There is still a “t” or two to cross, but if Buc-ee’s comes to Ruston and Tarbutton Road as most hope, the next generation of Lincoln Parish children will be more spoiled than the generation who were on the good end of the transition from outhouses and Sears and Roebuck catalogs to indoor plumbing and toilet paper.
I can hear a kid 10 years from now: “Paris? Rome? Waikiki? Man, that don’t impress me much. My momma used to change my diaper in Buc-ee’s. BUC-EE’S, bro! I grew up there. I grew up in there.”
No way can you adequately convey what a Buc-ee’s is and isn’t. But one trip and you will never forget it.
The more I’ve heard about this newest enterprise, the more I’ve imagined the famous monologue by James Earl Jones in W.P. Kinsella’s brilliantly conceived Field of Dreams in 1989, the scene that shows his character convincing Ray, the owner of the baseball and corn fields and Kevin Costner’s character, not to sell his land, even though the bank plans to foreclose the next morning. In the Ruston re-make, the setting is Tarbutton Road’s northwest corner by I-20, Ray is Ruston and Jones is Jones and Mark is the brother-in-law representing the bank, in this case a Buc-ee’s non-believer.
JAMES EARL JONES: “Ray, people will come, Ray. They’ll come to Buc-ee’s in Ruston for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up into the store, not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive to get a selfie made with the giant wooden buck-tooth beaver, innocent as children, longing for the past — and maybe for some Buc-ee’s Barbecue Rub or Steak Seasoning, gluten-free if needed.
“‘Of course, we won’t mind if you look around,’ you’ll say. ‘You just need to buy some gas, or maybe a smoker or a onesie pajama bear suit or a dozen shoe charms or icebox magnets.’ They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it. For it is money they have, and peace they lack. Peace, and some Buc-ee’s Fruit Sours.”
MARK: “Ray, this is going to hurt the town more than help. We can’t waste this land. It’s obvious that … “
JONES: “And they’ll walk out to the Nut Wall, just gaze as they did when they were children when they cheered their heroes, which were either Planters salted or unsalted, except here they are overwhelmed by Beaver Nugget Sweet Corn Puff and Butter Toffee and Honey Toasted and Pina Colada Pecans and that’s only the tip of the nutberg — and it’ll be as if they’d dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick, they’ll have to brush them away from their faces …”
MARK: “Ray what Ruston needs is another Mexican restaurant. It’s as plain as that cup of Dippin’ Dots you’re holding … “
JONES: “People will come, Ray.”
MARK: “We need money, we have this tremendous asset of location and land, and we’re putting it on a joint that sells tie dye drink glasses and T-shirts that say stuff like ‘I Paused My Game to Be Here’ and ‘I’m Into Fitness. Fit’ness Taco In My Mouth’?”
JONES: “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. Well, that and consumerism. And free enterprise. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a brisket at a tailgate barbecue, rebuilt, and erased again. But it’s jerky that has marked the time — the Bohemian garlic flavor, mesquite, lemon pepper, Teriyaki … it’s salt water taffy in a resealable bag and a pink imitation leather cosmetic case that reads, ‘Just a Girl Who Loves Beavers,’ and mostly it’s that Buc-ee’s sign taller than Wyly Tower or Mount Driskill and that Giant Magnetic Beaver, whose Siren Song draws tourists to these clean bathrooms like tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches draw Protestant country folk. It’s consumerism that has marked the time, Ray. The hope of this store, this sort of Giant Jerky Wall joint, this heaven of dessert-in-a-plastic-case-to-go, this wellspring of emotion overload, this ‘game’ — it’s part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again.
“Ohhhhhhh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.”
Contact Teddy at firstname.lastname@example.org