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Opinion

River Falls comes up short on ‘refreshing’ city-like incidents

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November 13, 2008

Growing up in Minneapolis has definitely exposed me to some very interesting characters and equally interesting behavior. Of this, I am eternally grateful and believe that such characters and interactions make me better appreciate individual people and instances of unusual substance.

While living on Lake Street may have had its unpleasant aspects (namely being accosted by drug dealers, acquiring an ear for gunshots and only being allowed to walk to the neighboring park all the way through age 16 under the protection of a ferocious-looking but, quite frankly witless, German Shepard), such a youth definitely lent itself to a good deal of humorous moments that seem to cluster around city environments.

Part of the humor in my city childhood is owed to my mother, whose temper and rigid intolerance to our often-violent neighborhood had a tendency to manifest itself in curious ways.

An example of this was how she used to sit on the steps of our Victorian home as the sun set, with a cup of coffee steaming on the cement and a cigarette smoldering on the edge of the first step, and put her fingers to her mouth and add wild and outlandish contributions to the whistle signals being exchanged by two people involved in a drug deal, and then proceed to smirk as the runner would stumble, turn and stand bemused.

Other antics included smearing poop of the aforementioned German Shepard on a public telephone that was never touched save by drug dealers facilitating one transaction or another in our neighborhood.

Apart from these incidents there were others that may seem offensive or confusing to others, but remain as fond memories to me. As much as I enjoy the quiet, small-town characteristics of River Falls and other townships like it, they simply cannot compete with watching a child enthusiastically gnaw on the seat handles of a city bus or batting away squinty old men attempting to braid your hair behind you on your 4th grade tour of the state capitol.

It is difficult for a town that sponsors tractor pulls and hayrides to produce that kind of fascination mixed with disgust. I will admit that having so many bars making up so much of a town’s square footage yields some pretty amusing results, but after watching a matted, middle-aged woman pull up alongside you as you wait for the bus, lean into her lap with a straw and clearly do a line of something, and then shout “TALKIN’ DOWNTOWN!” it might take a bit more to spur your astonishment.

This is not to say that such occurrences have been eradicated from my life since I’ve moved. I make it back home fairly often and am still greeted with the sight of a shirtless man cartwheeling down a sidewalk, a bearded Neanderthal-esque man on a street corner hitting on the unfortunate few that have to wait for the light to change, and many other such incidents. And I’ll tell you; it feels good to be home every time.

Katie Heimer is double majoring in international studies and history, with a German minor.