Photo: Sean Loyless
Church lady food.
For those mornings when your mom spits out the harsh “Well, if you could go out with friends on a Saturday night, you can come to church with me on Sunday morning,” just keep in mind that at noon, you’ll get to feast on paper plates slammed with a meat and three vegetable sides, cooked by the trembling hands of butter-enthusiastic church ladies who can’t help but bless your heart as you cure your hangover with some greasy fried okra. And by the way — cornbread and mac n’ cheese? Totally vegetables.
Super speedy internet.
Believe it or not, Tennessee has its shit together in the technology department. And while it may not be the next Silicon Valley, Chattanooga is home to the Electric Power Board, which provides Gig City with speedy fiber-optic internet to everyone in the city, 200 times faster than the national average.
In case you need some translating — that two hour video you’ve been trying to download for the past 25 minutes of the cat licking a watermelon? We had it in 33 seconds.
Peyton Manning’s football career.
And anyone who has the goddamn respect not to ever schedule anything during a Broncos game.
Clean, low-cost energy.
The Tennessee Valley Authority is a nonprofit agency that provides flood control and electricity to the majority of Tennessee — and parts of Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia — at prices below the national average. It also aims to be one of the nation’s leading providers of low-cost, clean energy by 2020.
Take that, Walter Cronkite.
A sense of humor.
Because when you live in a state that almost made eating roadkill legal, where grocery stores are just now able to sell wine legally but mason jars of moonshine are pulled out at every party, and giant 110-foot crosses dominate the highways, what else can you do but laugh?
The killer views.
Not only is the Great Smoky Mountains National park the first national park partially paid for with federal funds, it’s also the most visited national park in the United States. But, of course, with views from Chimney Tops, Clingman’s Dome, Charlies Bunion, and The Jump Off, it’s really not difficult to see why.
The first Friday in August.
Because when you live in a state where sales tax rates get as high as 9.75%, a tax-free weekend is enough to make anyone join in on some merciless stampeding for a buggy full of trapper keepers and Lisa Frank pencil pouches.
Neighbors who are closer than kin.
Lonely? Drive through your neighborhood and get enthusiastically waved at by anyone driving or jogging past. Need someone to watch your house while you’re out of town? Just give them a ring. Tragedy in your life? Make room for the impending plethora of casserole dishes about to stuff your fridge.
Just be sure to reciprocate the waves, scribble down some thank-you notes, and return that casserole pan within 48 hours. Otherwise, welcome to the infamous neighborhood shit list.
The legendary tunes.
And no — despite what you may be thinking, I’m not talking about just the twang.
There’s Memphis, which has molded some of the most important musicians in Blues and early Rock & Roll history such as W.C. Handy, who wrote the first commercially-successful blues song in a bar on Beale Street, Bessie Smith, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Jerry Lee Lewis, Aretha Franklin, and, of course, the king of Rock & Roll himself — Elvis Presley.
And then there’s Nashville. It’s where the largest vinyl pressing plant exists in addition to Studio B, Third Man Records, Blackbird Studio, and the Musician’s Hall of Fame and Museum. It’s home to WSM The Legend — one of only two AM clear channel stations in the eastern North America still broadcasting music. And it’s the birthplace of artists such as the Allman Brothers and Johnny Cash as well as bands like Kings of Leon, Paramore, and The Black Keys. Not to mention, it’s home to the Fisk Jubilee Singers — an African-American a cappella ensemble who gave Nashville its title of “Music City” after performing for Queen Victoria in 1873.
A cheap gym membership.
Turns out pimento cheese, syrupy sweet tea, crispy fried chicken, hashbrown casserole, cheesy grits, cajun boiled peanuts, biscuits and gravy, and deep-fried oreos aren’t on the Atkins Diet. Whodathunk?
And to make your pants dig into your gut even more, you can always get some of Memphis’ famous dry rubbed barbecue FedEx’d to you overnight. Lord help us.
And the fact that no matter where you are in the world, at least someone will know where you’re from solely based on your homestate whiskey.
The word ‘spelunking.’
Tennessee has more caves than any other state in the US. This means we also have more spelunkers than anywhere else in the country, too, which is arguably one of the greatest words in the English language.
Bread, milk, and poptarts.
For those days when your grandmother calls you in a frenzy after getting off the phone with her preacher who claimed his niece’s grandaddy’s brother saw a snowflake. Sure, it may have just been a chicken feather, but one can never be too careful. Stock up.