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Bad Things

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Come in threes

They say bad things come in threes and I’d have to agree - if not in number, then certainly in some number, maybe a bigger one.

I’ve had, I think, all known varieties of these, often recurrently, sometimes concurrently and even with unrelated themes. This gets confusing.

Mondays seem to bear these triplets the most. Little things, mostly, like a knot where a hard hat should be or that eternal struggle between hammers, nails and the innocent but stalwart (and, in my case, left) thumb.

If mine had better connections it would have  me committed to some asylum where it could probe the occasional nostril and just twiddle the day away with its twin, but unmangled, brother. It was the first member of my body to put in for retirement and when it isn’t holding a nail, screw, coffee cup, tape, square, two-by-something or my own it can usually be found in its denim sleeping bag doin’ an impression of James Dean’s thumb - hangin’ out.

Once in a while it puts in a request for ambidexterity training, only to have the motion denied by the hammer on the right. You see, my right hand knows the law. The law of averages, that is, and so far, several attempts to drive a nail left-handed have only resulted in one nail gettin’ driven (and several times at that).

One hammer-one pilot is my current protocol which gets me into some pretty weird maneuvers. This is where I do my Yoga.

I knew a guy who made the mistake of holding a nail and then remarking that he couldn’t follow through with his right. So his boss did the honors. I bet that thumbnail’s still there, too, shining into the late afternoon sun.

Which brings us to the grading system. Big bad things and little ones don’t go in the same set, although a grand finale is allowed if it’s done in good taste. Drop a floor joist or a driveline on yer foot just before first break, mash a pinkie after lunch protecting a 4x2 from impacting an old truck fender, then crack a tooth for dinner. A good finish but not overdone.

Which reminds me, sets of ‘little’ bad things (1 to 3 or 4) have to be ‘put to bed’ before going beddy-bye yerself as they won’t keep ‘til morning and will cause bad dreams if left unfinished. This can be accomplished as easily as stubbing a toe or stepping on a tack on the way to the bedroom. Get it over with, it’s better’n waking up mid-sleep peering into your toilet and thinkin’ you were at the County Fair, bobbing for apples.

Any set of a magnitude five or larger can linger on for days (like broccoli), making you giddy with anticipation. For this reason I take notes. I like to know where I stand, like a checking account for grief. Error traffic control, if you will.

I used to think blood had to be shed before it made the list as anything bigger’n a three. Not so. Cracked ribs score a four if you rely on your back to make a living. Speakin’ of backs, a bulged or ruptured disc comes in at a six or seven, there again depending on what yer up to. It’s all relative.

Way before I learned how to manage pain, I successfully knitted all four left fingers together with a plywood sliver five or six inches long. I had to remove a glove to accomplish this, but it was well worth the effort as I had a great time showing this marvel to everyone in the Jeld-Wen door plant I was working at. Got a lot of ‘Atta Boys’ out of it, one fainting at the glue line, and one final “Get the hell back on that forklift, the paint line is backin’ up. And don’t let me catch you pilfering plywood again.” Some people just don’t have a sense of accomplishment like I do.

A good threesome (one you could be proud of) would go something like this. The power goes out while you’re in the shower. With a summer tan on, you resemble a ‘tall cool one’ with a foamy head (‘cept for the white butt). You sense the irony of this as you have left the ‘just opened cold one’ on the kitchen counter. The smart and refreshing thing to do right now would entail sitting down and sipping some suds ‘til the power returns.

Instead of holding that thought, you’ve got a tenuous grip on a family-sized bar of slippery gliding like quicksilver out of your possession. Sploop!

That’s when you remember your undersized pressure tank and decide it would be a good thing to shut off the water before it, too, runs out.

You haven’t had an eye open since the shampoo started slumping past yer furrowed brow, leaving the right direction a good question. “COME-ON, you know this shower better’n the inside of yer nose!” Taking a wild guess, best hunch, in a hurry, dead head reckoning, you bend over and startle yer Georgia peaches on the shower controls your spouse picked out (and now you know why!), sending you foam first toward a nose job. Just before you get there, one foot finds that good ol’ bar of soap, causing the other foot to snag the cream rinse and shampoo off their shelf. With forces mounting even Einstein couldn’t have calculated or foreseen, one elbow single-handedly clears all remaining inventory, including the bubble bath (sans cap). With one wing and a prayer left, you try both simultaneously. This converts the luffa sponge-on-a-rope hangin’ around the shower curtain rod into a come-a-long to disaster wedged under your armpit and gently exfoliating yer ear. In a last-ditch effort (you can’t control these by the way) and with darn little forethought, you beller out the fastest prayer you can muster... “MOM!”

Now you look like a seafood wrap with yoghurt garnish and special sauce. A proud moment, to be sure.

With darkness and bubbles for close companions and a wide variety of pains reporting in, you start wondering what the score might be. Was this a category 4 event as you are due to start a new set anytime now? Or was this a quick succession of onesie-twosies? I consulted the rule book on this and found that a healthy pause is required for separate status, as in a good belch or other human endowment, or it’s just another run-on statement. So that’s ONE! You can receive a lot of bruises from just one event.

In three seconds you’re going to wish you’d have (yood’ve if you live in Cocolalla) brought a phone in as well as the cold brew sitting alone and warming nicely.

RRRing! Told ya!

This could very well be another bummer or at least the umbilical cord to one. Oh well, better make an effort, at least. You might get to try out your off the cuff standup sarcasm routine if it turns out to be some foreign English student trying to sell you on a free vacation in the Bahamas.

The answering machine kicks in and you lay there congratulating yourself for changing the batteries for once. Utterly quiet (one benefit of a power outage), you hear a lady’s voice from your bank informing you that you are overdrawn.

Number two!!

You hear the front door and also a hearty, “Oh, crap!”

This would be your spouse. This particular one is in hot pursuit of a flashlight and bladder relief and trotting by memory. The door flies open and the first foot in finds that damn bar of soap again.

After the moans, groans and foul language dissipate, the flashlight trains on you peeking out from under the shower curtain.


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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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