Hello, Linebrook, What Is Your Emergency?


An actual report from an actual friend, an actual former Ipswich selectman (back when they were still called selectmen):

His adult daughter lives in my neighborhood, a neighborhood which I described (in a recent “Outsidah” column) as having a somewhat inscrutable layout of streets and street names, including the remarkable distinctive of three — yes, three — intersections of Charlotte Road and Randall Road in the space of about 30 houses.

So yeah, it’s confusing.

So my friend, the former selecthuman, was coming to my neighborhood, to visit his daughter, when he saw, in his rear-view mirror, an ambulance approaching from behind.

So my friend, the selectguy — oh, not giving him a name is awkward; to protect his privacy, I’ll just give him a random pseudonym — let’s call him, say, Pat McNally — so Pat dutifully pulled over (former selectpeople always obey all the laws, I’m told) and the ambulance passed him. The ambulance then made its way around a corner, out of sight, and Pat continued toward his daughter’s house.

This should have been the end of it. No Outsidah column here; move along.

But within moments, as Pat continued driving toward his daughter’s house, he was surprised to see the same ambulance heading back toward him, as if leaving the neighborhood.

Wow, that was a fast pickup, Pat said to himself. Some speedy EMT work! CPR, paddle-zap, ka-boom, done! These guys are good!

Uh, no. After the ambulance passed Pat, it slowed. Pat — ever the sensitive citizen — was watching in his rear-view mirror. Seeing the ambulance finally come to a halt, Pat pulled to a stop himself. He dropped his car into reverse, slowly backed up alongside the ambulance, and rolled down his window.

“Looking for someone?” Pat asked.

The ambulance driver was by no means masking his bafflement. “Yes, I am.”

It occurred to Pat that there didn’t seem to be much of an emergency. “What address do you want?” he asked the driver.

The ambulance driver scowled at a wad of paperwork, cleared his throat, and read out the address.

Of course Pat — intimately familiar with the entire neighborhood, as he is — could instantaneously envision the driver’s intended destination. At this point, then, it was just a matter of giving the driver proper directions, in simple English, the way New Englanders have been giving directions for centuries.

“Go back up here,” Pat began, pointing northwest. (I’ve forgotten most of the details Pat related to me, but I’m sure it was almost exactly like this.) “The road curves around. Then you want to take your first possible turn. If you miss it and take the second turn, you’ll know, because it doesn’t go anywhere. In which case, you’ll have to turn back, and go the opposite way you came. Anyway, go as far as the road will take you, follow it around, and go on up. You’ll see it there. Can’t miss it.”

I haven’t lived here long, but I can tell you, Pat’s directions were spot-on.

The ambulance driver was clearly a lifetime New Englander, because his face lit up with the joy-light of complete comprehension.

“Thank you!” he exulted. Then he pulled the ambulance around and headed, uh, northwest? I think so.

This incident makes me nervous, for multiple reasons.

Big Question #1: If I need an ambulance on Planet Outah Linebrook, can they find me?

Big Question #2:Before it’s too late?

Big Question #3:Are the house numbers painted on my mailbox, and on the historical marker on the front of my house, BIG ENOUGH FOR THEM TO SEE?

Big Question #4:Is there some reason New England ambulance drivers don’t use GPS? I know GPS works in my neighborhood. I have GPS. (I’ve programmed mine to speak to me with a female voice in a sexy Russian accent. I call her Olga. My wife hates her.) If there’s an ambulance driver servicing the Outah Linebrook area who has some kind of problem with GPS — technology paranoia, or a numeral-reading disability — I’m willing to donate my Olga to that ambulance driver. Please, Mr. Ambulance Driver, don’t be afraid. Come forward. Olga will read to you, in soothing tones. You don’t have to process any numerals or understand any technology. Just do what she says, and you’ll find yourself magically arriving, in the shortest possible time, at the home of the person who’s desperately clinging to life and hoping you’ll get there! The life you save could be my own!

Big Question #5:Did the ambulance driver who got lost in my neighborhood get there in time? Were Pat’s directions clear enough? Was the individual in need able to hold out long enough? Were they adequately insured? And maybe most important of all, did the ambulance driver understand the difference between “Beverly Hospital” and “Beverly Hospital Danvers”? I sure hope so. I still sometimes get them mixed up. Which one is for X-rays again?



Doug Brendel is feeling fit, utterly without need of emergency medical attention, except occasionally, after a party, at his home on outer Linebrook Road. Follow him by clicking the little “Follow” button, which will NOT lead you to directions by Pat McNally, so no worries.



