Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I've turned into my mother

Winifred likes to remind people—as frequently as possible—that the killer’s in Fargo WERE. NOT. FROM. NORTH. DAKOTA.

Then, to goad her, I remind her of that one time, how that old cranky man was in somebody’s yard causing a scene, and someone hit him with a shovel!

The shovel incident happened more than thirty years ago. Maybe more than fifty years ago, and she likes to add, “He had it coming. That old man was cranky!” This would seem harsh unless you know my grandfather, who never raises his voice or freaks out about anything. (By comparison it takes only a sound bite of John McCain or Sarah Palin to get me worked up and freaked out.) You could say that Grandpa’s age is a factor, but to Winifred’s recollection, he’s only been mad twice. And she wasn’t even living at home the second time because she was in the Army! (She just got to hear about it, as older sisters often do.)

But I digress. Among Winifred’s other claims that life is peaceful and non-violent in North Dakota: No one has ever been deliberately poisoned in the last fifty years (so far no evidence holds up), there are no pedophiles (as compared to the “fictional” town in Downtown Owl), and the firefighters exist to get cats out of trees. Gas is always eighty-nine cents a gallon. Everyone is voting for Obama to make up for how insane South Dakota is, etc.


This predilection has driven me crazy because it ruins the idea that The Grass is Greener on the Other Side. Yeah, the grass is green, but I bet the meatloaf in that kitchen sucks, and I bet the cable reception is lousy. I’ll eat the cooking here, watch my television under the comfort of my own blankets, and bask in the imperfections of my life here. And if you allege that somewhere, anywhere, things are perfect, it makes my imperfect little life look… well, kind of crappy. And I like my life! I like my quirky cast of characters, the way Metro is always slow, and how even the rampant problems of Baltimore have a gleam of charm.


But without meaning to I’ve set out to defend Baltimore, guns-a-blazin’. My friend IMmed me an article and included his comment: “THIS IS WHY I HATE BALTIMORE.” That’s not the right way to start a conversation. I didn’t even read the article before I set out in ALL CAPS to let him know that this isn’t even Baltimore County! This is Calvert County! “SAME THING,” he said.

It was all downhill from there as I had to set him straight. My Baltimore, which yes, had murdered a former council man last week (to my infinite grief), was NOT the same as Calvert County. God, had I even been to Calvert County?! (Not really, only to travel through it.) Moreover, the clearly disturbed woman had never even lived in Baltimore! City or County! She’s from Godforsaken Rockville! Rockville is where dreams to go die in a hell of suburbia! We have our own problems that we’re fixing (crime has dropped compared to rates last year, there are plans to bring truants back to school, etc.) don’t add any more!


Oh. Wow, did I get a little out of control, there? Maybe a little too defensive? May I have implied that My Baltimore is sunshine and lollipops? Because it is, you know.


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