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Friday, September 23, 2005

A Walk Through Town ( or Fighting Reality)

Walking through the nearby town is such a lesson. There are run-down row homes with $750,000 price tags on them. Homes with the special allure of being located in the area flooded by the storm surge two years ago. Every block has another new home under construction. The popular thing is to purchase two small homes, tear them down and build one huge McMansion. The big houses already completed tower over the little homes that have existed for decades. They seem to threaten these little houses just like the big SUVs out front threaten the little cars next door.

All these homes are built in an area prone to flooding with only a two foot rise in water level. Storms on the nearby bay have inundated this area many times throughout the local history. People do not study history so the chance of flooding does not matter. The big new homes have insurance issued by the federal government so that people in Kansas and Iowa will pay to repair damage from the next flood. The people living in these big homes are wealthy enough to convince a banker that they can make payments on the house, but everyone will cry out loud if nature takes it away.

They drive to their homes and work one person at a time in big trucks. Each driver hangs a cigarette out the window until they get close to home. At that point they toss the lit cigarette in the street. Nothing to worry about, they have fire insurance and health insurance. If they set a house on fire or get lung cancer the cautious people that live in Nebraska and Wisconsin will help pay the bills. Insurance makes it easy to forget about lung cancer and house fires.

The people in the big houses drive too fast on the narrow streets in town. They just drove up the street to buy more cigarettes and alcohol. Walking to the store is out of the question, they would never think of doing that when gasoline is only $3.25 per gallon. Maybe when fuel gets to $4.00 a gallon they will drive a little slower to go get cigarettes and whiskey.

As they get out of the big trucks they drive, each person struggles. It is not easy to move around when you are so obese. Luckily they only need to walk a few feet to the front door. They press a button and the door to their garage comes down automatically. There is no need for exercise at all.

The poorly trained dog barks at the owner. This barking sets all the other poorly trained dogs in town off, all barking at nothing at all. It is as if the dogs are there to announce how ignorant their owners have become. Some owners can be seen walking their dogs, cigarette in hand. Once the dog defecates the owner reaches down to pick up the feces. Now it is time to quickly go back inside to the box with the blue light.

The sidewalks are mostly empty after dark. It is time for everyone to stare at the box with the blue light. Every single house has a big box with a blue light in it. The people sit alone and look at the big colorful boxes. They do not seem to be talking to each other very much. There are no smiles on the faces of these people.

The library parking lot is empty. The library closes quite early these days, there is not enough money. It does not matter, people do not read the old books, they buy new books and do not read those. Talking to these people is like talking to the big blue boxes in each house. The people in town use the same stupid words as the people in the big blue boxes. It is rare to find someone with an original story to tell these days. Most people only repeat the dumb things they see and hear on television.

The newspaper boxes are still full at night. People do not like to read the newspapers. In the morning the paper delivery man, no longer a boy or girl but a grown man, drops a newspaper at every tenth home, maybe. Many of these newspapers are bundled up too neatly on recycling days. The papers look like they were never even read. What a waste of trees and recycling energy.

You can see all this in the town because so many lights are turned on in every house. There are lights turned on in every room it seems. Younger people do not seem to pull curtains or close blinds at night anymore. That is a peculiar fashion trend that is not easy to understand or overlook. The new houses have very big windows, bright lights and no curtains. These homes are full of expensive furniture, appliances and art. For the poor person who likes to go walking this is an insult difficult to ignore in the early evening.

Automatic lights blink on as a person walks on the sidewalk. These lights have motion sensors designed to scare people away. People walking on public sidewalks can expect these lights to surprise them many times. The untrained dogs will snarl and bark each time you walk past. The huge screens of the giant televisions project insulting images out into the street. The smell of burning animal flesh fills the air. At dinner hour the whole town smells like a crematorium if you think about it. The restaurant district always stinks of burning meat.

If you walk around for an hour you will see the intoxicated fat people stumble out of the restaurants. Everyone on the street talks too loud or shouts into portable telephones. They quickly light a cigarette on the short waddle to their trucks. Quickly smoking the cigarette, they throw the butt on the sidewalk. Now they are ready to climb into their big trucks and drive away too quickly, swerving to avoid the crazy person out walking for exercise. A few blocks up the street the big trucks pull into garages near the big houses. All the untrained dogs start to bark again.

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