October 31, 2016

The philosopher Aristotle, in “The Poetics,” wrote, “Is it better to be an old man who is embraced, or a younger man whom women avoid?”

Farmer Orville, not to be confused with Aristotle, weighed in on this important question as we sat at the kitchen table with Quilt Queen and drank coffee and ate Pecan Sandies. (Homemade cookies don’t start until after Thanksgiving.)

“Monica dropped by this morning and gave me my hug, and told me to keep an eye out for her place.”

“Monica hugs you?” I exclaimed.

Monica is our new neighbor. She may be fifty. She also visited me this morning, but I didn’t get a hug.

“That’s because you are dangerous,” Quilt Queen told me. “You’re in that fifty-something danger zone men are known for.”

“I am sixty-eight,” I said.

“I always think of you as being younger than me. All the women who pick berries and tomatoes hug Orville, the old horn dog, because he is fangless. Right, old man?”

Orville chuckled so hard he spilled coffee on his fingers. He drinks his coffee from a Hardees paper cup, one of about twenty he keeps stacked by the coffee maker. He does not care for coffee mugs. He does like hugging women and Donald Trump’s politics.

Quilt Queen has proclaimed a Hillary-free zone; we may not talk about that awful dragon lady. Which is fine by me; I voted early in case I might upchuck at last minute revelations.

The couple love tag teaming on me, one of the few liberals in Midwest Babbitland, and it is all in good fun. It is good they have me in their lives, to keep them on the facts. It is good I have them in my life; they are the epitome of good neighbors.

I stood up to go, opened my arms, and said to Orville, “Hugs.”

“Oh no,” Orville said, making a cross with his arms like I was Dracula.

“But you hug Monica. I’m a hugger.”

“If you don’t know the difference between you and her,” my friend said, “you are beyond hope.”

And I am beyond hope, it’s true. I lay awake this morning at four am thinking that very thought. I was born with an artist’s brain, which has produced some weighty words. But this talent doesn’t organically translate to being a good person.

I walked up the hill which separates my house from Monica’s digs. My sassafras tree was all aflame in bursting burnt red – it glowed. And I walked to it and gave it a hug.

Take that, Monica.

About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
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