Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sometimes The Universe is Just Wicked Funny Like That

Last week I made the mad dash to the big box store, and even though it was fairly early morning and not the end of the month, the parking lot was buzzing. I made a couple of turns up and down the rows, when the closest spot I found was just past the mid-section and had a black SUV on one side and a buggy on the line of the other. Ahead of me several cars were backed up, waiting to pull into traffic so they could search other lanes for parking spaces. I made a decision…I had more room in the space between the buggy and the SUV than I did on the far side of the buggy, so I pulled forward, prepared to edge my big old Queenmobile (different story, folks, but it’s definitely a geezer car) into this open space when a spry fashion-grandmother type whipped around the SUV and carefully placed her buggy smack dab in the middle of my parking space.

I considered the options…I could pull forward, making a couple of more lane turns, or I could try to back past, lets see, the space where there was not enough room, the shopping cart corral, and finally past an open parking space, provided someone didn’t bushwhack me from behind, getting us all involved in a fender bender.

I didn’t like those options, so I chose the most rational thing I could think of. This woman, obviously well-groomed and cultured, surely just hadn’t seen me, so I beeped to let her know I was fixing (a nice Southern word) to use that space. Beep, beep. Just like the road runner, but with less emphasis, thus much more gentile.

The woman looked up and snarled at me. Twisted her face most unlady-like and seemed to mouth the word What? As in, what could I possibly want from her?

In situations like that I’ve been known to take offense, because obviously this woman was breaking the rules and I was right, and so she was putting her personal agenda ahead of my legitimate needs and rights. Right? But for some reason I could see her agitation out of all proportion to what she might perceive as my offense (though the offense was all on her part, having chosen to be an outlaw) and I could hear my little road runner beep beep, all prim and proper and prissy-mouthed. I cracked up laughing. Don’t know why. Just started belly laughing and gave in, pulled forward, foregoing the imagined reverse fender bender, not even dismayed that now I was in the inching flow of traffic again. Suddenly two parking slots opened up next to the handicapped spaces, the two nearest parking spots to the entrance for anyone without a handicapped symbol on her license plate.

As I pulled in my choice parking space, the black SUV passed behind me. It had tags for the county next to mine, the county whose largest city had 2,100 people in the 2000 census, while our very town had 21,000. Maybe she just didn’t know how to act in town. Perhaps this poor woman had a momma sick in a nursing home, or maybe she just found out her unmarried daughter was pregnant or her husband was sleeping with his secretary, or she had to get home because the bridge club was due at her house at any minute.

Maybe even if I had taken offence those parking spaces would have opened up, but I would have spent precious time being pissed at some woman I didn’t know. I personally like to think that the Universe loves sharing a good joke. And a rolling belly laugh? That great feeling lasts a long time.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Why I Love My Town

Today while I was shopping I spotted the frail-looking old man dressed in a suit and trying to lift a bag of dog food down from a top shelf. He pulled it close enough to peer at it, his eyes only a few inches from the bag. After the close inspection, he shoved the bag back into place, and felt his way further down the isle. He fumbled another bag part way off the top shelf, again looked at it very closely, then let it tumble into his cart.

He apparently didn’t need any help.

I saw him again at the frozen veggies, repeating the same technique, pulling first one bag out, pulling it next to his nose, reading carefully, putting it back, fumbling a few inches down the freezer case, selecting another bag, pulling it close enough for him to read, dropping it in cart.

And I knew again I love my town, a town with few enough cars that an old, blind man can safely drive himself around.

Don’t ask me the name of my town. Though you would probably love it as much as I do, we’ll all be better off if you stay right where you are.

Friday, October 24, 2008

What It Means To Be A Libertarian

The woman is washing dishes for his mother who’s just home from the hospital. She picks up a plastic container and underneath is a spider. A brown spider. She knows the man doesn’t kill insects or spiders though he has no trouble offing armadillos or raccoons. Come here, she says, and tell me what kind of spider this is. It’s your house and your spider to deal with.

He comes. He looks. It’s a brown recluse, he says. Don’t worry, I squirted it good with detergent.

She goes back to the sink, and the spider is laboring to the sink’s edge. She has trouble breathing, the spider is struggling that hard. She wonders if the spider will hide under some other dish, one day recovering to bite his mother. When she cleaned out her dead father’s shed, it was lousy with brown spiders. Her entomologist son-in-law said they were brown recluses, he had been bitten by one once, it had rotted a hole in his skin. Even though she was paying him, she said he didn’t have to help her clean out the shed, and he found something less risky to do. She nuked the shed twice, donned gloves and hauled everything out on her own. The hundreds or maybe only dozens but plenty at that of brown spiders looked nothing like this one, nor did the tiny brown ones in her bathroom that her friend thought were recluses, or the larger brown ones on her porch, one of which she suspected of crawling in her pants legs to bite her, causing a raging infection that required two mega doses of antibiotics to heal, and itched for over a year.

All those different spiders, and all brown. Because she cannot tell them apart, her philosophy is if it’s brown and a spider and inside a house, it has to die. Besides, this one looks like it is in agony. She wonders why the man can kill animals but has an insect catcher to transport creepy crawlies from inside to out. Why would such a man leave this spider to die such a difficult death? She grabs a paper towel, apologizes to the spider whether it’s a brown recluse or not, then squishes it.