That was a Cow?



Those of you, who know me (which includes a sheriff in Gadsden, AL, two psychiatrists in Terre Haute, IN, and a judge in San Jose, CA) will be surprised to learn that I am married. Yes, I realize you are all tut-tutting or laughing your fool heads off but it is true.

I met her a sock-hop, which, for those of you who are too young, was a dance where all the boys and girls took off their shoes and danced in their socks. It has never been ascertained to this day what prompted this bizarre behavior.

A religious historian assures us that it goes back to the ancient Egyptians where (he says) the Book of the Dead reads, "And when Anubis reigns the people shall dance in socks." However, a rival academic says "socks" should read "sacks" pointing out that socks were not yet invented in those centuries B.C.

A social scientist of the l950s conjectured that sock manufacturers invented sock-hops, and he may well be right. It is a fact that when sock-hops began sock sales skyrocketed.

One very important, yet obvious, point should be observed: It was essential that you was your feet and don a clean pair of socks not more that a half-hour before the event. I still remember "Stinky" Brillig having forgotten that and he found himself alone on the dance floor. You must not think he got his nickname from that incident; he was known by that tag because he would capture a great number of stink bugs (Vulgaris smellium) and release them in the classroom, on crowded buses and elevators. He was a card but not universally welcome.

My future wife was at this particular dance but having misplaced my glasses I didn't see her or at least I did see her but she looked like a potted plant and it wasn't until she stood up that I realized I had almost made a blunder. I was about to put out my cigarette on her head.

When she stood up she knocked my hand and the cigarette flew into the air landing somewhere to my right. I suspect that it extinguished itself in the punch bowl because I heard someone remark how vile the punch tasted.

Somehow I kept my aplomb and squinting my eyes to see whether this was a girl, a boy or a coat tree that could move I introduced myself. "Hi!" I said, "I'm Gordon." "Hello," she said, "I'm Loretta, but tell me, is there something wrong with your eyes?"

"My eyes?" I said, opening them wide instantly losing her image, "Oh no, oh no, no, no. Good Lord, no, I'm as healthy as an ox. Shall we dance?" And I grabbed a potted plant, which was standing close to he and would have pulled it onto the dance floor but she stopped me in time.

"Whoops!" I said, "Should look before I grab, eh?"

Well, I'm not going to embarrass myself in relating how I danced without glasses. I believe that article in the school paper covered that rather well, even too well if you ask me. Needless to say, despite broken toes and assorted cuts and abrasions, the result of my leading her into the orchestra, we met after that and finally got married quite a few years later. And for those of you who are titillated by such things I did wear my glasses on our honeymoon.

At first, of course, she had to get accustomed to my absentmindedness. That's what she calls it; I say it's only my preoccupation with lofty thoughts. After all, one can't remember everything when thinking about Nature and God and all those other capitalized words. It was early on that she discovered that she could not shout in the middle of the night about burglars or fires or tornadoes.

The first time she did that with a cry of: "The smoke alarm went off!" I leaped out of bed and ran into a closet. After thrashing around under the impression that all those clothes were the firemen, I, at last, realized my mistake and came careening out only to step on the cat, which was never the same after that.

I thought that loud squeal was another smoke alarm so, now thoroughly roused, I ran toward what I thought was the front door but was, in fact, a Chinese screen in front of a window. Grasping the screen I pulled wildly sending it into the kitchen where it demolished a number of shelves. Hearing that, I was convinced the firemen were breaking down the back door so I ran in that general direction tripping over the cat and sliding into the dining room where I came to rest under the table. Dazed and bruised, I tried to get to my feet knocking my head on the table and after numerous curses I finally crawled toward the sound of my wife's voice gaily announcing: "False alarm! It was only the phone! Wrong number!"

As for my absentmindedness, which, as I have remarked, is non-existent, she always insists that I check every thing before I leave the house. "Keys?" she will say, "Money? I.D.? Bank book?" And so on. I believe she has it written down because I can't see how she remembers all that. Having passed muster, I go to work with her admonition ringing in my ears: "Don't take your glasses off!"

Good advice, but ever since my schooldays hard to follow day in and day out. Now, if for any reason I take my glasses off and put them down somewhere dire consequences can transpire in that I sometimes (well, almost always) forget (because I'm preoccupied with lofty thoughts) where I've laid them. And how can a kid be expected to protect his glasses if he doesn't take them off to play games or take a shower?

The problem is that when I take off my glasses I can't see well enough to find them again especially if I'm preoccupied with lofty thoughts. And sports were a special problem because when I as a kid, the school I attended was too poor to buy football helmets with face guards. So, I had to play without glasses--a nerve-wracking experience. I well remember that first football practice.

I was supposed to play guard, which was a good idea because I could distinguish the players on either side of me and so knew when to move. I could make out the forms of the opposing players by their red uniforms, which looked like a huge mass of tomatoes milling around.

The kick-off was my last play. I saw at the other end what appeared to be a line of Italian tomatoes stretching across the field. Then, someone kicked off and if there was a ball on the field I was not aware of it. I glanced to the side and could make out my teammates running forward, so I did the same. Suddenly, a huge tomato loomed in front of me and I stopped dead in bewilderment. The kid flattened me and that was the end of my football career.

So I tried track. Here I could keep my glasses on as long as they were taped to my temples. I, and the coach, thought I was all set. I lined up with three other boys to see who was the fastest that season to make the track team. Bang! And off we went. The first hundred yards was easy and I went into the first turn well ahead of the others. Then things happened: a combination of sweat, heat, and motion loosened the tape and a lost those *%#@^ glasses somewhere down the backstretch.

The immediate result was that I lost all sense of height. The ground was down there somewhere but it seemed to be too close. So my legs began a curious springing motion making me look like someone trying to fly. As soon as I compensated for that I ran off the track toward the river. The ground did feel different but I figured that someone had worked on it and kept running blissfully along wondering where the second turn was and how on earth I would spot it.

Then, I heard something clopping along to my right and saw a vague form over there running with me. Well, that's good, I thought; I'll just keep pace with this kid and when he gets too close I'll know I'm supposed to be turning.

This fond hope came to a sudden halt when I ran off a small cliff falling twenty feet into the river. The cow, keeping pace with me, having veered off in time. But, of course, it could see.

Oh, don't talk to me about contact lenses! If I lost those I would never find them!

The End
2002



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