Never met a Stranger: Getting down with the pants


By T.W. Burger

It could have happened to anyone.

I had just finished a classic Maine lobster dinner in a seaside restaurant near the little town where I vacation every year.

Happily stuffed, we made our way toward the door when we noticed that one of the artworks on the wall was made from the same material as the blouse one of us was wearing.

Naturally, we all stopped and posed her next to the artwork.

Out came four of the five cell phones.

Down fell my pants.

With a clunk.

The speed was due to full pockets, including a wallet, a large pocketknife, handful of change, a set of keys, a small bottle of nitroglycerine, (just in case,) and a few other odds and ends.

I blame my old suspenders, the two front clamps of which had let go of their grip on the front of the shorts.

If I were a few decades younger, I would have moved faster and been a lot more embarrassed.

But now, I’ve left 70 behind and I am not as easily humiliated. My typical daily reaction to things is, essentially, “NOW what?”

It’s a learned response.

You must understand that people of my age grew up in the 50s and 60s, when we watched our beloved leaders and cultural heroes assassinated, watched our cohorts gunned down on their campuses. We all watched the RWPs (Rich White People) tell us that the environment was doing just fine, despite the lakes and rivers clogged with poisoned fish and Ohio’s Cuyahoga River catching fire from the chemicals afloat on it.

It was at around that time that newsman Eric Sevareid announced that the Mississippi River was so polluted that an atheist could walk across it.

We laughed, but not lightly.

Our country threw itself with bravado into the war in Southeast Asia, which had been going on, with only a few pauses, since the middle of the 19th century. This was before the U.S. Military became the plaything of U.S. presidents; we have essentially had troops in combat ever since. True, one president after another has spent a lot of time wringing his hands...and not doing anything else.

And just recently we learned that the report, “The 2018 State of the World’s Birds,” stated flatly that “nearly 40 percent of bird species throughout the world are in decline.”

Experts in just about everything tell us not to worry, that we have been in worse pickles, and we’ll get it all figured out.

I suppose there is always hope.

But I feel a draft.

T.W. Burger was raised in Athens. He graduated from Athens High School in 1967. He worked as a driver of everything from fork trucks to garbage trucks and concrete mixers, has been an apprentice mortician and ambulance attendant.

He has been a newspaper reporter since 1985, mostly in Gettysburg, PA, with various stints at other publications. Semi-retired, he is still working as a freelance writer and lives on the banks of Marsh Creek just outside of Gettysburg.

He is the author of "The Year of the Moon Goose" is currently writing “Never Met a Stranger.”

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