As I was driving to work today, I saw a small, forlorn sign tacked to a utility pole in Osborne where Beaver Street meets Route 68, Ohio River Boulevard. It advertised Endless Variety Entertainers.
Endless variety! What a vision that conjured up! All about me was the gloom of dreary morning - grey clouds, sullen light, dispirited motorists. Yet on that boulevard of broken dreams, life and laughter beckoned.
One phone call away, according to the little sign, were singers, dancers, mimes, DJs, magicians, comics, cartoon characters, Elvis and - best of all, in my reckoning - sumos.
I imagined large Japanese gentlemen sitting around Pittsburgh waiting for the phone to ring so that they could trudge over in order to make my living room appear smaller.
(At work, I googled this happy outfit. It is apparently run by some guy in McKeesport and the sumos on offer are, in fact, "deluxe sumo suits," which was a bit of a letdown for me. I wanted real fat guys who eat loads of noodles).
The overall impression of that sign was one of great pathos. How could one utility pole break the stranglehold of boredom and despair that hangs heavy on the land?
Even if a platoon of singers, dancers, mimes, DJs, magicians, comics, cartoon characters, Elvis and sumos were summoned by a desperate call to the number on the pole, would it not be sort of pathetic for the would-be audience to admit how un-entertaining real life is?
And if all that motley crew couldn't help to amuse a grim-faced crowd, what does it say about the chances of a newspaper columnist who works on the proposition that many a true word is spoken in jest? After all, I am no sumo, although lately I have become a little plump amidships.
Then another thought struck me: Why can't I just go to work like a normal person without being invited by utility poles to go on a flight of fancy?