Commentary Funny and/or Strange

The SHAG-WAGON Parked On My Fence

062 063So, we garden–the front part of our .67 acre plot is somewhat presentable–flowers, trees, a chemical-free lawn–but the “back 40″ is under my domain and reflects my particular Appalachian redneck sensibility.  At present, the lawn tractor sits in the middle of the lawn with a flat tire (as good a place to leave it as any). The trampoline, in its 7th year, has seen better days–nothing some duct tape, canvas thread, and an industrial strength stapler couldn’t fix, at least from an pragmatic perspective.  Aesthetically…?

There are piles of salvaged materials that might be useful at some point–a stack of old bricks, a pile of river rock, the framework of an old trellis that had been standing long after I succeeded (no easy feat) in eradicating the virus-laden concord grape vines we inherited with the house.  You never know when you might need some 10’x4″x4” posts, right?  Two aged cold frames with broken lids (this is the year I’m going to fix those, right!) (right?), a big pile of broken shipping pallets from the massive branch (pretty much the entire top, actually) of Old Man Willow, that fell into our compost operation with a crack and a smoosh in the fall.  There’s also our “legacy” Wen-Oh-Nah canoe, a sentimental favorite my best friend bought new in 1983 and in which, after I inherited it, my kids now ply the local waterways with their friends (which is really pretty damned awesome.)  We’ve hauled away one trailer load of debris–to be the bones of a summer bonfire–with another to go.  And a stack of newer pallets from which we’ll build the new compost bins.  Eventually.

The Gardening Season actually started off poorly back in February, when I happened to glance out the window and notice a mini-van parked awfully close to the fence along the 065alley behind our garden–not really an alley, exactly, more of a grassy right of way onto which a neighbor delivered 20 tons of limestone so she could turn left and go downhill the one time a year she takes her boat out, thereby opening what had been a peaceful, utilitarian sward to all the traffic in the neighborhood–which primarily means a dozen or so young people who occupy a few apartment conversions on the street behind us.  A lot of folks around town devote large portions of their waking thoughts denouncing and demeaning the university students who are the social and economic lifeblood of our community. I like having the students around–it adds vigor to the neighborhood; but I’m less keen on their driving.  Or shall we call it careening?  Although that, too, has it’s entertainment value–not to mention the fact that careless driving is hardly limited to their particular demographic.

Terry Inciso/Indiana Gazette,19350714/

We had a hard winter–almost daily snow in small increments, with snowfalls requiring shoveling on 27 occasions (yes, I counted)–and while there is no maintenance on the paper alley my neighbor graveled, a few folks braved it regardless of the accumulated snow, which predictibly turned to about 10 inches of compressed snow beneath a thick layer of ice.  The driver of the mini-van I mentioned (remember that?) had decided to go up the hill, a feat I wouldn’t have tried in my truck with the 4/Low engaged.  It just wasn’t going to happen.

By the time I slipped into my felt pack boots and shuffled up to the garden a tow truck driver was trying to winch the van off my fence by force, but the angle was such that all he could achieve was dragging the damn thing back downhill, scraping the van down the entire length of fence.  The humiliated young driver sat sullenly behind the driver’s seat in his purple Ford Windstar, chain smoking cigarettes and refusing to make eye contact with any of us.  The dick.

This is not “our” rat-faced boy, but a representative example of the subset.

No, no, that’s too rough.  He was young, he was embarrassed…its–just–DO SOMETHING to help yourself, or maybe roll the window of your van down and apologize profusely for parking your stupid ass van on my fence.  Gagh!  I hated the kid on principle, for not interacting…but also for the smoking, for how he looked–you know that rat-faced look people whose mothers chain-smoked while pregnant get?  don’t tell me you don’t know that look!  well, yep–that’s him–but mostly I hated him for the chrome on his van–a shitty old mini-van full of bench seats–because he’d removed the “Aerostar” chrome and replaced with letters that spelled out “SHAGWAGON”.  An airbrushed license plate on the front bumper, like guys who owned Camaros used to get in the 1980’s–with swoopy cursive letters in glitter-infused script–only this one wasn’t a tribute to some girl named Rhonda–this said, you guessed it “ShagWagon.”  In glittery, gold cursive.

This is what a “Shag Wagon” should look like.

Now, like you, I have some images in my mind of what a van that is dared to be called “ShagWagon” should look like–and it ain’t mom’s old grocery-gitter  There are certain expectations that come with–that are obligatory to–the hubris associated with bestowing such a title, and in this case none were satisfied.  Dude didn’t even have chrome rims!  Or 8-Track.

Dude needed a slap to the side of the head, regardless of parking on my fence.

And no, before you take the next logical step, this entire article wasn’t merely an 1970s-custom-vanartifice through which I could introduce nudity to Old Road Apples (recall this is a blog that was originally created to be about old poems I wrote in college!).  Just keep in mind that the Very Hot Woman in the photo above now lives in a retirement community in Scottsdale Arizona and spends her days knitting mittens (both of them lefts) for her grandkids back in Muskegon while watching CSI:Miami and bitching about that Kenyan-Irish bastard, O’Bama. As the second vintage photo demonstrates, it’s possible to make my point without scandalous photos of retirees, but not nearly as much fun.

066So, that’s how the garden year started, even though I took considerable satisfaction in horrific scraping sounds elicited by The ShagWagon as the final, brute-force solution to it’s liberation was to drag it down all 50 feet of my fance–post and rail with 4″ steel mesh stapled to the outside, all of which took many small, but cumulative–and deeply rewarding–bites from the paint.  The dipshit never did apologize–nor approach me, or even make eye contact, not even 067last weekend when my daughters and I spent an entire morning re-seating the connected portion of fence in the side yard, which had all fallen apart–and down–with the forcible misalignment of the corner post in the back.  Grrrrrr.

By JunkChuck

Native, Militant Westsylvanian (the first last best place), laborer, gardener, and literary hobbyist (if by literary you mean "hack"). I've had a bunch of different blogs, probably four, due to a recurring compulsion to start over. This incarnation owes to a desire to dredge up the best entries of the worst little book of hand-scrawled poems I could ever dream of writing, salvageable excerpts from fiction both in progress and long-abandoned. and a smattering of whatever the hell seems to fit at any particular moment. At first blush, I was here just to focus on old, terrible verse, but I reserve the right to include...anything. Maybe everything, certainly my love of pulp novels, growing garlic, the Pittsburgh Steelers and howling at the moon--both figuratively and, on rare occasions, literally.

5 replies on “The SHAG-WAGON Parked On My Fence”

I’m delighted the paintwork was knackered. It’s hard to consider someone who calls his car a shag wagon a member of the human race. Perhaps he’s really an alien in a plastic suit. Phnark.




Not an alien–he kind of looks like a greasy-haired version of the special-effected “pre-transformation” 98 pound Steve Rogers in the first Captain America movie, but in skinny jeans…


Yeh–I did see him with a girl in there the other day. My daughter said “must be his sister.” Either way, he’s still got all three rows of seats in there. I told my wife we need to come up with a sexy nickname for our Dodge Grand Caravan. So far….nuthin’.


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