Two Arms and a Hand OR What I learned from being stoopid

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

These short stories are about the things I have done and what I have learned from each incident as a how to for someone else.

One of the important things I have learned is that when you are out in public, NEVER try to pet someone else's chihuahua. Those little rat dogs are VICIOUS! I tried to pet one, once and the little bastard bit be on the finger...thank God that was all it was. I admit I was wrong. I should have asked first and not just reached out and try to be nice . You never know how they are going to react unless the owner holds them and allows people to pet their little rats.

I had a dog at one time. Nathan was a German shepherd/Rottweiler mix. He was so smart and I think he tried to outsmart me, but I usually won. I lived in an apartment complex and I had the second floor apartment. There was a sister and a brother that lived nearby. Absolutely adorable kids! The little boy..or little man as he proved to everyone around him, wanted to pet Nathan. I always told him that Nathan needed to sit first. He waited till Nathan was sitting properly and he would lavish love all over that silly dog. One day, his sister came up and while we were walking, she asked if she could pet Nathan. Out of nowhere, the little brother appeared and announced to her that, "YOU CANNOT PET HIM UNLESS HE IS SITTING! WAIT FOR HIM TO SIT, FIRST!" He looked at me and I told he he was correct. The little girl looked at me and waited patiently for Nathan to sit and she, too, lavished him with all the love she could muster. Damn dust in my eye. I had to wipe away the tear that the dust caused. Those two kids were my favorite tenants in the complex. Always waited for me to walk Nathan so they could love all over him. I missed them when I moved. They missed that damn dog and I had to rehome him because where I went, he couldn't come with me. I found out a few years back that Nathan had passed from old age and the man that owned him showed him as much love as I did when I had him. He was a good dog. I learned that when you own a dog, it's a question of who owns who. They will love you without question and will always welcome you home. They will never ask where you were. Just greet you with all the happiness they can muster. Love your dog. They will love you back.

Power tools and other injuries

Another lesson that I learned is that no matter how hard you try to be careful, it may not always turn out that the care you took will help. OUCH. It will hurt, but it will teach you to be aware of the things you didn't see.

I bought a piece of glass that was encased in plastic and cardboard. It was a pane of glass for a picture frame. It was covered in plastic and backed with cardboard. Easy to remove. Uh huh. Sure it is. I then grabbed the left side of the package with my left hand, thumb adjacent to the glass. (This is important to remember). I grabbed the other side with my right hand and YANKED the glass out with my right hand. Little did I know that the glass had an adhesive square holding it in the package. I then yanked again. This time, the glass came loose, thereby slicing a huge gash up the side of my left thumb. It was about a 1/8th inch deep. When I regained my senses, I realized it was starting to bleed. YIKES. I put the glass down carefully and went into the bathroom to run it under water. When I realized that it was BAAAD, I pulled the band aids out and began to open them one by one and apply "DAVID'S FIRST AID' to my open wound. It took exactly 5 band aids Well, it was still bleeding, so I figured that clear packing tape would help stop the bleeding. It slowed down and finally stopped, as far as I could see. I waited a few hours and then went next door to the neighbors. I knew from talking to him that he was in the medical care field. I brought the tape and gauze, asking him if he would rewrap my cut.

"You might want to consider some stitches and have that looked at. It looks deep and you could have cut some tendons." He said.

"It's a flesh wound and I am going to be fine." I replied

"I'll rewrap it, but I really think you should have that looked at. At least!" he wasn't too happy that I was so nonchalant with my cut.

I went home and went about cleaning up the blood that I had left in the bathroom sink. The next day, I decided to go the VA clinic not too far from where I lived. That visit to the clinic didn't go as well as I had planned.

The attendant looked at the wound, gave me a concerning look and asked, "..and you didn't get stitches, why?"

"Cause it's just a flesh wound? It stopped bleeding and it looks like it's healing." Nonchalance, again. The next statements were a repeat of the neighbor's concern.

"You could have damaged tendons, or messed up some other things. You're going to need your rabies, distemper tetanus shot. SHAROOOON!!!!" He yelled.

I'm thinking who the hell is Sharon? I found out immediately. A nurse showed up with a look of annoyance and looked directly at me. She had heard the entire exchange. What she said next was not my idea of fun.

"You're going to need your tetanus, rabies, distemper injection. Nice job."

Crap. Not what I was expecting. She came back with a HUGE NEEDLE...ok, not that big but it looked HUGE! She gave me the immunization and said that if I did something stupid like that, again, I'm going to need another one. Great! Not something I wanted to experience, again, any time soon.

After she was done torturing me with her needle, the attendant unwrapped my thumb and said that he was going to try and open the wound, scrub it and reapply a covering. When he opened the mess I had there, it looked like it was starting to heal and he wasn't going to try and open it up. He cleaned it with something antiseptic smelling and applied new gauze and tape. When he was done doing that, he sat down and started to type at his terminal.

