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 Sep 17 - 23, 2009 
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Dateline: Malpais

Where the Hell Am I?

By Juan Maloso

Hi, my name is Juan Maloso and I live nowhere.

I am what you call a city slicker, but my chosen line of work has taken me to small towns across America. I move more than Mongolian sheep herders. I never get to really know anyone outside of work, and before long, I move on.

Most of these locales are at the very least semi-rural and at the most, the country.

Since I was born and raised on concrete, the country is often a source of amusement—the amusement of the country residents at me.

For example, I don’t know the difference between mules and donkeys, or that there even was one—though I was told never to say that around mule people. Personally, I don’t know what all the fuss is about. I prefer burros.

Everybody in the city wants to move to the country. Everybody in the country wants to move to the city. I’m just tired of moving.

There are far more gun owners in the country than in the city. The Second Amendment is big in my latest economically depressed river valley, and people love their guns. I actually never hear gunfire out here, though. All the gunfire I’ve ever heard in my life was in the city. I used to judge how bad the neighborhood I lived in was by the gunfire. If I heard it, the neighborhood was bad. If people were exchanging it, it was much worse.

The country hasn’t rubbed off on me. I’m a city boy through and through. I guess I have become a rabid Waylon Jennings fan, and I got a painting of something called a Gadwall duck. It hangs right beneath the Nepalese prayer flags.

Everybody in the city wants to move to the country. Everybody in the country wants to move to the city. I’m just tired of moving.

There’s a variety of machinery in the country that fills me with terror. Now, I’ve seen plenty of backhoes and cranes. But the first time I laid eyes on a combine, I thought the machines had risen up. I wept for humanity and then got impatient because the combine was blocking the road.

City folks are temperamental drivers, and that's evidenced by the proliferation of freeway gun violence. Country people drive slow in town and unbelievably fast on ungraded back roads. Ask my windshield. Wearing a seat belt while on said back roads is crucial. The helicopter may take 30 minutes or longer to get there.

Once I moved to the country I learned a disturbing fact of life: Shopping at Wal-Mart is required. When in the city, I avoid Wal-Mart like it's a giant cold sore. Now that I live in the country, the Beast has forced the only grocery store in town to charge crack prices for things like toilet paper and the razor blades I use on the center of my eyebrow. I have no choice. I can’t let that unibrow go unmanaged. I start looking like Frida Kahlo on bovine growth hormone.

I still buy my meat at the grocery store. The hamburger at Wal-Mart looks like it was engineered to withstand a nuclear war. Frozen taquitos are more organic than that stuff. The same goes for vegetables, not that I ever eat any.

Maybe one day I'll make it back to the city where I can shop at one of those nice organic markets with the $8 cans of tuna. Until then it's genetically engineered gingersnaps.

 
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