Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I'm Blaming Mom

It's an important component of our human credential, the wanting of what we do not have (as opposed to what we cannot have, an entirely different jar of jam). When we pursue a course of action based on a distant (historical) decision, when the result isn't what we either desired or forecast, we sometimes reinvent our past and pretend that something we said we wanted to do really wasn't what we said and certainly NOT what we meant.

Small town politics being what it is, about half the folks in any hamlet at any time (I wonder if there's one named Ophelia? Shakespearean stand up!) are unhappy about the people they've chosen to be in charge. It makes no difference when it comes to the size of the settlement; folks in Bugtussle, Oklahoma, have the same sad hearts and red behinds as those who live in New York City.

Reinventing the past can be exhausting even for folks like us who do it all the time. Don't try this at home, we are professionals. Seriously. Watch closely and learn, Grasshopper: if my Mom had married a Kennedy, I'd be living in the White House. But she didn't; so I'm not. And that's why I don't like Mom very much, she ruined my life. Nice, eh? Notice how nothing is my fault? Yep, I'm a victim. Play your cards right and you can be one, too.

Earlier last week, Monday night to be exact, our City Council voted five members to two, to demolish two school buildings our Board of Education gave (back) to the city because there weren't enough resources to maintain them AND educate the thousands of children in the public education system.

The buildings, Buckingham and Greeneville (named for two famous underwater mimes who drowned in the Shetucket River entertaining lobster fishermen during the Nor'easter of Aught Eight) are nearly as old as I am, so I'm uneasy when people immediately start in with 'let's tear 'em down cos they're old.' Cool your jets, P. F. Sloan.

The comments on the newspaper story to which I linked, are nearly as eye-opening as the quotes in the story itself. I know a lot of the people behind the screen names (Norwich isn't all that big). NONE of those sniping attended any of the meetings in the last six to ten months about the fate of these two buildings. But that's okay-their minds are made up, don't confuse 'em with facts.

And here's a fact: the last City Council fought like crazy with one another and never made a decision on anything. We dumped those folks onto the street and replaced them with people who do get along (when they show up) accept responsibility and do make decisions. We hate them, just as much as the last gaggle. I'm thinking we'd bitch if you hanged us with a new rope.

I remember how no one cared when the Board of Education closed Buckingham School (where our two children had gone) and turned it into Adult Education (I have a movie in my head of grown men at urinals in a school designed for second graders; I would never wear sandals when visiting).

At Greeneville, with a seven figure rehabilitation bill staring them in the face, well-meaning people crafted a crusade for a charter school sure to cure our ills (where is Edith Sitwell these days, anyway?). The Lottery claims all we need is a dream and a dollar. Well, they had half of what they needed, for a lottery ticket.

And while none of us at the actual City Council meeting, in the audience or at the front of the room, had the kind of money needed to affect repairs and renovations (or to even start on them), quite a number insisted we should wait a while longer on the demolition in the hope a developer would show up with a plan and the cash to make it real (and, what the hell, a pony to give people rides on their birthday). Hope is not a plan and money doesn't talk, it swears.

A year from now, some of us will work very hard to remember Monday night very differently. And we'll be unhappily surprised to realize, yet again, we can't change the past. I can only hope we finally start to learn from it.
-bill kenny

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