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One Armedness

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One Armedness

Normally it doesn’t take me very long to spill out a thousand words or so, given plenty of elbow room—say, around lunchtime at a construction site where there’s a captive audience of grazers. Knowing this, I figured I could procrastinate further than usual last month and wait until after shoulder surgery to tackle that very same topic for this column—a post-surgical script and scribble.

The one thing (among many) that I hadn’t considered through beforehand (er shoulder), was the fog bank I found myself in afterwards. The veil not entirely dissipated, I’m not even sure what all went into me, the fog being that thick. It lay down with me as I dozed, sat with me as I half-dozed and followed me to the bathroom for entertainment. It had a sidekick as well, a satchel dispensing a nerve blocker into my neck via tubing and electronics, designed to keep me inactive and carefree for a long weekend nap.

After ten days, I’m still seeing a few traces of vapor wafting through. But deadline for this is today and I haven’t even started a cartoon to go with it, unable to draw one out of the fog, so to speak! The one flicker of hope seems to be that I am able to get about twenty words a minute with only two or three fingers and their opposing thumb! Which just so happens is an improvement over my old style. Now if I can get my brain to work this fast. 

Here comes another waft. It seems to be asking or at least promoting the question, why is it I can fall asleep within the first twenty minutes of any new ‘action’ movie, but under a mandate to actually sleep there to keep my shoulder from getting into a disposition, my recliner seems to be no more oriented toward slumber than a saw horse is to go for a gallop?

And that’s not the only thing having your arm in a sling will have an effect on. Try reading a newspaper one-handed while laid back in an easy chair and not move your shoulder enough to warrant a yelp. To be sure, your lips, tongue and eyebrows will do things normally reserved for quite different activities. I noted, though, that soy-based ink tastes nothing at all like my sweetheart’s soy-based spaghetti!

Not only that, but my right hand has suddenly been indentured to fill in for the right hand’s duties regarding itches and twitches in far to reach locations, a fair excuse on its own to keep one from appearing in public places.

Afraid of seizing up like the ‘tin man’ I’ve become from bunion to trunnion, I tried going mobile a few times just for practice. The first attempt coincided with a particularly thick patch of vapor where I forgot I’d bought slip-ons for this occasion and entertained myself for over two hours with the fine art of one-handed shoe tying, leading me to do some half-fast research into just how valuable this newly found ability might be worth on the open market, near the end of which I finally noticed all the pop-up ads for slip-on footwear available online. 

With a big red smudge on my forehead from a vengeful right palm, I went for an ego bolstering session of dish washing, as this is but only one simple and clean way to say “I Love You” and “Thank you for feeding me the way you do.”

There wasn’t that much, just a few things left over from the morning mayhem and several snack attacks since. With the surprising clatter associated with cast iron sinks and one-handed dishwashing registering in my ears, I started briskly in on the coffee mugs and juice glasses until I started seeing my own juices flowing down the drain. The rest of that afternoon flew by while I studied yet another fine art: that of one-handed bandage application and the clean-up that goes along with it—there again the lips being essential partners. If I were better at yoga, some toes might have wiggled in as well.

The next morning and still fogged in, I tried once more to be a good boy by taking out the trash, reminding me of that old saying we used to use as kids about things we could do with at least one arm tied behind our backs and the cocky attitude that brought that possibility up whenever boasting made it necessary. Maybe that frame of mind has an age limit or maybe it was just too foggy out (in) for me to remember all the rules to abide by. 

I likely was doing fine until it came down to spinning the bag and applying the twisty around its important little neck, whereupon my lips said enough was enough and went into lockdown.

Afraid to set the bag down lest it disgorge half its innards while I let go to open the front door, my inner child spoke up suggesting an old favorite. 

Finagling my right shoe off, tucking the big toe that came out of it under my left heel, I removed the sock as deftly as if I was twelve again. Startled and oddly pumped by this sudden bravado, the rest of me could only watch as my right foot, lightly sweaty, reared up, grasped and rotated the knob, then swung the door in as pretty as you please. 

I was actually very pleased even if I did look like a stork doing chores in a pair of sweat pants. The fog actually lifted momentarily from this flashback goin’ on, revealing the bandages on my fingers oddly smiling (or seeming to for a split second anyway) as I stood there stork-like, then the wrinkles undid themselves from my fingers, peeling off alongside the abbreviated neck of an untied cornucopia of refuse and odiferous tidbits determined to fill out the rest of my morning.

By mid-afternoon and after a fair dose of ammonia-based cleaners, I could barely tell anything had happened at all. “Good boy!” I thought, but decided against applying later for any accolades, settling instead for a large piece of humble pie now and a long nap after.

By the middle of the next morning, and once again alone and dangerous, I couldn’t stand (or sit) it any longer. I had to find out, foggy or not, if I could still do any fishin’ with all this damnable hindrance about me.

I headed outside for some fresh air and a reality check in slip-ons and sweats and a Hawaiian shirt buttoned once over my wounded wing so that none of our resident eagles might mistake me for a lame turkey scratching for nibbles out in the driveway and fertilizing my dandelions.

Out of shop with pole in hand, I wandered over to my truck and perched myself on the tailgate where I often go for deep inspiration or a cold beer. I knew the hard part wouldn’t be in the casting but in the retrieval, especially if there happened to be anything attracted to my night crawlers other than driftwood and Eurasian milfoil.

That’s when it hit me right between the eyes. Not inspiration, just one of those big grey metallic looking beetles that sound much like an airborne power substation right before it finds the target drawn on your frontal lobe by its instinctive imagination. Why remains a scientific mystery to this day.

A thought did find its way in, however, when I eyed our boat and remembered the pole holders on board. I fetched one out and, with the aid of four bungee cords, a set of nail bag suspenders and what truly represented ten rounds of one-armed wrestling with myself, by late afternoon, had it tightly harnessed around my midsection more puckered than a pair of newlyweds, quite proud and surprisingly uncomfortable.

Taking up my rod-n-reel and setting the bail with my thumb, gripping simultaneously the line with a free finger, I wound up and cast into the wind and down the driveway toward some distant thunder approaching from the direction of the county road.

“So far, so good,” as I tripped the bail and set the rod in its stunningly positioned holder. 

Reeling in, of course, caught the attention of our ever-playful cat, Kirby (the shop-vac of mice and kibble), causing quite a bit of hip action in the both of us once I set the drag!

I still can’t find the adjectives banked away that would do justice to what our UPS driver had to interpret as he rounded the corner and trundled up our normally bucolic hill, but the impression he gathered as he passed my sun glassed salute and rumbled toward the neighbors’ place is probably still burning in the back of his mind. 

I hope we both have a full and speedy recovery.

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Scott Clawson Scott Clawson No, he's not the electrician, he's the OTHER Scott Clawson, who's a quality builder when he's not busy busting a gut while writing his humor column for the first issue of each month, or drawing his Acres n' Pains cartoons.

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health, Scott Clawson, Acres n Pains

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