Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Parkas and Drifters and Bears, Oh My!

Speaking of obits... we think we may have seen the last of Parka.

No, he didn't up and die. I wouldn't even wish that, even as much as he annoys us. Last week he applied for and received a library card. When he was filling out his form, he mentioned that he was actually from California but was staying with his parents in town. Which leads me to ask: What is it with annoying dickweeds from California returning here to move in with their parents and hog up our computers for hours on end, anyway? First the Dufus and now this guy?

Well, mystery solved, at least for Parka. Last week the local paper ran an obituary on a man we're pretty sure is Parka's father. Our guess is that he was in town because his dad was not in good shape. I'm not even going to make the obvious joke about Parka whiling away his father's last dying hours by chatting with e-Skanks on his favorite on-line dating service page. I don't know his circumstances. Maybe that's just how he winds down from a day's worth of spending quality dying time with his dad. Frankly I don't even know if Parka's really gone or if this was even his father. But we still haven't seen him for several days, so we can always hope.

Also, our Drifter from three weeks back still hasn't drifted on. I think he may have even made a few friends in the area and may be staying with them. Certainly he's found a base of operations of some sort, as he no longer carries around his enormous backpack with the flag. One of his new friends has also given him permission to use her library card, which is cool with us. At the moment we're hardly policing such matters anyway. We still have a few precious weeks left in which we don't have to be card Nazis so we can afford to be a bit lenient. Besides, we let just about anybody use anybody's card provided there's a clear line of permission... for the moment.

I get good vibes from the Drifter, though. He's a black guy, about five years younger than me (which would make him 26), with short dreds and a kind of neo-bohemian/Johnny Cash air about him. He dresses in all black (that's the Johnny Cash part), with a wide-brimmed leather hat and various interesting trinkets hung on hemp cords around his neck. Last Thursday he also had a reed flute hung on a cord, sort of like an Elderberry flute, which he played out at our picnic bench for about an hour, much to the delight of passing kids and their parents. He wasn't too bad, either.

This whole area is chock full of granola-munching, Birkenstock-clad, neo bohemian/hippie types, with a goodly assortment of genuine former hippies and sundry 60's radical trust-fund babies sprinkled in for a good mix. Some have become back to the land homesteaders, (and if that's your bag, this is a fabulous area for that sort of thing), while others have settled in to open up boutiques, coffee shops, New Age crap stores, bookstores, art galleries, etc. Many are local artisans and have their work on display at Tamarack, in Beckley. Not that I'm complaining at all. I don't always share their politics, but most of them are really great human beings. I count several among my friends here and enjoy living in an area with such an eclectic mix of people. I'm just careful not to say nice things about the president around them.

(This reminds me of a joke I just heard... The Pope comes to Washington D.C. to spend a day with President Dubya. While he's in, they decide to go out on the Potomac aboard Yacht One. While they're out there, a gust of wind comes along and blows the Pope's hat out into the water. The secret service guys get all excited and they're about to jump in to go get it when Dubya says, "Wait, I'll do it." He steps off the boat and walks across the surface of the water, picks up the Pope's hat and walks back without so much as getting his shoes wet. Everyone stands and gawks in amazement at what they've just witnessed. The next day, of course, all the nations news headlines read: PRESIDENT CAN'T SWIM.)

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An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.