Banks County Opinions...

August 15, 2001

By Angela Gary
The Banks County News
August 15, 2001

It really was an alligator, I'm serious!
Why is it that people think I'm kidding or exaggerating or delirious when I tell them that I saw an alligator at our lake?
It was long and black and had two back legs. I didn't see its head, but I saw the back end of it scurrying across the road. That was enough for me. It was coming from the direction of the water and headed toward the woods.
I screamed and started running in the other direction as soon as I spotted the creature, which could have been the Loch Ness Monster.
Our dog Dixie, who follows (or leads) me on our evening walks, ran toward the creature. This led me to scream even more. I didn't want it to bite her. She finally joined me and we ran back to the house.
I wasn't going to say anything, but I must have had a funny look on my face. My dad immediately asked what was wrong with me. I mumbled that I had seen a snake or "something" at the lake. I wasn't going to share my alligator theory, but the more I thought about it, the more convinced I was that it was a gator.
Little did I know that sharing my story would bring everything from laughter to disbelief to ridicule.
No, I hadn't been watching alligator programs on television or writing about them, as someone asked. Yes, I am sure that it had two back legs, as I was repeatedly asked. And, no, I'm not crazy, as I'm sure some wondered. Now, everyone just laughs and asks if I've seen any alligators lately. It's not funny. I was really terrified.
Three black ducks appeared at the lake mysteriously, so why couldn't an alligator show up?
It was pretty small, but I'm worried about where its mom and dad are and whether it has any brothers and sisters.
I had so been enjoying my evening walks with Dixie, but now I'm terrified of the lake. I have been back, but I'm so busy staring at the ground that I can't enjoy my surroundings. Walking is not one of my favorite things, but the tranquil lake had made it more bearable. I actually looked forward to the walk and Dixie really loved it. She starts jumping and spinning in the air as soon as I leave the door and head out back. She can barely contain her excitement as she races to the lake with me behind her.
Now, we may have to find another route for my walk or just stop altogether. Sounds like a good reason to give up exercise to me.

Angela Gary is associate editor of The Jackson Herald and editor of The Banks County News. She can be reached at




By Phillip Bond Sartain
The Banks County News
August 15, 2001

Essential husbanding skills: The Big Chill
Marriage is full of challenges that no one tells you about. No real surprise there. But I'm not talking about the kind of problems that result in an appearance on the Jerry Springer Show. The real challenges of marriage can't be satisfactorily worked out in a knock-down, drag-out fistfight in front of ten million viewers.
Instead, the real challenges of marriage require perseverance, patience and cooperation. More important, they sometimes require that you let go of the past. And that's how I came to earn my Refrigerator Rules Merit Badge.
Before I got married, I had a refrigerator. As far as I was concerned, it was really just a giant upright cooler. If I could have figured out a way to get it into the trunk of my car, I wouldn't have known the difference.
My relationship with my refrigerator was pretty open-ended; neither of us felt restrained by any of the traditional boundaries of refrigerator use and operation. As a free spirit, I put whatever I wanted into my refrigerator: empty pizza boxes, dirty laundry, annoying pets. Occasionally, I even put food in it.
But then I got married, and I had to promise to love, cherish and respect our side-by-side refrigerator/freezer. Very shortly thereafter, I learned that I no longer had a handy place to store my laundry, my wife being of the opinion that you should use a refrigerator for its intended purpose only. I thought that to be a pretty myopic way to view a household appliance, but I adapted.
I also learned that the fridge had separate storage compartments for separate items. No one had ever warned me of the dangers of placing vegetables in the fruit drawer or visa versa. Fortunately, my wife was patient enough to explain to me that such an oversight could invoke the wrath of the Martha Stewart Obsessive Compulsive Syndrome Squad.
But the biggest rule that I never even knew existed was the labyrinth of Leftover Regulations and Enforcement Procedures. In the past, I'd only adhered to one leftover standard ­ don't remove anything from the refrigerator until the CDC sends out an inspection team in biohazard suits to clear the neighborhood. That doesn't mean you can't eat it, you just have to do so in a stainless steel lockdown chamber.
My wife, on the other hand, lives and dies by the strict application of the 24-hour rule. It's the adult version of the three-second rule for food dropped on the floor. If it's been in the fridge for more than 24 hours, it might as well be the Ebola virus. As a result, she spends a lot of time decontaminating and I'm always too late to save some deserving leftover. Our leftovers get tossed so quickly and so often that I sometimes wonder why we even bother to have a refrigerator.
It took a long time, but I eventually earned my Refrigerator Merit Badge. In other words, I don't put my sneakers in the crisper drawer anymore and I help clean it out when the containers start sticking to the shelves. But that just meets the minimum requirements for the badge. In all honesty, I'm on special probation. I have to attend refrigeration rehabilitation classes weekly with a refrigeration expert. All the major appliance companies provide them on request.
Part of my therapy is to admit to my violation. It could have happened to anyone. I was cited for Dumpster Diving and the Come From Behind Move when I retrieved a cheese stick from the trash can after my wife tossed it. It was no big deal. I was gonna' scrape it off before I ate it, but they busted me anyway.
I thought Martha Stewart was going to have a cow.
Phillip Bond Sartain is a Gainesville attorney.

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