We will never understand why we do certain things, a rule for which The Observer can think of no better or more jarring example than the events of the recent ice storm, which struck Little Rock earlier this month when we least expected it. Many residents likely took one glance at the dire weather conditions and opted to stay in for the night. The Observer got in his car and jumped on I-40, more concerned with finding an appropriate radio station than with any safety precautions necessitated by these near-traumatic wintry circumstances. We went with Heartbeat 106.7, for whatever that’s worth.
It seemed manageable, like a heavy rain. Why not? Somewhere near mile marker 202, as The Jacksons launched into “Goin’ Places,” the title track from their 1977 LP, we lost control of the Camry in a patch of slush, and it glided several degrees out of our reach. By the time we stopped, the car had sort of violently melded with the guard rail at the median, spun around so that the windshield faced oncoming traffic, which was sparse.
We chewed on a cough drop while we surveyed the damage, which our polite insurance claims representative would later label a “total loss,” in the parlance of that industry. The police officer who arrived at the scene was unsympathetic, and we remember little of this encounter, except that his name was James Taylor. If The Observer had our wits about us, we might have made a “Fire and Rain” joke, though that would have been hacky, and anyway there was no rain, just sleet.
This is all just a long and involved way of explaining why The Observer has been on foot lately, much more often than usual in fact. The better to appreciate Little Rock’s timeless and disparate architecture. Why drive through the Quapaw Quarter when you can walk? That’s a rhetorical question. The truth is, we live in a dynamic and beautiful city. It’s important that you appreciate this and do so now, while it is a luxury rather than an imperative. And if you happen to be driving to Kroger in the near future, why not see if your neighbor needs a ride? I know I do.
And speaking of wrecks: The Observer is a law abiding sort. We try to keep our nose clean. We’re not down with the prigs down at the Ladies Temperance League, or the Society for a Less Interesting Society, or the Church of the Tasteful Adoration of the Resurrected Almighty, but we try to stay as moral as we can none-the-less. We try to be, to paraphrase the great Kurt Vonnegut, the kind of guy who will one day be able to stand a little shamefacedly before the throne of the Lord up in heaven and say: “You know, I had my doubts about whether You were really up here or not, Big G, but I was a stand-up Joe anyway. Put that in Your pipe and smoke it.” We’re hoping to win a few points with Him through pluck alone.
We started thinking all this jazz about morality and doing what you ought when we pulled up Dr. Zuckerberg’s Fantabulastic Book o’ Faces the other day and saw where our friend, Brian Chilson, erstwhile shutterbug at the Arkansas Times, had been involved in a broad-daylight hit and run in downtown Little Rock.
Brian was motoring along at Third and Scott on Monday when another driver cut across his lane and ran a newer, maroon pickup right into the front corner of Brian’s Ford compact, busting up the headlight real good and putting a gash you could slide a Pop Tart through in the grinning little Ford’s silver cheek.
The two adversaries dismounted, paperwork in hand. Discussions ensued in the middle of the street over who had the green (both did, though Brian was going straight). With traffic blocked, Brian suggested they pull over into a nearby lot to exchange insurance info. Brian limped his steed on over there, parked, got out with his license and insurance information, then waited, and waited, and waited. Soon — after a long while of considering whether another human being could, in fact, be that big of a dookheel — it became apparent to Brian that the other driver had skedaddled.
Yes, Brian, there are in fact jackasses in the barnyard, and they’re always the ones who make it so hard to remain an upstanding, empathetic duck or sheep or pony. We want to believe, however, and so we’ll just pretend that fella in the pickup truck had a wife giving birth to quadruplets across town or something.
That said, we can’t help but suspect that somebody’s going to have some ‘splaining to do if or when it comes time to face The Big G, and it ain’t gonna be Brian Chilson, upstanding citizen of Little Rock.