Like, a Coyote Guarding the Henhouse


Last Thursday, I saw a coyote in my backyard, here on outer Linebrook Road.

I posted a minute-long video of it. (You can see it on my Doug Brendel Facebook page, or at DougBrendel.com/backyard.mov.)

Within seconds of posting the vid, I was swamped with feedback from my legions of Facebook followers, nearly all 17 of them. It was not, they assured me, a coyote. It was a fox.

Like this matters. Fox or coyote, it’s going to eat your cat.

In the end, as it turns out, the joke’s on all of us. It wasn’t a fox after all, and it wasn’t a coyote either. Here’s how I know:

Later that afternoon, I was traipsing about my property, as I occasionally do. (This is the habit of a Chicago boy who lived for decades in Arizona; I still marvel like a thumb-sucking child at the wondrous New England flora and fauna. So….)

I was just rounding the corner of my house (where my wife’s bevy of irises were blooming beautifully, I must say), when I heard voices in the thicket of the lilacs. Snickering little voices. Sort of snarly, lip-smacking little voices.

Coyote, he said!”

“I know!”


“I know, right?”

“Then somebody else was, like, fox!

“I know!”

“But it was foxyou were going for, right?”

“Yes! But still.”

“I know, right?”

“I’m amazed at the gullibility. I mean, like, you can pull this orange fur over your back, stick on these pointy ears, dab a little white paint on your tail, and suddenly they think you’re, like, a professional predator.”

“They’re all, like, ‘Bring your pets inside!’ ‘Don’t let them maul your pets!’”

“I know! They’re, like, lighting up the Internet!”

“Ha! And we’re, like, hunkered down here in the bushes, sharing a joint.”

(At this point, the wind happened to shift, and yes, I did detect a faint whiff of cannabis. Entirely legal now, of course, so no worries.)

“Honestly, I admit, I didn’t think it would be this much fun.”

“What do you mean?”

“I thought we’d go out, do the fox and coyote routine, no big deal, head downtown for a couple of drinks, call it a night. But this stuff has gone viral, bro. Look.”

(Through the scraggly branches of the lilacs, I could make out the whitish flicker of what seemed to be an iPhone screen.)


(A certain amount of giggling ensued.)

“So now, the question is, what next?”


“Duh, yeah! We did the coyote/fox thing. Boom. What next? A YouTube channel? Podcasts? A Netflix series?”

“Dude. Chill. This was a thing. One bit. One day. This isn’t our future. This isn’t our life. We’re, like, just a couple of, like, cats.”

“You totally don’t get it, bro. This is opportunity knocking. We can be selling content on Amazon Prime Video by September.”

“Eh, I don’t know.”

“You wanna go back to a life of stale chicken-tuna Purina in a rusty tin bowl, with tapwater recycled in that ridiculous little high-tech bowl plugged into the wall in the kitchen?”

“Well … I don’t know how secure we would be, doing the fox-and-coyote thing fulltime.”

“You are such a wimp.”

“Seriously! Cats have been dumped at shelters for less than this!”

“Come on! When have you ever known a cat to be dumped at a shelter for impersonating a canid?”


“A mammal of the dog family. From the biological family canidae. What kind of an ignoramus are you?”


“Never mind. What I’m saying is, we don’t have to subsist as ordinary felines.”


“Subsist. Manage to live. Geez, you are hopeless.”

“Look, I only thought we were out for a good time. One afternoon, that’s all. Fox costume. Dash around outer Linebrook for a few minutes. Then we go home. Fun and done.”

“You disgust me.”

“I’m sorry.”

“This is how great partnerships break up, you know.”

(There were a few moments of silence in the lilac bushes.)

“Like, Simon and Garfunkel.”


“Sonny and Cher?”


“Tom and Jerry.”

(Another few moments of silence in the lilac bushes.)

“They broke up?”




Follow the Outsidah by clicking the “Follow” button.




You Gonna Finish That?


I’m in crisis, and the fault lies entirely with the Town of Ipswich.

Two years ago, I weighed almost 250 pounds. I believe this was the Town’s fault, mostly, because I never weighed so much in any of the other places I’ve ever lived — not in Georgia, where I was born; not in Illinois, where I was a baby; not in Indiana, where I grew up; not in Missouri, where I went to college; not in Ohio, where I began my writing career; nor in Arizona, where I went to thaw out from Ohio — so it must be the fault of Ipswich, Massachusetts, where I came to rehydrate from Arizona.

