02 July 2008

Do Not Ever Wonder Again How I Became as Weird as I Am

I grew up near enough the Adirondacks for this headline to be equal parts hilarity and horror. It's a beautiful country, but there are some weird ass people there. So, when a headline suggests that someone loves both the Adirondacks and murder, I think of some of my neighbors.

There were the ones who had a broken down school bus in their yard. For the North Country, that's not all that unusual. The school bus was a kind of barn for them, which is only slightly more unusual. They raised emus, which lived in the bus barn, which was entirely unusual. For a long time, I would explain that I couldn't imagine why they raised emus, but I stopped on the day they ceased raising emus and began selling homemade jerky.

There was also a family whose entire subsistence seemed to stem from a single piece of marketing, which was remarkable both for its concision and its frugality. It said, in simple black hand lettering and without punctuation, "DEER CUT UP."

Most disturbing was a family whose kids had rattails far too long after they had ceased to be fashionable (if indeed they ever were), whose babies played in the ditch by the road into which their sewage tank overflowed while chickens roamed as freely as the makeshift fence of disused bicycles and one inexplicable pristine 24 foot boat would allow.

They were the kind of people who epitomized what is completely wrong with the North Country. They weren't entirely inhospitable or unkind, but they were about as strange as the semantic range of the word allows. They were the kind of people who would want you to get over your tuberculosis, but only so you're considered fair game when they shoot you with a compound bow.

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