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Comments Off on Our Town – October 20, 2011

Our Town – October 20, 2011

| Crazy Theories, Neighbors, Our Town, Relationships, Small Town Stuff | October 20, 2011

Originally published November 6, 2003

“I was saved, Soupster, but by which I do not know,” said Charles, a former college professor who now drank a lot of coffee. He had four tiny espresso cups arranged in front of him, two of them empty.

The Soupster looked around. Besides the barrista, washing mugs out of earshot, the men were alone.

“You know Bluto, the pompous blowhard?” Charles said, blowing pretty hard himself. “I owed that man $1,000. You’d have thought it was the Hope Diamond the way he pursued me around Our Town. Showing up at social occasions with that ridiculous `I’m going to bite you’ look on his face.”

“Bluto has bitten people,” the Soupster remarked. “He almost bit me once.”

“I considered that,” said Charles.

“Anyhow,” he continued. “Bluto was on my tail in a major fashion and I was doing my best to stay one step ahead of him. Which is not hard, Bluto being Bluto.”

“He’s not stupid,” said the Soupster

“Nonetheless,” said Charles. “On a proverbial `dark and stormy night’ he finally caught up with me. Right outside the fishing supply store. There I was face-to-face with Bluto’s ugly visage. He held a bag, bulging with orange nylon and I thought he was going to brain me with it.”

Charles chugged the third of his espressos.

“Bluto grabs me with his giant paws and squeezes hard,” Charles continued. “`Where is me $1,000, you barrel worm,’ Bluto thunders. `I don’t have it,’ I say weakly. `What’s that in your pocket?’ says Bluto. `That’s me, er, my mail,’ I say.”

“So Bluto grabs the mail and rifles through. `Ahoy,’ he cries, holding up my Permanent Fund Dividend check. `This will do,’ Bluto says.

“`But, Bluto,’ I muster the courage to ask ‘I owe you a $1,000, but that PFD is worth more than $1,100,’ I say. And Bluto, he agrees with me. Could have knocked me over with a feather. `An eleven hundred dollar PFD,’ the ogre says and laughs and thrusts his bulging orange bag into my chest.”

“And walks off,” Charles continued. “So I’m left there standing in the pitch-black cold rain, minus one PFD. I stare into the bag. And what is in there? A life vest! I take it out and put it on. It’s a nice life jacket, the kind with the big ring behind your neck and the large reflective patches on the shoulder so the Coast Guard can find you at night and pluck you out of the water.”

“And as I’m admiring the jacket a car comes screeching out of the dark. And – this I swear – the car’s headlights pick up the reflective patches and the vehicle veers a second before running me down.”

“I see your dilemna,” said the Soupster. “You were saved by either a Permanent Fund Dividend or a Personal Flotation Device.”

“Yes, Soupster, yes,” Charles cried, lurching for his remaining coffee cup. “Which PFD saved me?

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Comments Off on Our Town – October 6, 2011

Our Town – October 6, 2011

| Clothing, Our Town, Small Town Stuff | October 6, 2011

“Soupster, you can’t practice medicine in this state,” said Linda, scratching furiously at the bug bite on the outside of her right calf.

“But I’ve only had one glass of wine,” protested the Soupster.

“I mean in Alaska!” Linda said.

The Soupster brought over a cold pack from his freezer, an elastic bandage and a tube of antibacterial ointment. “I want you to stop scratching that,” he said. “It’s starting to bleed.”

“Bleeding is good,” said Linda. “It’s a different kind of pain than itching, which drives me absolutely crazy.”

“Counter-irritation,” said the Soupster. “You’re absolutely right. Takes your mind off the thing that’s driving you crazy, by replacing it with something that may hurt just as much, but doesn’t drive you quite as crazy.”

“Huh?” said Linda.

The Soupster didn’t answer her, but bent to his work. He carefully daubed off Linda’s bite and, as he applied the antibacterial ointment, asked, “What are the fashion rules for Our Town anyway?”

“Huh?” she repeated.

“Like okay, is there a time when you cannot wear Xtra Tuf boots?”

“That’s a good question, Soupster,” Linda admitted. “Nothing comes to mind. I’ve seen Xtra Tufs at weddings and funerals.”

The Soupster put the cold pack against Linda’s leg. “That feels cold, but good,” she said.

“Any other fashion rules?” said the Soupster, continuing his work

“Well, you should never ever buy anything that would be ruined if it got wet,” said Linda.

“Like suede?”

“Funny you should bring that up,” said Linda. “My favorite pair of shoes started out as suede and now that they’re mushed down they seem even more comfortable.”

