There was also the Outhouse Trick wherein he and his brothers discovered that with just the right curved stick, they could poke it up the back side and provoke a bellow. The slogan for this one was, “No matches needed – fireworks guaranteed.” Unfortunately, they chose to give this a trial run one day when Grandma had a quilting. By report, an older female relative was the victim. It is said that when the stick hit the booty, she “left the building,” as they say, running as fast as one can run with one’s undergarments around one’s ankles. All I can say is, Grandma sure knew what to do with a wooden paddle.
Over the years we have tried with might and main to get one over on him, but so unflappable is he that it has been nigh to impossible to get the drop on him. However, proving that the biblical principle of sowing and reaping is still in effect, there have been a few times when he actually became the reaper instead of the sower. I offer you two.
One of our favorites involves the hot tub. Dad has restless leg syndrome, and night after night my poor mother’s shins would take a drubbing. It got so bad Mom was finally forced to go to bed looking like a knight in a metal suit. When she realized that armor doesn’t breathe and it clanks when you roll over, she abandoned that plan and lobbied instead for a hot tub. Thankfully, this brought significant relief to them both. Dad’s legs calmed down and Mom went back to wearing cotton pajamas. One night, however, when his legs were particularly bad again, he got up at 2 a.m. to go out and soak for a bit. Fancying himself to be alone in the darkness of the Kansas prairie, his heart seized up and his blood ran cold when he heard footsteps behind him. When he felt the cold, wet nose of what turned out to be the family dog on his neck, he thought, as he says, that “church was out.”
I’m sure the trip back down the roof in clammy trunks was far slower and much more painful than was the trip up. There are reports that the object found floating later in the tub was not a Baby Ruth, but that’s a vicious rumor. Or so says Dad.
Perhaps our favorite “gotcha” on Dad is the night he was watching a movie at home with my brother. Let’s just say that while he wasn’t breaking any public indecency laws, his wardrobe was not church-ready. I simply will not be responsible for shorting out pacemakers from here to Kansas City by giving you the particulars. Anyway, when he heard a horn honk he figured it was Mom letting him know she needed someone to come open the malfunctioning garage door. Strolling out to the garage, he proceeded to pull it up about waist high, then with a final heave he pushed it up over his head only to see that it wasn’t Mom at all – it was a friend.
Much to our chagrin, my brother had no stop watch on hand to clock Dad as he flashed past in the direction of his closet. We know, but cannot prove, that the world record for the 100-yard dash was broken that day by our father. I doubt he would have posed for a picture with his medal anyway, but we hold the memory close. Please rejoice with me when I tell you that Dad came out of that ordeal, extremities intact. In light of the speed and velocity with which he slammed that door back down, the fact that he didn’t have two broken feet is a modern-day miracle.
Now you see why we will not be traveling home for Christmas this year. Sleeping with one eye open for the entire stay is exhausting. And so, Dad, from Northern Indiana to the plains of Kansas, Merry Christmas and lots of love.