This past weekend, my wife, son and I drove from where we live in the Raleigh/Durham area of North Carolina, to Nashville Tennessee. We had both been wanting to go since we moved down here last year, and neither of us had even been to Tennessee, and so we decided to go.
One of the things, that we’ve both noticed when driving around the country on various road trips, is the difference in culture is sometimes observable from the highway. It’s apparent in what you can see immediately off of the highway, as well as the billboards that line the high way north and south, east and west.
In Massachusetts, where I’m from originally, the billboards are kind of boring. You might see an ad for the local radio station, or depending on where you are, you may see one for a celebrity doing a show at Mohegan Sun Casino. There isn’t much beyond that.
Down south however, there are three very distinct categories of billboards, and sometimes they’re very close to each other. The three categories are strip club/porn shop billboards, gun billboards, and Jesus billboards. The reason these are funny isn’t that they’re particularly funny topics in general, but the way they’re done.
First there are the strip club/porn shop billboards. These are funny, because often times they’re trying to allude to more than they seem to be allowed to say. We passed a sign that literally said “Sexy Stuff, Exit 390” (I don’t know the real exit number). We also saw one that said “lingerie, adult DVDs, and vibes.” I’ll be honest, neither of us would have guessed that if they couldn’t put the word ‘vibrator,’ that they could put the word ‘vibe.’ Would have been great to see “lingerie, adult DVDs and dilds,” but I’m guessing that there is some kind of weird double standard on that. Or perhaps it would be that not enough letters or syllables were removed.
The second category are the gun billboards, and typically these I don’t notice as much, but my wife pointed out a few really interesting ones, including one claiming to have “machine gun rentals,” which I think regardless of your stance on the right to own guns, this is some weird wording.
Lastly are the Jesus billboards, some of these are really simple and reasonable “Jesus is the answer” types billboards, which honestly, you may disagree with the premise, but I still think it’s inoffensive by itself. But there are other billboards which seem to be much more odd. Lots of ones that seem like answers to questions unasked, like “…And you think God doesn’t work in mysterious ways!” Along with a small evolutionary chart with a red circle and slash through it. WTF?
Anyway, the big thing that I find interesting about these billboards, isn’t them as standalone signs, but their proximity to each other. If you were an alien, driving through a highway in the south, you would think that Jesus must have been obsessed with strippers, porn, and guns. There are numerous spots in which your visual landscape, while sitting still, consists of all three elements, and it’s bizarre. Especially when you see signs from miles away, off in the woods, elevated above the treeline, declaring that Pilots, or Loves, or any other big soft-fonted truck stop company has “Unleaded $2.49/Diesel $2.94.”
Last thing that I want to mention, and that is that one of the “Adult Stores” (because they don’t call themselves porn shops. That’s like the ‘gentleman’s club’ of porn shops.) that we passed, was a drive-thru. I must say, I’m really intrigued to how it that works. “Um, yes. I’ll have a number four, and a tube of the warming gel. —*whispers* What do you want honey?— Oh, and a number twelve with a can of whipped cream. And um… Super size it.” Notice I didn’t make the obvious joke of one of the menu items being sixty nine, because I have standards, and honestly how big would their menu have to be outside the building to have that many items?
Anyway, I just wanted to tell you all about what I saw along the highway all weekend. What’s the craziest billboard you’ve ever seen? Tell me in the comments.