I have heard friends of mine who grew up in small towns (but which are only an hour drive or so away from small cities) complain about their places of origin and how unexciting they were to live in. I usually counter their Adolescent Boredom adventure stories of stealing shopping carts and riding them down steep hills, by replying that, growing up in Manhattan, there were always interesting things to do, but most of them were expensive and some were incredibly expensive. My cheap friends and I did our best to find fun things to do for little money, but most of them involved the management politely asking for us to leave. Still, I loved living in a large city, even one that charges $9.50 to see a movie, regardless of who is in it (no ticket agent has ever been moved by my suggestion for a “Keanu Reeves Discount Policy”, no matter how I pitch it).
However, recent terrorist attacks and even recent mail scares around the country have led me to believe that this is the time for everyone who adds, “I’m sure you’ve never heard of it,” in a vaguely hopeful way when saying where they’re from, to dance up and down their little-known streets. A couple of blocks away from the Metropolitan Museum, a few subway stops from Carnegie Hall, and a hop skip and a jump away from Grand Central Station, I used to revel in my apartment’s close proximity to so many points of interest in New York City. Lately, though, I’ve been wishing my family could relocate somewhere peaceful and quiet for a while. Somewhere where only one or two places are Open 24 Hours, and neither of them have neon signs that flash ‘Girls! Girls! Girls!’
The past few anthrax incidents have also been a call for us to put things in perspective. Suddenly, living and dying in obscurity is no longer a fear which haunts my days and nights and drives me into a frenzied orgy of self-destructive behavior in pursuit of artistic recognition. At the moment, I enjoy living in obscurity. People only send me bills here. Although perhaps being really famous is not the problem; it’s the middle-ground of fame, the rising but not yet well-known celebrity rank that one really has to worry about, because at that point one still opens one’s own mail. What I find surprising is the number of people who are convinced that they are in danger of terrorist mail even though they aren’t on the staff of The New York Times and don’t bring us the Nightly News. Our country’s love of, and subsequently, frequent usage of white, powdery condiments has, surprisingly, backfired. But we must not live in fear, especially if we live in Idaho. Anthrax doesn’t come cheap, after all.
I was listening to National Public Radio last week, and a news brief came on that mentioned Vermont. I have friends there and listened with a mixture of concern and incredulity. As it turned out, the news story itself was about how the governor of Vermont was making announcements assuring Vermont residents that every possible precaution was being taken to protect them from terrorism, including extra security at the nuclear power plant. Now, I’m not saying that Vermont isn’t a viable target for terrorism. However, I can’t imagine this exchange:
“Never mind the Empire State building. We have to show them we mean business.”
“But, you can’t mean. . .?”
“I do. It’s time we went after the nuclear power plant in. . .Vermont.”
“Gasp.”
Perhaps Vermont’s fear is justified. Maybe enemies overseas are angry that they haven’t yet been commemorated by a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavor. But I’ll say right now that I would consider purchasing “Taliban Nut Crunch” or “Osama bin Lemon” only if they were the last flavors left in my grocer’s freezer.

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