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I see myself, in retirement, as a completely reimagined and reinvigorated human being, such as a poet whose very odd and seemingly unreadable poem “Burt’s Burnt Shirt” gets queued-up to be published in the New Yorker. It’s an accident, of course, caused by a computer malfunction, because the poem is really a mess. No matter. The writer (me) will come to be admired by other retirees as a guy living out his dream of being a poet: “just look, that nonsensical poem that I fell asleep halfway through reading was given actual real estate in this prominent magazine!” they’ll say. I’ll supplement my social security income by doing tours of bars, reading only this poem (because it’s my only one), in exchange for free tankards of ale. After the hard life I will have lived, that’s the kind of retirement I’ll deserve!
Somehow, the intergalactic-surf-punk movement of the 1990s came and went entirely unnoticed by me. How? I thought I was relatively lucid and paying attention back then. But, alas, I missed out on the early years of “Man or Astro-man?” and am only now coming to discover the band’s musical genius. My first introduction to the cosmic rockers was, as most musical introductions are these days, via YouTube; they seemed to be just a bunch of funny guys in space suits who play very loud. Not so! (Well, the part about the space suits and high volume is accurate, but they go beyond that). Having been offered a ticket by a friend, who told me that the band’s first album “changed my life,” I donned my big shoes (which deserve their own blog post) to see these performers from, as the legend has it, somewhere in outer space (or maybe just Alabama) perform a show in support of their new album “Defcon 5…4…3…2…1…” This would also be my first foray into The Sinclair, an actual rock venue in the otherwise musically bland Harvard Square region of Cambridge. Clearly, these astronomical (no, not gastronomical) surf-dudes know what they’re doing:
The amiable cockle, in my opinion, has been ignored by the mainstream public for far too long. To prove my point, just ask yourself these questions:
- When was the last time I served my family a platter of cockles?
- When have I shopped for and compared cockle prices at my local supermarket?
- Do I even know when cockle season is?
Time to face facts: we Americans are getting precious few cockles in our diets. I intend to change that, and here’s how:
To start, I’m going to establish a foothold in the mussels market by plowing all my free time into managing my very own mussel shack in the gritty section of Manchester-by-the-Sea. I have excellent shack-making materials in my garage, like mismatched bits of old lumber, salvaged over the very same decades that cockles were being ignored by people like you and me. Among the wood I’ve retained are rough-hewn boards, which I’ll use to create authentic-looking shack walls that will provide splinters to my guests for many years to come. “Mussels for everyone” will be my slogan. I’ll fashion a “Mussel Pat’s” sign above the order window in crooked letters, suggesting that I’m an easy-going proprietor. Hey, I’m just a guy selling mussels. In a shack.
The hope is that the Mussel Pat’s` becomes a huge hit before I die, and I can start to branch out and “lead,” if you will, the mussel-eating public over to cockles. I know, I know, “We’ll see.” (You sound like various pessimistic relatives of mine). But you have to admit: the world is nudged forward thanks to kernels of ideas fleshed out by “Think-People” like myself, including my idea for a House of Cockles.
The City of Boston is in the midst renewing all the sidewalk wheelchair ramps in my neighborhood. These ramps seemed fine to me, but then again, I’m not a wheelchair ramp expert. I am, however, an expert at removing snow from the wheelchair ramp at the corner of my street, which city snow-removal contractors believe is the best place to deposit the stuff after each snow storm; it apparently has never occurred to them that people in wheelchairs aren’t likely to climb over the mountain of snow and ice they’ve put there. In any event, these late spring days, you may find any of a number of my neighborhood sidewalks closed to foot traffic, forcing you to share the street with frazzled rush-hour motorists. Fresh cement is everywhere, with orange warning cones and sometimes (but not always) other barriers to indicate to bleary-eyed pedestrians that the surface is new and very mushy. Two weeks ago, I took my kids to the school bus stop, and my son quite nearly stepped in fresh cement right in front of the cement guys. I was holding his hand at that particular moment, which saved the day!
However, I was not holding his hand a minute later when they boy’s mother came driving by en route to work, prompting my son to sprint to the street corner to yell “Bye Mom!” He didn’t get very far, of course. Wet cement tends to stop you in your tracks (unless you’re the Pink Panther). Luckily, our friendly cement guys were still present to yell at him (too late) and then fix the sidewalk (but not fix my son’s brand new sneakers).