2017-04-19 / Editorials


Don Lively

Well, that was fast.

I have just recently completed another trip around the sun.

I won't mention exactly how many times I've orbited Ol' Sol, let's just say it's been a scad.

At my age, I try to low key the birthdays unless they end in zero or five. When the milestone ones come around, I prefer to throw my own birthday parties, cause I throw great parties.

This wasn't a milestone year.

Still, turning another page in my earthly journal does cause me some annual pondering when the date arrives.

My main train of thought is asking myself if I've gotten any wiser over the years.

Has my common sense improved?

After all, Solomon increased in wisdom as he got older.

Could the same be true for me?

I was mulling over those very questions, alone at The Pond, the day before my birthday. I'd gone down there to do a couple of small repairs. After I finished my chores and loaded the tools in the truck, I sat for a while and watched the wildlife. Coots and ducks clumsily landing on the water then taking off again when they spotted me. A hawk circling high overhead waiting to nail an unwary snake or a slow fish for his next meal. Bass and bream, mingling together, nibbling the water bugs off the surface. And, Boss, our pond gator, lazing around making sure the destructive beavers stay away.

Just before I headed out, I noticed I'd left a goodly amount of sawdust on the picnic table that I'd used for a sawhorse. I didn't have a bench broom handy so I considered just brushing the sawdust off with my hand.

Here's where the wisdom question comes in.

Part of my mind told me that I'd probably get a splinter since the table was rather rustic.

But, the other part told me that I couldn't leave the mess on the table and that, if I was careful, I wouldn't get a splinter.

I'll explain how this little mental battle illustrates my point, that of questioning my wisdom level, at the end of this little chronicle, but, for now, I'll let you in on the fact that I did not get a splinter.

It all caused me to think back to other times when I had two voices speaking to me, as though one was one my right shoulder and the other on my left.

Like the time I was at a ranch in Wyoming where there was a wooden enclosure, about half the size of a football field, built from railroad ties. Inside the pen was the biggest, meanest looking buffalo I'd ever seen. One of my friends dared me to try to walk along the top of the enclosure all the way around the pen.

The dare brought both voices to life.

"Don't even think about it," said one voice.

"That cute redhead would be very impressed if you did it," said the other.

A few minutes later I was running for my life after falling into the pen. I still remember the snorting, slobbering behemoth staying right on my tail until I was able to vault over the fence in the nick of time.

Pretty obvious which voice won that debate.

Another time, another dare, to ride a bull in a jackpot rodeo.

"You've never ridden a bull in your life, are you nuts?" It was the sane voice again.

"But, that girl," chided the other. This one was brunette.

It didn't work out.

Cowgirls are not impressed by bullriders who get thrown so fast that they land in the chute.

And, of course, there was that time, yes, on a dare, I did the "back-down" move in my car in the hangout parking lot with half my school watching, only to have the muffler fall off.

You'd think, at some point, I'd have started listening to the smart voice.

Now, back to that splintery table at The Pond.

Remember, my wise voice told me that I'd probably get a splinter if I brushed off the sawdust with my bare hand.

The unwise voice said, go ahead, just be careful.

I listened to the unwise voice, but, I didn't get a splinter.

It was more like a shard.

It drove in a half inch, seemed to hit nerves and bone, then turned sideways and went in some more.

It took me fifteen minutes to get all the little pieces out and the bleeding staunched, but, at least I got my question answered.

Nope, not a smidgen wiser.

Don Lively is a freelance writer and author of two books of Southern Humor, Howlin' At The Dixie Moon, and, South O' Yonder. He lives in Shell Bluff. Email Don at Livelycolo@aol.com.

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