Treason Against the New Order

I was doing my best to mind my own business on a very busy Saturday. My wife was in England, and after nearly two weeks of playing mother, I was catching up on the laundry, shopping for the dinner I would have to prepare, and, in between trips to the store, I had to take my elder daughter to her orchestra lesson. Then there was that registered letter, which probably contained a $450 refund check I was expecting from a clinic that had scammed us on the insurance. It was tight, but I made it to the Post Office about 15 minutes before closing time, only to discover that the envelope contained not the check but a formal notification from the local “chief forester.” My hedges were, apparently, above the three-foot limit that had to be observed within 40 feet of any intersection, and one of my neighbors had filed a complaint. As I drove home, I noted that at least one house at every intersection was in violation of the same rule, and I began to fantasize about a campaign of soft terror against the nosy neighbors and local officials who knew how to mind my business better than their own. I could probably file a dozen complaints a week and keep the chief forester working overtime for the rest of his officious little life.

My irritation did not pass that evening, even after drinking a pair of very dry double martinis with dinner and a bottle of generic Chianti that was more than good enough after the gin. I lay awake much of the...

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