Friday, December 2, 2011

Unschool Bus

 I was at the park the other day, doing my laundry, washing pots and pans on the tennis court, fixing the transmission, etc. when a man walking a pair of dogs asked me if I lived in the van. "Are you a full-timer?" is how he phrased it. Now, since I've recently had The Law on my case and have been evicted/banned from the C&J Parking lot and am still trying to rectify the genocidal conduct of my colonial forefathers, I'm reluctant to talk about my living status with perfect strangers. I've got a lot on my mind! If you want to watch me and judge for yourself how I spend my days then that's up to you. I studied the man and shrugged in a vague way. "Well, it comes and it goes," I said which could mean anything.
Then the man said he lived in his school bus with his family and his dogs. Really? Yes. And I felt better about saying that lately I live in the van full time. I gave him a tour of the van and he admired the stove pipe running from the wood stove.
"My wife really wants a wood stove."
"It was an experiment to see if I could do it," I explained.
"Why did you run the flex pipe all the way back?"
"To get the most radiant heat from the metal and also to give it space to cool down before coming into contact with the fiberglass."
"That's like the Quakers, who have stove pipe run the length of the room."

I imagine that was before the phrase "Waste Not, Want Not" became a joke among Americans. Now, we want waffle irons from China and buy bulk potato chips.
So, Jeff is in town to repair the roof on the health food store in downtown Portsmouth. He's a pioneer in a time when there is no more West to explore. His family has a blog that is interesting. They aren't self righteous, like me, and seem to have more on their plate than concern for blood spilled in 1680. Ron Paul, the Texas Congressman running for President is a cause celebre of the unschool family for reasons you may read about on their site.
 So, I walked downtown since Ron Paul made a visit to Portsmouth the other day in his tour of the state to get his limited government platform some press time. Did anyone see him? I showed up 5 hours too late but saw Jeff and then walked to the bus where it was parked on Hanover and Maplewood in front of the last two remaining coin operated parking meters. Everything else in this town has gone futuristic with kiosks where you pay and then put a piece of paper on your dashboard. This reduces the number of money collection locations. So, I took some pictures of the Ron Paul 2012 a vote for Peace and Freedom message that is chalked on the side of the bus.
I had been there no fewer than a few seconds when the ever present, vulturous meter maid came shambling up with her dragging, plodding, merciless shuffle. She looked at the meter and I looked at the meter. Both expired, I suddenly noticed. I didn't think to record the whole exchange but it was amusing and went basically as follows:
Oggy: Top of the afternoon to ye!
Meter Maid: (unintelligible)
Oggy: I just now noticed that these meters are expired.
Maid: Yep! And I'm gonna write two tickets.
Oggy: Two tickets?!
Maid: Yes. One for each space they taking up. Too big to fit in one space.
Oggy: And here on this beautiful day? [Oggy waves hands at the air]
Maid: Type of day don't have a damn thing to do with this.
Oggy: I stand corrected. It doesn't matter that it's a school bus?
[The maid's tone at this point became unnecessarily blunt and unfriendly.]
Maid: Ain't no school bus! You busy taking pictures of the side, go look on the front!
Oggy: I do see yer point. Hold on. What's this? [Oggy fishes in his pocket and finds 14 cents.]
Maid: You tell me?
Oggy: Why don't I help these folks out?
Maid: Ain't your bus?
Oggy: Ah no. I live in a van down by the river. The one with the wood stove.
Maid: Lawd! Who you supposed to be? A comedian? Families living in busses. Men living in vans.
[Oggy slips a nickle into each of the meters. 3 minutes show on each. There is an uncomfortable pause.]
Oggy: Just a community activist.
Maid: Oh! You some kind of comedian!
Oggy: You know Ron Paul believes in self regulation. We're all rational self interested individuals. And this is in my...
Maid: I don't have no time for this! Pay the meter! That's all.
The Maid shuffles off ranting loudly as a teenage boy pokes his head out of the bus doors.
Boy: What's up?
Oggy: Well, I happened to be taking pictures of your fine living quarters when that lady walked up and was going to give you two tickets. Luckily for you I had broken my piggy bank earlier today and had two nickles in my purse.
Boy: Cool. I guess we forgot.
Oggy: I'll say. The meter maids in this town are like crack addicted stock brokers. They'll ticket a fart if they can find the windshield wiper.
Boy: Uh...
Oggy: Do you need some change? Or is it some kind of protest to not pay the meter?
Boy: We have change.
Oggy: I don't want to tell anyone what to do but a couple quarters here and there will save you some dough down the road.
Boy: Thanks.
Oggy: Good day!

So, feeling like a good samaritan I wandered around downtown and bought a slice of heart attack pizza with bacon and pepperoni. "Everything but the oink," as they say at Oscar Meyer. It came from Joe's NY pizza and it's not much different than the self serve pizza at the gas station on 33 across from Target where Darvid gets his paper. Except this has bacon reheated to a consistency of a dog's chew toy.
After that, my day became a hectic affair of raking leaves and I ended up burning the wood stove and the wind blew all the smoke across Route 33 and I thought, "Ah, Oggy, this can't last. Why don't you find a wide assed lady and settle down in a mobile home park in Epping? Raise some disappointing kids." And the wind whispered through the glow of the neon Target sign.

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.