An acquaintance of The Observer's sent us an e-mail that we are forwarding along. It was titled “If You See Barry, Please Help.”
“Barry is a homeless African-American man that I've had the pleasure of talking with a few times in the West LR area. He is confined to a wheelchair as he lost one of his legs in a trucking accident in 1995. Although he is often asked to leave when he stays for very long near certain businesses, he is patient, kind, and understanding. For a minute or two, please stop and consider what your life would be like if you were homeless, had only one leg and had only a wheelchair to get around in. And also consider that in that state, you would be ignored by most people. How quickly you would begin to despair. Think of the courage and energy it takes to live like that day after day. Imagine how you would slowly come to feel more and more invisible to those hurrying past you. Realize how much it would mean to you for someone to stop and talk to you, buy you a meal, or offer you money or other support. If you see Barry, please help.”
The Observer has one question: How in hell do you get the shroud hole covers installed on your electric lawnmower?
We spent approximately an hour in the hot sun struggling to fit the plastic pieces into the holes in the back of the lawnmower that the handles fit into. Shroud hole covers — who ever heard of a shroud hole, anyway? It sounds like an epithet, and boy were we using them trying to figure out how to cover them. The arrows on the covers should face each other, the instructions said. Well guess what, shroud hole, the arrows face different directions depending on which way you are holding the covers and neither way resembles the picture on the instructions.
All of which is a lead-in to bringing up what happened on our trip to Sears to buy the mower and appropriate power cord. Sears opens at 8 a.m. on Saturdays, and since no one knows that, the parking lot is empty. We decided it was a great place to teach the kid to drive a stick shift and we mentioned that to the salesman indoors. He reminisced. He started driving at 12, of course, and we remembered the days when folks turned their 12-year-olds loose on gravel roads in the country. In a truck, mostly, sometimes because their help was needed on the farm, sometimes because that's just what you did. He had to use a starter, he said, so he had to put one foot on the clutch and the other on both the gas and the starter next to it, which meant he had to slump way down in the seat to get the vehicle started.
Which reminded us of the knob on our family car of yore. You had to pull it out to get the car going. The folks in the office tell me it was the choke.
The teen-ager wasn't interested in any of it. She says it's a manual transmission and she says the hell with it.
We love newspapers, and one section that always gives us some chuckles and yuk-yuks is the classifieds. The whole sprawling history of America and her peoples can be found in the teeny, tiny print – along with some soap opera-grade drama. A glance at a recent issue of the Democrat-Gazette classified section, for example, finds mystery (“Whoever took The Documents and Items from the Bailey home will be Prosecuted”), hope (“Angela Marie Box, Born October 13, 1979 in LR, Ark., looking for her biological mother”), questionable theology (“The 7th day is the Sabbath … the Beast means to change it”), and sweeping romance (“WWF, ISO Mud Fence Ugly SWM, 55-65, Carpenter type for LTR”). All that, and cut-rate firearms for sale? Is there really any reason to look at the other sections of the paper?
And no, we did not make that last one up. Somewhere out there, a widowed white female is seeking a mud-fence ugly man, 55-65, who looks kinda like a carpenter.
Sorry babe, The Observer is already spoken for (do you think “carpenter type” has anything to do with “plumber's butt”? We've got plenty of that), but we might be able to send you snapshots of some possibles.