I think I gained so much weight because of all the good food for sale in Ipswich, all the attractive and unique presentations of said food, and the utter lack of state-sponsored obesity prevention and recovery programs.

The day finally came when I realized that I weighed 25 pounds more than my father had ever weighed, and he was supposedly the fat one in the family. So something had to be done.

I determined to reduce. I began living religiously according to the dictates of the “MyPlate” calorie-counting app from LiveStrong. And I was cheered on by the friendly finger-wagging of my long-time personal trainer, Jen Tougas, of Personal Best Fitness Studio, situated above the Ipswich Ale Brewery’s “Brewer’s Table” restaurant, which must certainly be the world’s only fitness studio located in a brewery. See what I mean about good foods uniquely presented? But I digress.

Of course, as anyone knows if they’ve attempted to lose a great deal of weight, the more you lose, the harder it gets to shed more pounds. For some reason, as you become lighter, your body panics and starts hanging on to fat for dear life. So you have to consume fewer and fewer calories per day in order to continue losing weight at the same rate. When I first set up the calorie-counting app, weighing 248 pounds, the app allowed me to consume well over 1,900 calories a day. As my weight has come down over the past two years, that 1,900-calorie figure has shrunk incrementally. This past Saturday morning, as I weighed in at 185 pounds, the app gave me the worst news ever: I would need to live on no more than 1,302 calories per day — only until next Saturday’s weigh-in, of course, when the number would get even smaller.

So today, I’m 90% of the way to my objective. I have only seven pounds to go against a 70-pound weight-loss goal. Since these will clearly be the most difficult seven pounds to lose, I’m making a simple request of the Town of Ipswich:

Lay off with the food thing.

Not forever. Just for the month of June. By the end of June, if I stick with this plan, I think I can get down to 178 pounds. So help me out. Please.

I’m going to need Choate Bridge Pub to close down. Also Salt Kitchen. And Heart & Soul. And Brown Dog. Bunz has already closed, but Ipswich House of Pizza makes the best burger in town, so they’re gonna need to take the month off. Please, no more breakfast service at the Ipswich Inn. Zumi’s and Dunkin’s can serve black coffee, but that’s it. Make mine decaf.

There are 219 calories in a double martini, which means I have sipped far too many calories at the bar at Ithaki, as some of my friends can attest. Riverview, please: No pizza for the next month. No more steaks at Hart House. Ipswich Clambake, Clam House, andClam Box will all need to kindly close their doors. Ignore that banging on the front windows; that’s just me, having a fried-clam withdrawal episode. The Ipswich Sports Bar, another source of wonderful fried clams, will need to set up barricades.

For the next month, no Mexican food at En Fuego, no Thai food at Spice, and nothing at all from Georgia’s. Subway? No way. We’re going to need a town-wide Asian-food ban, from May Flower to Good Taste to Majestic Dragon. No more of Chef Miles’s delectables at Brewer’s Table. No more roast beef from Zeno’s, no more Super Subs on the Hammatt Street parking lot. No more guilty indulgences at Pomodori — and stop offering to deliver! That kills me!

For one solid month, I’m just going to re-read the marvelous menu from Ipswich River Provisions, and dream of the heavenly offerings at Ipswich Shellfish. Breakfast bagels at Jetties? Out of the question. A single plain bagel with nothing on it — which is outrageous, because you have to put something on it — lops off nearly a quarter of my daily calorie allowance! This means living the rest of the day on fewer calories than my cat consumes in 20 minutes. What are you trying to do, torture me?

It would also help if Shaw’s could please close down, and if all three of our liquor stores could cut me off.

And please, people — I know Ipswich is a friendly place, but whatever you do, between now and the end of June: DO NOT FEED THE DIETER. If you’re driving along Linebrook Road and you see me staggering down the new sidewalk, looking gaunt, don’t roll down your window and hand me what’s left of your Marini bakery cinnamon roll. Because I’ll take it, I swear I will.

And when I miss my end-of-June weight-loss deadline, it will be your fault.



Doug Brendel lives in an antique house on outer Linebrook Road, where the floorboards are no longer at risk of giving way when he crosses the room. Follow him by clicking “Follow” on this screen.



Don’t Make Me Hurt You





“Yes, that’s me.”

“Hi, I’m calling from the Town of Ipswich.”

“Uh, I’m answering from the Town of Ipswich. I live here.”

“Yes. Well. Of course. That’s why I’m calling you. From Town Hall, of course. Uh, I’m calling to advise you of a new way to pay your unpaid taxes.”

