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My walk with "Lady" Luck.

She may be a lady to Frank Sinatra, but in some families Luck has turned out to be a flat-out floozy.

Why is it, one might ask-I being the one that Luck runs in some families while in other families she walks, with a limp.

Take my family, if you're not particular.

We had this aunt who contracted tuberculosis from licking Christmas seals. Another aunt on her way to Wednesday night prayer meeting was run down by a rusty police car and died of lockjaw. One of our nephews was drowned in a watermelon-eating contest. During the Great Depression the only job an uncle could find was to sit behind the front window of an Italian restaurant and eat spaghetti and meatballs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.with an hour off for lunch.

You may remember the cousin-actually a cousin twice removed, removed the first time to Leavenworth, the second time to Sing Sing--who was released from the latter institution a few days before Christmas and stopped off in New York City to pick up a few gifts for the folks back home. The poor fellow ended up with three fractured vertebrae and a ruptured spleen from falling down a flight of hotel stairs with an armload of Gideon Bibles.

Why his brother suddenly decided to leave for Africa has never been cleared up. The consensus was that it had something to do with his walk through his neighbor's back yard one night and stumbling over something which he couldn't identify. Picking it up and carrying it home, under the kitchen light he discovered that it was an armload of wood.

After several nights of such occurrences, the neighbor came over to discuss the mystery of how come his woodpile was depleting so rapidly while cousin's was holding its own, if not gaining. Cousin left for Africa the next morning.

Luck's casual concern for our family is perhaps no better exemplified than by the abortive efforts of Thomas Alva Edsel, our entrepreneurial uncle. For his initial effort he chose to concoct the soft drink, "6-Up." He followed this with a man's deodorant which he labeled "Left Tackle." Uncle Edsel then spent 10 years writing The Hunt for Blue November. It sold a grand total of two copies, one being returned for a refund, a banana peel still in place as a bookmark between pages two and three.

Luck and I got off on the wrong foot as early as my tenth birthday with my parent's gift of a pet lamb. It was allergic to wool. ! never could catch the poor little thing.

Having suffered so many slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune since that time, I find it hard to know where to begin.

How about this spring, when I fired up the rototiller after its winter hibernation. I remembered to shove the gear thing into "F" for forward, which got us to the garden. But when I shifted into "R" for Rototill, I nearly got myself rototilled full length. It's the "T" that starts the machine rototilling; the "R" is for Reverse.

I know what you're thinking. You are thinking that such a mishap by no means compares with the kind of luck that 'caused Uncle Quonse to be drowned in the Flint River while being baptized. (You remember Uncle Quonse, named after the Quonset hut because of his long bead, due, it was said, to his mother having run into a mailbox the week before he was born.) The way it happened, the preacher said he couldn't be baptized with his hat on. Uncle said he wasn't going to take it off, not in that cold water. The preacher said yes he was. And somehow in the struggle poor Uncle Quonset stepped out too far and the current got him. Remember?

Anyway, Frivolous Luck continues to delight in her little shenanigans. Especially now that the knight of my youth has shed his armor.

Three months after recovering from cataract surgery I got a cataract on the artificial lens. The ophthalmologist of course calls the condition by another name, but he doesn't know Fickle Luck like I know Fickle Luck. Or Susie, for that matter.

What a ball the old girl (Luck, that is, not my eye doctor) has with the accouterments accompanying seniorhood. Eye glasses, in particular-or spectacles, if your hood is as senior as mine.

Remember the time I was mowing the orchard and a lowhanging limb on the dwarf Red Delicious swept off my bifocals and before I could bring my big red Murray riding mower to a stop their mangled remains came spitting out the grass chute? My optometrist, requiring some ready cash, recommended replacing the remains with trifocals, at a humongous price per focal.

In the first place-or is this the second place? my memory... but you already know about my memory trifocals aren't as easy to get used to as falling off a log. But falling over a log, or over the pattern in the living room rug, for that matter, is right down trifocals' alley. They also delight in showing two steps where only one step exists, leaving it up to Capricious Luck to have me stepping on the one that isn't there. Which increases momentum to the point where descents can best be described as spectacular. Like the one in the bank building where I took this girl with me. As she was still sitting on my lap at the foot of the stairs, to make light of the incident, I said, "You might as well get up, this is as far as I am going."

All of which is beside the point, the point being that no sooner had I learned to negotiate stairs with these three-tier jobs, than Floozy Luck proveth that pride indeed goeth before a fall.

Now, I am what is known as a sound sleeper-I wake up at the slightest sound. But before surrendering myself to the arms of Morpheus (not to be confused with the arms of Lois, my soulmate), I place my costly specs atop the Learning Tower of Literature that adorns my nightstand. Here, as they say, the plot thickens. My awakenings most often can be traced to Brutus, who sleeps on the floor at my side of the bed, and who has this hobby of collecting fleas, and celebrates each acquisition with a series of triumphant thumps that rattle the windows. On this particular night he attained such success that I finally rose up to see if I could kill him without disturbing my Sleeping Beauty. That's when I felt this thing on the back of my neck.

With an instinct born of sheer terror, I knew what it was. For the past two weeks the decor of our walls had gone to spiders, and I'm talking about spiders you couldn't get into a coffee mug without a shoe horn. To dislodge this critter, I shrewdly threw my neck out of joint and then joined Brutus, who rose up and dumped me back onto the bed.

Seeing the outline of this hideous interloper against the white sheet (offwhite, to be honest-quite a ways off, to be precise), I grabbed up one of the books made convenient by the commotion, and began belaboring the beast.

It was at this juncture that my dear wife turned on the bed light, and in a voice a wife reserves for those occasions when she's awakened at 2:15 a.m. by hubby beating on the bed with a book, said, "And just what the billy heck do you think you are doing!" .

You know, folks, it's rather difficult to formulate a plausible explanation when one is staring down at the remains of $179 worth of trifocals.

The good news is, Licentious Luck may at last be smiling upon me, however faintly. The breakthrough occurred at a motel in Port Clinton, Ohio, this summer. Coming in out of the bright sunlight, I failed to notice that some pranksters had removed a section of the plywood flooring leading from the dock area to the rooms, and I ended up at least four feet down surrounded by 2x6s and steam pipes. The motel people not only canceled the cost of our two nights there but also paid all of my hospital bills.

If your family happens to be one in which "Lady" Luck runs, I realize that this may not seem like much. But to me it's a step in the right direction.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Saturday Evening Post Society
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Stoddard, Maynard Good
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Sep 1, 1992
Words:1417
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