I went to Tennessee a couple of weeks ago to get some fried okra and brush up on being Southern. Or as Atley, my son Chris’s friend, would say, “Su-then.” He’d make jokes about my accent, saying, “Chris, your mom’s Su-then,” putting an emphasis on the “Su-” part to bring out the accent. It got laughs from everyone, so I went along. When I’d say something like, “Atley, can you pick up your glass and take it to the kitchen?” he’d say, “Suzanne, you Su-then.” Maybe you had to be there to truly appreciate it, but now in my head the word is no longer “Southern” but “Su-then.”
Anyway, on one of the layovers in the airport (no one flies to Tennessee from anywhere in the US without laying over in Chicago or Dallas or both), I decided to write out my top most fun times, and was kindof surprised at the things I wrote down.
They weren’t the times when I went to expensive dinners or to fancy plays or even tropical vacations. They were just regular times with one thing in common. I was with someone and we got the giggles until everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, became funny and we burst out laughing over and over again at absolutely nothing.
I’ll give you a for instance. After high school I dated this guy who was pretty funny – I called him Bangum, a Su-then pronunciation of his name. He had a great bunch of friends who fortunately became my friends, and once when Bangum was out of town, his friend, Adrian Ferguson, asked if I wanted to go see a horror movie at the drive in. This was about the extent of our entertainment options back in the day in Kingsport, Tennessee – going to some B-movie at the drive-in.
The movie was so bad that we could predict every plot point coming way before it happened. It was the kind of movie anyone with any taste would have left after the first few minutes, but Adrian kept making sarcastic remarks about everything and I got the giggles. This prompted his humor to seek loftier heights, and he kept firing funny comments, each one more ludicrous than the last, until I was begging him to stop so I could catch my breath.
He wouldn’t stop. He had a captive audience, and there was plenty of material on that giant outdoor screen. I can’t remember the plot, seems like it was about an illusionist who was so good that he could actually saw a woman in half – blood squirting out in all directions – and the audience only saw the box with the lady’s smiling head on one end and her wiggling feet on the other. Of course we, the moviegoers, could see the poor sawed lady screaming and guts and blood everywhere.
There was something in the movie about hitting a woman with a rubber hose. It was supposed to be horrible, but the whole concept of someone attacking a woman with a rubber hose sent us both into hysterics. Here’s the scene in our car.
Adrian: “You’d better behave, woman, or I’ll beat you with a rubber hose!”
Me: “Ha ha ha, oh please stop, don’t say rubber hose again, ha, ha, ha, no, no, no don’t I can’t take it anymore, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Where’s the bathroom – stop or I won’t make it, ha, ha, ha, please, you have GOT to stop.”
Adrian: “I’m going to beat you with a rubber hose.”
Me: “HA, HA, HA, oh please, please, please stop, HA HA HA HA HA oh my gosh I can’t breathe, stop, don’t say anything for a couple of seconds, let me catch my breath, ha ha ha.”
Adrian: “I’ll beat you with a rubber hose.”
I don’t’ know if I made it to the bathroom in time. I don’t know if we even stayed to the end of that dreadful movie. All I know is that I laughed longer and harder and with such complete abandon that I didn’t even feel like I was part of the world anymore.
That’s the great thing about going back to your hometown – I got to see Adrian and Bangum during my visit, along with a myriad of other friends and family – and we relived lots of fun times with fresh laughter.
I don’t care what Atley says, I’m darned happy to be Su-then.