A Yankee in Nashville
Fellow Humorist and Massachusetts writer, Mitch Eagan, always looking for an easy pun, made an interesting comment the other day:
One of my nieces currently lives in Nashville. We would love to go visit there but I'm afraid we probably wouldn't all fit in her apartment and we're too cheap to spring for a hotel. I wonder if there are any trailers for rent in the area?
Naturally I took offense. Hmm, I thought, there it is again, a pun about the South and the insinuation that we all live in trailers. Interesting question, though. Wonder if he COULD rent a mobile home? Ever alert for an opportunity for a funny column, I decided to pursue the question.
Most people think that Tennesseans still live in log cabins with outhouses out back; therefore, I was somewhat amazed at Mitch's ingenuity in thinking of renting a mobile trailer home. A quick check of the Metro Nashville yellow pages directory revealed a few choice locations with mobile home rentals. We cover our bases here.
Before y'all come down, though, be aware that they require an application, credit check and expect a 90-day lease. Be careful what you call a trailer too. Unless you want something to haul your boat around with, or have a semi-tractor that needs a backend, you could end up with something other than what you have in mind.
First of all, Nashville, contrary to popular opinion, is nothing like the image portrayed in popular culture. Actually, it is a rather modern, cosmopolitan city. Metro Nashville includes the entire county of Davidson, having expanded years ago to take over the surrounding small suburban communities.
Okay, we do still have a "country" image. Nashvillians work hard maintaining this image and keeping the tourists coming to spend those almighty dollars while gawking at the hillbillies. If you're coming to Nashville, pack your wallet along with your camera and boots. You're gonna need it. We hillbillies are not quite as dumb as we use to be. There's big money to be made from entertainment and tourism.
Too bad you are gonna bypass the Opryland Hotel. It is one of the largest and most touristy places you'll ever see. Numerous walkways through atrium gardens, including fountains, canals, and waterfalls are the main focus of the multi-billion-dollar complex called a hotel. Even though are staying at the trailer park, Mitch, I suggest you at least go look at the hotel.
It is well worth the time just to gawk. You can park for a mere $5 as a non-guest and look to your heart's content. I'd grab dinner first, as I doubt if a thrifty New Englander like you is gonna wanta spring for the amount it will cost to eat in their first class, fancy restaurants. Try the fried catfish at the "Cock & Roost" restaurant across the road. Waiters flip the cornbread way up high in the air from an iron skillet. I've never seen them fail to catch it, but one of these days they will - I just know it.
Opryland Park, the amusement park where I used to ride roller coasters, is gone. They bulldozed it down to build a fancy new shopping mall for you tourists. You probably have seen malls before, so I'd just skip it. If you really have to shop, do the discount mall in Lebanon. It's a drive to get out there, but what the heck, we're talking saving money here. By the way, most of us locals are still mad about Opryland Park being torn down. It's a sore subject around here, so I wouldn't dwell on it too much.
The Grand Ol 'Opry is still here and it's what most of the tourists come to see. Even if you hate country music with a passion, don't fail to see it while you're here. For a mere $20, it is the best professional entertainment show in town - plenty of country music folks all doing their best dumb hillbilly entertainment routine, just for you. Don't expect to see them after the show, though. They probably don't live in Nashville, and if they do, they have well guarded estates to keep non-paying gawkers away.
You might enjoy a trip to 2nd Street. It's one of those new hot spots that tourists seem to like. It is a seedy old section of town that has been refurbished, more or less, for tourists. You can two-step at the Wild Horse Salon or buy an overpriced hamburger at Planet Hollywood or Hard Rock Caf�. Keep that wallet handy.
The Ryman Auditorium, former home of the Opry, is in the area. The new arena is on Broadway and you might take in an event there. Stop in at Tootsies Orchid Lounge, a famous lowlife bar on lower Broad, where country music stars used to quench their thirst in the olden days.
The Tennessee Titans' new stadium is downtown, but football season has not started yet. Probably just as well. When there is a game, the locals flee downtown for their lives while herds of sports fans take over the city.
Well, I've hardly started with all there is to do around here. I didn't even mention Music Row or the Performing Arts Center, where the theater, orchestra, and ballet perform. It's a favorite spot of mine. The State Museum is in the same building, and it's free. Great display of Russian Art currently running; I wrote a column on it.
In the summer you can go to the amphitheater, where big-name country entertainers hold summer concerts under the stars. It's still called "Starwood" by the locals, but its official name officially changes every week or two. If you don't mind sitting on the lawn with us rednecks while you sip your beer, you can save a bundle.
We are a historic city. General Grant's army occupied Nashville for most of the war, you see. We avoided much of the devastation incurred by other Southern cites and also established the useful skill of being able to endure Yankees.
So y'all come, ya hear! Bring your families, bring your boats, bring your campers, bring your cameras, and especially bring your money! We love ya, baby, and our Southern hospitality runs just as deep as your good credit. How about a nice "See Rock City" birdhouse for the folks back home?
Now I'm not gonna clutter up my column by putting the name of the mobile home dealers in it for Mitch to contact. However, if there is a true need to know, send me an email and I'll look it up in the phone book again for ya. Do we take care of our tourists, or don't we?