I HAVE A FEW
Having recently experienced a near-fatal accident, it has caused me to give some serious thought to my mortality. It has also given me pause to reflect upon certain events in my life and look back with some embarrassment, wishing I could turn back the hands of time and do things differently.
While at my age nearly every accident is fatal, this latest one was doubly so. I was returning to my truck after spending the day in a nearby canyon deer hunting. Along the way, following a deer trail, I stepped squarely upon a coiled up rattlesnake that had the audacity to be out and about in November. His excuse was that he was simply trying to catch the last bit of warmth from the setting sun. Likely story.
The near-fatality came in the form of the instant startle to my heart as it tried to exit via my throat, not to mention my equally surprised bowels. My hunting comrades lack the required sense of humor in such situations and act as if they have the noses of wine sniffers. Apparently my aromatic britches were a bit overpowering and didnít quite fall into the bouquet category.
I was now faced with the decision of either stripping naked in order to ride inside the truck back home with my hunting comrades or freeze to death fully clothed in the back of the truck. Either way Iíd have to face their wrath.
I regret the fact I had to ride naked in the back of the truck. It was, after all, my truck.
Some of my regrets involve some sort of silliness resulting from having painted my tonsils with potato juice, whiskey, or the nectar of the hops. Not all, however, involve alcohol. I also realize this will come as a shock to most of you, (especially to those who know me) to learn of my proclivity for practical jokes. This perverted sickness that gives me giggles at the expense of unfortunate others has also been the foundation of a few misgivings.
Like tipping over outhouses, an American tradition for young boys. I regret, however, the time I discovered the presence of Mister Peasley, who just happened to occupy the seat of honor as I was pushing and grunting somewhere beyond mid-tilt. I can still recall the horror that was etched on my face (not to mention Mr. Peasleyís) when that humble structure, a respite for relief, went sliding like an Olympic bobsled, the one hundred or so feet down that tailing dump at the Sparrow Tunnel mine.
My regret? Had I only known Mr. Peasley was a ritualistic visitor each and every morning, that outhouse would have been doomed months sooner.
There was also that time with the Boy Scouts. While I guess I actually wasnít with the Boy Scouts, neither was I one to hold a grudge. The scoutmaster, (one Mister Peasley) was in attendance, and he was the one who suggested to my Granny that maybe scouting wasnít for me. It was simply a matter of too great a temptation set before me that compelled me on.
It is true that I could have walked on by and kept going that evening as I passed by the old cabin where the scout meeting was just getting underway. I was keenly aware that the old wooden front door was thoroughly boarded and nailed shut and that iron bars sealed all the windows. I also knew in my heart it was more than improper to ease shut the stout back barn type door that was almost closed anyway. This while the scouts were occupied, busily reciting their pledge. I further knew full well that by closing the latch and inserting the padlock that had been carelessly left hanging unlocked, I would be preventing the troop from any immediate exit.
It really wasnít all that big a deal, after all, Jimmy Motleyís mother eventually rescued them in the wee hours of the morning and they didnít nearly freeze to death as the newspaper reported. I thought the Boy Scouts were more resourceful; there was a chimney after all.
At any rate, I regret the fact they have never actually proved my involvement, and I have remained number one on the Boy Scoutís Most Despicable Scoundrel List all these many years later. Get over it.
And I should probably mention also that little incident involving the Baptist Church. At the time, I had no conscience and no conceivable idea I would ever acquire one. You see, the church was a wooden structure that very much resembled a typical one-room schoolhouse. It also had a double front door that sported two brass bar handles.
The church was situated next to some vacant land that was occupied by a dozen or so large oak trees. One tree was built perfectly to race up and hide in its huge branches from any would be captors.
Prior to my receiving an inner arbiter, I thought it amusing to turn off the main electric breakers outside the building during services. After about the third power outage, the congregation soon suspected the presence of a practical joker and the pastor would position two large burly men to stand guard at the door, ready to spring outside and catch the rascal upon the next blackout.
Sneaking up onto the porch with all the stealth of an Army commando and lodging a short piece of two-by-four through the brass door handles, it was always great fun to hear the THUD, THUD and ensuing ruckus that took place inside as the posse hit that locked door and then groped around in the dark trying to find their way out, all while I sat high up in my hidden perch stifling my perverted giggles with my jacket.
I regret this episode because, while I have evidence to the contrary, I canít help but wonder if God holds a grudge. Iíve explained to him on many occasions I was only kidding. In case he failed to hear me, I hope he reads this.
When it comes to alcohol, for the sake of brevity Iíll mention just a few regrets that I can vaguely remember.
There is a certain degree of remorse concerning the time I painted and glittered Ray Snyderís horse. Please, no letters from MADD, AA, or the ASPCA.
It was Raymondís first team penning and he made no bones about the fact he was about as nervous as a centipede in a chicken house. His was to be the first team in the arena the next morning and I felt his anxiety and apprehension the night before at the dance held at the Cattlemanís Club. I also felt it was my humanitarian duty to do my best to take his mind away from his nervousness as I recruited a handful of criminal types and stole away to the arena where Snydleyís horse was stabled.
Iím of the opinion that Dr. Timothy Leary and the entire Haight Ashbury cadre of the sixties never witnessed a hallucinogenic trip remotely resembling the Picasso-like artwork exhibited on Snyderís horse. Not one to boast, I felt Iíd out done myself and was considering quitting my job, moving to Paris, and becoming an artist. Those dreams were dashed, as my major concern soon became how to stay one step ahead of Snydley and his axe.
At any rate, I deeply regret not using more fusia.
My favorite song is ďFaded Love,Ē written by Bob Wills. I regret those many occasions at community hall dances where I would get up on stage, remove my hat, and along with Paul Cantarano and C.L. Stone, sing this most sacred of hymns. It is, after all, the Anza National Anthem, and neither of those two clods could carry a tune in a bucket as they stumbled along in the key of R, denying me any chance at being discovered by a talent scout and being asked to perform at the Grand Ole Opry.
I must also mention my considerable suffering and remorse concerning the time I got a slight bit oiled up and rode my horse through the bar and dining room of a local establishment. It isnít the fact that it was The Copper Stillís last night in existence before closing its doors forever, and it isnít that I was idiot enough to do an encore performance. It isnít even the fact I was dressed as Lady Godiva.
It is, however, the fact that the entire episode was captured on film and the anonymous owner of the proofs has thoughtfully sent me an 8x10 color glossy these many years later.
Unaware of this chapter of my buried past, my wife Cathy now informs me that her suspicions are confirmed and is currently attempting to get me some professional helpÖagain.
I wonder; would the owner of those negatives consider fifty dollars in exchange for them?
Darn, I regret I didnít begin by offering twenty bucks.