20 January 2020

[Ellis Millsaps] - Let It Bleed: The View From My Porch

*updated 1/20/20

As those of you who read my drivel have likely surmised, I spend a lot of time on my front porch. I sit out there smoking cigars. I entertain guests there, Porterdalians like my friend Dave and my friend Laura, but also out-of-towners: Marshall, Butch Bozeman, Mormon missionaries on bicycles and Jehovah's Witnesses with tracts. I talk with my duplex neighbor Donna who also sits on our joint porch and smokes.

The Streets of Porterdale

 I talk to people who walk by, not just Bruce and Bob and dead musicians, but local pedestrians. It's rare to sit out there for ten minutes without someone walking by ten feet away from where I sit.. Often they push baby carriages, increasingly likely to have zipped up enclosures. When this happens I'm likely to ask “Do you really have a baby in there?” Then I go out and talk to the baby or about the child if it's sleeping. I like babies and they me. I’ve had. crying babies leave their mother's arms to come to me. 

 Recently a gay midget walked by pushing such a carriage and I posed my question, but no, he had no baby. Inside the enclosure were a chihuahua and a cat. And when I say he's a midget-- I realize this term is no longer politically correct, but really, would you rather be called a “little person” than a midget? The former sounds as if you’re simply small while the latter sounds as if you may be the member of a proud clan like the dwarves of Middle Earth-- I don’t mean he’s affected by dwarfism; he has a normal body shape, but at 5’7” I tower over him by at least a foot.

 And when I say he's gay, I mean he's queer as a two dollar bill. He speaks with an effeminate foreign-sounding accent. Think Peter Lorre.. After we talk about the animals in their unlikely cage I ask him, because he interests me and I'm curious, if he's hispanic. He says that he isn't, and then out of nowhere proclaims that he is white.

 Clearly a touchy subject with him, I don't touch it again and I'm not about to inquire about his accent. As a matter of fact I inquire about very little because he speaks in a continuous stream with rare breaks for dialogue.

 The next time I see him he is riding an electric scooter, and when I say scooter I don't mean a small motorcycle, I mean one of those children's vehicles on which one stands, pushes with one foot and coasts, except that his is electric and requires no physical exertion. Despite the fact that he's going five miles per hour and the payment is only four feet away he wears a helmet. He stops to talk. What I learned of him I can't now recall on which occasion it came from because it's like one continuous spiel.

 He's plainly quite intelligent and knowledgeable on a host of subjects. I learned that he has a master's degree in something from Georgia State and that he's looking to get a PhD. He works, as best I could understand because interposing an inquiry is so difficult, conducting seminars for employers and human resources personnel on how to deal with their employees. He was born in Atlanta and so was his mother. ( True to stereotype, he never mentions a father.) He recently bought a house in Porterdale because prices are so low but considers it a hell hole where there is nothing to do.

 He has inquired about the PhD program at Oxford College and discovered it is not very good. When I manage to interject that his information may not be correct, that both my children attended Oxford, that my wife worked there for twenty years, and I'm fairly confident it doesn't offer a BA much less a PhD, he continues to maintain he is correct because he has read it on the internet.

 Although he's scooters by every few days, I've since managed to avoid him. Mostly I can't abide people who don't stop talking..

 I realize this story, as Grandpa Simpson says, is not so much interesting as it is long, but it has stuck with me and I tell it here to get it out of my system. I apologize for my infliction of it on you, but I hope I am exorcised. 

 I had intended to talk about politics in this piece but events for both good and Ill are unfolding as I write on January 14, 2020 so fast that anything I may say may be outpaced by events before this piece runs in the Chronicles. Suffice it to say that I am deeply concerned about the future of our republic. I worry that a booming stock market and high consumer confidence could result in the re-election of Donald Trump. and I hear you saying “ Da, do you want a recession so your side will win the election?” and to this I answer that you are largely right. I  don’t want to see one but would rather face an economic downturn than see our experiment in democracy destroyed.