Henry: [mouthing off about coves.]
Henry: “You know, maybe you would learn something if you actually listened to me.”
Yeah, but that won’t happen as long as Jonny Craig’s voice is coming out of the speakers.
Still haven’t seen any bears. Not even after the 5,000 mile car ride through the national park which Henry forced us to take this morning. Oh my god, it was so boring. By the time we actually got to our destination, Henry turned around and started driving back, what the fuck. (First we stopped in some small information center where Chooch got chastised by some old park ranger within 5 seconds for TOUCHING A BOOK. Either old people in Tennessee are just all assholes, or they have the ability to see Chooch’s inner Satan.)
Nature never fails to make Henry and I fight, so it was a pretty miserable drive back to the resort. Mostly because I was convinced he took us out there specifically to sabotage my plans for Christ in the Smokies, which I had been yearning for since JUNE.
Bill came down around 1:30 and we finally embarked for downtown Gatlinburg. Henry was definitely not pleased about this page of the intinerary but Bill and I were super fired-up.
I immediately had an uncomfortable, slightly-tense run-in with one of the museum…curators? Does wearing a Christ in the Smokies polo qualify him with that status? I’m not sure, but he was very exasperated that I bought our tickets online but was unable to print them out. This caused us to have to interact longer than I would have liked, and he was also clearly chagrined by this.
“Southern hospitality must not apply in Tennessee,” I complained to Henry, recounting all the situations I’ve had so far which called for scrutiny.
“They’re probably just used to dealing with ignorant assholes,” Henry said, and I KNOW he wasn’t directing that at me.
We had time to scope the gift shop before our tour started and I was extremely dismayed with the lack of kitsch. I mean, yeah—-all Jesus shit is hokey, but this was all your typical hokey shit that you’d find anywhere. Very few items boasted the Christ in the Smokies insignia, so I had to make due with a tiny lamb-handled bell and a $2 souvenir program which I only bought because it came with 2 post cards, which were unavailable for separate purchase. (I’ll send them to the first two to call dibs.) Totally lame and unacceptable. I was fully prepared to spend most of my souvenir savings there, just so they know.
(I had my heart set on something scary to add to my bathroom collection. Gory bleeding hearts and weeping Marys, even a crown of thorns toilet paper holder would have sufficed.)
There was no one else there so it ended up being just the four of us touring the museum, which is great because we never know how Chooch is going to act in these things. Also because I was even more free to be inappropriate and feign respect. After the annoyed guide explained the rules (PHOTOGRAPHY IS PROHIBITED INSIDE THE EXHIBIT) we started off watching a short DVD presentation about how Jesus is the best and then the doors opened to the diorama portion of the tour, which started with the Nativity scene. Chooch was excited because this included a chicken.
“Mommy, that guy said NO PICTURES!” Chooch is such a little bitch-ass tattle-tale. But he was surprisingly—-pardon the pun—-a little angel in there. There were moments when he would mumble, “Bor-ING” but for the most part, he sat quietly in each room on the pews and asked appropriate questions.
“Get used to it kid,” I said. “This shit is your next eight years.” Oh, Catholic school. I should have told his kindergarten teacher that THIS is why he’s missing his first week of school. She probably would have said to take TWO weeks, in that case.
Henry was completely against this yet he seemed curiously enrapt by each display. (We’ll probably have to start going to church now, plan backfired.) You just can’t tell in this picture because he was too busy reprimanding me for taking pictures while simultaneously picking his hemorrhoids.
Chooch made comments here and there like, “That looks like Luke Skywalker!” and then argued that Jesus as a young boy was really a girl until we finally acquiesced and said, “Yes you’re right, it’s a girl.”
“Oh, I’m gonna pay attention to THIS one!” Chooch cried out after walking into another room. Of course, it was a scene depicting Satan tempting Jesus. Satan was standing at the entrance of a cave which had Hellish red lights emanating from within, like a biblical bordello. It was my favorite one, too.
Bill liked the one with Jesus hanging out in town, talking to children, because there was some shirtless body-builder hanging out on the periphery. “Look at the abs on that guy!” he sighed a little too lustfully.
This same scene also had mannequins commingling with the wax figures. I guess Christ in the Smokies was tight on money.
So, I started the tour as a snickering heathen, but by the time I got to the crucifixion scene, Catholic guilt had me by the tits and I was all, “OMG JESUS I LOVE YOU JESUS!” I’m a sucker for this shit.
“Heaven is made from the inside of couches?!?!” Chooch exclaimed in shock upon inspecting the ascension scene (which actually did involve Jesus rising up to the ceiling in an epic, gear-turning fashion; props to Christ in the Smokies).
Yes, Chooch. That’s exactly what heaven is made from. (Thank you, cats, for showing him what the inside of the couch looks like in the first place.)
After listening to a lilting rendition of the Hallelujah chorus, the doors burst open to the “gardens,” which was actually just a small enclosed area filled with moist air and the stench of a greenhouse. At the center was a sculpture of Jesus’s face, with creepy eyes that stared at us no matter where we stood. (Corey actually bought me a smaller version of this a few years ago for my birthday and it remains one of my prized possessions.)
The last part housed a small collection of currency from Jesus-times and a random collection of Jesus movie memorabilia. Although the gardens were underwhelming at best, the rest of the place was everything I could wanted. I mean, a myriad of wax Bible scenes—how can you go wrong with that?
If my hour spent at Christ in the Smokies did anything at all, it confirmed what I had been contemplating for years: I should totally start dressing like Mary Magdalene.