Stopped by to see old Rufus the other day and asked him how he was doing, and that launched a half-hour diatribe that covered everything from the price of potatoes to big government. Anyway, hereʼs some of what he said:
If thereʼs a complaint about modern life it sure ainʼt about the antibiotics that fix you right up or hot-water showers right inside the house or cold bottles of beer on sweaty hot days.
And I like the widescreen on game day, too, and pizza brought to the front door.
Whatʼs almighty sorrowful though is how the edges have gotten all worn off things and everythingʼs all like the next thing.
Itʼs bland, like the inside of a doctorʼs office after the nurse has stuck that thermometer gadget wherever sheʼs stuck it and youʼre sitting there and sitting there all by yourself waiting for that nice doctor with the East Indian name and you look at the scale and the white walls and the plastic chair the doctor ladyʼs gonna sit on and listen to the music coming from that thing on the ceiling and you want something colorful to look at or some wind on your face or to hear a little kid laugh.
A lot of life these days is kinda like being in that doctorʼs office where everything is just like in the next town over or the next state over and the cars all look alike and the stores and the concrete streets, and the people get in their lookalike cars and put their kids in seat belts and car seats and drive off and the garage door closes all on its own and the street with the different pastel-colored stucco homes and mowed-once-a-week front lawns is empty of people and much life at all, and a lot of those people who drove off wonʼt see the sun all day, including the little kids who get let off so they can go sit in chairs and mommy can go say “have a nice day” to people.
And that mommy probably wonʼt ever, ever say, like maybe her great- grandmother did, things like, “He was raised in a barn with the north door open,” or “Beauty wonʼt make the pot boil,” or “I knew him when he used to be able to get his hat on.”
And the kids wonʼt likely ever get to just take off for the day and walk along the train tracks balancing themselves on a rail, chase their dog through the woods, play tackle football in the mud without a bunch of grown folks running the show, or sit by a stream with their best friend and throw rocks at sticks in the water.
And the family that lived in a shack where you could visit and hear accordion music has been moved into a concrete blockhouse and the shack torn down and a tiny grass park put there that everyone just drives by.
The kids wonʼt get to walk along with the hired man who works at the little spread down the lane and hear him tell that eating a raw egg every day is good for you and see him break the shell at one end and suck out everything inside, and then he lets you shovel out the sweet-smelling horse manure from the barn, and climb all over the haystack, and go down into the deep hole where there used to be who knows what maybe a mine.
Used to be you could walk around where people dumped stuff and find things you could use and it was a good hourʼs entertainment but now the noisy big truck comes and picks up your plastic bin and you donʼt even see the driver, not like when the big grumpy man hauled the can out from your back yard.
Gotta say everything sure is efficient now but I miss the color, smells, variety, noise, that exciting hint of danger, and you donʼt see as many people who are so very different and interesting, like the man who built his tiny home out of discarded doors or the fiddler who played while folks danced to “Cows in the Corn” and “Wild Hair Frolic” and “Where is My Pants At.”
Or the ornery family that lived in an old barge next to the big oak on the riverbank and found ways to never be there when the county officials drove up.
Nowadays, this abandoned trailer would probably be hauled away and kids wouldnʼt be able to play on it.
You gotta know weʼd have explored all around this old shack, “get out” on the door or not.