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Things that go bump in the daytime.

If you are single, living in a tent, or are pet free, you may not believe this. I'm sitting at the desk in my dungeon, busy as a Dairy Queen fly, when out of nowhere came this rr-r-a-a-c-kk ! My first thought was, the termites have won; they're leveling the house before we can find a buyer with more money than brains. For my second thought (occasionally I have two in a row like this), one of our mice has got its little foot caught in a trap and is rr-r-a-a-c-kking around in the attic. A third thought being out of the question, I went back to my labor of making paper clip chains while waiting for inspiration to strike.

The next thing I knew, the rails holding the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves pulled out of the west wall, and the books from rows three and up came banging down on me, including the top shelf of the 20-volume set of Harvard Classics weighing two pounds per.

Fearing that her overstuffed cat, Lump, might have been injured in the avalanche, my dear wife, Lois, rushed in all atwitter. And she doesn't twitter easily. Digging down through the Classics until she came to my head, she said, "If you can hear me, wink your good eye."

If you can hear me? This woman would continue talking had my head been under water.

"I thought those screws were too short when you were putting up the rails... and you should have put those heavier volumes on the bottom shelf and the paperbacks on the top..." and yakety-yakety-yak.

But would she make these suggestions at the time? And spoil the fun? No way.

To continue, I take you now to the placement of Christmas lights on the tree in our yard.

"You hold the stepladder while I climb up and drape this string over the top branches," I remember telling this woman I had taken for better. No sooner had I arrived at the top step, however, then over I went, ending up draped across the line fence. Luckily, the two strands of barbed wire stretched across the top were festooned with barbs of a length that went through my jacket and penetrated my human hide to a depth that kept me from falling to the ground and possibly being hurt.

Upon inquiry, her limp explanation was, "I let go of the ladder to untangle the next string. I knew you'd be mad if I handed them to you all messed up." Better dead than mad.

The stepladder still usable, I used it to reach the loft in the shed where our daughter Shari had stored most of her frozen assets when she moved to South Carolina. Having bought a pet ostrich, I assumed, she now wanted me to locate and transport her world's largest birdcage. While I am up there searching, this same woman took the opportunity to borrow the ladder to relocate the kitchen smoke alarm so it wouldn't go off every time she bums the toast. Upon finding the world's largest birdcage behind the world's largest loom, therefore, I am feeling around with my foot for the ladder... and no ladder.

After hollering myself hoarse to no avail, I then spot my good old reliable Murray riding mower within possible reach. With agility belying my age, I manage to lower myself and get both feet on the seat. Having been left in neutral, the mower now began rolling across the floor of the shed. Had I not been holding the world's largest birdcage, I might have done better. As it was, when the mower hit Shari's world's largest kiln, I went up over the cage and came down on the bench where I keep the antifreeze, motor oil, roofing tar, and stuff like that. It wasn't a pretty sight. Nor is the birdcage still the world's largest.

On the subject of riding mowers, for her birthday I bought my dear wife her very own cute little five-horse. Although I have always been generous to a fault, in this case it was more to spare my big red Murray 11-horse from suffering the sticks, stones, stumps, and whatever else she can find to run over when she's at the wheel. Especially mole tunnel ridges. Even ridges that could have been made by nothing less than beavers. But she levels them like a bulldozer. If the movie people should require a no man's land, we've got the perfect location. All they'll have to do is sprinkle a few bodies around. And the way things are going, one of them could very well be mine.

Why this woman ran the garden cart into the back of my knees when we were gathering leaves to put on the garden still hasn't been explained to my satisfaction. "To get the cart closer to you" sounds rather weak, considering the kick she got from watching me ride the thing downhill until it hit the trash burner and dumped me out.

How does my dog, Brutus, get into the act? His size helps a lot. And we're talking about a dog that checks out what we are having for dinner by looking down at the table. My dear wife has a spoiled cat, Lump, whose perks include one of those electronic entrances that does everything but screen for rabbits, which she delights in bringing in for playtime, which she did only this week.

Released just inside the door and perhaps never having been inside a house before, the rabbit appeared somewhat confused regarding proper etiquette. Brutus, in his eagerness to show it the ropes, knocked over the cacti stand, dumping the sand into the floor furnace, then was around the coffee table, over the sofa, behind the stereo, and into the bedroom to topple the Leaning Tower of literature on my nightstand. In hurrying to open the patio door to let the poor thing out, dear wife struck her best knee on the oven door, retiring her from the game and leaving me to collar Brutus and be dragged into the catch-all closet where the rabbit had taken refuge and where the ironing board toppled over on us. This separated dog and rabbit long enough for me to catch the ingrown hare (sorry) and take it to the brush pile behind the barn. I had to get my own dinner.

Remember when I went all out for her birthday and surprised my helpmeet with a pair of safety shoes to wear in the kitchen when she is making biscuits? Those biscuits were never heavier than the morning she stopped scraping toast to announce, "I thought I might put another coat of paint on the house trim today."

What she was actually saying of course was, "I thought you might put another coat of paint on the house trim today." But to make her commitment look authentic, by the time I had got into my painting outfit she had already erected a scaffold.

I use the word scaffold lightly. What it was was a board resting on a potato crate at one end and two bricks lying edgewise on a turned-over wash-tub on the other end. As she had cunningly positioned the board with the rotted side down, I no sooner mounted this construction and got my brush loaded with black paint than I began painting a broad stripe down both window panes on my way to the ground. As my painting outfit and epidermis absorbed most of the gallon of paint, my dear wife could complain only of the dent I had put in her washtub.

One more bump in the daytime and I'll let you go.

For all my years, I never knew that in winter a car hood tends to come slamming down without warning. Like it came slamming down on my neck this winter when checking the antifreeze rating in my dear wife's car. And while I am trying to breathe through my ears, this woman came out for her daily emergency run to Wal-Mart and said, "Are you going to be under there all day?"

Had I been able to talk, I would have responded, "If you'll help me get the hood up, I want to show you something under here." But she got to the car, leaving me to get the hood up and realign my head without help.

How to prevent the majority of these bumps, I have only one idea-- but making our community property public would be so embarrassing. If you have a better idea, please address it to me in care of Bloomington (IN) Hospital. I tend to be there more than I'm home.

Now you can go--if you haven't gone already.
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Author:Stoddard, Maynard Good
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Mar 1, 1993
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