Total Pageviews

Friday, July 27, 2012

Catfish in July

Aloha! It is still Friday at this point and I am trying to get this post in before it becomes Saturday!

Yesterday I visited with an orthopedic specialist for my second opinion on what to do with my shoulder problems. He said he wants an MRI on my left shoulder before he suggests a course of action, although he has already indicated arthroscopic repair of the right one. It sounds like the left shoulder is going to be first and the biggest job to fix.

Did you ever have a doctor twist or pull on something and then ask you if it hurt when he did it? And if it weren't for the pain that they caused you might have been able to answer them before they did it again? Yeah, me too. I have had constant pain in my left shoulder since that appointment. Yippee.

I have to go to the room of doom again and get inside the machine. I am severely claustrophobic and have to utilize the open air MRI and sedation, just to be able to get the pictures. It is a pain for everyone involved. I am not that thrilled with their supposed "open air" machine which isn't so open, but I will try to get more, better drugs this time so I don't know what is going on and be a good patient. I will try.

Today we took Mr S to lunch and then shopping. He really didn't need anything but wanted to go somewhere. He tried to pull the old "I don't know what I need, we will have to just look" gag on us but Anna was wise to it and made him make a list. If you don't he will keep you in Walmart all day going up and down the aisles looking at EVERYTHING in the store.

Anna made the slight error of letting him get a small potted plant. Now he wants to take us to lunch tomorrow and go shopping for another plant. We will have to put a stop to this tomorrow, or it will become an every day request because he is bored and wants us to entertain him.

Back in the early 1960's I was pretty independent and went many places by myself that a child of today could never be allowed to go. I can't tell you that it was safer for me to wander alone among the hazards of that environment, than it would be today. I can say that you were expected to take care of yourself and handle situations that you were faced with. There were no cell phones and you just couldn't (and wouldn't), run home crying if you fell down and scraped your knee. Somehow we survived in spite of it all.

This story is about a nutty family tradition of practical jokes that often went to extremes and how a nine year old held his own against the senior prank puller. I won't pretend that what we did was right, or proper, but it was what it was. Hopefully you will just laugh at the craziness of our actions and not get too wrapped up in the right or wrong of it... After all, it was 50 years ago. Enjoy!

Catfish in July

 The Background
When I was growing up in South Florida, I was fortunate enough to have lots of “extra” family, (cousins, aunts, uncles, etc.) around me, something that I had to do without from the time that I was 18, until about 23 years later when my daughter Jennifer married her husband Dan, then I had family around me again. When I married Anna I gained even more family… and Jenny had the twins and then her daughter. Now there’s lots of family around me again. Wow. They’re everywhere!

One of the things that having a lot of relatives around will bring is practical jokes. There is always at least one joker in the deck, and in the case of the my family in South Florida, there were just too many to watch at once. Somebody was always pulling something on someone else, and we were all guilty of conspiring with each other to pull a joke on another unsuspecting relative. 

The joke season had no time limits and you could rest assured that if you “got” somebody,  eventually they WOULD get you back for it, no matter how long it took, or how hard it was to set up. 

The Joke That Started It
            One Christmas, about 1962 I believe, my older brother and my youngest uncle went to great pains to wrap a little green snake up in a box and innocently presented their “gift” to the Senior Uncle himself, the King of Jokesters, Uncle R. Naturally they knew that R was not overly "fond" of snakes of any kind, and his reaction when he unwrapped the box was as expected. He thought that it would be something that a dog “dropped”, or like the one year, or at least a VERY realistic looking fake vomit from the mail order catalog.  But, when he opened his present and that 18 inch snake unloaded out of that box... Well, let’s just say that the snake wasn’t the only one looking for a way out! Uncle let out a very undignified screech and threw the box and wrapping paper into the air and everyone busted up laughing.

The young Uncle turns to me and says, “don’t just sit there dummy, catch the snake!" Which I proceeded to do, and let me tell you, that’s not easy in a roomful of people stampeding around, trying to get away from a snake that’s not as big as my shoelaces. 

