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The Village Idiot

I hate the city...

Jack Deatherage, Jr.

(1/2012) The Texan homesteader, the Mad One (Simona) and my wife have long been after me to get over my reluctances, especially the ones about dining with people and venturing into cities. The Texan and I had an email exchange that left me promising Iíd go with cousin Luke and the Mad One the next time they asked us to ride along, be it to the Russian deli down around Baltimore, or some estate garden open to the public in Pennsylvania. (I donít recall what argument the Texan used, only that I agreed to go.)

The Mad One and I have also had a long talk about what we would do if we ever found ourselves wealthy enough to do as we pleased. She would sling a pack over a shoulder and walk about this rock sampling the cuisines of every hamlet, village, town and city she could reach. She would stop at every museum, theater and crafterís shop to learn as much about humanity as she could absorb.

I would erect a shack on the edge of the acre garden, complete with a camera, a microscope, a computer (plus all the necessaries to garden and to live as comfortably as one can in a shack) and learn that bit of ground in as much detail as possible. Rarely would I leave the acre to move among people. (How long Wanda would put up with such behavior I havenít bothered to ascertain, as I doubt Iíll ever be wealthy enough to have to worry about it.)

The trio of females decided if Iím determined to further remove myself from human contact I should at least know what-all Iím giving up. To indulge them (to silence, briefly, their harangues) I agreed. Next thing I know weíre off on the Red Line to the National Geographic Museum in Washington DC to take in an exhibit of an Anglo-Saxon horde of "worked" gold, garnet inlaid in sword pommels and crosses. A secondary excursion was planned for Union Station where I was to be introduced to the varied shops and cuisines that fill that space. All the while, Iíd have to function among strangers dressed outlandishly and speaking with accents foreign to me.

I donned my best pair of comfortable sneakers, the least work stained pair of blue jeans I have, a new T-shirt, my fraying Army field jacket and my newest JCA (Juneís Custom Archery) baseball cap. I was ready to face the weirdoes of The Big City!

What I wasnít ready for was my being the weirdest thing I saw all that day. It started with the Red Line. Gods know what century the rail cars were made in, but I donít think it was the 19th, let alone the 20th, or 21st. No normal sized man of six and a half feet in height and 265 pounds of bone and flesh was ever meant to sit in those gawd awful seats. The escalators were another problem for me. I had all I could do to stand upright on them while the people around me actually walked up and down them as if they werenít moving. Probably the best thing I can say about the Red Line system was it delivered me to the ground above. No surprise that DC reminded me of Baltimore, Norfolk, Miami, Philadelphia and Richmond. A city is a city is a pity, as far as I can tell.

The museum was mostly a disappointment. I hadnít been in one since 1967 and I recalled that one being much better lighted. Had it not been for a couple of guys in period custom and a couple of videos for the patrons to watch Iíd have been angry at being charged $8 for what little was on display that I could see, barely.

We left the NG museum and entered a courtyard where a couple of guys had falcons on display as they lectured a small crowd of camera wielders. We listened for a few moments then crossed the courtyard to take in a photo display of sea life, which was more interesting than the Anglo-Saxon horde.

Then it was back to the Red Line and on to Union Station. This time I took a seat next to an unconscious Santa (I wondered if he might be dead, not that it mattered) because the seat afforded me some much needed legroom. (Santa awoke when the Mad One took a picture of us. He glanced at me, rolled his eyes and went back to sleep.)

Following a hungry Luke and ravenous Simona into the stationís food court, Wanda and I were surprised by all the offered cuisines. "There is food here from every where. Take your time and see what is available. Whatever your choice, it will be good." Simona told us.

I asked Wanda to get me a diet cola and sipped it opposite Simona who glared at me over her sandwich. I explained that I was as close to being in Hell as I ever hoped to get. The place was simply alien to me. Even the cola tasted strange. I was uncomfortable being underground with no sure exit to the surface and lots of people between me and where I thought fresh air might be. I allowed that little Iíd seen or experienced so far had endeared me to the city. I allowed that no normal, sane person would willingly venture into such a place a second time short of being threatened with death. I also allowed I might rejoin the Catholics soís to avoid going to Hell when I die, having sampled a tiny bit of it already. (The Mad One allowed I might not have time to repent.)

We eventually reached the ground level of Union Station and I relaxed a bit once I saw windows to the outside. Luke and I took to exploring the station and watching people, mostly females who appeared in every skin color and form of dress, while Wanda and Simona sought out Simonaís favorite shops.

Finally, back to the Red Line and Simonaís car. As we settled in for the drive home, I asked where weíd be venturing next and when. In the stunned silence that followed, I admitted Iíd had a good time and wanted to try some other city, or museum, or both.

What I didnít mention was most everything enjoyable I experienced that day I could have gotten closer to home. Still, going into the city has convinced me my place is in the country. I thank the women for getting me to look at what I plan to reject. I did enjoy the day though, from being cussed in Bulgarian, twice, to chatting with a Jamaican panhandler.

I have some vague feel of what Simona and Luke find attractive about cities. I wonder if my taking them on an in-depth tour of the acre would give either of them a clue as to what I find attractive there?

Read other articles by Jack Deatherage, Jr.