The Great Summer Trip – How To Kill A Bull

“Great is thy faithfulness, oh God my father
There is no shadow of turning with thee…”

As I left the Robinson house in the pitch blackness of pre-dawn, I was reminded of this old hymn.  It somehow seemed appropriate, this reminder of God’s eternal faithfulness; especially as I was gliding through the darkened countryside with nothing but a single headlight to show the way.

One item that I learned on this trip is how much I enjoy riding in the dark.  You would think that it’d be missing the point (after all, isn’t part of the enjoyment being able to see the scenery?), but it’s an entirely different world when you’re riding without daylight.  You become hyper-aware that you’re alone.  You become struck with the immediacy of life when the entire scope of your view is whatever is lit by your headlight.  Rather than feel nervous, though, I felt strangely liberated; it was as if I were on an invincible flying carpet gliding through the darkness.

Kentucky 101 from Smiths Grove to Scottsville was ridden entirely before sunrise.  For about 25 miles I only saw one opposing set of headlights.  As I swooped up and down rolling hills and arced gracefully around curves, I’d catch the occasional glimpse of light coming from local homes, their occupants starting their daily routines (and no doubt wondering who was out riding a motorcycle that early in the morning).

From Scottsville I continued south on US-231 into Tennessee.  The early dawn light had just started piercing the darkness when my stomach told me that it was time for breakfast.  I stopped at the intersection of US-231 and TN-25 near Castalian Springs, TN while I figured out which way I wanted to go.  To my right was a flea market – no breakfast.  Kiddy-corner was a grain field – no good either.  Ahead to my left was a gas station – not really sit-down breakfast.  I looked back over my left  shoulder…

The sign should say “ONLY little grubhouse in town”

… and saw the Country Crossroads Restaurant.  BINGO!

In true southern fashion, the local gentry/rumor mill was sitting on the front porch.  Since I was the only person (a) on a loaded-up motorcycle, (b) with a nasaly accent, and (c) with Michigan plates, they concluded that “You ain’t from here, are ya?”  I smiled and responded with, “Was it that obvious?”

I thought it was strange that there were no other customers inside, until I remembered that I was still in the Central time zone, so it was only 5:20 am local time.  (So why was the local gentry there so early?)

Small town local-color dining at its finest. I’m not joking. This is my kind of place.

A sweet little southern belle of a waitress greeted me with a warm smile and asked me about my motorcycle.  I explained to her that I was on a week-long trip, and this was only day two.  She asked me where I was from and seemed astonished when I told her that I was from Michigan.  She said, “I don’t believe we’ve ever had anyone here from that far away” (emphasis hers).  I had to chuckle, and told her that I was only about 450 miles away from home; after a dozen years of driving over-the-road semis, 450 miles is just a drop in the bucket.  She looked out the window at Sophie cooling in the parking lot and told me, “I’ve never been outside of Tennessee in my whole life.”  I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.

I placed my order (biscuits and sausage gravy) and looked around the restaurant while the cook got started.  There were a few pictures on the wall of regular customers and the local high school football team, but what really caught my attention was this:

Sterilized and painted for your protection

I asked the waitress what this was, and she told me “It’s a bull see-yunch” (that’s “bull cinch” to you northerners).  I asked her if I wanted to know what it was for.  She thought for a minute and said, “You might, but I suggest that you eat your breakfast first.”  So I did.

When she came to clean up my plates, I said, “Okay, now you have to tell me”.  I was almost sorry I asked.

Basically it’s like this:  How do you get a bull to stand still so you can slaughter him?  Obviously he doesn’t want to cooperate, and he’s way bigger than you are.  You need a bull see-yunch.  You take the pointy end, you shove it “in through the ‘Out’ door”, and then you place the loop over a pole.  That way, the bull is incentivized to stay where he is while you slit his throat.  Of course, it’s a lose-lose scenario for the bull, but that’s just the way life goes.

I asked her why in the world they’d hang a bull see-yunch on a restaurant wall, and she said, “It’s a great conversation starter.”   She had me there.

On my way out of town I decided to fuel up at the gas station across the street.  The attendant inside asked me how my morning was.  I said, “Pretty good.  Just had breakfast across the street.”

Her next question:  “Did they show you the bull see-yunch?”

And with that, I headed down the road.

 

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