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2006 07 12

By Gary Michael Dault
I was walking south on Parliament Street from the Queen streetcar yesterday, on my way to the Distillery district to look at art, when something in my peripheral vision caught fire and brought me up short: two fiercely orange blocks, one beside the other, burning brightly like huge charcoal briquettes, at the far corner of the parking lot of Forli Motors Ltd. at Parliament and Richmond.

I paused to take some photographs of this pair of extremely orange things, and, falling behind in my schedule, pushed on to the art galleries.

But by the time I passed by them again, heading north this time, the light had changed in such a way that by growing slightly more overcast, the two orange blocks glowed now even brighter than before. I took some more pictures.

Then, having decided I wanted to write something about this molten orangeness, I figured I’d better actually ask a few questions; no point in galvanizing a lot of letters from knowledgeable people patiently telling me that what I saw as orange blocks were actually…well… hydro somethings… or telephone somethings. Best to find out.

So I saunter casually up to this genial looking guy in the office of Forli Motors, and I ask my naïve question. I tell him it’s going to be a naive question. “That’s okay”, he says, grinning broadly. “Well”, I say, feeling a bit of a fool, “what are those orange blocks anyhow?”

Mr. Fortli—for that is who it turns out to be—throws back his head and laughs delightedly.

“They’re cement building blocks—for building a wall. See those little protruding things on the tops?” I do. I like those protruding things. “Well”, says Mr. Forli, that’s how the blocks stay together when you stack them up to make a wall”. He turns and grins at a woman I hadn’t noticed before, sitting at a desk in a shadowy part of the office: Mrs. Forli. “Sort of like gigantic Lego blocks!” I venture. “Yes!” reply both Mr. and Mrs. Forli together, both delighted by my progress.

We introduce ourselves. He’s Lou. She’s Helen. I like them both immediately. I make a mental note to myself that if I ever buy a Mercedes-Benz, I’ll buy it from Helen and Lou. They shouldn’t, on the other hand, hold their breath.

“So you can just buy these big blocks?” I ask Lou. “Sure”, he says.

“But how did they get so orange? They’re the most orange things I’ve ever seen!”

“We painted them”, says Helen. “Yes”, says Lou, “we painted them ourselves”.

But what with, I ask. “Flourescent paint!” says Lou, exultantly. “You get in the hardware store up the street and around the corner. “It comes in two other colours” adds Helen. “Pink and Green”. I’m thinking Matisse would use this stuff if he were still with us.

Now comes the big question.

“But why?” I ask them.

“So you see it before you hit it!” says Lou. “Yes”, says Helen, “so you see it before you hit it!”

I must have looked puzzled. Lou explains: “I got tired of people moving cars and driving into the lamp-post” [which is right beside the blocks], he says. “That happens?” “Sure”, says Lou. “All the time”, says Helen. “Somebody’ll go to move a car and crunch it into another car”, says Lou, “and that hits another one….” It wearies him just to think about it (these are Mercedes Benzes after all).

“So now you see it before you hit it!” says Helen, laughing.

“Yes”, agrees Lou. “You see it before you hit it!”

[email this story] Posted by Gary Michael Dault on 07/12 at 01:03 PM

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