I decided to ask, "Are you closing this case out?"

“Yes, why do you ask?”
I decided to make the dumbest statement ever. “Because I haven’t even turned on a power tool, yet. This was just from removing a glass frame from the package.”

Sharon came back into the room and asked if I was doing this for a job.

“Nope, this is my hobby.” I never learn.

They both looked at me and said that I need to find another, SAFER hobby. Sharon rolls her eyes and leaves the room.

Attendant starts typing and says, “Patient states he will be back before the end of the week, and will need to have stitches, another rabies, distemper, tetanus shot, and will be advised to find a safer hobby.”
“Hey, that’s not fair. I won’t be back before the end of the week.” I opened my mouth and proceeded to insert both feet at once.

“OH! He’ll be back this coming weekend and need treatment for severe power tool injuries. Does that sound about right?” He sarcastically stated. (I Liked him!)

“UHHH, no! But thanks for playing. I’ll be more careful this time. Funny guy!” I replied to him.

I left the clinic feeling a bit sore from the shot and decided to start working on etching the glass with my dremel. I had just gotten all the tools out and was going to start, when my phone rang.

It was my sister. “I’ve tried to call you, where ya been?” She asked.

“At the clinic getting my thumb treated and wrapped.” BIG MISTAKE. DO NOT EVER tell Roberta what an idiot I am.

“Ok, genius..what did you do?” She asked. I began to tell her what I did with the glass and how I cut my thumb open. That was it. Here it comes.

“Ok, here’s my recommendation. Have you started any power tools?”
“NO” I said.

“You are NOT to start, turn on or power up any tools without someone else being around. In fact, bring all that stuff to my house and work on it here, so I can keep an eye on you. Jeez, David….what is wrong with you?”

I could list all the things I think is wrong with me but that would take too long and I don’t think she really wanted to hear it. 

Last question she had: “ARE YOU WEARING A MASK?”


“Good God. If you’re etching glass you’ll be breathing in that glass dust and do damage to your lungs. Ok, you’re done for the day. DO NOT do anything more. Bring your stuff over to my house, work in the garage and for god’s sake BUY A DAMN MASK!!!! I’m not kidding…if I come over there and you are working on that glass, I’m going to hurt you….BAAAD! Don’t make me come over there. Got it?” I knew better than to make her mad. She knows karate, and holds a black belt in martial arts. I learned from my nephew, she means business. If she didn’t care, she wouldn’t say squat. I put all of my things away and considered going over to her house. I decided against that until my thumb healed. It was best that she didn’t see how bad it was.

I learned that if you hurt yourself, seek medical help. NO matter how slight it seemed…cause if those around you find out that you aren’t getting your injury looked at, you just prove to others that yes, you are an idiot. I was lucky. It didn’t get infected or do damage to ligaments, nerves or tendons. I probably won’t be so lucky next time. So far, so good. Which brings up the rotary saw incident. That’s a story for another time.

The Circular Saw Story

I was working on a project with installing a piece of plywood some where in the house. I measured and measured to make sure it was correct. I prepared everything to get this all done and finish the most part of it that day. I was confident that what I was doing was correct and I was doing a fine job. Hell, Bob Villa would have been proud of my preparations for this job. I pulled out the circular saw that I had bought just a week before and got ready to cut the piece of plywood on the concrete step of the front porch. Everything was going well, when the saw just quit. I pulled it back, hit the power button once or twice and nothing. Huh, wonder what happened. I went in the house and checked the plug, checked the outlet and the circuit box. Nothing wrong in any of those places. I went back outside, grabbed the saw and then I realized what I had done. I cut through the power cord and sliced it in half. WAY TO GO, JEENYUS! WOW! I could have electrocuted myself by doing that. The kids started coming out one at a time and to see what I had done.
“Dad, why did you cut the power cord in half? Didn’t you know that it was there?” One of them asked.


Then, the wife came out. Yay. Another critic that has no clue about this project and didn’t offer to help.
“What did you do, genius? Cut the cord? By the way, you can’t make another of them without me. So, if you want to make another of them, or at least practice making them, be nice to the children.”

UGH! Not nice. I could hear them all in the house jeering me and making fun of my mistake. Yea, I made a mistake, BUT! I could fix this and make it better. I have the skills and technology to make it run, again!!!
I took the saw into the shed in the backyard and started my surgical procedure to make it run, once more. I split the casing on the cord, found the white and red wire on the saw side and did the same on the cord side. I bared the copper wire inside and twisted it to get it ready to meet its mate on the other end. Using an electrical connector cap, I placed each end of the red wire into the cap and twisted to get it to stay together. Then I did the same to the white wire. Then once that was done, I used electrical tape, wrapping about three inches above the cut and wrapped the cord to protect the connector till I was about three inches below the cut.

