The Journal Gazette
Saturday, September 12, 2020 1:00 am

Tall tales

Treehouse inspires entrepreneurial musings

Frank Hill

Near here is a wonderful forest, much like the hundred acre wood in which Winnie the Pooh and his friends had so many adventures. This forest is owned by dear friends of ours.

The husband and wife owners have been self-isolating at their home there because of the pandemic. Seeking some alone time, the wife encourages her husband to take walks in the woods.

She does not push him out the door. She did, however, paint on some discarded plywood “This way to the woods,” accompanied by a large arrow.

Our friend talked to himself during his walks. Surrounded by mature trees, he considered building a treehouse in the forest for their grandchildren.

So he did. He built a sturdy, large treehouse. Painted brown and perched in a tree far from the road, the treehouse is very real but you need imagination to see it.

I propose that the treehouse be used as a neighborhood coffeehouse. Our challenge is to convince the grandchildren to play elsewhere. I assembled them and said, “You've all been to Cedar Point in Ohio, right?” They jumped up and down, saying, “Yeah, it was great,” and arguing over which ride is best.

“Well,” I said, “there are lots of cedar trees in these woods. Go see who can find the most. The winner gets a prize.”

I might have implied their grandfather would build them a miniature Cedar Point. That is disputed by young and old.

While the grandchildren were gone, I quickly built a sign, painted a high horizontal line, followed by, “You must be this tall to enter.” I placed it outside the treehouse. That should buy years of time for the coffeehouse.

As for our business venture, some expense will be incurred. We can split the cost of the coffee or, what the heck, I'll pay for it. After all, it is not my treehouse.

We will begin modestly. Even though outdoor seating is popular these days, it is too soon to go out on a limb.

For waitresses, we may use our wives. We liked their answers to the traditional interview question: “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

The long walk from our friends' home to the treehouse would be good for our wives. They will need to hustle so the coffee does not get cold before they deliver it.

Oh, before I forget, I need to tell our wives we would like scones or muffins in the morning and cheese and crackers in the afternoon. We will not be open for dinner. It gets dark early beneath the forest canopy.

To stimulate chatter about sports, politics and entertainment, photographs will be on the treehouse walls. In those photos will be “Tree” Rollins, a former NBA player; “Old Hickory,” Andrew Jackson, our nation's seventh president; and Woody Harrelson, actor.

Internet service will be needed for our unsolicited advice to politicians. We shared some of our intended advice with our wives. They snidely replied that some trees contain saps year-round.

We reminded our wives that we male saps make more money than they do. That lit a fire!

My wife stormed out, returning in a few minutes with the sleeping bags she had claimed were lost after our last camping trip. One night sleeping in those cocoons on that treehouse floor gave my friend and me an attitude adjustment.

To get back in our wives' good graces, we told them they can control our checkbooks. They will give up on that after a month or two. But, hey, we offered it.

Wrinkles will occur in this master plan. Some days our wives will oversleep and be late delivering our coffee. On other mornings, the scones and muffins they provide will be stale.

Even with those glaring weaknesses, our wives have job security. That makes it difficult to motivate them. Anticipating problems with their attitudes, we may hire college-age ladies to be our servers.

We decided to conduct some interviews. Our first applicant seemed fidgety. Then she left abruptly. Before leaving, she said there was something stale in the coffeehouse and it was not the scones or muffins.

While chewing on a muffin, I mumbled to my friend, “Was her 'something stale' remark innuendo?” He replied, “What? Is a lark in a window?”

Our plans for the treehouse are up in the air.

Frank Hill is a Fort Wayne resident.

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