Posted Friday, March 1st 2013 @ 4pm
In March in Minnesota, where I grew up, late-winter blizzards are common. Such a storm hit when I was 12, a big, ugly, icy, windy monster.
Thursday mornings before school, I delivered the local community newspaper to subscribers in our neighborhood, and also delivered the little rolled-up “Shopper” advertisement paper to every home. Well, on that miserable morning I did something terrible. I decided to shave an hour off my route by only delivering the local paper. Nobody was going to miss the Shopper, right? I mean they all ended up in the bushes next to the front step anyway. I always saw them there when I delivered the new ones!
But that left me with a big problem: what to do with the hundred or so undelivered Shoppers so my parents wouldn‘t find them. It was then that I came up with a fool-proof and permanent plan: I buried them under the snow pile next to our driveway. Unfortunately, a sinister force was headed my way to foil my perfect crime: spring. A couple weeks later, the snow started melting away, exposing my mucky pile of wet Shoppers and it was time for Plan B.
We had a wood-burning stove that my dad used to save a few bucks on heating bills, and I realized that burning the old Shoppers would completely destroy the evidence once and for all. I'd just have to scoop out a few ashes, and it’d be done! Hey, did you know that wet, rolled-up newspaper doesn’t burn very well? You did? Well, thanks for telling me! It just singes on the outside, then turns the inside of the stove black, spews stinky toxic smoke into the house and leaves a cloud of ashes floating around your family room! Who knew? Oh, that’s right, you did.
After cleaning up and airing out the house, I had an armful of wet and now charred old Shoppers, and one more trick in my paper-boy bag.
My dresser was set a few inches away from the wall in my room, with just enough space to jam every one of those undelivered Shoppers behind it. There they would remain as a constant, secret reminder of my March blizzard shame until many years later when I moved out of the house to begin my radio career. I loaded them all in my car, cleaned up behind the dresser, then took them with me to threw them out far from the scene of the crime.
If you are still waiting for your Shopper, I’d now like to personally apologize, and tell you it’s probably not coming. But if you really want to read one, please look in the bushes next to your front step.