Throughout life, there are happenings, amusing to hilarious, sobering to serious. Although soon forgotten, they tend to return later in life, remembered and treated not in the context of long gone moments, but as parts of your enriched mortal existence.
Early in our long stint of boating we bought a sixteen-year old 36-foot trawler. It had a full bath aft and a half bath forward. One of the many needed repairs was the replacement of some plumbing in the aft bathroom. I didn’t have the expertise, so I hired a repair man who did.
While lying on his right side to work tight and close, he braced himself and extended his left hand into a dark corner to forcibly bend a stubbornly stiff hose toward the end of a pipe to which the hose would be attached. His hand slipped and the end of the half bent stiff hose flipped outward and hit him in the mouth.
With a mixed yell of surprise, pain, and profanity, he scrambled to his feet and looked into the bathroom mirror. It confirmed what he could feel with his tongue but didn’t want to believe; the hose had broken off the bottom half of a front tooth.
As he fingered the half tooth from his mouth, he turned, hurried up the steps and almost ran through the rest of the boat to arrive at the forward half-bath where he stared into the mirror there for three or four seconds. He then headed for the outside door while yelling that he was on his way to see his dentist who was half an hour away, and would call me later.
That afternoon, he called with some good news. His dentist had been able to successfully attach the top half of the tooth back to the bottom half, and he felt well enough to come back the next morning to finish the job.
When he arrived, his first words were a question: Had I noticed his weird behavior the day before, his hurrying to that second mirror hoping he wouldn’t see what he’d seen in the first mirror? I told him I had and although I thought that was mighty peculiar, if his hope had been realized, there was no telling how many gazillions of dollars we could make by selling mirrors that showed only what a person wanted to see and believe. Our wild imaginations were so fired up that we never thought we’d quit laughing.
The second happening was equally unexpected, but with far different results.
I’d made arrangements to visit a farmer in northern Kentucky who had excelled in growing quality pasture for livestock feed. I arrived at the farm at the appointed time and was warmly greeted by his wife. After some small talk, I got down to business by asking where her husband John was. She said he was working in a field on the back side of the farm. I told her that if she’d give me some directions, I’d go find him and get on with my interview.
“Oh,” she said with a smile, “he’s much too busy to stop and talk with you, but I’m sure I can tell you everything you’d like to know.”
Unprepared for such an answer, I did my best to explain to her that although I appreciated her offer, I really needed to see him and that he was expecting me. She waved me off by digging out three magazines containing stories already written about her husband. Surely, she said, I’d find enough there to write my story.
Undaunted, I pressed on by telling her I also needed to take some pictures to accompany my story. Her answer was that I could take pictures of the pictures used in the magazine stories. Biting my tongue, I told her that was clearly unacceptable, and stressed again that I needed to see John, only to be met with an even stiffer refusal.
By then, my brain was already running wild as I desperately tried to understand what was going on. Nothing like this had ever happened. I soon, however, came to grips with the hard truth; I was getting nowhere. Forcing myself to be courteous, I disengaged, said goodbye, and left. I never heard from the farmer, nor did I attempt to contact him. Case closed.
From the first happening, I concluded: Don’t ever try to defy logic by placing something in front of two mirrors and expect the second mirror to show you something different. There’s a moral to that story, but I’ll let you figure it out.
As for the second happening, Kenny Rogers was spot on when he sang “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.” Indeed, that dozen words is nothing short of being gold plated advice that’s good for a lifetime.