the bridge


bridgeIn Louisiana I worked with a girl.

Her name was Maureen. She was very pretty. And very tiny. All slender pale girl with long blonde hair and a Southern Belle waistline with no corset required.

Maureen was very shy. Which made it funny she was working in a bar. She told me once she had been overweight her whole youth and afraid of people and mostly ignored by people while she lived on diets that never worked. Then one day she was diagnosed with slow thyroid and they put her on medicine and all that weight fell off and there she was this pretty girl people noticed. She said she cried when she bought her first size five.

I tell a lot of stories about adventures. The stories generally involve how I got myself into trouble there is no way of getting out of and then how I somehow got myself out of trouble again. Sometimes they involve leaping out of moving automobiles. Or grand theft auto. Or being lost in the middle of the badlands of lower Texas long after dark with nothing between me and the darkness but a cell phone and a slowly dwindling gas tank. The adventures can get a little hair raising. And I have been having them my whole life so there are and were many adventure stories and Maureen liked them so during slow times I would tell some to her.

One day Maureen comes to work and tells me she has had an adventure. This is very unlike Maureen and I say, Tell all. And she tells all.

There is a bridge by the place we work. It is very narrow, two lanes, with no walkway. It rises up on cables, the whole bridge rises, when barges come down the river. These bridges are sometimes called “Coonass Bridges” I am not sure why except someone thought it was a dumb way to make bridges and was being funny. I do not see anything dumber about a bridge that rises up and down like an elevator than putting a bridge across a river so low barges will hit it coming down the river myself so most rising bridges strike me as kind of dumb no matter how they raise up but anyway —

Maureen is driving home from work after closing hours when her car runs out of gas on THE BRIDGE. Really the wrong bridge to be stuck on. Since you cannot pass on it and there is no walkway on it and also well it has this odd habit of going up and down. And Maureen, not being used to any sort of adventure at all grips the steering wheel and —


And then, Maureen tells me, She thought, Do not panick, what would Max do? Max would be okay here, what would she do?

So she decides Max would get out of the car and hoof it. [Hoof it is totally a verb Maureen learned from me.] And she gets out of the car. And someone in a car behind her leaving the place we work too immediately recognizes her and takes her straight off to get gas and they fill up her car and off she goes.

On the scale of adventuredom, it was not a very big adventure. But for Maureen, it was huge. It was the first time she had ever been in trouble in her life, and she thought of me.

That was the first time I ever got that my stories were maybe more impactful than just funny stories about dumb me getting into trouble and getting out again. That on some level they made impressions on people. And touched people in funny ways. Funny enough they got a scared girl stranded on a two lane bridge with no walkway out of her car so someone could help her.

I was seventeen years old. An abandoned child of the highway who never stayed anywhere too long and never told anyone too much. And I had changed a life.


where the art work comes from :
that is queen mary bridge wing by seán duggan

[i am so about pinhole photography lately it is a sickness i tell you]

10 Responses to the bridge

  1. Ginny

    “I was seventeen years old. An abandoned child of the highway who never stayed anywhere too long and never told anyone too much. And I had changed a life.” It’s fun ny (actually, it’s not) how we “become” the people we really could have used in our own lives.

  2. I happen to be very fond of Bridges, they’re more then a means to get from one side of a big hole to another in my book.

    Hey there Ginny, I became the person I could have used in a few dark moments of my life a week or so ago.

    And in that moment I almost got my face punched in by a guy who wanted to beat up one of those ” Illegals ” ( that’s code for Mexican in our neck of the woods ) who walked across his lawn.

    I’m sort of anti-human right now.
    Bummed is the word I think I’m looking for.

  3. max

    I am so hoping “anti-human right now” is code for “that fucker will be lucky if he ever wakes up.”

  4. This crud just makes me feel tired and old Max, I mean people will never change you know?

    The thing is, I’ve know this guy for over 15 years and in all that time I had no idea he hated me or ” Illegals” that much.


  5. sulya

    Anita Marie, I’m with max, I hope you rearranged his anatomy.

    I don’t know about you, max, but on those rare occasions when I realize that I have “changed a life” simply by being me, I feel this strange combination of renewed confidence and fierce responsibility…

  6. max

    Well he is a bad bad man. What kind of “man” accosts a woman? Also he is congenitally impaired. “Illegals”? What does he think we share a border with Asia?

    I cannot fathom people like that. I do not even want to try. It makes me feel dirty just thinking about it.

  7. max

    [hey if you gave Insanity Jones a bucket of gasoline and a paintbrush and told him to get creative on the guy’s lawn….]

  8. max

    You know I meant to say this earlier and somehow forgot — or just bypassed it because it is difficult and lengthy.

    I had to give up the responsibility thing. A long time ago. Responsibility makes you think you own things, and that you should control things. And that is difficult. You give someone tools. You say, here they are. But after that you must let go. People will take the tools out and use them how they want to or choose to or can. And if you are feeling some sense of responsibility and wanting to curb how they use the tools, it is like giving a five year old a paint by numbers image and then yelling the kid is not inside the lines when maybe being inside the lines would not be as interesting. Or, maybe, the kid just cannot be inside the lines so what good does it do to yell or curb or control or be responsible?

    You put it out there. It is you. And then you let go. Because whatever it is that is you that you are putting out there will never be exactly you, coming back at you. And if you have to own the changes, well you cannot own the changes. You can only own you. You let go.

  9. The ugly thing is, that when it comes to ethnicity it’s easy for people to view each other as NOT even being human…so it’s nothing, and I mean a short step for a person to cross a line he never would have crossed if he lived in a ‘ pure world’.

    For example: to take his fist and shove it into a woman’s face because in his world…she’s not a woman she’s ‘ one of them.’

    I did think about The Revenge of Insanity Jones, buy my dog ( Cerebus ) has wanted to eat this guy for lunch since Summer started ( and the ” Illegals ” …that’s redneck speak for Mexican in my neighborhood- if you’re Hispanic you’re an Illegal ) moved in to the development on the next street )

    My dog sits in my herb garden and chases butterflies around the yard I’m not kidding- she’s three and never acted vicious towards anything.

    So now I’m thinking of a plan like ” Cerebus…Mommy’s Little Demon Slayer ”

    But like you said Max, I can only be me and the person I am cares about fairness and justice so I may be feeling a little tired around the edges right now but I’m not changing.

    The next time I see someone getting the short end of it…I’m going to be there.


  10. sulya

    I think, for me, the sense of responsibility plays less into controlling outcomes then it does into which stories I tell to which people.

    Which parts of myself I give to which people.

    It’s less a responsibility “for” than it is a responsibility “to”.

    As in, perhaps don’t tell the story about getting drunk and doing cartwheels on the median line of a busy road to the upset teenager who needs some place to put his/her anger/frustration/sense of powerlessness. But, perhaps do tell the story of standing up to a teacher and fighting for the right to have my own opinion and get a better grade to that same teenager.

    I suspect that this has caused some fairly serious censorship of myself in the past and I’m working on that now. But to “let go” of my control/power in other people’s lives seems infinitely easier to me than to let myself just GO….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *