My Civil War: Re-enacting in the Days of 9/11
"Pubes. That’s what they called me. Pubes because of my thick curly hair — a feature that despite my utter lack of Semitic heritage gave a number of my co-workers carte blanche to casually call me a few choice slurs. A mere week before and I had been a buck-toothed, pudgy 14-year-old on family vacation wandering around a Jelly Belly factory in Northern California. Now I was sitting in a double room at the Best Inn off of Route 81 in Staunton, Virginia, surrounded by men in sweat-soaked Confederate uniforms.
"A janky TV blared with a marathon of VH1’s “Best 100 Videos of All Time.” Through the walls above the bed headboards came a steady, rhythmic pounding from the adjacent room where a sinewy, shifty-eyed chain smoker from North Carolina was marathon fucking his wife. When they found his body beside a gas station less than a year later, no one who knew him would be surprised. Muffled jeers erupted from the other adjacent room every time the next video on the countdown wasn’t “Take On Me.”
"Every guest at the Best Inn (except that prostitute who plied her trade in the pool that one afternoon) had two things in common: we were all Civil War re-enactors and we were all temporarily on the dole of Turner pictures.
"I had been in Staunton for 48 hours. I already had a bad case of swamp ass and a mean sunburn. It was going to be a fun two weeks."
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