Friday, May 27, 2005

In Memoriam

So I got my iPod to turn on, then gently nudged my computer to recognize it, then ever so sweetly encouraged iTunes to open, and then pretty please with sugar on topped it to update. But even after two reformattings the little fucker still thinks it's holding all the music it originally had on it, so I can only update it to a certain point. Less than half its storage is available because the other half is taken up by the memory of my old music collection.

This is not the time for my iPod to become sentimental. I will not abide nostalgic machinery. I left it home all day yesterday; why didn't it eat a carton of ice cream, flip through some old yearbooks and have a good cry then?

It is Memorial Day weekend, though, and maybe I'm the one being insensitive. I have Monday off, which is great even if I'm quite positive I'll spend it doing laundry. I know that this probably doesn't jive with the intentions of the holiday but I just can't watch the Yorktown Heights Memorial Day parade. I can't do it. It's the funniest, saddest spectacle in the state (if not the country or possibly the world) and I just don't think I've got the gumption.

My town isn't big, but it isn't small either. For as long as I can remember Yorktown's had this conception of itself as a cozy farming hamlet. This is clearly and dissonantly at odds with the reality that it's filled with five boroughs overflow and enough Gotti-alikes to make our CVS the biggest seller of DEP gel on the East coast. We have a 4-H and a "Grange Fair" every year, but only two working farms. Our high school football team is the Cornhuskers, but the closest they've ever come to anything farmish, like a cow, is their oversize Armani Exchange leather jackets. We may have been a slow country town at some point, but what we are now is a town that's grown beyond its ability to provide entertainment or culture for its residents. Yorktown consistently refuses to expand its downtown on the dated view that one Starbucks and a Friendly's is enough to entertain its small population.

In reality, town (by which I mean the eighth of a mile between a Texaco and the pharmacy) on Friday nights resembles Dawn of the Dead. The sidwalks are clogged with pre-learner's permit kids who've got nothing better to do than shuffle up and down, blankly staring at each passing car and sucking down java chip frappucinos with big whipped cream brains on top. It's not their fault, though. Yorktown grew in population, but "town" hasn't changed in thirty years.

Anyway, my point is the Memorial Day parade is the bizarre intersection of old Yorktown versus new Yorktown. With no institutions or clubs or organizations to join, the parade has become this desperate attempt to fill up the street in honor of our veterans. Every year it seems they cast the net a little wider. Sure, there's the fire truck honking down the street, the volunteer ambulance corps, the police cruiser representing the cops. But then there's the dwindling number of living Elks, two ancient Ladies Auxiliary members, and maybe three actual veterans who hobble down the street, arthritic heels chased closely by a thundering herd of girl and boy scouts.

The beginning, military-related portion of the parade lasts about forty seconds, but the procession of girl scouts and boy scouts must last half an hour. Every motley troop of Tiger Cubs, every Cadet, every Eagle Scout, every Brownie plods miserably down the street like murderers to the gallows. I was a girl scout. I know how it goes. You line up by the Highway Department building at the crack of dawn and wait forever for your chance at six minutes of parading, which will only terminate at the track where you will have to suffer two hours of speechifying from the town supervisor and Msgr. Brennan. Who's a jerk.

After the last pack of boy scouts passes, squinting at the sun with their fingers up their noses (in solemn tribute to those lost in the Revolutionary War) and their neckerchiefs all sweaty and cockeyed, comes the high school marching band. In actuality, this is the first and last time all year the marching band will march. They will have rehearsed walking and playing their instruments exactly once before this very moment, probably during math class, probably right outside your window while you're supposed to be taking notes on logic proofs, probably right where you can watch them lap the parking lot and accidentally smash each other in the neck with their trombone slides.

They are not good.

But they are in high school and have cars, and can escape the parade early to get pie at Grandma's, or a bagel at the Daily Bagel, which actually isn't even there anymore now that CVS needed to expand and took most of it over, and the rest of the space was turned into Super Eastern Chinese takeout. It's everyone else who has to hang out and swelter through the speeches, the 7-gun salute, the multidemoninational prayers over a crowd that is 97% Irish or Italian Catholic, 99% sick of listening, and 100% sweating so much their underwear is damp. But everyone stays, bound by the fact that they can't leave because everyone will judge them mercilessly unless they're removing a shrieking baby and, besides, they're sure someone double parked their car into the corner of the 7-11 lot anyway.

There'll be a run on slurpees afterwards and local politicians will use the single annual gathering of Yorktowners to campaign, some adamantly preaching from the "NO CHILI'S!!" platform while other daring dissidents disseminate literature about the dangerous bacteria count of Sparkle Lake.

Tom Rippolon of Mildred E. Strang Middle School's TV studio will film the parade as it goes by. The wind will ripple his Willie Nelson braids. Public Access star Glendora will stand on the sidewalk in her American flag straw boater, waving her American flags, and afterwards she will go home to record her muttering impressions of the event into her camcorder. This will be spliced with images of squirrels eating the animal crackers she dyed with food coloring specifically for their enjoyment. Then she will film the television showing a Jimmy Stewart movie and offer you her commentary. Then she will read a suit she filed with the Yorktown courts, word for word.

Eventually, the show will fade out mid-sentence.

3 Comments:

Anonymous stupidboy said...

Glendora is the local crazylady? And she's on television? Wow. I was away on holiday and now I'm back I've got a whole month of blog to read. Good times!

4:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't there a way for you to reset your iPod with one click? I think you can just delete everything and start again. Of course, you'd have to start all over. Maybe the owner's manual says something about it.
-Clare

12:01 PM  
Blogger What'sHerFace said...

Tried it. Tried it oh so many times. It clicks, it gets hot, it flashes every icon it has...and still won't update. I've tried using the software. I've tried hooking it up to my computer and completely reformatting it. Nothing.

12:11 PM  

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