Once that was done, I headed back out front and started to cut the piece of plywood, again. Each one of the kids came to the front door and were stunned that Dad got the saw to work.
“How did you do that? How did you fix that?” Some of them asked.

“It is Magic! Technology is a beautiful thing!” They were confused, watched for a few seconds, losing interest and going back inside.

Again, the WIFE showed her face at the door. “How did you fix that? It’s not magic.” She said

“Well, WHO HAS THE DEGREE IN ELECTRONICS? OH, RIGHT, ME!” I stated sarcastically.

Giving me a nasty look, she went back inside, and didn’t say much more. I finished my cut and took the piece that was cut for the project and installed it where it was needed. No one ever said anything more about dad’s ability to fix something that he had messed up. I impressed myself. Not only had I cut through the cord but I didn’t electrocute myself. Nice! Then I fixed the cord and it worked. Not a bad deal. I just learned that I am not too bad at electrical repair and to ensure that the cord is out of the way when you’re cutting through a piece of wood.

I was hoping to be another Bob Villa and ended up being a Tim Taylor without the injury, this time.

Two Arms and a Hand

My buddy, Jim, is an intelligent guy! He always comes up with a solution that fits the situation and shows me that I need to use more creative ways to look at something.

When I was moving, a piece of flagstone that belonged to the woman I was with, needed to be taken to the new place we were moving into. At the time, I didn’t have a tape measure handy and we need to measure the flagstone to see if it would fit in the back of his pickup. Either lengthwise or width wise. I figured that I would go in search of a tape measure and since everything was pretty much packed up, there was no tape measure to be found, anywhere. Well, crap, now what? Jim looked at the flagstone and then at me, and he moved to the flagstone, dropped his arm across it and again, at the tip of this finger, he placed his arm on the flagstone. Then he placed his hand at the end of his arm. Two arms and a hand long. Then he moved to the truck and did the same thing. It was long enough to put the flagstone in the back of the pickup with just a tad space to spare to close the tailgate, safely. I was trying to decide why I didn’t think of that before? He and I moved the flagstone carefully into the pickup bed and he looked at me proudly and said,
“Two Arms and a Hand. Could be the name of a new band!” I looked at him and busted up laughing. That was hysterical and the fact that it came from him, made it even funnier. Jim was always so quiet, but when he speaks, it’s usually pretty eloquent or funnier than crap. Over the years, I have come to consider Jim a dear close buddy. I can always count on him to say something funny to me and cheer me up. Thanks, Jim! You’re my two arms and a hand guy!!!
I learned that it doesn’t always take a specific tool to get the job done when you’re thinking outside the box.

Nathan and Dolly

I mentioned Nathan in a previous story. What I didn’t mention is that Nathan had a girlfriend where I lived in the apartment complex. She was a white red nosed Pitbull. She was adorable. She was owned by a black guy and his girlfriend in the next building over. I never knew when Dolly was out if it weren’t for Nathan.
We lived on the second floor with a patio deck and a four foot railing across it, which Nathan found that he could put his paws on and look out under the railing. THAT’S how he saw Dolly when she was out.

One particular day, he was out on the deck, I would suspect he was watching for his “woman” to out on a walk with her human. When he saw her, he would race inside and come over to me, whining about something, then race back to the deck, look under the railing, turning and racing back to get me to take him out. I was trying to figure out what his issue was when I looked out the window that the couch was next to and saw Dolly. Dolly was giving her owner a had time when she saw Nathan. I got up from the couch and grabbed his leash. By the time I reached the door with his leash, he was so wound up, I finally just opened the door and let him out. I knew he wasn’t going to go far. As soon as he could get through the door, he bolted, ran down the stairs and friends, I am not lyin’. He came to a dead halt at the bottom of the stairs and sat as straight as a statue. He didn’t look at Dolly once. He kept looking ahead, acting like she didn’t exist. She, however, was jumping on him, licking his face, tryin to get him to look at her. I was laughing so hard at this punk ass. The owner of Dolly came over to me and said,

“You’re dog is such a playa. How did you teach him that?” He asked.

I looked at him in amazement. How could he think I trained Nathan to treat Dolly like that?

I told him there is NO way I trained Nathan to act like an ass! He laughed hysterically and just looked Nathan, saying to him, dude! be nice to the lady! Nathan looked at the guy, and somehow realized what we were saying. He looked at Dolly, licked her face and you would have thought she was in heaven!!! They played together for a bit, until Dolly’s owner had to go home and check on the wife and new baby. So, Dolly needed attention because the baby, obviously was stealing the attention from her. Every time Dolly came out to walk, Nathan needed to go see and connect with his woman.
I learned that dogs have feelings and obviously have attachments like humans do. He was a funny dog…like this next story.

