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Try not to bleed: hubby can thank his dear wife for keeping his blood below the required dipstick level by coming up with devious means of draining it off.

I have bleed in all 50 states except Alaska and Colorado. The reason for these omissions: I've never been to Alaska, and my dear wife didn't accompany me to Colorado. She was with me in Mexico, Canada, France, England, Holland, Belgium, West Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, and I have bled in those countries, too. I missed out on little Liechtenstein only because we passed through before she could come up with an excuse for opening one of my main arteries. As for Hawaii, she says she had nothing to do with my falling over the trash container after gawking at the girls in dental-toss bikinis. I say she could have hollered "Trash container!" or "Look out!" or something.

Her main weapon on these foreign junkets is her suitcase. She delights in leaving it on the main route to the bathroom. Then when I'm stumbling toward the door at night I at least fall over it. If this should send me charging headlong into the wall, so much the better.

Her greatest triumph occurred in Vienna the night I plunged out an open patio door. I was spared the embarrassment of going over the balcony rail only by colliding with a wrought-iron chair. As luck would have it, I crawled back to bed suffering nothing more serious than what is listed in the lexicon of football injuries as a hip pointer.

Because my wife has packed everything imaginable into her suitcase, she has to call on me to close the thing. This is usually good for a dislocated knee from trying to bring the two sides together. And if I fail to get my best finger half severed by one of the snaps, she gives me a second chance on the handle she pulls the thing with. Still, that's better than risking a hernia by having to carry her bag as well as my own, besides her coat, my coat, her overnight case, two umbrellas, a packet of travel folders, and a sack of souvenirs. She has her purse to lug all over the place, you know.

I have scraped my shins to the bone trying to help her into a bobbing Hovercraft for the trip from Cancun to Cozumel. I have had my left shoulder all but paralyzed from being leaned on while mounting the steps of the pyramid at Chichen Itza. I've had press-on nails pressed a full inch into my back during a tram ride up the Stanserhorn mountain in the Swiss Alps. But for all the satisfaction my dear wife gets from seeing my blood flow in foreign countries, it's home-sweet-and-sour-home where she hits her stride.

The Furniture Caper is one of her favorites. She began this assault by stockin our living room with two end tables and a coffee table having matching glass tops. Sure, someone with 20/20 vision can see the corners of those things But for someone who has trouble just finding the doorway to this torture chamber, they are murder-or as close to it as I care to come.

Have you ever seen a girded tree, whose bark has been peeled off in a strip around the trunk so it will die of its own accord? Then you know how my legs look after 11 years of hitting the corners of the coffee table with my shins, my calves, and the tenderized flesh in between. The few times I've remembered to detour coincide with the times I hit my shin on the end table. And the funny thing is, says my dear wife, that's when I jump back and gash the calf of my leg on the coffee table-which sends me forward again. In other words, it's just one grand circus.

Changing the location of the furniture has also proved effective. In a man's garage, the car goes here, the mower is there, the stepladder over there, and so on. He can find what he wants blindfolded. But the distaff side can't leave the television in one corner of the room for longer than a week without switching it with the easy chair. Not that I have ever tried to tune in "Wheel of Fortune" on the easy chair, but I did give my tailbone a week's sabbatical by dropping onto the television one night before turning on the floor lamp.

Then there are the foreign objects she loves to plant in my normal route to the aforementioned floor lamp. The cleverest of these, to date, are the quilting tames. Had they been erected I might have escaped with nothing more serious than a fractured pelvis. As it was, they tripped me up, sending me headfirst into the wall and then bottomfirst onto the floor register. Luckily, I don't belong to a nudist colony, because for the next three days my right flank could have been mistaken for a waffle.

Concerned that I might have damaged the frames, borrowed only that afternoon from Alma Walters, my dear wife hopped over me to turn on the light. Finding the tames O.K., she asked, as an afterthought, "Are you hurt?"

Why, no. How could a man get hurt by ramming his head into a wall and falling backward onto the floor register?

I still carry scars on my once-noble brow from the den affair. My dear wife, not having made me bleed for three days straight and evidently thinking this might be bad for my circulatory system (I have no overflow tank),volunteered to help me install bookshelves in this room where I put words to paper. Nor could I talk her out of it. The supports for the shelves are the kind that have a metal track running up the wall.

Brackets fit the slots in the track, and then the bracket hooks are tapped down. My dear, dear wife in her enthusiasm to get the job done, failed to tap down the brackets for the top shelf. So I was handing the last of the books up to her when-what to my surpriseI was greeted by a cascade of shelf, books, and brackets that brought me to my knees and my head to rest on a marble-top table.

"If you are going to use language like that," she said, after I had regained my faculty of speech, "I'm not going to help you anymore." It was my first break since she came down with lockjaw.

Of the many strategies the dear woman employs for keeping my blood level below the dipstick requirement, she relies most heavily upon the stepstool. It has beaten out even those cast-iron pots she hangs from the ceiling, with which she is reshaping my head into the contour of a Hubbard squash.

Nor am I forgetting the miniature ponies she supposedly took on as a hobby. They actually were for the sole purpose of getting me up at 2 a.m., so I could retrieve them from the neighbors' while they took turns chewing on the calves of my legs and knocking me into the ditch. I'm still looking for a pair of glasses out there in the bushes somewhere.

One of her favorite stunts with the stepstool was to have me mount the top step to jump on a board she wanted broken. She had prepared the board by supporting each end on a cement block. The board being rotten on the underside, I went right through it, sprained both ankles, and had a fairly satisfactory hole opened in my right earlobe by one end of the board.

I had no more than nicely healed from this duplicity than-under the pretext of running a wire from a corner of the house to the elm tree for the dog to run on-she invited me up on the stepstool again. What she really had in mind, once I was up there holding one end of the wire, was to pull on the other end ("to make it nice and straight," you know) before I had my end secured to the house. By so doing, of course, she succeeded in pulling me off the stool and onto the brick walk leading to the shed. The stains are still there.

There are times the stepstool is not quite high enough and the stepladder too high for what the dear woman has in mind, and she has to come up with something in between-like the contrivance she came up with this past Christmas season.

I had come slogging into the house after an unscheduled hour of aerobics from trying to catch up with a snow blower that took advantage of my gift for falling down by blowing stones instead of snow the length of our two-track driveway and back. And this clever woman had obviously timed the placing of the angel atop our Christmas tree to coincide with my entrance. For this purpose she had erected a scaffold consisting of an end table, the ottoman, and two volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. And she was making a pretense of scaling this precarious construction when, in my stupor, I said, "Here, I'll do that. You'll fall and break your neck."

So saying, I mounted the makeshift setup, stretched up to anchor the angel on the spike at the top of the tree-and came to on the floor behind the sofa. "If you're going to bleed," my dear wife was saying, checking the angel for damage, "please do it over the poinsettia. I just cleaned the carpet."

With great will power, I didn't bleed a drop. I wouldn't give her the satisfaction.
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Author:Stoddard, Maynard Good; Trawin, Don
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Apr 1, 1988
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