Day 25/ Mar 23rd – Wytheville, VA: Everything on it

I took a day off in Wytheville, both to pace myself so as to arrive in Kingsport on the same day as Sally’s flight, and to cower indoors away from a vicious sleet storm.  In all, I spent forty-four hours in Wytheville (pronounced ‘With-ville’), ate two meals, and still left town reeling from the amount of food I’d consumed.  In the unlikely event that you find yourself in America and dissatisfied with the portions of food you’re being served, drive immediately to Wytheville and the problem will be rectified.

Welcome to Wytheville

Wytheville: You won't go hungry

I nearly had my first meal at Skeeter’s, a restaurant in Wytheville’s pleasant little historical district, which proclaimed itself the ‘Home of the World-Famous Skeeter-Dog’, but was deterred by my uncertainty about what a ‘skeeter-dog’ might be and by the evident mendacity of their advertising (they are demonstrably not world-famous).  I plumped instead for Troy’s Philly Cheese Steak Subs and Pizza, a masterpiece of economical naming that managed to encapsulate its entire menu in seven words.

I settled in at Troy’s for a quiet afternoon and, so as not to be thought a cheapskate, ordered a large pizza.  This was a grave mistake.  When it arrived, the thing was large enough to have hosted summit meetings around, and I’ve rarely felt the sort of despair that gripped me after I’d gamely overcome my first slice only to realise that seven more still awaited me.  Before I’d even started eating it, the chef, a bald, stubbly fellow, walked over to me with a large grin on his face and an empty pizza box in his hand.

“Hey hoss, I’m jus’ gonna give you this now.  ‘Cos, I cain’t eat one a them by myself, an’ I don’t think you can neither!”

Troy's Pizza

Troy's pizza: Your quick route into the obituary column

Troy’s was clearly only following the preferences of its patrons.  After I’d given up on my pizza and levered it into its box with the aid of a small jack, a portly old man came in and walked stiffly up to the counter.

“Gimme a bacon an’ cheese sub.  Everthin’ oan it.”

The girl behind the counter punched this into the till.  “You want everthin’?”

“Yeah, everthin’.”  He gestured into the kitchen.  “Anythin’ you find back there, you go ahead an’ put oan it.”

While my stomach was tackling the epic job of digestion I’d presented it with, and while the sleet came down outside, I curled up at Troy’s with the local paper, the Bristol Herald Courier.  The obituary column was full of men with unimprovable Southern names like Virgil Vance Buck and G. Wade Necessary, who had spent blameless lives as coal-miners, bread salesmen and office clerks before recently expiring in Wythe County.  I read through the short summaries of their good works in the Elks and the Rotary Club and the platoons of grandchildren and great-grandchildren they had left behind, and found myself feeling wistful at being so far from my own friends and family, so for some reliable hilarity I turned to the police blotter.  I wasn’t disappointed.  Among the incidents reported over the last week, “two hobos got into a fight at the bottom of the Exit 7 northbound ramp over who got to panhandle at this location”, while last Friday “a man called police at 6pm to say that a man with a white van ‘came to his residence trying to sell meat and did not have any type of ID’”.  Contemplating the audacity of trying to sell meat without identification, I lugged my leftover pizza through the sleet and back to my motel.

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