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..." "...it 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) akakyakakyevich@gmail.com

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

ST. PADDY'S DAY BLUES: Saint Patrick’s Day has come and gone for another year, as it is wont to do, and once again, I didn’t enjoy the parade from the confines of our happy little burg. I had great plans for going to the great metropolis to view amidst my ethnic brethren the passing parade of bagpipers, politicians, and other noisy windbags, but if you have spent any time at all this past week watching the Weather Channel, you will know that spring is not exactly busting out all over here in the northeastern United States. No indeed, here in the northeastern United States most of us are wondering just why couldn’t Saint Patrick, good and holy man that he was, find a better day to drop dead on, a day, perhaps in late June or, better yet, in the middle of August, when the kids would be out of school and everyone would be in a partying mood. Here in this our Great Republic there are no public holidays at all in August; the summer goes from the Fourth of July to Labor Day in September with nary a break in the action between.

It’s not like other people don’t do have their ethnic celebrations in the spring and summer already. The Puerto Rican Day Parade is usually in late June, usually on the feast day of Saint John the Baptist, and that parade pulls in people like nobody’s business. Once upon a time in America, the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade was the biggest parade in the ethnic pride game, the champ o’champs, in a manner of speaking, but all of that is one with Nineveh and Tyre now, I fear; the Puerto Ricans have the Irish beat hands down when it comes to parades these days. You can ascribe the reason to any number of different things: salsa is easier on the nerves than bagpipers, the chicas are usually easier on the eyes than the colleens, although I shouldn’t say such a thing in public, and the Irish all live in the suburbs now and prefer to watch the parade on television just like other Americans, while the Puerto Ricans still live in the city and can get to the parade on mass transit. These, of course, are mere rationalizations. The reason the Puerto Rican Day Parade can draw more people is that the Puerto Ricans don’t have to worry about a foot of snow falling the day before the parade. March weather is famously variable, much like the Irish themselves; sometimes you will get a parade day that is warm and sunshiny, and other years, like this one, you will find that winter likes it here in this part of our Great Republic and has no intention of moving on peacefully, even if you call the cops.

I suppose I could have gone to the parade, if I’d really put my mind to it; the railroad announced that they were running special express trains down to the city so people could get to the parade more or less on time; I even heard some of those trains go by. It’s just that to get to the train I had to exhume my car from beneath a veritable Chimborazo of snow first, and this, as with so many things in life, was very easy to say and not quite as easy to do.

Among the complicating factors was our happy little burg’s own highway department. The boys love a good snowstorm, because it lets them show their stuff to maximum effect. During the warm months of the year, a good many people wonder just what in the hell the highway department does with all of its time and our tax money, especially since all anyone ever sees them do when it’s warm out is stand around holes of varying sizes in the road discussing what to do next while wearing orange reflective vests and hard hats and not really doing very much about the hole. In winter, though, the boys down at the highway department come into their own. Let the weatherman predict a couple of inches of snow and they leap into action. Hardly a snowflake will have touched the ground before they are out with the sanders and the snowplows, spreading sand and salt and good cheer amongst all and sundry, pushing the snow off the roads so nervous motorists can go about their business in relative safety. This is a good thing, I think, and the citizens of our happy little burg ought to thank the highway department and all of its minions for the good job they do in clearing the streets of unwanted precipitation.

But Einstein, or someone else way smarter than me, explained that matter and energy are really one and the same thing, and because of this, therefore, you could not destroy matter, only transform it into something else. Thus it is with snow. When the highway department comes through clearing the streets with their plows, they are not actually getting rid of the snow; they are taking the snow in the road, which prevents people from using the roads safely, and moving the damnable stuff into people’s driveways, which prevents people from using the roads at all. It is small wonder, then, that there are so few traffic accidents after the plows have come through a given neighborhood: in order to have a traffic accident, you must have traffic, which isn’t going to happen until the populace can dig their cars out from under of the twelve inches of snow that just fell in their driveways and the several feet of snow the highway department just shoved on top of the snow you haven’t managed to get rid of yet. Some people have complained about this in the past, to little or no effect; the snow in the road has to go somewhere and the highway department takes the view that where the snow goes after they’ve moved it out of the streets is the snow’s own business; it’s a free country, after all, and the complainers should be happy that the highway department is providing settlers in our happy little burg with ramparts that will withstand the most vigorous Indian attack until the cavalry arrives, assuming, of course, that the cavalry doesn’t have to use the local streets.

In addition to this, one must always expect the utterly expectable. You do not go to a bordello, Mel Brooks once remarked, and then complain to the management that the place is not a Howard Johnson’s. Life is not like that. Deserts are hot in the daylight and cold at night. Rivers are, almost without exception, fairly wet. Pistachios, if consumed in large enough quantities, will cause your gall bladder to rebel. There is something newsworthy happening right now in the Middle East. Letting your little brother borrow your snow blower is not a good idea. These all fall in the realm of the expectable. You should not expect that something different from what you know to expect to occur. It will not. The wise man will know that it is in the nature of little brothers to borrow snow blowers and tell you that you will get the device, which you bought for well over $700, back shortly. This is a delusion. It will not happen. You will stand next to your car, your heart pounding dangerously in your chest as you shovel and shovel and shovel like there’s no tomorrow, and in this case, there isn’t; nobody has a day after Saint Patrick’s Day parade; and there your little brother is, steadily pushing your snow blower and using the gas you bought for the purpose of clearing your driveway to clear his driveway. Your little brother will be big about the situation, though; after he has used all of your gas he will help you dig your car out, and with his contribution to the task at hand, you will have the car out of the snow bank and ready to go to the train station in time for the Puerto Rican Day Parade. I guess that’s something.

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