My Uncle Bod called. No “How are you?” He was all business, on a mission, and he had drafted me into the cause before I’d even picked up the phone. He wanted to know if there was any property available somewhere between McAllen and Pharr.
“Farmland. Maybe a hundred acres. For a good price.”
I shrugged, which he couldn’t see over the phone, but still seemed like the most appropriate response, when he continued.
“The property needs to be at exactly 120 feet above sea level. That’s important. Exactly a 120 feet above sea level. I figure the border between McAllen and Pharr is the best place to look.”
“Why a 120 feet above sea level?” I asked, not sure if I really wanted the answer.
“Exactly a 120 feet.”
“Right. Exactly. Why?’
“Saw a program on some educational channel about global warming.”
That startled me more. It never occurred to me that Bod might have an interest in education, even on TV. He usually avoided education as studiously as the rest of us avoid burping in public, something that has never seemed to bother him.
“I didn’t think you believed in global warming.”
“Didn’t. Not till I saw the show.”
“The show about global warming.”
“That one. This show said that the sea level would rise 120 feet due to global warming.”
“So, I thought I’d pick up some soon-to-be ocean front property.”
“Based on global warming. Which you don’t believe in.”
“Didn’t, boy. Didn’t believe in. But that was before I saw the opportunity in it.”
Though I couldn’t comprehend Bod’s logic, and wasn’t entirely sure that anything was going on in his brain that could be called logic, I realized that in a space somewhere above his neck, Bod saw global warming as the key to the American Dream, Manifest Destiny, Capitalism writ large, progress with a cowboy hat and a beer belly. He was a man of vision.
In the face of world-wide disaster, he was doing what humans do best, figuring out ways to make money out of it. Makes you wonder what they did in the face of disaster in prehistoric times, I.E. before money. Not recognizing the opportunity they probably just ran away. Which Bod would see as a lack of vision.
Bod might say that all he was doing was seeing the silver lining on the cloud of global warming, even though that silver lining might itself be a result of the hole in the ozone layer. Of course, Russia, Canada, and the U.S. have already decided that the melting ice caps just opens up all those new places to drill for oil.
Bod went through his own global warming action plan for me slowly, since he must have realized I’m not a man of vision:
“First, the ice caps melt.” (Who needs them? Nobody goes there anyway.)
“Then, the ocean rises.” (Can’t tell one way or the other if you’re out there on a boat.)
“Then South Padre Island disappears.” (Let them film “Girls Gone Wild” in Vegas.)
“What about those condos and things on the Island?”
“High rises will make a great barrier reef. Improve the fishing. Scuba divers can explore the ruins. Great for tourism.”
The silver linings just kept adding up.
“And the new coastline should be right along the border between Pharr and McAllen.”
“A 120 feet above sea level,” I chipped in.
Bad for Pharr; great for McAllen. There was probably someone in the McAllen tax offices right now, someone with vision, who was working on a contingency plan for raising property taxes in the new Ocean Front zoning Area. After all, we are willing to pave over the Botanical Gardens to make way for tennis courts. But, that might just be sour grapes, since I don’t play tennis, but I do take walks in the woods. Selfish of me, I guess. But, that’s the nature of vision. Got to make your dreams happen, even if they happen to be someone else’s nightmare.