Sunday, June 15, 2014

THE FISHBOWL

It's extremely difficult fitting in when the fishbowl in which you live is an unfamiliar rural territory that could have been taken right out of the movie, Deliverance.  Everywhere there were faces of strangers waiting and watching, but what they were watching and waiting for made me a little uneasy. Vernon was dubbed "Nub City" because so many residents there make limb loss insurance claims to supplement their income. In 1981 Vernon was featured in a documentary highlighting the eccentricities of the people who lived there. The movie angered many residents who felt the documentary portrayed the area in a negative light. Negative light?  How could blowing off your arm or foot with a shotgun for insurance money be considered negative?  Shouldn't it be considered creative and ingenious instead? Oops! There goes my good old Maine sarcasm acting up again!

I was only eighteen when I became the new kid on the block in this small Southern town with a population of less than one thousand.  My new position wasn't exactly the position I wanted; yet this position definitely had its comical advantages. I could tell by the inquisitive looks people gave us as they drove by my brother, Brian's place that they hadn't quite figured out who belonged with whom and what was going on onside. This was something I was used to by now and always liked the initial reactions I got when the truth finally came out. And the truth always did come out...eventually! But for the time being I was going to savor the looks I was getting and just sit back and let people wonder. Being the object of speculation sometimes can have very interesting outcomes and in this case, the outcome was not only interesting, but a lasting one as well.

My brother, Brian liked the game. He liked being admired. I laughed when he set up his weight lifting equipment outside in the front yard. Not long after he started his daily workouts, the drive-bys increased. The brave ones did walk-bys and even waved hello occasionally. We'd been there several days, when early one evening Brian decided it was time to take a walk "uptown". We strolled through the center of what seemed to be a one-horse town...a post office, a grocery store named the Dixie Dandy, a small hamburger joint, a gas station and of course, a real live honky tonk on the outskirts of town called The Cat's Eye. 

A group of locals were clustered around a bench placed outside the post office. The area was considered the town square. As we approached, the noise from the small crowd died down in anticipation. When we reached the group, Brian stopped and we introduced ourselves to the handful of people who seemed quite mesmerized by our presence. We chatted long enough to show them that Yankees could be friendly. As we left we knew we had given them plenty to talk about for days to come. 

The ice had been broken and now I was anxious to see what would follow. In the next few days I met another female who became my first friend. Carol was from Miami and like me, she had found her way to Vernon under unusual circumstances. Maybe the fact that we were outsiders was what gave us an immediate common bond. From the moment we met, it seemed like we had been friends forever and at our age that title came with the subtitle of "partners in crime". We were two new females in a very small town.  That dubious distinction earned us the title of being new meat...me, a thinly sliced medium rare evenly spiced roast beef and Carol, a slightly thicker sliced brown sugar cured ham.  From the moment I met Carol I had a hunch that our time in Vernon was going to be a learning experience for both of us.  Looking back now all I can proclaim is how right I was!

4 comments:

  1. Holy Moly...a town where people blow off their limbs for insurance money. How much more exciting can you get? Write some more...I want to know what those two gals got up to.

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    1. Vernon was definitely a trip! I have many stories from my time there that'll I'll share along the way.

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  2. Eek. Innovative, but desperate. More please.

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    1. I enjoy sharing glimpses into my life with others. Thank you for comments.

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