The plot thickened

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 10, 2002

You know that old expression, &uot;I smell a rat.&uot; Well, I got a whiff when I opened a letter from the Tourist Bureau. The first sentence read, &uot;The City Manager informed me that you have interest in participating in the upcoming Swamp Rumble.&uot; This was followed by, &uot;Please know that Mr. Bruce Barnes of Gloucester has agreed to carry you on the Rumble in his sidecar. Mr. Barnes is a motorcyclist with many years of experience.&uot; The accompanying brochure described the Rumble as a 70-mile trip around the Great Dismal Swamp Ring Road. The plot thickened when I got to the end of the letter where it was signed, Director of Tourism, Lynette Brugeman.

I agree that I have taken many shots at both Standish and Brugeman in this column, but I don’t think it warrants being bounced out of a sidecar at 90 miles per hour somewhere in the endless Dismal Swamp. This old body is no longer up to physical trauma, nor the exposure I would suffer during cold fall nights as I crawled toward civilization not even knowing which direction to go. Then she had the gall to ask me to buy a $10 ticket to my own demise. She did make it easy to pass up; all I had to do was not send the money and I didn’t. I don’t even know this guy, Barnes, but I picture him at about 230 pounds, shaved head, large black mustache, sweaty bulging biceps protruding from a dusty T-shirt and for all I know he works for Myles Standish.

The director did not give up that easily and phoned me the day before the event to make one more attempt to lure me to my doom and her revenge. She had at least 10 reasons, Tourist directors always have at least 10 reasons, why I should be there in person to actually view one of the bureau’s events so I would have a better understanding of their motives and their ability to draw folks to take part in them. I assumed the 60 or so bikes were from out of town, I hope, because whenever they assemble the nearby residents go away for a spell. A fellow I know leaves his home in Daytona when the bikes come in from all over in the spring, and rents a place up in St Augustine until the noise abates. She pressed on until I had to offer some lame excuse for not attending, and she almost graciously accepted. I wonder what she will think of next?

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The headline over a large item in the News Herald read, &uot;RESTORE SUFFOLK.&uot; It was written by Luefras Robinson, a Suffolk News-Herald reporter and I couldn’t tell if it was a news item or an advertisement. It seemed to suggest there was to be a great new effort to tidy up the old homes in town so we’d look more like parts of Smithfield. I should have paid more attention to the accompanying picture. Smaller bold print read, &uot;Curves for Women,&uot; and the light came on – restore women’s bodies to the figures they had in earlier years. This is obviously a different kind of weight-loss system that already boasts a clientele of a million, which admittedly is only a start.

For sure America is fertile territory and if these methods of fat reduction are successful the fast food industry will rise in revolt. According to statistics, and I throw in overweight males, 62 percent of the population are potential customers. That is a lot of fat and just where do they think we are going to put it? We are already stuffing the mountain caves with nuclear waste, and ships are junking the ocean. That leaves Grand Canyon, but I thought they were saving that for drug addicts. One flaw in the new method is the fact that many Americans don’t want to remember what they looked like years ago, during the &uot;slim&uot; years, and their old incriminating pictures have long been torn up or hidden away. I wish this new attempt much success but fear it will continue to be a losing cause. If it were to be only mildly successful, think what it would do for the clothing industry.

Robert Pocklington lives in Suffolk and is a regular News-Herald columnist.