"BYE DON" YARD SIGN, 2020
It was quite a shock leaving the Covid bubble recently to purchase a table from Craigslist NJ. This took us out across the Walt Whitman Bridge from Northeast Philly into the depths of South Jersey where it was even more humid. This was not the only difference. Gone were the prudent and intense mask wearers, Rainbow flags and BLM signs. Gone were the wilting “Bernie” signs and scorched “Hillary” bumper stickers. Who were all those folks who ran for president recently?
We turned into a Blue Collar cul-de-sac to find every house festooned with Americans flags of all configurations, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN lawn signs and big posters with scary photos of the current Commander in Chief. Were we in the mid-West? The bullet-headed owner was sweating buckets and greeted us without much fanfare. Did we stand out as elite college-educated Liberals? Damn straight. Was my daughter in need of a safe-space? Yes, indeed. All this made me feel particularly inadequate on the Middle Class Manly-Meter.
As we paid and said thanks, I looked down and noticed a small figurine in the garden. It was one of those “black” lantern-carrying characters. No irony here! Political correctness does not get a mention. I looked around for a Confederate flag or an imposing statue of Jefferson Davis. The recent “Statue” controversy had prompted me to re-vamp my “Doc Holliday” southern accent. I have Val Kilmer of Tombstone to thank for that. My drawl is pretty good if not always appropriate for parties in Mt. Airy.
We loaded the table and backed out through the vintage F150’s and above ground pools. One house was intriguing. A ghostly bungalow, overgrown and uninhabited except for maybe a few dead bodies in the basement. I quipped, “There’s a cheap one for sale.” This idea was quickly shot down by my daughter and navigator. “Not funny. Turn left.” We then drove half-way across the State to find the nearest up-market coffee place. It was worth it for a refreshing Frappucino! We found a great one in the fancy suburbs and they sold records. My kinda place. Sitting outside we had a wonderful moment of connection that is rare these days. The seven months of 2020 came into view and gained some perspective. Schadenfreude with caffeine. My kid wryly refers to our present dilemma as the “End of Times.” If she can handle it then so can I! Back over the Ben Franklin Bridge, we breathed a sigh of relief. Hint: Never should you tackle both bridges in a single afternoon.
After this ordeal, I needed a lager and an early evening Corona-stroll. I have been pinching books from the little home libraries in our neighborhood, wooden boxes on poles. It is interesting to note what people read then discard. Literacy meets affluence. I prefer History to the latest craze in how-to books on being a better Caucasian. On a nearby street of cozy historic houses I paused to read a new lawn sign with a short pun. It said simply, “BYE DON.” It took me a second to catch the drift. “Oh yeah, a new way to spell Biden! I was so taken with it I bumped into the new BMW out front.