Whenever the Soupster felt like an old timer, he’d run into someone like Gregor “GG” Gregorovich, whose mother descended from a long-time Our Town family. If there had been a Permanent Fund for the whole of GG’s life instead of just the last half of it, GG would have gotten his check every single year. He was born in his family’s house off Sawmill Creek and had never, ever been out of Our Town for more than 90 days in a row.
At the airport, the Soupster was just thinking “Been in this burg a while,” when he saw the hulking Russian buying a mocha and a smoked salmon bagel from the caffeine kiosk.
The Soupster stepped up to the main counter, where a young woman who used to sell him Girl Scout cookies and 3 holiday wrapping paper now smilingly checked his photo identification and oversaw his purchase of more than $1,000 in airline tickets. The Soupster staggered away, clutching his tickets in his hand.
He felt the tug of time. Driving home with a smashed taillight a week ago he had been pulled over by a police officer so young the Soupster was tempted to call him “Son.” Girl Scouts ran the airport.
The Soupster then felt a tug, really, as GG sidled over and grabbed the Soupster’s arm. The big man had already eaten most of his bagel and held the last bit and his coffee in his other large paw.
“You planning a trip out, Soupster?” asked GG. “You probably like all that stuff in the Real World.”
“Less and less,” admitted the Soupster. “I used to love going to the Lower 48. After spending a couple of years in Our Town, Down South seemed like some kind of Disneyland. Everything was amusing, even traffic jams. Now, not so much.”
“Well I never go anywhere,” GG said proudly. “I just enjoy being in Our Town, especially in January.”
“January is the only total experience – monthly experience – that I get all year,” GG intoned. “After New Years Day, I’m still aware of passing individual days, like January 5th or 6th. Then a week goes by and then another. And everybody starts saying, `Wow, it’s the 15th already?’
“Then I get up into the January 23rd to 26th range and I realize something very nice is coming to an end. I find myself savoring each day in January as kind of a slow- down, time-out kind of month.”
“And when January’s over?” asked the Soupster.
“February and beyond?” said GG, staring out the picture window as a big jet landed. “After January, the rest of the year is just a blur.”