Yep, this year I am going on Hillbilly Holiday with my sisters. This is the first time in a long time, and I will probably live to regret it. HilHol involves driving down to East Texas, hanging out with my father on his armed compound, and generally being rednecks. Think huntin’ wild hogs, boatin’ on the river, shootin’ shit up with big guns, and eatin’ fried pies, all while wearing a heavy layer of bug spray and a pair of rubber waders.
In making my uncertain preparations for this trip (which clothes won’t I be sad to throw away when it’s all over?) I realized that I haven’t seen my father since he came to visit me in Florida some time around 2003. He came down for the Daytona bike rally and swung through Tampa with his 2nd (or 3rd) wife. (Things are a little muddled there.)
At the time, Exhubbicula was deployed to somewhere sandier than Florida, so I went to dinner with my father and Mary Jo by myself. Or I thought it was just going to be the three of us, but a fourth dinner guest was invited: one of my father’s business associates.
There was a time when my father’s business associates were drug dealers, drug manufacturers, and various well-armed men who kept the drugs flowing. Now his business associates are glass manufacturers. Although my father no longer sells drugs, he does a booming business in drug paraphernalia, including blown-glass water pipes. You may know them by their more common name: bongs.
At any rate, the man who met us for dinner was not a drug dealer, nor even a dealer in drug paraphernalia. He sold glass to glass blowers. Artists mostly, and it was clear to me that he was out of his league. My father looks like this:
What you may not be able to discern in this photo is that a.) he has no teeth, b.) he has a swastika tattoo on his left arm, and c.) he is the kind of man who casually drops the word nigger into conversation. Mary Jo is a suitable help-meet.
The glass salesman had been doing all his business transactions with my father over the internet, so they had only ever exchanged professional emails about buying and selling glass. He nearly panicked when he shook my father’s hand, and he spent the whole meal looking at the only safe thing he could see: me. Harmless little redheaded, sandal-and-capri-wearing-has-all-her-teeth-and-talks-like-a-hillbilly-English-major me. He could barely eat and no matter who spoke, he directed his responses to me.
He ran away as soon as he could, leaping into his late model Volvo and speeding away to the safety of suburbia. I imagine he turned this night into a funny story to tell his friends, never letting on how horrified he was.
So after a ten-year hiatus from my father, I’m curious how things will be over Hillbilly Holiday. Wish me luck.