Immortalized in our hearts, if not in this world,
Rancho Destructo of the Elysian cornfields of Champaign, Illinois
claims its rightful spot in the pantheon of majestic residences,
no less splendid than the temple of Angkor Wat,
no less grand than Apollonia of the Byzantines,
no less noble than the ancient Aztec tecpan.
Whosoever resided there before us,
and whosoever came after us,
shall share in our great loss and have our sympathies.
With one exception, perhaps,
who are the tenants of the summer season
in the year nineteen hundred and ninety-nine,
malefactors who degraded our stately future home,
leaving remnants of Oreo cookies and
Jell-O stickiness in every crevice,
not to mention one soiled tampon in the bathtub.
From those inauspicious beginnings Rancho rose like the Phoenix,
resplendent with picnic table dining and borrowed construction signs.
What worry, then, if the second floor shower sank into the kitchen?
Who can know true camaraderie if one has not
broken wet bread together?
Even now, these many years later,
my nose detects the scent of Febreeze, nectar of the budget-conscious,
soaking into unwashed sheets and smoky clothes,
hanging in the antechamber of my porch room
after a string of debaucherous evenings.
Ah, memories flood back in bittersweet torrents,
of regaling guests with musical performances
that would put Zeus’s Muses to shame —
classic karaoke versions of What’s New Pussycat
and The Young Mexican Puppeteer, to name a few.
Would I not be remiss if I left out dear Herschel,
personification of Rancho’s glory?
O’ gentle curmudgeon — some might say slumlord —
how can we repay you for that golden year of our youth?
Sixteen-hundred dollars monthly seems not enough.
Nor let us forget Herschel’s Workers; Behold!
Hipsters decades before the word crossed our lips,
they arrived within days of our urgent appeals
to set mousetraps or secure a breached door.
If only their names were as memorable as their manes.
The velvety blanket of time has softened all decrepitude,
much like our stained velour couch;
may we look fondly upon that which was once cause for consternation,
such as roaches landing on shoulders in showers,
or the fuzzy entity in the toilet that refused to be flushed.
What other life-affirming events transpired under Rancho’s encompassing roof?
Some well-kept secrets were razed with the structure,
and others belong only to The Little Boy That Lived in the Walls.
Let us raise a glass of watery lager and pour some out for our beloved Rancho,
a casualty of Progress, but never forgotten!