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Can't We Get Along

Recently I attended one of the concerts at Sumac Park. Great fun. Beautiful place. That day I saw a group called Yesterday, which resuscitated early Beatles music. Beside the fact that one of the mop tops - George, I think - was singing flat and calling it harmony, the band was pretty good. Pretty darn good.

On this particular day, Sumac Park was record-breaking packed. The lines for the restroom squirmed and fidgeted as far as the eye can see. If you arrived late, you sat on the perimeter and liked it. The mimes collecting donations had to huddle up at times to determine how they might visit everyone. By the way, they aren't really mimes. I heard them talking in the parking lot afterward.

Sumac Park is a quaint facility nestled into a neighborhood where there isn't much room for parking. If a local teen decided to ruin his parents' house with a party, his or her friends would be pressed to find a spot. Imagine the ordeal of parking several thousand people in this neighborhood. Not just any people, either, but folks who drive on Kanan Road, where the concept of "courteous" was run over years ago.

In front of Sumac Elementary on the west, or east, or - hell, I don't carry a compass - on one side of Sumac, is a crosswalk. This is a magical crosswalk unlike anything on earth. Whoever uses this crosswalk is overcome with a sense of oblivious well-being. They feel invincible, protected by a deadly unseen force-field. So long as they stay within the paint, nothing can harm them and time stands still.

While the pedestrians rejoiced in their right of way, I waited in my car for an opening. Families danced, ambled, promenaded into the street, a never-ending flow of humanity. They appeared out of nowhere all wearing that same half-witted expression. Meanwhile the cars piled up behind me, each person holding me personally responsible for the situation. I was first in line after all. I noticed that the guy behind me was about to combust with impatience. In front of me, a little girl bent down to tie her shoe while her father lectured her on the history of double-knots.

Finally, the guy behind me cracked. He must have thought the real John Lennon had been exhumed for today's performance, he was so anxious. He kept inching closer to the rear of my car until I could see every last detail of his sourpuss face. I think he wanted me to run the little girl over. And if I didn't have the guts, he'd plow me through himself. I, of course, was afraid of being vaporized by the Enchanted Crosswalk of Sumac Park. The cars behind him started to "lose it" as well until we became one big mass of angry metal.

And it dawned on me that eveRYONE WAS WAY TOO HIGH-STRUNG HERE!! We were going to see a concert in the park, for Chr-- for Pete's sake! Fun. Happy. Leisure. This wasn't a time for running over little girls, but appreciating the fact that they exist. I peered into my review mirror again to see that the jerk behind me needed glasses. He was near-sighted. He could only see where HE was going and who was in HIS way. He couldn't fathom a bigger universe.

I'm not asking that people be courteous. I attended that funeral. I am asking that we simply recognize the fact that we coexist. If we live in a neighborhood, there's a pretty good chance that we're going to have neighbors. If we don't like having neighbors, then we're in the wrong state. Every person who is in our way also has his or her own way. And those ways tend to cross. And we build crosswalks so that people survive when they do.


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