Canton to BatonMay 5, 2012
We flew out last Wednesday, landed in Dallas and arrived in Canton, Texas at 3 am. Our room, on the grounds of one of America’s biggest and best tag sales, was decorated full on Driving Drunk Miss Daisy, lampshades and doilies and plastic flowers and a flat screen. The sleepy owner said he had left the key for us under a pot of plastic flowers. Half an hour later we were still examining pot bottoms, in the warm, windy, sweet and touching air of Texas. The room, for some reason, had four giant beds, one in each corner, like the grandparents in Willy Wonka. In the morning we learned we were a week early for the Canton Trade Days where 40,000 people swell a town of many fewer zeros. What is so great about Canton Trade Days? Our host cast his eyes upwards, trying to explain
“Well, suppose yew go to the State Fair. You’re gonna spend around 200 dollars and whaddreyew going to get?”
A cotton candy headache? That’s what I always get. He had two adorable little dogs and one began licking my hand
“A bayer. Just maybe a little tiny bayer.”
We looked at him through time lagged faces of loving incomprehension. We were just so happy to be on the road. Meanwhile the little dog went at it. Lick, lick, licklicklicklick.
He forms something with his hands. “A bare!”
Oh, Jesus. Yes. A bear!
At the State Fair all you get is a bear. But at Canton Trade days, it’s enough for four giant, be-sprigged beds.
In the morning we left Canton. Our goal was the Donald Judd boxes in Marfa, Texas by way of New Orleans. We had four days to get there. The Texas highways were wide open. The signs were numbers out of our dream speed limit, 70, 75, 80—did we see, or only imagine, that one for 85? We’d gotten in a Texas-style brawl at the car rental. No guns were slinged but a nervous kid in a suit offered us our pick of cars. He was so polite. Every Texan was so polite. In San Antonio gang bangers guided us to the restroom. Thar it is ma’am. You caint miss it. Have a nice day!
Under the nervous, polite gaze of the kid in the suit we walked down a long row of cars and saw a parking space that looked empty. When we walked up to it, this turned out to be a Fiat the size of a walk-in refrigerator. That’s how we barreled down the freeways. In fact state signs flashed exactly that: Please Don’t Barrel Through the Great State of Texas. But we couldn’t help it. We were just so happy to be on the road. Everywhere we went people spoke Fiat to us. Leaving Baton Rouge, we took a ferry across the wide, flat, cement-gray Mississippi. A cop came over to us and made a motion to roll down the window. He wanted to know how our mileage was. We said gas for the entire trip was going to cost us less than a visit to the State Fair. Then we headed to Oak Alley.
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