Safe haven ONE OF the 13-year-olds at a school...


September 15, 2001|By C. Fraser Smith

Safe haven

ONE OF the 13-year-olds at a school cafeteria lunch table offered reassurance.

Nothing to worry about here, she told her friends.

We won't get hit.

Nothing around here worth bombing.

She ticked off a few landmarks: Towson Commons, White Marsh, the Timonium fairgrounds, their school.

As she named each place, she put down a small pretzel.

One pretzel for each mall, one for her school, one for the fairgrounds.

The girls surveyed the small landscape. Then one of them grabbed White Marsh and put it in her mouth.

Hey, you can't do that, said the discussion leader.

Against the rules.

But she did do it.

The pretzel was gone in a second. The landscape changed.

Everyone laughed.

Club Med?

YOU KNEW how much life had changed after last Tuesday if you logged on for your e-mail.

The usual lineup of merely annoying advertisements seemed sardonic, laughable, mocking.

Were you at all interested in a discount air fare?

Where would you go? Some place safe? Where would that be?

Would you like a "a perfect body"? How perfect would your body have to be to fly off a 110-story building?

Amos Pettingill wants you to know it's time to think spring.

No doubt, but will we be here in spring?

You could cut your outstanding bills instantly by 50 percent, refinance your mortgage.

But why bother?

Keeping faith

AMEMBER of the House of Delegate finds that a scheduled speech must still be given. And she finds that people want some transcendent wisdom, some insight, some guidance. What should they do? Three things, she suggests.

Fly a flag. We're doing this. Every third house in some parts of the city has one out. The floor-to-ceiling banners on city porches and on bridges over Route 95 in Howard County are dramatic and touching. One especially likes the clusters of parade watcher, handheld flags now stuck in clusters at mailboxes along Hampton Lane in Towson and Columbia. They're a bit worn, faded from use, no doomsday patriots here. In Francis Scott Key's home state, flags get a lot of use. On the morning after, in the dawn's early light, a Charles Villager put out a message of sorrow and an appeal for understanding with a computer generated flag on the bottom. It rests on his front steps, held down by a saucer of melted candle wax.

Give blood, the politician said. We're doing that in numbers that overwhelm the Red Cross.

Finally she said, get on with your lives. If we don't, they win. We hear this over and over and know we must. And there's another reason. If we don't live our lives fully--and more purposefully -- we break faith with those who gave theirs in a Pennsylvania field, in the citadel of Washington or the towers of New York City. So go head and refinance; buy a dress for the Friday dance; find a place to volunteer; renew your gym membership. And plant those bulbs: Think memorial garden.

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