Retirement Age Stories Uncategorized

The Eighth Wonder of the World

The Eighth Wonder of the World             by Octo G. Enerio

Taking a break between reps, I shut my eyes and imagine myself as The Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World—ah, that will be me I dreamed, if I can keep this up—a tall, bronze warrior, a sculpted rock-hard body, rippling muscles…

“Hey, Octo are you going to exercise or just sit there daydreaming?” asked a fellow senior waiting his turn. “Oh, sorry,” I mumbled and went on to the next machine, back to the reality of my 5’ 8” flabby frame, sagging skin, and white thinning hair. At the next station I overheard a fellow gym rat complaining about the HOA rules, saying, “All I wanted to do was put up four birdhouses. But nooo… the limit is threeeee.”  I chuckled softly thinking about my determined neighbor who didn’t take no from the HOA.


The Pyramids of Egypt, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, all were among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. We have been waiting for the Eighth for a very, very long time. We thought the Erie Canal might be one—but, no. Possibly the Eiffel Tower? No, again. Finally did not the magnificent Panama Canal project qualify? Sorry, no. It has taken more than three millennia to at last find a successful candidate. What is it?  Our neighbor Rosasepta’s “Arboreal and Floral Creation.” It qualifies! Ancient Babylonians with your hanging gardens, look out!  

We live in a gated community filled with similar tract houses with strict community rules—rules that seem to accentuate blandness and similarity. Rosasepta has declared herself a rebel, willing to push the edge of the envelope when it comes to garden design and architecture. Because her creative garden redesign was, to say the least, a tad extraordinary, she called on her persuasive diplomacy skills to overcome the anticipated objections the “Committee” certainly would have.  At this point only a hint of greatness was floating about in the ether. Certainly no one was even thinking Eighth Wonder. Little did we know what was to come.

Rumors of this project rippled throughout the neighborhood, a community not immune to the pleasures of gossiping. “I hear it is so extraordinary that she had to have a special team assigned by the HOA to investigate and to get approval,” one neighbor commented. The day the investigators arrived, onlookers were reminded of SWAT team raids seen on TV.  Five dark SUVs pulled up simultaneously to her home, all occupants jumping out with weapons drawn…  clipboards in this case.  They meant business. But so did Rosasepta. One SWAT team member thrust out his clipboard with a lunge, and Rosasepta deftly parried. Each member of the group made a verbal assault on her, but she held off each attack. At the end of a long and very interesting skirmish, the team left in defeat.  They had okayed the project. Hooray, for Rosasepta! 

But the excitement had only just begun. The real show was the construction stage.

 The Egyptian Pharaohs had hordes of “volunteers” to help them with their magnificent project. Yes, the laborers were plentiful, but they had little motivation save the threat of death by lash. These were not the most efficient of craftsmen because there was so much “turnover” (read: death).   The project missed all its time deadlines but did come in below budget (free labor). In contrast, Rosasepta had only a mini-horde to work with, yet a very motivated, efficient and healthy team of laborers managed by a modern-day Moses. The 21st century Moses was as talented as the original pyramid engineer/supervisor.

The activity commenced, as on D-Day, at daybreak. Truckload after truckload deposited their diverse payloads in her front driveway—sand, volcanic ash, wooden beams, paving stones, and on and on.  Rosasepta’s house was almost invisible from the street because of this wall of construction material. (Moses had a lot more room for storage out there in the Egyptian desert). The last truck brought in a most curious cargo— basketball-sized, smooth, white stones. (Was Rosaseptsa stockpiling ammo for her secret catapult?) “What is she going to do with all these stones?” every casual passerby mused. To our amazement this amassing of material was only the beginning; more would follow as construction got underway.

The shock troops came in soon after the stacking of material was complete. Just as Moses used mostly foreign-speaking workers (most spoke Hebrew), the modern-day overseer used alien laborers that spoke a foreign tongue (Español). These lean, wiry, muscular men did not act like cowering, poorly motivated slaves; these were dedicated performers looking to move their families up quickly through the socio-economic strata. They meant business!

The construction and remodeling work continued day after day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. It was a never-ending beehive of activity. It was a pleasure to watch such industry and accomplishment with never a complaint and only very few breaks. The little steel-treaded pay-loader moved back and forth throughout the day moving the construction material from front to back as the craftsmen engineered the items into place. The rhythm of the activity was mesmerizing.

The highlight of the transporting from front to back was the carrying of those curious round stones in the compact pay-loader. We watched, transfixed, from our living room windows. Where would they put all those stones? What is their purpose? No matter, it was like watching a ballet.

One day an unexpected turn of events! The pay-loader full of stones reversed its pattern. What used to go from front to back was now going from back to front. It’s like watching a ballerina begin to dance on her hands instead of her toes. The action was just as graceful in reverse.  But what’s wrong with this picture? Once again the rumors tore through our little hamlet. Did she dismantle her catapult? Did she fire her contractor? What gives?

Eventually the truth leaked out.  Just as Moses had to sometimes make abrupt changes in the project in response to a whimsical but powerful Pharaoh, the modern-day Moses was convinced by Rosasepta to take back many of the stones. After all, what was she to do with so many stones? She didn’t even have a catapult. The very diplomatic contractor bent to the powerful Rosasepta, and the payloader ballet began in reverse…back to front, back to front…just as mesmerizing.

Finally, the end of the project was in sight. All the neighbors came to ooh and aah. The magnificent project was such a great success that it was added to the prestigious annual Tour of Gardens event. One politically influential retired history professor has been rumored to be lobbying for Rosasepta’s garden to be added to the Wonders of the World list!