The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Friday, May 13, 2005

THICK AS THIEVES: It is spring here in our happy little burg, and in springtime here a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of larceny. Yes, as you might imagine, the lilac bandits are out in force this year, as they are every year at this time, the hordes of floricultural banditti scouring lawns and gardens the length and breadth of the countryside for the not terribly cunning and none too elusive lilac bush. That’s right, none too elusive; I mean, get real already, it’s a plant, not an ivory-billed woodpecker—now there’s a species that’s got elusive down to a hard science—and plants are remarkably immobile unless you hit them with a weed whacker. And when the bandits find the lilac bushes, devastation follows like a faithful dog or my alumni association out for a donation; the thieves will strip the bushes of every blossom they’ve got, stamp the tulip beds underfoot, threaten protesting old women with loaded garden shears, letting no decent feeling or shred of humanity stop them as they lay waste to garden after garden in their mad pursuit of purple pelf.

And once they’ve loaded their vans with as many lilacs as their vans and allergies can stand, these wretched specimens race southwards to the great metropolis to peddle their ill-gotten booty to an unsuspecting public who little suspect that the sprig of lilac they just bought for their significant other is, in fact, hot goods. Once upon a time there was no hope for victims of lilac larceny; the local gendarmerie regarded the large-scale pilfering as little more than a yearly outbreak of civil unrest brought on by long suffering local asthmatics driven mad by pollen and eager for almost any degree of relief from the all day coughing jags once so common in this neck of the woods. The introduction of money to the equation, however, has permanently altered the view of local law-enforcement authorities. With organized mobs of blossom bandits roaming the countryside like so many Vandals looking for a Roman city to sack, the local constabulary is cracking down hard for fear that lilac larceny may inexorably lead to tulip theft, rose robbery, and petunia peculation…okay, that last one was a bit of a stretch, but you see my point, right? In response to the tremendous outcry over the recent wave of floral thievery, the local gendarmes are setting up checkpoints every two hundred yards along all roads going in and out of our town, and if this morning’s traffic is any indication of future trends then the last car should be through all of the checkpoints just in time for next winter’s first snowfall.

All this effort, of course, can do little to help those people whose lives now lay shattered forever by these shears-wielding miscreants, people who have seen gardens they’ve labored over for years destroyed by the criminal avarice of a few greedy sociopaths, but all of us can hope that with the introduction of new legislation that strengthens the penalties for this shocking crime that the authorities will prosecute these vile offenders to the fullest rigor of the law.

This brings up the question of why these guys won’t swipe something like asparagus or spinach or broccoli, which only adults claim to like and the large scale disappearance of which would have children shouting from sea to shining sea that the great day of Jubilee had, at long last, finally arrived. Yes indeed, children would rejoice with biblical fervor the disappearance of any of the aforementioned plants, especially asparagus, a plant whose only useful function, as far as I can tell, is that it turns your urine green and lets you pretend that you’ve had too much green beer to drink on St. Patrick’s Day so your friends will think you’re cool. Other than that, would anyone actually care if asparagus went extinct tomorrow? I don’t think so, except for parents who like to make kids eat green stuff that’s good for them, and as Groucho Marx once so wisely put it, this world would be a much better place for children if parents had to eat the spinach. You’d think that parents would stop saying something so dumb and let the kids get back to stuffing their faces with candy and chocolate ice cream as the kids celebrate the final, complete, and utter, and yes, I know I’m being redundant here, but I’m striving for a literary effect, dammit; eradication of these vile, infernal, and altogether pernicious weeds.


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