dumpster full of wheelchairs
Saturday, August 21 2004
Despite intermittent rain, Gretchen and I went to the Hurley Corn Festival today. It was hosted at the Dutch Reformed Church, Hurley's tallest building and its most notable wooden structure in the middle of the village. The festival featured no rides, no midway, no even any barkers, and due to the rain the $2 admission was being waived. We immediately went to the vendor booths in the back parking lot and quickly ascertained that, though modest, this was no Greenville Hot Air Balloon Festival. The first vendor booth on the right featured a collection of beautiful wooden bowls. Without delay, we bought two of them for $125. In another booth somebody had made a bunch of lawn art from copper plumbing pipes soldered together. There was a stylized bicycle, a tricyle, and a trellis. They were clever but not actually all that attractive.
After making a quick tour past the other vendors, we grabbed a little corn-containing food. Gretchen got an ear of Hurley corn and I got a bowl of corn chowder (which Gretchen couldn't eat because it contained tiny slivers of dead pig).
At the table where we were eating, an older woman seated beside us started talking about how she hated the rain and how she would soon be going to visit San Diego. Then she started searching for a word in her head, saying, "It begins with an H." The word must have been "hotel" and she must have had some sort of elderly dementia.
Gretchen was being slightly rude to the woman, a common, vaguely-embarrassing behavior she often manifests when relating to irritating people whom she does not know. As we were walking out a young woman ran up behind us to tell Gretchen, "That woman in there is my mother and she has Altzheimer's Disease." Gretchen felt terrible, running quickly after her to apologize and say that her two grandmothers died of Alzheimer's. I made the mistake of telling Gretchen something to the effect that "I thought you could have been more understanding too." So then Gretchen and I had a huge fight all the way home with her saying I'm the pot calling the kettle black because I'm always whispering nasty asides about people and I write bad things about them in my online journal. I didn't think any of that had relevance to the issue at hand: that Gretchen had clearly been impatient and annoyed with a senile old woman right in front of her in a way that could lead to the embarrassing consequences that we'd just experienced. I told Gretchen that it was yet another case of her being too quick to judge people and not spending the time necessary to really understand what a person's deal is before turning on him or her.
At the ugly brick building across Wynkoop Road from the Hurley Mountain Inn, we'd seen a whole dumpster full of wheelchairs. That building was originally constructed as a State Police barracks, but had since gone on to become a medical equipment supply retailer. Now that it's been reborn as a women's fitness center, the wheelchairs are being thrown out. Gretchen figured we should get a few so that next year we could build a soapbox car for Kingston's annual soap box derby (more about that tomorrow). Mind you, Gretchen has always been a little disturbed by the idea of able-bodied people tooling around in wheelchairs (she thinks that this somehow demeans the disabled), but when they're being thrown away there's no sense in passing up on good sets of wheels. I later wheeled around in the driveway on one of the wheelchairs, doing pop-a-wheelies and all the other tricks I mastered back in Kappa Mutha Fucka and Big Fun, places where wheelchairs served as seating options. It took me some effort to wash the depressing hospital disinfectant smell off my hands afterwards.
In the afternoon we had more visitors from the city, this time David the Rabbi and his wife LH. We drank wine out on the deck, walked down the Stick Trail to the Canary Falls, and then went out to a reliably delicious meal at La Pupuseria on Broadway. LH, who knows something like five languages and has studied Basque, ordered in flawless New World Spanish.
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