Does that sound bad? Well, it was definitely a little bit bad. I didn’t entirely enjoy chaperoning my elderly parents as they (and I!) attended my dad’s Navy reunion. For one thing, the reunion’s organizers tapped the nearby talent pool in Branson for several courses of uplifting, patriotic music. Now, I’m as patriotic as the next guy, probably more so, but how many Tributes to the States can a guy be expected to endure in a week? I sat through three. (There are only a couple of really good state songs, one of them being “Oklahoma!,” of course, and I heard it every time.) That’s at least two too many.
My Dad is a WWII veteran, and—as you can imagine—he and his shipmates are showing some age. Traveling each day on a tour bus with all those bad knees and walkers tested my patience at times. That said, most of the guys were pretty cool. I could pretty much imagine them as 18- and 19-year-olds on a ship in the Pacific. (And that was before my dad told a sexually explicit joke to all the guys and their wives and families on the bus.) I adopted a new family, too, a sweet vet from Oregon and his lady-friend, and I just generally played the good son. So it wasn’t all bad, and it was certainly nice to be able to spend some time with my parents and sister (who, unfairly, didn’t have to attend the reunion events with her brother).
It’s so beautiful in the Ozarks. When I was a kid, we used to spend some of our vacation time in the area (frequently at my sister’s condo). I loved Silver Dollar City, the area lakes, the country music (but only the good stuff), and the pine trees. In fact, I can imagine renting a cabin there for a vacation now. But, then, all the local entertainers feel like they have to pander to the most conservative, most religious elements in the audience. That’s how one guy ends up in three Tributes to the States in a week…. Ugh.
What the Ozarks need—actually, what Branson needs—is a Queer touch. It needs a little more “Harper Valley PTA” and fewer Lee Greenwood wannabes. It needs a little more upscale food and a little less, um, fudge and pecan logs. More galleries, fewer buildings shaped like the Titanic. More bed-and-breakfasts, fewer cheap motels. My people can help, I’m telling you.
And, for that matter, I’m sure there a lots of gay people in Branson already. Several of the entertainers who performed for my dad’s reunion, well, set off my gaydar. But Gay Branson is just too subterranean (in the closet?) to be palpable, it seems. If there were some organized gay tourism in Branson, some good things would follow. Unfortunately, until there’s a little bit more going for it as a gay vacation spot, the bland magic shows and bad flea markets are going to win.
Maybe I should start my own tour company…. Any investors out there?