Be prepared

Last week's downpour caught me paddling like a duck as I ploughed through mini-floods on side streets in the Railroad District. I had just finished a few local errands on my Segway, which keeps me balanced between sips of Lithia Water, as best served from the faithfully restored fountains on the Plaza. My steed performed flawlessly as I headed home, though I pondered wearing a hard-hat diving suit with my trusty Mark-V helmet.

Being a man of action, the next day I shuffled aboard my ride, only to discover that the sun was out and, instead of lugging through flood waters full of un-moored cars and dodging detritus, I saw only blue skies and bright sunshine.

While attempting to twist open the face plate's wing-nuts, I lost focus and ran through a few rose bushes which, I must assume, were moved into my path by an overly zealous landscaping crew. As I blushed I kept on faux pedaling home to strategize my next day's wardrobe to meet and match the vagaries of our bi-polar weather.

After some thought, I hit upon the "layered look," whereby multiple light shells of clothing, parkas and rain gear were worn and, if it became warmer, I would only shed a layer and tie it around my waist. Before getting dressed for errands, I peeked at the porch, where I swore I saw perky penguins playing in a wintry chill, so I dressed for a day at the South Pole.

As soon as I hit the streets, pedestrians were wearing Hawaiian shirts and straw hats. In a balancing act befitting a tight-rope walker, I shed several layers, which soon became entangled and formed the equivalent of a long, blowing scarf, suitable for Isadora Duncan's last sports car ride. It was not long before I snared a toy red wagon and inadvertently towed it to the Plaza, where it rolled loyally behind me. As I dismounted I inadvertently stepped into it and soon was precariously sidewalk surfing, much to the amazement of the skateboard crowd. When I took a header into the New York Times vending box, my last audible memory was that of a cheering crowd. Some people will do anything to get into print.

As I rocketed home, with the editorial page flapping in the breeze, securely held in place by my underwear, my thoughts about outerwear became much more focused. Something had to change, lest I disappear in the night like a flaming meteor. I needed a more flexible outfit, something that would ward off the elements both during a cold snap and in a heat wave, extremes of which seem to emanate from my household as they arm wrestle to see which rules the day.

While hunched over my laptop in the kitchen, I tip-toed through time with my browser, researching any and all previous attempts to tame the weather. Space suits were too bulky and had to be custom tailored. Flowing robes were too susceptible to red wagons and I would need a backpack to stow all the versions and permutations of hiking gear.

In frustration, I got up to go for a walk, interrupted only by sight of an open drawer containing plastic wrap and tin foil. An epiphany enveloped me and I instantly had the solution to the dilemma at hand.

The next day I dressed in plastic wrap with an outer layer of tin foil, strapped on my bicycle helmet and skipped out to my two-wheeled chariot. I was completely shielded from both cold and heat as I made my way downtown. I even anticipated overheating and brought a fork duct taped to my side.

Just as the earth has a molten core, I soon found myself reaching for the fork to tine open holes for my body to breathe. As I returned home, I was trailed by vapors as I began to profusely sweat. Overheated and feeling faint, I collapsed in a smoldering heap on a chair on the porch and blinked awake only after hearing my wife, Annette, whisper in my ear: "Looks like you got foiled, again."

It was all I could do to hiss back: "Let's keep this all under wraps." was last seen making entries for the next edition of "Essentially Ashland"¦The Missing Years," which can be ordered online.

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