Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Safe, clean affordable Splendaville, where one steady salary can buy a 1972 Raised Ranch home with contractor-grade beige carpet, freshly-painted white walls, and a dank basement straight out of "Silence of the Lambs", surrounded by a quarter acre of your very own crabgrass, straggly azaleas and scruffy crepe myrtles, adjacent to neighbors with re-purposed yard art, jalopies half-engulfed by weeds in the side yard, and dogs that are free to roam right over to your newly-planted periwinkle patch.

Safe, clean, wholesome Splendaville, where telling someone what church you go in the same breath that you use to introduce yourself is considered normal, and not Just Cause for hiding your children behind you while making a mental note to have that refresher talk about creepy strangers. Where, in fact, if you don't respond in kind with an approved church -- like some sort of secret Masonic handshake -- that smiling Christian will frost over faster than green grass goes through a goose, and hide his or her own wee vessels of The Lord behind them before hastily departing to report you to the nearest Baptist church, which will begin sending you pamphlets about Knowing Jesus in a Personal Way and put you on their Neighbor Evangelization List for monthly doorstop proclamations of the gospel and invites to the Friday Night Petting Zoo. At least, that seems to be how it works.

Safe, clean, trusting Splendaville, where neighbors will send children you've only just met running to your yard the minute you set foot out the door at 9:30am on a Tuesday morning and stagger, bleary and braless, to gather the newspaper from the driveway. Where, in fact, you will likely be entrusted with these tiny treasures' well-being for hours at a time, given implicit authority to administer Kool Aid, popsicles, and Doritos as needed until your cupboards run dry or an unmentioned allergy triggers anaphylactic shock. Free, apparently, to assume that their parents don't mind if you teach them how to juggle knives, or let them walk into the living room when that scene is playing from "Little Children" where Kate Winslet and the guy are banging away on a washing machine.

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