Posted on August 11, 2015
We drove the Tennessee backroad to The Loveless Café from Franklin where Taylor, Cole and I stayed twelve days in the home of friends, Kim and Andy. Switching places, they went abroad while I stayed home with their cat and three dogs. As much as I love back roads, I adore back yards with big porches to grill and chill. Theirs backs up to woods.
I loved walking the dogs early in the morning, sprinklers hissing as we passed. Off trail, cicadas’ cries crescendoed when we waded through tall, dewy weeds to the Harpeth River rocks. After breakfast, I’d pick tomatoes, mint, and basil to make salsa, guacamole, and BLTs for lunch. Cole would play a game of fetch with Wrangler, Ella, and Ollie.
At night we caught up on movies. I’d vowed when I got home I’d disappear into a theater for at least a week. Other than Die Hard shown in the square during the Marrakesh Film Fest I hadn’t seen a single new movie on the Big Screen for an entire year AND when the sound on my airplane screen was broken on the way home, I nearly wept. But Andy and Kim’s Dish like my sister and brother-in-law’s cable had so many choices the only movie I wanted to see in a theater was Jurassic World.
We also ate our way through America’s “Favorite Main Street,” “Friendliest Town” (Travel and Leisure), and “Best Southern Town” (Garden and Gun). Check out all Franklin offers here. We went to Puckett’s Boat House for live music, catfish and oysters like the ones I’d had there in 2013. (55South on Main also has great fresh oysters; I had them there on Kim and Andy’s wedding day.)
Before Kim went to Europe she took me to Gray’s where we caught up over cocktails and dinner. Dating back to 1876, the former pharmacy now social and music hub has a rich history.
Family friends/retired teachers/travel buddies from Nashville, Betty and Sharon, drove down to visit. Starting in 1992 they taught me how to lead school groups on educational trips abroad. We still laugh about the tiny room we shared in England at Hotel Lily. We had to climb over triple beds to enter or exit. They took me to Henpeck Village Market—a meat and three with a great patio and pecan pie to die for.
Posted on December 29, 2008
Last fall a man claiming to be a member of the “Right Hand party” in Belgium sent me a friend request on Facebook supporting my “ courageous husband, John.” I wasn’t sure how to respond…again. I had been hailed as the future First Lady in jest since the summer. No doubt there was a resemblance–strong enough that MTV Canada found my picture on Facebook and persuaded me to do their Hot Topic segment the day after the election. I was on a split- screen panel via Skype with a John McCain from Appomattox, Virginia, and two regulars, Naked Guy and Skull Man. Two questions were fired at me: how l had fared with my famous name and what I predicted was in Sarah Palin’s future.
Previously I had been interviewed on Nashville’s Channel 5 News segment, “Cool Schools” when the high school where I teach was featured. The reporter asked about political discussions in my senior English classes, but only after he mock-introduced me as the Cindy McCain who had left the campaign trail to make an appearance. Then there was the police officer who pulled me over for expired tags as I pulled out of the parking lot of an early voting site. When he saw the sticker on my sweater announcing I’d voted and the name on my license, he softened. Assuming we were on the same team, he grinned, “Guess you’d like to be the other Cindy McCain.” I nodded, then truthfully and without defecting quipped: “I sure would. I’d like to have her money.”
No doubt I wanted to please the nice policeman. My Southern Girl upbringing warned me not to act ugly–to remember that it’s better to smile and nod when people assume I voted a certain way than to incite controversy by saying I didn’t. I vowed to defend passionately and logically my candidate when the time was right. I managed to do this a few times, but sometimes my responses morphed into bi-polar fight or flight instincts. There were a couple of bouts with friends—both which disturbed the peace in two eating establishments—and one which ended in my being accused of drinking the Kool-Aid to which I childishly retorted, “You lost and we won—so there!” More often I took flight with the smile and nod routine.
As a minor irritation, conducting business took longer when the cable company’s tech guy, the financial aide officer of my daughter’s college, and telemarketers asked if I realized I had the same name as the presidential candidate’s wife. A hotel clerk stared hard at me when I checked in wearing my Jackie O glasses, trying to decide if I was indeed that Cindy McCain. But more disturbing than the man from Belgium and two others on Facebook who confused me for the real deal was the assumption that if I shared her name, I shared her political views.
I must disagree with Romeo when he asked: “What is a name? A rose called by any other name would still smell as sweet.” Instead of smelling a rose, some McCain fans looked at me as if they smelled a rat if I fessed up to not voting for their man. And to be fair, it wasn’t just my name. I live in the Bible Belt AND a red state where many believe being a Christian (which I am) is synonymous with pledging allegiance to the GOP. Likewise, an Obama supporter tried to divine my political persuasion from my name when I met her at a dinner party the week after the election. She said, “It’s nice to meet you, but I’m glad you didn’t win.” Suddenly I related to soap opera villains who are accosted on the street because fans confuse the character with the actor.
I know many of my friends with perfectly normal names were entangled in Facebook wars of their own. But stranger than the usual debate was an ominous message I received from a Canadian man after the MTV segment aired. Deducing from my prediction that Sarah Palin would become an anchor on FOX news, then the Home Shopping Network, he said he knew I wouldn’t agree as an Obama supporter but he warned that America had been “DUPED” by Obama and that the election result was “NOT the kind of change the nation wants.” Then he asked about my weekend.
I waited until after the election to tell the gentleman from Belgium I was not the Cindy McCain he was looking for. Containing his disappointment, he asked if I was a Republican. I said I vote for candidates, not parties. He said that was smart and invited me to have coffee with him if I’m ever in Brussels.
For someone who doesn’t enjoy conflict, I learned a lot in the fall of 2008. I realized I had become defensive when the mailman asked me who I was voting for. “Why does it matter?” I retorted. He laughed: “Just kidding you about your name.” I learned that while politics can divide friends, listening to each other and even agreeing to disagree can ultimately deepen friendships. In political debate we can engage without fighting or fleeing. We can act ugly or take the higher road. Many just forward emails. My drug of choice for the headaches of last fall was The Office DVD collection. In addition to comic relief , I used them to master Jim’s way of rising above the fray by smiling smugly into the camera. Many days as students or friends tried to lure me into argument or drama, I looked over their shoulders and smiled serenely into my own imaginary camera, praying I’d be a peacemaker rather than a rabble rouser.
If posed those two questions on MTV again, I stand by my answer on Palin. But I’m now as ambivalent about having the name of a famous political figure as I am about it resulting in “Cindy McCain” listed over five million times on Google. It could be a blessing when I don’t want people snooping but a curse when I hope they do. I’m excited about our new President despite the fact that his winning reduced my shot at four years of fame to just five minutes. Recently when a friend gave my manuscript of a magazine article to a New York agent for placement, he said she first thought it was by the Cindy McCain. I’m sure she was disappointed it wasn’t.
I wish Cindy well with her family and millions. No doubt her fall was harder than mine. But as 2009 takes my hand, I feel rich, too. More on why later. For now, I’m off to salsa…