Every year I make a list of new things I want to try. Some are super easy, some are difficult, some are so boring I’m sure you think “this is not worthy of a post, Von Bargen.” You can read about previous shenanigans here. Photos two and ten by Meredith Westin
I would like to preface this post by telling you that my love for Dolly Parton is 100% unironic.
I wrote a paper about her as part of my M.A. I pretty much planned this road trip around the date that Dollywood reopens for spring. I can give you a bullet-pointed list of all the reason’s she’s worthy of non-tongue-in-cheek praise:
* She moved to Nashville the day after she graduated from high school
* She’s written 3,000+ songs (including ‘I Will Always Love You‘)
* She’s been married to the same non-famous guy for 46 years and had the same best friend since fourth grade
* Her charity has provided millions (!) of books to disadvantaged children all over the world
* She’s funny
* In a generation where motherhood was expected, she chose not to have children and has no regets
* She wrote a song in support of the transgendered community
* She says things like this:
You’ll never do a whole lot unless you’re brave enough to try
Many an old boy has found out too late that I may look like a woman, but I think like a man. It is a great mistake to think that because I look soft I do business that way.
I just love her so much. So much!
So I had to give myself a little talk before Meredith and I arrived at the gates of Dollywood.
“Manage your expectations, self. It’ll probably be lots of rollercoasters and staff wearing gingham and maybe there’s a Dolly museum in the corner.”
But Dollywood did not disappoint, friends.
A museum full of her costumes, awards, and photos. A poke around her tour bus (included: makeup table and wigs!). Surprisingly affordable souvenirs that are just as awesomely gaudy as you’d hope (I got two shirts: one with rhinestones, one with fringe). Four theaters with hourly live performances. A hilarious ‘multi-sensory experience’ from 1986 that included pseudo 3d, animated butterflies, and real, actual rain inside the theater.
Most excitingly, we saw the lady herself – twice! Once as a surprise at the end of a circus performance and once in the parade. She still sounds lovely – her voice is so sweet! – but she’s looking about how you’d expect a 66-year-old woman who’s had extensive plastic surgery to look.
It matters not, Dolly. I will always love you.
Have you ever been to Dollywood? And do you love her, too?