01 March 2009

I Live in a Strange Part of the Country

One of the great things about a proper snowstorm is seeing the school cancellations. On the local television stations, there's a news crawl at the bootom of the screen that says which schools are closed and when there's snow enough in South Carolina, as there was today, then one can see all the bizarre names that South Carolinians give to their daycare centers. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

His Watchmen Daycare Center
Around the Son Daycare
Sonshine Nursery
Li'l Lambs Daycare
Luv-n-stuff 1 and too
Kids Kountry Klub Center
All God's Children CEC
Dayspring Tutorials

It took me awhile to figure out that all the 'son' things were not misspelled but rather references to Jesus. This is the thing about South Carolina: cross the border and all of a sudden there are billboards alongside the road and those billboards feature either God or "nekked ladies", as they say. Sometimes there's one for the lottery or fireworks, as well. But for every billboard advertising the virtues of various 'gentleman's clubs,' there is a billboard urging everyone to 'get right with God.'

It's Southern Baptist country.

I can't make too much mock, though. People in my bit of North Carolina rely far too much on geographical signifiers to name things. What could one expect, really, from people who live in an area designated as Western North Carolina? Something like half of all schools, business, organizations and similar have 'mountain' somewhere in their names or are name after a particular mountain. This is further modified by the frequent use of cardinal directions in names. Then, my town is full of lefties and 60s radicals turned semi-conventional, so we tend to get hippie-ish names such as Bell's School for People under Six or that have 'creative', 'community' or 'new' somewhere in there.

Ultimate school name for Bairdville**? South Green Mountain Community School for the Creative Arts.

I never cease to be entertained by living here. The last time I was out, I heard a story featuring the infamous contra twins* and we recently had a tree hugger's parade at the university. It's a big enough place to have its own opera company but small enough that it's hard to meet someone you haven't already met or that isn't friends with at least two of your friends. Or their grandmother went to your church, or their cousin is best friends with your ex-girlfriend's best friend's ex-boyfriend. It's always something and heaven forfend that I should run errands with messy hair or untidily dressed because I will always run into someone. There are bars that I cannot go to without seeing someone from church. It has been a good two or three years since I went to any kind of art event without seeing someone I know. This is great for people that one likes but not for people one would rather avoid. I like it, though, generally speaking. It makes a change from London.

*for all those of you who don't live in WNC, contra dancing is a hybrid of English country dancing, as featured in Jane Austen movies, and square dancing. The dances have set figures that are called before the dance starts and use repeated movement patterns. The dance itself weaves two lines of people together. One couple will dance with another couple in a square formation of four people and at the end of the figure, one couple will move up the line to the left and the other will move down the line to the right, where each couple will then make new squares with the next couple up or down the line. That sounds more complicated than it is.
There are two main regular contra dances each week, one in town and the other out in Tahkieostie**. The one in Tahkieostie has a younger crowd and they all tend to sleep together in various gender and number pairings and often jump naked into the nearby lake on hot summer nights after dancing. I will leave you to imagine how twins could, in this setting, become infamous.

Here is a picture of contra dancing, posted on flickr by Please note the leftist political banners in the background and the presence of same sex couples. It is fun. I've never jumped into the lake, though.

**To protect the privacy of my current locale, all names have been changed.


  1. I thought contra dancing might have been something to do with Oliver North.

  2. Ha ha... :)
    Nope, just a permutation of country, I believe.