Rendered Fat Content


Paul Klee: Highway and byways (1929)
" … as if to try to compensate for what was sacrificed to become somebody else."

Four months after arriving back in the old hometown, The Muse and I conclude that there is no decent pizza to be had here. We add this to a growing list of unavailables and proceed. She compensated for the lack of pizza by making her own Pizza Bianca which easily bested anything we've ever gotten from any takeout and rivaled even New York City street pizza for texture.

One aspect of modern life baffles me.
When we lived in DC, a lot of social energy seemed to be focused upon newness and best. Great rivalries bloomed between competing restaurants for best of this or that. A whole class of society seemed focused upon becoming among the first to experience some emerging better than the current best. There was an underclass of old reliables, places that had not found a trend or emergent obsession worthy of adopting, places which had not changed their menu since they opened in 1948. A few of these disappeared every year, replaced by something unlikely to survive seventy years. Maybe it was my small city upbringing, but I preferred to find old reliables, preferably ones that had not been discovered so that The Muse and I could find a table when we happened in. These were few and far between and worth whatever it took to find them.

Small cities feature shortages. I don't hold grudges about the absence of Peppadew Peppers, for instance. It makes them seem more precious now that they're not just a daily presence. We stumble upon surprising things, stuff we hadn't suspected we'd find here, but we do not obsess over their usual absence. We came here because it lies securely off BeatenPaths. The few roads into this valley are two lane black top. In a couple of years, a decades-long project to finally provide four-lane access is slated to be finished. Many of us have been dreading this progress, though Lord knows we need the road. It will increase the convenience of accessing this place and therefore could become the death of us. A BIG box store could follow. Then another. The road to Hell seems paved with convenience.

It's damned inconvenient to live in this place, to call it my home. Buying a pair of jeans is now a two week ordeal since there's no place to buy jeans here unless you're a cowboy and wear Levis, Wranglers, or Carhartts. I don't. Food shopping's improved, but still leans heavily toward what I might characterize as white bread and mayo. Even hardware supplies seem sporadic. Last week, we could not find the grit of sandpaper we wanted, a common occurrence. Even The Home Despot often offers free shipping for things they deign not to stock in the store. I went looking for a solar powered pond pump and found that an executive decision had chosen not to stock them at this location. Restaurants, too, seem scarce in these parts. Chinese seems exclusively of the railroad variety, apt to include canned peas. Thai, while available, ain't choice. French? Forgetit. I went looking for a sausage sandwich, thinking I would accept a brat, but returned empty-handed. There are tons of choices for tacos, a few of them even edible, most of them trucks, none of them names you can pronounce. Restaurants aren't an issue now, with The Damned Pandemic peaking again, with our small city a regional epicenter. We also seem to have short supplies of common sense about accepting vaccines and social distance.

We came here for this. We expected inconvenience. Home might be where the heart is, but for us, it's where a raft of things cannot be gotten. We last weekend drove through a few towns even more remote than ours, places so far off BeatenPaths that access hardly features any kind of path. Those who live there preservere. They do not seek progress. They attempt to hold on to what they've got because no economic or social savior's coming to transform their lot. The place peaked around 1917 and has been in recession ever since. Nobody expects much different. It's far from anybody's but their own center of attention. They think city-dwellers are crazy. They might be right.

Our small city has 'em, though. The scourge of everyplace they choose to haunt. The growth obsessed. The developer class. They've already built some kind of resort with an attached golf course and a highly rated restaurant so that people can visit without having to experience any of the inconvenience of small city life. The city had to cap the number of short-term rental permits because our housing stock had been depleted into places that mostly sat empty. Our wines are the toast of big cities and rather ordinary here. When one lives in the land of milk and honey, one learns to prefer milk and honey over imported surrogates. When one grows bigger than their britches, like many small and large cities have, they bring on conveniences as if to try to compensate for what was sacrificed to become somebody else on BeatenPaths.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus

Made in RapidWeaver