Nathan’s cosmic time dilemma

My daughter, Trista came to visit me while I lived in Arizona. It had been a while since I saw her. I left Washington in 2005 and she came to visit me around 2008. Nothing unusual happened while she was there except this once.

Nathan had been with her in the apartment the whole time while I was at work. Nothing weird, right? Holy crap. One night while I was sitting on the couch, next to Trista, watching tv, I could look across the room and look into my bedroom and see my bed.

The next moment, I could see Nathan look up from where he was sleeping, and he jumped to his feet, leaped on the the bed and flip over on his back and proceed to roll, twist, move around and tear the bed up. Then, after ten seconds of that, he stopped dead and slowly looked over at me, like “What happened?”

When he stopped, he rolled over on his side and belly crawled off the bed and across the floor to where I was sitting on the couch. He licked my hand, looked up at me and laid down at my feet. I was shocked and amazed. My daughter looked at the dog, looked at me and asked,

“Does he do that all the time?”

All I could say was, “No, he never does that. I don’t know how to explain that.”

It was like time stopped for Nathan, and for some reason, he lost his mind and decided to roll around, have a great time and do whatever he wanted…then time kicked back and he realized what he had done and was ashamed. I can’t think of any other way to explain that weirdness. He never did that, again. Just that once and it was so bizarre. Just leaped onto the bed and started to thrash about, not caring until reality kicked back in and it all brought him back to his senses. I have no idea how dogs think or what they think about. I wish I could have known what happened.

Nathan and the gate.

When I moved to Phoenix, I lived with my dad. That was hard enough. He was a stubborn old man and he did some shameful stuff that I won’t go into.
The first few weeks that I owned Nathan, he knew how to be annoying. When I had to sleep at night, he would jump on the bed, and then off the bed, then on and it lasted about 30 minutes. One nigh, I just got tired of his antics and took him by the collar and put him out in the backyard, telling him he will be outside all night.

I went to bed, thinking he was secure in the backyard. Boy, was I wrong. When I woke up the next morning at 5, I received a knock at my door and there was a guy standing in my dad’s front porch. I asked if I could help him. He just looked at me, pointed to the street and asked,

“That your dog?”

I looked at the street and there was Nathan, trotting towards the front door, nonchalantly, looking at me, like, “Hi, dude! You got my food ready?”

I was stunned. He had been out all night, running through the neighborhood, until the neighborhood watch caught him and put him in their car. I was told that he had been riding with them all night, keeping them company. GREAT! I could have gotten a $1200 dollar fine for him being on the loose. That or he could have tangled with the local coyotes, and they are vicious.

I ran out the back slider and looked at the gate. He had lifted the latch with his nose, pushed the gate open and trotted to freedom. HOLY CRAP! So, I went to dad’s junk drawer, found a lock and went back out to the gate, installing the lock on the latch. Nathan realized what I had just done and he took off in the opposite direction, toward the other gate. I laughed! My dad had already put a lock on that gate for security reasons! So, now, he was stuck. With his head down, dejectedly, he looked at me. walking into the house with a look that seemed to say, “You won this round, pal. I’m gonna find a way to escape as soon as possible.”

He didn’t try anything else, again. I think he learned his lesson and decided to stay in the yard where it was safe.

I learned that no matter what, never underestimate the intelligence of an animal. They will surprise you at least once. Or twice if you’re not careful.

Know when to ask a question and when to shut up

When I attended South Seattle Community College, I learned a few valuable lessons. The first one happened in a Physics 101 class. I was attending school with my buddy, Larry. We were in the Navy together and I got out on a medical discharge and he got out a year or so after me. We both decided that we would go to school and get out degree in Electronics. Well, I did, at least. He stopped at the last quarter and decided to go back to work.

It was during the physics class that I realized that I ask REALLY stupid questions. Like having the Phd that is teaching the class to ask, “Are there any other questions” when discussing the curriculum of the class.

I shot my hand up and asked the DUMBEST question of all time. “Why do we need to know Physics? Al I know is that the bullet goes in the size of a quarter and comes out the back larger than a three foot hole.” Simple enough. I know that the bullet does a heck of a lot of damage coming out the back side, IF it comes out the back!

The answer I got was, “I WANT TO SEE YOU AFTER CLASS. Are there any other questions, besides Mr Monaghan’s?” No one raised a hand or stirred at all.

Larry looked at me and quietly told me that I do not know him nor do I sit by him the rest of the quarter. Great. My friend has kicked me to the curb for a good grade.

After class, I went forward to speak to Dr Phd. His lecture lasted a minute.

