Most nancy-man travel blogs feature posts about limp-wristed ports of call, like Branson or Destin. Well, eat this, travel snob! You’re getting a country helping of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. But don’t bother visiting Gatlinburg, bitches. Not without proper papers, anyway. The Angry Czeck has already conquered it, annexing the Smoky Mountain town to an already cowering empire of rancor and bile. The Angry Czeck and his son, Angry Jr., toured his newly acquired lands this weekend, pissing off the peasants and establishing a culture of fear behind our Mazda’s emissions.
The best aspect about a vacation to Gatlinburg is that upon entering the city limits, you are automatically the best looking person there. Hands down. Your competition chiefly consists of families with strange skull formations. Not a lot of snappy dressers in Gatlinburg, either. Most people visiting Gatlinburg view the excursion as the perfect excuse to break out their most poorly conceived t-shirt. So if you’re not inherently good looking, just wear something nice (i.e. something other than a striped muscle shirt). You’ll be King of Gatlinburg.
Speaking of t-shirts, make sure to bring your worst to Gatlinburg. If you don’t have an awful t-shirt, you’ll discover plenty of places to buy one. T-shirts in Gatlinburg generally stick to a menu of simple yet beloved themes:
1. The South
3. Getting Lucky
It’s not just the ladies in Gatlinburg sporting #3 either. One guy, who appeared to have been dragged to Gatlinburg behind a stagecoach, wore a shirt that declared: “Your daughter’s in good hands!” Similar sentiments are popular with women, too, and are usually featured on shirts so small their breasts are screaming for release. Normally, this can be kind of sexy, just not in Gatlinburg.
But the Jesus shirts are the best. “His Pain Your Gain” is always popular in Gatlinburg. While staggering through the streets with Angry Jr. in tow, I began to imagine what it might be like if Jesus had bypassed Jerusalem and visited Gatlinburg. He’d have been pretty impressed with the fashion, I’d wager. He might have walked away with a custom t-shirt that read “I’m With Twelve Stupids.”
Gatlinburg’s most confounding Jesus shirt featured the bare back of a very muscular Jesus, with several whip marks across his body. The headline screams, “Read Between the Lines.” Really, Jesus People, what the hell does that mean? What lesson am I to learn? Would Jesus wear that shirt? Can you imagine Him reviewing the design and responding, “Hell, yeah. Silk-screen a thousand of these babies!” The most horrible thing is, even while you’re reading this, somebody is wearing that shirt.
THREE THINGS SEEN IN GATLINBURG:
1. A forehead tattoo.
2. A man wearing a shirt (tucked into a pair of jean shorts) that read: It Ain’t Easy Being Easy.
3. A bride arriving to her wedding in a silver Grand Am.
If you think you’re getting of cheap in Gatlinburg, then you are a big fool. On past trips to Gatlinburg, the Angry Czeck’s angry mother-in-law footed much of the bill. (Benefits of being a kept angry man). This time, I was on my own. Here’s an abbreviated tally for 1.5 days in Gatlinburg:
Bumper Boats = $7 per ride
Ski-Lift up Mountain = $12.50 per person
Aquarium ticket (adult and toddler) = $24.00
Don’t think that those outlandish prices don’t add up. Shit, at one point, I began to panic, believing I didn’t have 50¢ for the trolley back to the hotel. I guess I could have purchased an XXXXL t-shirt with my check card, and Angry Jr. and I could have slept inside it.
Speaking of the trolley, I was witness to an amusing exchange between the trolley driver and a man waiting at a trolley stop:
MAN: Hey! How much does it cost to ride the trolley?
DRIVER: Twenty-five cents.
MAN: Forget it!
Traveling alone with a toddler offers its own list of exciting challenges. Thanks to an explosion of well-publicized child kidnappings, a man alone with a two-year-old boy looks a lot like a suspect featured on an Amber Alert. I kept waiting to receive a Gatlinburg sheriff’s beating. To make matters more challenging, Angry Jr. has an unnerving habit of screaming “Help me!” when you’re slow getting his sippy cup.
Thanks to the funds-draining nature of Gatlinburg, the Angry Czeck found himself at the end of the day dining on a value meal at McDonald’s. Big fatty helpings, yessir. People visit the Gatlinburg McDonald’s just to smooth the wrinkles in their new t-shirts. One woman came in dragging her three children and her vacant-eyed husband. He and two of the kids raced to the counter for a helping of grease. The mother stayed behind with her infant, who began an ear-bleeding campaign of screaming. Hey, the Angry Czeck is a dad. He’s been there when Junior decides to melt down in a public place. I understand. But the trick is to at least appear like your going to do something about it. For more than 15 minutes, the woman just stared at her yelling infant, offering no comfort outside a woeful expression on her face. Come on. Try getting the kid out of the stroller and walking her around. Preferably outside. No dice.
THREE THINGS OVERHEARD IN GATLINBURG:
1. “Hey, there’s a Grand Am. Did you see it?”
2. “Looks like we missed your wedding…it wasn’t our fault.”
3. “Get over here right now so I can hit you with my shoe!”
My hotel looked exactly like a 15-story toilet paper roll, stuck neatly into the folds of the Smoky Mountains. You’d think the Angry Czeck would rate a nice view, but no. I got a view of the service parking lot. But Angry Jr. and I weren’t in Gatlinburg for the view! We were here to make Gatlinburg my bitch!
Have you ever been to the mall at about 7:00 at night, only to realize you’re the only 30-year-old in the joint? If you’re a guy, there’s no helping the appearance that you’re only there to score with teens, like a big pervert. That’s what happens to the streets of Gatlinburg around 7. The adults vanish, and the girls put on smaller shirts. I didn’t want to look like…you know…that guy, so I was busting my ass to make a trolley. If you think pushing a toddler around in a stroller helps, forget it. My son only looked like a desperate prop for attention. Apparently to the teen in a small shirt, the only thing less cool than an old man lugging around a toddler is forgetting to scrub the mud off your 1999 Grand Am.
One hint of class you’ll find in Gatlinburg is the Aquarium. Not only is it well done, but you get the opportunity to touch a stingray. That might not be on par with riding a dolphin, but it made Angry Junior’s day. The most sinister tank featured giant spider crabs. People eat these things. Later, Angry Jr. showcased a brief tantrum that resulted in my picking him up by one arm. That always looks bad, no matter what the circumstance. Some parents were looking at me like I just tossed the kid into the shark pool. I wanted to say, “Fuck you! Like you never lifted your kid off the ground by one arm! You try lugging a backpack full of graham crackers and diapers while directing your child away from the spider crab tank. And you’re wearing ill-fitting t-shirts!” I didn’t though.