I finally caught the poor little guy and took him outside and let him go in the hedge, for which I caught Hell, because they weren’t done using him for jokes yet, but I didn’t want him hurt and he was already so traumatized that I was afraid that he was going to go to that great big “grassy field in the sky” prematurely.  Geez, give him a break, he already has to dodge hawks, house cats and lawnmowers.  So I let him go, and who was standing out on the porch watching me talk nice to the little snake while I carried him safely away from the bad-old-people-who-might-squish-him. Yep! Uncle R, who made the instant assumption that I was in on this gag, and for the record, I wasn’t, but he thought so, and I had dog crap in my shoes in less than 24 hours.  And that brings me to the rest of the story.

               It was a hot and sticky July day and I had gone fishing in a pond that I knew about. It was hard to get to, almost impossible, unless of course you know a “back way” in, and I did. All you had to do was walk across a big green water pipe that was at least 12 inches in diameter and spanned a canal with some water moccasins in it, that was a real good incentive not to fall off of the pipe. One slight fly-in-the-ointment though.  You know those Australian lizards that have a fan shaped thingy around their necks to make them look bigger and ferocious?  No there wasn’t a nest of “killer lizards” there!  But there was a fan shaped guard that looked like that on each end of the pipe, a little ways out from the bank. It kept grownup types out, no problem, but for kids who climbed anything and everything, HA! I zipped right around that and was careful where I jumped so as not to disturb anything sleeping in the grass along the canal bank. There were alligators, water moccasins and the occasional rattlesnake to deal with all over the area, but having grown up with them, it never seemed like a big deal to just be careful where you stepped.

            The mosquitoes were pretty bad and it was really hot, so after I caught myself a nice catfish, about two pounds worth, I took off for home figuring on cleaning the fish and maybe taking off for the beach if I was lucky. As I walked past a store I spotted Uncle R's milk truck sitting in the parking lot,  and the inspiration came over me. It was Fate, It was Destiny,  It was Kismet… Oh Hell, it was Payback Time!

            I made a quick check through the store window and sure enough the Uncle was still all the way in the back, stocking the cooler and couldn’t see the parking lot. I made a bee-line for the truck, opened the driver’s door and jammed that catfish way up in the springs underneath the seat; where you couldn’t see it if you looked under the seat, even if you knew it was there. Another quick peek through the window and I was off for home on the run, thinking as I ran; July, Hot, Closed up truck with the windows rolled all the way up, Catfish already smelly. Yep, that ought to do it alright.  I wished that I could stay around to see his expression when he opened that door, but my hands smelled like fish.  I was ornery, not stupid, so I ran for it.

            I was sure that if he looked hard enough, he would eventually find it, but he didn’t and by the end of the day I know it was righteous in that truck cab! I figured that I would do the same thing again (sneak into the truck) and get the stinky thing out the next day and the plan was a good one, except that when I checked the truck, it not only didn’t have a fish in it, it didn’t stink.  Boy was I puzzled, but at least I didn’t get caught messing with the truck, and I kept my mouth shut about it… until now. 

            Years later I finally found out the answer to the mystery of the missing catfish.  Uncle R wasn't sure if it was family, or one of the other drivers he worked with who pulled this prank, but he did know by the end of the day that he wouldn’t be able to get that smell out of the truck. So after he unloaded the empty milk crates onto the dock he parked away from everyone else so that they wouldn’t get a whiff of his catch-of-the-day perfume and when all of the other drivers had gone home, he came back with some supplies. He got the keys and switched places with another driver’s truck and then switched license plates and repainted the numbers on the side of the hood, which identified which truck was which. After the identification switch was made, he parked his "new" truck it its proper place and the old smelly truck in the new "owner's" spot. I know that he never mentioned a word about smelling anything ro owned up to switching trucks the rest of the years that he worked at that Dairy.

            I am sure that the records keeper had to have noticed the difference in mileage etc., but he wasn't talking. The company had a mechanic who gassed the vehicles and did oil changes and maintenance and he found and removed the fish. Neither of these gentlemen were willing to enter the world of practical jokes, so they stayed silent about what they may have known. Wise fellows!

            Bonus… Uncle R thought it was most likely that my older brother and his own youngest brother were the culprits, and proceeded to prank them unmercifully; so I got my payback on them without having to do a thing. Now, I’m not saying that any of this was nice or correct, but that’s the way it was… way back then, when I was young.

No comments:

Post a Comment