By Troy Rifkin
Earlier this month -- with the hope of achieving some measure of holiday cheer and good will towards men (and some women, perhaps, as an afterthought) -- I took it upon myself to go through the rather laborious task of repaving all of my neighbors’ driveways with cobblestone.
To me, cobblestone is an important feature of the Christmas landscape, particularly because it’s often found in England, and whenever I think of England I think of Christmas. Then, still thinking of both England and Christmas, I imagine all the sorts of Christmasy things the Brits do, year round, wearing their Victorian stovepipe hats and giving “Evenin’ governor” style greetings, their various and plentiful Scrooges whose hearts I’d love a crack at changing. Chasing said Scrooge or scrooges down a cobbled street with a revolver in my hand, shouting wildly and incoherently. That’d change things, I think.
My neighbors really earned this festive holiday treat, too. They’ve rarely complained (or involved the authorities or truly even seemed aware) whenever I’ve rummaged through their garages and various belongings therein, tampering with things that needn’t be tampered with on one or more occasion. And it’s good because if they knew what I did in there, boy, that’d be unpleasant. The police would want to know. I can say that for certain.
Anyway, repaving the driveways was a tall order, especially Mr. Lenius’, because this past summer he dropped a ton of money on a private contractor who coated the whole surface with a layer of asphalt, complete with a new rock bed beneath it. I don’t know if you’ve ever had to break ground on solid, almost brand new asphalt during winter before, but it is a hassle and a half. But that’s what Mr. Lenius’ jackhammer in his garage is for, tearin’ up earth and asphalt.
I borrowed Mr Lenius’ jackhammer for all other houses on the block, as well. It made the task much easier and faster. Seriously, you have no idea. Plus, because of the noise I made, my neighbors came out and cheered me on, and then later the police came, too. It was like a celebration, a celebration where people throw tons of rocks at me, and the police bludgeon and restrain me with nightsticks.
I was sad at how dissatisfied my neighbors appeared to be with my work. “I did this for all of you!” I exclaimed. But my shrill yuletide screams fell on deaf atheistic ears. It was life affirming, though. I can now honestly and belligerently say I know how Jesus felt eons ago during the very first Christmas…bitter and full of contempt for his fellow man -- but still wildly aroused.
I get mad thinking of it, though. Why try to be a good person? My neighbors’ biggest complaints were over the most nitpicky things. Like, instead of using “real” cobbles, I used bricks that I dislodged from their houses. Instead of discarding the project’s waste in a designated trash disposal unit, I tossed it through my neighbors’ closed windows.
It’s sad that commercialism has become so prevalent in our society that trying to do a little physically demanding favor like I took a whirl at is greeted with such disdain and bereavement. It’s either material objects or nothing, and I choose nothing. I’m sick of it.
I took the liberty of tearing up my block’s street, while I was at it (I’m a wizard with a jackhammer). My final goal was complete neighborhood cobblestone cohesion, so we could be fancy like in England. I didn’t finish repaving anything though -- or even try to, really, because eventually I got pretty bored. The court can “order” all they want, till they’re blue in the face. I’ll be in England stealing cobbles while dressed as Santa, revolver in hand.