Naked in the Front Yard
I must admit, I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I came to Arizona. I had heard, “it’s hot, but it’s a dry heat.” Which, okay, yes this is true. But a dry heat is what a hair dryer expels onto your damp head. It’s NOT an inviting environment in which to live (unless nothing pisses you off more than waiting for your hair to dry… in which case welcome to paradise!). The other thing I wasn’t prepared for was the fact that everything in Arizona is out to kill you. Everything here adopts a kill-or-be-killed attitude. The plants have spikes and barbs and poisons to injure, irritate, or kill anyone who attempts to eat or even touch them. There are these horrible lizards called Gila Monsters, which are bright orange and black and terribly venomous. There are rattlesnakes. There are spiders: black widows for the instantaneous burning painful bite, and the brown recluse for the slow progression of rotting flesh. And then there are scorpions… those fuckers are EVERYWHERE. But, I’m getting a little ahead of myself.
2.5 Acres + Bored Children + an Overestimation of My Own Abilities = Trouble
When I settled with Hollie and the kids in the rural San Tan Mountain region of the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, we found ourselves living on 2.5 acres of barren scrub desert. Actually, I suppose saying “we found ourselves” isn’t the best description I could have used. It sounds a bit like we were dropped out of the mothership onto some strange plot of land (after the anal probing concluded, of course) and we thought, “hmm… I guess we live here now?” That isn’t the case at all. We moved there to be of assistance to Hollie’s parents. They lived on the north half of the parcel which was originally 5 acres, and they were dealing with issues of declining health. Hollie’s parents adamantly refused to leave the place, even if it was in the middle of nowhere.
So, we moved in. The house was already there, recently vacated by Hollie’s twin sister, and before that it was briefly occupied by another sister. Everyone had INTENTIONS of helping out, but living in the middle of nowhere seemed to limit the length of time each family member was willing to stay. So, I knew the problem we faced. We had kids. There was NOTHING to do out there. This was a challenge.
We really didn’t want to be the next family members walking away from the situation, so we sat down and talked about what we could do to make the property more enjoyable for the kids. We came up with a list of possible improvements we could make to entertain the boisterous short people (children, not leprechauns). The list went as follows:
- Get a pony/horse/goat/chupacabra to raise as a pet.
- Buy a quad/dirt bike/other dangerous killing machine and make a track to race around on.
- Build a basketball court and put up lighting.
- Build a sand volleyball court and put up lighting.
- Scale down idea #2 and build an awesome racetrack for remote control cars and race them.
- Build a miniature golf course.
As you can see, it was an ambitious list, to say the least. So we looked at the options we had come up with, and the problems each option presented:
- With the exception of the chupacabra, all those animals would require a certain level of responsibility, which I wasn’t entirely sure we were up for. The chupacabra, I would assume, would pretty much take care of itself by feasting on the flesh of our enemies… but it’s not exactly what I’d call cuddly and then there’s the whole, “waiting for it to turn on you and eat you for a late night snack” issue to consider. (Actually, after many years on the property, we did in fact end up getting several animals, including goats, but when we first moved in this seemed like a bad idea.)
- This sounded like a good way of never having any money for ourselves. Besides the initial investment of purchasing said killing machine, there was gas, maintenance, and endless hospital bills to consider. (Here again, we eventually relented and bought a go-cart… it was, as predicted, an endless money pit of small repairs and gasoline until the day that the brakes failed and it careened into a ditch, the hot engine setting a small bush on fire. No children required evacuation to the hospital, but the go-cart was a total loss.)
- It’s ungodly hot outside. Nobody wants to be shirts in the shirts/skins game, and, frankly, few people want to even be skins.
- See above. (Here again, we eventually DID build a sand volleyball court, which was tons of fun in the winter months.)
So, we started with #5, thinking something along the lines of “this is something we can actually accomplish.”
A Little Success Can Be a Dangerous Thing
And so, it began. We designed a figure-eight R/C car track, with one loop actually crossing above the other. It had a dogleg back stretch, and a couple of hairpin turns… and even a pit row to pull out of to begin each race. I used old tires found around the desert to fill with dirt and border the infield, and it had huge banked turns with a landscaping border for a wall. It was a mix of concrete, dirt, old tires, discarded wood pallets, and landscaping edging which was, quite frankly, pretty dang awesome. When we finished and began racing on the track, I was amazed at how well the project had come together. All of a sudden, the whole freakin’ list seemed like something we could tackle. We could totally have a sand volleyball court. We could absolutely build a full sized track and get minibikes or something to race on it. And, hell, why COULDN’T we build a miniature golf course?! All it would require is some concrete, some outdoor astroturf type carpeting, and some PVC pipe for the holes. Easy! Sure, the initial cost would be a bit much, but it would totally pay for itself when we were able to have all the kids’ birthday parties on our own property!
