I call the place I live “Sparrow Fart” because, quite frankly, it’s none of anyone on the Interwebs’ business where I really live. Garrison Keillor had Lake Wobegon. I have Sparrow Fart. But I must say that “Sparrow Fart” does sum up the pace of this place. It’s a sleepy little rural village where the average age is about 55 and nothing bad ever happens.
Nothing especially good ever happens here either, save for the rarity of anything bad happening, which of course is good. That’s probably why people in Sparrow Fart are fond of smiling and waving to each other. Everyone smiles and waves. Old people using walkers and canes, toddlers in strollers, cops in patrol cars, and even prisoners in handcuffs. The prisoners do a modified, two-handed sort of wave supplemented by a nod of the head, for obvious reasons.They can no more wave while wearing handcuffs than Arlo Guthrie could pick up the garbage while similarly encumbered. But they give it one heck of a try.
Hell, even the few Millennials in Sparrow Fart smile and wave. It’s just that kind of place. I think it’s something in the water. Or maybe the air. Whatever it is, niceness infests Sparrow Fart like a virus — but a good virus, if you know what I mean. Like one of those gene-spliced viruses that hunt down cancer cells. That sort of virus, not the kind that gives you rabies or dysentery.
My friends from The City still can’t believe that I live here in rural America, and moreover, that I actually like it here. They call this place “The Middle of Nowhere,” to which I take offense, because this most certainly is not the Middle of Nowhere. We’re more than a mile from The Middle, in fact. Look:
But I understand. My old friends are used to living in a place where’s there’s always action. It may be someone getting their head blown off by a drug lord doing a drive-by; but hey, it’s still action.
As for me, I had my fill of that sort of thing a long time ago. I was born and raised in Brooklyn back when it was still a tough, gritty place, long before the yuppies and hipsters moved in and made it all sissified. My happiest childhood memories are of the times my family would leave The City to spend a weekend or a couple of weeks in a broken-down bungalow in Sullivan County. It was a dilapidated old place that got its water from a stream up the mountain a ways. It smelled of mice and didn’t even have a working shower. But it was my favorite place in the world. I was so happy there that I even stopped picking on my little brothers while we were there.
Another thing that bothers my Downstate friends is that everything closes early here. They complain about not being able to buy Chinese food at three o’clock in the morning. Not that any of them have ever actually done that, but it’s somehow comforting to them that they could if they wanted to.
I tell them that I’ll be happy to whip them up some Chinese food if they get a hankering for it at three o’clock in the morning. I have all the ingredients and it’s not hard to do. I can handle a wok with the best of them. Hell, I’ll even grab a gun and go out to shoot a stray cat if they want real New York City Chinese restaurant authenticity.
We do have a Chinese restaurant in Sparrow Fart, by the way. And it’s not bad. But like everything else in Sparrow Fart, they close early. And they’re closed on Sundays. I must admit, that took me a while to get used to. Who ever heard of a Chinese restaurant being closed on Sundays?
But this is Sparrow Fart. We take our days of rest seriously here.
Another thing we have plenty of in Sparrow Fart is rocks. They’re the most reliable crop in the county, in fact. Every spring, they pop up out of the ground and sneakily lie in wait for lawnmower blades to dull and bend. You can’t trust those rocks. They’re bad characters.
That’s why everyone in Sparrow Fart has rock walls. It’s not that we like rock walls very much. It’s just that we need someplace to pile up all the rocks. So we build rock walls, which is probably the reason why we also have no shortage of snakes in Sparrow Fart. They do love those rock walls.
What it comes down to is that you have to take the bad with the good. I may not be able to score a Moo Goo Gai Pan fix in the middle of the night out here in the boondocks, but I can certainly find some rocks. Or snakes. Or both. Because this, my friends, is Sparrow Fart.