I picked up a paper at Betty's Dollar Mart to see what adult white male has been arrested for sex play with a pre-school little girl this week. I personally consider this one of the great crimes against humanity. Humanity is one human being the same as it is all human beings. Adults playing with pre-pubescent children "in the family way" bypasses conscience. I started to say is without conscience. But I know these men and know them to have conscience. It's denying conscience its purpose. It amounts to turning one's gaze away when passing a picture of Jesus on the wall, ashamed in the light. It does that to the grownup involved, and what it does to the child for the entire length of that person's life is particular to each one, but what's the same is a head preoccupied with shame and guilt. Swiss psychologist, Alice Miller, wrote a book on child abuse, FOR YOUR OWN GOOD. I received from her writing some of the most profound knowledge of my life. At the time I was reading it, a pre-school daughter of friends, and herself a dear friend to me, was played with by an adult. I recognized it in her the moment I saw her, the day she couldn't run to the truck when I parked in the driveway and jump on me like she always did. She stood on the deck beside the door with her fingers in her mouth, trembling. Alice Miller gave the solution to restoring the child's mental health, I shared it with her parents, they followed Miller's recommendations and little girl came through the ordeal whole. I believe it was God's grace that had me reading this book in the time of her need.
I know both of these guys charged in the last few weeks. I prefer to believe there is nothing to either charge, the trial finding them falsely charged. If there is anything to it, they are personally responsible for wrecking the lives of one person apiece, or more that could be unknown. I don't like the idea of seeing two men I know carted off to prison for a long time. I don't like the idea of two men I know playing with little kids, either. It makes me want to give one in particular a meaningful cussing in his face for being stupid; even worse, acting on it. I don't like to call somebody stupid, but Forrest Gump's mother rings in my head, Stupid is as stupid does. I say all this presuming where there is smoke there is fire. I don't want to believe either charge and I do want to wait for the trial to determine guilt. I would not be allowed on either jury, because I'd be as much interested in the well-being of the two men as I would the two (or more) kids. All will suffer, and I want nobody to suffer. This is what the law's about: what's done is done.
My belly-laugh for the day was seeing at the bottom of the front page this "presentation on possible street changes" on Hwy 21 running through Sparta. Everyone forgets, or never thought of it to start with, that there is not one sign on Hwy 21 in Sparta that says Main St. It was the Michigan-to-Florida Hwy 26 before interstates. It's a highway with three redlight intersections as it passes through Sparta. Everyone with a business on Hwy 21 knows the cars passing through are not stopping. They're not shopping. They're on the road from one place to another, looking neither left nor right, going to work, going home from work, driving from Independence to Winston-Salem and back. We haven't had "tourism" since the beginning of the Bush administration. I was laughing at widening the sidewalks and narrowing the road, taking out the left turn lanes and replacing them with trees that nobody wants. The Methodist church cut down the most beautiful trees in Sparta for an electronic gizmo and a better view of the parking lot. SRC cut down all the trees on the courthouse lawn. The two maples beside Farmer's Hardware are about it for what's left of Sparta trees. Thanks, Marsha. Planting new trees in the street? I don't think so. I've an idea the principal planner left out the context of Hwy 21 being a canyon through which passes the air flow of Twin Oaks Gap. It's not always a gentle breeze through there. It's rough on non-native trees; they would never consider planting native trees.
Trees down the middle of Hwy 21 in Sparta, shutting down possibilities to make a left turn off Hwy 21 for the trees, narrowing the road and widening the sidewalks. Has anyone noticed that what could pass for pedestrian traffic compared to the automotive traffic is like about 1 to 1000? Or 1 to 10,000? Has anyone noticed we have sidewalks that are not being used nearly all the time? Has anyone noticed the traffic on Hwy 21 is continuous? Has anyone noticed that if they would remove those ugly plastic tubs full of dead plant matter and cigarette filters eleven months of the year, the sidewalks would instantly be three feet wider. Voila! And Sparta would be instantly beautified, for free. No grants, no taxes. Easy. This, however, is not the point. The point is SRC wants to shut down "Main Street" to vehicular traffic and put up a pretty plywood reproduction of Blowing Rock that will attract wealth only, like Western town facades put up for 50s tv shows and movies, Boot Hill. Characteristic of SRC is the ongoing attempt to make Sparta into something it is not. They don't know it yet, though it seems like they'd be getting it by now, but Sparta will bend to their will about like any mountain man in a pickup will bend for them. They will have to break Sparta. Meaning, they will have to kill it. Sparta is a mountain town, not a suburb of Charlotte.
This is what I love about Sparta, that Sparta is itself. It is what or who it is, depending on how you look at it. I look at it "who," a living entity. And the only truth I have found that applies to Sparta any and every way you look at it, Sparta is different. Not better, not worse. Different. Sparta is itself, like every (with exceptions) man and woman of these mountains is his and her own self. It's only since the white tsunami of suburban middle-class summer-home exurbanites (including myself) that need has arisen to make Sparta into something it is not. I see Sparta allowing a cosmetic makeover about like I see putting Margaret Evans Crouse in a Lady Gaga outfit for church. It aint gonna happen. For one thing, if "Main Street" gets shut down to traffic flow, what about the line of SUVs with moms taking their kids to school in the morning, a line that stretches from the light at Betty's Dollar Mart to the light at Hardee's and beyond? No left turns. A stop sign at every intersection to stop traffic flow. Appears to me it's something about like dumping a dumptruck load of gravel into a stream to increase water flow. Of course, grants would pay for it. Until the grant money ran out and the facade is half done. Sparta is not a fake facade-friendly town. Maybe I don't get it, and maybe I don't know Sparta, but this is how I see it anyway.
They will have to kill the spirit of the town, which ultimately, and not very far away, will be done. And they won't care. I've seen over and over for many years their determination to put makeup on Sparta. What if Sparta's spirit might be masculine and doesn't like wearing makeup? Sparta's name, itself, is ultra-masculine. The Spartan warrior is about as fiercely masculine as the Viking in legends of our collective history. Why go against what Sparta is and frill it up like a trailer park pajama party? Ever thought of calming down, getting acquainted with Sparta as Sparta is? Get to know Sparta, become friends with Sparta, not like you would with a dog, but with respect. Maybe Sparta prefers blue to pink. Maybe Sparta prefers a haircut to a perm. Kermit the barber is right there on the corner. Every bit of this new plan for Sparta is shutting down its flow. The focal point of Sparta, the cross-hairs, has moved from where Hwy 21 crosses Hwy 18 down to where Hwy 21 crosses the entrance to the shopping center parking lot at Grandview, Fifth/Third and Hardees. The part of town by the old courthouse shut down long ago for want of parking. This is the age of easy access parking. Sparta is a dynamic unto itself, even with its own personality. A long book could be filled with all the grants that have been written for money to put false eyelashes and lipstick on what might be the equivalent of a statue of a general like Agamemnon, warrior of warriors, dysfunctional patriarch. And the rain keeps washing the mess off.