Angelia McLean: Country Mouse City Mouse 2-14-11
Midwesterners are friendly people and maybe one would say busy bodies. With my Midwestern roots, I’m good at small talk conversing. You know what I mean: When you’ve picked the check-out line with the high-maintenance person holding it up so long that you begin to commiserate with your line neighbor.
Or, maybe it’s at the waiting area at the doctor’s office, or with a harried waitress, maybe a guy wearing your alma mater, or, and only a Midwesterner would do this; the person next to you in the elevator. (Although I’ve never dared attempt the social faux pas of standing in an elevator facing the rear rather than the door).
Striking up a conversation with anyone and anywhere not only lightens the mood in potential crabby situations but helps in connecting you with those you share a moment, albeit a short one. By striking up a conversation, I’ve exchanged recipes, found out about great restaurants, shared my helpful mothering advise to a frazzled mom, gotten free tickets to a sold out event, met neighbors and these are just a few.
One time, noticing a University of Wisconsin blanket with the woman in front of me, I asked her if she was from Wisconsin. As we became further acquainted, I discovered she was the granddaughter of my former kindergarten teacher whom I had in 1969! Sometimes, being helpful does put you in the busybody category though; like the time I told a man that his rear light was out as he left the parking lot. He told me to mind my own business.
But in general, I’m just interested in people’s stories.
The first section of the Fence Post that I read is the obituaries. They tell someone’s story in a sort of Reader’s Digest version. An obituary is rated ‘G’ and always positive. You never read, “Albert was a wife-beater, a cattle thief and he left all his money to his mistress.” Maybe that is the case with Albert, but the obituary never tells that part. The verbiage is always wholesome, endearing and maybe a little precious. The older the person the better since I think I find comfort in the fact that I hopefully have a lot of years ahead of me to do more things and a chance to be as good of person as the deceased. And, the older the person the longer their history and the more they lived through. I find that fascinating.
My mother-in-law reads the obituaries too, but not for the same reason. She reads this section of the newspaper to see if she knows anybody who died. (She’s 79 so I guess that’s the time she’s entered). As she was reading it once, she said to me, “Well, nobody I know died this week.” (She’s a matter of fact sort of woman).
I have every letter, envelope, greeting card and note ever sent or given to me. I also collect old photos and letters of strangers. I guess it is a desire to “rescue” that person in the photo from oblivion. Where are his/her relatives? Why is this photo not in someone’s album but instead found strewn in a box at an antique mall? Their stories are lost unless someone reads their letters or preserves that old photo. I guess I don’t want my history to disappear either so the packrat joins the busybody.
Will the Twitterers and Facebookies of the current day have stories? Personally, I have never Twittered nor do I frequent Facebook. (I may have been de-friended due to my neglect). But who cares if they “Like” something or have “Thumbs-up” for a particular stupid video. Those aren’t stories to me, nor are they worthwhile taking up the bandwidth. The hand-written letter is a dinosaur and personal information exists in the “Cloud.” Will today’s generation have a recorded history even though everything that is said is an instant blip and only 140 characters long? (I had to look that fact up).
The deceased person has no idea of course that someone is telling their story or reading their history but I think if they knew, they would rest in peace knowing they are not forgotten. I hope that when my time comes that my children don’t blip me into oblivion or send me to the Cloud. Can you be a busybody in the afterlife?
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