Thursday, May 14, 2009

National Geographic

     B-Town showed up in my office yesterday.  This is not abnormal.  But what she had in tow certainly was.  With her was a short, middle-aged, balding man with glasses.  I think he was wearing a sweater vest.  He sort of looked like he should have been a high school math or English teacher, once of those guys who has been doing it for twenty years and all the kids know and sort of like but aren't buddy-buddy with.  Or like maybe he should have been hanging around working at a library at a college somewhere, I am not quite sure.
     But anyway, this guy was from National Geographic.  The magazine.  And he was a totally cool and charismatic man.  Here he was, poking around my office, asking about a haunted property a couple of towns over.  How exciting!  Or at least one would think.  I am exited now that I think about it.  But at the time I wasn't.  I was too busy running around gathering files and printing out information like I would do with any other customer.  But now that some time has passed I am a little more excited, and I don't know if it is about what he was writing about or if it was just the fact that he was from National Geographic.
     See, National Geographic is a bit of an American icon, sort of like Life (the magazine not the cereal or board game) or the Saturday Evening Post.  And when you are a geographer by trade like A-Town or myself, it is even more so.  I don't know about you, but when my mom started getting the subscription to National Geographic for me it was like a turning point in my life.  Well, not a turning point maybe but certainly a sign of maturity.  But anyway, I loved it.  I loved it so much I would go to the library and thrift store and rummage sales and get old copies so I could catch up with what I missed for all those years.  Eventually I had hundreds on my shelf, which was awesome until I had to move and couldn't bear the thought of hauling them up three flights of stairs.
      Something has changed with National Geographic in the last couple of years, however.  My favorite part of the magazine was that it always had articles about places.  An article about Manitoba.  An article about the Baltimore wharf.  An article about Victoria Falls.  I loved it.  One time they did an article about US Highway 93 and I was so excited I had to change my shorts.  I read it so many times that to this day I can look at a map of one of the states that road goes through and recall different parts and characters from the story.  But in the last couple of years the focus of the articles have changes.  They aren't about places as much anymore.  They are about the dinosaurs that roamed the Earth eleventy billion years ago.  They are about the migration of whales.  They are about cloning sheep.  And quite frankly, that is not what I signed up for.
      And A-Town and I have talked about this before.  I have felt this way for some time and when he asked me about it I could have cried because it meant that I wasn't crazy and I wasn't alone in thinking this.  So I was naturally excited to hear that the author from National Geographic was doing an article on a place, on an event, on a locality as opposed to the emerald ash borer or the Mexican tickworm.  And to have the article written about somewhere so nearby, that is neat.  I mean, I understand that I am not going to go down in history on the written page for this one.  I am not going to be in the article.  And neither is A-Town. (And B-Town had better not be.)  And there is about a 98.72% chance that the information that I gave the man won't be in the article either.  But I can't help but feel as if I were a part of it somehow, that I gave it a boost forward towards completion.  And that has to count for something, right?  Like at least a photo credit or something.  

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