure and let us know if you’d like to see anything out of the case. We’re just sittin’ here talkin’ about Dancing With The Stars.” We spent the next 5 minutes discussing Derek’s mad skills (“I just love anything he does”), Chad and Cheryl’s confusing relationship (“I think he just came on too strong at first and now she’s done with ‘im”), and who we think is going to win (“Well you know, Pussy Cat Doll girl will win 1st because she’s good AND pretty”). And in the end, I DID want to see something from their case. Later we met a girl named Polly who gave us a tour of the model home in my sister’s neighborhood. I think it had been a while since Polly had seen a grown up, but now at least I’m clear on the difference between coffered and tray ceilings.
In the end I scored a weekend with family, a night out with a long lost Colorado comrade at the Cheesecake Factory, a trip to Graeter's Ice Cream (of which I would like to bear my testimony), a stop at Churchill Downs, niece and nephew time (trust me guys, if we had played ALL 10 Phases of Phase 10 I totally would have won), an Antique Show (could have stayed there for hours), and we even had a last minute Blind Side moment where my sister took in a kid off the street to spend the night at their house. Hopefully there are several more trips to Kentucky in my future, only next time there WILL be hats!