“I don’t have any unpaid taxes. I paid all my taxes back in April.”

“No, wait. I didn’t mean your unpaid taxes. I was looking at the wrong page of my notes. I meant your unpaid utility bill.”

“I paid my utility bill.”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean your last utility bill. I meant your upcoming utility bill.”

“What about my utility bill?”

“We have a new way for you to pay it.”


“Yes, and I’m sorry, but you’ll need to pay it right away, or we’ll have to shut off your utilities.”

“What? I’m not even behind!”

“Well, this is the new system for the Town of — sorry, just a second — I spilled my, uh, coffee — Town of Ipswich.”

“So what do I have to do?”

“You have to pay your utility bill immediately. If you give me your email address, your Social Security number, and the account number on your personal checking account, I’ll be able to handle it all for you. Compliments of the Town of, uh, Ipswich.”

“I guess I’m reluctant to give you this kind of information over the phone.”

“Well, I would hate to cut off your electricity.”

“Yes, me too. I would hate for you to cut off anything of mine.”

“So, what is your Social Security number, please?”

“Where are you calling from, again?”

“The Town of Haverhill. Er, uh, Lawrence. Sorry, no. Ipswich. My mistake. Ipswich is right there between Haverhill and Lawrence.”

“Not geographically.”

“No, I meant on my list.”

“Actually, the only thing between Haverhill and Lawrence geographically is Methuen. Or a little slice of North Andover.”


“So you must mean alphabetically.”

“Yes, alphabetically.”

“So you’re not really calling from the Town of Ipswich?”

“Yes! I’m absolutely calling from the Town of Ipswich! You must pay your — uh, utility bill. I’ll need your Social Security number, and your bank account.”

“I haven’t lived here long, but I’ve never known the Town of Ipswich to collect utility bill payments this way. Also, frankly, you don’t seem to have a New England accent.”

“Uh, the truth is, I’m with the IRS. You have some back taxes, and I need to collect them right away.”

“I see. Well, frankly, I’m current with the feds.”

“Uh, sorry, I’m just checking my records here, and it seems you have a cousin who was arrested today in, uh, Mexico City, and they need you to bail them out. If you give me your bank information—”

“Actually, I think I know which of my cousins you’re talking about, and I hope he rots in a Mexican prison.”

“Not arrested. My mistake. Kidnapped. They were kidnapped. In, uh, Guadalajara.”

“Same difference. He was always Grandma’s favorite. Let him die.”

“Doug! I’ve been on the wrong page all this time! Sorry! Actually you’ve won the Northeast Fantasy Sweepstakes! Isn’t that great! You have a payment of $10 million coming your way! You only need to confirm your residence in, uh, Ipswich, and pay the registration fee of $25, and the whole $10 million is yours! Isn’t that great!”

“Yes! Where should I pay my $25?”

“I’ll just take your bank account number right here on the phone.”

“Oh. Well. I don’t think I want to do that.”

“Wait. I just received a notice that your computer needs repair. I’ll connect to your computer and handle it all for you, no worries. Just give me your password.”

“Sorry, where did you say you’re calling from?”

“Uh, the Town of — Ipswich. Yes, Ipswich.”

“I’m so grateful our town offers this terrific service. You must be proud, working for such a fine town. I love this town. Even just looking out my window, it pleases me. The forsythia. The historic homes. Don’t you feel the same way?”

“Oh, yes. I’m looking out my window too. The rickshaws, the sewage in the gutter — it’s ‘home’!”

“Calcutta! I visited there once.”

“Really? Did you stay at the Bishnupur Hotel, by any chance? My brother works there.”

“No, sorry, but I remember having a drink there once.”

“I’m meeting a friend there tonight!”

“So, about my utility bill.”

“Yes, I’ll need your bank account number. Otherwise I’ll have to shut off your utilities.”

“Let me ask you something. Are you familiar with the term ‘scam’?”

“I think this is a type of meat, right? It comes in a can?”


Dig Them Clams


I never met a clam I didn’t love.

Of course it’s not a matter of romance.

It’s not champagne and sex I’m dreaming of—

Although, come to think of it, champagne would be good for washing down a bucket of steamers.


You eat a clam, it’s like you kiss the ocean,

The pungent, salty sweetness of the deep,

A magical, intoxicating potion—

Although, come to think of it, they are sort of chewy, and some people are grossed out by them.


With clams, I don’t care how they are presented.

I’ll gladly eat them fried, or steamed, or raw.

