5% ABV from a bottle
Looking for fun in a seemingly boring town? Stuff your pockets with a few beers and hit the local Wal-Mart. Smalltown Wal-Marts are like wild game resorts. But instead of shooting bullets and arrows at deer, you can go to these white trash locations to hurl laughter, insults, and invectives at the fucked up local people and their even more fucked up products.
Such was the case when I was in North Country this weekend with my friends Gary and Dan, two brothers who grew up in the area and somehow survived to prosper. After having already seen the Dunkin Donuts inside the gas station and the old man that whittles on the edge of his porch, we needed to locate some more fun. Gary told me if we went to the Malone, NY Wal-Mart Supercenter that I would see things that would scar me for life. Or, at least, make me laugh until I was keeled over on the tobacco chaw-stained linoleum*.
So, after pounding a few Molson Exes–a surprisingly adequate beer, not great, but some decent ale body and flavor, and very drinkable compared to most shit macros–we headed over to the big box store, a taupe-colored monolith on the horizon. Gary warned me that inbreeding was prevalent and I would see some of the ugliest people on planet earth, but I still wasn’t completely prepared for what I was to witness.
Firstly, every person in town is constantly drinking Mountain Dew. It’s the only thing these people swallow beside beer and the slobber running down their gape-jawed faces. I would speculate that these giant beasts need the intense caffeine in order to locomote themselves around town, but I cannot be certain as not much walking seems to be done. Whereas in a normal city like New York where I live, the most prominent sodas are going to be your Cokes, your Pepsis, maybe Sprite or Dr. Pepper, in Malone those are the sodas of hoity toity fancypants folks. In Malone they say, “Give me Dew, or give me death.” I was absolutely stunned how the Wal-Mart soda selection was about a fifteen feet cooler across of all various flavors of the typically green nectar. I bet you think that all that exists is Mountain Dew and Diet Dew. Heck, maybe you’ve even heard of Code Red. Well you would be stunned at how many other variants there are. I don’t recall their wacky names, but I saw blue Dew, purple Dew, orange Dew, teal Dew, and countless other flavors and colors I can’t even remember. It was stunning.
For solid sustenance, the local indulgences of choice are hot dogs and ice cream. More, specifically, Glazier hot dogs, a bizarre fire engine-red-cased wiener unique to the area and made at a nearby meat plant. More specifically than that, the folk like their dogs “Michigan” style, which is a Glazier dog covered in some cheap spaghetti sauce. I’ve never seen people who give such a damn about meager hot dogs. In most of the world, people specifically avoid hot dogs unless they are broke, at a ball game, or in an eating contest. But not in North Country. Everywhere we went people were stuffing their faces with Glaziers like they were manna from above. And anywhere we went people would offer us these dogs. This must have happened two dozen times in a long weekend. When we turned them down, they thought we were the crazy ones. Who in their right mind would turn down a hot dog?! It was fucking bizarre.
Likewise with ice cream. I’ve never seen so many stands, huts, and shacks selling ice cream in a single location. Ice cream is not simply a dessert, not simply an occasional summer treat to cool down in North Country. No, there it is the stomach lubrication that guarantees one will continue to function while producing asses so big they aren’t allowed to ride roller coasters and need houses with custom wide-mouthed toilet seats. Ironically, just like the Dew cans which are also wide-mouthed.
So, these behemoths are riding their rascals and pushing their shopping carts through the Wal-Mart while they eat Glaziers, lap up ice cream, and guzzle Mountain Dew. Appearance-wise, most have completely shaved heads though those with hair have ratty ponytails or John Kruk-quality mullets. And facial hair is a must. Most opt for a goatees though fu machus are popular too. These are absolutely ridiculous looks as the locals have such fat fucking faces that goatees which are typically located on the most southern point of one’s face–i.e. their chin–are instead floating somewhere in the middle of their mugs, several extra chins of ooze residing underneath. This causes an oddball look similar to Al Jolson’s white ring around his mouth when he dressed in blackface to sing “Mammy.”
And Gary was right. Their faces, oh their faces. They just look mentally impaired. Doofy motherfuckers with always-opened mouths and eyeballs with nothing going on behind them. Everyone is so pale too. And of course they literally have rednecks.
