Some Things In Life Don’T Quite Work Out As Planned


I have an arrangement with life. Every once in a while I do a Three Stooges thing. I say, “OK! When I nod my head, hit it!” And life goes right ahead and does it.

I’ve already told you about the time I bit down on a screw that had 110 volts on it. Best 4th of July fireworks ever!

But I’ve managed to outdo that a few times.

Like the time I T-boned a 1951 Chevy, and didn’t go back to the hospital after they released me even though my neck hurt like mad and my head felt it was going to fall off.

Remember me telling you that? Yes? So do I, Johnny.

My neck was broken.

You would think that anyone who had earned a trick neck that way, one that had a nasty habit of getting stuck looking up or down would take good care of it. And I tried. I avoided looking up and to the right or down and to the left. It helped. Getting your head stuck looking up is very inconvenient, and spending a day or two contemplating your navel is boring.

So naturally, there was that time in Texas ...

For seven years before I got to Texas in 1956, it hadn’t rained much in Wichita Falls. Big drought! But the summer of 1957 brought such drought-breaking rains the Texas ranchers couldn’t get to town to cash their drought relief checks because of the floods.

I was a head DI at the time, and as a result of all the rain, some of the doors to my barracks swelled up and got thoroughly stuck. But I dug up some block planes from somewhere and we worked on the doors until they operated properly.

One rainy day I went over to one of the barracks whose back door I had planed. I went to pull it open, but no soap. It didn’t even budge. I pulled harder. Nothing. So I grabbed it and gave it a really hard pull. Still nothing. Now it was me or the %$#@! door! I put a leg up against the building, grabbed the knob with both hands, and gave a tremendous yank.

Unbeknownst to me, the barracks guard was sleepy, so he had locked the doors and gone to sleep, but when he heard me pulling on the door like a madman he crawled over and unlocked it.

Just as I pulled, Johnny. Just as I pulled.

And ...

Well what would you expect? I shot backwards at 300 miles an hour, the knob ripped out of my hands, I hit the heavy wooden railing and took it out, flew backwards 10 feet off the small porch of the barracks, and landed ...

In the hospital.

Where I found out that I had once broken my neck.

But guess what? Neck was cured. Didn’t stick anymore.

And they stopped me before I could choke the barracks guard to death, so I didn’t have to spend 20 in Leavenworth either.

My neck hurt, though. For how long? For ... uh, 41 years.

After which someone took pity on me and fused the vertebrae.

Then there was the day I was making a cake for Lolly and got in too much of a rush. Now I knew full well that ice cold margarine is very hard, and that if you try to beat it with an electric hand mixer before you give it a chance to soften you are going to bend a nice shiny set of blades. But did that matter?

Are you kidding?

Anyway, there I was a few minutes later, looking at a hand mixer with some highly bent blades. And also looking at two pounds of margarine that weren’t likely to become icing for Lolly’s birthday cake if I just stood there looking at them.

So what did I do?

Something suitably dumb, of course.

Our little kitchen in base housing at Hill AFB in Utah didn’t have as many wall plugs as it really needed. So I went around in the living room and plugged in an extension cord. But not a regular extension cord, and that’s where the trouble began. Our vacuum cleaner used a heavy duty extension cord as its regular cord, which was handy when we needed an extra extension cord, which I did that evening because all the others were being used. So I plugged in the vacuum cleaner cord in the living room and was working around the corner in the kitchen.

Can you feel the plot beginning to thicken?

I wasn’t quite stupid enough to try working on a hand mixer while it was plugged in. So I went around the corner in the living room and unplugged the cord. Then I went back into the kitchen, intending to grab one of the two sets of mixer blades with one hand, and the other set with my other hand, pull them apart and straighten them out.

Lolly, who was upstairs, chose that minute to come down.

“Aha!” you are probably saying.

And you’re right.

Anyway, my dear sweet thoughtful wife looked down, saw the vacuum cord unplugged, and assumed, as any reasonable person would, that I was vacuuming and had accidentally pulled the plug out. So she very sweetly plugged it back in — at the precise moment that I grabbed the blades.

And, yes. Ouch!

At that point I found myself with a blade-handling problem. You see, you can grab a set of hand mixer blades with your right hand and pull on them, but unless your left hand is free to grab the other set you can’t pull the two sets of blades apart.

And since the blades had run up my left hand until they stalled on the knuckles ...

So I needed a little help — an extra hand. But even though I was in a wee bit of pain, I was able to reason out that if I ran into the living room with a bleeding hand and yelled, “Get it off! Get it off!” I was not likely to get much accomplished.

So, having turned the %$#@! thing off, I calmly strolled into the living room, where Lolly was now sitting down, and asked her very calmly and politely to hold one set of blades while I pulled on the other one. She did, I did, and out came my poor hand.

Lolly looked at my hand, eyed the blood — there really wasn’t that much — and asked me very sweetly, “Didn’t that hurt?”

Well I had to admit that it did, but we got the hand nicely bandaged up, the blades straightened out, and the cake iced.

And we lived happily ever after.

Until the next time I had a brainstorm.


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