Jun 08 2007

Free Parking

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Even in Monopoly there’s free parking. At least the way we used to play it.

And all the money from any fines or penalties went into the middle of the board. And if you landed on “Free Parking”, you got all the money in the middle. It was like winning the lottery. And it could completely turn the tables.

Last week when I was scanning the photos, I found one of Ritchie. I think Ritchie had just graduated from high school at The Haig when I met him at a family reunion. He was an army brat, never living anywhere more than a couple of years. I remember asking him about that.

I had grown up in the same place my parents, and their parents had grown up. Not that far from where their parents had grown up, in a genteel migration spanning hundreds of years and about 10 generations, from colonial Virginia.

He thought he was telling me a sad tale of being rootless and having no lasting attachments. I can only imagine how I must have looked. I remember thinking how smart and sophisticated he must be; having lived in so many places, and being educated at The Haig.

I didn’t like his younger brother Larry. We played Monopoly and Larry cheated. I had a fit and refused to play anymore (Larry essentially grabbed everyone’s money and buildings when he went bankrupt). I remember he said, “What difference does it make if I cheated, I win.” To which I replied, “Well, I won’t play with you any more. That’s what difference it makes. And neither will anyone else.”

I can’t remember if it was before or after that Ritchie took me to see “Billy Jack” at the drive in. I had never seen anything like it. Or imagined.

Which of course is why he did it. He was like a big brother. And he seemed to feel it was his familial duty to open my eyes a little to the world.

I think what astonished me most was that people in what I had believed was the liberal, wide-open, democratic West, could behave even more like the KKK than the local rednecks, against a race no one I knew would think of discriminating against.

When I went back to Alabama, after being convicted of two felonies for sales and possession for sale of less than an ounce of marijuana, after more than half the jury had been excused for taking exception to the law – that is, expressing an opinion that the penalty, or the law, was too harsh…or unconstitutional…anyway, when I went back to Alabama, Uncle Pat mentioned that Ritchie worked for the Justice Department. There was mention that Ritchie had a top-secret clearance, and mother said she had one of those, and mentioned the different levels (which I’ve forgotten, but that was the lowest). And Pat said he had one of those too.

And mother said, “THEY decide who they want. And that’s it. You don’t refuse.”

She also mentioned she had put together teams for them

Ritchie had been in the Out Back for several years. I have no idea why.

But I understand Ritchie probably worked for The Shop.

And that was a shock to me, the person that took me to see “Billy Jack”. Billy Jack was his hero. I’m told Ritchie drank a lot and died of a heart attack. I can’t help but wonder if it wasn’t a broken heart.

Last I heard, Larry was working as a lawyer in New Orleans; a corporate lawyer. And doing quite well.

This morning, I was standing outside LuLu’s, after getting coffee and setting up my laptop. I hadn’t had my medicine yet and wanted to accomplish something. I was planing on finishing the “Howard” section of Ancestral Colonial Families. I’ve just added the entire Randolph Family Tree, of Robert Isham Randolph. And half of Ancestral Colonial Families: Gaither, Duvall, Hyatt, and Warfield. And it looks like the first half, Welsh, are an allied family and cousins. The author, Luther W. Welsh, is my 4th cousin 5 times removed.

So that is what I planned on doing.

And having a cigarette and a bowl while my lap-top took it’s 10+ minutes to boot up.

I hadn’t finished a bowl when a person wearing a t-shirt that said, “Smoking is beyond rude.” suggested I go across the street. He escalated to calling the police. I think I said something like, “If you don’t like being around people you shouldn’t be in public. You have a room. Why don’t you go sit in it?”

He told the police I was verbally abusive.

As I smoked another bowl to calm myself – it took three to stop my hands from shaking – BuffaloInTheMidst walked up and said, “Good morning”. And stopped to chat when I told him it wasn’t.

He said something about 40 feet. Well, I left my tape-measure at home. I asked him if he’d ever sat down with a map and tried to plot the zones in this town. You need a slide-rule to figure it out. And I’ve got better things to do with my life.

At least in the South we tried “Separate But Equal”.

I think we need “Free Zones”. But not just Free Zones, because if that was the only alternative it would be so unpleasant with everyone doing everything there they couldn’t do anywhere else that no one would want to be there.

We also need “Smoking Zones”, at least proportionate to the population of smokers in the area. These zones would have ash-trays conveniently placed, and environments where you can do something besides smoke when you smoke. You know, like sit at your laptop with a cup of coffee and smoke.

Even Monopoly had Free Parking.


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