Monday, October 6, 2008

Visitor Season

by Ben Small

Fall marks the start of Visitor Season in Arizona, that lovely time of year when one can actually stand outside during daylight hours without wearing an air conditioned NASA suit. Which means, of course, that anybody who can trace any sort of lineage to an Arizona resident comes to visit. The family tree doesn’t have to be straight; there can be missing or mangled branches, even shoots from other trees. Try tracking oak leaves to specific trees in a forest. Last year, a girl showed up claiming to be my daughter. So what she had a DNA report? Those things can be faked, can’t they? Even the FBI makes mistakes. But Benjamina didn’t stay long. The rubber-snake-in-the-bed trick soon sent her screaming.

Didn’t even leave a forwarding address.

Friends visit, too. I’ve had folks who said they’d last seen me when I hit ‘em with a dodgeball during kindergarten recess stay for a week. Once, a guy I’d sued showed up. Said he wanted clarification of the settlement agreement’s release language. He stayed a month.

But with the pool guy my wife murdered rotting next to my neighbor’s driveway, we have to be a bit careful when visitors come to the premises. We tell ‘em that the yard adjoining ours is full of scorpions ― you know, the man-eating ones. If they’re still curious, either my wife or I will follow, and we’ll be carrying a shovel. Shovelsaurus Rex. A big old spade, heavy, with sharpened edges. When my wife and I talk three-way, the only swinging we’re doing is with Rex. Clubbing, dicing or digging: Shovelsaurus Rex has no peer.

Usually we distract our visitors by taking them somewhere else, like for instance, the Sonoran Desert Museum, Arizona’s second leading tourist attraction. But that’s been a bit on-and-off this year ever since a wild javelina strolled past the bronze ones at the museum’s entrance and bit a paying customer. Worse yet, the customer’s wife saw the javelina coming and fainted. She said later she’d heard Benny Hinn was in town and figured he’d performed a miracle. She’s still kneeling at the entrance. Meanwhile, anxious attendants are searching for the pig. Since the museum uses invisible fencing, it’s near impossible to determine what’s captured and what’s hunting.

Tombstone’s a good distraction, and it’s got special advantages. Lots of OK Corral re-enactments. So if one needs or wants to shoot somebody, there’s covering fire. Just pretend to be part of the act. Slap a few backs, spit some tobaccy, and walk away. I always wear cowboy gear to Tombstone. Boy scout motto: Be prepared.

Same with Old Tucson, just down the road from the Desert Museum. Old Tucson is a movie studio, where Tombstone, 3:10 To Yuma, and hundreds of other movies have been shot. The gun blasts there provide good cover, too, and you may get paid for shooting someone.

Need I say that Shovelsaurus Rex travels with us in the Tahoe? I wanted to strap Rex on as a hood ornament, but the wife vetoed the idea. No sense of humor at all. Instead, Rex rides on top. The Tahoe’s so big, the shovel’s only visible to bridge-jumpers.

Of course Spring is visiting season too, but Spring’s second to Fall for most folks. People from Wisconsin and Minnesota like to come in Spring, because they want to feel their feet again. But most other visitors prefer autumn, perhaps because they want their neighbors to rake their leaves.

Having visitors means a lot of work, or at least my wife says so. But I came up with a plan. We don’t exactly run a B&B; we just charge for use of the restrooms. We use a graduated scale, the more our guests drink, the more we charge for the bathroom.

Sorta Pay As You Go.

Some guys try to cheat ― you can probably guess how ― but I’ve got a fix for that. I set up robo-rattlers outside every door. They’re not snakes at all; rather, they’re little radios that play a rattling sound. I’ve got ‘em hooked into Radio Shack motion sensors. One trip outside at night, and cheaters pay up. During the day, there’s not so much a problem. As you know if you read this blog regularly, my wife wears a machete. Twirling her blade like a baton, her soft words “Not in my yard” seem to carry extra meaning.

So please come visit this Fall. Watered down margaritas are on us.

And be sure to bring dollar bills…

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