Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Worship of Graven Images


Readers, thank you for being patient and sticking with me. I know I have yet to post this weekend, but I’ve been on the road for about the last forty-eight hours with my son and brother doing the male bonding/rites of passage thing. I did get to break bread with my boy RiPPa on last evening and had some pretty good conversation. And prepare yourself, blogosphere; we ‘bout to burn this piece down!

Here is a little something to hold you while I get this trail dust off and clear my head. Enjoy.

So, my son and I are driving through Georgia, and we decide to stop in this small town to get some gas and re-up on the road snacks when this little round white lady shoves this pamphlet in my hand and says to me, “I know you’ll be there.”

Being the gentleman I am, I gave her a smile and politely took the pamphlet. However, when I finally took the time to look at the pamphlet, I was taken aback. It was a pamphlet for some Watermelon Days Festival. The little round white lady’s voice resonated in my head—“I know you’ll be there.” Was this little round white lady trying to call me a coon?

But anyway, I was more curious than insulted, and so young Aaron Beaste and I decided to stay at least for the parade. I have been to a film festival, a jazz festival, and even a crawfish festival but never a watermelon festival.

I was absolutely shocked. There seems there is this whole culture in this little town dedicated to the worship and adulation of the watermelon. And for thirty-five days, beginning on the June 1st and culminating on July 4th, there is an event each day celebrating the watermelon.

And on this day, the day of the parade, the worshippers were coming out in droves. They began lining the streets almost as soon as the sun came up. Following suite, young Aaron Beaste and I took our place among the other parade goers.

From the very beginning, it was something special. It was a spectacle. Dear reader, I wished I possessed the rhetorical gifts and language skills requisite to providing you with the proper detail.

As soon as the first note from the first marching band sounded, the people were whipped into virtual frenzy. The adults yelled and screamed as the young people chased the floats hoping to get some candy or whatever treat the float was dispensing to the audience. This whole time I’m staring wild-eyed as this foolishness unfolds while young Aaron Beaste is frantically scribbling notes in his tablet. Perhaps, he believes this will make a good movie someday.

And then the noise reached a fevered pitch as I felt the crowd surge forward. It was the coming of the Watermelon Queen and her court. People held their small children high in the air so that they might get a better look while others threw aside caution and rushed the float, stretching their hands out in hopes the Watermelon Queen would only reach out and touch them, squeeze their hands, acknowledge them.

Just an aside, but what does one have to do to become Watermelon Queen? What are the qualifications? But I digress.

Just as I thought the celebration had reached an apex, the crowd kicked it up a notch. And then I saw it. I saw what excited them so. Coming down the street was this huge replica of a slice of watermelon being pulled on a trailer. I cursed myself for having left my camera in the car.

The crowd pushed forward as they danced and celebrated in the wake of and around this huge slice of watermelon, this graven image of sorts. Suddenly, the image of Moses returning from the mountain with the Ten Commandments and finding the children of Israel worshipping the golden calf came to mind.

And I responded just as Moses did. In disgust and disbelief, I hurled the remains of the slice of watermelon I was eating down where I stood.

At that point, I had had enough of this heathenistic watermelon worship. Plus, the parade was over and the crown was dispersing anyway. So, young Aaron Beaste and I chalked it up as a very unique and enlightening experience indeed. We stopped by Kentucky Fried Chicken to pick up a little lunch and then got back on the road.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yeah she did know you would be there lol It was a double edged sword.

Sauce said...

Maybe she said that because it was the biggest thang in town, not because we are predisposed to love watermelon! Actually, I thought you were kidding about a watermelon festival until I saw the pic of the ladies with two of them wearing melon attire. That's out of sight and no you didn't go git fried chicken!

blackink said...

Lol. I always say this is one of the reasons that black folks don't live quite as long. I mean, is that racist or was she really trying to send you to a fun watermelon-based event? And it happens all the time.

And tell me you got the grilled chicken from KFC, right?

KST said...

@ Max -I want you to know that I am choking on water right now! Trying not to laugh may be the end of KST.

OMG! Not KFC after the Watermelon fest?

*Shh*
Don't tell but, blackink (love ya!)has been hawkin' the KFC grilled chicken all over the net. Please, don't do it. It's wrong.

Max Reddick said...

@ Sauce

I don't lie, and I wouldn't lie about a thing as serious as watermelon. Now, I will stretch de hell out of the truth.

@ blackink

To tell you the truth, most of the watermelon worshippers were white. So, perhaps I was the token black at this watermelon related event.

@ KST

For some strange reason, after the watermelon lovefest, I had a strange craving for fried chicken. And I washed it down with some grape soda from the cooler stashed in my car.

uglyblackjohn said...

Man... Since I've been in the South - I've been to Rice Festivals, Crawfish Festivals and a Buggy Festival (All in their respective "World Capitals", and all with their queens and courts).
In many towns in the South - these festivals are the biggest thing going.

Max Reddick said...

@ uglyblackjohn

When I was living in California, I lived in this small town that billed itself as "The Artichoke Capital of the World." And every year they held this Artichoke festival which was one weekend of straight, unadulterated hedonism. I could only wonder what that debauchery had to do with artichokes.

uglyblackjohn said...

Oh yeah...
I'm from Riverside, California and we always had the Orange Blossom Festival (San Bernardino had the Orange Show).
I think it has something to do with the major crops or bussinesses in any given area.

But only in the South does one see all the young girls of court with big hair and former festival queens acting as though it was the red carpet at the Oscars.
Come to think of it - maybe it IS their version of the Oscars.

Max Reddick said...

I was in Watsonville. And that was the biggest thing happening all year. In fact, they spent the whole year preparing for it. I don't know what they would have done if it were not for that festival.

Issa Rae said...

I am SO SO relieved that this festival was put on and attended by mostly white people. I think it would get wayyyy more media coverage if more black people were involved.

Ugh, artichoke festival though? Absolutely gross. I've had to drive through Gilroy, the Garlic capital, several times to get from L.A. to the Bay and vice-versa and that SMELL drives me up a wall. I hope artichokes don't have a distinct smell.

SquarerootZ said...

Hilarious bro. But quite sad at the same time due to the fact that I'm from the south and have been subjected to a number of these festival and gatherings. Never a Watermelon one though, just don't think I could take it.

Max Reddick said...

@ Issa

Yeah, I thought it was ironic that this big watermelon lovefest was populated by mostly white southerners. And they accuse us of liking watermelon. Hypocrites!

Yeah, it does stink through there. I had forgotten about that. And I couldn't figure out how people could get so excited about artichokes. Especially after what they did to Arty. :)

@ SquarerootZ

Down South we don't need much of an excuse to have a party.

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