Southern Splits

You have to look at yourself first.

All of the relationship experts tell us that it’s just the mature thing to do after a breakup.

In my taking of stock,  as it were, I must testify that I’ve discovered Southerners to be tough ‘sons of guns’.  We’ve have to be. The evidence is obvious.  Every year, we endure oppressive summer heat, suffer through humidity that can make rocks sweat, and suffer through a cloud of pollen that invades the lungs and otherwise colors everything above the ground a hazy-lazy ‘yellow’. We carry on through droughts, persist through tornadoes, survive floods of near Biblical proportions and put up with the incessant, fake Presidential aspirations of Newt Gingrich.

We’ve put up with all of this for a very long time now. We’ve gotten use to it; we take it all in stride and even brag about how, as a region, we are ‘Ford tough.’

And we are, too. We really are.

However, no matter how many wolf tickets we might attempt to sell about our inate, rugged toughness, we people of the American Deep South cannot stand cold weather (i.e. any air temperature below fifty degrees Fahrenheit). We abhor it. We especially don’t like to be reminded of how cold it might be on the outside. Except for ice cream in season and beer anytime, we don’t even like food that is served much below room temperature.

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Strange Bedfellows

The Atlanta Thrashers NHL franchise recently announced that next season, they will become the Winnipeg ‘Something or others”.

The Thrashers have flown the coop and for the second time in three decades, professional hockey has broken up with the city fondly nicknamed “Hotlanta.”

I am no relationship therapist, but even I could see this break-up coming. Ultimately, hockey — “ice hockey” –reminds us Southerners of how mind-numbingly cold it is outside. Hockey hails from Canada.  So does the Alberta Clipper.

Hockey and the South is a mixture of fire and ice. At one time, the whole thing looked good – on paper and maybe even in the papers. But hockey and Atlanta were never meant to be. We were just strange bedfellows. One hopes that we all will get the message this second time around.

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The idea of strange bedfellows has emerged from the corner of my mind of late. Seems as if there has been a rash of stories featuring what would seem to be improbable pairings. In another one, Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger announced recently that there was Trouble in Paradise. A hitch had developed after twenty- five years of marriage and five children — only four of whom she heretofore known about.

My bifocaled hindsight is easily ‘20-20’, but the first time that I heard about the then upcoming nuptials of Maria and Arnold all those years ago, I remember saying to no one in particular,  “Hunh!? You’re kiddin’ me, right?” She was one of the most visible of the Kennedy’s, the most notorious family of Democrats in all of America. He was a body-builder turned bad actor, but nonetheless charming Republican, the not yet but  future Governor of California. It was a kind of real life Brigit Loves Bernie. On steroids.

The whole thing made me scratch my head, but figured love  — and hormones — would conquer all. And after a quarter of a century, you figured they’d made it, were “home free.”  Of course, you that you never know what’s going inside somebody else’s house … although we now have some notion of what was going on inside Arnold’s … even if Maria didn’t.

Another unlikely pair of sorts is the political odd couple of Newt Gingrich and Al Sharpton. The two paired up recently to advance the notion of promoting tougher educational standards in the U.S. Their pitch was that this would better prepare our kids for the future. Seemed like a reasonable and perhaps even noble idea if you don’t too many questions. Their marketing approach revolved around the idea that if Sharpton and Gingrich could agree on something, then that ‘something’  MUST  be a good idea.

By the time that the two came home from the road however, CRCT scores and U.S. kids’ standing among the other students of the world still remained woefully low. About the only things that the two accomplished was getting a few extra paychecks and the promotion of themselves. In the end, the bright idea that most people got was that Al and Newt were more than likely ‘up to something’ no good.

In a strange bedfellow tale of a business kind, Liberty Media Corporation, a media and cable TV giant, last week announced its intentions to buy the struggling bookseller, Barnes and Noble for $1 billion dollars – CASH!! (You always knew that those cable –TV fees were outrageous.)

