Of late I’ve returned to my “Orphans of Opry Tower” concept, showing off what’s become of Music City (a.k.a. Nashville, Tennessee) in my alternate history. Before they escape the summer heat by taking the train past the Bering Strait tunnel into Siberia, inspired by a derecho that struck when they were playing around in a “kudzu house” in one of the abandoned suburban subdivisions, I wanted to show something more of their life in Greater Nashville, but what?
Decca, Decca, Decca…yes, like Decca Records!
Then it hit me recently: I could work in another concept I had for Greater Music City. I’m thinking about a party hostess who also owns a dance studio and event venue, perhaps in one of the swanky huge shopping malls that congregate around Nashville’s premier edge city: the Antioch/Hermitage area next to the airport (in real life it’s Franklin/Brentwood, but we want to change it up for an alternate timeline, hehe), but perhaps in a further-flung part of the area that’s a bit more rustic. On top of a hill with a good view of the skylines, but located right along a transit line? Hmm…more (topographical) research would be needed for that possibility.
Anyway, I’m thinking this girlboss hostess character will be named Decca Roadhouse, with her first name being inspired by Decca Records. I think it’s a kinda cool name for a girl, yet you never hear about it…well, almost never. I was surprised last night while researching to find out that Decca was the nickname of none other than Jessica Mitford, of the infamous Mitford sisters. “Roadhouse”, meanwhile, is a real English surname. So although it sounds a bit more like a restaurant chain than a real person, it does check out: just wacky enough to be plausible, yet with a bit of a Southern vibe (an awful lot of Southerners are ethnically English, as is reflected in their surnames).
Wacky Southern Names?
For other characters, I’m a bit inspired by this Metafilter thread on Southern naming customs provides hints of what’s possible. Repeating names (as in “junior” and “senior”) are historically common. Possibilities I’m toying with for such people are Chip for a junior, Trey for a III (a third), Lucky for a IV (a fourth, a play on the four-leaf clover being considered lucky), and Von for a V (a fifth). Even more out-there possibilities I’m toying with are Codewright (for a tech-industry person; the name means maker of code, as in computer code), and Zeppeliner (for an airship, i.e. zeppelin, pilot).
Slightly less out there is a character named Westcoast or West Coast, which as far as I know isn’t a real surname, though it seems surprisingly common as a stage name; e.g. Chanel West Coast. “West”, on the other hand, is a real name that could be included. I’m thinking even more wackiness might come courtesy of toponymic surnames like “San Francisco” or “Chicago”. This might hint at a reality where people in the local dance scene take stage names…or maybe it’s simply more common to play around with names by the turn of the millennium in this timeline, perhaps presaging how people in the far future stories I write don’t even seem to have surnames anymore. 🤔
The hinge point of all this, of course, would be the New Age takeover starting in the 1960s in this universe, which was far deeper and more thorough than in real life (as touched upon in this post). In stark contrast to real life, but perhaps not so unlikely if you look at the fundamentals, the white South is an epicenter of this movement. Along these lines, there might be a new custom that these people would no doubt think of as traditional, where once children reach a certain age they can choose new names to add on to their monikers, in not terribly different fashion to how Catholics can choose a Confirmation name.
Working a Rock Kids’ Party into the “Orphans of Opry Tower” Story
I’m thinking the Orphans of Opry Tower already know and love Decca and come to her place a lot to party, socialize, sing, perform, and dance (they more often frequent Lower Broadway, but Antioch is an easy train ride from Downtown). Maybe she reminds them a bit of their mother, and serves as something of a mentor to them.
Anyway, the orphans are into rock, not so much country or electronic, and I’m thinking Decca might be hosting a party for a child who’s going to pick out an additional name, with a rock theme, which the orphans will be sure not to miss: rock music, and plenty of kids their own size to dance with? Woo! They’ll be sure not to miss that. I’m thinking that, like on Lower Broadway, they’ll perform live for much of the party on a whim, showing off their singing skills in between dances. For that matter, why not have a local rock band give live music on-site? That would be fun. Indeed, the comedown from such a party, with the orphans’ calendar not having anything fun on it for a while afterwards, and with it being so hot and humid and oppressive with the derechos, might finally inspire them to take the plunge for their Kamchatka vacation.
Decca’s Mascot and Hobbies
I’m still fleshing out some details of Decca’s studio. One thing it should have is a mascot. Decca, in addition to being a lifelong business owner, is a childfree type, just the sort who shower some maternal energy on pets. But she shouldn’t be a “dog mom”, no; a talking bird such as an African grey parrot (or, considering I’ve already used this motif, some other talking parrot) would do much better. When Sasha, Draža, and Tallulah Kovačević come in, the parrot, who knows them, might say “Draža” in a creepy echoing voice, which would be really cool. Or something. Another bonus of having a talking bird is that he can help out with dance classes: after all, a parrot’s smart enough to spot some wayward students and say “triple step, triple step”! 😉
I’m thinking the pet bird will be named Winchester, after the gun manufacturer. It’s a bit of a stereotype, but I think it would be badass if in addition to naming her bird after a gunmaker Decca herself had a whole arsenal of hotshot collectors’ firearms, perhaps even displayed at her dance studio, either on the dance floor itself or perhaps behind the front counter at the lobby or some such…or both. In addition to being a gun collector, Decca is a marksman by hobby.
