Monday, April 08, 2013

So why doesn't the PASSENGER SIDE windshield wiper ever fail, is what I'd like to know.

Yesterday, while Mr F played with the styrofoam peanuts in the very back of my car... long story? Not really.  It's a short one: I was cleaning out my car yesterday, really cleaning it, and I got a box from our garage to throw trash into.  The box had in it, already, the leftover Play-Doh Doctor Dental that Mr Bunches found so soothing on vacation last year, and also, for some reason, about twenty cubic feet of  styrofoam peanuts. 

I don't remember ordering anything in the past year or two that was packed in styrofoam peanuts, which means OBVIOUSLY Sweetie has some kind of secret life in which (most likely hypothesis) she is a time traveler sent back to hunt dinosaurs but her time machine went haywire and stranded her in the 1990s, where she met me, and I am in that version of events not a diversion but key to the future of humanity.

Where was I?

Anyway, I put the box in the car and while Mr Bunches worked on sawing down trees in our yard -- long story? Not really:

We were outside doing yardwork yesterday, a rare enough occasion that Sweetie said:

"I bet every other person on this block is looking and saying My God, the Pagels are doing yardwork? How far behind are we? Is it Armageddon?"
because time-travelers can be so snarky.

The boys and I were outside doing yardwork, anyway, and raking leaves, etc., to get our yard into shape for a season of not ever doing yardwork again, because the dream has not died, and far off in the distance we heard a sound, and Mr Bunches said:

"What is that?"

So I listened and said:

"I think it's a saw."

Because it sounded like a saw.  It was probably a leaf-blower, because leaf-blowers are constantly running in our neighborhood because my neighborhood is full of the kind of people who want their yards free of leaves and would rather spend two, three, sometimes four hours on a weekend morning walking around with a reverse-vacuum slung over their shoulder than simply rake them up, because people in my neighborhood suck.  (They do. They really do.) So I said it was a saw, and Mr Bunches said:

"Can we get a saw?"

But we don't have a powersaw that would make a noise like that, and I wasn't sure how close of a tab Sweetie was keeping on us from inside, where she was biding her time repairing her time machine that runs on packing peanuts and thinking up sarcastic comments to make about the level of housework I do (which honestly is about negative three on the Housework Scale.)

So I said:

"No, we don't have a saw," and Mr Bunches took that as a personal challenge, because he is 50% my DNA and that's how my DNA would have reacted, too, and he went in the garage and found a saw, which I honestly didn't believe we had.

Well, once you have a saw, you're going to have to saw something, right? It's Chekhov's Gun, in real life! So I set him to sawing stuff, the "stuff" being some of the plants that I suspect are weeds but which have grown, at times, nearly to the size of a small bush.  We have a lot of those.  We have three ... had three... I'll get to that ... in our front yard that I used to cut down when they were about a foot tall but then the year I had my heart attack I didn't get around to weeding them out and they grew to about 10 feet tall, so last year we decorated them for Christmas, but I'm not going to let just every weed that does all right for itself into the club, so I found some suspicious plants that looked out of place and got Mr Bunches to saw them off.

He worked on that for a while as I raked and Mr F tried to figure out how to sneak away, and as my neighbors gave me dirty looks for putting a child's bike into the road in front of our house, which is something I did to get people to quit almost running over my kids.

I think the end of our street is probably a location for a Top Secret Emergency Room Brain Surgery Heart Facility That Doubles As A Military Base Used To Track Terrorists and Commies.  I say that because people roar down our street at roughly Mach 5, for no reason whatsoever.

We live in a kind of cul de sac.  The only reason you would drive down our street is if you happen to live on this road or are visiting someone who does.  If you drive to the end of our street, you can turn right, which leads to a dead end, or turn left, which leads you a half-block to another left, and then back to the original main road you came off of.  There is no commerce on our street, just rich people's houses (and us. We are not rich. We keep property values down in our neighborhood by never working in our yard. Except yesterday).

That lack of places to go does not stop people from roaring down our street at speeds well in excess of anything that would, strictly speaking, be necessary unless you were rushing someone to the hospital to give birth, perhaps to the savior of the world, because any regular birth isn't going to require that kind of speed, either.

That lack of concern for people concerns me, because as the owner of Mr F and Mr Bunches, I am acutely aware that they, especially the former, sometimes lack a bit of impulse control, and also that they, especially the former, don't really pay attention to the world around them much, and sometimes also they, especially the former, are quick, which means that sometimes they get into the road where, it seems, the Indianapolis 500 is being held.

I can't always keep myself between the road and Mr F, and so this past winter I finally decided that, yeah, I am going to do something about it, and what I did about it is I took one of the boys' bikes -- I don't know whose because last year when we bought their bikes my mind failed to register whose bike is whose -- and put it into the road, about 3 feet in, not far enough to totally block traffic but far enough to be seen when you drive down the road and to require, as every single driver did, a driver to slow down and ease around the bike, while choosing to do one of two things:

1. Glare in the direction of my yard as though sending the mental message "How dare you leave a bike in the road, time is of the essence, the terrorist brain surgeons are attacking and I've got to get to the end of this street in the 0.02 seconds less it takes if I go 70 miles per hour!"

2. Really, they all just did that first thing, but I wanted to add to the suspense. 

To which I responded by staring back at them, or ignoring them, while secretly congratulating myself on my genius and plotting out in my head what I'd say about them if they actually said something to me.  

