Thursday, September 09, 2010

A Dirty, Annual Tradition

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

Henry David Thoreau

We have a friend who defies simple explanation.

My kids are fascinated by him, for more than one reason. A really easy reason to put a finger to would be that he stores what I believe would technically be called a whole buttload of stuff in our garage for his annual trip to Burning Man. Like our late August heat waves, Billy’s arrival is known to be looming, but you can’t say just when, or for how long.

He blows in, spends a day or two with us, possibly pushing my most emotionally volatile child into the pool, possibly being pushed in himself—phone in pocket, d’oh! (but he has NO RIGHT TO EVER COMPLAIN ABOUT BEING CHEAPED GIVEN HIS HISTORY and was very good natured about Bunny having taken the opportunity to send him into the deep end)… then the shelves we allow him use of are emptied, his rental truck is filled, and he’s off for a week or two.

Upon returning, the real fun begins for the kids. They get to observe and meddle with the spectacle that is him washing the chalky dust off which permeates everything during near-daily dust storms. Our front yard is completely covered with what looks like the world’s filthiest yard sale, manned by a generally shirtless, nearly albino red headed man. I can’t imagine why no one offers to buy anything.


I won’t lie: cars slow down. Neighbors peer from windows suspiciously. You’d think after 5 years they’d be used to it, and simply think, “Oh, it’s early September again already.” The next day Bunny’s friends ask her what on earth was going on at her house. It’s an event.

Carter sat and watched, transfixed. He also talked, and talked, and talked to Billy. Normally I’d try to keep my kids from pestering an adult. However, this is Billy. I figure it’s only fair to stain him a little. We’ll call it storage rental fees.

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