Saturday, June 23, 2018

laughing on the wild side

Most of my friends remember where they were when they heard JFK had been shot. Or when the terrorists crashed the airplanes into the twin towers.

I always remember where I was when I heard a good joke. Probably because humor is a core principle in my life.

"The Far Side" was by far my favorite cartoon in the 1980s. Gary Larson had a wicked sense of finding the darker corners of wit. And I am glad he shared them with us. If only for a brief time.

One morning in the mid-80s, I was sitting in Judge Gilroy's circuit court room in Oregon City. While I waited for civil call to begin, I opened The Oregonian and flipped to "The Far Side."

Two men in a jungle were in the frame. One sat on a cot pouring a bootful of deplorables on the ground. Centipedes. Scorpions. Beetles. A cornucopia of phobias.

The other man stood there looking down at the never-ending flow. The caption informed us: "To his horror, Irving suddenly realized he had failed to check his boots before putting them on just a minute ago."

His boots bumpily bulge with little surprises.

I started chuckling to myself, and then lost control with full laughter. My lawyerly colleagues must have thought me mad.

I remembered that cartoon Thursday morning while getting dressed for my trip to futility and Manzanillo. Because I was going to the big city, I put on my big boy pants. That meant wearing my black dress shoes. I had not worn them since my last trip to Oregon.

On Wednesday, Dora, the woman who helps me clean my house, called me into my bedroom. She had discovered a scorpion eating a cockroach it had killed. The scorpion that had stung me had also hung out around my bedroom door.

I picked up my dress shoes. Thinking I was not going to make an Irving of myself, I slammed them together upside down and shook them as violently as any war rattle. I felt a bit foolish (but relieved) when nothing fell out.

Having assured myself I was vermin free, I finished dressing and drove to San Patricio for breakfast. I ate, met up with Julio, and we drove to Manzanillo.

Our first stop was at La Comer, where we walked around for a bit. We were on our way out of the mall when I felt what I thought was a bit of debris (like a stick)  in the toe of my right shoe. So, I stopped to get it out.

Whether it was instinct or just luck, I pulled off the shoe with the toe of my other shoe. My right shoe did a tight somersault, and out fell -- a scorpion. Yup. My shoe shake was obviously ineffective.

You would think I had just released an anaconda in the mall based on the hysteria of my fellow customers. I was fascinated that a scorpion that size could have been in my shoe (along with my foot) for almost three hours without either of us suffering damage. And, of course, I needed a photograph for what was quickly developing into essay material.

My luck was good, but the scorpion's had run out. The cries to kill it were more insistent than a Roman mob in the coliseum. And so he was dispatched by the shoe that had ferried him 30 miles from Barra de Navidad to an ignominious end on the floor of a Manzanillo shopping mall..

That makes six scorpions in the house in the last five weeks. As much as I hate chemicals in living quarters, it is time to call in the fumigator -- for the cockroaches that munch on me and the scorpions that munch on them. It is very house-that-Jack-built.

A good start would be pulling out my shoes to see if they have gone condo. Before another Irving sticks his toe in.

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