Eeyore was from New England
Following up on last week’s remarks about beautiful but dangerous blind spots at several intersections in the South End, I had a call from a respectable citizen of this part of town who felt compelled to agree. Said she’s had several near-death experiences because oncoming drivers cannot see or be seen through the lovely bushes, hedges, roses, etc., that occupy many street corners.
Next I received a note from a reader on Old County Road signing herself as The Crazy Cat Lady, who said she once worked in display advertising at the dear old Courier when we were still on Park Drive. (Of course this is exactly where the Courier ought to be today, only the building was sold off some years ago by certain out-of-state owners who basically stripped anything we had that could be sold for cash, sold the rest at a fire sale, made the sign of the cross over the ruins, and left the country. If you want to know to what extent they stripped our assets, I can assure you it was as painful as it sounds. Let me reveal that at one point we were reduced to walking around the building in the dark carrying stubs of flickering candles and wearing only our mortgaged undergarments, while we attempted to write our stories on Kleenexes with shards of charcoal as the Great North Wind howled at our apertures. The outlook was bleak.)
Anyway, apparently this reader says she also suffers from seagulls even though Old County Road lies so far, oh so very far from the sea; probably the same four feathered fiends that interfere with my peace and quiet up here in these concrete towers at the foot of Mechanic Street. She claims to enjoy this weekly piece of nonsense that emanates from the tallest of the towers, and I suppose there is nothing to be done about that. De gustibus non disputandum, as the bloody Romans used to say: There’s no accounting for taste.
Furthermore I have received a message from a poor woman from Massachusetts who has spent more than 70 summers walled up on Vinalhaven. We might consider that to be cruel and unusual punishment, but she would not say what her crime was, only some unlikely tale about ancient relatives and family property, and possibly a generous spirit who has intervened out of compassion and allows her to go back to Marblehead every fall. One can almost hear Vincent Price and Christopher Lee hissing and gloating in the background as Barnabas Collins slides around the battlements to consult with the Great Poe after dark. And you know how it is, once a body gets tangled up in that combination of gothic horrors, there is no end to the possibility of delicious suffering. My condolences.
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In my awful car (made of dozens of parts connected by duct tape) I followed a lost soul from the Empire State as he (or she) in some white vehicle penetrated into the very heart of the South End last Monday afternoon. Charging witlessly through a stop sign that was not concealed at all by poison ivy at the top of Water Street, and veering into a perfect stranger’s driveway at Suffolk and Ocean in an attempt to back out into terrifying proximity to my front wheels, she (or he) seemed like a fly trying desperately to avoid the spider’s web. If only they would slow down and see what is what. But they will not slow down. They will not, not, not.
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Once upon a time the South End was a place where you slept with a gun under your pillow. These days there are actually vacation rentals here.
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Even up here in these concrete towers I can tell there was something special these last few weeks. The weather so dry and clear, the sun so reliable (it is always absurd writing about the weather in a weekly paper but obviously I am unable to avoid it) and the air so mild by night and day, that I am convinced it was the height of the season. I remember last August when Spanish Bob was visiting it was so humid that bath towels would not dry at all. The west tower was draped with towels like flags on a Greek battleship, as I hoped in vain for them to dry out in the soaking night air. Not this year.
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I have spent the last four weeks trying to stop the mouths of a multitude of friends who have been lamenting and wailing like Irish banshees that summer is over, that they can feel fall already in the air. Why not just go and shoot yourselves, I have said. Why bother to be alive at all, if all you can do is be depressed about the end of everything halfway through the middle? I admit I used to be like them, and would fuss and whine that Union Fair meant the end of all good things. So now I make my protests against their sorry pessimism with all the strength and enthusiasm of a religious convert, for I have seen the light, brothers and sisters. Summer is not over. Labor Day is merely the end of summer vacation for those minor members of our species who are in school, but for those of us who have escaped that spiritually perilous condition it is not over at all. There is a line in Shakespeare to the effect that those who make too strong a case probably do not have the facts on their side, and you might think I am now one of those. Nevertheless I am quite put out of joint by people who in the heart of summer go around with “summer is over” on their lips. I think it has something to do with the pathological nature of the Gloomy Yankee. I think Eeyore was from New England.
The thumbtack that held his tail on explains everything.
David Grima is a former editor with Courier Publications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by pretending you are happy.