"St. Pete or Bust! 2000" story # 7

Savannah, Georgia           October 9, 2000

(On the last Modern Oddyseus' Travel Annals:)
     "...Is the "Date of the Week" Program doomed? Is this how it all ends?"

It was the last day of the week, and I needed to find a date - quick. I tried and tried and tried, but the problem was it was a Sunday night. No girl would go out with me, understandably, because all responsible collegians study at this time of the week. The "Date of the Week" program was in more trouble than ever.
     Finally, at 9 p.m., I came up with the savior solution. If I couldn't have one girl for a date, why not just have all of them? I put on my swingin'est shirt and dancingest shoes, borrowed a cassette from Luke, and set off around campus on the first-ever "Tour De Merengue."
     MODERN ODDYSEUS' DATING ADVICE # 4 - Learn to Latin-dance!!! Merengue and salsa-dancing involves shaking your hips quickly near a partner, while performing various "turns" that contort your arms and leave you nauseous. Needless to say, it's a good time.
     My tour took me for dances to the rooms of Megan from Florida and Puerto Rican Armina. Ricarda from Switzerland taught me the Cha-cha-cha.
     A small party broke out in Valentina's room, where my white-guy dance skills were sadly overshadowed by a true Latino who can really "cut a rug," or as they say in South America, "cotar la lacera." The Uruguayan Valentina, Caroline from Kenya (there must be a big Latin-dancing community in central Africa, I guess), and Kim from Philadelphia offered "Tour"-stops.
     The date nearly met a tragic end when Blanca's hungry stereo tried to eat my tape. This would've come as crushing news to Luke and I, two of the rug-cuttingest white boys who worship that cassette like a bible. Blanca fixed it (whew!), so that Venezuelan Patricia could become the final dancer. "Tour De Merengue" was a rousing success, and I'm sure my festive interference made the study-filled nights of my dance partners a little more enjoyable.
     Ofcourse, the victim in all of this was MY schoolwork, which I should've been doing and didn't. But, I feel there are some things more important than studying (such as making friends happy, staying healthy, eating lots of ice cream, playing Pac-Man, getting 10 or 12 hours of sleep a day, and learning how to cotar la lacera). The "Date of the Week" program is safe - but for how long!?

I've heard interesting things about the Deep South, which is an area of the United States (towards the south) so different from the rest that it seems like a foreign country. There's a lot of racial tension here, the people are poor, and the Southern drawl they speak with makes communicating with outsiders very tough. It sounds like a place I should visit.
     You're probably saying now: But, Justin, why would you want to visit a place with poor people, many of them racist, who you don't understand?
     Okay, okay, you got me! I'll admit, I've got a little "thing" for Southern girls. I'd like to go find myself a Southern Bell with long frizzy hair, the smile of a lamb, a caring voice to call me "darlin'," and the daisy-field smell of a girl totally pure from city-life evils.
     In one of those American geographical oddities, I actually had to go north to get to the South. Florida's populated by lots of retired people - few of them actually worked in the South.
     So, I headed for the South, going north. I rode with a friend who dropped me off near Savannah, Georgia, on a late Friday night.
     I'd heard the downtown was really nice, but I found it quite ugly at first. A row of buildings sits on a street opposite a river, but some large industrial plants obstruct your view of the water. The brick buildings were all about four stories high, with small shops on the first floor.
     I started noticing all the shops looked friendly and old-fashioned - the kind of places so nice that you just want the owner to have all your money. I came across a candy shop where you can watch them making your candy, then a small ice cream place (looked GOOD), and Spanky's restaurant. Old-fashioned ice cream and a place called Spanky's? That's enough to change my mind - even though I was nearly mugged by two guys who chased me...I like Savannah!
     Another thing I liked about Savannah was how warm the Savannians were when they weren't trying to mug you.
     A homeless alcoholic cheerily asked how I was doing.
     "Fine," I said.
     "You're a GREAT guy!" he said enthusiastically.
     I must say, even I didn't expect to be complemented so soon upon meeting someone. The guy must've been a psychic. "Thanks," I said.
     "Have a terrific day!" he called out with a big smile. What a nice drunk!
     "I will," I assured him.
     After that, the gay owner of the obviously gay nightclub I went into (it only became obvious AFTER I went in - I don't know why I always end up in these places) hit on me. I suppose I can't say for sure that he was hitting on me, but he talked to me for a long time. And when you're a heterosexual guy, you pretty much live in a constant fear that every homosexual you talk to not only likes you, but also has the power to brainwash you into becoming gay. As irrational as it may sound, I know that's how I usually feel.
     Later on, some girl said, "Nice to meet you," because I asked her for directions. How could she have felt glad to meet me when all she knew about me was that I didn't know my way to the end of the block? Perhaps Savannucks usually reveal a severe personality disorder during their first five seconds of contact with someone, but I can't otherwise explain it.
     After dancing, I hitchhiked to the beach to sleep. When I woke up, I realized I had to get out of Savannah. It was nice and all, but I could understand what the Savangers said perfectly. It wasn't the Deep South. and I couldn't find my Southern Bell.
     The first Savvy to pick me up was Rhonda, a nice old lady who bikes and roller blades and collects flamingoes. I rode next with a guy whose life is marching bands, but who also can dance merengue. He gave me the horrifying news that I was in the completely wrong area of Georgia to find my Southern Bell with long frizzly hair, the smile of a lamb, and the daisy-field smell of a girl totally pure.
     Well, he didn't use those words exactly. But, basically, he said I wasn't going to come across any incomprehendable Southern drawls or the Deep South unless I went to Alabama or Mississippi in the west. I couldn't hitchhike that far - what a shame.
     So, I instead headed south of the South, to home. The semi I rode in pulled into my school at 11 p.m. This got the security guards scurrying in a panic - I don't think a semi had ever been on my campus before.
     I'd succeeded in hitchhiking 450 miles in 12 hours (which is quite tough these days in America), but I didn't succeed to find my Southern darlin'. Sniff, sniff.

Later - Modern Oddyseus

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