Towne Park Square Plaza

My oldest son was born in 1992. After 14 hours of labor, a centimeter at a time, andthenallatonce, there he was, nameless and taupe. I was struck dumb. After all those months of anticipation, the first of my progeny was a conehead. Sloping alarmingly backward and upward from the unmistakable Porter forehead was a head doing its best to form a point.

Immediately grasping the situation, I thought, “He’s a conehead. How’d that happen? It seems to be a big one, too, a big conehead.”

I’d been to the birthing classes and read as much as I could stand, and nowhere had I run across any mention of coneheads, and I was thoroughly unprepared for the sight of my firstborn’s coneheadedness. Nobody had told me about the malleability of the plates in a baby’s head and especially not about how the bones move about and allow the head to deform during the squeeze through the birth canal.

Some time later, I had just accepted whatever hardships my thin, gray baby might have in school or life, at least the difficulty of finding a conehat or a conebarber, when the midwife or a passing nurse or some other woman in crepe soles said not to worry, that his head would regain its natural shape. I laughed knowingly. What a lamebrain.

Towne Park Square Plaza looked a lot like a conehead last year, kinda gray and homely, like the neighbor lady’s little boy she got from foster care. He could get a pass because he was a baby, but you knew that if that ugly didn’t start fading pretty quick there might not be enough time for him to avoid the stifled gasps and rolling eyes.

Like a child who’s doing nicely now after not having shown much early promise, Chico’s Towne Park Square Plaza seems to be finding itself. It ain’t Bidwell Park; it ain’t even King Community Park. In fact, it ain’t a park at all. It’s Towne Park Square Plaza, unique in these parts unto itself.

The best part—other than the free public toilet—is the fountain. Why do you suppose the guardians of the public trough didn’t ask for a solar-powered fountain? This is Chico, for Pete’s sake. We got sun.

Why does the name of the place along the stage include “Chico"? Why label the plaza? In case it’s stolen? To inform tourists who’ve lost track of their itinerary and may wonder where they are? Does Chico get many lost travelers in need of a timely preemptive answer to an unasked question? Well, does it?

I feel much better, now that I’ve stopped thinking of Towne Park Square Plaza as a park, which is what I used to do. I just needed the right thought.

All that concrete is likely to be a lethal weapon by July. Then the cops can kill it, and we’ll start over. Better yet, make it a skateboard park, with a fountain.