Thursday, October 3, 2013

Oh, The Places You Won't Go

A newspaper article and a disappointing can of paint prompted today's profound thought.

One of the few features of our local paper I enjoy are the restaurant reviews.  Years ago there were great (almost New Yorker - quality) movie reviews, but the author died too young.  And the fine political commentator (also female) left for bigger horizons -- or was sent packing by unhappy conservatives applying pressure.  So we're left, as readers, only with that third tier of journalism, food and beverage.  Could be worse: it could be the Washington Times.

Today's feature review was of a place of long standing, and revolving ownership, in Mechanicsburg borough.  It has a nice location among old buildings and a strange dual character.  One side, with a vaulted ceiling and large windows, has always been fine (well, varying over the years) dining, and the other side which looks out over a noisy parking lot full of pickup trucks, is a redneck smoking-allowed bar.  And thereby is our tale.

Picture this:  a group of librarians celebrating at said redneck bar -- how would that work out?  When I was working part-time at the Mechanicsburg library (across the street), we somehow decided to do that for some occasion; whether anyone knew what the place was like (there aren't any other choices in town) I don't know.  In any case, we tried to enjoy ourselves on this very rare outing, but it was impossible.  The smoke was unbearable (the review mentioned its presence), the crowd really drunk really early, and the song of choice played at 180 decibels was "Red Neck Girl," which seemed to get them even more rowdy if that was even possible.  I left early as any conversation or socializing was out of the question, and decided I would never, ever return.

Are there places in your own experience that proved that once was quite enough?  I can think of many: 

Route I-270 in Maryland.  This stretch of highway is just hell.  On wheels.

Gold's Gym.  The day care inmates screaming in the snack/lounge area is just wrong.  Wronger are the spaghetti-strap wifebeater shirts the meatheads all wear.  Yuck.

Downtown Harrisburg on New Year's Eve.  Twenty-two degrees and you're thinking more about pickpockets than getting buzzed.

OK, downtown Harrisburg, period.

Erie, Pennsylvania.  Actually our state doesn't have one good city.  Some small parts of Pittsburgh have their quirky charm, but it's not worth the confused drive to find them (check out a map of the greater city area).

Working with rednecks.  They have this strange over-the-top self confidence combined with vast ignorance which is eerily schizophrenic.  And they always go full speed or top volume on everything followed by longer periods of goofing off and jabbering about sports or NASCAR like a bunch of hens.  They will keep every tool of yours they get their hands on.

Sun City Center, Florida, where I just spent two months.  However, that's just the people.  Without them it would be quite nice.  The weather's great and the bay is so close the breezes are a delight.  I do miss the palm trees and exquisitely blue sky.

...Meetings, Home Owners Associations, broadcast news and opinion, math classes and school assemblies, school cafeterias, commutes to work, having to be broke when young, a Barry Manilow song, a used car with six-digit mileage that leaves you stranded, getting the flu every year (sometimes twice) before those wonderful annual shots, losing all your keys through the hole in your pocket...done with all of those except for the damn HOA.

And what about that can of paint?  This morning I walked down to Zach's house and had everything ready to start painting the concrete porch.  The weather was absolutely perfect and there was nothing else on the schedule.  OK, most people would not think of this as fun, but (as you would know from a post way back) I love a project of almost any kind and really enjoy painting.   Upon opening the left-over half-gallon from last year, I discovered it was useless despite being stored well.  With a car handy, could have solved that problem in 30 minutes, but our one vehicle was many miles away in Nancy's work parking lot.  So while there are a lot of places I won't go again, the hardware store was one place I wanted to go but couldn't. 

So I sat down on the steps of the (unpainted) porch and watched rednecks speeding by in pickup trucks, smoking, maybe going to a math class or a HOA meeting with Manilow crooning on the radio.  Ironic.

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