It was Arkansas’ to lose

I work from my local library once in a while. It’s quiet and the wifi’s pretty good. I like to sit at a small desk positioned near a load-bearing beam because it’s next to an outlet, and it has a nice view of whatever temporary, employee-made, art work is hanging over the help desk in support of their monthly promotions. Currently it’s a four foot by three foot paper collage of Frida Kahlo that is not doing her any favors.

There is a sign on the small desk that reads, “RESERVED FOR NOTARY,” but I sit there anyway. Who do I think I am? I think I’m a guy who knows a social experiment based on people’s fear of authority when he sees one. The kicker is, “notary” is obviously a fake title they made up to prove their point. And it’s clear my choice to sit there passes the test because no one has ever asked me to move.

A few weeks back I was sitting there getting my work done when I was approached by a little old lady interested in passing the time. She did most of the talking. She knew a lot about football and had some strong opinions about the local team, I forget their name. I do know the name of the guy who owns the team. Jerry Jones. A man with that much money, and that little taste tends to make himself known well outside his immediate industry. I get the feeling that were it not for the iron bonds of time he’d be having regular coaching lunches with P.T. Barnum in which P.T. would mostly repeat himself: “Chill, bro. Chill.”

The little old lady seemed to have a higher road from which to object. Something about management of the franchise and greatness. I don’t know. It’s hard for me to track with sports conversation. I need Ken Burns to make me a 20 hour football documentary staffed with the same weepy poets as his baseball work and maybe then I’d buy the cap.

I got the impression over the course of our chat that she was in the early stages of her mind not being what it used to be. At one point she asked me to highlight some of her hand-written notes for her. “Which lines?” I said. “The whole page, and the same for these other two sheets,” she said, “I can’t seem to press hard enough to get a dark line, and it’s taking me too long. You might be able to do it faster.” She leafed back through other pages that had been highlighted top to bottom. “Oh, I think it’s that your highlighter is out,” I said.

I offered her my highlighter, but it was pink, and she said it was imortant that it was yellow. She had to pack up and go catch her ride, and seemed to be troubled by not getting the pages highlighted. So do we all slowly plod if we live so long.

Before the highlighting thing, while still on her screed about the local football club and its garish owner, she said this:

“I never forgave Arkansas for giving us the Clintons. And I never forgave Arkansas for giving us Jerry Jones.”

What was there left to say?