The point is, I think, it worked, and cars had to slow down, so Mr F, who spends his yardwork time figuring out how to sneak to the neighbor's yards, which he likes better because our neighbors take care of their yards, wasn't the safety hazard he usually is, which got him bored and he mostly hung out while I raked and Mr Bunches sawed away at the weedish plants he was tasked with getting rid of.

He finished those soon enough, three of them, and then announced that he was going to saw "the tree, Daddy," and I at first was going to say "No," but then I thought "What the heck. What's the worst that could happen?" because I didn't think he'd actually make it through an entire tree, and he did in fact start on one of the bigger trees, but he quit on that one and moved to a smaller tree, after a while, and worked on that for about a half hour, while I finished all the remaining yardwork I was going to do, which meant I was done being outside, but Mr Bunches was not done.  

He was sawing that tree, and he kept telling me "Almost done," even though the tree was about two inches thick (it's more of a bush, maybe? How should I know. I'm no herpetologist.)  So with time to kill, I decided to clean my car, which is how I ended up with a box containing Play Doh and Sweetie's Patented Time Traveling Styrofoam Peanuts (they're probably currency in the future, so Sweetie is Future Rich!) which is, in turn, how I ended up with a car that is 70% clean but the 30% back part of the car behind the back seats contains a plethora of styrofoam peanuts: Mr F saw the box, looked in it, decided he wanted the peanuts, and dumped them in the hatchback.  Then, when I tried to clean them up, he was just as ferociously trying to make me not, so I finally gave up and decided that 70% clean is still an improvement on where it was, and I cleaned the rest of the car out, even vacuuming it (Mr F watching me suspiciously from the back, where he guarded the Peanuts Of Time), and getting the entire 70% of the car that was under my jurisdiction clean, leaving the demilitarized Peanut Zone the way it was.

By that time, Mr Bunches finished with his one tree, successfully sawing off an 8' tall portion of a tree or bush or fence or something, but now I was still working on the car, so he went to the three trees (?) we'd decorated for Christmas and announced that he was going to saw one off, and got started on that.  I might have stopped him but I was working on a particularly tough spot in the car that consisted of the congealed remains of every cup of coffee I'd spilt since last October, which is a lot, plus I think there might have been french fries compressed into the region.  If so, that was Mr F, not me, as I almost never eat more than 1-2 french fries.  I'm not crazy about them, you know? I don't really get the appeal.

So Mr Bunches worked away on the tree while I cleaned the car, and I finished before he did, but he did get that second tree sawed off, which means that Mr Bunches has now officially done more yard work than me in the past year, and I figured that it can't hurt to let him saw down trees, especially if I'm not sure they are trees in the first place, right?

(It's not that I'm completely incapable of identifying what is a tree and what is not.  I am as smart as the next guy when it comes to things like that.  I can, with about 89% accuracy, look at something and say "It's a tree" or "It's not a tree." What is puzzling about the maybe-trees in our yard is that these three, in particular, are growing so fast.  They were not there when we moved in, and not there for a long time, and then I noticed them growing about 2008, and I thought they were weeds, so I kept cutting them back but the one year I did not, they shot up about 6 feet, and then my dad claimed when he was over to visit that they were birch trees, which clearly they are not because I know a birch tree when I see one, because I was raised by my parents, who had birch trees in the yard and who would frequently berate us for doing things like "hitting the birch trees with the lawnmower" or "using the birch trees as third base" or "fighting with each other constantly," and okay, that last one isn't birch-tree exclusive, but we were constantly berated for it, so I threw it in there.  The point being that I know a birch tree when I see one, and the things in our yard would never be used for third base.  But they are there, and they are nearly 10' tall, all both of them now, and they grow at a phenomenal rate that no other tree in our yard, or this world, grows.)

(It just occurred to me that maybe they, like Sweetie, are from the future?)

So it all comes down to this:

We now have many fewer leaves, three less almost-certainly-weeds, and two less possibly-trees in our yard, and I opted not to fix my windshield wiper, which broke over the winter but before we went in, I thought "Why bother fixing that? It's not going to rain anytime soon."

It rained this morning.  And this is what I got:

It's almost hypnotic, right? It's like the Bellagio Fountains were reincarnated as my windshield wipers.  And over time, the action changes:


PT Dilloway, Grumpy Bulldog said...

Sounds like he has a great future as a lumberjack! And your way to slow traffic down is pretty ingenious and much more effective than Garp chasing after cars in The World According to Garp. Maybe I should try that in the parking garage at work because in a two-week span I almost got T-boned twice because jackasses speed through the aisles at like 50mph and then don't think they have to stop at any intersections.

Briane P said...

People suck, is what I think we can all agree on.

Michael Offutt, S.F.A. said...

A day in the life of Briane Pagel is such an adventure, even down to something as mundane as driving with a boy and some packing peanuts.

Briane P said...


We weren't actually driving. When we drive, I have to belt Mr F in and make him sit in his seat.

"Because of society, right?"

"Yes, George, because of society."

But you are right. It is awesome to be me. If there were a place you could walk through a door and live my life for a while, like that one movie about being John Malkovich, what was it called? "Speed," I think, then people would definitely line up to be me for an hour.

(My advice? Pick the hour where I eat lunch, because my lunches are GREAT.)

Andrew Leon said...

I have never had a passenger side windshield wiper break. Ever. I think they program in a genetic defect to the driver side wipers, because cars have genetics, right?

Make sure you come to my "L" post. Or have Mr. Bunches come to it. Or something.

We used to live on an actual cul-de-sac. It wasn't even full block length, and there was no stop sign at the end of the street. Until the fatal accident there. Because, you know, people treated that little half block as if it was the freeway.

The packing peanuts are future currency.