Breaking camp in the early light we roll out quietly heading north around Hattiesburg for the southeast highway bound to Mobile. Jake and Heath spent the night hitched and ready to go.
I am happy to be moving on from Mississippi, it is not a state that exudes great confidence, education or prosperity; perhaps each leads to the next. It brings back too many memories of the dark side of Kevin Sessums’ Mississippi Sissy, a broad erudition of being gay in southern Mississippi in the middle of the twentieth century. In all fairness the story could happen anywhere, but Sessums’ poignant telling has stuck with me.
Difficult as it is for me to settle into the local culture I frequently remind myself there is so rational basis for my disquiet. The people of Mississippi could not have been more friendly, inclusive and helpful; the roads are generally in good shape and the area is quite picturesque.
Heath and Jake got their first baths on this trip in Mobile, AL in the first sun and warm we have seen in weeks. They have stood through snow and wind and driven through rain and mud. They both seemed happier afterwards, and I clearly was. Something about clean equipment gives at least the illusion that they perform better. Many RV parks discourage washing rigs. Though one of my favorite mantras is that it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission I walked to the office to inquire. Charlie replies easily, “shore git it cleaned on up.”
I complete the housekeeping in time to get John downtown to the art cinema for a matinee viewing of Silver Linings Playbook. We don’t realize the theater is dog friendly and plan for me to spend the time in the sun while John watches the movie; on finding dogs are allowed, my mind is set on enjoying the sun and the historic district so Buckley and I leave John to the movie and set out to see what we might and meet who we may. The theater is a one man operation and very informal. Seems if you want concessions while the movie is running you go get what you want and settle up on the way out after the show – the honor system. Try that is South Florida!
There are supposed to be several gay clubs in Mobile. Though there are buildings at the addresses they appear locked and empty. Perhaps we are too early.
Parking in Historic Mobile is easy in daylight, though come evening we resorted to the second pay lot that we found. Signs warn parking is for two hours maximum yet the meters demand payment only on Monday through Friday; I wonder if the two hour rule also applies Monday through Friday only and flag down a passing policeman to ask. His reply (imply a southern accent here) ‘noooo… don’t even worry with that’; I love a policeman who knows who he works for and is happy to be doing that!
Wandering about for our two free hours Buckley and I sit in a park on a bench long enough for eight or ten, without any obstructions along the seat that would make it impossible to sleep on it. For a moment or two I considered a short nap. On we moved along our tour past one of many open and occupied bars that had a chalkboard on the sidewalk advertising beer pitcher specials. The proprietor was outside smoking a cigarette as we passed and I asked is Yengling really only ten dollars a pitcher, not that I could drink a pitcher of anything by myself, and he replied ‘yep, fer anyone with ten bucks’. Clear enough. Ric Reily