“Ask another dumb question like that and I will flunk your dumb ass and send you to your advisor’s office so fast it will make your damn head spin. DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?”

I assured him I did. No sense stirring up the hornet’s nest any worse.

“Get the hell out of my class room!” was his final statement to me.

When I got to the car that Larry and I shared, driving back and forth to school, he wanted to know how much my butt hurt. I told him that I am lucky I still have my butt intact. He thought that was really funny. Yea, not funny dude. He reiterated that I DID NOT KNOW HIM or wasI supposed to sit any where near him for the rest of the quarter. Like a good friend that I am, I sat on the end of the table from where Larry sat, far away from him.

When the class started the next day, the Phd gave instructions as to how the class were to do the experiments listed in the books. Then came the inevitable.

“Are there any other questions?” Looking straight at me, to let me know I wasn’t supposed to open my mouth. I stayed quiet and did the experiments as required. The rest of the quarter went well. I stayed quiet and he didn’t harass me. In the final grade, I received a B for my effort. Did that solve that problem? Oh, no. I was the center of it all, again in Oklahoma while a member of the Air Force Nat’l Guard.

I was sent to Oklahoma Air Force base, in the capital of Oklahoma. It was august and this is where I was going to spend my two week training period. It seemed like fun. Little did I know that asking stupid questions was becoming my forte. To the dismay of the rest of the group that was tasked with this training trip.

We all had to rise and shine at 5 am the next day and the first thing on the agenda was an orientation class to explain the hazards and dangers of Oklahoma. Nice.

This class was run by the First Sergeant and he meant business. His first action was to pull down a map of the state of Oklahoma. With his pointer, he pointed to the South East corner of the state and began with “This here area has snake, spiders, tornadoes and other mean nasty ugly things.”

Next came the center of the state. “This area has snakes, spiders, tornadoes, mud daubers and other assorted things that will kill you.” Great.

The next was the northwest corner of the state. “This here area, has some snakes, spiders and sometimes, tornadoes. Any questions?”
Well, hell yea, I had some questions. I wanted to know where the hell we are in relation to the all the things that could kill us.

“Where are we, First Sergeant?” I asked candidly

His answer came with a no nonsense attitude.” We are dead center, son.”

I have to ask…”When’s the next plane to Seattle leaving?”

“I want to see you after class.” Awwww, crap. Not again.

After the class was over, I stayed behind and awaited my crucifixion.

” You ask another god damn STUPID question like that, again, I am going to send you back to your unit, ALONE and you can explain why you flunked out. You got me, Sergeant?”

“YES, FIRST SERGEANT!” I stated as loud as I could. I was told to beat it and be on time tomorrow or else.

When I got to the van that we were being driven in back and forth from the hotel to the base, I was told in no uncertain terms, “ASK ANOTHER DUMB QUESTION, MONAGHAN, WE DARE YOU. YOU’LL LIVE TO REGRET IT.”
Well, from then on, I didn’t ask ANY questions like that one. I just kept silent and did what I was there to learn. Survival, escape and evasion and surviving an attack by the enemy. Little did we know that Oklahoma had brown recluse spiders and none of the visiting members of other units were bitten. It was the active duty full time guys that suffered 5 cases of brown recluse bites. I found out that Oklahoma also has scorpions. What the hell??? Now I know why I was so glad to leave that state. Too many things that can kill you right where we were. They had a copperhead in the hotel pool…no one is safe there! I hate snakes. If I go to Oklahoma again, I may not even get out of the car.

Christmas toys

When my kids were growing up, I always looked forward to Christmas. It’s my favorite time of the year and I get to decorate the house with lights and make it really pretty. One of the things I hated were the words, SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED. Some? Holy hell, some of those things were nightmares. Like a small rocking chair that Jamie wanted. It has to be assembled. The directions came in Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, Russian, Ukrainian, and French. No English. WOnderful!

So, I began to look at the parts and the picture on the front of the box. Not so hard, right? If the arms aren’t right, and the spindles don’t recede from front to back, it’s not going to be right. I was in luck. I got all the parts right and it looked great. It was sturdy and Magilla Gorilla woould have a hard time tearing it up. When I was done with the box and all the papers, I took it out back to the burn pit. I tore the box open to burn it in pieces, and friends, wouldn’t you know it, the English instructions were glued to the middle of the inside of that box. It made so much sense for them to glue those instructions to the middle of the inside. Thank you, rocking chair guys! I should have thought to look inside the box. Of course, the INSIDES! DUH! Holy crap. So, from then on, I open the box completely and look to see if there is anything inside the box.

The following year, the toy world was full of handheld video games that all he kids wanted. Alien killers, space invaders, and other assorted handheld goodies. That was the year that we bought a bike for one of the kids and again, SOME assembly required. Some? How about ALL of it needed to be put together. It must have taken me hours to put it together and make sure it worked like it should. I started late and finished late.

