I broke my coffee carafe this week, and spent a couple of distraught days going over my options. I finally narrowed the field to two: buy a used one at Goodwill, or a new one at Bi-Mart. After more agonizing, I decided on the latter. I went to the store like a kid getting out of bed on Christmas morning, selected a Hamilton Beach five-cupper for $15.97, failed to find one in a box, asked the clerk where they were, and was told they were sold out.
Naturally, I fell to the floor tearing at my hair and clothes while screaming, “This is the worst day of my life! How could you do this to me?” I expected an outpouring of sympathy, but the teenage clerk walked backwards until she bumped into a display of Valentine’s candy, then stood board-rigid with her hands over her mouth. So much for customer service.
When I got to the check-out with my other items, the clerk there inquired cheerfully, “Did you find everything alright?” I’m never sure whether this means, “Was everything in good condition?” or, “Did you find what you wanted without having to look for it?” Neither applied to what I had suffered, and I was too shattered to speak anyway. I merely handed her my credit card. She too looked at me strangely. Her lips began to move, and she finally made me understand that I had given her my library card. I thought that, yes, it is indeed a strange world when a man needs a different card everyplace he goes.
I sometimes think I would be better off if I went through life devoid of clothes or luggage, but am stumped by the problem of whether to carry my various cards in my mouth or my butt crack. I couldn’t talk the first way, and couldn’t sit the second, making it necessary to shift them back and forth.
On my drive home, I reflected that I had never heard of anyone wrecking a car unless he was in a car, and I decided that I would be safer if I quit driving, in fact quit going out altogether because, even if I’m not in a car, someone who is in a car might run me over.
I then remembered that most accidents happen at home, so I also questioned my safety there. Since I could hardly afford to stay in motels all the time, this only left the option of a tent, but then I wondered if whatever I lived in wouldn’t be counted as home. With this in mind, I decided that I should probably stay in my present home, but not move around much and certainly not climb ladders. I could sit in my chair and read or watch TV. Then I thought about the importance of exercise, and was stumped.
I’ve been reading a book by Beck Weathers, a mountain climber who lost his nose, one hand and part of that arm, and four fingers off his other hand while climbing Mt. Everest. I don’t mean that he misplaced his body parts, but that they froze and later fell off except for the arm, which had to be amputated due to the fact that big body parts don’t drop off cleanly the way small ones do. The big ones get infected, and the infection keeps moving higher until it becomes systemic, and that’s pretty much the end of the road unless your doctor stumbles across the right antibiotic in time, and this isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Beck Weathers was on one antibiotic or another for more than a year because even though he had his arm amputated, he kept getting infections.
Anyway, he said he was still glad he went to Everest, and that he would do it again even if he knew about all the body parts he would lose because, as he said, a risk free life isn’t worth living. I’ve read that a lot, but maybe this is because I read so many books by mountain climbers, and maybe my choice of books is influenced by the fact that mountain climbers have an easier time getting published than do people who spend their lives sitting in recliners. I have no idea why this is so, but I believe that my observation is accurate because I have never read a book about a man who did nothing but eat tuna sandwiches and watch soap operas.
I, for one, would prefer his life’s story to that of Beck Weathers because I like tuna sandwiches, whereas I’m not much on mountain climbing. Of course, tuna—especially albacore—contains high levels of mercury, so it’s better to switch over to sardines from time to time for health reasons, and to make life more exciting. The key to a good life seems to be getting some excitement but not too much.
Beck Weathers and I obviously differ on how much excitement is enough. I would never want to redo something that cost me even one part of my anatomy much less a sack full. My idea of a good time is to dig holes in the backyard just to see what’s down there. Unfortunately, Peggy is not supportive of my adventures just as Beck Weathers’ wife was not supportive of his, although I suspect that Peggy would change her tune if I were to mention climbing Everest as an alternative to digging holes in the yard. If she didn’t change her tune, I would assume she had a life insurance policy that I don’t know about, and that would bother me. I would wonder if all those accidents that happen in the home aren’t really murders committed by women with big insurance policies, women who knock their husbands’ ladders out from under them.
Still, I don’t know if I should play it safe by leaving Peggy because, if she hasn’t killed me yet, it’s probably a good sign that she won’t—or at least that she isn’t planning on it. Then there’s the possibility that I might need her to call 911 someday if I do fall off a ladder. I heard of a cat calling 911 by hitting speed dial, but I don’t know of any dogs having done so, dogs apparently preferring to carry notes in their mouths, the problem being that if I could get to pen and paper, I wouldn’t need a dog to deliver what I wrote. This makes the continuation of marriage an asset if not an actual necessity.
Poem 20 - Humans took her place Rural swamps dry or built on Refugee at home