So I lied. I'm not really gone for the day. One of the women who works across the hall from me was cleaning out their office a few weeks ago and asked if I wanted a scanner that they were planning on getting rid of. As many of you know, I can't get rid of anything, even when it's not mine and I'm not the one getting rid of it. So I said yes. Today I finally got around to downloading a driver and scanning some old(ish) photos that I had lying around. The result was an awkward sort of nostalgic melange, which I arranged in reverse chronological order for your touring pleasure. More to come, I'm sure. In the meantime, please check them out at Rebecca's most beloved photo site, Fotki (link below).
The most exciting part is that this means our pictures from Hot Springs, Arkansas are finally accessible for all the world to see! As one or two of you (Rebecca & my mom) may recall, I dangled a promise before you all when Richard and I moved down here last year to tell you all the story of our shenanigans in Hot Springs. But really, they were nothing without the accompanying images. So here are highlights for you to bear in mind as you peruse pictures #2-5:
Hot Springs was just supposed to be a pit stop on our last leg of the trip, between Louisville and Austin. (Sidebar: We were going to camp out at Hot Springs National Park, but it rained through THREE STATES and we happily checked ourselves into the first sleazy motel we came to when we rolled into Hot Springs late that night.) Our map had informed us that there was a wax museum in town, and one of us (name withheld to preserve some measure of dignity) was dying to visit it, since she'd never been to one before. But we had 10 more hours to drive and wanted to get a good start, so we hit downtown early and had to literally wait on the front steps of the museum until they unlocked the door. This meant the only non-wax bodies in the museum at one minute past opening time were me, Richard, and a shuffling old lady who had to go over and switch on the escalator for us.
Let me set the scene. You enter the museum, pay admission, and then take a creaky old elevator up to the second floor where you begin your tour. The escalator takes you past a series of Golden Age of Hollywood-type figures... Mae West, Fred Astaire, and - most notably - one of the only two African-Americans depicted in the entire museum: a 4-foot-tall Louis Armstrong with hands at least six shades lighter than his coal-black face. Nice going, guys. So up you ride, and finally something begins to emerge over the top of the escalator... wait for it... wait for it... could it be? YES, my friends, it is none other than a larger-than-life Christ. Crucified. Upon the cross. Did I mention he's crucified? If that's not enough to scare you into Southern Baptism, perhaps the exhibit directly behind him will do the trick: a re-creation of the Last Supper, so realistically done that they even have all the pale, blond, Aryan apostles sitting on Jesus' side of the table, just like they were in 33 AD when Leonardo da Vinci painted them.
As you enter the dimly-lit room, the recording starts up and a deep, dramatic, manly voice (the sort of voice that would narrate 1950s-era filmstrips about the nuclear bomb) begins to set the scene for you. Apparently, Christ has just told his followers that one of them will betray him, and in case the nametags at each apostle's seat still leave any doubt as to who's who, a spotlight shines on each of the figures in turn, and the helpful voice tells you about each one, interpreting the psychological significance of their body language for you in a narrative replete with meaningful pauses and accompanied by background music that can only be described as truly terrifying.
So Richard and I stand and stare for a few minutes, desperately wanting to avert our eyes and/or close our mouths but unable to do either. Finally R turns to me and says, "Hey, if I go sit in Thomas' seat" (Thomas has jumped out of his chair next to Jesus and is cowering behind James Elder) "will you take a picture of me?" Good museum nerd that I am, I give him a properly horrified look and protest, "You can't do that!!!!" "Why not?" asks Richard. I argue lamely about security cameras and exhibit barriers, and Richard kindly pats me on the arm and finally manages to remind me that we're in a Jesus exhibit. In a circa 1980 wax museum. In Hot Springs, Arkansas. We're not talking the Smithsonian, here. So he vaults over and takes Thomas' seat and I take his picture and we run off, giggling. What you do for kicks in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
The rest of the museum is full of lots of famous white people, running the gamut from Neil Armstrong to Queen Elizabeth to Snow White. You might be forgiven for not noticing the only other Black person, Martin Luther King, Jr., who's standing in what appears to be a converted broom closet in a long, dark hallway wearing a blazer so big that the sleeves cover part of his hands. Okay, fine - they may have agreed to add a Black guy to their exhibits, but damned if they were going to go to the trouble of finding a jacket that actually fit him. If it was good enough for the big, strapping Bill Clinton in the next room, it's good enough for Martin Luther King.
Okay, that's our best Hot Springs story. There are a couple of others, but mostly the kind of generic adventures that two unsuspecting Yankees would have in any southern tourist town boasting sites like Bathhouse Row and Bill Clinton's childhood house. A few more pictures are included in the memory lane page, plus such assorted gems as Rebecca in Paris, Watson on Christmas morning, and 3-year-old me.
OKAY, KATIE, I CAN'T BEAR TO WAIT ANY LONGER - PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD SHOW ME THOSE PICTURES YOU'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT!
And now I'm done for real.