…and the Great Smoky Mountains brunt.

Last year was a nasty booger of a year for too many. For me, one tragedy was the burning of my home state, Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains. I spent a large portion of my childhood in the foothills of the park – Knoxville, Tennessee. Seeing the damage done to Chimney Tops, one of the most iconic national mountain ridges in the nation, is unbearable. Yes, two teenage boys set the fires, as reported by AL.com.

Let this not only be a lesson that we all should have long learned from “Smokey Bear” regarding camping and fire safety, but, also a final death blow to the pathetic and well-worn excuse: “Boys will be boys.” Um, no, that’s not actually a thing. What is a thing: Bad parenting breeds assholes. Ironically, the last time I was home in the Smoky Mountains was May 2016, chaperoning an example of another young asshole. However, this asshole was a twenty-one year old, female, French college student visiting the United States for the first time.

I mentored “Frenchie” for three years, proofing her papers and introducing her to my colleagues in the States. As a collegiate English instructor, I love to see young folks enthusiastic about literature. While visiting my sister in Germany, I met Frenchie in person in 2015. I had a high opinion of her, needless to say. Then she visited me in the States…. When I escorted her around my home state, she was the privileged European going slumming in the South. We stayed in Gatlinburg, touring the town and beautiful view. Frenchie walked around announcing, “I’m seeing a lot of inbred faces here!” No matter how she was corrected – on her lack of manners, or the fact most of those “faces” were tourists and not locals – she continued to be a tacky bitch.

The fires raged through the park November 28th, days after my 39th birthday.  Everyone watched horrified. People died. Homes burnt. Businesses were destroyed. And the sing-song sneer that went through my head, “I’m seeing a lot of inbred faces here!”

Next time someone opines about how rude Americans supposedly behave overseas, feel free to share my experience hosting a French college student. Frenchie expected a pampered free ride refusing to pay for her expenses, behaved rudely to our friends and family, slutted around on Tinder, and found it entertaining to walk in on me naked in my master bathroom. She attempted to steal an old, forgotten prescription* of Valium from my 2013 myomectomy. She also fed our cat bread; he’s on a restrictive diet due to bladder crystals and past urethra blockages. This could have killed him.

Frenchie and her parents guilted me, while pregnant and seriously ill with my interstitial cystitis autoimmune condition, into escorting Frenchie to New Orleans. They knew if their daughter was unchaperoned, she wouldn’t keep herself out of bars or her legs closed. Frenchie drank up all the bottled water during the train ride so I, an sick expectant mother, had nothing to drink. The one decent guy she met, she laughed at when he proposed marriage. This self-proclaimed “daddy’s girl” continued to show her entire ass up on Facebook with slutty selfies long after we kicked her out of our house.

The holiday weekend the 4th of July, 2016, I miscarried at two months. It was a very bad miscarriage; I was at risk of going into sepsis. The burning of the Smokies is a very real symbol for what one privileged European, sociopathic brat did to me and my family. The significance of the 4th of July does not escape me.

The crime of arson was committed by two sociopathic brats. Families, including the local wildlife, have lost loved ones. It will take years for the Great Smoky Mountains to recover, but families will never recover the loss of life.

I cannot recover my lost pregnancy. My husband and I lost a child. And my parents have lost what would have been their first and only grandchild. And all because of a sociopathic brat.


*When Frenchie tried to score herself some Valium, I reprimanded her: “If your parents don’t want you traveling to New Orleans alone, then they certainly don’t want you doing drugs.” Her response after she used her parents’ concern to get her way regarding NOLA: “They don’t have to know.” My husband threw out all medications to keep the whore from stealing them.