Sunday, August 16, 2015

Manicured Lawn (or The Best Seat in the Park)

It is a bit of a labyrinth to reach our destination. We enter through a space reserved for those few who are deserving of special attention and are directed through the double doors, which are as tall and imposing as intended. Then to the left down the nondescript corridor, followed by a right onto the wide pathway where there is general milling of the hoi polloi. Past the shops and restaurants inviting the opening of the wallet and the suspension of economic reality. Next we begin our descent, ever closer to the manicured lawn where our attention will be drawn. The steps are more than mere means to an end, they are a declaration of wealth, or at least the appearance of wealth.

As we near our final resting place (no, not that one) we are stopped by a man in uniform. He examines our credentials and then makes us retrace our path, to the top of the stairs. Once there we are given a wrist band, temporary coin of the realm. With this we will be able to leave the less well off in our rear view mirror,  seen from a distance by the proletariat but given full protection from them accidentally meandering into our universe.

We move in full majesty ever and ever closer until we are separated from those residing on the manicured lawn by physical boundaries no greater than the distance of a good sneeze. It is talent alone that creates the chasm of space from those on the manicured lawn to us

In the world that existed before this one, when the distinction between those who had and those who wanted was but a blurred line, when the uniforms protected not those within from coexisting but were purposed with keeping peace, when this was a home that we all shared, I had been as closeasthis to the manicured lawn. I had interacted with those who stood on the manicured lawn and they had with me. But that was then and this was decidedly not.

As they took their appointed places on the manicured lawn, the kings and princes, the entrenched and the hopefuls, the chosen ones,  the future and the past played out in struts and frets, in glory and darkness, in triumph and turmoil. And from my perch my eyes sat in unobstructed judgment.

That is not to suggest I was without distraction. For the covey to my left had clearly been deprived of sustenance for some time before finding themselves, as I, wristbanded to an endless supply of gastronomic treasures, free from monetary constraint. And they paraded myriad food groups to and from, now and once more, never seeming to reach the satiation point. It was a prodigious performance made the more remarkable as two of this flock must have celebrated birthdays when FDR was assuring our collective well being.

On center stage was the savior, or at least today's edition. While my erstwhile friends made conspicuous consumption their focus, I tried to determine if this hero was real or but mirage. But even upon close examination, even as I was thisclose, even as I had been to this manicured lawn on a thousand occasions before, even then I was unable to decipher fact from fiction. At times majestic and at others pedestrian, this knight's shining armor was  arresting with edges of the plebeian. If this seat were that of the emperor, thumbs up or down would have been an elusive undertaking.

There was one other minute annoyance, so small I am ashamed to divulge. There was a pawn, or maybe a rook, placed in a box on the manicured lawn, sometimes impeding my vision of those who were the object of my attention. Much as I implored him to relocate his derriere, he was deaf to my supplication. How could I be thisclose and in such a predicament? I was forced to crane or collapse, to move this way or that as the man in the box remained as if tethered to this piece of terra firma.

As daytime descended into night and the the artificial brightness illuminated the manicured lawn, I awaited the moment when destiny would fall into my outstretched hand, when that universe and this would collide. As my neighbors left a trail of evidence of their having been in this locale, ever expanding waste and waistline, I awaited my white orbed manna from heaven as just reward. But it was not to be and as the fat lady sang, I was left as empty as a promise of fealty by a lothario.

When nothing remained but the echoes, when the manicured lawn was left with no kings or princes, when time moved inexorably forward, the wristband disappeared, much like the golden slipper and I was left once more as I arrived.  I retraced my journey, up the steps and back into a world where I was indistinguishable from the rest. No more favored status among the nations, just another ordinary being, without crown or sceptre

The truth is that I fit much more comfortably in a place removed from the manicured lawn. The wristband as barometer of worth does not rest easily upon me. As I disappeared into the ethos, I was filled with a peculiar mixture of unease and a fervent desire to return, as soon as the fates allowed, to my place thisclose to the manicured lawn.

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