Daily Archives: December 5, 2021


I was playing pool with the group last Thursday when someone mentioned Paradise . Paradise is the town in northern California that was almost completely burned out in 2018 . 20,000 acres were burned.

I don’t know how Paradise came up in the conversation . We usually go from one subject to another while making fun of one another’s pool skills , of course , so in the end it’s hard to remember any trains of thought that may or may not have been chugging along . Ada used to try to interrogate me about what we four guys talked about . The wives and girl friends ? What gossip did I collect ? She’s given that up years ago , though , because we seem to talk about this and that and the other thing but nothing of consequence .

Bill , one of the pool crew , lives in a local canyon . A news crew showed up in front of his house recently and a news anchor asked him questions about bears in the local area . Evidently bears were making the news . The long drought had brought more of them further down from the hills into residential neighborhoods . Bill said he denied to her ever seeing bears . He told the woman that all of those stories were exaggerations ; that there weren’t any bears in the canyon , even though he knows that at least every trash collection day bears makes the rounds of the trash barrels at every house in the canyon .

The news anchor woman soon lost interest in Bill and walked away .

Bill was trying to extinguish media interest in local bears . He’s seen the police shoot bears that meant no harm but had been scaring some locals by wandering the area and he figured that bears didn’t need any added notoriety . Bill told us that he went out later that day after his interview with the news woman to his back yard and there were three bears in his pool . Then he laughed . I asked him if the bears had thanked him .

Dan , another one of us poolites , lives in a house at the edge of the wilderness , up against the foothills . He and Bill compare sightings of wildlife around their houses . Dan has a camera set up and he’s got some good shots of bears , among other creatures .

Some of that kind of stuff comes up in our conversations while we’re playing pool . The four of us have been playing every Thursday for thirteen or fourteen years now . We seldom discuss the latest news or anything of much world-shaking consequence .

Willie , the fourth player , likes to chat a little about technology and he tends to also tell long-winded tales of his latest exploits at the supermarket or in the second-hand shops . His stories are always people-related with touches of humor , but it’s usually Bill who tries to hurry him along when it’s Willie’s turn to shoot but he seems to have forgotten the game as his story twists and turns . Bill is the only one of us who has to get up and go to work in the morning , so he’s the one watching the clock . The rest of us are retired . ” Willie , Willie , it’s your turn ,” Bill has to repeat a few times , each time with a touch more urgency .

Last Thursday , in among whatever else was being said , someone mentioned the town of Paradise , and I remembered a woman I knew about forty-five years ago who moved from the Los Angeles area to Paradise . She was a fellow teacher who worked at the same school as I did . I developed a crush on her but she had a boyfriend and the two of them wanted to move out of the LA area . They were both from New Jersey and didn’t know California much at all , so they looked at a map of the state and found Paradise . I remember her showing me the place on a map . I had never been to the place either , but judging by it’s location I was pretty sure that when they moved there that they wouldn’t have the paradise that they were looking for .

I remember that partly because she asked to borrow two hundred bucks from me for the move . I agreed and we went to my bank together to withdraw the money . When I handed the cash to her she said , ” I’m inviting you to dinner ,” and she mentioned some particular restaurant . Yeah , with the money I had just lent her . So I went , but I knew I had been bamboozeled big time . I swallowed my pride .

I don’t remember if I ever got the money back or not . I do know that she and the boyfriend didn’t last long in Paradise . They moved up to a pseudo-hippie commune in a town called Concrete , Washington . They were living their dream , I guess . Good for them , I say .

I hadn’t connected that memory or Paradise , California with all of the news about the fire in and around Paradise . Californians couldn’t escape publicity about that town month after month after month at the time , and even now , but I never made the connection with that faded memory until Thursday at the pool game .

That’s the point of this post. Suddenly , an old memory pops into my head after all of this time . Why ? I’m a little slow on the uptake , of course , but the thought that there is a warehouse full of other old memories lurking around in my brain waiting to spring out at odd times concerns me a little bit , too. I could have been a magnificent trial lawyer , I think , if the court had thirty or forty years to wait between questions . I’ll have an answer ready , but not right away .


Filed under humor