I go to a club to workout. I try to go everyday. I met a guy there named Ben. He’s well over six feet and has sort of folds of flesh hanging around his abdomen. I expect he was really heavy at one time and lost a lot of weight. He is also brown as berry all over. You see this stuff in the locker room where people change their clothes. He is retired now, formerly an engineer, and very smart.
Also he complains about something all the time. He has been going to the club longer than anybody I know there, over 20 years, and all he can do is complain about the place. You figure he would go somewhere else with all the complaints. They were playing some sort of music over the speakers in the locker room, and he would go around with his hands over his ears complaining about the crap. He complained so much they stopped playing the music.
He has his own house with a big front yard with grass and he started into talking about this war he had with the gophers. He waged a war on them for years, using all the traditional devices—flooding, sticking flares in their holes, traps—but he couldn’t get rid of them. There was one really big one that he came to recognize, that he just couldn’t get rid of. The thing would come out of its hole and like taunt him, Ben said.
Being an engineer Ben eventually went high tech; he bought or built this device that stomped the ground. He thought maybe the vibrations of the stomper would drive out the gophers. But all it did was leave a big hole where it stomped. Then he hit on sound and bought a high frequency noise emitter that was supposed to produce a sound, inaudible to human beings, that drove gophers crazy. The problem was that cats and sometimes dogs that would come into his yard and go nuts when they heard the sound. Cats would just flip into the air he said and go into convulsions. He didn’t like the cats and dogs coming into his yard—people should know better—but he didn’t like having to cart them out of the yard and put up with neighbor’s complaints either. That could have been worse; the noise didn’t out right kill the animals. Just flipped them out.
Over time, he managed to adjust the frequency of the noise emitter and he said it pretty much worked. But he couldn’t get rid of that big fellow that taunted him. I could tell he had a grudging respect for that recalcitrant gopher. He had an Ahab and the Whale thing going with that gopher. The big gopher had turned old and grey over the years of their fight, and the way Ben figured it, the old guy was now deaf and that’s why the sound didn’t disturb him.
Turns out Ben is brown as a berry because he has psoriasis. He has a good thatch of grey hair, and said I wished I had his thick hair since mine is becoming all thin and stringy. Oh, he said, that was nothing; it was really much thicker than that but he had to use some super powerful shampoo to keep the psoriasis off his scalp. One of the ways people fight psoriasis is to get a lot of sun; thus the brown as a berry effect.
I have been hearing songs on the radio for a bit now from a CD called “The Road to Escondido” by JJ Cale, with Eric Clapton. I figured it couldn’t be our Escondido, the one where Brother Steve lives, and near where the folks live. But I was wrong. JJ Cale lives in Valley Center which is exactly where the folks lived. That was their address “Delridge, Valley Center, CA.” I guess he titled his album the road to Escondido because it would’t sound as mysterious or something as the road to Valley Center.