The Other I

March 12, 2010

Village life

Filed under: Uncategorized — theotheri @ 9:49 pm

One of the lovely treasures in our small village just south of Cambridge is our village list serve.  It’s run by a single person who, on request, forwards messages about just about everything – lost chickens, mysterious vandalism, quiz night at the pub, the latest play being put together in the village hall.

Today a message came out asking if anyone could identify a black cat lurking in a villager’s back yard.  It was quite skinny and hungry enough to consume a quail belonging to the message sender.  The cat was also quite irascible, and had seen off three dogs inquiring into the cat’s rights to be where he was.  But he was wearing a blue collar suggesting he may have an owner.

Within hours another message hit our in-boxes.  The cat had been identified.  He is 17 years old (119 in human  terms).   “At that age”, the writer suggested, he was “entitled to be a bit scrawny, grouchy  and dine on my quail if he wants to.”  And, she added, his spirit in seeing off three dogs was enviable.

At the same time, I telephoned a friend, K, in New York.  She’s been living in the same brownstone for thirty years, and sending her laundry to the laundromat across the street for the same period of time.  She and the laundromat owner have come to know each other rather well.  In fact, better than she realized.  She’s been ill, and last week a friend delivered her bag of laundry for her to the laundromat.

K’s laundry bag is not Gucci, but it does have a couple of yellow and green stripes.  “That’s not your bag,” the owner of the laundromat said when it was handed over by K’s friend.

Seems life in the urban village isn’t too different from life in my Cambridge village.

K’s story reminded me of my last exchange with a New York laundromat owner which took place 40 years ago.  I’d been taking my laundry there for several years, but one day, he returned somebody else’s laundry to me.  I objected on the grounds that I had little use of several pair of Calvin Klein’s men’s shorts and similar attire.  “You have no right to complain,” he replied, reluctant to give me my money back.  “Your laundry wasn’t nearly as expensive as his.”

Yes.  Village life everywhere…

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