Anytown, USA

anytown usa
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Thanks to Vanessa of Petal & Mortar for dropping a note in the prompt box!

Fading Gentility Prompt Box

Gentility

noun  |  gen·til·i·ty  |  \jen-‘ti-lə-tē\

1a :  the condition of belonging to the gentry

1b :  gentlefolk, gentry

2a (1) :  decorum of conduct :  courtesy

2a (2) :  attitudes or activity marked by false delicacy, prudery, or affectation

2b :  superior social status or prestige evidenced by manners, possessions, or mode of life

Signs run up and down the eastern seaboard:
 hidden to the average naked eye;
 revealed to those knowing the signs already.

Find a map: an honest-to-goodness paper 
 map stained with ketchup and mustard and grease
 and oil and the grit and grime of road trips - 
 not some satellite-produced, digitally-
 rendered version glowing on a glass-like 
 screen of modern technomancy.
 
Look at the names of counties and townships 
 and villages and roads, of lakes and streams 
 and rivers, of mountains and valleys 
 and other geographic terrain.

Pick a place at random: throw a dart, choose from a 
 hat, select a site with a nice-sounding name; 
 any place will do.
 
Visit the churchyard cemeteries: the old ones with 
 family plots marked out by mausoleums or low stone 
 walls or wrought-iron fences.
 
Open the phone book: few – if any – of the names 
 found engraved on these eternal monuments remain. 

Drive the roads: the ones with nearly unpronounceable 
 names or names that don’t sound like they look they 
 should. 

Ask the old timers and no two of them will agree 
 on how the name should be said. 

Look around:

 the brick buildings of the once-bustling downtown 
  with fading painted signage now converted into loft 
  apartments or the tourist-centered shops one finds 
  in any small town trying to regenerate before it 
  succumbs to the appeal and attraction of larger 
  cities or becomes boarded up all together

 the old houses too large for the lots they sit on 
  surrounded by smaller houses
  encroached on by modern buildings
  threatened by trailer parks
  pulled down by vines and weather 
  and ravages of time

Take it all in and consider it all together:
  the cemeteries,
  the names,
  the architecture,
  the decay,
  and the signs all point to one thing:
   the long, slow, inevitable decline 
    and fading away of a once-proud gentility.

 


 

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4 thoughts on “Anytown, USA

    1. Thank you; I hammered out the basic ideas in a ten minute free write and then spent half an hour or so editing it into something reasonable. Glad you enjoyed it – and thanks again for the prompt!

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