Monday, December 13, 2004

The Country Mouse Reflects

Yesterday it was such a relief to drive home, into the country here in the Upstate, SC. I was even happy to see the dumb fireworks stores at my exit of I-85, that mostly cater to people from Georgia.

There are certain cities I just could not live in. I bet you know the ones I mean, that were all designed--or redesigned--post-automobile, such that there is no pedestrian parts, unless you count the parts that either shut down at night because no one lives in the city anymore, or the parts where, sure, you can walk, if you don't mind slogging across a dozen or so parking lots. These are the ones where country mice like me fucking freak out, because there are (I am not kidding) 10 lanes on the highway and they are all completely full of cars driving 80, and then braking to 20, and then semis pulling in front of you, or else you are boxed in between two of them and one of them puts on their blinker (for a change) to indicate they are coming into your lane, into you.

These are the places that people apparently love to live so much that they are willing to live in suburbs that require an hour plus drive to get to work--not to mention traffic that should drive them to drink. And these are the cities where there is public transportation that no one uses, and I guess even if you wanted to it wouldn't take you close enough to where you needed to get in order to eliminate the need for your stupid car.

Plus everyone there drives an SUV--some of which have pearled paint jobs--so you can't see anything when you're driving at 80, because if it isn't a semi in front of you it is a damned SUV.

(Though as a side note, I must record that I saw a Hummer with a Kerry/Edwards sticker on the back. Assuming it was not a joke--which I still kind of believe it was--then this is seriously a demographic that the Democrats need to get a handle on. And then maybe throttle. I mean, it is not completely impossible to imagine a Volvo with a W sticker on it, although we probably all laugh when we see one, but is it possible for one mind to own that Hummer and that sticker? And do you, my dear reader, believe at this moment that I am lying to you because it is simply not possible to have a Hummer with a Kerry/Edwards sticker on it? I am not lying!)

And even in the suburb (houses starting in the 700s!), all you see around you are chain stores--the same chain stores I see in the smallish city that is not too far from my humble abode. Is this progress? Is this "city living"? You can find Bed, Bath and Beyond (but not too far) right near the Macaroni Grille: now THAT is living!

Sometimes country mice like me wish they lived in a city. Sometimes we want, just once, to go out for Indian food, or find a leftist bookstore, or even window shop in a store that sells funky things I do not need for my house but that allow me to imagine a much more funky and urban life for myself than I have. Or decent shoes, without mail order. Being able to say, "I'd like to try this on." Or maybe once in a while I could go into a store and try several kinds of cheese I've never heard of and then buy one.

But what passes for cities in these parts depresses me, and I am happy to gradually drift out of the throng of traffic, watching lane after lane peel away, until we are down to just two going the way I'm going, and then tick away the miles until I am back in my own personal little backwards red state, and looking around my car I can hardly see anybody else. Sure, it smells like chicken shit right there at the exit, on account of the jumbo chicken farm off to the left, and sure, nobody seems to bother to take their broken-down tractor to the dump when it can rust just fine there in the field. But boy did it feel good to spend my entire day here in the house, nursing the stupid cold I seem to have acquired, away from traffic and gargantuan stores, and six-lane roads, and the cookie-cutter brick boxes, backing up on the highway. Blue-staters like to express their horror at middle America--the uneducated part that has too many kids and aw shucks just can't understand them gays. But this, dear reader, is the scary part: the desire for a life just like in catalogues, the hunger for chain-produced meals that taste the same nationwide, the willingness to buy buy buy what we are told to buy, the belief that oh goodie, we just got a Carrabba's restaurant--now we can eat something new. Now that we have a Walgreens, and Eckerd, and a CVS we can finally have some shopping choices!

As for me--no thanks. I'll take my little house in my little neighborhood, not to far from the little university with its little library and only pizza restaurants and a surprising number of sushi restaurants, if only because for now, maybe only for another year or two, we have not completely been swallowed up by the sprawl.


bkmarcus said...

This one deserves to be published.

Isis said...

Thanks, bk! I wouldn't have the first idea where, though.