Last Saturday was the annual love/hate race, the Moon Pie 10-Miler in ye olde Bell Buckle, Tennessee. Some people have already asked, “What the hell? What is a ‘Bell Buckle’?” I have no idea. Perhaps it was originally Belt Buckle, but the relaxed Southern pronunciation of “belt” became “bell” over time. Perhaps the founding fathers were into arts and crafts and created bells in the shape of buckles, nay, buckles in the shape of bells. Upon further consideration, perhaps I don’t really care.
Some years ago, I used to play music at the Bell Buckle Cafe. This is a classic little small town cafe where comfort food is served to very comfortable people in the comfort of a comfortable setting. All sorts of healthy things like fried biscuits and double fatted fried steak discs on lard are dished out regularly. Happy people shovel in food and listen to perky acoustic music. A fave memory for me was when our bass player used to belt out Roly Poly ( a ca-lassic bluegrass gem: “Roly Poly! Daddy’s little fatty!”) and the entire room of comfortable people would nod along knowingly. After the show, we’d all sit around plowing through mountains of fried stuff. When I used to think of Bell Buckle, that’s what I thought of.
Now when I think of Bell Buckle, I think of Hell. The slogan for Moon Pies may be “The Only One on the Planet!”, but the slogan for the Moon Pie race oughter be “The Only One on the Face of the Sun!” Invariably, this race is a hot, humid, gross, unreasonable, monstrosity of a heatstroke extravaganza deluxe. And yet, and YET, I love it. I can explain that enigma no more than I can explain the baffler of the name Bell Buckle itself. Somehow, racing through the unshaded rolling hills of farmville Tennessee, with cows bellowing at you and manure doing some serious wafting is what I call a Good Time. There may be something wrong with me.
I think this year held the record for heat along with a dewpoint of….Well, I don’t really understand dewpoints so nevermind. Nonetheless, it was the kind of weather I would really have preferred to race shirtless in. I mean, if it was allowed. And I wasn’t almost 50. With less frontal muscle tone than one might hope for. Anyway, as I was racing along thinking “Damn! I wish I was naked!” I was astounded by how many guys were wearing long-sleeved shirts. Hello? Yes, it’s delightful that you ran Tom King, but do you really want to risk bursting into flame to advertise it? Along these same lines, I saw more than a few women in capris tights. One chick was wearing a windbreaker. A WINDBREAKER. I need to go lay down for a minute just thinking about that.
Anyway, the race turned out great…Certainly better than last year when I had that hideous groin injury that forced me to drop out at mile two and then everyone got either giggly or quiet when I said I had hurt my groin and then I felt compelled to refer to my injury as an upper hamstring strain when in fact it was my groin which, for pete’s sake, is not like a top-secret reproductive organ or something. Groin. Fun to say, fun to write!
Afterwards, we all sat around eating sausage biscuits and RC Colas which, by the bye, took me back to the Roly Poly! days of my fond Bell Buckle memories. Then Cheryl and I walked around the festival for a while taking ganders at crafty things like cement frogs, laughing rabbits, earrings made out ‘o recycled spoons, and nifty handpainted signs that said things like, “If you’re planning on getting drunk, pay your tab in advance!” Then we sat on hay bales for the awards, and I won a medal that has a picture of a Moon Pie skipping rope while a nearby RC Cola flips her off.