North Carolina

Today brought visits to the relatives in Reidsville. This is always nice even though it means being trapped in a non-smoking environment for three hours or so, and I’m usually a bit edgy by the end. Now I get to go over to my aunt’s house and finish hooking up her new VCR. I’ll probably miss “The Simpsons” again…

 

I also did my traditional run downtown to see the shadows of what we had instead of malls when I was very young. I peered into the old stores, most of them closed and boarded up, and thought about the crowds which used to roam the streets, and Santa Claus at Meyer’s, and eating at the S&W Cafeteria, and movies at the Carolina Theatre, and popcorn at Kress’s. I’m sad that it’s all gone now, but at the same time glad that I’m just barely old enough to remember when downtown was still the center of things.

I may try to hit Myrtle Beach tomorrow. I lived there for four months eleven years ago. Haven’t been back since. It’s changed either dramatically or not at all, I’d imagine. We’ll see.

***

Seems my dad developed a serious kidney stone in honor of the Tour. Thus, my biggest single frame of reference for the Greensboro leg as been the emergency room at Cone Hospital. Spent pretty much all of Saturday there waiting for something to happen. Fortunately, surgery finally ensued with no complications and my dad is home and quite normal now. Except for the string. Let’s not discuss that…

So I got to relive another aspect of my childhood by hanging out at Cone Hospital. From about age four to age eight or so, I had an awful lot of relatives die there and I remember playing on the steps in front of the main entrance many nights while my parents worried. I finally found those steps again last night while prowling around looking for a smoking area. They look much smaller now.

 

In the process of lurking about the hospital staring at the cute orderlies and interns and reading all about the architecture of Pittsburgh, I managed to miss my cousin’s wedding. At least I was spared the repetitive “I guess your next” comments of my more distant and less savvy relatives.

As yet I haven’t gotten in contact with half the people I planned to, due in part to the above-mentioned semi-drama. I have one day left; it might be a bit tough now.

I did, however, run into several old friends by accident Friday night when I realized that I’d had it with fags and Babylon’s rave children and instead checked out the band at ZooBar. The drummer for the trio on stage turned out to be Roy, a former co-worker from Kinko’s. The sound “man” was his wife Emily. And then I ran into an old WUAG cohort, Lynn Blakey, and found out that her new band, Glory Fountain, had opened. CD received; review forthcoming. I’m prepared to like it.

So as not to be completely removed from queers, I checked out opening night at the new bar in town, the Jokers 3. This is actually a straight club which has fallen on hard times and is now attempting to woo the fags on weekends. As of Friday, the strategy seemed to be failing miserably. And the bar is from hell. Surly staff, $3.25 for a Rolling Rock, and no crowd. Except for the straight redneck holdovers who looked as if they’d been clustered at the same table for the past ten years or so. I opted for a hasty retreat.

 

Drove to the Raleigh and Durham with mom on Friday as well. I’d probably have seen more and done more alone, but it seemed a good “quality time” moment, and was actually a nice break between trips to the hospital.

Tonight brought the big family gathering and dinner. Tons of food and most of the assorted relatives. It was nice, and I’m impressed that my mom managed to pull it off after yesterday.

Today also brought the first mild debauchery of the trip. I’ll skip that detail for right now, but suffice to say UNCG did it for me again…

    

The day before I left, we headed to Mt. Airy, birthplace of Andy Griffith and model for Mayberry. Oddly enough, I’d never been there before despite living most of my life about 45 miles away. Neat place, but they are completely shameless in their exploitation of the Mayberry theme. There’s a Snappy Lunch (which actually predates the show and was really one of Andy Griffith’s hangouts), as well as a Blue Bird Diner, Floyd’s Barber Shop, and Goober’s Filling Station (all “after the fact”).

 

Leaving Greensboro was rough. I have to admit to suppressing a few sobs as I headed for I-85; it’s rough leaving Mom and Dad. Unlike many people who move to SF, I wasn’t running from them. I actually like my parents. It’s Greensboro I was running from. The place just bugs the crap out of me for some reason. No doubt there will be more on this subject later.

So of course I never got in touch with Adam or Daniel and I feel most guilty, but it was a bit of a crazy week. There’s still Christmas, I guess…

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