Did I mention that I grew up around people that mostly listened to country? Or that my first CD ever was Garth Brooks’ No Fences? Well, that kind of explains why I own this CD. It doesn’t, however, explain why it wasn’t sold off in previous purges. I guess it must have been the memories.

High school was really hard for me. I was smart, and in retrospect skinny and cute, but I had been chubby for most of elementary and middle school, so I still carried all those “fat girl” issues, even though I was no longer the “fat girl” in school. I didn’t have a lot of friends. But summer before junior year, I went to Band Camp* at the University of South Carolina. And guess what? It turned out that, at least among band campers, I was popular. I came home with tons of friends from all over the state, writing them letters (this was before most people allowed their teenagers to have email) and practically vibrating with excitement over the next time I got to see them (at the winter clinic, or football games, if they were on our schedule). The one I kept in touch with best was Freshman Roomie. Freshman Roomie was from a little town about an hour away from mine. And after seeing each other at regional band events all fall, we started hanging out independent of band functions.

Freshman Roomie was already a huge Duke fan when I met her, and her enthusiasm for Duke and its basketball program is definitely what got me interested in the school that would become my alma mater. So, when we both got accepted, it was a no brainer that we would room together, and also that we would hang out as much as possible during the summer. First on the order of summer’s business, just days after high school graduation, was a trip to Atlanta to see a Braves game. Alone.

I just knew my parents wouldn’t let me go. I mean, they never let me go to the beach (45 minutes away) for Spring Break in high school. There was no way they were letting me go to Hot-Lanta, the ATL, the biggest city around, by myself with, like, 4 other girls aged 17 to 19. No way. But, in a turn of events that remains shocking to me today, they said yes.

So, off we went, 5 teenage girls in a tiny, 2-door Beretta, on a 6-hour drive to our first adult adventure. It got boring real quick-like, let me tell you. We started confusing other drivers with the YMCA dance before 9AM. By 10:30AM, we were ready to pull over and eat the fried chicken and homemade biscuits that one girl’s mom had packed in the cooler for our lunch. Freshman Roomie liked country, and so she put in John Michael Montgomery’s CD. Now, if you didn’t listen to country around this time, you may not know this song, but “Sold: The Grundy County Auction” was quite the musical gem. And it didn’t hurt that the singer, JMM as we called him, was pretty hot, as white boys go.

So here we are, 5 girls in what has essentially become a clown car, shouting the lyrics to this song at the top of our lungs as we sped toward Georgia. I don’t know who started it, but one of us started improvising the lyrics. And suddenly, we had a whole song, sung to the tune of “Sold: The Grundy County Auction”, but it was all about Duke Basketball players. It’s really a shame that I don’t remember them, or that we didn’t preserve these lyrics for posterity, but I do remember that there was something in there about Chris Collins’ “ruby-red lips.” AWESOME. I also believe that it began, “Well I went down to Cameron Indoor Stadium and I saw something I just had to have.” Yes, we were lyrical geniuses.

The rest of the trip was more fun than I’d been allowed to have up to that point in my life. We explored the city (and got lost multiple times, because how many frickin’ Peachtree Streets are there in Atlanta). We went to the Hard Rock and Planet Hollywood (because we were young girls from rural towns, and we didn’t yet know the difference between tourist traps and cultural attractions). We took the MARTA everywhere (because in our eyes, Atlanta was the same as New York, and didn’t everyone take public transportation?). And, oh yes, there was the baseball.

Now, I am a Cubs fan, and have been all my life. At this point, I had been to 2 games at Wrigley Field, and also 1 at Fulton County Stadium (because this was also pre-Olympic Atlanta, but just barely). So I wasn’t all that interested in the baseball part of this trip, and didn’t think the actual game part would be that much fun. But all the other girls were rabid Braves fans, so we made HUGE posters with cheesy fangirl slogans and pictures on them. My favorite was one we made for Javier Lopez, which said “Javy is a Jot Jandsome Junk!” I remember that the game was incredibly fun, too, though at this point in my life I can’t imagine a baseball game without beer. And on the way out, I (literally) bumped into Halle Berry, who was still married to Dave Justice. It’s a little hard to believe that she was already fully an adult at that point, and we were so young, and now I feel so old and she looks exactly the same. Hmmm…

So much happened that summer; we were so full of innocence and hope and possibility. And those memories are inextricably tied to that JMM CD. I will never be able to hear “Sold: The Grundy County Auction” without seeing us girls packed in the car, or riding the MARTA, or making posters in the hotel room, trying to make up dance moves to go along with the new lyrics we’d made up.

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*And yes, I played the flute. And no, my band camp was nothing like the one in American Pie.

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