Wanna’come to a house party?

When I got to Memphis, I met my hosts, Brendan and Yvonne. Yvonne was a full-time sculpture specialising in metal installations. She’d been successfully working as an artist for 14 years.

Both Brendan and Yvonne were amazingly passionate people when it came to me getting the most out of Memphis. Within half an hour of arriving, I’d been dropped off at one of their favourite BBQ restaurants: The Bar B Q Shop.

Their enthusiasm was well founded. I ordered the ribs (one of my favorite foods) which the waitress recommended that I have “half and half”; half dry rubbed, half glazed. That way I could try the house made sauces on the dry rubbed side “to get the full experience”.

The house made spicy BBQ sauce was easily my favourite. Their was no such kick the likes of which you would expect from a sauce that was habanero based. Instead it was more of a slow build that gradually warmed the mouth rather than assaulted it. I’m not sure what chillies were in the sauce but if it did contain habanero, then they were very polite.

The next day I went to the National Civil Rights Museum which is based in the Lorraine Hotel – the site of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination. This would be the 3rd civil rights museum I’d been to on my trip and it was no less powerful for it. I’d implore anyone travelling through Memphis to visit the museum as a site of historical significance and to learn about the civil rights struggle.

After almost 3 hours in the museum, I decided to get something to eat and drink, and to get out of the midday sun.

I ended up drinking far too much with a couple visiting Memphis from Missouri. We got talking about boxing – a trigger for me as it’s the only sport I care about. I eventually left the bar around midnight after discussing who I thought would win what upcoming fights, where my money would be bet, and what fights I thought would be scheduled on the backs of my prophesized victories. 

The lounge light turned off as walked through the door only to turn back on again. At the end of the hallway was Yvonne dressed in stockings and a short black dress, her face made up in white with black tears.

“We’re going to a Goth house party, wanna’ come?”

I was tired, I was drunk, and I’d spent way too much money.

“OK,” I said.

When we got to the venue there were private security guards on the door. They asked us all for I.D which Yvonne and I were able to supply. Brendan’s had expired. Brendan is 15 years older than me so it could be assumed he was OK to go in but the security guards stood their ground and refused him entry.

Brendan got back in the truck and drove away, appearing to accept defeat. Yvonne sneaked off to find a way for Brendan to get in. Not even 5 minutes later, Brendan casually walked through the back yard of the house and into the party where awful techno music played as people dressed in fishnet everything danced as they drank overpriced beers. As I sat at the bar in jeans and a t-shirt, I felt overdressed but it was still fun to see people older than me – parents – reclaiming their youth and breaking the rules.

Advertisements

Riders On A Storm

I always try to get to the airport early because I’m a natural worrier. Instead of waiting for things to go wrong, I anticipate every negative scenario miles down the road so that I know what to do if any of these situations arise.

This occasion was no exception. I was flying from Nashville to Memphis because I’d managed to grab a cheap flight. It would last less than an hour and I could spend my time seeing Memphis and its multitude of attractions with more money in my pocket.

When I got to Nashville International, there was the tail end of a storm in progress. It was the same storm I had experienced in Alabama; it had slowly moved North before beginning to dissipate.

I headed for security upon arrival. I stood in line with my boarding pass ready on my phone but when I stepped up to scan it, the light flashed red on the reader. After a brief conversation (in the “step aside, sir” aisle) I was told by security that they’d never heard of the airline I was flying with. The check point staff then turned their attention back to the people with real tickets and I was left to investigate for myself what was going on.

I asked at each airline desk on the main concourse whether they had heard of my airline. None of them had… Until I reached Alaska Air. 

“The name is ringing a bell. Something makes me think that we’ve had someone with this problem before. Let me ask…,” The woman said. She went into an office behind the counter.

When she came back, she handed me a post-it note with a street address and a phone number. I needed to head to a private airfield. It was still counted as Nashville International, but it wasn’t the main airport.

This was mentioned nowhere on my ticket, booking confirmation, or the company’s website.

When I got to the small airfield (by way of a taxi), I was greeted by a smartly dressed man behind the main desk. 

“Going to Memphis?” He asked.

“Yeah, how did you know?”

He smiled. “There’s free popcorn in the vending area, make yourself at home.”

The lounge was filled with luxurious leather seats and a huge TV mounted on the wall in one corner. The rest of the walls were filled with signed pictures of celebrities that had passed through.

Every plane outside was a learjet or similar. Not bad, I thought, for a ticket that cost less than renting a car!

I spotted my plane by the logo on the tail. Unfortunately, it wasn’t one of the luxury models that I’d seen. Instead, it was a single propeller Cessna style aircraft. I smiled thinking that this was going to be an experience: a tiny plane on which you can feel every bump in the road on a clear day but this time combined with a storm? I had a feeling it was going to get bouncy.

And it did.

The man sat next to me was stationed in a Nashville army base but was flying to Memphis for his sister in law’s wedding. He said he’d rather fly than drive because driving is boring.

I think he might drive next time. 

He spread himself across the interior wall of the plane and gripped his seat with white-knuckles every time we hit an air pocket, making himself look like a cat doing everything in its power to avoid being put in a bath.