honorary Hose Monster:
As a child, I had myself a healthy interest in the sanitation services. Garbage collection, if you wish me to speak more precisely.
Yup, as a wee lad, I would pull my little folding chair out of the garage every Tuesday morning, set it up on the front lawn, and sit there and wait for the garbage truck to come around. I don't know exactly what kept me so enthralled; I think the levers operating the hydraulics always interested me, the sound of the heavy machinery struggling against itself as it lifted that precious load into its cavernous belly, the casual nonchalance of the guy in canvas coveralls never bothering to climb back into the cab after each stop, but simply stepping up onto the running board, holding on with his left hand and turning back to me and waiving with his right.
Watching the garbage truck come and go punctuated my every week as a minute little boy.
I wanted garbage truck toys to help me maintain my fascination when Tuesday had long passed. But in the early 80s, as I would suspect the situation remains now, sanitation-related playthings did not exactly inundate the market. For the longest time, the cast-iron garbage truck piggy bank came the closest to any toy I might have. Heavy though it was, and simply refusing to give me back my money to the point of extreme remonstrance, I still say on my bedroom floor many afternoons making parallel cast-iron tire tracks on the carpet and putting imaginary loads of garbage into the cast iron belly of the heavy beast that refused to give me any moving parts to break. One wonderful day, however, my parents somehow found the promised land and my fathered delivered to me an actual toy garbage truck, complete with rolling wheels, opening doors and a garbage hopper that actually moved up and down. To date, I still think about that truck and wish I could have it back to place on my dresser next to my other prize possessions, my original He-Man and Battle Cat action figures.
But let us not forget again my pronounced youth at this juncture. Aside from having strange hobbies, like having your very own garbage truck-watching folding chair and spending an hour or two sitting on the front lawn every morning for a few minutes of enrapture, little boys like to spend a lot time in their nakedness. On warm summer days, I too enjoyed living free.
Sp picture for yourself a distant Tuesday morning in the slowly developing northern suburbs of Los Angeles. A warm morning, somewhere between a spring and summer morning, warm enough to make you a little sweaty but not to the point where you sit inside wishing you could go to the community pool or sit all day watching "Press Your Luck" with the air conditioner pumping out cool air. On this morning, there a young Hose Monster sits, awaiting his canvas-clad heroes' arrival with eager anticipation. They had fallen behind schedule this morning, and the extra time waiting forces our young Hose Monster to entertain himself as best he can.
Now picture yourself as a garbage man, driving down the street, glancing off to your left to see the smallest whitest little naked boy jumping up and down on his front lawn as you perform your duties. Wonder if this type of fan was the groupie you had hoped for when you first departed for garbage man training camp. Try not to look embarrassed as this little naked boy stands frozen with joy as you approach his lawn, then stop, collect his family's garbage, and remount the truck. And try not to laugh at him as you waive good-bye.
Finally, picture yourself as the proud mother of this wee naked lad and shake your head in amusement at your only son's amusement with the garbage truck. Feel so confident in his state of enrapture that you do not have any qualms momentarily stepping inside to do whatever you have to do, go to the bathroom, get a new book, answer the telephone. And finally, imagine your horror when you return outside moments later to discover your garbage collected and your little boy gone, having left only his clothes in a disheveled pile on the front lawn as a clue to what happened. And put together what has happened a minute later, run down to the end of the street and up to the next block, and there discover a little while bottom in pursuit of the garbage men, following them nakedly down the street.
I was a very special boy.