Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Small town observations

Every day at noon, a siren blares from atop the city government building in Gunnison. Each time I hear it, I want to shout, “Yabba dabba doo!” even though it’s nowhere near happy hour. I’ve blurted this once or twice, only to elicit blank stares in response. Am I that old? Doesn’t anyone remember the The Flintstones? I hear that horn and imagine Fred sliding down the long neck of his gravel-quarry dino-dozer (which, thanks to Jurassic Park and the miracle of Google we all recognize now as riojasaurus). Quitting time! Fred flees, his fleet feet slapping toward a rack o’ ribs and a night of good times with Wilma, Barney, Betty and Dino. That’s Dino the dino, pronounced Deeno the dyno. Think that’s delusional? Another day, walking downtown near the source of the noontime wale, it struck me, a revelation it was, that the ramp up to full blast sounds just like the introduction to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, only this is a mega-air-raid, civil-defense siren solo rather than a clarinet, which admittedly changes the vibe from blue to bomb shelter. But it’s Gershwin. I’m sure of that.

In another daily-life homage to The Flintstones, I have a coworker at the bank who laughs EXACTLY like the staccato giggle of Betty Rubble. It’s a little lower key, but it’s Betty. I’m sure of that, too.

A young man came in to retrieve his lost debit card today. Someone had turned it in, and we’d called to let him know. He approached the window, reached across, flashed me his passport and a crooked grin. Dude! He was like Pigpen, but the cloud around him wasn’t dust. Catching an instant contact high, I swayed a little, then staggered to the vault to retrieve the card for the boy, refreshed that some college traditions refuse to die. Here was a fine young man carrying on the All-American stoner tradition established in generations past, a cultural hallmark of higher education. “Here ya go!” I smiled. Made bloodshot eye contact. “Glad you could make it in so quickly to pick that up. Thanks for choosing Bank of the West. Yo Homes, smell ya later!

Extreme climate, extreme town, extreme hats. People are insanely proud of their headwear here, the more unique the better, and always happy to share interesting tidbits about its origins. Here’s how a typical conversation might go:

“That’s a cute hat."
“Thanks. It was made by a 95 year-old indigenous, armless Peruvian woman who lives at 15,000 feet in the Andes. She knitted it with her toes!”

What’s my point in all this rambling? I have no point... Yet. But as a writer, it is my obligation to pay attention, to observe the world from my exclusive vantage point, collecting the fodder I will use to tell stories only I can tell. If you have a compulsion to write stories, I encourage you to do the same.