Joe from Tennessee (a college story)

Straight out of high school in Illinois I made the decision to go to a college in Kentucky. In high school I had never known anyone with a southern accent, so it was really neat to hear everyone talk. (I had also never seen a revival tent, but that’s a story for another time.)

One guy at school — I think his name was Joe — came from Tennessee. He would later become famous for loudly chasing his roommate down our dorm hallway with a baseball bat at 2am because he thought the roommate was too loud when he came back in after a night out.

Joe’s accent was so thick I could barely understand what he was saying, and one day in something of a Seinfeld skit I ended up going to the shopping mall with him just because I would nod my head “yes” and say things like “uh-huh” when I didn’t understand him. Fortunately this was before he attacked his roommate with the bat, and his roommate had a sweet 1950s car that we borrowed, so it was a fun ride, even if I didn’t understand most of it.

Now I think there’s at least a slight chance that Joe might be my new neighbor. He looks like him, and I can’t understand a word he says. But this time I’m being careful not to agree to anything.