Being born and raised in a Northeastern city was great. Or so I thought. About 12 years ago, I befriended a person from Missouri via the modern medium of the Internet. My friend lives in the country - the Ozarks, as she likes to call them. In the time we've known each other, she has disabused me of nearly every feeble myth I had come to believe about people who live in the country.
Even so, a few of my preconceived notions about living in the sticks have been thoroughly validated. Recently, Eva was telling me the story of when her town had to be moved a few hundred yards to accommodate the new railway that was coming through. Yes, the entire town! (I wasn't sure, but I thought she was talking about this having taken place during her lifetime.) That's when I got to thinking this town had to be very small. "Oh, no. This was a bustling town. We had three doctors and four saloons," Eva said. Kinda gives new meaning to the word bustling.
When she told me her address was P.O. Box 2, 'Small Town', Missouri, I was curious as to how she got such a low number for a post office box. She told me she'd had it ever since the town was really small, when there were only 11 boxes in all. Today, of course, the town is much bigger and the post office, too, is bustling with over sixteen boxes. My wife is a postal employee, and she supervises 96 routes in just one of six zip codes in the city where she works. Something tells me the postmaster where Eva lives has a slightly easier time of things.
And forget about being wired for cable tv. The only way to receive the 200 mindless channels we city dwellers get is to install a satellite dish, which Eva hasn't bothered to do as of yet. Poor Eva. She can't get the twenty-one different versions of the Republican National Convention that are clogging my cable lineup right now. On this score, I have to say, she's probably better off.
When I asked Eva if her roads at least had painted lines running down the middle of them to guide traffic, she replied, "Not really. Dirt doesn't take too kindly to paint in these parts." That answers that.
My friend once even had to set me straight about this idea I had in my head that there was no crime where she lived. "Oh you'd be surprised. We see some pretty bad things around here. Some people actually have the nerve to siphon milk from your cow or steal fresh rhubarb from behind the barn (apparently whenever the dogs have been oversedated by the demands of their own canine country living.) And there's not much you can do about it. They're still working on installing that 9-1-1 thingy. Can't wait til that's up and running."
Eva's probably going to kill me for this satirical objectification of her rustic existence. But the truth is I'm jealous. I've had my sensibilities offended long enough by city life. I would love to get away from the concrete jungle, silence the sirens of police cars and ambulances, slow things down a little and live in the middle of nowhere for a change. If there's one thing Eva has that I don't, it's a pleasing disposition. Something tells me she got it from living the life of a country bumpkin.
I want some of that.
2 years ago