Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Outside the trucks filled with tar are lined up outside of my house. The mini bulldozer is busy doing its work, and the truck of gravel backs up. I guess I’m stuck inside today.
It’s been coming for some time now. The roads have been like driving on a slalom since I moved in, forcing me to weave parked cars on either side of the road, and potholes (bad enough to refer to them as pot craters) along the way. The parked cars will, no doubt, still be there when they’re finished, but hopefully the pot craters will be gone. In fact, apparently one of these massive tar trucks got lost down in one of them recently.
They had torn up the old blacktop a week or so ago, leaving the roads even rougher and harder on vehicles, leaving the sewers jutting up above the level of the road to add a brand-new hazard to the gauntlet. I’ve been driving my truck, as I didn’t want to expose my car to the road since it is so much lower to the ground. They started on the western side of the neighborhood, and now they are outside of my corner house working on roads in both directions. I am going nowhere.
The good news is that my life being what it is these days, it’s not an issue. I have plenty of food and, sadly, nothing on my calendar. I’m not one of those people who simply must get out when they are trapped, even if they would normally spend days at home anyway. When I was sixteen, I lived two doors down from a beauty queen who came in as second runner-up to Miss America, so, yes, an actual beauty queen. Her mother was a hero of mine and bore with her the tattoo the Nazi’s were “kind” enough to gift her with when she was a child guest at a camp too many people today believe didn’t really exist.
This beauty queen was a few years older than I, and quite pragmatic if you want to know the truth. She would get sun, for example, by wearing a two-piece string bikini while mowing the lawn just as puberty was breaking out all over my face. Life just isn’t fair if you ask me. We all lived on a cul-de-sac and everybody that lived there were close enough that every summer we would have a party where we would set up a volleyball net in the road and have a big cookout. One winter we were all stuck. Being on a cul-de-sac we didn’t exactly have priority in street clearing, and there was a rather large snow. As I recall, the depth of the snow wasn’t horrible, and yet there was a drift at the base of the cul-de-sac too deep to drive through. I don’t recall the exact details, but apparently all of the city snowplows were busy in other parts of the city and wouldn’t get to that snow drift for some time, and until they did, we were all stuck. Our beauty queen wasn’t having it. She went to every house and organized a snow clearing task force of all of the husbands in the neighborhood. It was quite something to see all of the men out there shoveling snow with erections.
Not that they were shoveling with their erections per se. I mean, they all had shovels and erections. That is to say, they were all using their snow shovels with their erections. No, that’s not right either. I mean they were using their hands and had erections. No, wait, still wrong, they were using their hands on the wood handles. Not that kind of wood, no, I mean, um, they were using the wood handles on the shovels while having wood. Damn. Why can’t I get this?
Okay, moving on. It will be fun to watch this process and see how long it takes. I can’t imagine it’ll take more than a day or two before I can get out, but we’ll see. While in graduate school, they built for us a new chemistry building. As a theoretical chemist, our lab was little more than an office with desks and computers, and we were fortunate enough that the windows overlooked the stadium. Unfortunately, neither my office mate or I were really fans of football (at least not American football), so with the perfect vantage point, we never watched the games. What I did enjoy watching, however, was the process as they converted the stadium from natural grass to AstroTurf. It’s been too long for me to remember the steps exactly, but it involved taking up the sod, putting down drainage pipes, then concrete (I think, but I’m not certain on this one), followed by blacktop, a white cushion pad, and the green artificial grass. It was very cool watching them carefully and meticulously making sure there were no wrinkles in any step. It took them considerable time to make this conversion. Watching the process of laying the blacktop will no doubt be just as entertaining.
And both my cat Star and I will be watching.