Street smarts and dummies

By Carolyn Marsh | Oct 31, 2011
Photo by: Steve Paley

I must have looked like a madwoman last Sunday afternoon, hustling down Route 1 with a screwdriver in one hand and a pair of pliers (Are they called a pair? Or just pliers? Or maybe plier? Never mind, as long as they work.) and a totally imbecilic grin on my face as I rounded my block taking down fliers asking “Have you seen Emmie?”

She’d been gone since Monday and I had despaired, not to despondency but pretty sure my efforts to find her would be for nothing. And I still think it’s a coincidence that the day after I heavy-duty stapled 20 waterproof fliers on almost all the utility poles in my neighborhood she was back, lolloping up the driveway — no, make that racing — and into the house, first to the dish on the kitchen counter where her bowl of cat treats was still sitting (leaving things absolutely untouched and in place for as long as possible is a really big part of my denial protocol) and then to the bookshelf in the Red Room where she sits now on my practically priceless African ditty bag (for want of a better word; it smells as though it held grain or something vegetable at one time many years ago, but it is an exquisite object and I rue the day I left it on top of the bookcase because it has become Emmie’s sleeping pallet), though she can’t knock down my Dozier Bell “Conflict Series #56” as I took that down after she’d dislodged it half a dozen times and moved my pink mosaic bowl to a safer spot too, and it had occurred to me that I could return them all to their proper places if she wasn’t around to enjoy her perks, but she is, and she sleeps on her pallet with her back to me and I can’t remember having been this happy and relieved in a while.

Putting up posters for a missing friend is dreeing a lonely weir (that’s the expression as I remember it, even though Google has “weird” instead of weir and “submitting to one’s fate” as the definition, with which I am in agreement, and I suppose now I shall have to accept “weird” too, as the dictionary uses a sentence from Michael Scott’s “Cruise of the Midge” as an example, and while I personally have absolutely no idea who Michael Scott is, he also uses words like “meikle” and “mair” and “maun,” all of which I find irresistible, and the past tense of dree is “dreed,” so perhaps when I can find a spare second I will look him and his works up), made especially so by the presence of old tatty fliers seeking other lost cats, unless said cats have been found and owners have not been as diligent as I about taking down the fliers because they are no longer operative. I don’t know where one finds the reserves to keep on going despite loss, whether it is temporary or permanent, but it comes from somewhere, even if it does make us old at twice the usual speed.

I am glad the downtown merchants are having a good fall because I am not.

I have never seen the streets so full of people crossing them, so that it has become habit to drive at a snail’s pace down Elm Street and then Main (or maybe up, as that direction is north, or north-ish), slowing at every one of the two dozen crosswalks to look for pedestrians who are apt to pop out from behind the tanks people drive these days just as you come abreast of the crosswalk, so that if you are moving at more than a walking pace you must stop suddenly and not at all to the liking of the person in the car behind you, who hasn’t seen the pedestrian(s) either, and then, fearful of the same thing happening again, which it usually does, you proceed even more slowly, as I do not at all want to mow down pedestrians unless they are crossing the street outside of a crosswalk, in which case I pay them no mind and get exceedingly irked when the car in front of me does stop for these jaywalkers.

Now that the weather is getting cooler I am keeping the windows closed and am less apt to apprise driver and jaywalker of my sentiments. This phenomenon is especially aggravating at dusk, when the beautiful street lights that grace our downtown shed not a shred of light and you would not see Ghengis Khan and the Mongol hordes until you were on top of them, and while MBNA did many wonderful things for our town, bestowing on us pretty but pretty useless street lights was not one of them.

The northbound stop sign at Route 1 and the Stop ’n’ Go is still one of my favorite peeves, though I take pleasure in the new tactic I have devised for people who think that because I have stopped and they have stopped behind me that their stop counts as a stop, which it doesn’t, which is to proceed to drive through town v-e-r-y s-l-ow-l-y, stopping at every crosswalk whether populated or not, letting everyone who wants to turn north onto Route 1 get out in front of me and just generally enjoying the petty power I am exercising over the unfortunate miscreant behind me. It is a very small pleasure but a real one, I’m sorry to say.

On the other side of the coin, my friend Parker has taken me to task often for wagging my finger at and telling off the people who do not stop when I am in the crosswalk. I have a right to cross the street unharmed, by golly, and I intend to. I’ve never had as much fun as I did when an elderly resident of this community, now gone to her eternal rest, really did almost run me over at the five-way intersection in the middle of town and I asked my friend Randy, now our police chief, to have a talk with her. He tried, but she was clearly as dysfunctional a listener as she was a driver, and I don’t think she had any idea what Randy was trying to tell her, which was that I was considering bringing charges against her for assault with auto, which I really wasn’t, but every now and then you must assert yourself and stand up for your rights, negligible though they be.

When I got the email from my friend Loie saying “buffet on the debt,” I thought it was a typo, as I was having dinner at her house, and figured she was letting me know that I should wear warm clothing because we would be eating outside on the deck. In fact she was asking me to read and pass on to other friends Warren Buffet on the debt, which I will be happy to do as soon as I put my winter coat back in the cedar closet.

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