This spring, I began hearing cars slowing down as they passed my house.
I quickly came to the conclusion that my “Outsidah” column was getting so hugely popular with Ipswich Chronicle readers that my legions of fans were actually seeking out my humble house on outer Linebrook Road, slowing down as they drove past, staring in awe at the place where “The Outsidah” lives, and muttering things like “I didn’t realize there were homo sapiens west of Route 1!” and “How does he stand it out here?” I remember doing something like this years ago, driving reverently past Groucho Marx’s house in Beverly Hills, and somewhat more recently, Al Boynton’s place on High Street.
But then the stubborn winter snow finally melted, and I was able to walk out across my front yard for the first time since Christmas; it was only then that I discovered why cars have been slowing to a crawl in front of my house.
As winter gave way to spring, two colossal potholes opened up — each of them longer than a standard car tire, and wider too — and exactly as far apart as your front tires. So it’s impossible to miss them without some serious maneuvering. But if you maneuver to the left, you’re immediately confronted with another crater in the other lane; and if you swing to the right, you’re up on my neighbor’s well tended lawn.
Accordingly, if you’re sharp-eyed enough to see what’s coming, you hit your brake — accomplishing what can be called, ironically, a “quick slow” — and crawl through the moonscape like a massive, drunken beetle. Your vehicle, switching suddenly and unhappily to low gear, makes a groaning sound which wafts up through the front windows of my house, making me think I’m more admired than I really am.
Please understand: The pothole gods have done their best. Those faithful Day-Glo-vested gents who spread the black goo and roll it flat, slow-mo artisans of tar, recently filled the potholes in front of my house. But then came winter’s final wrenching, and gaping chasms opened up in the road, turning it into a colossal rotten log, too corroded for even Robin Hood and Little John to balance on.
There are other drivers on my street, of course, who aren’t sharp-eyed enough to see what’s coming — or they’re among that very rare breed of drivers who exceed the Linebrook Road 25 mph speed limit. So I’m minding my own business, well inside the cocoon of my house, when I’m suddenly jolted by a thunderous whump, as if some helicopter pilot attached a cable to a dumpster and lifted it into the sky and for some insane reason dropped it onto outer Linebrook Road. But no, it’s not a dumpster being dropped from the sky onto Linebrook Road; it’s an eastbound Ford F150, driven by a good ol’ boy from New Hampshire, doing about 40, hitting the potholes in front of my house. If I’m quick enough looking out my window, I can see the driver spitting tobacco juice into his own lap and spurting cuss words as he hunches over the steering wheel and struggles to keep his rig on the road.
Different makes and models make different sounds in this pothole minefield. I’ve found that a Jeep Grand Cherokee makes a kind of thoink, your basic Toyota Camry makes more of a thurpk, and just about any Volvo goes whong.
I am negotiating with Skillman’s to set up a mobile car repair operation at the corner of Linebrook and Randall, which I believe truly has the potential to make both of us rich.
If the car repair thing works, next I’m thinking mobile physical therapy.
As the deadline for this column approached, the pothole gods were reportedly making their way toward Doug Brendel’s outer Linebrook home.