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CHRISTMAS LIGHT DUTY CAN BE HAZARDOUS TO HEALTH : ATTACK HAMMER PUTS FEELING INTO HOLIDAYS.

Byline: Dennis McCarthy

In keeping with holiday tradition, it's time to write my annual ``How did McCarthy hurt himself again this year while putting up the Christmas lights on his house?'' column.

Ah, let me count the ways.

Those of you who have been with me a few years might remember the memorable slide of '94.

I fell off the roof, did a half-gainer onto the front lawn and earned a modicum of local fame as one of the leading klutzes in my neighborhood.

The fall was rated a solid 10 by all who saw it, and still holds the record as the loudest scream ever to be echoed through the neighborhood by a local property owner in midflight.

Then, of course, there was the little incident with the collapsing ladder back in '95 while I was standing on the rung of the ladder you're not supposed to be standing on, overreaching to screw in a few loose Christmas lights hanging from the eaves of my roof.

Shorter fall, but another quality scream.

This year, I am happy to report my feet were firmly on the ground when the hammer came out of nowhere to attack me.

It wasn't my fault. It was Helen's fault. She's Ray's wife. Ray, you may remember, is the Christmas Light Nazi who lives next door to me.

You can drive up and down every street in the Valley, and I guarantee you that you will not find straighter strands of Christmas bulbs than the lights Ray hangs up outside his house every year.

Patton couldn't get them any straighter. These suckers seem to be standing at attention, ready to salute when you walk by them.

They're all pointing in the same direction, looking like a squad of Marines in close order drill.

My lights look like somebody just yelled ``fall out.'' They're all heading in different directions like sailors on shore leave. Half of them only work when they want to - and that ain't often.

Anyway, Helen pulls into her driveway, sees me tempting fate up on the ladder again, and being a warm, kindhearted woman, starts thinking about calling 911.

``You're not going to fall off the roof again this year, are you?'' she asks.

I laugh and climb down the ladder, trying not to trip. No, I'm not going to fall off the roof or the ladder this year, I promise the dear woman.

This year, whenever I leave the ground to take flight up a ladder, I'm going to try something different. I'm actually going to think before I go ahead and do something stupid, I say.

Helen laughs and walks inside her house. I turn around and walk back to the ladder - and proceed to do something stupid without thinking.

I move the ladder.

That's when the hammer attacked me.

Out of nowhere, it flew down from the top rung, landing on the bridge of my nose, watering my eyes and wobbling my knees.

Fortunately, there were no children playing in the general vicinity because I recall my initial reaction to the blow to the nose was somewhat loud and blue enough to earn me a solid five Hail Marys and six Our Fathers at confession.

``What happened now?'' my wife and kid asked, running out of the house after hearing my anguished scream.

``The hammer fell off the top of the ladder and clobbered me on the bridge of the nose,'' I said through the tears, expecting some sympathy, maybe even a Band-Aid to stem the bleeding.

``Figures,'' they laughed, walking back inside the house to more important business. I got my own Band-Aid.

And now, I'm walking around the office, being asked what happened to my nose because a large scab now resides prominently on top of it, just below my eyes.

The worst part is I only strung up half my lights before the hammer attacked me, and the rains came.

So, I'm still looking at a good four or five more hours of potential injury finishing the lights this weekend. And, I haven't even begun tackling Santa Claus and his reindeer up on the roof.

Of course, it really wasn't Helen's fault that I forgot I had left the hammer on top of the ladder when I moved it, but you know how we all are in the media. We always need somebody else to blame for our shortcomings.

Actually, it was Do-It-Center's fault.

That's where I bought the hammer.
COPYRIGHT 1996 Daily News
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 12, 1996
Words:744
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