The Urban Man
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The Fate of the Speckled Taw-Taw

The Fate of the Speckled Taw-Taw <br> Written in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina and the images from New Orleans <br> By Marc Porter Zasada<br><br> Like many others glued to their televisions over the last eight days, I now understand that we who dwell in large, modern cities are fragile creatures. Weak and dependent. A naturalist would say we have over-adapted to the goodwill of others. <br><br> It turns out that every morning some nice person must bring me my electricity and my water and my gasoline. Every morning, someone else must package up my food and keep my freeways clear. If not, well...I see on on my wide-screen TV that if something large happens, even something everyone expected to happen, I will have to stand on a rooftop, or outside a convention center with 10,000 others and wait for someone who owns helicopters and food to come along. <br><br> I will have to scrawl the words "Help me, in the name of G-d" on a cardboard sign and hold it up for the cameras. <br><br> At that time, the Urban Man will be dependent on a governor with the right connections. Someone who can get Washington on the phone. I'm not greedy: Since I live in a powerful nation, I realize my city may have to compete for things like food and helicopters with folks in distant countries where we have pressing goals. And yes, I understand that if the copters and convoys can't come in time, I may have to die right here in the megalopolis, maybe sitting in the parking lot of a looted 7-11. <br><br> I work as a marketing consultant: But even though I plan to exercise my high-priced savvy to create the best darn cardboard sign I can, I recognize it might not be enough. <br><br> Today, I imagine a lecture by some tweedy naturalist, standing in some dusty lecture hall: "If we take an animal, say the speckled taw-taw -- perfectly able to take care of itself in the wild, of course -- and keep it in a cage for a few years and bring it food and water and teach it a few simple tricks, it will soon forget that such a thing as survival exists. Or that it needs to keep up our good opinion if it wants the food and water to go on arriving through the little door of the cage." <br><br> At this point, the naturalist will pause for effect. <br><br> "Indeed, over time the silly, spoiled thing may become sulky and unappreciative. It may come to think it rules the household, and we are merely its servants. Then one day perhaps, by some terrible accident, our tender taw-taw may end up in the jungle, fending for itself. <br><br> "Sadly, it will have forgotten how. It will play its little tricks, but no food will arrive." <br><br> Tonight at 10pm, the Urban Man abandons both his tv and his imaginary lecture hall to wait in line at a gas station where the posted price is a little cheaper than most places in town. Never mind where. The lights burn bright to illuminate the sullen and unappreciative looks of my neighbors. We know we're being gouged, but what can we do? We've worked hard and arranged financing for these enormous cars, and now we've designed our whole lives around driving them from point A to point B. <br><br> We could hardly survive on our own. We could hardly refine the oil ourselves or cut our own deals with Saudi Arabia. <br><br> No, when we get to the front of the line, we will admit that we are fragile and dependent creatures who have run out of little tricks. Like speckled taw-taws, we will gaze uncertainly through the little security window as the man inside tells us he has just raised the price another 3 cents. <br><br> Copyright - 2005 Marc Porter Zasada. All rights reserved. <br>

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