As long as they’ve been killed, I’ll be contented—

Although, come to think of it, I wouldn’t have a problem with killing one myself, if that’s what it took; somebody’s got to do it.


Clams aren’t the only reason I live here,

But pretty close, to tell the whole darn truth.

There’s not much else I hold so near and dear—

Although, come to think of it, if it came down to clams or eternal life, it would be really close; what’s life without clams?


Amazing how so small a thing delights.

I want them by the pound, or by the bucket.

Clams take me to unreasonable heights—

Although, come to think of it, ten dollars a pound is a lot of money for steamers, and fried clams are even more, and I’m about out of money, thanks to these little devils.




Doug Brendel lives 9 minutes by car from the nearest clam shack, or 1 hour 22 minutes on foot, which is why he owns a car. Follow him here at Outsidah.com.


Undertaker to the Squirrels


I was sitting in a local bar, which shall remain nameless, and the guy on the stool next to me was a squirrel. Not an ordinary squirrel, it seemed to me. More like a hard-bitten squirrel, world-weary, hunched over his tiny whisky, staring into the alcohol in an unfocused way, tapping the end of his tiny cigarette on the bar.

“You know you can’t smoke in here,” the bartender said.

The squirrel didn’t look up.

“What do I look like, an immigrant? I live here, I know the law.”

He sighed heavily, or at least as heavily as a squirrel can sigh, with its tiny squirrel lungs.

“I blame Clinton. Bill, not Hillary. You could smoke just about anywhere before him. The ultimate hypocrisy, if you ask me. The faker who claims he ‘didn’t inhale’ goes on this huge self-righteous no-smoking campaign.”

The squirrel glanced at me, but I didn’t say anything. He looked back into his tiny squirrel whisky.

“It’s like Jimmy Carter,” he finally continued, “forcing us all to turn down our thermostats during that oil crisis. Carter! A Southerner! Of course his people wouldn’t mind turning down their thermostats. It’s warm all year round in Georgia! Sheesh. Here in New England, we were freezing our asses off.”

This, I realized, was a very knowledgeable squirrel.

He fell silent, except for the tiny thumping sounds of his tiny squirrel cigarette on the bar. He didn’t seem self-conscious at all, even sitting on a tower of folded cloth napkins stacked up on the stool to get him to bar height. I guess if a place is classy enough for cloth napkins, you don’t make judgments about a customer being short, or a rodent.

It began to feel uncomfortably quiet at the bar, like it was my turn to speak, but I didn’t have anything to say. Finally I cleared my throat and asked, “What do you do for a living?”

He shrugged a tiny squirrel shrug.

“I’m an undertaker.”

My face must have given me away.

“Ah, I know,” he said. “‘You don’t seem like the undertaker type.’ I get that all the time.”

He took a swig of whisky from his tiny squirrel glass.

“The way undertakers are at funerals, you think they’re always that way? No, we’re normal guys. We stop off at the bar, we snicker at Trump, we fight with our wives, we hide acorns. That sad, official face on funeral day, that’s acting. It’s just the job.”

I found myself being sort of astonished by all this.

“How did you get started, uh, undertaking?” I asked.

The squirrel shrugged again. “I needed money, I looked around for opportunities. What do you see all over the roads in Ipswich? Dead squirrels. Sure, sometimes a possum, or a cat. Maybe a raccoon, or even a deer. But nothing close to the numbers we get in squirrels.”

He shrugged his signature shrug.

“It’s a volume business.”

I thought about it. “Yes, I guess I do see a lot of dead squirrels on the roads.”

“You don’t see the half of them,” he sneered. “I got my teams out there scraping them off the pavement as fast as we can. We contact the family, offer a beautiful memorial service, proper burial, the works. I’m known as the ‘Undertaker to the Squirrels.’ Get it? ‘Undertaker to the Stars’ — “Undertaker to the Squirrels’?”

I had nothing to say to that. He snorted a tiny squirrel-snort.

“Anyway,” he went on, “if you see a dead squirrel on an Ipswich road, it’s only because my teams haven’t gotten there yet. If you see the same dead squirrel two days in a row, it’s only because their family was too cheap. Sleazy, if you ask me.”


“What decent family wouldn’t fork over a few bucks for even a basic funeral and burial?” he growled. “We get to the deceased, we’re ready for action, let the family start healing — that’s my line, ‘start the healing process’— but then the family says no!”

“Well, if they can’t afford it,” I began.

