Thursday, February 12, 2015

Awaiting the invention of the laser plow

NOTE: I wrote this humor column in 1990 and it appeared in 12/5/90 issue of a now defunct weekly newspaper in North Conway, New Hampshire. It was on my website, the METAPHORatorium for many years as well in several locations. It seems seasonal so here it is again.  I've changed the uncle's name several times also. Originally it was Henry. The graph about my father is true.

My Uncle Jake reported having an incredible dream this week. It was a revelation so simple, so ingenious, he said, that once somebody invented it, the world would change. And nobody would ever go to Florida for the winter again.

My Aunt May had a different opinion. "What you had was indigestion , you old fool," she said. Aunt May, after 37 years of marriage, says that Uncle Jake is a mostly good man of few words, except when he's been drinking brandy and then he is a man of a few too many words.

My uncle affected a hurt pose for second, rolling his brown eyes pitifully. After a moment he cleared his throat .

"As I was sayin' - I was awakened in the snow by a heavenly blue light,'' he said quietly. "The snow kept comin' down all around and the light got brighter and brighter." He paused with a faraway look in his eye, then glanced at me sideways to see how I was taking all this.

"Is this a Christmas story or a flying saucer story," I asked suspiciously.

"No it ain't. Now listen. That blue light kept coming closer and closer and I knew in my deepest heart it was going to roll right over me - right through me even. And it began making a fearful noise roaring like the great god-awful fires of hell. That's sorta like DeSoto engine all outa oil and damn near throwin' a rod," he explained. "When that light was almost on topa me, suddenly a horn was blastin' and I heard a voice and the voice was saying JAKE! JAKE, GET OUT OF THE WAY!"

By now he was breathless, his voice rising. Uncle Jake was possessed. He was pure unsalted ham baking at around 450 degrees. "As it rolled over me in my dream, I saw the snow was melting away before that blue light and at that very moment I KNEW EXACTLY WHAT IT WAS. It was a laser snow plow..." he concluded in hushed tones still obviously amazed by his own idea.

Well, Buck Rogers move on over. "No rocksalt needed, no knockin down mail boxes, no diggin up the tar, no knickin the trees, no filing' down the blade. I figure a smaller model could replace snow shovels for about $24.99. It'd be kinda like a weed wacker only with light beams."

Uncle Jake comes from a long line of nutty inventors - Yankee ingenuity carried to its final insane extreme. My father suffered from these same fits of madness all his life but he was especially obsessed with the little everyday problems - like birds that hog the birdfeeder. You know the ones I mean. Like blue jays - they sit and eat and eat until a whole line of chickadees backs up on the clothes line behind them waiting patiently for dinner.

My father couldn't stand that sort of injustice. Once morning during breakfast, just after he filled the bird feeder, he called me over to the window. A purple finch was hogging the perch. When pop figured its time was about up - he pressed a little red button. All of a sudden an arm came up and swept out over the perch pushing the startled bird in to the air. "I call it a 'Bird-get-off' he announced with a triumphant grin.

I'm afraid there hasn't been much market for this invention. The laser snow plow might do a lot better, Jake says. On a straightaway you could melt a mile of snow at once. Of course, tulips by the road side might bloom out of season and wild animals might wander in front of the plow to their deaths just trying to get warm.

Mere glitches Jake says.