Road Trip USA: A walk on the wild side in Asheville, N.C.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The woman at the craft fair was scanning turquoise so casually I barely registered she was topless. This was several years ago, our first visit to Asheville, N.C., not yet accustomed to the concentration of artisan soap shops and locally sourced honey retailers and Sunday candlemakers and acid-folk jug-bands strumming their washboards beneath every streetlight in the city. When the reality finally hit me, I turned to my fiancée Melissa, eyes wide and stupid, as if it were the first time I’d seen such a thing.
“Wow,” I said.
She stared at me blankly. She’d brushed right past the woman and hadn’t noticed a thing.
“That woman?” I said. “The naked one?”
It’s a story I’ve since retold multiple times, a memory I’ve stored in my arsenal should I ever need proof of Mel’s tunnel vision. But in truth, I almost missed the scene myself. It’s one of the many beauties of Asheville. Like Portland, Ore., and Austin, Asheville keeps it weird. In a Southern city filled with novelties, a topless woman blends in like a hunter in camouflage.