September 28, 2016

Suddenly everybody is cold. It was 58 degrees this morning, with a hefty breeze blowing from the north. Simile of the day: The cleanness of the air jerked off my polluted lungs, like a deep tissue massage. And let’s get in that metaphor: The leaves on the trees danced the Pax de Deux from “Swan Lake.”

Don’t forget reality: ‘Winter’ is the last word of an autumn sentence.

I walked into the Melville Dairy for my morning Joe (still 8 dimes) and “Mornin’, Gene,” from Debbie who works the counter, and my newspaper.

A fifty-something guy walked in and selected a cinnamon roll as large as a Frisbee and a bottle of vitamin water. His hair was quaffed, his eyeglasses were stylish, his moccasins were Daniel Boone.

Brace yourselves, younger and more sensitive readers: The guy was wearing a puffy vest, which doubled his slender, caramelized-kale eating frame. What the hell, had he had an Ichabod Crane moment, awaking from a long sleep and assuming it was winter? You knew he wasn’t from around here – he lived here, but there’s a difference.

The cornfields are filling with ugly faux mansions with fake “Gone With the Wind” columns in the front, and J. Crew-clad St. Louis folk in Range Rovers taking over the little towns of Southwest Illinois. “Faux-fake-fie-fum,” I smelled the blood of Yuppiedom.

People don’t wear puffy coats around here – ever. They wear Bermuda shorts in deep snow and pull up the collars on their sleeveless denim shirts, only donning an unzipped camouflage coat when the temperature drops below 10 degrees (not counting my pals Farmer Orville and Sheila S. who are always cold; Orville’s idea of air conditioning is 85 degrees).

The yuppie customer was lucky that none of the morning pint-whiskey-river rats were around. A whiskey-fied river rat might have punctured that puffy vest puff by puff. Talk about getting fleeced.

There is good puffy and bad puffy. Scout the Cat, when scared or stalking and de-legging crickets, puffs out like a fiend from hell on steroids, surely a horror movie for the hapless insect caught beneath massive paws and sharp claws and rancid cat breath. Donald Trump is oh-so-puffy: jowly, baggy, belly-bumped, bald with a fur net that may or may not be ass hair. Even his voice is puffy. His nose puffs like a “things go better with coke” inhale. Or maybe it’s snuff.

Good puffy: My friend Quilt Queen’s homemade chocolate chip cookies.

Bad puffy: Michele Bachman’s dead squirrel eyes.

Good puffy (sort of): Meatloaf singing “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.”

Bad Puffy: The “artist” known as P-Diddy, or Puff Daddy, or Diddly or Puffy, or Poofie-D, or however he’s known now.

Really good puffy: Comedian Louie Anderson who plays a mother on “Baskets.”

Really bad puffy: That guy from “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”

So yes, ‘winter’ is the last word of an autumn sentence, puff-puff-puffin’ on Genehouse’s door. But ‘spring’ is the first word of a mattress commercial. Buy a comfy mattress and pull up the covers, friends.

But don’t lose your dignity in a yuppie-puffy winter coat, even as you hike to Canada to escape President Trump.

About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: eugenebaldwin.com. 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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