'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)
HURRAY! SPRING HAS SPRUNG
Finally the long cold winter is over and spring has arrived. Or as I call it, the blister season.
Don’t get me wrong, I love spring. Winter can be kind of brutal in these parts. For example, it’s just plain wrong to have only two hours of daylight per day. (Notice I didn’t say “sunshine” per day, since during the winter months we can easily go three weeks at a stretch with nothing but a thick gray cover of clouds.) And it’s very depressing to wake up in the morning, turn on the radio, and hear the weatherman say (in an annoyingly cheery voice, of course), “It’s four degrees outside right now! But relief is in sight, as it should reach the upper teens by this afternoon.”
So I’m thrilled spring is finally here, and I’m relieved that I made it through another winter season without frostbite, hypothermia, or skidding off an icy road into the guardrails. But at least during the winter I never get blisters.
As soon as the weather warmed up recently, when the last ugly brown snow bank along the side of the road finally melted, leaving behind an even uglier pile of brown sand, my first thought was to lace up the ol’ sneakers and take a brisk walk in the warm sunshine. (By the way, I never have to worry about the sand on the roads because in my neighborhood the town crew does a great job. They promptly send a street sweeper to clean up the mess, usually a day or two before the first snowfall in early November.)
The first half-mile of my springtime walk was great. But then something reminded me that “ol’ sneakers” is not just a quaint expression. My ratty Converse All Stars are in fact really, really old. Any cushioning they might have once provided wore out sometime during the Carter Administration. Specifically, the something that reminded me my sneakers soon will be old enough to join A.A.R.P. was pain—a hot, shooting pain, which emanated from my left heel, my right pinkie toe, and the balls of both of my feet.
My purposeful, brisk stride was suddenly reduced to a slow, gingerly limp—making me look like I should’ve joined A.A.R.P. decades ago. At this point I discovered a sad fact: if you walk a half-mile in a straight line directly away from your house, there is no way to return home without walking another half-mile. (Must be some kind of math thing.) I was tempted to call home and beg for a ride, but I forgot to bring my cell phone.
When I finally returned to my house, all I wanted to do was peel off my sneakers and stick my feet into an ugly brown snow bank, or, since they all had melted, a bucket of ice water. But my wife had other ideas. As I limped up the driveway, she greeted me with a smile…and a rake. “Here,” she said. “You start in the front yard. I’ll start in the back.”
So, a couple of hours later, I not only had blisters all over my feet, but after raking up all the sticks and leaves and pine cones and dead possums that had accumulated on our lawn over the last seven months, I had blisters on both hands as well. (Oh yeah, I also had a blister on my nose since I forgot to wear a hat or apply any sunscreen.)
That evening I tried to ignore the pain as I took turns dipping various appendages into a bucket of ice water. My feet were screaming, my hands were ripped raw, and my nose looked like W.C. Fields, only larger and redder. But when I looked out the window and saw it was still light outside even though it was approaching 8 p.m.—and not just gray filtered winter daylight, but actual springtime sunshine—I said with a smile, “This is still a whole lot better than winter!”
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