'Matter of Laugh or Death,' the award-winning humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
The situation had gotten so bad, we are now barely on speaking terms. I freely admit I’ve made mistakes in the past. And I’ve apologized countless times for those mistakes. But we have to stop dwelling on the past and move on. We have to start acting like mature adults. There simply must be a reconciliation between myself and my right knee.
Our relationship goes way back, and I acknowledge that for many years I took my knees for granted. Regrettably, it was a very one-sided relationship back then. My knees were always there for me, waiting patiently, ready to spring into action. Whenever I wanted to go somewhere, I’d simply look down and say, “OK, boys, let’s go!” and they would immediately race across the playground, or climb a hill, or steal second base. I would say, “Jump,” and they would eagerly reply, “How high?!”
I enjoyed the freedom and mobility my knees provided. Yes, I was oblivious to their feelings at the time. I didn’t realize they resented toiling in obscurity while I got all the credit. But even though they would never admit it today—especially that vindictive Rightie—I know they enjoyed those days, too.
As the years went by we worked together as a team. I’d say, “OK, let’s sprint straight ahead, fake to the inside, then cut to the corner and catch a touchdown pass.” And they would dutifully perform, just as I requested. (Now if only Mr. Hands would’ve cooperated and held onto the ball.)
But then that fateful day came—the day I’ve regretted, or rather, we’ve regretted, for the past quarter-century. I foolishly asked the coach if I could run back kick-offs.
The first few kick-offs were uneventful. But then it happened: I caught the ball, raced forward, thought I saw a slight opening to the left, and just as I put all my weight on Rightie, an unseen linebacker suddenly dove in from the side. Poor Rightie never knew what hit him. He twisted inward and gave a loud pop-pop sound. (Think of a boiled chicken when you twist off a drumstick. That’s what was going on inside of Rightie at that moment.)
Needless to say, Rightie had to have surgery. It was a very painful and traumatic experience. No matter how profusely I apologized, Rightie wouldn’t even look at me. Leftie finally suggested, “Leave him alone for awhile, Boss. Maybe after the cast comes off he’ll be ready to talk about it.”
We never did talk about it—you know how guys are—but for all these years I thought we had an agreement. I would never again do anything dangerous, like football, skiing, or yard work, and in return Rightie would allow me to do two simple things: walk without pain and swing a golf club.
After decades of keeping my end of the bargain—I never played football; never got on skis again; and, well, just look at my yard—Rightie has in recent months been positively traitorous. Sometimes he just swells up for no reason. Other times he sends shooting pains up my leg when I’m trying to sleep. And just last week, as I was about to tee off on the first hole, Rightie simply buckled during my back swing, and I crumpled to the ground.
“What was that all about?!” I shouted. Rightie just shrugged his shoulders and nonchalantly said, “Felt like it.”
Since he won’t talk about it, I had to take drastic measures. Yesterday I picked up a medical journal with a feature story about advancements in knee replacement surgery. I put the magazine on the coffee table and opened it to the article. Then I sat on the couch and crossed my legs on the table so Rightie could see it. After a moment, he turned and stared at me. I calmly said, “You can be replaced, you know.”
“Now wait a minute, Boss,” he stammered. “Let’s talk.”
“Fine. Let’s talk, Rightie,” I said. “I’ve got a 9 a.m. tee time this Saturday…”
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