Liberty Media is the parent company of Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves. If the transaction ultimately goes through, they will become the lead partner in an unlikely corporate marriage of baseball and books. Mergers and acquisitions feed the imagination with fascinating – though sometimes frightening — possibilities of cross pollination. One wonders what Liberty has up its sleeve?   Will Braves third baseman now be reading in place of Ms. Rhonda at Children’s Story Time at Barnes & Noble on Saturday mornings? You also wonder how many RBI’s Ms. Rhonda might drive in from her new position in centerfield.

In another recent stranger bedfellows story, Donald Trump and Nene Leakes, the most famous and clearly the most desperate of all Atlanta’s housewives, had a very vocal split of sorts on the TV program, Celebrity Apprentice. If you could even stand to watch the two of them, one always wondered which one to root for against the other. It was  “None of the Above”. It always seemed that each of them was competing for the award of THE MOST SELF-ABSORBED PERSON IN AMERICA.” You knew that it could never last. The split was not at all amicable. She was not fired, but quit first in a huff and a cloud of dust.  In the end in this pairing of the strangest of  bedfellows, Trump and Leakes deserved each other.

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Strange bedfellow stories are by their nature always fascinating. There is always some scratching of the head … some considerable doubt as to whether or not the whole thing will work out. Often it doesn’t, but that’s no reason not to try, I guess. And who knows, maybe it does work ‘this time’.  ‘How’ and ‘why’ may not be as important as the fact that sometimes, it just does. The reader will note that scientists don’t know why gravity works either … just that it does.

As I ponder all of this, the truth is that I am no better than anyone else. Every time I hear of some new, unlikely ‘amalgam of strange’, before I think it through and  convince myself  “…why the hell not. It could work”, my initial reaction is “Hunh?…you got to be kiddin’ me! …those two? Aw, hell, that ain’t never gonna work!”

Photo: Zamboni.com

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As I end my testimony and complete the post-mortem of the twice failed relationship between hockey and Atlanta, I conclude that the professional hockey boys could’ve  tried harder. Maybe tried renaming themselves the Atlanta, Georgia Bull-dawgs or some such. Maybe they should’ve had a bar-be-que night every one in awhile. We Southerners will go to great lengths for  good ‘que’. Heck, when you think about it, maybe the NHL should have a summer season, when both Southerners and Northerners could use the cool relief of being inside a coldish ice rink.  If your partner, as it were, is of a different faith you’ve just got to try harder to make things work …if only for the sake of the kids.

For me the saddest aspect of this whole affair with the Thrashers leaving Atlanta is not just the loss of even more jobs overseas or at least over the northern border, but the fact that I won’t get a chance to drive the Zamboni machine between periods at a Thrashers Game. At least not anytime soon.

On the surface, it would appear that Zamboni and I are strange bedfellows in our own right. But driving it was on my Bucket List.

It still is.

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Will Cantrell

Will Cantrell

Will Cantrell (a pseudonym) is a writer, storyteller, and explorer of the milieu of everyday life. An aging Baby Boomer, a Georgia Tech grad, and a retired banker, Cantrell regularly chronicles what he swears are 'mostly true'  'everyman' adventures. Of late, he's written about haircuts, computer viruses, Polar Vortexes, identity theft, ketchup, doppelgangers, bifocals, ‘Streetification’, cursive handwriting, planning his own funeral and other gnarly things that caused him to scratch his head in an increasingly more and more crazy-ass world.   As for Will himself, the legend is at an early age he wandered South, got lost, and like most other self-respecting males, was loathe to ask for directions. The best solution, young Will mused, “was just to stay put”. All these years later, he still hasn't found his way but remains  a son of the New South. He was recently sighted somewhere close to I-285, lost, bumfuzzled and mumbling something about “...writing' his way home.” Of course, there are a lot of folks who think that “Cantrell ain't wrapped too tight” but hope that he keeps writing about his adventures as he finds his way back to the main highway.