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Small towns, big fun



   There’s much to be said for living in a small town. You can count on your neighbors when you need them. Like when your dog has wondered out the upstairs bedroom window and is running around on your roof undetected. Or when your son has decided it’s a good idea to go through the Main Street car wash instead of taking a bath at home. Or when you’re broke and you need a night out and your neighbors invite you to a bonfire in their backyard. I lived in a little village in upstate New York for several years as a single mom and I’ll tell you what, the kids didn’t stand much of a chance because there really was a village looking after them.
   Sure sometimes it was annoying when my neighbor Bridget knew all about my new bath towels before I got the chance to tell her myself, but most of the time it was a relief to get the dog off the roof or an extra hand when I needed one.
   Our village also happened to be the snow capitol of the U.S., a little place about 30 miles due north of Syracuse, New York. It was a place where snow was measured in feet, not inches and you paid someone to plow your driveway and to shovel your roof, too.
   I had some women friends there who were incredibly loyal and helped me out of a jam more than once – weekly it seemed sometimes. It should not have come as a surprise then when they decided to throw a bachelorette party for me my second time around. By this time I was in my mid-40s and pretty much nothing surprised me anymore.
   I drove out to my friend Evelyn Stelmashuck’s house - that’s her real name you can’t make that up – where she and our friend Janet blindfolded me and took me to where the party would take place. Harry’s Hideaway, only a few miles away.
   Now Evelyn and I had been to dinner at Harry’s place in the past. We ordered some deep-fried vegetables as an appetizer and what they brought us was a can of mixed vegetables in tiny cubes coated with flour and then deep fried to what tasted like baby food with a French fry/fried clam breading. The restaurant was known for the tavern half of the establishment, not for its cuisine. You could get a bucket of clams for dirt cheap there. I never asked where they got them from because some things are better left unsaid.
   They didn’t take the blindfold off until I was at our table. The table was filled with old friends from the tiny town and we proceeded to have a blast catching up and playing pin a certain part of the anatomy on a life-size drawing. It was going really well and I was getting great advice because most of them had been married for decades.
   The little party was going great. And then the stripper walked in. He was young, about the age of my oldest son, and was wearing sunglasses and had his own music set up. He was belting out “You can’t Take the Honky Tonk out of the Girl” by Brooks and Dunn. It starts off something like...
“Connie came back for her second cousin's wedding
First time she'd been home in a year or two
Just in time for the rehearsal dinner
that crazy Connie wasn't wearing any shoes.”
   I’m pretty sure that song was handpicked by Evelyn. Anyway, there’s no comfortable way to be around a male stripper even if it’s a public place and you know he’s not going to reveal everything. It’s still awkward. It got even more so when he took off the sun glasses and I realized the young man was Joey Johnson, my son’s classmate from middle school. When you live in a village that small, you’re bound to know almost everybody.
   Joey did a pretty good job considering who he was dancing for. I had to hand it to him, he was dancing in a room full of moms whose kids he had played little league with and he pulled it off. He always was good in the high school musicals. I thanked him for his performance after he got up off my lap.
   When you’re down on your luck or when you just feel like shaking it up a bit, there’s nothing like a group of old friends from a small town.

The friend is the man who knows all about you, and still likes you. -

 Elbert Hubbard

Comments

Deb said…
Now THAT was one fun night!

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