IN our youth we were all admonished to work hard and ``make a name for yourself,'' and here I am after years of assiduous application opening mail addressed to Boxholder Local or Current Occupant. This, I said to Spouse, is unnerving, and makes me want to go trout fishing. She objected that a chill Maine winter day is hardly an occasion to sport along a purling stream and play with a silver doctor. ``You never catch anything anyway,'' she added. So I said, ``Sometimes I don't try,'' and there you have it. Angling is the contemplative man's recreation, and in recent times the turn of affairs suggests that more and more people should remove themselves from time to time to bosky dells and sylvan retreats, where beside a babbling brook they can think things over. Meditation might assuage the shock of such strange things as ``Resident Rural Route.'' It is a shock to learn you are anonymous at the post office. So my reference to a walk up the brook was metaphorical, and piscatorial success and ichthyological increment were not my foremost purposes. My congressman and my senators frank me as ``Resident.'' Which amounts to taxation without identification. I am a nameless constituent, and they send me regular reports about weighty matters, assuring me they work constantly to keep probity, honesty, and purity active in the public weal. Please, they say, get in touch immediately if there is anything they can do for me. For ME? Who's ME? Should I call the 800 number and say, ``Hello, Postal Patron speaking?''
Have you noticed how the TV identifies people as ``Resident''? There will be a big blowout in the Dakotas, and the cameraman fetches on somebody to describe the situation. While this person is telling us what happened, his name appears on his chest and under that it says ``Resident.'' This seems to be a way to establish authenticity, and we accept him as a qualified resident without knowing if he is a well driller, a night clerk in a motel, a doctor of divinity. Then, the next night, we have another Resident telling us about a fire in North Carolina. The value of meditating on such things now appears. Here in Maine where the seasons bring population fluctuations, any TV report about disasters would call for ``Summer Resident.'' (But our town selectmen, who keep the assessment lists, would use ``Non-resident taxpayer.'' In the dictionary there is no hyphen in nonresident, but there sure enough is in our assessment lists.)
Contemplation also brought up the revised version of the jungle colloquy between Jane and Tarzan. ``You Boxholder. Me Current Occupant.'' Then I got to thinking about the Baker, who had completely forgotten his name but would answer to Hi! or any loud cry, such as Fry-me or Fritter-my-wig. What's in a name? A Rural Patron doesn't need one.
Then, in a sort of wistful way, I fell to meditating about Ted Williams. At the height of his prowess he was called up to do his military stint, and there were those of us who felt that was a little downright. Well, everybody will meet his patriotic obligations, and Ted did. But in justifying this, there were those people who told us, ``Ted Williams is no different from anybody else.'' Which was an unfortunate way to say it, because the meaning was that Ted, and you and me and everybody else, are responsible when our country calls. But to say that Ted Williams is no different from anybody else is to state an outrageous absurdity, which is proved every time we wonder what records he might have set in the baseball book if he had been permitted to slug out the war at Fenway Park. When you say Tom, Dick, and Harry, it excludes certain folks like Einstein, Ben Franklin, Moses, Aristotle, and some few others who may or may not include Ted Williams. But when you say ``Boxholder Local or Current Occupant,'' you exclude everybody, including Tom, Dick, and Harry.
I would like to get my mail with my own name on it, and feel that somebody loves me enough to learn what it is. There is no satisfaction in opening an envelope that is identical with others delivered the same day to every Resident in town. And having contemplated along my metaphorical brook about this, I have come back to the house to hang up my metaphorical rubber boots, and will state my conclusion: Henceforth, I read only mail meant for me. Myself.