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Monday, Monday...

Posted: August 7, 2017 5:13 p.m.
Updated: August 8, 2017 1:00 a.m.

Note: this happened awhile back. But it still smarts...

If you grew up with me, then you probably lived through, or were part of, a number of insanely stupid mishaps, from a dent in the cabbage from taking a direct hit between the eyes from a point-blank bottle rocket, to falling out of trees, ripping clothes and skin on barbed wire fences, various and sundry bike wrecks and skateboard disasters, and a host of other brilliant moments that, mercifully, I can't really remember any more.

What I do know, and have known for some time, is that I am pretty accident prone, particularly around mechanical or electrical things. Several years ago, the guys in my band started calling me “Chief Black Cloud” because of my inherent ability to wreak havoc on electronics with my very presence. Microphones would squeal, guitar and speaker cables would spontaneously develop severe crimps, amplifiers would and speakers would belch smoke, guitars would fall out of their stands, if I so much as came within fifteen feet of them.

None of these things were ever a planned part of the show -- but they may have been more entertaining.

That still hasn't changed much. I go to crank the lawnmower and either the rope breaks in my hand or the engine belches smoke and makes these horrible, “punkity-punkity” sounds, to steal a turn of phrase from Patrick F. McManus. The best one was when I tried to fix a ceiling fan with a number two pencil, which, among other things, caused all kinds of bizarre noises to come from my Beloved.

So I ought to know by now not to press my luck, especially when it comes to driving and, well, anything else.

Yet here I sit, staring at the computer screen, a bloody, wet napkin dangling from my lower lip, hoping like the very devil that I'm going to stop bleeding before my 11:45 appointment.

For those of you who don’t know about this curse I am under, or are just vaguely familiar with my many brushes with death or disfigurement via stupidity, here’s a new one for the books. Not really life threatening, per se, but if someone walks in here I'll probably die from embarrassment from the spectacle alone, much less the ensuing explanation of why I am sporting a red and white napkin from my pie hole.

Like so many of the bizarre happenstances through which I’ve lived, this little mishap started in the car. It was innocent enough; I was trying to open a pack of gum, the kind in which the individual pieces are packaged in these annoying aluminum foil flats. (Indeed, there is a special unused corner of hell reserved for people who do consumer packaging for a living.)  In this case, you have to push the gum through each compartment, which makes a jagged little foil split. 

So I’m doing this while at the same time keeping an eye on the pedestrians on the sidewalks on either side of the busy highway, noting a distant crosswalk approaching, and balancing a tepid cup of coffee between my knees.  But, hey; at least I’m not texting.

Anyway, as I carefully ease up to a red light and cross walk, slowing my vehicle to an ever so ginger and manageable crawl, I finally pop a piece of gum out of the package. Feeling it slip down my lips, I try to shove it back to my mouth so as not to have a tepid cup of coffee flavored by a wad of gum between my knees. As I take a sort of slurping bite, I feel the flesh of my lower lip splitting, as though sliced cleanly in half by, well, a jagged piece of aluminum foil. 

Take a chomp of the gum to get it out of the way. 

Taste peppermint and blood. 

Mmmm,mmm, good…

Twenty minutes later, I’m still bleeding. My trashcan now contains five wet paper towels the exact color of Pepto Bismol, which is what you get when you mix ice cubes and a copious amount of drool with a clean, white paper product and blood.

 I can't even say, “You think this is bad; you ought to see the other guy!” 

The other guy is lying on the passenger side floorboard of my car and the only blood showing on him is mine.

The good news is, I didn’t spill the coffee. And none of the old people, folks in wheelchairs, or baby ducks waddling across the street ever came close to becoming another decal on my driver’s side door.

And I wasn’t texting. 

I’d never text and drive; that’s for idiots!

 (Jim Tatum is editor of the Chronicle-Independent, Camden, S.C. Email responses to jtatum@chronicle-independent.com.)


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