Saturday, February 27, 2016

This Is Vermont

I was born in another state and lived there for my first 15 years, but I've been around long enough that I feel pretty qualified to identify a Real Vermonter when I see one, and Tim was one of those.

He was my mechanic (when I got myself in a real jam) for 15 years.  He had the full Vermont accent.  He owned the word "ain't" in a such a way that you would've looked dumb trying to correct him.  He was one of those big, burly guys that are immune to cold weather.  One of those guys who wears a jacket short enough that, it seems with the slightest bend forward, their lower back is completely exposed to winter cold and wind, but they never flinch.  One of those guys who is perpetually scuffing around in snow pants chewed up at the ends by his boots, always a little ashy from stoking the wood stove, always out there doing some kind of work in the blowing snow.  Some people are just built for it.  Guys like this can't even function in warm climates.  On hot summer days you see people like this and think, "You are clearly out of your element, buddy", like seeing an Eskimo in a cornfield, or a husband at the mall.

And you know how people always say, "Oh, that guy's just a big ol' Teddy Bear'?  Tim actually looked like a giant Teddy Bear.  He had big hands and stubby fingers, and kept his arms slightly out to his sides as he walked.  He had a big round face, bushy dark hair and a beard... all offset with sparkly bright blue eyes that had long lashes.

So with Tim's passing goes another piece of true Vermont.  I think they literally are a dying bread.  When I see all the Manhattanites coming into town, building large homes and chasing some quaint New England dream they've romanticized for themselves, or all the microbrew-swilling, outdoorsy millennials moving here for "the lifestyle", working for some .com with an overly-inflated pay scale, I think of guys like Tim, and the late, great Paul, who actually represent what Vermont really is.


Paul (notice the long shirt and pants in summer)

Paul was an arm wrestling champ in the 80's, but he wouldn't go around telling you that because he didn't feel like arm wrestling every chucklehead who thought they could beat him.  His main gig was to drive a flatbed tow truck around, but for fun he worked as a bouncer.  He was the guy on the race crew that was assigned only one task, which was "Here - lift this." and he did that very well.  He also enjoyed the music of George Michael and, when dining out, always ordered strawberry-flavored milk.

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