Every so often I knock on my host’s door, he calls out, “come in,” and the moment I enter his face reveals complete surprise. He’s forgotten about me. No one has ever recovered from that lapse as quickly as John Anderson, who seemed just as pleased to see me as if he’d been preparing all day.
Hospitality wears many faces. John was apologetic about his house, “The bathroom looks like a Mexican mechanic shop.” I’ve seen worse. He asked if I’d eaten with a tone that conveyed there was no food, but described the differences among three kinds of beer in the fridge with flourish. He told me to help myself, but I never had to. Every time John opened a beer, he handed another to me as well. His walls are full of posters, pictures, and quotes, as well as many notes. “I am a high functioning alcoholic, but I forget things at night so I put notes on them.” People often ask if I’d like to use the washing machine. John showed me a pile of fresh clean clothes and said, “Wear what you like while you’re here.” I stuck with the stuff in my panniers.
We hopped into his Varis and took the three-block drive to the end of Maple Street, stopping to chat with neighbors along the way. We visited his friend Martha and her ex-husband, two of their three children and a pair of grandkids, all of whom were all camped out in the house of the one child travelling. There comes a time when you stop trying to make sense of Bell Buckle and just enjoy it.
John was born in the house across the street from where he lives now. He was a teacher, ultra-marathoner and long distance cyclist. In 2014 he ran for Congress and came in third in Tennessee’s Fourth Congressional District Republican Primary. He considers his run a success, as he believes his candidacy kept Jim Tracy, by a margin of 38 votes, from winning that primary. John’s Tea Party politics are strongly held, if difficult for me to weave together. This year, he rode his bicycle from Seattle to Jacksonville to publicize rebellionride.com, his manifesto on how the citizens of the United States will peaceably overthrow the government.
Though many would say John looks like an aging hippie, he describes himself as a Viking. Which makes sense. Vikings were early, independent explorers, who flourished with whatever came their way. That’s how John accepted me when I showed up at his door, invited yet unexpected.
How will we live tomorrow?
“We, the American people, are going to overthrow the government and we are not going to do it with bullets. If anyone wants to see how, go to www.rebellionride.com. If anyone has better ideas, I’m open to them, but I have yet to hear any.”