For clothes, cheap and dirty construction crew t-shirts lacking sleeves. Sleeves are anathema to North Country. For lowerwear, I don’t think you will be surprised that jorts are the haute couture. Possibly topped off with a NASCAR hat or some fishing bucket cap. Any outfit fancier than that will betray you as being an outsider. One local man wondered Gary was so “spiffed” up. My pal was wearing a Joba Chamberlain t-shirt jersey, dirty cargo shorts, and flip-flops!
And we actually met a man named Bub. A man named Bub!
I’ve never heard such overt racism. Which is funny because after ordering food from a black Burger King employee at a rest stop on Thursday night somewhere about an hour north of the city on I-87, I didn’t see another person of African decent for the next four days. Everywhere we went it was n-word this and n-word that. I saw a motorcyclist at the Wal-Mart with a bumper sticker affixed to his helmet which simply read: “If you don’t speak English, get the fuck out of my country.” Suffice to say, I pretended I wasn’t a Jew, spending the weekend introducing myself as “Christian Christiansen” while eliminating all the Yiddish words and expressions that often spice my communications. Thus, “tchotchkes” became “shit on da’ walls at da’ diner,” “nosh” became “grub on some Glaziers,” and bagel because “crazy hole bread.” Likewise, when the drunk rednecks pulled out the firearms and munitions I had to catch myself from saying, “Oy vey, this is mishigas!”
Other favorite local argot would include “pussy” and “faggot.” As in, “‘eh pussy, quit bein’ a feh-gat and lets go get sum Glay-sher hawt dahgs.” In North Country, if you don’t do something some one wants you to do, thinks you should do, then you are immediately a pussy or a faggot. Sometimes both.
Not that you can understand what these folks are saying. A drunk Bela Karolyi would be far easier for me to understand. Their speaking style is a cross between someone with Bell’s palsy and someone that accidentally staple-gunned their lips to each other. Their cadence is loud and jutting. Words explode from the back of their throats, with incorrect syllables given some extra oomph. Not that many polysyllabic words are spoken. Their accents are an oddball amalgam of Buffalo lower class, Canadian lower class, and person pretending to be a retard. Makes the accents of Western NYers sound sophisticated. Or at least good enough for voiceover work. I just nodded when these folks spoke to me, unsure what exactly was being conveyed. Eventually I figured some things out.
Thus the common North Country phrase:
“Waaaaaaaaaah, luck ada tiiiihts ahn ‘er. Yer’ a pah-oooooooooo-see if ya’ done ga’ ‘it on ‘er, ayh gahya.”
Would translate to:
“Wow, look at the tits on her. You’re a pussy if you don’t go hit on her, eh guy.”
Not that there are any tits worth looking at for hundreds of miles around. Ever heard the crass expression “fun bags”? Well I would say that the women in the area have un-fun bags, gigantic sacks of fat dangling from their obese torsos, pulling their back down and make them hunched over as they drag their sickly little retard children around on leashes.
Oh, the products these people buy! They stuff their carts with all sorts of shit. Upon entering I immediately saw a section of beer signs. You could literally buy the kinds of cheap signs promoting cheap shit beers that many eighteen year olds hang in their dorm rooms. And they seemed to be doing a brisk business as that area was one of the more messed-with sections of the store.
You can also purchase food at Wal-Mart. All of it frozen and fat-laden. Tons of microwave pizzas and sacks of knock-off Ore-Ida products. The most fucked up thing I saw though were hot dogs wrapped in pancakes (both chocolate chip and blueberry flavor!)
The beer section is a tribute to quantity not quality. 24 cases of beers you’ve never heard of for the low, low price of $4.99.
Finally, in the back of the store, we stumbled upon an entire aisle devoted to furry steering wheel covers. An entire aisle! I didn’t even know this product existed, but in Malone their must be a huge demand for it. Firstly, why do you need to cover your steering wheel with anything and second, why would you want it to be furry like a cheap bath mat?! I do not know these answers. I don’t not know the answers to most of the questions I was confronted with during my hour in Wal-Mart. I was as flummoxed as the first time I heard about String Theory. It became too much. I felt weak, I felt like throwing up. I needed to get back to the car and just be alone for a while. And be thankful I would never enter the North Country Wal-Mart again.
*Gary encouraged me to blast his hometown as much as I could. He noted that no one there knows how to use the internet so no one from there will ever read this. I don’t completely believe him so I look forward to hearing from North Country folks in the comments.