[dropcap]I[/dropcap] don’t care what people say about small towns. Yes, they may be small — and a little behind — but they’re the only places remaining where kids still ride bikes in the streets. Where teachers still refer to students by their older siblings’ names.
In small communities, things are greater than they seem. For instance, church is not just a Sunday thing. Church is bunco club, bridge club, Rotary Club, Kiwanis, AA meetings, Wednesday potlucks, banana pudding, and Vacation Bible School.
If you’re visiting from a bigger city, you won’t find seven-dollar espresso drinks anywhere in town. In fact, the only place to buy anything like that is the gas station up the road. And we’re sorry there aren’t any croissants to go with your piss-warm coffee. But a few miles back, you can try the new Walmart. That thing is like Disney World theme park — only with less teeth.
No matter which town you visit, you’ll find a cafe where men eat breakfast and talk about Cam Newton. Or about when Nick Saban converted bottled water into Cabernet Sauvignon.
You’ll also catch up on some bone-crushing gossip while you’re at the Piggly Wiggly. You might even hear some fresh dirt about yourself. But don’t worry, none of it’s true. Your critics got bored and started making things up. Folks can be cruel as the grave when they want to be. How do you think I got the nickname Critter? You don’t want to know, and neither did that poor possum.
But there’s something else you’ll find in theses places. Something you won’t find in the suburbs.
To understand what I’m talking about, try this: attend a local funeral. Do you see all those people lining up back to the curb? They’re all waiting to shake a young widow’s hand and say something like, “If there’s anything I can do, ma’am, just call.” And they mean it, dammit. They’ll prove it with nearly fifty thousand covered casseroles.
You’ll see that kind of thing a lot around here. Call it whatever you want.
We call it love.
And it gets harder to find the further away you go.