|Blogs > HardlyBreathing > Curbside Check-In|
Originally aired August 10, 2005
Welcome to Simple! read the sign. I’d lived here for much of my life, not very much aware of the rest of the world.
“Look who’s back,” called one of my former neighbors, rushing out to my car, “Always thought you’d return.” I mumbled some pleasantry, then drove on down the street.
It really is a beautiful place. The trees grow up tall and block out the heat of the day, and you can hear crickets and bullfrogs deep into the night.
I pulled up in front of our old place. Funny, but I remember it being so much nicer than it looks now. I don’t think that’s just a function of time; I think I’ve had a perspective change since I discovered I didn’t really belong here.
None other than the mayor came up the street. Nice woman. I’ve always liked her. She represents Simple well. She is almost synonymous with Simple in my mind.
“Look who the cat dragged in!” I waved and smiled, though I knew the smile on her face would be short-lived. “So how’s our girl doing?” She was referring to my wife, the former Homecoming Queen here. Many were surprised when we moved out of town.
“She’s good,” I lied. This would be tense enough without bringing up all the gory details.
“She’s good people, just the kind we like here in Simple,” said the mayor. She seemed to take a little closer look at me, then asked, “So why are you here?”
I was honest ‒ “I miss it here now and then.”
“But not enough to move back?”
“Don’t know that I could. Life just isn’t what it was here ‒ I think the neighborhood association wouldn’t be too pleased.”
She stepped closer, and asked, almost conspiratorially, “Has life become…complicated?”
I waited for a moment to answer. The last person I knew who admitted to a complicated life had been chased out of town by the good citizens. They liked life here in Simple. People with complicated lives didn’t fit in, and it upset them tremendously.
I looked the mayor in the eyes and said, “Do you really understand what that means?”
“Complicated? Sure. It means not Simple. It means dirty, ugly, and frustrating. It is the antithesis of what this town represents.”
We’d had this discussion before, just as my wife and I moved out of town. I still remember how the mayor had offered all sorts of advice on every issue that faced us. I still really wanted to flip her off and walk away…but you just don’t do that kind of thing to a Simpleton. So I decided to just tell her what was happening. “We’re not getting along too well.”
“Then you should divorce.” That’s why she’s the mayor.
“But we have two kids now; I’ve done the math, and the kids would be at poverty level if we split.”
“Does she work now?”
“24/7 with the kids, but nobody pays for that except me.” The former Homecoming Queen of Simple never learned how to hold down an outside job; it was all too much for her.
I could see the mayor was becoming agitated. “Well then just work through it.”
“We’ve done the counseling, the therapy, the all-night talks…she doesn’t seem to be able to move forward.”
At this the mayor just shook her head and walked away in a rage. “You never fit in well around here anyway. You’re better off where you live now.” I’m not sure she meant that the way it came out ‒ we’ve been living in the town of Hell for the last two years.
I watched her disappear around the corner, still muttering and shaking her head. Then I took a last look at the house where two very simple, very happy people once lived. Then I shut the door and drove away.