For a few days in the middle of my Red River Gorge outing, I climbed with random heterosexuals. It’s been a mixed bag. For some, I’m a space alien, and when I say things like, “when you refill the orange juice bottles with tap water it tastes exactly like cum,” they look at me funny.
The better breeders are the ones who are a little bit weird in their own right.
My favorite may have been Judson, at Great Wall. “I like that Texaco sticker on your helmet,” he says. “That really tells those hippies to shut the fuck up.”
“You got it, Judson.” Judson is from Winchester, where I ate once for my birthday at the best restaurant in town. I had frog legs. They taste like fishy chicken.
I think the reason we Southerners never claimed Kentucky as part of the South, aside from their picking the wrong side in the War of Northern Aggression, is that it still has too many people who act like non-Southerners, and say really non-Southerner things, like:
“I really like to visit out here to see how these people live, how simple it is. We forget how to live simple sometimes,” as though we don’t know how to do anything besides work gas station tills and eat beef jerky while standing watch over our ill-kempt lawns.
Does the rest of America not realize how complicated our lives actually are? Are they unaware that while they brag about the PSI of their espresso machine, we’re operating industrial scale moonshine distilleries in our basements? Northerners get elated when they figure out how to adjust a grow lamp. Our most poorly educated citizens can build a meth lab using the leftover parts of any pre-1998 Chevy, a plastic spoon, and a nine volt battery. You know who makes hydroponic marijuana farms in the South? Children.
Judson: “Do you smoke?”
Judson: “I only smoke when I drink. But I drink a lot.”
If Kentucky was entirely Judson, then we would give them readmission to the Southern estate.
But instead, they get caught up in ridiculous things that only non-southerners could get into, like grim wars over permadraws. Judson would never get caught up in a 37 page flame war over permadraws at the Motherlode. They are clearly in agreement that we HAVE TO DECIDE whether routes have steel permadraws or no permadraws EVER, because ZOMFG if someone puts up ALUMINUM draws and they stay there the sky will open up and flaming meteors of shit will rain down on us until we’re lit afire, trapped in some eternally burning portent of feces. Or worse, the aesthetics of the Motherlode’s ampitheater will be upset by the permadraws; moreso, than, say, that goddamn overturned truck carapace blown up in front of it. Which, by the way, is my favorite thing about the Motherlode, because it’s a symbol that at least somewhere out there in Kentucky lives a piece of the Southern spirit, the ultimate tenet of which is driving vehicles off cliffs at high speeds. (Thelma and Louise, Smokey and the Bandit…)
In the (actually) Southern climbing regions (e.g. Tennessee/Georgia/Alabama) where climbers climb while smoking and belayers belay while drinking, we would never cut each other’s throats over permadraws. I debate the reasons for why we don’t fight over it. Maybe it’s because we don’t have an internet forum. Maybe it’s because we’re too busy rebuilding our meth labs when they blow up, or finding our family heirlooms when the house gets blown over by a tornado.
But I still wonder what happens to the northerners when they drive down 75 and discover the land where permadraws are made of webbing (heavens!) and aluminum (the horror!). Perhaps they’ll start viewing us as some kind of very very large poor South American farming village whose only hope for economic freedom would be the tourism generated by retrobolting all of our routes.
Well, I say this to you Northerners, before you get too far down 85, 75, or too far east on 20: when the webbing gets worn, you replace it with webbing, and when the carabiner gets worn, you just stick another one on there, (unless you’re from here, in which case, you do whatever the fuck you want) or we’ll show you just how “simple” we Southerners are when it comes to expressing our anger; namely, by crafting an elaborate comeuppance; tragically interrupted when we drive off a cliff cause we’re so high on meth. Because if you fuck with the Little River Canyon, you best look up and listen for a clutch letting out overhead. If the sun is out, you may also look down, if you can recognize the shadow of a ’66 Thunderbird. Your helmet is not rated for convertibles.