We’ve had a bit of normalcy sandwiched in among the Super Bowl hype here in Dallas lately. Other than the unholy wrath of nature that left us with (gasp!) a winter storm in the middle of winter, that is.
Expecting another one of those winter storms tomorrow, which will mean massive news efforts by all TV stations, newspapers, a fourth-grader named Maveltine calling in hour-by-hour updates on the snow in her yard, and weird bloggers with nothing better to do (see http://www.facebook.com/pages/Road-Snot/191790494183891).
However, I refuse to yield to the hype, and will instead regale all four of you dedicated readers with non-weather musings.
I came home recently from work one day and picked up the mail, flipping randomly through the tax forms, coupon books and fake companies wanting me to pay them $35 for the pleasure of filing my homeowners’ exemption, a service the fair state of Texas provides for free. While happily flipping, I was stopped short by a letter to D, with the return address of the Farmers Branch Police Department.
In my past experience, a letter from an official police agency is seldom a good thing. As a PI, in fact, I have served varied instruments of governmental doom to unknowing and unsuspecting scofflaws, felons, soon-to-be-on-Match.com people and jaywalkers. It’s particularly a bad sign when the letter is addressed on what appears to be an official form of some kind that shows through a cell-o-pane window, and not on a regular envelope with one of those little mass stamping machines they send out to everyone affiliated in some way with Farmers Branch, Texas.
Which we aren’t, by the way. We live in Carrollton. Except that D’s lab is in Farmer’s Branch, and my hospital is in Dallas, which is on the other side of Farmer’s Branch. Meaning, of course, that both of us drive in the lovely suburban city on a daily basis.
A tiny little gnawing of unrest began in my head.
Farmers Branch, you see, has those evil little red light cameras, which invade your privacy, bring revenue to Farmers Branch and cause other drivers to stomp feverisly on their brakes at the slightest hint of yellow, even when they’re already halfway through the intersection. Oh, and yeah, they may save lives and cut accidents, too, but that’s really such a little thing, now, isn’t it?
Sure enough, the letter includes a small picture of one of our vehicles blowing through a pinkish light. Well, kind of red, I guess, if the truth be told, which it isn’t often in this blog. There’s even a helpful little link to a commercial vendor’s web page, where we can make popcorn and then view a frame-by-frame video of our egregious transgression.
I see that the vehicle in question is D’s mom’s truck, which is in our names. We had, indeed, been using it recently while she was out of town. Damn! But the letter had an easy solution: just send in $75, and all will be forgiven and forgotten. No insurance report, no points on your license. Clean and easy-peasy, a do-over. That’s why I think these are such scams — if Farmers Branch really cared about safety, they’d send it to our insurance companies, which would rain hellfire and damnation and premium hikes down upon our heads in a successful, if Pavlovian, effort to change our behavior.
Anyway… I look at the date, and I realize… Hey! D’s mom was back on that date! It’s her, a fine, upstanding, law-abiding near-senior-citizen, ripping through that light like she’s late for the last lap at the Indy 500.
We’ve had a great time with the video, much more fun than she has, I think. Stop! Go! Pause! Stop! Pause! Stop! Oh, look, there are her brake lights! Ha ha ha! Go! Pause! Ha ha ha! Yep, that light’s red, cherry red, Alizarin crimson, cerise, candy apple red, fire engine red, rojo, red as red can be.
Or maybe her fun was just sort of soaked up by mailing off that $75 check. And I imagine that when I start getting those letters rolling in from the slide-throughs I did last week during Icesnowpocalypse, I won’t be giggling much, either.
On a recent 73-degree day before Icesnowpocalypse, we took a long walk through a lovely park we’ve discovered recently. It wasn’t lost or anything, we just had never turned left on that street before. So we took that bold move, and presto! There appeared a lovely park.
I was eagerly clutching my red trekking pole and one of D’s disk golf disks (which really isn’t redundant even though it looks that way that way). She wasn’t feeling so great, so she sat with Chase while I pronounced myself ready to hurl away this disk, despite having only read the little instructions on the box it came in, which were as typically detailed and comprehensive as any product made in Bangladesh: “Remove disk. Throw.”
How hard could it be? It’s just a Frisbee. It felt a little different, but basically, it’s a Frisbee.
I continued thinking that exact thought until I watched it whip off of my hand, sail really far, make a graceful, long curve to the right and then lodge firmly into the top of the only tree in sight in the lovely park. Seriously, one tree, apparently with very sticky, alive disk-hating branches that reached out and snagged my perfectly good throw out of midair.
Now if Chase were a real retriever, he’d have streaked over to that tree and gotten my stuff. Or if he’d ever decided to beat those squirrels he chases at their own game, and learned to climb these perfectly easy trees. Instead, he’s just a mama’s boy who likes to lay on the couch a lot. I was on my own here.
I ignored the small giggle that escaped from D’s mouth, accompanied perhaps by one from Chase. I marched right over to that tree to get my Frisbee back. Being a physicist at heart, my idea for this was to carefully launch my fiberglass trekking pole with both mass and velocity in a gently elliptical arc, through 458 prickly yaupon branches, whereupon it would strike the disk firmly on its quarter-inch side, knocking it cleanly out of the yaupon. Immediately thereafter, the pole would also burst from the other side of the tree, gently landing on the grass next to the disk. I would collect them both and act like it was, indeed, just another moment, and not a perfect feat of precision aeronautical and geometrical and astrophysics.
I blame sunspots. Or a sudden freak downburst of wind. There may have been a rogue wave, too, at least 20 feet high, being ridden by Laird Hamilton. And don’t forget the evil tree demon itself. Whatever the reason, my trekking pole instead became firmly ensnared in the yaupon branches, several feet from the disk. Damn!
I walked to the trunk, put my hands up on the lowest branch and leapt up to throw my legs over the branch, so I could clamber up the tree, nimble as a monkey, and snag my two lost items. Unfortunately, I had forgotten about my recent abdominal surgery, which seems to have permanently split the two halves of my torso into different time zones. In other words, ow ow ow ow ow ow.
I dropped down to the ground and looked around in desperation. My only other choices for items to chunk were a 6-year-old watching me from the playground, or Chase. It was a tough call… but I finally went with Chase, thinking I’d probably bring disrepute upon Children’s Medical Center (not to mention lose my job) if I was caught on YouTube tossing a child into a yaupon.
I didn’t exactly toss Chase in, either, let me make that clear. D would’ve killed me, and she wouldn’t have cared if she were caught on YouTube beating me to death with a piece of a yaupon.
I just used his leash, one of those zippy little retractable things. I pulled it out all the way, and then just as I prepared to wing it up into the tree, I heard a bemused voice behind me: “Maybe you should hold onto the other end.” Thanks to that helpful, if a bit tardy, advice, I was able to abort the throw, suffering merely the ignominy of a blue plastic 2-pound leash popping me in the nose.
My next attempt was a bit more successful. I didn’t hit myself in the face, anyway. The next dozen or so tosses helped me hone my trajectory, and on number 16 I hit pay dirt. The leash wrapped around a branch near the trekking pole; I began jerking frantically on the leash to dislodge the pole; the pole slid down a bit, bumping the disk; and with a few more sharp tugs on the yaupon branch, all personal items slid down to the ground. Voila! Rescued. And that tree’s young and supple enough to regrow that left side back, I’m sure.
But I am kind of waiting for the letter from the Carrollton Park Police Department to show up — the one with the dollar signs on it, the one that shows through the opening in the cell-o-pane window…