A Country Boy Can Survive, as Long as There Aren’t Any Spiders
Living in a small town like Rockingham has its perks compared to life in the congestion and crowding of the urban city. When you pull out of your driveway for instance, you don’t find yourself immediately tailgated by an irate Mongolian sporting a topknot and blazing red eyes intent on ripping off your rear bumper. Said rabid Mongolian then flips you off the moment you turn onto the major thoroughfare, whereupon you immediately pick up another butt magnet and the process repeats until you finally reach your destination, 40 minutes and five miles later.
Another perk is the lack of competition when grocery shopping. So far after 4 or so years of country living, I have yet to have a single cart rammed into me as I contemplated between the expensive Cheeze Whiz and the 5 cent cheaper cheese emulating processed food product. The latter of which although looking and tasting the same, likely produces massive fatal neck warts in lab rats according to the state of California. Why anyone should care if rats get fatal neck warts is beyond me and if you’ve paid attention to anything about California over the last 20 years, you know their rationality can’t be trusted anyways.
Register racing too is a thing of the past. For the uninitiated, register racing is where you exit your last aisle before heading to checkout and lock eyes with another shopper also exiting their last aisle 5 rows down. In the space of a millisecond you both then immediately scan the available checkouts for the shortest lane. Eyes squinted and once again locked on your opponent, nostrils flared, adrenalin pumping, you grip your cart tighter as you flex your legs for the coming forward springing takeoff, much like a panther about to pounce on a rabbit.
By some unspoken rule, like gunfighters of the old west, you both then lunge towards the desired register at top speed at the same time, all the while trying mightily not to LOOK like your’e actually racing. In most cases, the result is a pair of shoppers with full carts speeding towards a checkout with a lurching knock kneed gait resembling an incontinent power walker who’s a block too far from home. Once at the register, the victor then proceeds to deliberately take their time emptying their cart, slowly digging through purses or wallets for coupons and discount cards, making nonsensical conversation with the disinterested cashier, and all around trying to prolong the misery of the now conquered opponent.
Not everything about small town living is great however. While your nearest neighbor may be half a mile away, small towns have the most sensitive and powerful grapevine in the civilized world. Note I did not say accurate and effective. Just powerful and able to sniff out and retain anything you may do or say for up to a year. So, telling your friend at the hardware store you aren’t much for getting to church these days, often turns into you being a godless pagan that dances naked by moonlight while offering up sacrifices to your dark lord by the time it reaches the other end of town.
Pizza delivery is a thing of the past, which is probably ok because although the pizzeria down in town might be named “Sal’s”, it’s also likely owned by someone named Joe who also happens to have “The Best Southern BBQ” on the menu.
When it comes to nuisances like pests well, the city has nothing on the country. If you think all the hype about city rats for instance is intimidating, consider that out here in the country they’d probably last all of 6 hours before being promptly eaten by something else. Out here the raccoons consider your garbage their own private buffet and rather than run when attempting to shoo them away, will advance on you in an effort to protect their stash.
The spiders well, good lord the spiders! Out here they aren’t spiders; they are fanged alien mutants intent on capturing anything smaller than a rhinoceros. I regularly see webs that look more like tennis nets, easily spanning 20 feet between a lamp post and tree. Leaving the front door after dark without a flashlight is an exercise in tempting fate, as you’ll likely find yourself shrouded in webbing while something you are grateful you can’t see but is clearly quite large, rapidly scuttles across your neck to your shoulder whereupon you no longer have any idea where it might have gone. In that moment you suddenly realize you are a Kung Fu master as you gibber and flail helplessly in the front yard.
All in all though, for me the slower pace, relaxed atmosphere and small population of the country wins out over the noise and congestion of the city. To me city living is almost like a slow and drawn out death, with the stress and frayed nerves that are part and parcel of urban life leading to a stint in the local intensive care unit as I await a heart transplant. At least here in the country, the cardiac arrest after a spider attack will be swift and decisive.