This was our thinking as we launched into building our own miniature golf course. We mapped out an 18 hole course and began work. Actually, that’s not entirely how it went down. We were walking along a canal which borders a miniature golf course, and discovered a treasure trove of (angrily) discarded brightly colored golf balls and rubber-headed putters. We had already considered making the course… and now that we had clubs and balls, there was absolutely NO EXCUSE not to, right?
This is the point where level headed people would say something like, “well, no. There are numerous valid reasons NOT to build a mini golf course… the primary one being that you have no idea how to actually build this thing.” Pfft. Level headed people. This is why nobody goes to your kids’ birthday parties, Mr. and Ms. Levelhead. You SHOULD have built the mini-golf course and kept your opinions to yourself.
So, it began. And very early on we learned we had a natural enemy at play: the dry heat. Given the opportunity (in other words: if you turn your back on it for even a moment), concrete will crack as it dries too quickly in the Arizona sun. So, after pouring a huge initial section, watching it crack to complete ruin, and then tearing up that section and re-pouring it, and then watching THAT crack to complete ruin, we figured out a system. Pour the concrete, trowel it smooth, ten minutes later, spray lightly with water, trowel smooth again, ten minutes later repeat until eventually it no longer needs troweling after being sprayed.
And Then… I Was Naked. In the Front Yard. With an Audience.
I know, you were wondering where the hell the title of this blog came into play. Oh, it’s coming, my blogbabies. It’s coming. In fact, it happened on hole #3. Wow, that sounds like a porno title. Never mind that… focus on me getting naked. Wow. Again. *Sigh*
So, then one day, I was working on the third hole of the course (much better, back on track and not at all pornographic sounding). I was out early enough in the day that the heat was bearable, and I was shirtless and wearing loose fitting khaki pants. I preferred to wear pants versus shorts, because I spent a lot of time on my knees smoothing out the concrete with the trowel, and shorts always seemed to end right at the knees, making them VERY uncomfortable. I had been working on this particular section for a little over an hour, and had managed to keep it smooth, staying on my knees as the kids took turns spraying the area every so often. Finally I was satisfied that the section was done, and I stood up to admire my work.
That’s when I felt the sting on the back of my thigh. Sharp, burning, and painful. I wasn’t too terribly worried by this, as my dad had several bee hives when I was a kid, and I got used to being stung. I usually met a sting with a nonchalant brushing aside of the bee carcass and then inspecting the depth of the stinger before using my fingernails to extract it. Nothing to worry about. So I attempted to brush aside what I assumed would be a bee. Instead, when I brushed the area, I was quickly stung three more times in rapid succession.
Now there’s trouble in river city. Three thoughts rushed into my brain: 1) That’s no bee… that’s a fucking scorpion, 2) It’s on the INSIDE of my goddamn pants, 3) It’s heading UP… toward my, you know, naughty bits! I have been told, by others who were there that day, that I MAY have screamed like a little girl, wailing SOMETHING along the lines of “AHHH! MY BALLS!” Except that, obviously, a little girl would not be screaming about her balls.
Without so much as a second thought, I dropped my pants. Sting! Sting! Sting! Three more, still getting closer to my “business district.” The bastard was inside my boxers. This was no time to be shy, and I quickly shed my boxers as well, again screaming something about my balls. This time, as my underwear fell to the ground, so did my assailant.
I quickly kicked my feet free of my pants and stomped on the venomous little fucker. Then I heard it. Giggling. I turned to see Hollie, looking quizzically at me as she stood at the fence talking with our next door neighbor. Our female neighbor. Who was, at that moment, giggling uncontrollably.
Me: (Blushing) Uhhh… scorpion. In my pants.
Neighbor: (Not missing a beat) Guess you’re lucky it wasn’t a snake. Though, it looks like there’s a snake still biting you there.
My peener. Great. The woman next door was making penis jokes as I stood naked and traumatized in the front yard. It could have been worse, I guess. She could have said “worm.”
So, collecting my underwear and the remaining fragments of my dignity, I covered my nether regions. This was my first time being stung by a scorpion. And it hadn’t been one sting, it had been a sum total of seven vicious attacks in a row. And I was, to say the least, a little freaked out. So I turned to Hollie for help. After all, she was FROM this alien landscape… surely, she would know how to handle the situation.
As it would turn out, she did NOT know how to handle this situation. She would, in fact, do the one thing you are absolutely NOT supposed to do when stung by a scorpion.
To Be Continued…