Everybody Knows You

Having grown up in small towns, and visited Oxford, Nebraska, myself, I can relate to and agree with Burt Prelutsky 100% as he writes about a trip he and his future bride took to meet his soon-to-be in-laws for the first time.

Oxford is a town of about a thousand people, located in the southwest part of the state. For someone who was born in Chicago and raised in Los Angeles, it was more exotic than Osaka, Japan. When you live in a big city, it is possible to go a very long time without ever knowing your next door neighbor, so it is a major culture shock to spend a week in a town where you’re the only stranger.

Because my wife and I were staying at a motel in a town about 12 miles away, we had to rent a car. One dark night, on our way back to the Bide-a-Wee, our car suddenly broke down in the middle of farm country. Being closer to my mother-in-law’s house than to our motel, we left the car parked on the shoulder and started walking back. After about five minutes, a car headed in our direction slowed down and stopped. There were two elderly women in the car. They offered us a lift. When I asked them if they weren’t the least bit nervous about picking up strangers in the dead of night, the driver said, “We saw your car, so we knew you’d broken down, and we knew we’d come across you sooner or later.” I sat there thinking, “Toto, we’re not in California anymore.”

No, indeed. And we like it that way.

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