Thursday 18 October 2018

Small-town things you just can't buy

Anne Marie Scanlon

ALTHOUGH I was born in a small town, I got out early, and I've always assumed the jokes about people watching the bacon-slicer for entertainment were just that -- jokes. Come on, I've seen Pure Mule -- small-town life just ain't what it used to be. Well, that's what I thought until I had Jack and returned to living in one. OK, so I have yet to spend time in the butcher shop patiently watching the bacon-slicer at work, but to be honest, some days it's a close call.

Just how mundane life has become was brought home to me with shocking clarity when a new supermarket opened in the centre of the town. My friend Molly and I excitedly raced there, dragging our respective children with us. How sad, we commented to each other, the price of motherhood. But we were wrong; in this town, high levels of excitement over new supermarkets are not just the province of the buggy-pushers.

The place was jammed; people had driven miles from the hinterland to come and view the aisles of tins and in-house baked goods. Students from the local college were agog at the vast range of confectionery. "Look, Malteesers!" I heard one guy yelp excitedly. Office workers in suits jostled to get at the chill cabinets. Despite the crush, everyone was thrilled; we all smiled and nodded at each other, delighted at the novelty of buying milk in a different setting.

Then disaster threatened -- the young master lost his shoe. This news quickly spread from aisle to aisle and people downed their baskets in order to search for the missing footwear. The shoe was located nestling under the chocolates (even the footwear in our family is fatally drawn toward the seductive cocoa bean). A week later, I was still meeting people enquiring after Jack's feet. Sometimes, small is good.

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