Since all of our small-town summer parades have been canceled due to the fun-sucking pandemic, I was delightfully surprised to see a truck, shimmering with parade-worthy flashing lights, slowly make its way past my house with a sign which I swear said that the strippers were coming. I got all excited for a front row seat until my wife pointed out that the strippers for whom I was waiting had 2 p’s and the sign, which I misread, had only one p, as in striper.

For those of you still struggling with English as I do every day, striper has to do with painting a stripe while stripper, with two p’s, has to do with dancing girls, fireman’s poles and overpriced drinks. I was never any gud with spehling.

Pretending I was more interested in paint and highway safety than dancing girls, I stayed for the show but, truth be told, I have always held a fascination for fireman’s poles.

Soon, an impressive truck, engine moaning and lights flashing, approached. I was not disappointed. It was loaded with tanks, hoses and industrial equipment. It had a driver up front and a paint man on the rear making rude hissing noises, dispensing odd odors and bright yellow paint. What’s that? No, the equipment was making the noise and odors, not the paint man. The only thing missing was dancing girls and loud rock ’n’ roll music from strategically mounted speakers.

The truck could also have used a few masked and costumed troupers throwing candy and baubles to onlookers but it proceeded at twice normal parade speed as if they had something important to do. In their wake, they left a bright yellow double-line in the middle of the street adorned with a coating of reflective glass microbeads. Never has a parade float thrown so many glass beads. Quite the show.

Last summer I chanced to be at our local convenience store when the paint crew came in for a pre-coronary dose of multiple pizza slices and Mountain Dew — or what they called lunch. I took the opportunity to ask how much of their painting was computer controlled. They looked at me askance. I explained that in spite of road conditions, the lines were amazingly straight and perfectly positioned. Surely most of the painting was computer controlled with machine vision and some kind of steering stabilization. They all chuckled while assuring me that the driving and paint timing was purely manual.

You have to hand it to the paint crews (or should we say “Krewes”) who do a magnificent job of keeping traffic separated with expertly applied lines in spite of their high-sugar and deep-fat lunches. They are truly masters of their craft.

My wife runs a small retail cottage in our town and works hard to keep up the property’s curbside appeal. She was horrified last month upon discovering that the white-line painting truck had come by in front of her cottage and painted a gravel bar that had metastasized on the road from a recent thunderstorm. I could hear her exclaim, “They painted the rocks!” even though I was running a chain saw at the time at the far end of our property. She was not pleased.

When the paint parade started you could see she had an issue that needed addressing but the procession was over in a flash. She was on alert. Ten minutes later, the paint crew conveniently returned to detail a nearby intersection. My wife suggested to me and my two neighbors that we ask the crew to touch up the errant white lines. The two male neighbors looked at me in alarm but there was nothing to say. We all knew that as a guy, you don’t just walk up to a state road crew and start telling them what to do. Beside getting laughed at, you might also get accidentally bumped by an excavator, rolled over by a paving machine or painted — either white or yellow.

Sensing that we would not do her bidding, she walked off to have a chat with the paint crew boss.

Time passed. As men, we didn’t know what to do. We waited. Soon she returned.

“The white paint truck will be here next week to fix everything,” she said with a smile. “Those guys are really nice.”

“They have a terrible diet,” I mumbled.

She shot back, “They’re really nice. And professional.”

Case closed. Kudos to all the paint crews.