The Soupster murmured his assent as he wrapped the elastic bandage around Linda’s calf to hold the cold pack in place.

“I don’t think there’s ever a reason to wear really high heels in Our Town – I mean except for a lark,” mused Linda. “I think men could go their whole lives in Our Town and never have to wear a tuxedo.” She looked at her caregiver’s well-worn shirt. “Soupster, do you own even one suit?”

The Soupster put a white sock over Linda’s foot and stretched it carefully up over the bandage. He stood up to survey his neat work.

“Have you ever even worn a tuxedo, Soupster?” said Linda, an edge to her voice. “Are you even listening to me?”

“I got it,” the Soupster insisted, “Never wear high-heeled Xtra Tufs with a tuxedo in Our Town. Counter-irritation. How does your leg feel now?”

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Comments Off on Our Town – June 16, 2011

Our Town – June 16, 2011

| Crime, Our Town, Small Town Stuff, Youth | June 16, 2011

“Lock your car,” said the old TV ad. “Take your keys. Don’t make a good boy go bad.”

The Soupster was proud that Our Town disproved the above. He was sure he was not the only person in town to regularly leave his car unlocked, which didn’t seem to be making good boys go bad.

The good boys who went bad seemed to do so of their own volition, despite the wealth of unlocked cars Our Town offered. And the bad boys who went good also seemed to be piloting their own ships. Not to mention all the good and bad girls.

Now, the Soupster did usually take his keys out of his unlocked car, if for no other reason than his car made an unpleasant clanging if he didn’t. Maybe, if he had left the keys in the ignition a few times, he would have made a good boy go bad. Not that he wanted to.

How the Soupster thought he might make a good boy go bad was by leaving enticing items on the front seat of said unlocked car. A bag of donuts or burgers, current magazines fresh from the post office, a spiffy new tool – those kinds of things.

Or a rented DVD.

The DVD in question was “Fair Game” about the Valerie Plame incident – she was a CIA field operative (spy) whose identity was revealed for political reasons. A thick conspiracy full of twists and turns.

And that intrigue must have infected the Soupster, because later in the evening, when he went to find the movie and couldn’t, he thought that a good boy might have gone bad and stolen the DVD.

He knew Our Town was an honest place. He hated the old saying, “It’s the exception that proves the rule,” but he couldn’t help thinking that it applied in this case.

How much did DVDs cost to replace? $30? $50?

A small price to pay for the honest waters he got to swim in, the Soupster thought. It was almost a relief to know that Our Town had a limit to its honesty. You couldn’t go leaving $50 bills laying around and expect them to be there when you got back.

He went to bed a wiser, chastened man.

The next day had a glorious sun/cloud ratio and a sea breeze, so the Soupster decided to hoof it to the video store to further cement his new, sober outlook. He looked upon passersby, knowing now that every one of them probably had a dark side capable of all sorts of mischief – possibly least of all, pilfering “Fair Game” DVDs.

The Soupster swung open the door to the rental store. “I owe you some money,” he told the clerk. “Someone must have taken “Fair Game” from my car.”

“No one lifted anything, Silly,” said the clerk, after scrolling down her computer image to an entry on the Soupster’s account. “Someone found “Fair Game” in a parking lot and returned it for you.”

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Comments Off on Our Town – March 24, 2011

Our Town – March 24, 2011

| Guest Written, Lois Verbaan, Our Town, Small Town Stuff | March 24, 2011

Who’s Who in Our Town?!

“One thing I really like about living in Our Town,” Marci said, “is that after a while you start knowing the people you see and seeing the people you know. A hello here and a wave there makes the place feel like one big backyard.”

“Yeah, but not everyone likes that,” the Soupster pointed out. “My cousin Dave lives in Anchorage because of the ‘anonymity’. His Saturday morning routine includes a trip to Barnes and Noble for a read and a coffee. The irony is that by now, I bet the coffee baristas and most of the regulars know everything about him, except his name… You can tell a lot about a person by what they read. But I can see his point. At least the person at the next table isn’t going to know your family tree or anything else remotely private about you”.

Marci nodded in agreement. “The worst is seeing my counselor in public,” she said. “It makes me feel kinda naked. Like, the other shoppers see this normal adult doing the normal shopping thing; meanwhile, she knows that lurking just below the surface is this crazy animal, just waiting to be unleashed. I scare myself just thinking about it!”

“Counselors are like teachers,” the Soupster reflected. “You forget that they do normal things like go shopping or go to the gym. They probably even see shrinks themselves!”

