Saturday, September 1, 2018

The Saturday Snapshot #4



        Uniformity is the watchword of the suburbs. What's the line? "Little houses made of ticky-tacky and they all look just the same." Not entirely true, but true enough. Yet some people do manage to manifest their personalities. A neighbor on my block not only maintains this very stolid concrete goose, but will deck him out in appropriate seasonal attire: a little Cubs outfit for summer baseball, a pilgrim hat and cloak come Thanksgiving. It's very whimsical.
     At least I assume it's his handiwork. I suppose it could be his wife's, but the baseball regalia makes me suspect him. I don't rightly know. In 18 years, I've never remarked upon the goose to my neighbor. I don't see him often, our interaction is pretty much limited to half-hearted waves and wan nods. We keep our distance, here in the great generic sprawl.
     But lately I've been tempted, next chance I get, to say, "I like your goose."
     Why? Whimsy does not play as well in some quarters as others. While I smile at the goose and welcome his calming presence, I have also on several occasions noticed him toppled, even broken—by what passes in Northbrook for hooligans, I would imagine.  It's always sad to see the fellow in disarray.
     My neighbor, to his credit, is always scrupulous about immediately setting the goose right again or repairing him, as need be. Or perhaps replacing him.
     That is as it should be. It shows grit. We open our hearts to the world, reveal a glimpse at our inner soul, and, more often than not, the world rewards us with a kick. Even when we are doing something as unobtrusive as presenting a bit of anserine decoration to an anodyne suburban block. You have to wonder what sort of person would assault the thing. Merely being young and stupid doesn't seem sufficient cause—if the armies of the young and stupid turned against lawn decoration, not a gnome or ceramic frog would be safe. I imagine the culprit or culprits are people with no interior lives to project, lashing out instinctively at those of us who do. There's a lot of that going around.
   

11 comments:

  1. But but, the goose is so sweet! Has to be an out too late, still on a bicycle boy,kicking at it as he rides by. Saw a couple young bike riding curfew breakers one summer night, kicking trash cans off the curbs. Now suspect all petty mischief the doing of their brethern.

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  2. My mom used to work around the house singing "Little boxes on a hillside/ Little boxes made of ticky-tacky." The late, great Pete Seeger recorded it. Mom was a big fan of folk music.

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    1. When I was a teen, we drove up the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco. When we got to Daly City, all I could see up on a hill were little boxes in all different colors & I started singing that song. It was years later that I learned that Daly City was the inspiration for Malvina Reynolds's song.

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  3. Anserine and anodyne, brilliantly paired, probably for the first time in all of literary history. Thanks. Had to look both of them up. Hard to believe how many companies have "anodyne" in their names.

    john

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    1. One expects Neil's editors at the Sun Times, where one must eschew prolixity and shun verbal ostentation, would proscribe such sesquipedalian excess. For which we must give thanks to Every Goddamn Day.

      Tom

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  4. Hooligans...a genteel word for vandals. Here in Ahia, kids clobbered roadside mailboxes with baseball bats and sent them flying like metallic home runs. Some folks got so sick of replacing the boxes that they built chimney-like brick structures to enclose them. My brother-in-law out in Plasticville (AKA Strongsville) has had one for twenty years. It came with the house.

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  5. The dictionary app on my Mac is ignorant of "anserine". Silly geese.

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  6. my folks had a goose on their front steps in LaGrange, and my mother used to deck it out in costumes. occasionally squirrels would chew up the cloth. to line their nests, i suppose.

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