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Lee Pitts: Disputations And Usufructs

Don’t you hate it when snobs use twenty-dollar words when nickel ones will do? My least favorite words at the moment are metrosexual, shapewear and paradigm. In reading a couple books recently I had to grab the dictionary to find out what “disputations” and “usufructs” were. The wordinistas have gone so crazy that now they’re using several words where one worked just fine before, like appearance deficit (ugly), gravitationally challenged (fat), negative patient care outcome (dead), and intergenerational intimacy (I have no idea).

Now you can add to that list “the urban/rural interface”. Suddenly it’s the place to be. If you’re a bit nebulous, ambiguous or equivocal about what we’re talking about I have put together a circular and will be your docent as we reconnoiter this anomalous land called the urban/rural interface.

If a horse is your daily driver you belong on the rural side of the interface, but if “horse” is a game played on asphalt schoolyards in your neighborhood with a basketball you definitely belong on the urban side of the line.



If there is only five inches of drywall and Douglas Fir separating you from your closest neighbor I think it’s obvious on which side of the line you fall. Likewise if you are telling someone how to get to your abode and it sounds something like this: “Get off the freeway at 23rd street, turn left onto tenth and you’ll see several huge apartment complexes. I live in the only one on your right that hasn’t been fire-bombed. Using the phone by the entrance to my apartment building you’ll get a code from me then go up forty stories and I’m in 40017. Granted, it’s not the best neighborhood in town but it’s only $4,700 a month! I know, I know, I’m one lucky inhabitant. By the way, it’s probably best to come during daylight hours. And bring mace or pepper spray.”

If you can’t see your nearest neighbor and he or she is in a different zip or area code you definitely fall on the rural side of the interface. Ditto if directions to your ranch sound something like this: “Go through a town called Dirty Socks about five miles and you’ll see a big cottonwood tree. Turn right. When you run out of pavement it’s still another two miles. Just when you think you’re lost you’ll come to a big heavy green panel that acts as a gate. Make sure you close it behind you. You’ll see our house at the end of the dirt road. Be sure to call ahead so we can chain up the dogs and unload the shotgun.”



If you fall in the “urban” category you work out at a gym, eat foie gras at an expensive restaurant called “The Parts House”, drive an electric car or bike, hear sirens and gun fire all night, the tallest building snuffs out the sun, all the fences are six feet of chain link with rolls of concertina wire on top to keep the criminals out, and you suffer from something called “urban survival syndrome”.

If, on the other hand, you live in what used to be called “the country” you work out at work, there’s no vegetarian or vegan entree at the auction market cafe, the parts house is where the wife goes to buy expensive tractor or truck parts, you hear coyotes at night and more and more the blood curdling cry of the wolf. You drive a combine, horse, or 4 wheeler to work, all your fences have five wires to keep your cows in, the tallest building in town is either a silo or a water tower painted in high school colors complete with a mascot welcoming everyone to town, and you don’t suffer from any type of survival syndrome because you have a big safe full of firearms with loads of ammunition.

The word “hunting” means different things to folks on either side of the urban/rural interface. On the urban side of the interface people “hunt” for parking spaces while on the rural side they hunt for dinner. To urban residents the letters BLM stand for Black Lives Matter while on the rural side of the interface they stand for Bureau of Land Management. The two organizations have several characteristics in common and are both sworn enemies of those falling on the rural side of the interface.


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