In the short time it took me to drive downtown this morning, drop Miriam off for work, get my gallon of diet chemicals and drive home, I saw a bicyclist have to swerve out of his lane because of the SUV that was turning in front of both of us, only to speed away while I made a gesture that was not the sign of the cross.
Shit. I did that right in front of the church, too. Bad pastor. Bad, bad pastor.
An entire family was wandering from Short street onto Walnut, which means nothing if you’re not from here, but locals are seeing it. They stopped traffic on both sides–this was a family of about 5, mind you–and all but one of them made it to the sidewalk without looking to see that there were cars, I dunno, using the fucking road as it is designed to be used! The one who did notice did not respond the way I would have had my entire family’s collected ass been hanging out on public display looking like a jack-o-lantern in December. Like Christmas lights in March. He gave a pathetic little wave, not even bothering to do the awkward half-run, half-walk that I felt was owed because of the fucking severity of the offense. At least give me the worst impression of a speed walker you can muster up while still pulling up your metaphorical pants because, you know, the ass thing.
I mean, what the fuck is wrong with some of the people who come into this village and act like the laws of basic human decency don’t apply? I know, I know, it happens everywhere. But unless you live in a tourist trap like this, you might not understand the particular type of entitled stupidity that we locals endure. It used to be just a few times a year; like, we’d meet our jackass quotient in June and October; but now, because Street Fair has become something unto itself, there’s free-range jackass as far as the eye can see. Even the living ancestors can’t remember a time when jackasses were so plentiful. And not just on Street Fair.
Hmmm. Do I want to go there?
I tend to stay out of the Street Fair Wars.
Oh, do you not know of the Street Fair Wars? Child, we have lost a lot of good people in the SFW. Decent people who have been shoved to one pole or another, either adamant that it return to the original sidewalk festival (some of us even know that there was a film made with just such a conversation 20 years ago), or believe that Street Fairs are an engine of the local economy and the tent poles upon which our ever-growing list of festivals and events hang. Many argue that the benefits to local business owners, of which my wife’s family is one, are negligible, and that most of the money is made by interlopers and professionals who travel from event to event. Others argue that the benefits come through sustained relationships with local businesses that begin with exposure at Street Fair.
But like I said, I try to stay out of it.
As pastor of First Presbyterian, and therefore part of the attenuating Strawberry and Apple Festivals, I remain neutral. But I have friends on all sides. Most people are reasonable, but it is pretty much a guaranteed fight if you get the wrong people in the room together, throw some liquor in them, and then toss out something like, “I feel like the village was more authentic when the event was for locals,” and watch a bloodbath ensue.
I appreciate that there is life in the village. I really do. There is almost always something cool going on; we have vibrant art and music and theater scenes. There are lectures and dozens of organizations that span the whole of intellectual and spiritual life. But there are times when I don’t go downtown; there are weekends that I only venture to the church on Sunday. I have friends who leave the village completely on SF days each year because they are so tired of people parking on their lawns and then getting into fights over it. People who just don’t want to receive the energy. Because, for some reason, a percentage of that energy is hostile. There are people who come here to stare at the freaks.
The richness of Trump supporters coming to where I live to look at “freaks”surpasses even the phony net worth that the Orange Baboon claims to possess.
So these are clear Tea Party conservatives who are not “live and let live” Christians, but people who say wholly inappropriate and aggressive things to bait people or to slam our collective values. I have a dear friend who has an incisive, cutting wit and who, with his badass wife, runs one of the coolest shops in town. He posts these stories about customer questions and reactions that are so jaw-droppingly ignorant, this is me on video cam while reading one of his updates:
Here’s the deal. I may disagree with you on 100 out of 100 things, but I’m still going to love you. I’m still going to extend respect. Because I follow Jesus and I take the shit seriously. But I don’t understand the point of coming into a community with the expressed purpose of denigrating local shopkeeps, the products they carry, the way they price their items, the food options that are available, the sort of political beliefs that are expressed through signs, flags, T-shirts, and conversations, and all the other disrespectful, jackwagon shit that goes on more and more in this place I love.
In the scheme of things, it is a small price to pay for living in this place. This is totally a first world problem, and I am blessed to be where I’m at.
I was uncertain about writing today. I have to confess something through, Faithful Reader. Things are unsettled right now in The Shire. There is a very serious situation involving rape, race, harassment, sexual assault, predatory behavior, social justice circles, accusations of racism, of misogyny; there’s pain and fear and uncertainty. And that’s what I want to write about, but I can’t. Not now. It is not mine to write. Not yet, if ever. But I can’t pretend that it is not happening. I write so I can joke about; so I can use words to create humor so my mind won’t drift to the people I love who are scared. Who are angry. Who feel unsafe and unheard.
So this blog is the tale of two Springs. Both real. At times unreal. But the place where I call home.
Oh, and one last thing. For the love of God, will you leave Dave Chappelle the hell alone? Damn, people. Act like you got some sense.