Saturday, November 16, 2013

In my neighborhood

As a more than decade long resident of my neighborhood it, at some point, became apparent to me that there were loads of nice straight sidewalks running all over the place. I decided at some point that it might be fun to make use of these sidewalks. It turns out I had a reasonably good time on them, so now, when the thirst for adventure seizes me, I strap on my shoes, which seem almost as if they could have been engineered for these so-called sidewalks, and I walk around. I walk up the sidewalks and I walk down the sidewalks. I cross the street to new sidewalks. I am not sure if this is how one is supposed to use sidewalks. They were possibly designed as decorative fringes for our roads. Their rakishly contrasting color, all light to the road's darkness, certainly suggests it. Or perhaps these sidewalks were designed to give us something to scrape snow off of, as a kind of public health effort by the city to get us out of the house for a bit in the winter to make sure we get fresh air and a bit of cardiovascular exercise. But whatever the intended use of the mysterious sidewalk is, I like to walk on them, preferably with my wife, who is extraordinarily good company. So I do. I go outside and I walk on them.

And now we come to the traditional point when your folksy, sidewalk walking blogger would typically tell you about all the wonderful things you can see out there on the sidewalks of your neighborhood, about all the wonderful people you can meet just by going out and walking your local sidewalks, the exotic flora, crafty and intriguingly out of place wild animals, and generally fascinating encounters with the world at large, all to be had on the world of sidewalks.

But I will not be telling you about these things.

“Why not?” You ask. "One develops certain expectations when writers start talking about walking around their neighborhood!"

I won't tell you because I'm a rebel! And also because I have sworn to tell you the truth, except when I am rebelling against my vows and not telling you the truth. But I have vowed to only lie to you in a way that reveals the truth! So I will tell you the truth, even if it is terribly shocking when it rears up on its quiet, enormous paws and calmly says:

There is nothing much going on out there on the sidewalks.

Nope, not much at all.

Oh it snows and it rains on the sidewalks, leaves fall and pile up and break down. It's neat stuff sure, but I think it's the kind of thing you can see from your windows if you've just got to. Ice forms over the sidewalks. A cat might visit me out there. I can pet it. It's soft. But you could just keep a cat of your own who you are free to pet in the privacy of your own home anytime you want. Or just drive to a library. Each one is equipped, by Library of Congress mandate, with precisely one bona fide cat. Every rare once in awhile I can, just by walking about, see something like a turkey, poking around some neighbor's side yard. It happened to me today in fact. It was a big, shiny turkey! It's amusing and interesting, but seriously, it's not going to kill you to miss that sort of thing. Sometimes there are pretty flowers or plants growing around, but I doubt that they're some big super rare orchids or anything. They're plants. I doubt you can even eat most of them. Though I do hear hostas are edible! There are clouds. There's definitely the occasional person to run into out on the sidewalks, and they seem nice enough, but, first of all, not to shatter your warm and exalted feelings towards the human race, but, the fact is that if you meet one stranger you've pretty much met them all. More or less. Someone had to say it. I said it. No, seriously. And, second, I believe I mentioned that my wife is extraordinarily good company, so I'd rather talk to her anyway. Perhaps you have someone you're as enthusiastic about in your own abode? I hope so. But even if not, those of us loitering about the neighborhood sidewalks might not be as thrilling and receptive as you might think.

So what I'm saying is, you can bop around on the sidewalks if you want. Go up the sidewalk, come down the sidewalk. Cross the street to a different, but very similar sidewalk. You can go to the Library, stumble over to a park or a bar or a cafe. You can walk clean round the planet, maybe pacing on the boat parts. But you don't have to. Nothing important is happening anywhere. Nothing. So stay in if you like. I can keep an eye on it all for you.

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