“Breaking news! I have breaking news!” hollered one of our locals as he sprinted toward me across the Community Center front lawn faster than I’ve even seen him move before. “It’s the next lead story for the Express!” he exclaimed.
“No, no, no,” I protested, “Not now, it’ll have to wait. Call me Monday. I’ll be late for my next appointment,” and made a beeline for my car, hoping I could dive in, lock the doors and speed away before he could throw his body across the hood, pound on my windshield and demand I whip out my reporter’s notebook forthwith.
Yes, he was that worked up.
But it was one of those Saturdays, you see, on which everything in the universe was scheduled, and only with precise timing and stern discipline would I manage to stay on track. I had to take photos at the FFA Christmas tree sale, photos at the Winters Friends of the Library Holiday Festival and later on that day, yet more photos of the community Christmas tree lighting, photos of the St. Anthony Catholic Church live nativity scene and most crucial of all, photos of Santa officially arriving in Winters as he always does, on a firetruck. (Apparently the reindeer are a little skittish about getting too close to The Buckhorn.) Sandwiched in between all of this madness were appointments scheduled in my own (so-called) life.
You know, there are 31 days in December. Maybe you, like me, are wondering why everything in this silly little town always seems to happen on the same day. Or maybe you’re wondering why the Express editor is running around taking photos instead of the photographers. Answer: It’s a very small paper. I am the photographers. And the front desk receptionist, complaint department, layout artist, occasional housekeeper and chief obituary writer.
Others of you are wondering, “When’s she going to get on with this story!”
I’m gettin’, I’m gettin’…
The unusually nimble yet frantic man was undeterred by my objections and managed to intercept me before I made it to the car. As I reiterated that I really, honestly did not have two mere seconds to spare or my entire meticulously planned schedule would be flung into disarray, he again insisted that he had the biggest scoop ever in the history of Winters.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, everybody thinks their story is front page news, brip, brap, brup, must be going, busy, busy, busy, call me Monday…”
But he blocked my path and looked me squarely in the eye, his voice trembling with determination: “There are penises all over downtown!”
Sir, you have my undivided attention.
“There,” he said, sweeping an arm toward our lovely newly reconstructed main intersection in beautiful downtown Winters, “They’re on every corner!”
I peered, and I blinked, and I blinked again, and it was like staring at one of those magic 3-D drawings until an image emerges. Sure enough, he was right. Standing at attention on each of the four corners were three male appendages, just large enough to be respectable but not threatening.
“Didn’t you notice them?” he said, “Everybody’s talking about them!”
Sure, when I drove by that morning, I’d noticed the newly-installed concrete pillars on the corners to keep all the tractors and trucks loaded with walnut bins from wiping out those nifty new brick bulb-outs (not to mention the people standing on them). Funny, though, when I noticed the pillars the first time, they reminded me of chess pawns. But… not anymore. Or ever again.
What can you do but stand there and snicker like a schoolgirl. Which we did for a moment or two. Finally, Mr. Breaking News noted that there was just too much testosterone downtown now, and we needed to install something to balance out all this male symbolism. Like a Georgia O’Keeffe wall mural spanning the front of the Winters Opera House.
And yet more snickering ensued.
Or, maybe we could raise money for the new library by inviting local women to purchase bronze plaques to be installed on the pillars to honor their men, I said, like the bricks honoring families at the gazebo. Come on, fair’s fair. The guys have their names on plaques over the heads, horns and various carcasses mounted on the walls at The Buckhorn. Shouldn’t the ladies be able to claim trophies of their own?
OK, OK, OK, I suppose that’d be in bad taste. Let’s just take a deep breath here, and be adults, I told my snickering cohort. You know, the kids are gonna see these things every time they come downtown. We need to set a good example for our youth. Do the right thing and whatnot.
“What? Take them out?”
No, I said. Put condoms on them.