Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Best Beard in Roxbury

Jackanape Jones, who rides the most tricked-out Lambretta on the Boston side of the Charles River, was paying a visit to the Peppermint Squad's satellite depot on Meeting House Hill on Tuesday evening. Mr. Jones is not one of the squad's active members. He is reservist who can be called to duty in the case of city-wide emergency as declared by either Boston's mayor or the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' governor. He has a special "Peppermint Reserve" badge cast in tin and shaped like the grasshopper atop Fanieul Hall and enshrined in the mosaic at Park Street's T station. Inscribed on the back is this legend:

"During a state of emergency declared pursuant to Massachusetts Civil Defense Act, Acts 1950, Ch. 639, as amended, or by other government authority, this identification will serve as a pass though police, fire and armed services checkpoints. The bearer of this identification is an essential member of an elite team of first responders and is required to report to the disaster team coordinater or the personnel pool as directed by the President ex officio of the Peppermint Squad, Dorchester, Mass."
It was a quiet night at the depot. Bella Donna and Trixie Herlihy were manning the phones and the phones weren't ringing. Jackanape Jones borrowed a squirt bottle of vinegar and water and polished the many mirrors mounted on his Lambretta's legshield. He would pause before he wiped down each one to admire his reflection. Trixie noticed that his pant leg rode up over his sock whenever he got in and extreme crouch. She observed, "Jackanape, you have very hairy legs."
Mr. Jones ran his hand through his hair and looked at Bella Donna as if she had made the observation. He said, "Yes, I'm very hairy on top of my head and below the waist. I don't have a hairy chest or hairy arms, thank goodness, but I've got a good shot of testerone running through me." He winked at Bella Donna.
Trixie said, "Isn't it a bother? You know swimmers shave thier legs to increase thier speed. Have you thought about shaving our legs to get better mileage on your Lammy?"
Jackanape Jones looked over at Trixie. He said, "No. The leg shield covers my legs too much to allow for much wind drag. It's a pretty aerodynamic rig. I have been thinking about shaving my head however."
The phones weren't ringing and there wasn't much excitement that night. Both women looked at Mr. Jones and asked in unison, "Why?" They weren't breathless, there just wasn't much else going on.
Jackanape Jones said, "I've been thinking I can grow a good beard. As you can see, I don't hurt for hair on the top of my head. I'd like to see what I can do with my chin. I want to shave my head and grow a beard. Not a hipster goatee, but a real, Walt Whitman, old, Jewish prophet, St. Anthony of the Desert kind of beard. Such a big beard may cut down on my scooter speed, but I think it will be very impressive blowing in the wind. I have to wear a helmet according to state law, so this haircut doesn't really do me much good on the road. It looks good when I'm in a pub, but I spend a lot of time on my scooter with my helmet on. I want people to see how much hair I can grow while I'm on prowling the streets."
Trixie asked, "Why?"
Mr. Jones answered, "As you know, I live in Roxbury. I am represented on the City Coucnil by Chuck Turner. You know the guy: Bold, Bald, Bright? He's got the best beard on the City Council. Its a real Roxbury beard. You know the only men who have Turner's beard beat? They're the monks at Mission Hill Church. Those monks have beards that put Chuck Turner to shame. If a man of God can sport a beard like that, I think Jackanape Jones can grow a beard of equal proportion out of his love of motor scooters."
Bella Donna said, "Jackanape, you're starting to sound a little sacriligious."
Mr. Jones said, "It's only an idea. I saw a picture of Chuck Turner the other day and he inspired me. He inspires a lot of people. I see the monks walking down Tremont Street almost every morning when I go to Mike's Donuts for my cup of coffee. The monks inspire me. I'd like to be an inspiration to somebody and I think a beard is a good way to assert my particular qualities."
Trixie said, "You've got enough enough chrome on this scooter to accentuate any qualities you have. You take this Lammy to a rally and everyone gawks at your twelve mirrors, your bumpers, your crash bars, your front rack, you back rack and your foot pegs. What more do you have to prove, Mr. Jackanape Jones."
Mr. Jones finished wiping down the last mirror, the factory installed one over the clutch on the left handlebar. He said, "I want to show that its not what you can buy, but what you are that makes you a character."
Bella Donna sighed and the phone rang. She got up to answer it and took notes during her conversation. When she hung up she barked out, "Jackanape you have to clear the premises. Trixie and I have a call to respond to. Trixie, we've got 325-a on East Cottage Street that needs our attention."
Mr. Jones suited up and headed back to his Lower Roxbury apartment. Bella Donna and Trixie Herllihy suited up, mounted thier scoots and headed to East Cottage to join a bucket brigade to douse a charcoal grill fire out of control.

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