Wednesday, August 22, 2012

One-Man Crowd Control

He’s named Thomas the Turtle and I discovered him in my backyard polishing off a discarded strawberry. He appeared one day behind the lemon balm and “liked to startle the be-jeezus out of me,” as my Grandma Reed would say.

Thomas, by Janet Planet

Glaring at me with a combination of disgust and amusement, we run across each other on occasion. He, with his crusty eyes and bad attitude; me, with my skittish nerves and garden tools - two such different beasts sharing the same stomping grounds making our way on an ever-shrinking planet.

Truth is, he reminds me of Bill Hill, an ornery friend from my hometown Detroit whose lessons in survival were never sugar-coated musings. Rather, truthful and annoyingly spot-on.  

I like those kinda guys today.  I’m married to one now. 
They are not for the squeamish. 
But it wasn’t always that way. I used to be more gullible. Denser. Frightened stiff and stupid. You might not have known that about me if we were sharing the same seat on a bus. But smoke and mirrors can hold off a truckload of delusion.

Bill was one of those tribe elders who helped me see the light. When he entered a room, in One-Man Crowd Control fashion, people were relieved to see him because they needed his stubborn strength or they were horrified that he showed up. It was hard to be neutral about him. That's what made his lessons stick.

“Too damn bad,” was a common response to my impatient whinings, back in the day.

That’s what I imagine Thomas uttering when I gripe about bug infestations or stubborn weeds or things that don’t grow. 
“So? What the hell you gonna do about it?!” 

I don’t know what happened to Bill. I can’t track him down. As of late, the same goes for my Eastern Box Turtle friend. But their hard-scrabbled lessons of survival continue to shore me up in wildly uncertain moments. 

“Deal with it!”

So, I do.

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