Locals

I work in a restaurant to support my writing habit. Often, a night there is no different than if you visited an Applebee’s or Olive Garden. On Friday nights, however, you begin to understand small this big town is. One couple leaves their table to chat with another. As a server, you’re lightly grasped by the elbow so a woman in a cable-knit sweater can point out a group and ask to pay for their next round. (This often ends up a game of catch as each table volleys free rounds for the other.) The cook’s aunt and uncle come in and the owner of the movie theater next door shares an appetizer with them.
While I find this camaraderie and hometown appeal nice, I also shudder at it.
How must it be to never be a stranger in your town? Who wants to drive away from home in order to enjoy a bit of piece and anonymity? The bar we visit on Burger Night Thursday is chock full of these locals, happy to visit each other, discuss local news and weather, and who generally insert, “did you hear so-and-so died?” into their random conversation.
Maybe I’m not old enough to be a local. Maybe the solitary act of writing filters itself through social interaction. The act of small talk is an art. Maybe I’ve written too deep to be shallow.

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