Monday, 25 June 2007

Strange things about a small town

When I first moved to Paradysville seven years ago, everything about it was so new and bizarre that I felt too overwhelmed to write about it – it was a fulltime job just experiencing it. Recently, though, various big-city visitors have opened my eyes to the oddities about small-town life that I’ve now become so used to that I don’t notice them any more. Here are a few.

The gentleman farmer. This rotund retired attorney has never turned a sod in his life but always wanted to be a man of the soil. So he bought himself a shiny red tractor on which he pootles around town. Completing the picture is the unlit pipe permanently clamped between his teeth.

A good walk spoiled. A local 60-year-old suffered a stroke that paralysed his left side. Unwilling to be immobile, he got himself a golf cart, which he steers one-handed, and at alarming speeds, through the streets, causing dogs and children to leap for safety into roadside gulleys.

A bit on the side. A huge biker-dude has an equally huge Great Dane and the two are inseparable. They travel from place to place by bike, the dog in the sidecar.

The Smoking Woman. Remember the X-Files? We have the female version, a 55-year-old who is never, ever without a cigarette. She is an interesting shade of yellow.

Whistlin’ Dixie. There’s a gorgeous African Grey parrot that lives at the garage. It speaks fluent Afrikaans with a charming platteland accent. It can tell males from females, and lets out ear-splitting wolf whistles when a woman walks by.

The fattest dog in the world. This obese black Labrador couldn’t shift its arse quick enough to avoid being run over. With help, the driver managed to get it into his car and raced it off to the vet. There, the vet’s assistant came out to help him remove the dog from the back seat. But the driver, feeling his grip giving and worried about dropping the already injured dog, yelled to the assistant, ‘Put him down! Put him down!’ Just then the vet emerged, looking concerned. ‘Why?’ he asked. ‘Does he have rabies?’ (This is a true story.)

Bunny-chow. Practically everyone in town has dogs, cats and/or chickens, but one bright spark got himself a pair rabbits and let them free in his garden. The result: bunnies, bunnies everywhere. (Clearly, he’s never heard what happened in Australia.)

Cry-baby preeners. No, that isn’t the sound of a child wailing, it’s a peacock. Three of them strut about the streets. A visiting UK friend, clocking one wander by with its fabulous tail spread, said, ‘This would make front-page news in London.’

Avoiding pussy pile-ups. A woman who owns 17 (yes, seventeen) cats became concerned about their safety in the street. So she got municipality permission to put up a unique road sign outside her house: ‘Slow down! Cats crossing!’

Passing pantechnicons. With no traffic lights and only one stop-street to call our own, traffic in the village is generally light. But because we’re sited between two main cross-country thoroughfares, drivers of heavy-duty trucks sometimes take a short-cut through the town. It’s quite an experience to be sitting on your front verandah, enjoying a quiet GnT, and suddenly see a truck the size of a house trundle past.

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