Friday, December 02, 2005

Small Towns

I've lived in the country. I've lived in cities, big and little. I've lived in a small town.
A Small Town is where:

Someone, in a $500 half-ton with a $2500 stereo will lean out his window and yell "Get a haircut" to a long-haired pedestrian.

The library, the second-hand bookstore, and the museum are only a five minute walk away - through the Town Park, where they hold concerts once a week.

If a car horn honks, everyone waves before they even look to see why.

Elegant old houses are not torn down, they're made into B&B's.

The fire chief shows up after the Neighbor-from-Hell complains about your BBQ - proceeds to tell you how he potts rabbits in his back yard and offers you recipes.

The mayor's husband will show up with a generator after an ice storm.

Everyone knows who the perverts are and everyone knows who is sleeping with whom - and will tell you whether you want to know or not.

If you say that "brown outs" from the local hydro-electric facility are caused by all that dirty water behind the dam getting in the turbines - someone will believe you.

You can go back up the local police chief if you hear on your scanner he's cornered a suspect.

Your flag will remain unburned and your fur coat unsprayed.

There are a gazillion wreaths at the cenotaph on Remembrance Day.

You can get a plumber to show up at your door in half a day and he's probably head of the water treatment plant.

Black Protestants subscribe to the building fund to put a new roof on the Catholic Church.

You can discuss politics with your Town Councillor - between your husband having cardiac arrest in the back of the ambulance and your screaming obscenities and giving the finger to the driver of the car ahead who is ignoring the siren.

Yard sales are like Alice's Restaurant. You can find a pair of epees, first editions, or velved-cased Victoriana - for $2.

You can walk down to the harbor and sit watching the water, alone, at midnight, and never think of muggings or rape.

If you take your gerbil for a walk, it must be leashed.


Muse said...

Here's another one: In at least one small town, blind people can keep chickens as pets. The local council actually adopted that as a by-law.

Sela Carsen said...

Hey, I lived there! And for all the trouble it can be sometimes, I'd move back to a small town in a heartbeat now.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Muse...Chortle!
Sela,it's surprising how many people move back to same.

Ric said...

Ah, a subject I know about. I once skipped school - within an hour, five people called the school and two called my MOTHER! And I was trying not to be seen!

As a teenager, all this attention was unwanted. As an adult, I miss the time when people would ask, out of concern, not curiousity.

My Father saw me reading his copy of Peyton Place when I was fifteen and said, "That book could have been written about our town."

M. G. Tarquini said...

I grew up in the suburbs. I have to make up my anecdotes.

Bernita said...

And, Ric, the night has a thousand eyes, along the lines of "I saw so-and-so's car outside so-and-so's at 2:30 a.m....hmmm."
The suburbs, M.G., is where you can ask the cop living next door to break-in for you when you've forgotten your keys.
Or the steam from your dryer vent brings the fire department down your street, wondering "where's the fire???..."

Tsavo Leone said...

Where, oh where, is this mythical place?

It sounds like the kind of place kids can't wait to escape from, but once they're all grown up or actually had something of a life (which is totally different in my opinion) it's where they ought to be dreaming of calling home.

Heck Bernia, it sounds like you're actually talking about a real life community!

Tsavo Leone said...

Bernia? Bernia? Isn't that some far-off and mystical land, currently being strip-mined by the Disney cor(ru)p(t)oration?

Damn, but my fingers just ain't typing what I tell them to!

Most humble apologies Bernita.

Bernita said...

Hey, Tsavo, if your fantasies about large women's behinds in white stretch pants hadn't taken you off my list of men I Might Like To Run Away With Someday, do you suppose that might?
No, I don't mind "Bernia", it's close. I do mind Bernice and Bernadette. Both nice names, but not mine.
And yes, many kids do yearn/can't wait to escape from the Small Town; and later, as you say, find a similar place to set down roots again.

Tsavo Leone said...

Now, now, now, I didn't say that ladies with ample tushes clad in tight white fabric was a fantasy of mine... I merely happened to mention that it was a particular male fantasy. Besides, it was Freddie Mercury who sang about "Fat Bottomed Girls", and I do believe he played for the wrong team (so to speak), so what does that say? : )

Bernita said...

You tell me, she said, scribbling "Tsavo" back on the list.

Robyn said...

I lived there, Bernita. We used to say, "we had to close the zoo- the duck died."

Bernita said...

That just about describes it, Robyn.

M. G. Tarquini said...

Not my suburbs, Bernita. It's where multi-colored strands of suvs line up in front of the elementary school. Each driver waits yakking into a hunk of plastic clamped to her ear while their children stare at the video screen, headphones clamped over their own. Where yogurt in a tube and organic soy flakes vie for top billing in the grocery carts piloted by well-manicured matrons worrying whether they'll be late to pick up Johnny from soccer practice.

Tsavo Leone said...

... meanwhile m.g. appears to be describing my own personal version of Hell...

Sela Carsen said...

Ugh. MG. I live there now and can't wait to leave.

M. G. Tarquini said...

Tsavo and Sela - Even in hell, there are moments of grace.

I should blog about it sometime.

Lyn Cash said...

I've gone through two cups of coffee reading your blog - lots of interesting mussings, Bernita. This one on small towns was especially evocative.

Enjoyed it.

Mark Pettus said...

I'm usually glad to be out of the small town. Everyone there knew I was the pervert married to the mayor.

Wish I still had that generator, though.

Bernita said...

Thank you,Lynn, so nice of you to stop by and post.
Hi, Mark...~snicker~

MissWrite said...

Very cute post.

I actually live in a VERY small, rural town. Rather, I live 2 miles outside of town, in the middle of cornfields, and cows. The town itself has a whopping 400 residents--and a post office. That's it. Our local 'big' town, has 4000 people, stores, and is the County Seat (oh boy). We can have chickens, horses, and whatever... and the gerbils don't even have to be leashed!

Everybody surely does know when another person sneezes, and hands them a hankie.

I have to say though, after moving down here from the big city (really big, Chicago), and thinking the 'simple life' would be much less violent, and my kids would be safer... yeah, sure, right... drugs, and crime are no less existant down here-drugs particularly. What a shocker that was.

I wouldn't trade it though... well, maybe, sometimes, when the mood hits, and the water to the barn freezes, and I'm making the fifty-millionth trip to the horses with ten gallon water buckets... just about then a nice condo in the city sounds pretty darned good.

Bernita said...

Hello, Miss Write!
People are never simple. One of the differences between places involves the form of collective dynamics - herd vs. rat pack, for example.