We took a bus trip over the Thanksgiving holidays. South, my friends, to Savannah, Georgia. It was nice to be in the South. Folks seem a lot friendlier and courteous. They also drink a lot, I noticed. You can get a carry cup at the bar so you never have to leave half a beer behind you, or in front of you if you walk out backwards. This seems like a good idea until you notice that out on River Street there are guys with full beers staggering along the cobblestones and singing badly as they approach you, your wife and daughter. Looking at it that way, you know it may not be such a great idea. Some ideas look better going away from you than coming at you. “Go Dawgs!! Whoohoo!!!” On top of this imminent danger hover the various steep, very worn slate, historic steps that rise about thirty feet to the upper level of Bay Street. newsflash 1: I guess you can’t fall up them. newsflash 2: drunks always seem to have soft landings anyway.
It was a nice reprieve from the sucky weather we’ve been experiencing up north lately. You know how tense you get just from being in the damp cold? Then you walk into a warm restaurant or store and ahhhh, you instinctively relax. Seems pretty simple really. And we did just this at various points of interest. The lovely cathedral of St. John the Baptist was one long ahhhh for us as we meandered along viewing the stained glass and murals. I forget which saint it was who was carrying his own head in his hands. His halo was empty. It appeared to be an overhead shot of a pilsner beer placed on the shoulders of a man walking along with his head in his hands. Sort of like the drunks on River Street from the night before. Funny how the most bizarre stuff is what you remember.
On River Street an old guitar player named Walter engaged us and persuaded us to listen to him play his guitar and sing some toothless blues songs. He invited my daughter to sing with him. She obliged and sang “What a Wonderful World” alongside Walter. He never asked for money but we knew the drill and happily put some in his can. Where he had strategically placed himself possessed some strange acoustics. Somehow it produced an echo in the little brick circle where he stood. Walter explained that there was an old tunnel underneath that spot which accounted for the strange echoing. “When I’z a boy, we ud break on into it, yeah, till they covered it up. Dats wheya da echo be com from.” I asked him to sing Sam Cook’s “A Change is Gonna Come”. He complied in a voice that wheezed like a rusted out muffler on an old Chrysler Imperial.
On Thanksgiving evening we ate dinner at Paula Deen’s restaurant, The Lady and Son. The food was good, buffet style. The wait staff were fabulous, like Disneyworld employees, smart and gracious, good looking, young and talented. What surprised me was the fact that roughly half of the customers were black. I had assumed, incorrectly, that with all the bad racist publicity that surrounded Paula Deen two years ago blacks would not support her. Happily, I was wrong. I guess forgiveness is the business of business. In any event I felt good leaving the restaurant/store and waddling back to our hotel. I am a fan of forgiveness and second chances. I don’t believe in perfection.
You know, if you eat a lot and take bus rides everywhere, you gain weight. I figure that I put on a half pound per day with the extra food and deficit of exercise. It was a challenge to eat more than twice a day with the rich food and abundant availability. All your energy goes toward trying to digest the three egg omelet with everything on it plus the bagel and bacon with hash browns and grits breakfast. On the bus we sat like 29 upright pythons trying to digest what we’d gorged on. Fortunately we had limbs to brace us on turns. Still, with negligible blood flow to our brains, a state of lethargy crept in, slowing our breathing, dropping eyelids, inviting somnolence. A serpent of sleep constricted our brains gently, rocking along with the hum of radial tires across an asphalt carpet. ZZZZZZZZZZZ
Lethe was one of the five rivers of Hell in the Greek myths. here’s some cool background info on it…
In Greek mythology, Lethe /ˈliːθi/ (Greek: Λήθη, Lḗthē; Ancient Greek: [lɛ́:tʰɛː], Modern Greek: [ˈliθi]) was one of the five rivers of Hades. Also known as the Ameles potamos (river of unmindfulness), the Lethe flowed around the cave of Hypnos and through the Underworld, where all those who drank from it experienced complete forgetfulness. Lethe was also the name of the Greek spirit of forgetfulness and oblivion, with whom the river was often identified.
In Classical Greek, the word lethe literally means “oblivion”, “forgetfulness”, or “concealment”. It is related to the Greek word for “truth”, aletheia (ἀλήθεια), which through the privative alpha literally means “un-forgetfulness” or “un-concealment”.
I find etymology fascinating, my bloggentas. Some words carry rich histories in their letters, speaking deeper than mere surface connection. But here we were crossing the Savannah River and entering an entire state of lethargy. And what we forgot is maybe more important that what we remembered. Ahh, stress for one. Forget it. And who won the Civil War? Who cares? If blacks and whites eat elbow to elbow at Paula Deen’s on Thanksgiving, it turned out well. And bitterness, resentment, class consciousness, indignity, who needs them? Let’s all forget some more. Four things were forbidden in the original charter of Savannah– slavery, lawyers, Catholics and Jews, and liquor. Eventually all would be allowed due to self interested pragmatism. There’s a shocker. Oh well, go back to sleep children. We’ll be there soon.