by Dale Wisely
I struggle sometimes for topics to write The Note about. You may have noticed.
Howie Good suggested that I write about my idea that facebook incorporate a new feature, a little button under each post, sort of like the "like" button, called the "Thought this was The Onion" button. You know, for all those posts that you think are Onion posts until you realize they're not satire. Like, the one that reported on a poll that says 1 out of 4 Americans think the sun revolves around the Earth. Or the story that tells us that a government study documented the decline in readership of poetry. Yep. It's the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA) which is done by the Census Bureau.
Other ideas abound but didn't quite grab me. So, I thought I'd write about the story The Note tells about her friend who was in The Note's wedding party. The friend who had no sense of direction.
The Note got married in 1979. The Note's husband, now long her ex, wore a powder blue polyester tuxedo, the exact tux that now appears on television, movies, and commercials when they want to feature a ridiculous and completely out-of-fashion tuxedo. He had purchased it, instead of rented it, which added to the pain. But he did wear it a second time. In 1983, she found him wearing the jacket and the ruffled shirt, but not the pants, dancing through some clumsy disco moves, when she walked in on him in their bedroom in the company of a young woman he had met in a local veterinary clinic.
But back to the story. The Note's best friend, and therefore a prominent member of the wedding party, suffered from an utter lack of sense of direction. The Note had noticed that, for example, if her friend described driving from Arkansas to Iowa, as she once did, she referred to the trip as "driving down there." We're considering here not just a lack of directional sense, but a lack of awareness that human beings and vehicles move around in something called space that can be represented with maps and coordinates.
In order for this friend to get to The Note's wedding from her home, she had only to drive one block to get on the Interstate, travel 45 miles east, and get off the Interstate, from which the hotel where the wedding party was staying was clearly visible. The Note knew her friend would manage to get lost.
To her surprise, her friend arrived on time and unflustered. Later, The Note got in the friend's car and found there, on the front seat, a map of the United States.
In the days before GPS and cell phones, one could call AAA and order a "trip map." The AAA would mail out a map of the USA, highlighting in bright colors a recommended route. You know, go this way for 75 miles, then take this road that circles Louisville, then go east for 23 miles and take the exit to Bob Barker Blvd, and then go...you know. All laid out in a set of connected yellow highlights of roads.
Her friend had ordered such a map. A map for this trip, which consisted of driving a short distance to an Interstate ramp, going 45 miles in one direction, and getting off the Interstate.
The map was unfolded on the front seat of the car to make visible Maine, the State of Washington, Key West, and Baja California. In the middle of the map was a very small mark. A yellow highlighting of that 45-mile stretch of Interstate. A straight line, perhaps 1/2 an inch long.
This had helped The Note's friend navigate her way successfully, and had undoubtedly given the boys at AAA a good laugh.
Here's to maps that show you where to go and how to get there simply. Here's to paths in life devoid of complex choices. Here's to leaving one place and getting to another. Here's to major life decisions that are wound up in tight packages, aided by baby blue polyester and girls named Jeanine from the vet's office.
Laura M. Kaminski, F. John Sharp, F. J. Bergmann and I hope you enjoy issue 86. Thanks to all who contributed and those who submitted. It's a dandy.