OPINION: Normal is as normal does

“Well, I dreamed I saw the silver space ships flying / In the yellow haze of the sun. / There were children crying and colors flying / All around the chosen ones” – Neil Young

When I heard my 3-year-old granddaughter singing, “I like big butts and I cannot lie…” as we entered the Quaker State wing restaurant in Pigeon Forge, I felt grounded again, knowing my life was back to normal and all was well in World Cameron.

Up ahead of us, my two older granddaughters streaked across the restaurant, screaming like banshees as they spotted a mini arcade stuck back in the corner. Yep, “Baby’s Got Back” and “Can I have fifty cents, can I, can I, please, please?!?” at 150-plus decibels made me feel normal again.

We had just spent the morning at The Smoky Mountain Bigfoot Festival in Townsend, and while there, I witnessed things.

They advertised the festival as the second annual event, and to be honest, the organizers were not prepared for the onslaught of enthusiasts who braved the cool, misty Tennessee weather to check out all things Bigfoot with a decent amount of Mothman thrown in for good measure.

I was glad to see them pay homage to Mothman. Susan and I have made the trek to Point Pleasant, West Virginia twice now, and we consider ourselves amateurish experts on that phenomenon. We debated on vacationing in Hawaii or Aruba, but we settled on that paradise in Almost Heaven, West Virginia.

My grandson and I (he accompanied us on our last pilgrimage to the Mothman Museum), contributed a photograph of the intact Silver Bridge to the owners of Expedition: Bigfoot Museum in Cherry Log, Georgia last time we visited that fine establishment.

And if one must ask what the Silver Bridge is, well, one just hasn’t existed in World Cameron. Same goes for Expedition: Bigfoot.

Back to Townsend. It was a true family excursion. Two Seabolts, six Camerons and a Seabolt Cameron braved the elements to check out the festival. At first, I was wary of asking my son’s in-laws to attend, fearing they might surmise their daughter had married into a clown circus, but they were sports about it all and even brought along a grocery sack of goodies, proving that they are keepers.

As we entered the gates, our little entourage quickly dispersed into smaller groups, each headed to their own area of interest. All around were food trucks, vendors hawking Bigfoot paraphernalia, guest speakers, bouncy castles (Seemed tacky to me. Everyone knows that Bigfoot and castles do not coexist, but whatever).

What intrigued me most was the live music venue.

I had read the literature and knew that Mini Kiss was the headlining act, and I also knew I couldn’t spend a lifetime without witnessing that. I might have to sit through Slashsquatch (you had to be there) and the Bigfoot calling contest, and while that is entertainment on the grandest of scales, a band of small people dressed like members of Kiss and belting out those classic tunes, well, can life be more fulfilling?

I understand this has nothing to do with my favorite cryptid, but I will allow it, given we’re talking Kiss and well…political correctness and such…let’s just say, I needed to see it.

So, as the rest of my crew continued exploring the festival grounds, I plopped down in front of the grandstand. Since there were no empty tables, I grabbed up a chair with fellow enthusiasts, and it was there my adventure began in earnest.

I apparently sat down in the middle of a heated discussion in which a flat earth guy wearing a Grateful Dead shirt was defending himself to the chemtrail man with only a few teeth left (perhaps caused by the chemicals that the government pours out into the atmosphere?), while the UFO dude wearing the “I Visited Roswell and Only Got This Lousy Tee Shirt” listened intently.

I had reason to think I could relate to the Roswell dude. Last September, Susan and I decided against a trip to Scotland for vacation but settled instead on a road trip to New Mexico which included, you got it, a stop in Roswell at the UFO Museum. And while I didn’t get the “I Visited Roswell…” shirt, I did come back to Kemp wearing a wife beater with an alien emblazoned across the front that glowed in the dark. That’s class. After all, we’re not barbarians.

Anyway, just as the flat earther dude started in on how huge ice walls around the earth kept the oceans from spilling over the edge, the Roswell shirt man, with whom I felt a wistful kinship of sorts, blurted out that Sasquatch actually pilots many of the UFOs we see.

I sat gobsmacked. I assume Roswell shirt had visited The UFO Museum, just as I had, so I know that he knows what aliens look like, and they looked nothing like Bigfoot. What an amateur. If only I had worn my glow-in-the-dark Roswell shirt for guidance.

My mortification only started there. Just as Roswell dude rattled on about Bigfoot piloting flying saucers, a woman barked out over the loudspeaker that Mini Kiss was stuck in traffic and wouldn’t show for a while.

I read those tea leaves and quickly exited; stage left. I found my crew, and we decided to hit the road. We were wet, hungry, and exhausted after such a momentous day.

So later, as Logan shook her booty in the restaurant and sang, “I like big butts…,” while her sister and cousin ran roughshod over the place, I marveled at how normal my life is.

‘Murica. God, I love her.

Ronnie Cameron is a 1973 graduate of Swainsboro High School and completed undergraduate and postgraduate studies at Georgia Southern. Cameron has enjoyed a journeyman’s life, including stints in The Army Nuclear Air Defense Command, journalist, high school English teacher and football coach, tanker truck driver specializing in hazardous chemicals, CDL instructor, and part-time columnist for The Crossroads Chronicle. He is presently retired and resides in Kemp.

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