Marci laughed. “Another nice thing about living in Our Town,” she added, “are the familiar strangers that you get to know. It starts when you keep seeing someone around town. Soon, you find yourself greeting them and one day you start talking to them. Often you find out who they are, but since they’ve never officially introduced themselves, you feel obliged to pretend you don’t know, or else act as if you’ve always known! Strange really…”

“Then there are people who greet you as if they know you, but you can’t remember having met them,” the Soupster said. “In that moment of awkwardness, you’re tempted to return their greeting as a long lost friend. But if you don’t clear the air immediately, let’s say you’ve more or less missed the boat. From then on, you’re locked into pretending you know them”.

“Oh, yeah, and let’s not forget,” Marci warned, “that sometimes we’re greeted affectionately by someone who thinks they know us, when actually they don’t.  That happened to my coworker recently. She told me how she saw my brother Ben down at Crescent Harbor the other day. They were deep in conversation before she realized that he wasn’t Ben! See, it does happen. You should never assume that you’re the one with the bad memory!”

“Hey, I gotta go,” the Soupster said suddenly. “That’s the guy who I’m selling my boat to. Or is it? Anyway if he isn’t, I’m sure I can convince him he is. He sure looks like the kind of guy who needs an old Whaler,” the Soupster said with a wink.

– Submitted by Lois Verbaan DenHerder

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Comments Off on Our Town – March 12, 2009

Our Town – March 12, 2009

| Neighbors, Our Town, Relationships, Shipping, Small Town Stuff, Telemarketing | March 12, 2009

The package delivery truck pulled away from Soup House and the Soupster cradled the box he had just received. He tried to sneak his package indoors, but was confronted by his nosy neighbor, who always came outside when a truck stopped anywhere near.

” It’s a Snuggie,” the Soupster admitted to Chesley, who had been sort of ashamed of his first name his whole life until recently. “One of those blankets with the sleeves that they sell on TV.”

“A blanket with the sleeves that they sell on TV,” Chesley repeated, shaking his head. “How far the mighty have fallen!” Chesley felt qualified to judge others, now that he shared the name of the heroic pilot who landed on the Hudson River and saved his passengers and crew.

“It’s for a `Star Wars’ party,” said the Soupster. “I’m going as Yoda. I also ordered a head.”

“You’re not helping your cause any,” said Chesley. “What was it – $25 for the `Snuggle’ and then another $25 to ship it to Our Town?”

“Snuggie!” said the Soupster.

“Whatever,” said Chesley, getting a second wind. “Hey, Soupster, you know what really fries my taters? “

“Propane?” asked the Soupster.

“No, no,” said Chesley. “It’s when you’ve got a vital part for something that you need right away and you can’t get it locally and it only costs two or three dollars for the part, but the shipping is 10 times as much.”

“I once paid $15 to have a $3 cat toy sent Express Mail,” said the Soupster.

“I paid $35 to Gold Streak a two-inch long spring,” said Chesley.

“In any case, it’s a small price to pay for living in Our Town,” said the Soupster. “We’ve got most everything we need in our local shops and the rest we can wait a little while for.”

“Or pay through the nose,” said Chesley.

“I still think we’re getting off cheap,” the Soupster said. “No traffic jams, we have the beautiful mountains, clean air and water, postcard sunsets. Easy living, Chesley. Would you give that up to save on shipping? Because I guarantee you, somebody in the Lower 48 would pay for free shipping for life in order to switch places with you.”

“That you talking, Soupster?” asked Chesley. “Or Yoda?”

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Would you like to create an Our Town?

The Sitka Soup would welcome an infusion of “new blood.” You may tell your story in words (450-500 of them), or as a graphic “cartoon” strip. We would even consider a short original photo essay with B&W photos. Your Our Town must be closely connected with the life of Sitkans, and the Soupster must make an appearance, even if it’s a brief one.

If we run your Our Town, we’ll pay you $50. To submit: Email your creation to shop@sitkasoup.com and put “Our Town” in the Subject line. Or call: 747-7595.

What is Our Town?

Our Town is a bi-weekly column that tracks the life of the Soupster and his friends and neighbors.

The Soupster is a long-time resident of Our Town who seems to have all the time in the world to traipse around, visit friends and neighbors and get into minor scrapes.

The first Our Town was published December 22, 1999.

Read Our Towns published before February 2009 HERE.

Who is the Soupster?

The Soupster is a long-time resident of Our Town who seems to have all the time in the world to traipse around, visit friends and neighbors and get into minor scrapes.

Our Town Archives

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