Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Invasion of the Nanny State

Dad is home now, having both knees replaced with all the rehabilitation therapy that goes with it. I called my folks this morning and Dad was tired out from walking the isles at the new Publix grocery store. They couldn’t understand what was wrong with the older, smaller store and why the new one had to be so big.

Mom wanted to know where I was while we talked; calling on my cell phone and giving her a heads up on traffic or where I’m headed next. I was turning into Northgate, by the golf course on my way home. Northgate has some of the high dollar houses; where the rich and shameless live, as a friend of mine likes to put it. A fire truck with lights and siren turned in ahead of me along with a support truck. I told mom that I hoped it wasn’t headed for the “invisible house”.

I may have written about the invisible house before; but couldn’t find it after a short search of my files, perhaps I should do a better job of filing. Some of the more affluent folks have large lots behind their huge homes. They sometimes add a garage apartment, entertainment room, barbeque area or any number of structures to improve their life styles.

A few years ago I observed what appeared to be preparations for such a structure as forms of sand were leveled and a “temporary” electric service pole was erected adjacent to that sand form. A fancy circular driveway was poured along with the installation of a fancy electrically operated wrought iron gate on either end of the drive. All manner of landscaping was put in; shrubs, trees and a lawn that was immaculately trimmed twice a week. I kept waiting to see construction, anything to justify the sand which had been prepared for a foundation; it never happened.

I came to the conclusion that the structure had been built; just that it was invisible. They’d used ultra secret high technology to make it appear as if nothing were there when in fact people were already living within; just not visible because the reflective surfaces used some kind of stealth materials to hide the building. Each time I drive past the invisible house I get a kick when I see a truck parked in the driveway, the yard man trimming away or folks sitting on the wooden park bench.

I noticed a green plastic form, something like a playground box shaped like a turtle shell that had been placed on top of the sand form where I had supposed a foundation would one day be poured. I then came to the conclusion that I had been wrong about there being an invisible house; instead it must be the entrance to an underground bomb shelter made to look like a child’s play area. Below, perhaps several hundred feet, there are living quarters, a swimming pool, a bowling alley and maybe even a miniature golf course for when the “big one” takes out Houston and surrounding areas.

Dad grew tired of listening, I often have that effect on folks, and left the conversation to Mom and me. I found that the Visiting Nurse Association had already made a visit to insure a safe environment for Dad as he continued his rehabilitation work on his new knees. Mom had been instructed to get rid of all the beautiful Oriental rugs to prevent any accidents. All the rugs had been rolled up and placed into storage until Dad passes off some check list of progress. I can’t imagine their home without those beautiful rugs; the Nanny State has arrived.

I asked if the VNA had gone through their Kama Sutra book marking which pages were safe to use; that got a laugh out of Mom. A few years back she recalled having watched a television show; I think it was the Golden Girls, where the ladies had given a wedding present to one of their senior citizen friends, a large print copy of the Kama Sutra. We both laughed; how often would such a conversation surface?

Dad once told me a story of an ambitious Irish lad intent on sailing for America to make his fortune. As he prepared to leave, his friends and neighbors surrounded him with advice and well wishing as he boarded the steamer. An old grey haired woman asked him to look up her son who’d moved to New York City many years ago but had never bothered to write home, “His name is John, John Dunn. If you see him tell him to write his dear old mother.” Dad made it a point when telling this story to talk with an Irish accent, “Write yer mither”; so shoot me for destroying the language.

Months went by and the lad found himself wandering around the financial district near Wall Street in downtown New York. Upon looking up he noticed the title on one of the buildings, Dunn and Bradstreet. He thought to himself, “Could it be the son of that dear neighbor has really made it big here in America?”

He walked in the front doors, amazed at the grandeur of the stately building, and walked to the receptionist’s desk. “Have you a John here?” The woman pointed down a hall and explained that it was on the left.

Upon entering the men’s room another fellow was walking out, “Are you Dunn?” and the man replied that he was. “Well, then, write your mither!”

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