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     Volume 9 Issue 46| December 03, 2010 |


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Writing the wrong

Drowning in A Blue Wave


It’s more than just a game.

I moved to my community about five years ago because of a stroke of luck. It is too rich for my blood, this idyllic little New England hamlet, nestled next to the Long Island Sound and within yodeling distance of New York City. Yet, through a series of events, which my partner at the time and I chose to embrace, we found ourselves here; in a quirky Victorian that abuts a woodland preserve, next to a house that is three times the value of mine.

The town is predominantly white and Republican, with a glut of kept women, who constantly renovate things, and bundle their 3.5 tow headed children into their suvs and transport them in a harried fashion from one sporting event to another, while sipping lattes. I am not exaggerating one bit. Also, most of these women are very slim, and there are quite a few horsey faced female inhabitants, with perfectly aligned, perfectly square teeth, lanky limbs, and various degrees of shiny, blonde mane. One wonders how they managed to birth 3. 5 children and still maintain their prepubescent figures.

When I first moved here, I was once mistaken for my much paler son's nanny. I think that should suffice to describe the level of homogeneousness that exists here. The first night I slept in my house, my heart beat so hard, I could feel it pounding in my throat. I thought I had made a terrible mistake. It was fifth grade all over again. I was the new kid and stood out like a boil. It is astonishing how certain events or circumstances transport you right back to the traumas of your childhood and fill you with a dread that you thought you had long since buried. Of course, as they say, whoever they are, you really cannot run from your demons. They are pesky that way, cropping up when you thought you had them beat, or secure in the basement with duct tape around their wrists and ankles (I have been watching too many sub par thrillers on cable, it seems). Moving here fed into all my adolescent fears of not fitting in that most of us still have. Quit trying to deny it. You know you still have your moments. Somehow, miraculously, five years later, I am very at home here, in fact it IS my home, now officially. Neighbours know me by name, which they pronounce correctly. Convenience store clerks know how I take my coffee, and the postman jokes around with me about the weather.

Home, sweet home.

As is the way of the Universe, if one makes a real effort to adapt, one finds their level. I found mine and have managed to make friends, one of whom is, quite frankly, a soul mate and VERY inconveniently, a woman. Oh well, love is love and should never be balked at. As a result of finding my level, I have become emotionally invested in my town, and no longer keenly feel being a minority--both in my political affiliations and dusky complexion. I am enthusiastic about where I live.

This past thanksgiving the local high school was scheduled to play a football game that highlighted a historic rivalry between us and the adjoining town of New Canaan. If my town is high on the hog, then New Canaan is hi-fi on crack. Moving to my town is viewed as a step down and a serious betrayal. Let me tell you, as I am getting older, I thoroughly revel in these inane rivalries and indulge my recreational love of talking good-natured smack to opposing teams, in this case, entire towns. My pal Rachel and I were joking around about printing t-shirts that said, “Darien: At least we are not New Canaan” and marching into their Starbucks, looking to throw down. What a pair, half a Jew and a full (ish) Muslim trying to engage in a West Side Story style rumble with a bunch of WASPS, a stone's throw from a Brook's Brothers. Also, she's from Brooklyn, and I am just pugnacious. At any rate, the game was set and for the first time in decades our football team was undefeated in its division. We were set for state championships as well if we won, and we had not beaten New Canaan since 2001, a statistic that smarted for many. I was as excited as anyone and planned to brave the cold and attend with my friends and neighbours.

The day before the game, a friend and I were out shopping for Thanksgiving, and her teenaged daughter sent her a text saying that New Canaan high school had been vandalised with Blue Wave (Darien) grafitti. That was all the information she had at that point, but I knew that it meant we were going to lose. I turned to my friend and said, “oh well, that's that. Bad juju.” Game over. I could feel the karma coursing through this particular situation.

In the end, it turned out to be much worse than what we had originally imagined. Two or three of the best players on the team--the go to guys, as it were, had taken it into their privileged, entitled heads to deface New Canaan high school property, causing thousands of dollars worth of damage, and were caught on security cameras. So, it is obvious that the elevator was not going all the way to the top. They were arrested the next day amidst a school assembly and suspended from playing, effectively ruining their team's chances of winning and dashing their community's hopes. The prize was so close and now, was gone. Well, thrown away with both hands. I know some of you are thinking, why is she writing about a wealthy town's, small town woes when Haiti is imploding and Bangladesh, is well, Bangladesh? I will tell you: because this is where I am at this moment, my community, my friends, my kid's friends and my neighbours. The actions of three stupid teenage jocks affected almost an ENTIRE town. The game was sombre to say the least, the remaining boys rallied and won a few hard fought touchdowns and then gave up. The heartbreak was clear on their faces and it occurred to me that this was a moment in their young, yet unrealised lives that they will never forget. Indeed, this may be a defining moment in one or two of their lives. A definition that could go either way. So, we are talking either Uni-bomber, or Nelson Mandela. Don't scoff, I think this is how these things might work.

It may seem like nothing to most of us, but to those boys who had stayed at home and prepared for the game instead of committing a felony, it meant everything and I was palpably aware of that. The weight of it I could not take lightly. And neither could my fellow Darienites. Again, we are all connected and who knows what this means for the town? I have grown more and more aware of our collective symbiosis. It was on powerful display last Thursday and I cannot deny it. Alas, neither should anyone.



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