February 26, 2007

Attraction: this piece

Still more odds and ends, from driving through Virginia.

Outside a diner in Virginia (that deserves and will get an article by itself), these two signs on a window that I copied down while nearly freezing solid:
  • Horses for all: Spring Kiss is a 14.2 Homozygous Registered Paint Mare. Phone: xxx-xxxx.

  • How much does it cost to buy out American values -- for foreign interests that kill American horses to serve to diners? In Europe and Japan tat going price is 35 cents per pound. endhorseslaughtering.com.

In the "Neighbours Botetourt Supplement" of the Roanoke Times of February 16 2007, page 8 had a "Save $ on tax preparation" advertisement, issued by Eddie's Accounting Services Company Inc.

Botetourt is a Virginia county. Before driving through Virginia, I learn that the word is pronounced "Bot-a-tot", and therefore am looking forward to pronouncing it somewhere. For example, exiting a liquor store, I might say to a passing dude: "In Bot-a-tot, I bought a tot, I bought a lot, you bought or not?" I might ignore his looking at me as if I was a lunatic.

But of course (which is written "Botecourse"), I never got the chance.

But on page 8 of that supplement, I did see that ad. A most excellent ad in every respect. Except one: it was upside down.


Driving along American roads, you're bound to come across such signs as "Historical Marker ahead", or "Scenic Overlook ahead", that sort of thing. I'm always ambivalent about these things, feeling about them much as I did about the little sign in the middle of the first article I ever had published, way back in the 1920s. Make that the 1990s.

"Humour", said that little sign. As if to prompt readers to say to themselves, "Hey, this is supposed to be humorous! I better laugh! Ha ha!"

Much like that, with these highway signs. "So," you can imagine a bemused driver saying to himself, "this is a scenic overlook! I better stop and overlook the scene!"

But my favourite was one in Virginia, though I'm sure similar ones appear in other states: "Attraction: Virginia Safari Park", with an arrow.

What if they had left out that "Attraction"? Did they imagine drivers would look at the sign and say to themselves: "Virginia Safari Park, hmm. Naaah, that's not an attraction! Let's rush on!" Do they imagine that when they see the sign now, drivers say to themselves: "Virginia Safari Park! It's an Attraction! I'm Attracted! Let's go!"


Rounding a curve on a tiny rural road in Virginia (once again, absolutely the best kinds of roads in this country), I nearly fall back in shock and amazement. Not a good thing to do while driving, you'll agree. A huge locomotive locomotors past seemingly just off the end of my hood, pulling a freight train filled with coal. 91 cars filled with coal in this freight train.

Of course, the train isn't really off the end of my hood -- it's on tracks that are in a hollow below the road, but right there. I could get out of my car right there, and leap into the coal if I so wished. I didn't so wish.

Rounding another curve on the same road a little further on, I know I have to brake sharply and stop. On the grass just off the road are five handsome (yes) vultures with red heads, pecking at a dead deer. They hop slowly away when I stop, but watch me with small glassy eyes.

Without thinking, I've stopped in the middle of the road, so after a while a pickup truck has to edge carefully around me to pass. When it's alongside, the driver looks over at me, and I'm thinking he's going to abuse me, justifiably so, and I should really get off the road. But no, he actually signs to ask if everything's all right with me. I nod, point to the vultures, he looks over, smiles at me and drives off.

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