Bryan, Kristin, and I were supposed to go on an entirely different trip today. I had planned out a whole adventure in North Carolina, but it turns out that the main place I wanted to go to operates on a seasonal schedule, and won't be open again until the spring. Somehow this didn't come up in my planning, and after I apologized profusely earlier in the week Bryan decided that he would pick us up anyway and would drive toward Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg and just stop wherever we saw something interesting.
Interesting for Bryan and interesting for Kristin and I are two different things, as Bryan had his eyes on the majectic beauty of the Smokies, and Kristin and I had our eyes on something directly in front of them:
The World's Largest "As Seen on TV Store", which we expected to be a magical wonderland of Snuggies and giant cupcake cake pans and juicers and choppers and Sham-wows. We did see all of those things inside the store, but we saw so many other, more terrible things, and eventually just kind of fled.
Things started going downhill as soon as we walked in, when we were confronted in the vestibule by a Santa statue.
"He's sort of creepy," Kristin said, and I immediately noticed why.
"Where's his mouth?"
"Let me look."
He didn't have one. There was a lot of beard hair, and underneath a blank, featureless chin. What kind of biological nightmare produces a human being with no mouth?
Probably the same kind that produces flying killer whales:
I've never seen one of those on TV, by the way, but that seems to be a theme at the World's Largest "As Seen on TV" store. In between the food dehydrators and jugs of C.L.R., you see things like this:
I've never seen a commercial for the Bun and Thigh Doer. I realize the name "Thighmaster" is already taken, but the best word the marketing department could come up with instead was "doer"? Usually when someone around me mentions doing someone's buns (like the ones drawn on the seat around the word "bun") they mean a whole other form of exercise. After looking at it, I wasn't really sure what it was supposed to do to your buns and thighs, and there was no one around to ask besides the Obamas:
The "As Seen on TV" store, for unknown reasons, carries a large number of cardboard celebrity standups, and displays them all over the store. Jesus was hanging out in men's t-shirts, Glinda the Good Witch hovered over the discount books, Chris Pine as Captain Kirk watched over a display of discount coffee mugs, and John Wayne looked vaguely shocked at being there:
There didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to the placement of the standups. If I was running the store, for example, I'd have Jesus over by the display of religious license plate tags:
On the other hand, it's possible that they didn't want it to appear that Jesus condones unauthorized use of licensed logos:
For shame, "As Seen on TV" store.
Then again, what's a little infringement when you're peddling open racism? Since I've moved to Tennessee I've heard more than once that the Confederate flag:
is a symbol of proud heritage that I, as a liberal Yankee, can't really understand and that it has nothing to do with racism, but how else do you explain this?
Not only are the makers not ashamed to print and sell this, but they're actually proud:
Right about then is when we decided we'd seen enough, and left the store. Not having a real destination in mind, we drove through to Gatlinburg, walked around, and saw things that were just odd and bizarre, rather than openly offensive.
Wait, day-glo plastic Buddhas might be offensive:
I'm not really sure what the rules are for Buddhism.
Caramel apples, on the other hand, are never offensive:
Neither is taffy:
I was going to say that neither is bacon, but the bacon flavored lip balm leaves me uncertain:
Could this finally be a way in which bacon is not wonderful? Or would tasting someone's bacon-flavored lips lead to the kind of makeout session that Aaron Samuels and Regina George enjoyed in "Mean Girls" after he discovered that her face smelled like peppermint? Until someone tries it, the bacon balm is simultaneously wonderful and horrible, a Schrodinger's tube of lip balm waiting to be revealed. It's a question for greater minds than mine to ponder.
There's no question, on the other hand, that chum flavored candy has to be disgusting:
Almost as disgusting as the grammar on the side of the buffet we ate at:
No one who works there has ever noticed this? Do they not have schools in Gatlinburg, or did they tear them down to build a school-themed minigolf instead?
Either way, it was a fun day, even if I do feel like a little bit more of a hillbilly every time I visit: