By Rosalie Tirella
Spring is here! Sunny days! Warm nights. croquses jutting out of the grassy squares we Worcester three decker dwellers like to call our front and side yards. Winter is brutal in new England – it seems more and more brutal with each passing year. Chalk it up to our creaky joints or … the sad, sad fact that too often folks in Worcester are just plain rude, unfriendly. They carry a perpetual wintertime of the soul.
Twenty or so years ago it didn’t used to be this way!
I used to say the people of Worcester were “real,” gritty but decent; rough around the edges but always ready to lend a hand … nice. It was as if all the churches we belonged to, all the factories we worked at, all the ethnic social clubs we belonged to took the edge off our urban living, even poverty. Those days seem to have evaporated in the spring sun. I chalk it up to reality TV, and the culture of quasi-porn lots of Americans embrace as they listen to the filth spewed by radio hack Rush Limbaugh and his ilk, watch Paris Hilton and Snookie bare all (body and hollow soul!) on R-17 reality/cable TV shows …
I remember a former boyfriend wanted to take a photo of my breasts to carry around in his cell phone. I said NO WAY! His new girlfriend (a few weeks into the relationship) let him take a cell phone photo of her boobs (the boob) and they proudly sit on his cell phone today (not as the phone wall paper). He told me, “If I asked her to take out her tits in public, she would.”
Glad he’s found someone who “embodies” what it means to be an American in 2012.
So goes the whoring of America, which, I believe, leads to the anything goes attitude of America, which leads to the if anything goes, then we can be in your face rude and obnoxious. We can wear clothes that make us look like whores – we can even dress our little daughters in clothes that sexualize them because these are the outfits stores (taking the cue from Paris Hilton) sell these days.
So, for me, it no longer surprises to see people run red lights and give fellow drivers the finger while they cut folks off/break the law. It no longer shocks me to read about gun play in the middle of downtown Worcester, a downtown I used to love shopping in with my mom and two kid sisters in the 1960s/early 1970s. I accept the fact that Worcester/society has broken down. All the police details and all the community meetings where neighborhood activists declare that we will all take back our neighborhoods can’t put this Humpty Dumpty city back together again.
Still, there are a few glimmers of hope in Wormtown – Worcesterites who – despite the snow, sleet , rain, and undercurrent of selfishness – manage to be polite. Courteous at all (or most) times. Ready with a smile and a kind word. As sunny as spring – no matter how wintery Worcester gets. Even in May.