So I'm sitting Tuesday night at the Nashville airport, waiting to return home yet again from yet another trip to the home of Cracker Barrel and crappy boroughs. And I'm making use of what time I have before boarding to catch up by phone with Mrs. BCR, who's been dutifully taking care of things around the homefront while I spend time with a parent whose decline into old age has been accelerating unnervingly rapidly.
On the way back to the airport, I had to return a Budget Rent-a-Truck driven up one-way from Florida with some of Mom's things to to a return site point near the Nashville airport. The drop-off point was closed, so after a key deposit in the night box I found myself standing at twilight out on Donelson Pike, waiting for a taxi in a part of Nashville that greatly resembles Roxboro Rd. between Braggtown and Durham Regional Hospital.
Which isn't somewhere I would typically feel safe hanging around by myself at night, I mentioned to my wife, and I was glad when even the sketchiest Yellow Cab you've ever seen ambled by after my call to the dispatcher.
A few minutes after my phone call ends, a fellow traveler at the Southwest gate who'd been (I thought) napping asked me, "Did you say you were going to Roxboro Rd.? I hope for your sake you're going far north up Roxboro and not staying down near the city."
At which point I did, naturally, what any Durham lover would do. I wheeled on him with the best bless-your-heart icy kindness I was able to muster -- you learn that trick after a few years in the Tar Heel State -- and gave him polite grief.
"Roxboro Rd.? Yeah, I live a couple of miles off of it, near downtown. My wife and I love it in Durham," I said, asking if he lived in the Bull City, and being unsurprised by his description of a Raleigh address.
What followed was a brief regional skirmish in which I suitably defended Durham's honor and made the point that it's a great place to live.
Missing, of course, in my prideful defense of my hometown was the fact that I had just moments before made my own comparison of parts of Roxboro Rd. as being somewhere that, well, I wouldn't want to be near at night.
It is, with apologies to the songwriter who coined a similar phrase, the duality of the Durham thing.