Some time after midnight, I was done, exhausted and wide awake. I made it to bed and found that the wife was just as awake as I was after wrapping ll the presents and adding all the labels for the kids. I couldn’t sleep and neither could she.

“How about we open the presents and try out the video games? We can swap after a little while?” She said.
I’m in! We snuck, quietly out of bed and headed to the Christmas tree. She found three of the presents she wrapped and brought them to the bedroom. With the side lamp on and being kids, again, we carefully unwrapped the presents and had to go get batteries for the them to work. Once the batteries were installed, there was one thing we didn’t count on….sound being on!!! CRAP! Shut that off, NOW! We were able to silence them in a hurry and began to rack up points killing aliens, shooting animals, dinosaurs, and other mean nasty, ugly things. I had had enough! SWITCH! I took the one she had and she took mine. This lasted for about three hours. When we were both tired, we removed the batteries and replaced them in their boxes and packages, putting them back neatly and rewrapping the gift, making sure it was unnoticeable that it had been opened.

What we failed realize is that it had an inner battery to retain the scores if the batteries died. Why did I not read the instructions? When my son opened the gift, pulled it out of the box, he ran to get the new batteries. He installed them and he saw that there were scores already on the game. OOOPS!

Zack, my son, was 6 at the time. “HEY! There are scores on here. What’s the deal?” He asks.

I look at the wife and she just stares at me. “I guess the elves needed to test it before leaving it here for you.” Lame excuse but at a moment’s notice, what could I do? He accepted that answer and didn’t say anything more. The wife and I talked later and decided that it was best that we check first before doing that, again. I doubt that they would accept that answer twice in two years. ALWAYS check the instructions for an internal battery so that it doesn’t leave scores on the game. I should have checked for a reset button? That would have been helpful! I learned that Elves are sneaky little shits!

Getting the parents’ car stuck in the mud

Before I started my junior year in high school, the district was building a new High school for us. Decatur would be unlike other schools in the district. It would be open concept and was being introduced as a great learning concept. yea, right! As they were building it, I had my driver’s license and I thought I was pretty cool. Mom and dad had a piece of crap Dodge Dart., green and ugly as sin.
Looking for something to do on a January afternoon, I decided to go for a drive. No big deal. Except this was not going to be an ordinary Saturday afternoon. I drove past the construction site of the new high school. Wellll, why not go back behind the school and go four wheeling? Sure, why not? What’s the worst that could happen? Right? Wrong. Anything I do ends up getting me in trouble. I drove in to the eastern parking lot and went down the driveway as far as I could. No big deal. I turned around and drove a little ways back towards the entrance. I then spotted an area that I thought I could get into and out of no problem. Little did I realize that it was soft mud about six inches deep. I got about ten feet into it and I was stuck! I sat there with the car in park. How was I going to get out. This was WAAAY before cell phones or pagers. I thought of an idea that might work.
I put the car in reverse and got out and started to push the car backwards. I realized that I was doing and sat in the mud and laughed so hard. What was I going to do when the car started to move backwards? I was having a hard time getting traction with the shoes I was wearing and it wasn’t going to work. After about 40 minutes of walking around on the dry non muddy pavement, a man drove in to the area and asked me if I needed help. Hell yea, I needed help.
He said he drove by and just saw me pacing in the parking lot. He decided to stop and see what I was doing. We decided that he would get behind the wheel and rock the car out of the mud while I pushed from the front. After ten minutes of reverse, drive, reverse, drive, reverse, we were able to get it moved out of the mud and onto dry pavement.

“What were you thinking when you drove into the mud? This ain’t got four wheel drive, kid. Hey, don’t you go to school with my daughter?”

“That’s the problem, I wasn’t thinking and I thought I could drive right through the mud. Unfortunately, I got stuck and here we are. What’s your daughter’s name?” I asked

“Linda Nelson.” Oh, yea, I knew her and she was friends with some of the people I hung out with. Great.

The following Monday, Linda caught up with me in the hall at school.

“My dad told me he helped pull your car out of the mud. Nice going. What were you going to do if my dad didn’t come along?” I never thought that far. I was thinking of going to a pay phone, and calling a friend to come pull me out. As it was, whole bottom of the car was plastered with mud. I had to wash it off before the parents saw it. It was raining and it helped wash some way, but when I got home, I took the hose and sprayed the whole car down in the pouring rain. The neighbors thought I was nuts. Little did they know I was protecting my butt from being grounded. My mom, being a school district bus driver, never found out what I had done and I was so glad she didn’t. I would have been grounded for a month! That was tame as compared what my older brother would do with their car. Racing, using it for his personal Pleasure mobile and other things.

