Monthly Archives: November 2018

Dudley on Safari

          The sudden, distant “snap” sound as I was trying to get to sleep reminded me of a rather unusual (I was going to say “odd”, but what follows involves Dudley, and is therefore always odd) conversation I had with my pal Dudley some 20 or more years ago. Dud, like me, had been a hunter for a good part of his life, and we were talking about our “old timer’s” view of hunting. This involved ammunition ads in Field and Stream  and other magazines where men in red plaid shirts sat smoking pipes next to a quaint fireplace (always lit and warming, of course) with ancient bamboo fly rods and lever-action carbine rifles readily at hand. That was how my generation seemed to see the “outdoorsman’s life”.

          Well, Dud was saying how he missed those days at hunting camp, and the associated adventures we had there. “And I still have a hunt every fall,” he said, “even though I gave up the camp and quit going to the woods.” Obviously I had to ask how he hunted without going to the woods. “Mice.” He was actually straight-face and serious when he said this, and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

          “Oh, yeah!”, he said. “Every fall the damn things come into the house from the field across the street, and they scare the bejeebers outa the wife!” He got that far away look in his eye that meant a story was coming and I had to hear the rest. “So, missing the fall hunt as I do, I grab the kid’s old BB rifle and park my butt in a corner of the kitchen and I hunt ’em.” He was actually enjoying the mental image  as he related the details. “It’s me against them,” he said. “I sit real quiet and after a while the critters think I’m gone and begin to move. They’ll stick their nose out from behind the stove or the cupboard just far enough to look around.” He was seriously into the story by this time: “I studied them over the years, and they always do the same things. They smell the food and water in the kitchen, and that’s always where I get  ’em.”

          Now, you have to know Dud to understand this, but to him this all seemed like a mini hunting trip and he was glad to recount his adventure. “I hate to brag, (actually Dudley LOVES to brag about just about everything) but even with the simple sights on a kid’s BB gun, I usually managed to get them all. I even got seven in one season two years ago!” He was absolutely beaming at that marvelous feat! “Damn wife still sets the traps, so I sometimes don’t get them all myself, but most years it’s down to me to outsmart the things and get rid of them.” (I should say here that I’m sure that, except for Mickey – who made Walt Disney the Donald Trump of  comic books, I believe Dud could outsmart any mouse I ever met.)

          He went on to explain how he’d sit for two or three hours at a time, waiting for his quarry to show itself. His wife insisted he was insane (which she still often does), and once accused him of trying to kill her with the BB gun when a ricochet tapped the wall next to her. His son also thought he was crazy, but he was a teen when he said that and all teens think the old man is crazy. But apparently this annual hunt for the dreaded mice went on for several years until it was noticed that one of the rare(?) misses had hit the gas line running to his stove and his wife said she’d leave him if he fired it in the house again. She was afraid he’d blow the house up if he hit the gas line in just the wrong way. It was useless trying to explain that the lead pipe running gas to the stove wasn’t likely to be damages by an air rifle.

           And so ended Dudley’s last desperate attempt to keep the sporting life alive. He doesn’t talk about it much, and I probably won’t tell him my trap has bagged three of the critters this “season”. And at least once one of the sly little creeps has eaten all the peanut butter off the trap WITHOUT setting it off. That, of course has MY wife speculating about evolved, intelligent mice who can outwit man-made traps. I don’t want to tell Dud about her theory, because he’d bring a lunch and set up a stand in my kitchen and we’d have to eat out for weeks until he was convinced we were rodent-free. Sigh! I guess once a thing is romanticized and gotten under your skin, it will always be with you.

Vince Katarzynski

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Prescription Sun Glasses

          Prior to moving from Erie, Pa. to Toledo, Oh. I had cataract surgery on both eyes (not simultaneously) and found a “deal” on two pairs of glasses, with blended bi-focal lenses, and had one of the two tinted to make them sunglasses. (I remember calling them “shades” as a smart-guy teen, even though “tinted windows” would have been much closer to the truth.) Well, in the hectic days before moving the dark glasses predictably disappeared. Left, I thought, somewhere in the old digs for the landlord’s crew to find and toss in the trash.

          I spent the best part of the last 3 months trying to remember where I might have put the extra pair, hoping to find I’d actually had the wits to pack them with other must-haves to move with us. Now, at 72 and still getting older (thank God) I didn’t have a snowball’s chance of remembering where they were. I even went through boxes which we’ve still not emptied and found nothing. I gave myself a good talking-to about the folly of buying prescription sun glasses at my age. The EGO! The out-and-out self-indulgence of the thing began to weigh on me. And now they were gone, as if someone “up there” was teaching me a lesson.

          Well, if you’ve ever moved to a new town in a new state you’ll realize the disruption it causes in everything you do. 3 1/2 months later we’ve come nowhere near settling in and finding a “normal” for ourselves (wife Marge and I) and almost every day I find myself changing a long-held practice to accommodate either the new apartment or the new geography I find myself in. (Yes, I know about that infinitive!) And that’s why yesterday, after grocery shopping, I decided to try my wife’s idea of putting the items in the trunk of the car instead of the back seat as usual.

          As I put the first bags in,I noticed two things: First, the pocket on my golf bag where the shiny new white golf balls are kept (I don’t get to keep many of them long enough for them to get dirty), was partially open. Second, as I reached to close it I saw that there was something black showing through the opening: It was the eyeglass case I kept the tinted windows in! I’d actually put them in the place I’d need them the most – with my golf clubs. But in the turmoil of moving and adapting to a new world, I haven’t played golf this year! At all! And so sat the sunglasses, waiting patiently to be found. Sadly, it’s November 6th, with overcast skys predicted until some time in early May of next year. Dudley, my closest friend, thinks all of this is a scream. He laughed so hard when I told him that I had to loan him my handkerchief (yes, I carry one) to dab away the tears. “Serves you right for ever moving, ” he said. I should mention that Dud still resents my move, even though he pick-up and followed me to Toledo.

           Oddly, the sunglasses aren’t the only “found” thing in my life right now. For some 23+ years I worked in the Pennsylvania Liquor stores. Not a career I’d recommend to anyone, but a career none-the-less. Well, it was clear from the start that I’d have to find work here in Toledo to make ends meet, so I dutifully filled out job applications on-line (they all seem to insist that you apply on line, and that opens up another can of worms which will undoubtedly be the subject of my next blog post.) And I was delighted Kroger called me for an interview. I was tentatively offered a “shopper’s” job, and asked about work history. The next day I received a training schedule in (you guessed it) the State Liquor store attached to (leased to) the Kroger store. After rejoicing some 11 years ago that I’d never deal with another drunk, or another obvious alcoholic with that specific attitude, here I am! I’m working 4 or 5 days a week part-time, doing the same old thing. I feel like the glasses: Free for a good long time, only to have my nemesis find me hiding and start the whole thing over again! Maybe I should have left the sunglasses where they were until next season!

 

vince katarzynski