I climbed Mount Chinsegut, faced a woeful bull, and had a drink at Miss Kitty’s Hilltop Lounge, one of Brooksville’s finest establishments.
But first, Chinsegut. We arrived yesterday, had a tour of the hill and then the house, and wandered about the property. Brooksville itself is a whole different world when compared to St. Petersburg, and Chinsegut is even more of a world away. The hill was beautiful, but it’s a pity USF is essentially practicing a tacit demolition or, as our tour guide/ orange pie chef/ Chinsegut historian Andy Huse put it this weekend, “demolition by neglect” with the main house. It’s a three story wood manor house built in 1849, the oldest house in Hernando County, and a husk of what it must have been 100 years ago: the paint is peeling, the third floor is structurally unsound so we couldn’t go up to it, and the house is falling apart. Thank god that wasn’t the case with the cabins.
And, oh, a word about those “cabins”: when someone tells you you’ll be staying there in a cabin with no stove or microwave, what level of luxury do you expect? None, right? I’m thinking that we’ll have shelter but probably have to rough it.
If “roughing it” means “the icemakers won’t have door dispensers,” then, yes, I “roughed it” this weekend. It was tough, let me tell you. I had to open the freezer door to ice beverages down.
Despite the rough conditions–it took almost ten whole seconds for the hot water to come up in my bathroom this morning–I had a GREAT time. I want to go back. So here are the top ten best things about Chinsegut Hill:
10. Rocking chairs on the cabin and manor house porches.
9. How dark it gets out in the country.
8. The slasher film mood of the Hill just after sunrise and in late afternoon.
7. Crumbling outbuildings dotting the landscape.
6. The steps that lead up to a platform in an oak tree.
5. Brahma bulls lurching about the property.
4. “What happens at Chinsegut, stays at Chinsegut.”
3. Sandhill cranes, deer, and spiders.
2. The Inuit word Chinsegut means a place where lost things are found, and I believe it is so.
1. The Chinsegut Blues, a blues song Andy and Roy apparently composed last night around the fire. Quite lovely, all at once bluesy and soulful and fueled almost entirely by rum. Theresa, Emily and I joke about starting a girl band: The Three Marjories and the Big Sugar Band. T’s on Facebook right now, telling everyone she found Big Sugar.
I think the Inuit name has some truth to it, I really do.
What to say about Miss Kitty? Miss Kitty’s is all the glorious, deep-fried, bleached blonde, camel-toe, tooth-missin’, two-stepping, stetson-hat-wearin’, tobacco-dippin’reasons I am so glad I no longer work at a country radio station.
I loved it there. I could have sat and watched the whole thing for hours. I actually DID sit and watch for hours. The women outweighed and outnumbered the men and everyone seemed OK with that.
Top 10 Reasons I Love Miss Kitty’s:
10. Dan Story and the What’s Your Problem Band. OK, I don’t remember the name of his band but I swear to you that it was very similar to that.
9. Dan Story wore tight Levi’s, a big ole’ white belt, and his shirt stayed unbuttoned while he sang.
8. Any band that can go from “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” to “You Shook Me All Night Long” is OK with me.
7. There’s something beautifully tragic about middle aged women line dancing.
6. Similarly tragic and beautiful in its own right, I love the hopeful look the men get around closing time as those same women all start to dance in a circle around one guy.
5. Going to a red state backwoods bar with a college professor who was up for a Pulitzer for his book on the freedom riders and just being relieved when our group gets in the front door of that bar without any of the patrons noticing the Obama bumper sticker on that professor’s Volvo.
4. The look on the same professor’s face as he tries to reconcile his academic experiences with the bar scene at Miss Kitty’s on a Saturday night.
3. The look on the same professor’s face when we ask our barmaid what the red drinks in the hurricane glasses are and she says they’re called “Knock me down and fuck me.”
2. That professor and the other grad student (both male) order one of these drinks. I sip my rum and coke, feel a little bit like a longshoreman amidst some H. R. Pufnstuf sorority formal, and briefly wonder where all the men have gone. This feeling intensifies as the two men talk about how you can’t really taste the alcohol. I flash on Grapefruit, Juicy Fruit:
Girl: “You can hardly taste the alcohol!”
Buffett: “That’s the plan, baby… What you don’t drink we’re gonna pour on ya!”
I sigh, and go back to watching people line dance to urban music.
1. Miss Kitty’s Hilltop Lounge has a My Space page.