He rarely got grounded, but the rest of us kids knew he was the golden child with mom. He got the car more often and got into more trouble but when we got into trouble, there was hell to pay, with him, he got off free and clear. Family crap, yeah, I know.

Teaching Pam how to drive

One of the things I learned is that when you get your driver’s license, that doesn’t automatically make you a driving instructor. BIG lesson, here kids. NO, NO, NO! Don’t ever teach your sibling how to drive at 16, after having your license for just short of a year. UH UH, NO WAY!!! Pay attention to this story…it may save your life one day.

One day, in the middle of summer, my sister, Pam, decided that I was to teach her how to drive. I don’t know how I got rope into this bad idea. I guess since I was the only one home that had a license, I was qualified to instruct her how to use a car. She was so wrong. This where things go south.

One of the things I need to point out is that my parents had just bought a brand new upright freezer and had placed it in the garage, against the wall, directly in front of where we parked the car. Don’t get ahead of me, just yet. There’s all kind of fun in store.

Pam got into the the Dodge Dart (yea, same one that I got stuck in the mud, earlier!) and adjusted the seat, the mirror and her back up mirror on the driver’s door. Now she was ready to start the car up. I sat in the passenger seat in the front, ready for her first lesson. I told Pam to put her foot on the brake and turn the key. Check! Car has been started and now….this is where things go wrong.
I tell her to keep her foot on the brake and put it in reverse…the Big R on the column in front of her. Ok, turn your head and look out the back window, make sure no one’s behind you. No sense killing anyone when backing up. I didn’t check the column to make sure that she had it in Reverse. Well, she took her foot off the brake, and ran directly into the brand new freezer. She had put the car in Drive and gave it some gas. BOOM! INSTANT DENT and DEATH to both of us when Mom and Dad got home. She panicked, put the car in park, shut the car off and jumped out of the driver’s seat like her butt was on fire! I sat there in total silence thinking about what my punishment was going to be….banishment to some deserted island, or instant death. I couldn’t decide which one was worse. Knowing my dad, I’d probably get a beating for being stupid, agreeing to give my sister a driving lesson since I was more than unqualified to to do so. That doesn’t even begin to describe what my mom would say. She was silent but deadly. The quieter she got, the madder was was getting.

It was at that instant, that our neighbor, Dennis Graves, came to out rescue. I got into the driver’s seat and pulled the car back to inspect the damage. Not bad..just a huge dent in the Frigidaire Upright Freezer that has been purchased just a few days before. I was wondering how to fix this major dent and still live to talk about it later in life. Dennis had heard the accident and since he was a mechanic by trade, he knew how to, at least make it not so noticeable. In his hand, as he came into the garage, he held a simple toilet plunger. What the hell was he going to do with that? Being the genius that I am, I asked.

“Just exactly what are you going to to do with that? It’s not a toilet.”

Dennis said, stand back and watch. WIth that, he shoved the suction end against the dent, made sure it stuck and yanked hard away from the dent. HOLY CRAP, it worked! Well, not all the way. The dent wasn’t as bad but it still was slightly dented. I didn’t know what to say.

Dennis, stood back, looked at his handy work and told us, ” There. your old man is going to blow a gasket when he realizes that his new freezer is slightly dented. But, it’s not as bad as it was. He’s an asshole and I don’t want to see you both get into too much trouble.” With that, he took his trusty plunger, walked back across the yard and hopped the low brick wall that separated our yards. I looked at Pam, and said that this never happened and we were not to talk about it, ever! Well, that statement didn’t last long. After a few days, Mom saw the dent and went straight to Pam. She confessed and I got the deadly lecture that I was not even close to being qualified to being a driving instructor to ANYONE! DO NOT TEACH YOUR SISTER, AGAIN! Damn. Thanks, Pam for throwing my ass under the bus. Not only did the bus run over me, it backed up and ran over me a few times.

Days passed and we thought that the danger had passed. Oh, no. Dad hadn’t seen it, YET! I guess Mom had to tell him that someone had run into the freezer with the car and although it was slightly dented, it was ok. He went out and looked at the damage. Y’all, the words that came out of his mouth, I cannot repeat in this story. It was four letters and few other choice words.

“WHO RAN INTO THE FREEZER!” UH OH, RUN! Don’t stop for days! Distance is the the only answer. Again, the garage door was open and here comes Dennis, again! WIth his trusty plunger in hand, he looked at dad and said, “Look , Jim. It’s not as bad as it was. Just relax and watch.” With that said, he took the plunger, shoved it against the door again and pulled the remaining dent slightly out. It looked better but it was slightly dented.

“Who ran into my f*n freezer?? You gonna tell me?” dad asked him.

Dennis, the ever present hero, told him that if the ones that did the damage weren’t talking, neither was he. What a good guy Dennis turned out to be. As he walked across the yard, again, I thanked him for being a good guy.

