Tennessee makes national headlines — and not in a good way
Edd Womack called me the other day.
Edd’s been the bane of my journalistic existence for almost 20 years now, since I first went to work in Middle Tennessee. He’s a trailer-dwelling good ol’ boy who’s as obnoxious as he is loud, loves to argue and usually ends everything conversation by threatening to send his sons over to administer a pummeling.
It’s been a while since ol’ Edd called me up; hearing that he moved to Hobo Junction, Miss., I thought I was rid of him forever. Unfortunately, I was wrong.
Cell phone rings.
Edd: YEEEEE-OWWWWW! YA’LL ARE NUMBER ONE! YA’LL ARE NUMBER ONE!
Me: Well thanks, Edd, but you’re calling a week early. We don’t play Mississippi State until next weekend.
Edd: I ain’t talkin’ about football, idjit! I’m talkin’ about Tennessee passin’ Mississippi as the laughingstock of the nation!
Me: I’m not sure I follow, Edd.
Edd: Don’t ya’ll read the news? Watch TV? Oh, that’s right! Ya’ll are too busy BUTT-CHUGGING!
Me: Now, wait a second, Edd. That incident was limited to a fraternity at the University of Tenn-
Edd: BUTT-CHUGGING! BUTT-CHUGGING! To paraphrase Steve Spurrier talkin’ ’bout the Citrus Bowl, you can’t spell butt-chugging without U and T!
Me: I see you’ve found a new favorite word, Edd.
Edd: It’s everybody’s favorite word! Course, you news media types like to sound all nice and proper and say things like “alcohol enema,” but I watched that press conference yesterday! That lawyer couldn’t have fit in another butt-chugging reference if he tried! Shoot, he oughta put it on his advertisements!
Me: Like I said, Edd, that’s a story involving a few dumb college kids who apparently drank too much. They claim there was no “butt-chugging” going on, as you like to say, and blame the media for blowing things out of proportion. The poor kid clearly made an error in judgment and admits as such. And even though he’s denying any allegation that alcohol came into contact with his posterior, he’s going to have to live with this for a long time. His name will be synonymous with “butt-chugging.” You should have a little compassion there, Edd.
Edd: You think this is about him? Naw! This is about Tennessee once again making headlines around the country for something embarrassing and stupid! Haw! People used to think all of us down here in Mississippi couldn’t walk upright without dragging our knuckles, that we enjoy relations with our sisters and hold Klan rallies every Friday night. Yes, we rank No. 1 in infant mortality rates and people living below poverty level and 47 in high school graduation rates; and yeah, a Public Policy Poll back in the spring showed that 52 percent of Mississippians believe the president is a Muslim and 66 percent of us don’t believe in evolution. BUT THAT DON’T MATTER! Our new state motto: “At least we ain’t Tennessee!”
Me: Now, Edd, that’s hardly fair. I agree, the whole “butt-chugging” brouhaha doesn’t exactly paint us in a favorable light, but I think that hardly makes the Volunteer State a stain on the fabric of our great nation.
Edd: Oh yeah? Well, what about all the other stuff?
Me: Such as?
Edd: Stacey Campfield! “Don’t Say Gay!” The monkey bill! Heck, you even seen the candidate your state’s Democratic party is running against Sen. Bob Corker? Ya’ll look like a state full of crazy folks, worried about catchin’ the gay from shaking hands or bumping into someone!
Me: Hold on, now! That’s unfair, Edd. Those of us who support equality, believe in science and want nothing to do with legislation or conversation that drag our state through the mud aren’t proud of how we seem to be the new go-to state for late-night comics and sarcastic journalists. But how can we possibly be held responsible for legislators who want to address such non-issues instead of the real concerns of everyday Tennesseans, like taxes and the economy?
Edd: Ya’ll elected ’em, didn’t ya? Yessir! Them’re some fine fellers right there! Heck, your kids can’t even hold hands in school no more thanks to them!
Me: Sigh. Edd, that "no-hand-holding” bill was a big firestorm about more legislative idiocy, but in the end it didn’t mean much in terms of little kids being able to hold hands in kindergarten.
Edd: Well, what it means and what it makes other people think are two different things now, ain’t they? Fine examples ya’ll are setting up there! You can’t teach kids about safe sex, you give them permission to argue against science and nobody dares utter the word “gay.” No wonder ya’ll got a butt-chugging problem!
Me: Excuse me?
Edd: They can’t learn nothin’ ’bout their private parts, so how d’you expect them to know better than to stick a bottle of Mad Dog down their pants? YEEEEE-OWWWWW! Go, Tennessee! Mississippi, South Carolina and all the rest of us Southerners tired of bein’ this country’s stereotyped whipping boys thank you! BUTT-CHUGG-
FULL DISCLOSURE: The above is a possibly true conversation between myself and a friend who may or may not exist solely in my head.
Steve Wildsmith is the Weekend editor at The Daily Times. Contact him at (email@example.com) or at 981-1144.