Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Tusk Editor's Note: Aug. 17, 2012

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Tusk Editor's Note: Aug. 17, 2012

Article excerpt

Oh, I've seen fire, and I've seen belly dancing. There was also hard rain, although under the shed at Sloss Furnaces, nothing dampened the fiery bellies.

But on the road up, there was The Big Wet.

Sometimes, when I'm slap-me tired or have ingested too much protein, I waver on nouns. Or maybe it's the murky dark, or wacky company, that tangles my tongue.

Whatever: As we drove to Birmingham last Friday to enjoy vaudeville, courtesy of the Pink Box Burlesque, Erynias Tribe (the ladies with the ultra-limber core sections and fire whipping from finger-thingies) and others, it poured down. As the only one of our quartet who'd actually been to Sloss before, I was navigating, which is a fine thing because, after all, I am a man and thus never lost, although sometimes the world gets dizzy and mislays itself. As we wound ugly and ill-lit streets toward our destination, a large puddle, looking dank and deep enough to gulp even our relatively lofty Honda CRV, approached.

"The Big Wet," I said, navigating with extravagant care, if not linguistic precision, translating to our driver to ease over into the left lane, yet somehow amusing the others as well.

The evening had already taken odd turns, not the kind one makes when trying to spot hulking Sloss in the Big Dark, because in Birmingham signs are something that happen to other people, but as in shades of "Twilight Zone" stuff. First, all four of us met at pre- designated coordinates on time. In theater, we have this thing where we say, "Always be on time. Early is on time." This is like the warning labels on blow-dryers that read "Do not use under running water": Necessary because some idiot ruined it for everyone.

Still, we left as planned, and I didn't even have to hide the books and rapiers in my back seat because someone else drove for a change. I often enjoy being the pilot, partly because my vehicle is newish and comfortable-ish and because I possess mad skills -- as in there'll be bidding wars to win me to your side in the zombie apocalypse -- but once in a while, shotgun is peaceable.

With so much spare time, we stopped to eat at a truck stop, one of the larger, newer ones that sells everything from dinner to breakfast to tires to showers (hot wax extra) to camouflage christening gowns to semi-regulated chemical energy boosters to cassette tapes of C. …

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