My neighbor Big Country is celebrating Labor Day exactly how you’d expect - sloshing moonshine onto the driveway, slurred, non-sensical ramblings punctuated by aggressive flatulence. He’s throwing scraps of bacon to his dog, Little Country, and complaining about my other neighbor, Don. “Sumbitch won’ say a goddman word t’me,” says Big Country, “he’s lower’n a snake’s belly in a wagon rut.”
Big Country stands like a teapot against our shared fence. “I’ve been thinkin,” he says.
"Go on," I say, bracing for impact.
“Well, I’ve heard people ask ‘are we human cause we look at the stars, or do we look at the stars cause we’re human?’ Shit, that’s stupid. Do the stars look back? That’s the question.”
With that, he hawks a fat gob of god knows what in the general direction of his weathered Tennessee Titans cup and waddles away, braying atonally at Little Country, who knows to follow.
I’m often left gobsmacked by Big Country. He’s most likely absorbed in bizarro internet porn, but I’d like to think he stares upward, from time to time, into the dark sky and watches the infinite dance of the stars. Either way, he got me thinking, as he usually does.
I imagine if the stars did look back, suspended for so long above the world, watching the scrambling and the joy and the pain of the people below them, they’d smile gently, finding it funny every time another little human considered themselves the center of their world.