And there are no secrets

“Maybe I can describe it this way.  I like to play chess.  I moved to a small town, and nobody played chess there, but one guy challenged me to checkers.  I always thought it was kind of a simple game, but I accepted.  And he beat me nine or ten games in a row.  That’s sort of like living in a small town.  It’s a simpler game, but it’s played to a higher level.” – Ken Jenks (as quoted by Peter Hessler in “Dr. Don”)

5 thoughts on “And there are no secrets”

  1. I have never lived in a small town but I’ve romanticized the idea of it. So many characters, so many checkerboards in play. It seems like an environment in which you’d need to be three moves ahead of the game just to keep up.

    1. Averil, I’ve lived in small towns, one in Arkansas and one in Colorado. One I didn’t like so much, and the other I did. Both of them were close to other small towns and far from cities.

      But we all live in small towns. A city is just a mess of small towns all butting up against each other and overlapping. The trick is to live in several such virtual small towns and be able to move among them so one does not get trapped. Be a visitor in all and a resident in none.

      There’s a different trick: To live in a small town–a real one–one’s crimes must be small, one’s sins must be forgivable, one must be a church-goer, one must have a surface of conservatism overlying a substrate of open-mindedness, and one must never appear to be of any real danger to the community. For one or more of those reasons, I could not stay.

  2. Thank you for the perfect description of the different trick. That’s where I grew up. Now I’ve moved to a “city” that operates like a small town. A necessary act to take care of family. Some days it seems impossible to hang on. At a minimum I work to keep my mouth shut. Sometimes I don’t succeed.

    1. Everywhere’s a small town, Rebecca. One of the newer ones I’ve encountered is the virtual town called Facebook. I’m finding that I’m just as much a social klutz there as I was in the real ones long ago.

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