Huh. I just found this in my "drafts" folder; and here I'd thought it was lost forever. I actually wrote it in darkest, coldest, February, when I was in Michigan.
Driving west on 14 Mile today, I saw a church with one of those signs where someone has to get up on a ladder to change the text.
"Jesus Gave us a Cross-Shaped Valentine."
My first reaction, get me out of here. Something about the image just stuck in my gut, and I still can't figure out why. I had forgotten how strongly religious folks can get out here until I started seeing the crucifixes, listening to the radio talk shows, and hearing people talk about going to church. It doesn't bother me so much that people are so strong in their faith, I just resent the constant suggestion that Christianity is the right and only way. Made me nuts when I was a kid and the only Jew in my class, still makes me uneasy now that I live in San Francisco surrounded by Jews, Pagans, Buddhists, atheists, and all sorts of combinations. Faith is, in many ways, a much more varied--and private-- matter where I live.
Anyway. I am reminded that I meant to talk about all the other signs I've been admiring out here. In the northern suburbs, you really need to get a car to get around. Everything is spread out, there are few if any sidewalks, and the speed limit on the major roads is 45 miles per hour. Little subtle street numbers and discreet signs on businesses won't do it.
So you get freestanding buildings with big light-up signs that say things like Associated Hemmorhoid Clinic and Affiliated Acne Care. This cracks me up, although I suppose if I were actually heading into one of these places, I'd do it with a bag over my head. I mean, they're freestanding! You can't pretend you're actually heading into the next office over! If your friend is driving along on Coolidge and recognizes your SUV (there are a LOT of them out here, natch) in the parking lot of Drool Control Partners, there's no way you're going to be able to play it off.