The Square Peg - Frieda Farquewark’s Fabulous Fabrication
© S. Bradley Stoner
Driving home yesterday, I noticed Farouk digging in his front yard. Normally, I just wave and keep on going when I’m driving, but Farouk desperately motioned me to stop... so I did. I rolled down the passenger window (well, okay, I pushed that button thingy that causes the window to lower).
“What’s up, Farouk?” I hollered.
“Not so loud,” Farouk responded, hustling over to me. “I’m trying to surprise my wife.”
“Is that possible?” I asked, knowing full well that Frieda had an eye like a hawk and ears like a rabbit... well, not literally, but you get the idea. Not much escapes the woman.
“You don’t understand,” Farouk persisted, “she went to visit her mother and won’t be back until this evening... so I’ve only got a few hours to finish this up.”
I looked at the hole in the yard. “I’m not sure Frieda’s surprise is going to be pleasant when she sees what you did to her flawless lawn,” I offered. “And you should know better than to wear those kinds of gloves when digging.”
“I know, but they were all I had in the garage,” he said miserably. Farouk removed one of the cotton gloves he was wearing and held up his hand for me to see... turns out the brown stain on the palm was dried blood. The blister on his hand had popped and continued to ooze red. “And this is killing me.”
Curiosity was getting the better of me at this point. I mean, Farouk isn’t the kind of guy who does yard work. He’s the kind of guy who wears tailored three piece suits, Italian shoes, and has his nails manicured. No, he’s not what Duncan would call a “fop.” He’s just a meticulous businessman who owns his own suit store, which explains the tailored suits, of course. In any case, Farouk doesn’t do shovels... or rakes or any other implement for that matter. He hires people to use those things.
About that time, Duncan pulled over in his big pickup truck. “What’s the hole for, Farouk?”
“It was supposed to be for a flagpole, but I don’t think I’m going to get it done and everyone I could hire is off for the holiday.”
“Whatcha going to run up the flagpole, a pair of designer shorts?” Duncan asked, trying to be funny.
Farouk looked hurt. I’m not sure he understands our sense of humor yet. Duncan caught my look.
“Just jokin’ with ya,” Duncan added. “Seriously, what are you going to fly from it?”
Farouk puffed out his chest. “The Stars and Stripes,” he said proudly. “Frieda spent six months sewing a big flag, and I want to surprise her by having it fly from the flag pole when she gets home, but I don’t think I’m going to make it. Well, I hope she appreciates the thought... it’s the thought that counts.”
“Nuts,” Duncan replied. “Hang here, I’ll be right back.” With that he slammed the truck into reverse, turned around at the next block, and sped off toward his home.
Farouk looked at me with questioning eyes.
“You’ve got me... let’s just give him a few minutes."
Sure enough, in about fifteen minutes Duncan was back. He pulled to a stop in front of my trusty, old Explorer and hopped out of the cab, hooking a finger at me and Farouk. “Time’s a-wastin’, boys! Give me a hand.”
I got out, joined Farouk, and we met Duncan at the back of his truck where he was lowering the tailgate. “We’ll make short work of that hole,” he said grabbing the handles of a power auger.”
“Geez, Duncan, where’d you get this behemoth?”
Duncan winked at me and replied, “My uncle’s a rancher out in west Texas... he traded me this for helping him do some work on his barn. Of course, I found out the motor was seized when I got it home... he always was a cheap old fart... but then I got Charlie to rebuild the motor. Works like a charm now. I used it to set my new fence last year when you were on vacation. It’s a two man operation, though, so you’ll have to help.”
We got the auger lugged over to where Farouk had started the hole and set the tip in its shallow bottom.
“Boy, you weren’t kidding when you said you weren’t going to get this done,” I observed.
“The ground is hard,” Farouk complained.
Duncan grabbed the starter rope on the motor and said, “Okay, grab that handle and hang on tight... this thing has a lot of torque and if it catches a rock, it’s likely to throw you further than a rank bull.”
Farouk backed off a few steps. I’m not sure he knew what it was like to get thrown from a rank bull, but he wasn’t taking any chances that one of us might come flying in his direction.
Luckily, we didn’t hit any rocks and that auger chewed a three-foot deep hole in nothing flat... okay, five minutes, but given the shovel progress, nothing flat works. Getting it out of the hole was easy, but both Duncan and I were covered with sweat by the time we had hoisted it out. Dang thing was heavy... we knew that going in, but I think gravity gets stronger the closer to the Earth’s core you get. Three feet was just enough to double the thing's weight. At least, it felt that way.
Duncan wiped his brow with his forearm. “Alright, Farouk, where’s that pole.”
Farouk led us to the back yard where a forty five foot flagpole lay in two sections. We toted it out front and bolted it together. It stretched clear across his front yard.
“Wow,” I said, “that’s one big pole.”
I won’t go into how we got that thing set. Suffice it to say it took three more neighbors, a couple of sturdy ladders, about 100 feet of rope, and Duncan’s pickup to get the job done. But, finally it was done... standing proudly in Farouk’s front yard, the gold eagle on the gold cap ball gleaming in the afternoon sun. Farouk ran inside and grabbed the flag his wife had spent six months sewing. I understood why the flag pole had to be so tall... this thing was huge!
When it was flying, proudly proclaiming that, in this neighborhood, WE ARE AMERICANS, Bingo Bob finally arrived. “Oh, all done?” he asked innocently, then added, “You know the HOA is going to make him take it down, don’t you?”
“It’s legal to fly Old Glory and other flags now, the courts have ruled against HOAs on that point.”
“Oh, it ain’t the flag,” Bob shook his head, “it’s the height of that pole.”
“Well, Bob, as you’ve said about the HOA when it comes to shooting off fireworks... screw ‘em and the golf cart they rode in on. By the way, you are doing the fireworks tomorrow night, aren’t you?”
Bob just grinned.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AMERICA! And y’all have a terrific fourth of July!