For the past 10 years, my best girlfriend and I have escaped our families and gone to the mountains. We eat, drink, smoke, talk, do puzzles, giggle and generally everything we can’t do on a day to day basis. I know you think “doing puzzles?” But, if you have small children you know that completing an actual puzzle is a monumental task. This annual retreat is full of sweat pants and granny panties, no make-up and no cell phones; full on nitty gritty girl time.
We stay in a little cabin in the mountains of SC miles from any kind of real civilization. The closest place is a gas station about a mile down the road. Its really more of a convenience store/gas station/hamburger joint with an antique, home furnishing and jewelry department. The burgers are the greasiest, best burgers you’ve ever tasted. And since there is no cell reception, they have a nice pay phone outside for convenience. Its really the only time in my life I ever have an opportunity to use a pay phone anymore- so that’s a nice trip down memory lane…but we’ll save that for later. The convenience store/gas station/hamburger joint/antique, home furnishing and jewelry store is really one stop shopping for all your mountain needs. Honestly, the person who came up with this place is a pure genius. “Yes, I need gas, a beer, some beef jerky, a burger and a shabby chic refurbished chest of drawers.” Done and done.
Now the clientele are what you might call “mountain folk”. Let me apologize in advance to any mountain folk who are reading this. But really, what are the chances? You can’t get cell reception there- so I’m pretty sure the internet connection ain’t too great either. This is supposed to be a funny story- so keep your moonshine drinking, jug blowing, banjo pickin’ hate mail to yourself- and get a sense of humor already. (please don’t hurt me)
I’m sure there are many beautiful mountain gals out there, let’s not forget the beautiful Charlene Darling on the Andy Griffith Show. She could’ve easily taken the crown for Miss Appalachia. I know she was gaga for Andy- but really, Barney would’ve made a good catch too. He was young, employed, breathing- what more could a girl ask for? But alas, I’ve never laid eyes on anyone as good lookin’ as Charlene Darling in this neck of the woods. So, needless to say, the best part of visiting the gas station/convenience store/hamburger joint/antique, home furnishing and jewelery store is that for a few minutes each year, no matter how bad I look, how fat I am, how much my roots are showing…. I am the prettiest girl in town.
I believe it was our second year on this annual retreat, when the unthinkable happened. We mustered up the energy to walk the five feet from the bed to the rocking chairs on the porch. We were still in our pajamas, I had slippers on, she had only her socks, we’d settled in to play cards, drink coffee, smoke ciggies and enjoy the morning. Eventually, one of us had to go back in to get something and we realized our fatal mistake- we were locked out!
Remember, no cell service, no landline, no keys to the car, no fucking keys to the cabin, a mile from the gas station- SHIT!! We both decided this qualified as full on EMERGENCY situation. I mean we could die from exposure!! What the fuck were we going to do???? So I had a brilliant idea. We throw the coffee table through the window. It seemed like a perfectly logical idea to me, how else would we get in? But, as she always does, (bless her heart) she talked some sense into me. And suggested we walk for help. So we grabbed our smokes and began the mile long walk to the gas station/convenience store/hamburger joint/antique, home furnishing and jewelery store seeking aid.
Now, we had a long rocky dirt road to walk down hill first before we even reached the paved road. Remember, I had my slippers and she only had socks on. So we compromised and I gave her one slipper. Thus, we began our journey with only one slipper on for each of us. Still in our pajamas, with one slipper on each foot, we casually walked the mile down the country lane with truckers and bikers whizzing past us. No one seemed to find it unusal that two women would be walking along side this road dressed in pajamas- which by the way also means- NO BRAS- boobs were bouncing all over the place.
On a side note, I’ve known this chica since college. We were in sorority together. And anyone who’s ever been in a sorority knows there are certain rules of conduct one must uphold at ALL times- whether you’re in college or not. There were very specific rules about smoking cigarettes. Apparently, these rules were written before the whole lung cancer scare began- what a bummer. Anyway, two of the biggest rules pertaining to cigs were that one should always roll your ashes into an ashtray in a ladylike manner- never tap! You know, those disgusting women who tap there cigarettes- such trash. They’re also the same women who wear tank tops with no bras and feather their hair- yuck. The other rule was to NEVER walk down the street smoking a cigarette. Honestly, what could be more unladylike then walking and smoking?
Well, she decided having a smoke while we walked seeking aid for our full on EMERGENCY would be a fine idea and offered me one as well. Always the lady, I politely declined. And she was all, “what the fuck?” I gently reminded her that in our sorority a lady never walks down the street smoking. Again, she talked some sense into me, waving her arms around and said, “Who the fuck are you trying to impress?” She was right, we were walking down a road in the middle of nowhere, in our pajamas, with no bras, one slipper on each foot…really I don’t know why I thought smoking was going to hurt my reputation. So smoke it up I did.
We finally reached the gas station/convenience store/hamburger joint/antique, home furnishing and jewelery store and realized we had no money for the pay phone. There was a Southern Baptist church right next door (sorry I forgot to mention that early- but really who the hell cares). Again, I apologize in advance to my Southern Baptist friends, but hey, I’m a cradle Catholic and we don’t understand all your jibber jabber. It was a Sunday and the parking lot was packed. I thought we would definitely find someone to help us in there. But, again, always the sensible person- she convinced me that if we went in there they’d be trying to save our souls, laying on of hands, speaking in tongues, handling snakes, baptizing us in giant pools of water- you know everything but helping us get back in the cabin. And she was right- we had no place in a church that morning.
So we went into the gas station/convenience store/hamburger joint/antique, home furnishing and jewelery store and asked to use the phone. The teenage boy behind the counter offered us his cell phone. What?? A cell phone that worked out here in the middle of nowhere?? Apparently, only one carrier had conquered this highly lucrative market. Being a full on EMERGENCY, we immediately dialed 911. And then before they answered- hung up. Because you know, a 911 call coming from a gas station/convenience store/hamburger joint/antique, home furnishing and jewelery store is never suspicious. So of course, they called back and we had to explain the whole EMERGENCY. The dispatcher kindly suggested we call a locksmith. God bless the dispatcher- she was a GENIUS!
So we used the PHONE BOOK- I know- where the hell do you even get one of those things? And called a locksmith. Of course, he was in church handling snakes at the time and said it would be at least an hour before he could come. We told him to meet us at the gas station/convenience store/hamburger joint/antique, home furnishing and jewelery store. So we sat outside and patiently waited in our pajamas, no bras, one slipper wearing, cigarette smoking glory.
Upon his arrival, with his mountain wife in tow, he suggested that he follow us to our destination in his van. Then we had to explain that we had no car and could we pretty please have a ride? Hesitantly, he agreed and we sat on the floor of a locksmith van. Keys, picks and other tools of the trade jingling all around us as we directed him back to the cabin.
In just minutes he had us back in our humble abode and we wrote him a check. He had saved us from this life threatening EMERGENCY and we were ever so grateful. The landlord now keeps the key in a coded lock box outside the door. Please God don’t let me ever forget the code!
By the by, I don’t smoke anymore. Just want to make sure y’all know what a lady I am.