Monday, July 4, 2011

American life in a nutshell.

I swear I am not making this up.  It happened about ten feet in front of my face, not two hours ago.

We were finishing up hot dogs sold by the volunteer FD when the announcement was made of a small route change for the parade.  As it happened that change put the very beginning of the parade route right past our faces.  Within minutes, dozens of additional people found their way to the same spot we were in, belonging to exactly two demographics:  young children with parents, and seniors.  It struck me that all the kids and parents seemed demonstrably friendly, courteous and aware, and the only ones "barging around" seemed to belong to the senior demographic.  (Yes, there were a couple of the seniors that conspicuously stayed well back and smiled a lot at us, but the rest of the "bargers" zoomed on in front of us as though never noticing we were there.)

Anyway, the parade was the usual small-town arrangement of characters, including the incessant parading of politicians and would-be politicians, sellin' their snake oil.  (I don't know just what to make of my casual observation that most of the crowd's engagement did seem to politely tune down, when the plasticene-grin-and-tightly-scripted-wave crowd trundled by.  In particular, again, the kids and parents just didn't seem to say much of anything, one way or the other.  Perhaps wishful thinking on my part, but it was notable enough to register.)

I do, however, know just exactly what to make of the episode that happened when the Borough ("county") parade vehicle came on by, with its printed repertoire of catchy catechisms in the "we luv to serve" vein of professional smarm. 

I swear, again, I am not making this up.

"Seniors!" shouted the leader of the bargers that had settled right in front of us.  The tone of his voice immediately indicated that he was speaking for the cadre around him.  "Whatcha got for us?"  The sense of entitlement hit me like a dog whistle.

The two occupants in the Borough vehicle, who had been throwing candy at the kids with big smiles, flashed looks of pure contempt, just for one instant, and showered the seniors with...peanuts.  Within another second, their smiles had returned and their next handfuls (of candy) were again in search of younger prey constituents.

I looked around.  Nobody seemed to have noticed, or made anything at all of it.  No one.

That's what completed the image.

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