A fellow recently asked me what I thought about sweat lodges. I told him that was one of the reasons I left the farm. So he asked me if I had ever been in a sweat lodge. And I told him I had, except that we called them tobacco barns.
And since he wasn’t a country boy, I had to explain what it’s like late in a July afternoon hanging tobacco in an old tier curing barn. You’re already tired from cropping tobacco all day, and now you’re in the top of one of those old barns with no air stirring around you and sweat pouring into your eyes. The sweat has been seasoned with green tobacco drippings, and your eyes burn like someone stuck a hot poker in them. That’s when you discover there are not enough vowels in the alphabet to express your pain.
All of this conversation began after a news story came out a few days ago in which the owner of a sweat lodge was found guilty of manslaughter after some people died in his facility.
Looking back on those events of my childhood, I reckon if we had just had the right marketing genius among us, we might have found a niche market and made a few extra bucks.
We could probably have sold some unsuspecting city folks on the idea of getting much-needed exercise along with a sauna experience, and they could tell their grandchildren about it all one day.
If you could have a “dude ranch,” then why couldn’t we have had a “dude farm.” Instead of sitting around a campfire singing “Tumbling Tumbleweed” we could have sat around a big pot of purloo and sang “She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain.” We could have thrown in milking a few cows, and maybe at night we would have run some trot lines and gigged some frogs. The fee would have been described as “nominal.”
I’m pretty sure we could have gotten some takers. Back in my college days at Georgia State University, I had a friend from New Jersey who loved to hear stories about life on the farm and how we often engineered our own entertainment. He begged me to take him down to the farm to go squirrel hunting.
Our relationship began one day when he saw me putting peanuts in my Coke. He said he had heard of that but had never actually seen it done. I told him the only trick was to know if it was a right-handed bottle or a left-handed one. That’s when he became sort of my apprentice to discover some of the finer things in life.
I told him I would do better than taking him squirrel hunting, that I would take him naugah hunting because naugahydes were bringing a premium price that winter. Later I told him I was just messing with him on that one.
And when I told him about seining Tired Creek on the main highway at night, he asked me if I was messing with him again. Of course I wasn’t. But I got a laugh when he asked me what a fishing license would cost him to go seining.
Now, back to the sweat lodge. Not too long ago, I was watching an old movie where some fat senators were sitting in a sauna wrapped in towels discussing pending legislation. What they were doing was cutting deals. And now that I know that they are not prohibited from insider trading, I wish someone had turned up the heat to just short of broil. What Martha Stewart went to jail for, they can do and actually brag about it.
Oh wait a minute, how did I let something like politics find its way into this scribbling? I was talking about wholesome stuff, like fishing, hunting and putting peanuts in my Coke – not lying, cheating and corruption.
I’ve got to be more careful about that, lest someone calls me a pundit.
Dwain Walden is the editor/publisher of the Moultrie Observer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.