Aside from dancing, biathlon (i.e. combining cross-country skiing and rifle shooting) would be the perfect sport for Decca, who needs to keep fit and trim, since she has a marked natural tendency to put on weight; even with all that physical activity she’s still a rather plump girl, though with proportions pleasant enough for red-blooded men to appreciate, helped along by some cosmetic procedures she’s had done to improve her figure so it’s less pudgy and more luscious.
A Storm Chaser Husband for Decca
That figure, a pretty girl-next-door type of face, good fashion sense, and shiny copper hair done up in long ringlets make her quite a catch, but as of the story she might already be married, to a (more aged version of a) handsome boy-next-door type. Whereas Decca is very extroverted and bossy, being hotheaded, enthusiastic, and even naïve sometimes, her husband is very introverted and agreeable, being mellow, mature, and easygoing.
No doubt their compatibility is helped even further by how her husband is only at home intermittently. The rest of the time he’s out storm chasing on the Great Plains in his truck/SUV-type vehicle, accompanied only by his beloved Irish wolfhound. Well, and occasionally a meteorology student who’s willing to pay a handsome price to go mano-a-mano with supercell thunderstorms under the guidance of a chaser who knows how to do it in a way that won’t get you killed. In this rather interesting Reddit thread, a professional storm chaser wrote:
For someone with/getting a degree in meteorology, I highly recommend you spend some time chasing in the plains. If you plan on being an operational meteorologist in an active severe weather area, there is no better way to understand what you are forecasting and warning for than to have experienced yourself. It sometimes amazes me how many meteorologists really lack an understanding of severe weather phenomena simply because they have never actually seen it in person.
Interesting stuff if you ask me. I’ve always wanted to include a storm chaser type character in one of my stories, and should Decca’s husband be returning home from a midsummer chase in the Northern Plains the night of the party that would be a fantastic opportunity to show off the concept. Maybe a meteorology student happens to be at the party and chats him up? I don’t know.
Decca the Sommelier
Sure sound badass, don’t they? And that doesn’t even get into how Decca loves to do all of her passions in one hand while guzzling glasses of red wine in the other hand; she might be a native-born Southern girl, but she loves to drink the products of Napa and Sonoma, not Tennessee and Kentucky, and this is reflected in the bar she has available for the guests. Indeed, that might be a major draw for the orphans; Jack Daniels whiskey is de rigeur on Lower Broadway, but they only like the Slovenian reds their mother used to feed them when they still had her (it seems that, like mass schooling, the drinking age isn’t a thing in this timeline…).
Hmm…a thought just popped into my head: maybe, if Decca is super into red wines, including Slovenian reds, just like the orphans like, and if she’s into biathlon, the orphan triplets just might go with Decca on some vacations to Slovenia. They’d probably have a great time together over there! Oh well, maybe in another story.
Stepchildren for Decca! Friends for the Orphans!
Other companions, besides hotel staff, that I just thought of might include some grown-up children that Decca’s husband had before he met her (this implies that he’s a bit older, but I’m thinking he’s about 40 and she’s about 30, so not too aged and not a huge difference). Which suits Decca fine; it takes the heat off her to have any kids, because he’s already had some, and fathering them keeps him more occupied than if he were at home with only her for companionship all day.
Maybe Decca’s stepkids are hotshot competitive dancers or something and also love to go to parties, including Decca’s when they’re in town (in fact this is probably how Decca and their father met each other in the first place: because his kids brought him to her parties). Would be neat if their permanent residence was also located in Opry Tower in Downtown Nashville, though they wouldn’t be able to afford a suite anywhere near as deluxe as the penthouse the orphans occupy.
Them living in the same building, though, especially one as fun as Opry Tower (think: Opryland, but vertical), might inspire some closer connections between them. I’m thinking something happened to their mother (most likely she died), which helps them to bond with one another; they have quite a bit in common. Maybe they even collaborate to give performances, with the orphans providing some of the music and Decca’s stepkids dancing up a storm to it. I’m not sure yet how to work them into the story.
Anyway, as I’ve been saying ever since I (slowly) started to worldbuild this thing, I think it’ll be a fun tale. I might add more and more onto it, and, like “Heart of Proxima” before it, it might turn into a sprawling novel instead of a short story. We’ll see…