Online archives from the Fairfield Daily Republic. Starting April, 1999

Circa 2003

By Shawn Miller


FAIRFIELD -- I live with a guy named Timmy. He's got gray skin, eschews clothing and dangles his tongue like a tired dog.

He's also about a foot tall and perches above my computer monitor. I'm looking at him right now. Timmy, you see, is a gargoyle. At least, that's what I was inclined to call him before I realized that a gargoyle, strictly speaking, is a projecting roof spout. Timmy is no such thing. His maker, I believe, intended him as a garden decoration, perhaps in hopes that Timmy would frighten away rabbits and other garden nusances in the same way true gargoyles ward off evil spirits. Timmy is domestic scarcrow of sorts.

I don't have a garden, alas, and I think Timmy prefers living indoors. He's got an easy life.

Timmy and I used to sit around in my South Carolina kitchen watching football on TV and smoking cigarettes. But, come to think of it, he never smoked his. He would just keep one danging in his mouth after I wedged it there. He also left the Colt 45 drinking to me as he usually kept one hand grasped in the other and therefore had no talent for holding 12 ounce cans. And cursing at the 13 inch television during games was mostly my job, too.

But I never felt that he judged me for my vices and rude behavior.

Timmy, in those days, lived on top of my refrigerator and did a more or less poor job of scaring away the Palmetto bugs (basically flying cockroaches) that lived with us. Perhaps he was sneaking Colt 45s when I wasn't looking and lost his ambition. He was right on top of the fridge, after all. I shouldn't be so hard on my old friend, though. I can't help but think he had something to do with my relative good fortune that time the apartment was robbed.

You see, my other roommate Tobe and I routinely left our back door unlocked and someone must have walked in and walked out with a BMX bike and a boom box.

That might not sound like great luck, but we had at the time seven bicycles, all of which were more valuable than the $100 job that got pinched. In fact, we had so many bikes crammed into our two bedroom apartment that we didn't notice the bike was gone for several weeks.

The boom box was probably worth $50 and was sitting right next to a laptop of considerably greater value. Though Timmy doesn't have much to say about that day, I'm sure his horns, claws and menacing visage had something to do with our good luck.

I found Timmy, as fate would have it, in a shopping cart abandoned in the back yard of that South Carolina apartment. I washed him off and befriended him. When I moved to Fairfield, I took only what would fit in my small Mazda 323 (plus a few boxes of books I mailed). Timmy came with me.

When I got here, I could see that some things were different. Fairfield has palm trees, while South Carolina has Palmetto trees (they look like stumpy palms). You can't smoke in bars here. (Timmy and I gave up the habit anyway and we never go to bars.)

Something that's the same, however, is the shopping carts. Look around Fairfield and you'll see shopping carts in odd locations - locations a shopping cart has no place being, miles away from the grocery store or department store from which it came.

We all know how these carts wandered away from their homes and found themselves cast into a ditch. Homeless people. Poor people.

When you don't have a place to hang your hat, you need a place to keep your stuff. Hence, the shopping cart - the saddest of mobile homes.

That's too bad.

The DR published a letter recently from a woman reacting to a column I wrote about pets and owners who spend extravigantly on them. She wrote "I would rather help an animal than a person . . . I don't care about some transient in San Francisco; I care about (my pet)."

That's really too bad, too. I rescued Timmy from a shopping cart and he's better for it. But it's the people pushing the shopping carts that we should try and help.

Reach Shawn Miller at 427-6958 or

Daily Republic Home Page