Old dudes with too much freetime on their hands

I spent a good portion of the day Saturday chasing around with GJM on the “Tour de Chooch”, in which all these dudes in MA arrange to have an open-house all on the same weekend to show off their insanely elaborate model railroad setups in their basements. Kinda like the canonical “teenaged hackers in their parents’ basements” image, except these guys are far from teenagers and all own their own basements. My grandpa was into model railroading, and I have fond memories of playing with the big O-scale set we’d put up around the Christmas tree every year when I was a young ‘un, but truth be told I’m not really into the hobby. Still, it was fun to cruise around for a day just to see the level of time, expense and effort these guys had put into it. At the very first house we stopped at, I was pretty much floored. It was a many-layered n-scale setup spanning hundreds of square feet, featuring a working ski lift, factories with wisps of colored cotton smoke pouring from the stacks, full-blown carnival scene with ferris wheel, and recessed multicolor lighting with which he could simulate the different lighting of various weather conditions and seasons. Over ten thousand trees alone underlined the years that had gone into the layout, which transitioned smoothly from a snowy alpine scene to green valleys to a sleepy Midwestern town to sheer rocky mountain cliffs with elaborate water features to an intricately-flowering marshland (including a beautifully-cascading waterfall in some kind of hard resin) to a busy Roaring 20s-esque cityscape.

We ended up going around to 3 different houses, with layouts of varying levels of complexity. There was an old guy at the first place (what am I saying? They were all old guys) who would start talking, I wasn’t sure to whom (and didn’t get over to find out; it was crowded there), and the sentence would start, but the 3rd word would repeat three times, and then the 5th and 6th might loop in sequence a couple times, then a few more, then the 2nd word again… People probably just assumed old and senile…I was thinking “wow, he talks the way I think.”

We spent some of the snowy car trip criticizing everyone else’s driving (first snowfall in about a month; yes, everyone does simultaneously forget how to drive), and with GJM teaching me a little more dirty Afrikaans (I can now go into a theoretical SA cathouse and specifically request skoon poes [“clean cunt”], as if such an animal would actually exist, or I would ever find myself voluntarily in a cathouse). Speaking of harmless anatomical references, not too long later GJM pointed out the huge sign of some guy hawking houses, or office space or something, by the name of Dick Lepine. I think he was amused that someone would put “Dick” in such big letters that close to the road, even before I pointed out that the poor dude’s last name was also an anagram for “penile”. All right, maybe my coffee was finally starting to kick in. I think we were in Groton… I was staring out the window mostly paying too much attention to street signs, and the word density thereof – DUNSTABLE ST followed by a FORE ST (indeed, couldn’t see it for the trees) followed by a KEYES… I was kind of thinking, “geez, whoever named the streets must be related to me too…”

Think I said the following at some point: “Dude, if I ever have this much free time on my hands, just put a bullet right here, right between the eyes. And use a silencer; I don’t like loud noises.” (Then again, maybe I was just jealous about the “free time” thing.)


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