Even though calendar summer has yet to arrive, teacher summer is in full swing. That means Val is quickly running out of blog material. I am contemplating a series on the odd characters that inhabit Backroads. I've already introduced you to BRIDGEt, the low-water bridge squatter.
Today, we shall ruminate on the motivation of BRIDGEtte.
I don't think the two are related. I encountered them about a week apart, on different bridges. And BRIDGEtte was much shorter in the tooth than BRIDGEt. Not that I could see the teeth of either of them. I was not about to exit my Tahoe to take a look. You won't catch me with a raggedy finger-bandage like Gretl, whose finger got caught in Friedrich's teeth. No sirree, Bob! There's no Maria to prompt me into singing about my favorite things in order to take my mind off the pain. And even if there was a Maria, I find her remedy much less effective than generic Vicodin.
BRIDGEtte surprised me on a very rickety old metal bridge on the way to graduation. The setting sun highlighted her red polka-dot swimsuit top as I whizzed past her at 25 miles per hour. I barely got a glance. That's because I prefer to cross that bridge as I come to it, and not drive into the rusty-metal girder sides like so many vehicles before me, judging from the misshapen beams. It's a tight fit for two autos passing. I always try to see how much oncoming traffic there is, because the weight limit is 5000 pounds. And I don't like the thought of driving onto there with five or six other cars.
So you can imagine my surprise when I spied BRIDGEtte out of the corner of my right eye, just as I passed her. She was on the outside of the beams! Scooting her way toward the center of the river fifty feet below. That means, people, she was holding onto the support beams with her arms behind her back, stepping with her right leg, pulling her left leg to join it, on the outside edge of a metal I-beam. No sidewalk, no ropes, no right-of-way. Inching herself along.
I have not yet figured out what she was trying to do. The river is less than four feet deep. People swim down there all the time, off a sandbar that changes shape and location after each flash flood. But the water is never more than four feet deep during times of regular water level. No way would anybody in her right mind think she could dive from the bridge. There is no rope for swinging. No bungee activity. A suicidal BRIDGEtte would not have bothered with the swimsuit. It's not like she could have dropped something and was trying to retrieve it. She could walk on the roadway for that. People walk across that bridge in the traffic lane. And the sandbar swimmers park on the road at the end of the bridge, and hike down.
I have not seen BRIDGEtte since. There were no stories in the paper of missing teenage girls, nor of bridge-jumpers.
Perhaps I witnessed the birth of a new urban legend.