“It’s not the money,” he shot back. “I’ll tell you what happens. The mom says to the teenager, again and again: ‘Don’t run across the road. Use the power lines. Avoid the street.’But the kid, he thinks he knows everything. He thinks he’s invincible. He runs across the road. Kaboom.”

The squirrel shook his head and glared into his glass.

“And that’s my business,” he sighed.

We sat in silence for a few moments. Then he swiveled his little squirrel face toward me and sort of squinted.

“It’s ironic, isn’t it? A squirrel spends his life burying nuts in the ground; then in the end, he’s the nut who gets buried in the ground.”

“Wow,” I said, “that’s pretty cold.”

“Aw, I never say this kind of stuff in front of the family,” he replied, lifting his tiny squirrel chin and waving a tiny squirrel claw at the bartender. “It’s all ‘Your loved one’and ‘the dearly departed’and blah blah blah. But still—”

He tapped his empty little squirrel glass; the bartender nodded.

“Ya gotta admit,” the squirrel continued, “it ispretty ironic, right?”



Doug Brendel honors the dead of all species at his home on outer Linebrook Road. Follow him by clicking “Follow” on this screen.


Vote Early, Vote Often


With Town Meeting coming up, and Town elections a week later, there’s a lot of chatter about the Articles that will appear on the Warrant. Which can be disorienting for a newcomer. Where I come from, an “article” is either a piece of clothing, or a piece of writing, or an insignificant word like “a” or “the” sprinkled throughout the English language as a means of confusing the Russians. And a “warrant” is what the cops are supposed to get before they search your drawers.

But now that I understand the Ipswich meaning of the terms, I’d like to point out that the school thing, important as it is, is not the only “Article” on the “Warrant.” There are other issues before us that nobody seems to be discussing — expressed in Articles I’ve recommended, and I trust they’ll appear on the Warrant as I’ve requested.

For example:

  • Regarding the official designation of the elected leaders formerly known as the Board of Selectmen

They voted to call themselves Selectpersons, but that’s just what other towns have done. Ipswich is unique, and I would hope that we could come up with a unique name for our lawmaking body. “Selectpersons” is not the only alternative.

  • “Selectcreatures” would work, except that it could be regarded as setting up an unhealthy “us and them” dynamic between the creatures and their Creator.
  • “Selecthumans” might solve this problem — “Selectbeings” is also a possibility — although either of these could be seen as unacceptably intolerant of lower life forms. And “Selectorganisms” could be hurtful to inanimate objects.
  • Likewise, “Selectmortals” discriminates against immortals, including angels, demons, and certain rock stars.
  • “Selectindividuals” is probably out because it’s potentially offensive to people with multiple personalities.
  • We could just call them “The Select,” unless this would be too easily mistaken for “The Elect” (a biblical term describing a group of people who could never be mistaken for our Board).

In any case, the question should be debated and voted on. We’re the ones who have to refer to these people, after all, in our letters to the editor and our rants on social media. We should get to name them ourselves. I think it’s important that Town leaders submit to the will of The People — er, uh, The Persons.

  • Regarding my suggested non-binding resolution about citizens’ queries at Monday-evening Select Board meetings

I’d like voters to choose between five options:

  • The querying citizen must sit in a special mechanized, spring-loaded chair. The longer the citizen talks, the more the spring tightens. When the citizen stops talking, sproinnnnng!— like the guy who gets shot out of a cannon at the circus. The longer you talk, the harder you splatter against the ceiling. This gives the querying citizen plenty of incentive to keep it brief.
  • The chair is still mechanized and spring-loaded like a pilot’s ejector seat, but instead of popping up when you stop querying, it’s like that Push & Pop game: You never know when it will go off. All you know is that the longer you talk, the worse it’s going to be. So you really, reallyhave incentive to keep it brief. This option has the advantage of cutting off many querying citizens mid-query.
  • Substitute a jolt of electricity for the spring. Not a deadly jolt, just enough to make your hair frizzy. Or, if it’s already frizzy, then frizzier.
  • Substitute a trap door. (Too cliché? Maybe.)
  • Put a soundproof Plexiglas booth over the chair. Make that an airtightsoundproof Plexiglas booth.
  • Regarding my oft-repeated request for a cash bar at Town Meeting

The only downside is that people who sell hip flasks will lose business. In fact, if this Article doesn’t pass, I’m going to set up a hip flask rental cart out front next time.



Doug Brendel lives on outer Linebrook Road, where he dreams of a few final minor improvements to an already practically-perfect Ipswich. Follow him by clicking “Follow.”