The Observer was on vacation last week, “vay-kay” as the kids say (we think), seven blissful days of office ignorance, most of it spent in the company of Junior, with Yor'n Truly trying to put as much of our work life out of mind as possible.
It turned out to be a good week for a holiday: full-blast August, roughly nine thousand degrees outside, hot enough to make the little birdies in the trees beg for mercy. While The Observer doesn't exactly pine for this time of year, we learned early on to take its pleasures where they come. We grew up the middle child of a great roofing clan, and Ma and Pa had got it into their heads that if you slept under an air conditioner all night and then tried working in the heat during the day, you'd be more prone to dropping over in a faint, no matter how much water you drank or how many bitter salt pills you chewed.
What with that, The Observer spent the best part of childhood and our teen-age years living without AC. Even with fans going in the farmhouse where we were raised far out in Saline County, trying to sleep in August was pretty much torment.
The Observer's family was one of the only ones we knew who had a front porch and used it. With the two ceiling fans overhead doing not much more than stirring the air on hot summer nights, The Observer and his family would sit on the porch and chat for hours on end, slapping at mosquitos, the infrequent passing car washing the trees at the edge of the yard in light, the orange eye of my father's cigarette seeming to float in a dark so thick that my city slicker of a kid would never believe it could exist.
Though The Observer is thoroughly modern now, used to being lulled to sleep by the low drone of the air conditioner and used to seeing empty porches on summer nights, August for us will always be a certain collection of memories, each of them burnished from how often we have turned them over in our mind: The creak of the porch swing, and our mother's voice. Our dad's laughter, and the click of the dog's nails on the concrete. The trickle of sweat down the hollow of our back. The smell of sweetgum and that deep, velvety darkness, too dark for your eyes to ever adjust to.
The Observer heard through the e-grapevine that residents on a two-block stretch of Hawthorne Street found hot dogs skewered on the antennas of their cars last week. We instantly wondered — what could this particular prank be called? Getting dogged? Or franked?
As it turns out, the frankfurtive goof is called Getting the Big Weenie (why didn't we think of that?), Observer correspondent Linda Hughen reports. In a deviation, a hot dog was placed in a Birkenstock and balanced against a windshield.
Hughen says the weenie roast was “clearly the act of some real criminals. In my day, we used eggs or toilet paper!” Hughen also mentioned another 21st century prank: “You wake up one morning and there are hundreds of plastic forks stuck in you yard ... yes, have been ‘forked' ”!
Seems we've gotten forked before. That is, we've reported about it in The Observer.
The Observer was standing outside our office recently when a North Little Rock police car pulled into the Historic Arkansas Museum parking lot off Scott Street and a man exited from the back. The Observer paid attention, because one more commonly sees someone going into the back seat of a police car rather than let out.
As the man started across Scott the police officer called out to him. It sounded like — be we can't swear we heard right — “don't come back to our city.” The man barely acknowledged the shout. After the cop car drove off, the man approached a couple of women on the corner and one of them handed the man some money.
The Observer asked the generous woman what the man had told her. “He just got out of jail and needed some money,” she said. We told her what we'd seen minutes before. The Samaritan laughed, because she'd seen the gentleman head over the Scott Street bridge back to North Little Rock.
There could be a perfectly innocent explanation for what we saw. At any rate, NLRPD spokesman said their cops don't dump people in Little Rock and say don't come back. A Little Rock Police spokesman said they'd better not.