Did I kiss all the cowboys? Did I shoot out the lights?

When you wake up on a Sunday morning singing Shelly West’s “Jose Cuervo” and laughing about it, I guess you’ve had a good night.

My Conduit was in fine form all evening, and I’m satisfied that I could not have picked a better man to minister to the needs of my followers. (However, if his recent behavior is any indication, my followers are all single lawyers with dogs.) He was wearing a jaunty scarf and explaining how he’s decided to become a libertine. I’ve never met a jaunty-scarf wearing libertine before, so I’m hugely excited that I now know one.

Sadly, I must report that my cute neighbor offered to make out with me only after I’d been smoking a big cigar (provided by a delightfully attractive tall blond man who knows more about Arnold Schwarzenegger than necessary) and doing shots of something foul from the kitchen with some non-discript guy with beautiful eyes, and so, I had to decline politely, because, when one has to see someone all the time, the last thing one wants that person to think every time he sees one is “Egad, that woman’s mouth tasted like a used ass.”

Happily, Dr. Watson came to dinner with us and then on to the party afterwards. He has this disconcerting way of standing a little apart from the group and staring somewhat behind you, as if Moriarty has unleashed a deadly cat or large orangutan that he must keep an eye on, but I laced my hand through his arm and pulled him in tight so that he would feel safe every time I saw that he was distracted by some unimaginable concern that weighed heavily on him. I kissed him as I left, just to startle him. I think it worked.

The Libertine (my conduit) has this friend who taught me the most fun game ever, in which you look around a room and each try to describe someone. However, you have to set up your answer in this form: “He is something/something.” For instance, the cute blond with the cigar was clearly an action hero/singing telegram. I kept hoping the friend (lumberjack/gay playwrite, according to him) I was playing the game with and the blond with the cigar would start making out, but they never did. Maybe next time!

There was some dancing, though I wish there would have been more, but for some reason, after a good song to dance to, something impossible would come on and there was only one girl at the whole party who could dance to anything. It was pretty amazing, really, because she looked so ordinary that when she and her friends were sitting on the couch, she was utterly unnoticable, but when she danced, wow, she was so beautiful that you just wanted to watch her. It didn’t matter what kind of song it was, with what kind of un-dancable rhythm, she had this innate sense of how to match her body to some part of the song none of the rest of us could hear.

The most amazing thing, though, was the Professor. I kept thinking that, if she’d been Buchanan’s niece, things would have been very different in that administration. She is a little live wire, sizzling in and out of rooms and conversations and situations. Everyone in the whole house seemed constantly aware of where she was, hoping that she’d come by and zap them just a smidge.

She arranged our dinner before hand–her, me, my conduit, Dr. Watson, and her friend and his girlfriend–and we went to this fabulous Turkish restaurant and were having such a good time that our waitress kept trying to join in. The Professor decided that Dr. Watson ought to have a puppy dog calendar in his new bachelor pad, in order to balance it somehow, her own version of feng shui. I decided she needed her own show on the Home and Garden Network. They all laughed, but I’m right.

Judging from the ways that crowds organize around her, people would watch her.

Miss J and Ms. B ruin movies for me

Okay, so I sit down to watch The Gift yesterday and I’m trying to get into it, but not quite settling in because of the pinging banjo that seems slapped on to the soundtrack in order to give that poor kid from Deliverance something to do in his old age.

And then the folks start talking.

Okay, it’s not just the sisters Ms. that have done it. Part of it is living here and over yonder for seven years and spending my free time driving around and listening to folks. But everyone in that movie appears to have done their dialog training with Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel from The Simpsons instead of with anyone who’s from the area the movie is set in.

There is not one “southern accent.” Folks in Tennessee alone tend to have three or four different accents. The sisters Ms.’s dad has a west Tennessee accent that kind of sounds like Elvis’s. Not the corny Elvis that lives on in every “Thank you, thank you very much” but that way of starting a word, letting it fill up with the sound of the first vowel, and then gently closing the word off after that. (But their grandpa shuts his words off tight, so I could be wrong.)

Folks in middle Tennessee tend to sound a lot like people from Southern Illinois, that kind of rural, slow, lilt. And folks in east Tennessee still sound like they are, people who’s ancestors came from Scotland and Ireland and settled in isolated spots.

My nephew from rural west Georgia has a very distinct accent, but not near as thick as his great grandma and great grandpa, who I can barely understand. It takes me a good couple of hours to acclimate. They have the same trouble with us, but are good-natured about it. For one Christmas, they put “To: Bun” on all of my recalcitrant brother’s presents to ease his homesickness, reckoning that it would sound more like how we say his name than either of the ways they say it “Bin” or “Bi-en.”

My two neighbors, the guy who gets laid and the cute one, are both from the coast of Alabama, the Real South, as they remind me, and though both of them have an accent, it’s not one people outside of the South would place as Southern. They also stretch their words out, but unlike the sisters Ms.’s dad, they don’t let the words inflate, there’s not that same kind of fullness.

The folks in Louisiana about knocked my socks off with their accents. The people in New Orleans had a very urban accent, they sounded almost like New Yorkers, and the folks out in the countryside that we met all had Cajun accents.

There are still a couple of old professors here at Vanderbilt who were educated in the South and they speak with that Old Southern Accent that gets instilled in places like Sewanee. There is no sing-song to this accent, it’s as if every word is formed while your mouth is shaped like you’re going to say the letter “a”–“Ah laik mah chances.” When you hear it, you know that’s someone who’s over 65 and got a PhD.

The closest any place comes to having that sing-song Southern accent is Texas.

So, my point is that the movie was ruined for me. I just couldn’t get into it because none of the accents sounded the same and none of them sounded like they were from anywhere I recognized. J.K. Simmons did it the best, I think, opting for an accent that wasn’t really an accent. He just spoke more slowly and seemed to listen and like the sound of each word before he went on to the next.