Saturday, March 15, 2008

Homeowner, Beware!

A few Sundays ago, I woke and went outside to find that my neighbor’s yard was covered with toilet paper.

Why do kids do that -- toilet paper or “T.P.” someone’s house? Did these kids even know the people who live there, or did that house just make a good target for the release of teen angst? All I know is that I don’t want my house to be covered in toilet paper.

And so I’m putting my Navy Seal training to work. (I actually don’t have any Navy Seal training, but I have seen the movie “Navy Seals” a few times, and so I know a lot of the moves.)

Each Friday and Saturday night since I saw the vandalized house down the street, I suit up in all black attire and camp out on my roof with a set of binoculars to spot the enemy (who we’ll call “Charlie”). I also set up a gigantic floodlight (set in the “off” position) to turn on and shine on Charlie when he’s in the act of vandalism. And I have a big net standing by to throw over Charlie when I do catch him in the act of trying to deface my property.

Last weekend was cold. On Friday night alone, I had to radio my wife a half a dozen times to replenish my hot chocolate thermos to stay warm. On Saturday night, I ran an extension cord to the roof and plugged in my little portable heater to keep me toasty. How’s that for a MacGyver move? (For those who don’t know, “MacGyver” was a TV show about a secret agent armed with infinite scientific resourcefulness.)

On Friday night, I didn’t see the enemy. Not one suspicious character.

On Saturday night, Charlie was combing the streets. My neighborhood is a thoroughfare to and from the park, so kids were all over. I guess the park is pretty popular at night.

Another neighbor down the street was working with me on “Operation: Catch Vandals,” and we radioed each other throughout the evening regarding suspicious activity between his house and mine.

“He’s got a grocery bag,” Agent Y said over the radio. “Over.”

“Eggs?” I asked. “Over.”

“Can’t see through the bag,” Agent Y said. “It’s paper, not plastic. Over.”

“How many bags?” I asked. “Enough to hold a tree’s worth of toilet paper? Over.”

“One bag,” he said. “Over.”

Who do these kids think they’re dealing with? I thought. They’re obviously eggers.

Charlie came into view. I saw the brown paper bag in hand. The kids seemed harmless, but then again, the sheriff in “First Blood,” the first Rambo movie, thought Rambo was harmless. Sooner than later, Rambo was tearing the sheriff's men to pieces. I couldn’t let down my guard. And I didn’t.

“Agent X, I got another group here -- they’ve got firecrackers,” Agent Y said over the radio. “Over.”

“Do they have a backpack or some other type of bag?” I asked. “Over.”

“Yeah, a backpack. How’d you know? Over.”

“Where there’s one type of explosive, there’s always another,” I said. “Just be looking for mailbox explosives. Over.”

Activity over the radio was live for about 45 minutes nonstop that night. Overall, Charlie was innocent. Lucky for Charlie.

I told my wife the next few weekends would be active.

“These kids are just staking out the neighborhood,” I said. “They’re going to strike either this weekend or next weekend.”

“So you’re going to do this every Friday and Saturday night?” she asked me.

“I have to,” I said. “I have to protect the fort.”

“Fort?” my wife asked, almost insulted. “Our mortgage for this place is too expensive for it to be called a ‘fort.’”

“Whatever,” I said.

“I don’t know why someone would vandalize our house,” my wife said to me. “We haven’t done anything. We don’t even know any teenagers in the area.”

“That’s not the way it works,” I said to her. “You don’t know how it is. These kids don’t attack anyone they know. They attack ‘the homeowner’ in general. Any homeowner. Leave ‘Operation: Catch Vandals’ to me.”

“How do you know what kids attack and don’t attack?” my wife asked.

“Because I know.”

“What expertise do you have?” she asked.

“I have expertise.”

“Watching war movies doesn’t qualify,” she said.

“It’s not that,” I said.

“What is it?” she asked.

“It’s called karma,” I said.

“Karma for what?” she asked.

“I used to be Charlie.”

Enough said.

-January 2008

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