“He’s still an asshole but you don’t need his crap for teaching your sister how to drive. Maybe he should have some patience and teach her.”
Yea, that wasn’t happening. That was Mom’s job. Pam would learn how to drive and mom would teach her how to drive with patience and no yelling, like he did to me. Pam wouldn’t stand for his yelling and impatience. She would just put the car in park, get out and leave the car right where she left it…in the middle of the road.

We never spoke of that incident around dad, again. He was always complaining that he couldn’t have anything nice with us kids around. Yea, yea, yea, old man. We weren’t the ones asking to be born. My mom said that if we had asked, the answer would have been NO!!! Nice, mom. Nothing like appreciating us. Pam finally got her driver’s license and she passed it the first time. She knew that getting her license was a passport to freedom away from our older brother. Pam eventually bough her own car and took really good care of it. My first car was a ’76 Plymouth Duster with a 318 under the hood. OOH, baby did she purr. She also drank a lot of gas! Pam had an old beater Chevy. She loved that thing. I remember the day she brought it home. She had driven my car a few times, but NO ONE was allowed to driver HER car. Figures..what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine. Don’t ever ask to drive her car. like mom, the answer would have been a big resounding NO!

My first encounter with love

Growing up with my older brother, Jim was absolutely horrible. He was an out and out dick. He’d ditch me the first chance he got. We lived in Omaha, Nebraska. On U street. Great old house. it has a register that you could see though from the second floor to the kitchen below. We lsept up stairs in the gabled room. We had two twin beds and I had to share my room with that jackass. He was always up to no good. He had a partner in crime, as well.

At the end of U street, there was a family that my mom had met and she became friends with Delores Adams. She had three sons and I don’t remember what the youngest boys name was, but she had two older boys. Danny and David. Danny was Jim’s age. David was my age. Most times, David and I got along, but there were times he was an ass. I guess he had to tolerate Danny’s BS like I had to tolerate Jim’s.

One summer day, when I was 7, I’m not sure. Mom told Jim and Danny to take me to the park and play baseball. The park was right around the corner from the Adams’s house. We went outside and down the back alley, towards Danny’s house. As we got to Danny’s house, danny came out into the alley, and he and Joi took off at a dead run. I couldn’t keep up. In just a few seconds, I was left in their dust. Being ditched at that moment was more than I could handle. I walked towards the park and cried. I finally found some steps and sat down, bawling my eyes out. All of a sudden, this beautiful woman appeared and asked me what the problem was.

I told her that my brother ditched me and left me behind, Him and Danny Adams were supposed to take me to the park. It was at that point, she put her arm around me and began to comfort me, holding me and telling me that it was going to be ok. SHe got up, went back into the house, reappearing with a cherry popsicle. OH MY GOODNESS! I was in love! I wanted to marry this woman when I grew up! I couldn’t believe that she was such an angel. While we sat there, talking, a man came out of the house and asked her if she was ready to go. WHO THE HELL IS THIS CLOWN? Dude, she’s mine, now. Hit the road and leave us alone! She kissed my head, got up and went back inside the house. I watched in silence as the door slowly closed. After that, I never saw her, again. I remember that day as if it were yesterday. She made me feel so loved and appreciated. Looking back at that memory, I hope she had a great life. She was my hero for a short time and she deserved all the good things she could find.

When I went home, my mom saw the red on my face from the cherry popsicle and asked what I had been doing. I told her that Jim and Danny had ditched me and left me behind. I told her about the woman that had comforted me. She wanted to know where this woman lived.

I took her to the corner house where we had sat out front and ate the cherry popsicle. I’m not sure why she wanted to know where she lived, but mom just stood there and did nothing. I was confused. Was she going to thank her or tell her off. I’m glad that my mom didn’t knock on her door. She was so kind to me that she didn’t deserve being yelled at by mom. We walked back to our house and I was told to never go there, again. Ok, why? Never mind why, just do as I say.

Whatever. Jim finally arrived home and received a good talking to. Big deal. Mom yelled at him, so what. He did the same thing to me often, but I figured I’d go to the park and swing on the swings, till I got bored, and then go home. That park was the source of so many great memories. Summer was a time of the Recreation Dept. having summer craft club. Making beaded bracelets, things made out of popsicle sticks, coloring pages. The park had a swimming pool and I couldn’t wait to go swimming every summer. Best pool in the world, until we had to move. I missed that park and all the activities I was able to do. But, the best part was meeting my dream woman in that corner house. I’m sure she has passed away by now. I hope that God remembers that one good deed she did for me. She should have her reward for being a great human being,

Submitted: March 30, 2021

© Copyright 2022 David Monaghan. All rights reserved.

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