Some weeks back I was required to scale a cyclone fence–which I accomplished, but not nearly so artfully as I ought to have.
Because, now–at 56–I’m suddenly old. This came to me in a rush as, precariously, I straddled the razor-sharp fence top six or seven feet up. As you age it’s easy to delegate no-brainer things to the youngsters. They’re always welcome to move the unwieldy furniture or heavy boxes. But, apparently–and this, I promise, ended those few weeks ago–I remained at that age where, when you envision something in your mind’s eye, you can (of course!) accomplish it.
Let me set the scene for you. Let me also mention that if I’d simply thought to bring the key to the lock in question I would never have been in such a predicament.
So now, in addition to being old, I’m idiotic. I’m also shrinking, if you were thinking about the trifecta.
Here it is: The Chief and I own some commercial real estate in Visalia. As I’m sure you’re aware, we’re enduring a terrible problem with homelessness nationwide. Quite reasonably, these poor souls seek shelter in a place sufficiently secluded so as not to attract the attention of the authorities, who tend to shoo them along. Fair enough, on both sides. Sadly, though, these urban warrens, however seemingly convenient and attractive, are really inappropriate for even temporary habitation.
Some of these homeless reportedly start small fires at their–well, others’–cites. And I couldn’t imagine telling our insurance company that we insufficiently safeguarded any of our premises if even one was burned down. So vigilance is the watchword. The same way you would lock your front door at night.
Now, at one of our properties, there’s a goodly sized space, say 10 by 30 feet, at the far back and covered by redwoods. If I were homeless I’d head straight there. It turns out I’m not original in my thinking. About 15 years ago I had a cyclone fence erected, and padlocked the gate. Result!
Except that, of course, eventually, an encampment arose. Again, fair enough–but we’re not in a sufficient a position to allow that risk to our family. And in this litigious culture, if some mishap occurred on our property, we’d likely be sued as well. By homeless and tenants alike. So, as I’ve said, a fence and a lock.
This held for about 10 years. Then there was a fresh encampment, another eviction, and another lock. But this time I noticed that the gate hasp had been loosened. All I had to do was tighten it. Because, if you weren’t looking closely, the lock and hasp were intact. In fact, the hasp had been loosened to worthlessness, so that all anyone had to do was push on the gate and, lock in place, the hasp would twist and the gate would open. And then close again. Very clever. Still, I can’t have it.
Want to live rough? Go camping.
When the Chief reported that the gate was wide open I knew immediately what was wrong. All I needed was a 5/8 wrench and–presto!–retighten the hasp.
Here’s where the key would have come in handy. You can’t secure the hasp from the outside because, unless you’re an octopus, there’s no way to turn a wrench from there.
Of course! I’d just have to lock myself in. No problemo! I’d use that old decrepit pallet leaning against the fence and positively vault over it like some kind of colt feeling his first oats.
Have I mentioned that I’m idiotic?
This is what happened: There were maybe eight inches of good wood to perch on. When I was braced on that, going back and forth as on a surfboard, I placed my left hand, crossbody, on the top of a brick wall at the back of the property. My right hand gripped the top cross bar of the fence about two inches beneath the sharp twisty teeth of the wire . There was an enormous redwood tree two feet away to the left. The idea was to vault to my left, using my right arm as a fulcrum, push up at the critical moment–retract my hand vertically, like a pole vaulter–twist, pull my right arm free from the wire ends, and stick the landing between the tree and the wall. Piece of cake.
But, of course, the razor-sharp wire ends bit into the crotch of my shorts. The only way to extricate myself was to proceed to the other side, and even while up on my arms it was clear there was no spring coming from my right arm. It’s not just that I’m left-handed–there was no juice to do any damned springing.
And there I was, impossibly impaled, shifting for relief, preparing to vault when this became clear to me: The top of this fence is sharper than hell, my clothes are all caught up in it–shorts and shirt together–and when I land I’ll be staggering around Visalia completely naked. Starkers. I’ll also have dashed my head against the tree. Or the wall.
Quite reasonably, I would be arrested for being a responsible citizen.
And then I thought: Oh hell, you’ve already proven yourself old, idiotic and tiny. Preserve your dignity, man, and go for it! You can’t have done the job and not done this. Now, if only you would have brought the key…
I went for it. So far as vaults go, I’d have to classify it as slow and awkward. But I stuck it. It would have been a total success if I had been able to get my right arm up over the sharp wire in time. Of course I didn’t, and now I’ve got the raking of it to display, garish track marks across my inner arm as a badge of honor, of victory against a fence I myself had had constructed.
I guess if I can traverse it no homeless person is going to be denied. Yet I don’t want to deny them. I don’t really want to deny anyone. What I want to squelch is any potential fire.
At least this emperor still has his clothes.
Truth be told, I am only ever emperor of my own clothes. Not even our dog heeds me. But another emperor, that Caligula of the Oval Office, has been scraped free of any raiment by his own admission that he sought–quid pro quo or not–assistance from a foreign power in an underhanded furtherance of his 2020 re-election ambitions.
This is called collusion. And “Colluding Caligula”–because he’s fond of slinging playground nicknames and I can, too–has admitted it.
The question, now, is twofold: how long are the enabling Republicans going to be willing to hold their tongues and, when that time has ended, what will they be prepared to tell us? Because they’re going to shovel a load of baloney at us.
Some benighted souls will actually swallow it.
A better question might be which Republicans, right now, can cut through this crazy cult of personality and devote their attention, foremost, to their constituents and their country? Will it number only those not planning to stand for re-election, or will there finally be profiles in courage to point to in this, our sordid and divided era?
Because this not an on-the-fence moment. Yes–it’s ridiculous, but it’s also clear. At least thus far.
Bootsie has abused his office. It was bad enough when Bootsie Junior’s response to receiving foreign dirt on Hillary Clinton was, “I love it.” Now his father, admittedly, has sought it out himself, from another source and against another opponent.
Who might not even wind up being the Democratic candidate. Last I counted, there are still 10 or 15 still in the running. This speaks to the desperation of a falling tyrant, one who is in the dark about the dynamics of his opposition.
Or are we to suppose that, like J. Edgar Hoover, this emperor is amassing dirt on all and any potential opponents?