The Observer was motorvatin' through North Little Rock the other day with particularly weighty reporter issues whirling in our noggin when we spied a city worker with a leaf-blower, using the contraption to swirl leaves off a sidewalk. It says something about where our head was that day that our literal first thought on seeing him was: "I could do that job."
The Observer once worked a blue collar job, free of responsibility for anything other than doing as we were told, keeping our head down, not whacking our thumb with a hammer, and performing to the best of our ability. Sometimes, in the spring, we miss it. There is a scene in the great film "American Beauty" where Kevin Spacey's middle-aged and professionally successful character fills out an application for a fast food joint, specifically requesting the most least-in-charge position available, and this time of year that sentiment always calls to Yours Truly. The drive to excel, if we could ever be accused of having that, momentarily flees our body around the time the dogwoods bloom, and doesn't return until the sweaty fist of deep summer clenches tight. We suspect it's that way for a lot of folks.
If only we could be a leaf blower, The Observer thought as we motorvated by, our life would be so simple. We'd create a flow chart and pin it to the sun visor of our car, to stare at every afternoon after doffing our orange safety vest and hat and blower. "Did you blow the leaves?" the flowchart would say. "Yes? Good job! No? Well, better luck tomorrow! But don't beat yourself up about it, because here's the secret of life, my friend: there will always be more leaves tomorrow, and there's no sense giving yourself a gatdamn heart attack." The Observer would do our best, but not so good as to be promoted.
In the afternoons, The Observer would go home sweaty, vibrated numb from the rattling engine and smelling of grass, gasoline and two-cycle oil. Spouse would say: "What did you do today?" and The Observer would say: "I pushed the leaves. They rolled on invisible breath. Through my earplugs, the whine of the blower was the purr of hidden bees inside a wall. I wanted for nothing except water, and to be here inside this house, with you."
Hurry along, Springtime. We love you, girl. But if you stay much longer, we'll be over in North Little Rock signing up for menial labor.
Speaking of being in the wrong line of work, we read online the other day that Charlaine Harris, the Arkansas-born novelist who wrote a whole bunch of vampire books and made herself a gazillionaire, has decided to end her Sookie Stackhouse series after a thirteenth novel. Actually, what caught our eye was the news that since Harris made that announcement, fans have sent her death threats. According to the Wall Street Journal, one reader even threatened to kill herself "if Sookie doesn't wind up with Eric."
In full disclosure, The Observer is not a fan of Harris' books. We tried a few years back with the first one — really tried — and we have friends who think the sun rises and sets on "True Blood," HBO's redneck-vampire series based on the Sookie Stackhouse books. But Harris' novels were just too ... something ... for our liking.
No matter. The Observer finds that taste in novels is like taste in pie: you're just never going to reach a consensus on coconut over chocolate, and who wants to make a jackass out of themselves while arguing over a pie? Given how few people can count themselves as readers these days, The Observer gives you our blessing to tell any booksnob who'd ridicule you for what you read to go urinate up a rope. You're doing a good thing, even if you read crap.
All that said, it occurs to Your Favorite Book Club Philosopher that it takes a certain amount of writerly mojo to make people threaten your life for bringing a series to an end, which makes us want to give ol' Sookie another shot. Until then, The Observer, who has never felt homicidal after a novel but who has grieved a bit over the turn of that last page, can sympathize with both Harris and those readers who have clearly invested a bit too much in her imagination.