Small-Town Ledger


His periwinkle eyes were my first clue. Standing there alone, clutching a five dollar bill, he looked confused about where the line ended. I motioned for him to cut in front of me.

He moved up to the counter. “Can I have my mom’s drink, please?”

The cashier seemed confused. “What, honey?”

“My mom’s drink.”

The barista looked up and said to the cashier, “Oh that’s Kelly’s son.”

“Oh right, Kelly’s son.” And she began to ring up the order while the barista called out, “Venti, no-fat, extra-shot with sugar-free vanilla.”

I smiled. Of course that was Kelly’s son. Of course they knew her order. It was a moment of Mayberry. Woman sends her small son to Starbucks all alone with no worries because we all know each other’s children. We all look out for them. I add this to my plus column.

In the negative column sits the pain of a family down the street from me. A family facing divorce. People started whispering “marital problems” last summer. Everyone knows about it except possibly their own kids. For a year, people have been speculating: Has is happened yet? Who wanted out? Why did it go bad?

That’s the thing about living here. We all know each other’s business, each other’s drink order, what we all paid for our houses. Diagnosed with breast cancer? Everyone rallies, cooks and drives your children to school (plus). Your teen daughter experiments with alcohol? Everyone talks, keeps their distance, diverts babysitting jobs from her (minus).

Some days I’m awed by the pretty scenery, other days I’m creeped-out by the lack of privacy. Is it normal that after eight years I still find myself tallying the pluses and minuses? Maybe that’s just life…or mid-life…or whatever.

Right now, I guess it’s just where I live.

2 thoughts on “Small-Town Ledger

  1. I am constantly reviewing the pros and cons of where I live. Maybe more so lately because my husband seems hellbent on making an escape from southern California. He’s been applying to jobs in Washington (state) and, God help me, South Dakota. (South Dakota!!?) And, even though I realize that the chances of us actually moving are slim, I can’t help but think that eventually some opportunity is going to present itself and what will I do if I haven’t decided whether I want to stay or not? Right now, when he asks, I very eloquently respond with, “Uhhhh…. well… um… I’m… not sure… uh….”

    Keep working on that eloquence because you CANNOT move to South Dakota.

  2. Wait, the kid just went into Sbux w/out specifically knowing what he was supposed to order? It’s nice that the barristas know and everything, but this to me, reflects a total lack of preparedness for the real world. It makes no sense. It actually confuses me. Shouldn’t he have asked his mom what drink she wanted? Shouldn’t she have told him? Just in case?? Is it proper for the mom to rely on the barrista’s knowledge? What if it was a new barrista and she didn’t know who the heck his mom was?

    I realize the anecdote was supposed to be a plus, but it kind of scares me! … but then again I’m in Oak-town, so… yeah.

    Yes well, I never claimed anything/one in JCrewville actually makes sense — just that it’s purty.

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