I. Open Air Nursing Home
The first thing I noticed when we walked through the gates of Dollywood was that there were a LOT of old people there. I get that it was late in the season and probably most kids were back in school, but I never would have imagined the park would have been packed by so many geriatrics. I guess they really wanted to listen to some bluegrass and eat some BBQ.
I think it was BYOB(utterscotch pudding).
Henry felt right at home.
Even the people working there were older than Henry’s backed-up shit. I guess that’s how Dolly likes it. It’s nice to know that if I’m ever forced into retirement, Dolly will take me in. I’m not wearing a fucking bonnet though, I’m sorry. (Unless I can have it screen-printed with Jonny Craig’s face.)
This actually was a pretty nice change of pace, considering I’m used to gnarly carnies at the county fairs and ambivalent, lackadaisical college kids at Kennywood who act like they’re having to go beyond the call of duty just to make sure you’re buckled in. The old folks running the rides were excited about it.
Old Gramps over at the Lemon Twist was so happy to greet a new batch of riders that he acted like he was granting us entrance into the gates of heaven. I so badly wanted him to say, “Get stoked!”
I have to be honest and say that I was a little disconcerted about putting my life in the arthritic hands of someone who probably can’t even use a cell phone.
For lunch, we ate a place called the Backstage or something equally as lame, which had the distinct aroma of joint cream and barbeque. There was a man covering “Sweet Home Alabama” next to an empty table and I was ready to raise hell if we got seated there. We ended up being sat in a different room, full of old people and bus boys in checkered shirts.
Our waiter’s name was Sherbet (named changed to protect the innocent) and he spoke in a concerned whisper. I’m positive he has a collection of women’s tongues and rape poem-filled composition books under his mattress, but it didn’t stop him from being hugely endearing to me.
Or maybe that’s why he was hugely endearing to me.
“Your son’s meal came with a collector’s plate,” Sherbet whispered to me in such a way that I wondered if he thought Chooch would get mugged in an alley if word got out on the street that he was the new owner of a plastic plate loaded with butterflies. “It’s not dishwasher or microwave safe,” Sherbet continued, leaning down to assure his strangulated whisper seeped into my ear. “Otherwise, it will ruin the print on the plate and may even warp it.”
I have never before listened so intently to someone warn me about potential collector plate hazards. (This might be because I kept getting flashes of him lounging in his bed with a sex doll, smoking an e-Cig and wearing a garter belt.) In any case, I might never let Chooch eat from it. (The plate, not the sex doll). In fact, I might even buy a glass display case for it.
If I can even find it. It might still be in Tennessee.
Sherbet would kill me if he found out I might have lost it.
III. Birds of Prey
Admission for Dollywood was like, I don’t know, $60 a person or something ridiculous like that. In fact, Henry and Bill were dragging their feet when they found out the admission but I got all lip-jutty and whiny.
“Do you know how much it costs?” Bill said on Dollywood Eve.
“Yes, Henry and I had a debate about this,” I said.
“Debate? Is that what you’re calling that?” Henry said with barking laughter. I might have cried, broken up with him and slammed a door. So yes, “debate.”
But I got my way and was consequently the only happy person that Wednesday. (I don’t think Chooch cared either way; he’s such a failure in that department.)
“I was looking at the website and I don’t think they had all the rides listed,” I said when we walked through the gates.
“No,” Bill replied dourly as he studied a map of the park. “I’m pretty sure that’s all the rides that are here.”
Slim pickins, is what it was (I feel like Dolly probably says slim pickins), so we decided we better take in some shows.
The unfortunate part to that is there wasn’t much we were interested in.
But as it turns out, Dolly is a big bald eagle advocate; there is a huge enclosure on a hillside filled with bald eagles who have been rescued. Next to the enclosure is a little outdoor theater which holds several daily bird shows.
Now this I was down with, even though I knew it was something Henry would like too and that kind of pained me a little.
You guys, there were owls there. OWLS. Goddamn I love a motherfucking owl. They remind me so much of my cat Marcy! (So do hawks, eagles and vultures, as well.)
Doesn’t that look like Marcy!?
This one broad who was enjoying the bird show clearly loves beverage more than you do. Who wears shirts like that? I know I don’t, because I don’t give that much of a fuck about any beverage that isn’t going to get me fucked up. Henry, however, probably saw this shirt and got a beverage boner. I mean, the man moves pallets of Faygo around a warehouse for a living.
I’m not going to lie, I got choked up through several parts of the show (birds of prey are cool, don’t hate) and even cried at the end. Although, my favorite part was when the bald eagle projectile shat on the handler.
[There is more but I don’t want to overwhelmed the Internet with all of my photos at once. Plus, I’m at work and getting INTERRUPTED. The nerve.]