Ever since I read John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil while working at a bookstore – when I should have been dusting shelves or replacing the urinal mints in the men’s room – I’ve had a strong desire to visit Savannah, Georgia. As luck would have it, my wife recently invited me and two of our girls tag along with her on a business trip to the Hostess City of the South while my eldest and most expensive daughter stayed home to attend dance team practices and victimize my VISA card.
After a punishing two-day road trip from East Texas, with my middle daughter playing the Jonas Brothers’ “Sucker” on a constant loop, we pulled into Savannah’s historic district and were immediately invigorated by its ostentatious charm. I was especially taken by the ubiquitous Spanish moss draping an almost solid canopy of live oak branches along the roadway. (I’m pretty sure they have a crew in charge of keeping the Spanish moss fed, watered and extra-charming.)
Our excitement was only slightly tempered when we checked into the riverfront Hyatt Regency and were assigned room 666. We managed to laugh it off, though – until we entered the room and noticed a mysterious door knob mounted on an otherwise blank wall. My middle daughter tried to lighten the mood by declaring, “That’s where Satan lives!” I guess we should have known something was up when the front desk clerk’s eyes rolled back into her head and she told us to enjoy our stay in her best demon-possessed southern drawl.
Putting supernatural concerns aside, we quickly turned our attention to more important matters – namely eating. Savannah is world-famous for its cuisine, most of which involves an industrial deep fryer and some kind of gravy. We happily put the smackdown on our arteries at well-known establishments like The Lady and Sons, The Olde Pink House, and The Pirates’ House – a buccaneer-themed eatery housed in an 18th-century inn. I opted for the Pirates’ House Award Winning Honey Pecan Fried Chicken, which the server explained is what happens when a mess of fried chicken and a pecan pie have a baby. I must say that this enormous entrée really “shivered me timbers,” among other things. In fact, during our after-dinner tour of the building, led by a costumed swashbuckler, I had to politely ask for directions to the poop deck.
Another enchanting aspect of Savannah’s historic district is that it maintains 22 of its original town squares, decorated with lush foliage, sparkling fountains and monuments to people I should have learned about in junior high history class, instead of agonizing over whether to risk being shot down in humiliating fashion by some girl in Jordache Jeans and feathered bangs. I really enjoyed visiting the squares and reading the informational plaques that revealed the rich heritage represented by the monuments – briefly, anyway. The problem was that getting from square to square required quite a bit of walking, which to my youngest daughter is comparable to having extensive dental work performed without anesthesia by a troop of irritable baboons.
She perked up, though, when her sister suggested that we all saunter over to fashionable West Broughton Street for some shopping. Suddenly, my fascinating exploration of southern history and city planning was being hijacked by Urban Outfitters, lululemon and some dude named Michael Kors, who managed to seduce my wife and daughters into taking out another mortgage on our home for some high-end handbags. Oh well, at least Leopold’s Ice Cream was nearby, and I was able to participate in its 100-year history of contributing to the evolution of the dad bod.
With its history, food, and shopping, Savannah really does have something for everyone, including beleaguered dads who wind up hauling sacks of expensive girl-person garments and designer accessories. And if you wind up spending more than you intended, you can always say the Devil made you do it. After all, he’s staying at the Hyatt