Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Weed of the Manicured Lawns

Stranger in a Strange Land – No. 16

uite by accident, we live in a quaint, upscale neighborhood here in Horseyland: curvy streets, old shade trees, tiny stone homes built in the 1930s, and two churches at the top of the hill.

We strolled through this temple of civility the other night and came upon four young children sitting in the street with what looked to be fireworks paraphernalia. I wasn’t sure because the sun was long gone and there were no streetlights on this particular block. All I could make out were what kids in my day called “snakes”—small black pellets which, when lit, magically grew into snakelike creatures, jolting to life and oozing and slithering along until the heat died, leaving a trail of black ash on the pavement. If that, indeed, was what these children had been lighting, they’d been through dozens of them already. Mounds of snake debris stretched across the circle the children had formed in the street.

Across from the pyrotechnists were a few adults talking with one another on the sidewalk, and beyond them in an open yard was a gleeful Golden Retriever—off-lead and playing nicely by him/herself in some imaginary world.

Just as we passed all this evening bliss, we smelled “it.” We looked at each other, grinned.

Weed. Unmistakably weed.

It’s not that we’re uppity about smoking the stuff. It’s just that even in our old Windy City gangbanger ’hood, people weren’t usually so brazen. Sure, the fragrance might waft out of someone’s living room window or from a hidden spot on the beach, but rarely from an upper-middle-class, nearly middle-aged clutch on the sidewalk.

Hmm. Our assumptions have been challenged. Shame on us for having any in the first place.

[Drop cap by Jessica Hische.]

This is part of an ongoing series regarding my transition from the Land of Lincoln to the Bluegrass State. For a list of previous articles in the series, just select Stranger in a Strange Land from the right of Lull, under “Choose a topic that interests you.”

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