Sunday, December 18, 2011

From The Sage of Bucksnort

Catching fish doesn't pay the bills

by Jack Reeves

Sheila and Scott Chadwick’s daughter, Rene, is getting serious with Larry Barnes. He’s 21. The families haven’t known each other, but they’ve known of each other. That’s the way it is in Bucksnort. You either know a person or know of them — sometimes a lot more than you wish you knew!

We don’t hesitate to find out about a stranger. It’s common for a person who’s not recognized to be recognized — to let them know we’re aware of you!

In the Yesterday Cafe last week there were two people in line I didn’t recognize. Neither did Lois Anderson, who was ahead of them. As she picked up her tray and silverware, she turned her head a little more to the left and said, “Are you folks from around here?”

This is not chitchat, simply being neighborly. At root, it’s nosy! We want to know who you are if we don’t recognize you. “Where’re you from?” “What’re you doing in the Yesterday Cafe?” “Where’re you going?” “When?”

Scott wants to know more about Larry. He told Sheila he wanted to have a man-to-man talk with him.

“This isn’t the 19th century,” Sheila replied. “You’d embarrass Rene to death! Larry wouldn’t know what to think, either. You’re acting like Ozzie — and I’m not Harriet!”

“I still want to find out which way his compass points. If they’re serious, we’re talkin’ family, not a Sunday dinner guest.”

“I’ve talked with Rene about Larry. I’ve heard only good things about his family. Rene says he’s intelligent, considerate, has goals for his life,” Sheila said.

“Goals? I’ve got goals, too. Everytime I go fishing I have a goal — to catch fish!!

“But catchin’ fish doesn’t pay bills! I want to know what he plans to do in life — especially if they’re getting serious. What’s he doing now?”

“He and a friend are starting an air conditioning business. With all the new development in the region, it seems like a good idea,” Sheila said.

“He seems like a risk taker,” Scott replied.

“Okay. Suppose y’all talk. How do you, without looking like a nosy fool, talk to this adult about his personal life?”

“I’d ease into it. I’d say something like ‘I heard you’re trying to get a business going. You know, nine out of 10 businesses fail.’”

“You’re not going to say that!” Sheila said pointing a reprimanding finger at Scott.

“Then I’d say, ‘You know, Rene’s sort of a high-maintenance woman. How many air conditioners do you think you’re going to repair when there’s ice on the pond?”

“You’re not saying that either! This has already gone too far! I can tell, you’re going to embarrass Larry, Rene, and me. You have no shame! This could upset the relationship. No. You don’t want to do this. You really don’t. And I’m sure you’ll make the right decision!”

Scott sees the writing on the wall. If he pursues this, the dread of every of male of majority age in Bucksnorts is imminent: being nagged to death. He would become the protracted target of Sheila’s — even Rene’s — verbal repetitiveness.

“My compass just swung toward the stream. Maybe the trout are bitin’.”


Jack Reeves is a friend and an award-winning free-lance journalist.

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