I've been spending a lot of time on the road these days, both for work and for play. This week, my travels find me in the Village of Cooperstown New York, which is where I did the second post ever on this blog over two years ago. I love everything about Cooperstown, from the Hall of Fame to the lake, but tonight I found myself lost in the conversation of her people.
As I have mentioned in a previous post I keep myself amused while traveling solo in various ways. This time around, I didn't feel like working up an elaborate back story, so I just decided to blend into the wood work and listen to the goings on while I ate at the Bar at O'Hanlan's Steakhouse. I had the Irish Nachos to start, and a chop salad for dinner, both were great but I was surprised when the bar tender poured my Pepsi from a 2 liter rather than a fountain. That's neither here nor there, I was just surprised.
I sat with my book open on the bar, turning pages from time to time as to look like I was reading, and I just listened. I don't want for this to sound duplicitous, because non of the conversations were being hushed, on the contrary, most were being shouted across the bar. But, people tend to talk a bit differently when they think they have an eavesdropper, or a simple out of town audience. The crowd at O'Hanlans tonight was mostly local, although there were a number of out of towners in the dining room (damn three day weekend). Absent the frozen over parking lot, and ubiquitos baseball memorabilia this bar could have easily been in the deep south. The people were decidedly small town Americans, the type us city kids tend to call rednecks. They gossiped, shared stories about kids and even invited one another over for dinner later in the week.
Please, don't misunderstand, I don't mean to sound like these types of things don't go on in bigger areas, because they do. And I'm not slighting those who live in small towns, because there's just as much salt of the earth here as there is anywhere, but something was different in the bar at O'Hanlans. Not better, mind you, but different. It may be the same difference that drew my whole family to move to Maine, fleeing Jersey as if it were on fire (oh yeah, parts of it are.) It also may be the type of things that drives some people from here to move away and seek out the city. Call it a slower pace of life, call it Mayberry or call it the sticks, it's the same in upstate New York as it is in Central PA, West Texas or Southern Alabama. To bad all the places that have this kind of vibe to them have to be so damn far away from anything worth doing, as to warrant living there.