Friday, March 14, 2008

Lollipop stickies and black tar hands

After suffering through another week of wheezing, sneezing, coughing and sniffling, I finally mustered the courage to return to the ped's office today. Once again, we arrived on time - and this time I cleverly inquired: "How far behind is the doctor?" 45 minutes I was told - so off we went to the parking lot, to circle the periphery and read all the license plates. We were all distrught when the tow truck which pulled into the lot did not actually tow anyone, but standing and waiting killed about 10 minutes. Our eventual visit to the doctor was relatively uneventful, but for my son John insisting that he "be doctored" again and again and again. A pleasant, over-worked, already behind doctor obliged before giving us the the final verdict: Viral bronchitis for both boys - nothing to be done.

The promise of the day, which was made before we even left the house, was that good behavior would lead to visit to a new construction site in nearby Clarendon. I almost forgot that our ped's office sits atop an old fashioned pharmacy with five shelves worth of candy, including an entire shelf dedicated to lollipops and other suckers. Being a sucker myself, we wandered in and began the intricate and complicated task of choosing.

One of the things that I have marveled at with my boys is their choosing - I wonder to myself, what are you thinking about as you slowly run your fingers through the box and examine each lollipop individually? Why does it please you so much to pick each one up to study the packaging, the twist of the paper and the length of the stick? There is silent but palpable excitement over what might be within and intermittently a question about whether a particular lollipop has been crushed by and 18-wheeler or had the stick bitten off by a bad wolf. Hard to say, I reply...

We all made our choices and paid for our lollipops - and then 2 out of three of us changed our minds and needed a different color. Hmmmm, wonder who that could be.

Enroute to the construction site I heard from the back seat fantastic shouts of DUMP TRUCK!!! STOP THE CAR!!! As I was driving 45 miles an hour on Route 50 and could not instantaneously stop the car, David hurled his apple green, half eaten lollipop in my general direction, where it promptly became ensnared in my ever lengthening hair. After muttering a string of expletives to myself without making a sound, I got the car turned around so we could all take a look at what turned out not to be a dump truck, but instead a bright red and shiney Peterbilt wrecker with the name "Henry" on the side. Entranced by the prospect of the wrecker towing away a school bus, we pulled to the side of the street nearby to watch the show. I must say, we got more than we bargained for when the tall, pot-bellied, chicken-legged, tobacco chewing, hairy-chested tow truck driver stepped out of the cab and came around to hook up the bus. He was wearing a white tank-top style t-shirt like my grand dad used to wear, layered beneath a tattered and too small sweat jacket on top. The ensemble was complete with some polyester athletic shorts and a well-worn baseball cap. Imagine my surprise when he bent over to hook the gizmo to the whatchamacallit under the bus - My gaze was fixed on the bus, curious as to whether it might fall off the gizmo and crush the man - when David exclaims from the back seat: "I see the man's anus. It's peeking out. Look. His anus." It was, of course, not his anus, but the large crack in his fanny to which any of us who have ever had a plumber in our home have sadly become accustomed.

The entire frolic and detour from our original destination ate up another 30 minutes or so, and so, with all deliberate speed, we continued on our merry way, following the big red tow truck and the going backwards school bus as far as our paths were paralell. At some point, I was directed by the child seated behind me to "Move to the left lane," apparently so that we could become precariously closer to the oncoming traffic which was whizzing past us. It worked out just fine, as I eventually turned left to get toward the New Construction Site (NCS).

With luck on our side, I found a metered parking space within a stone's throw of the NCS, and a pocket full of nickels and dimes to buy me an hour and a half on the meter. Consumed by glee, we sprinted to the sidewalk adjacent to the construction site to watch the small skid-steer sized asphalt grinder chew up a perfectly straight line of asphalt at a remarkably slow pace. Simply fascinating, I must say. After being asked to "move along" by a rather giant fellow (whom we later learned was not the jerk he first appeared to be), we circumnavigated the perimeter of the entire site, a good size city block. No circumnavigation worth it's salt would be complete without an actaul dig of our own, so diving nearly head first out of the primary containment device, we found a small patch of filthy, dirty, asphalt ridden ground and got to work. Twenty minutes and many varieties of loud cooming and vromming sounds, all to either the amusement or complete dismay of lunchtime passersby, John and David had hands as black and as sticky as night. It turns out that lollipop sticky hands are the BEST for attracting asphalt to ones hands; fingernails that are overdue to be cut also add a special dimension to such a foray. Eventually, the boys tired of using their bare hands as hoe-rams (yes, that's the official name) and back hoe scoops, and I sensed a hunger related meltdown fast approaching. We strapped back in to minimize any damage we might to do the lucky business in whose sinks we decided to wash up - and headed down the street to the Clarendon Grill. Twenty minutes of scrubbing (emerging soaking wet from the torso down) and three grilled chees sandwiches to go later, we emerged, ready for a picnic lunch around the corner where the back hoe and bulldozer were working side by side to further tear up the already torn up street to lay new water pipes in a very deep and narrow hole.

The construction men certainly seemed to enjoy having an audience and seemed, like Mike
Mulligan and his steam shovel, to work a little harder and a little faster as we sat on the sidewalk nearby watching, riveted by the sound, the movement and the power of the big machines.

It's taken me many days to complete this post, and we were back at the site today. Three excavators, three back hoes, one loader, numerous skid steers, one giant purple rock crusher and one giant purple "high reach" demolition machine and we were pretty much in hog heaven. The previously mentioned fellow who urged us away from the asphalt grinder was much more relaxed today and enjoyed getting down on the boys' level to answer their questions. His name is Kip and I think I will try to set him up with the babysitter soon.

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