by Calendar Hacksaw
Us Hacksaws fondly recall how Memorial Day weekend used to shake out back in the old days: a camping trip to the beach, soaking in the surf and sun, barbecued bacon and eggs for breakfast, then sipping suds all day before gathering around the campfire to swap lies with our fellow travelers from around the state and nation, before finally retiring for the night to lay on the sand and stare at the stars, or vice versa, in that ol' Betty had "starred" in a number of silent movies, preserved primarily in Super 8 format.
But that was long ago, before the fabled and legendary Twisted Sisters Ranch fell into our hands. Since that time, the month of May has always been heralded by a notice from the United States Department of Agriculture, a wholly-owned subsidiary of M&M Enterprises, inducting us into the Legion of Duff-Plucking Suckers who must ceremoniously remove all forest flotsam from around our sheds and outhouses by about the first of June.
"Greetings from the U. S. Government!" the notice reads, eerily reminiscent of a WW II draft notice. "You are hereby commanded to take up arms in the nation's war against forest fires! You must report for duty at 0500 on 24 May 2002 and remain at your post until all matter of flammable crud has been moved to a distance of not less than 30-feet from any manmade object, or face the consequences of federal bureaucracy!"
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One of the little-known gimmicks employed by some very unprofessional rural columnists is the so-called "diary" or "journal" piece, in which activities are documented hour-by-hour or day-by-day to construct a finished product. Setting myself apart from those who lower themselves to such practices, I have wisely elected to employ this same evil technique so you will know exactly what to watch for in the future.
Hour One: I awake, and look around me, at these four gray walls that surround me. And I realize, Lord, I'm plagiarizing the lyrics from some old song. With my faithful dog Joni Harms beside me, I brew a cup of cowboy coffee and venture forth to meet the day, leaving Betty to capture a little more sleep. The dog and I visit a few trees, examine animal tracks, expel phlegm.
Hour Two: Betty arises, stretches magnificently, then visits the outhouse, which doesn't stink yet, but will by noon.
Hour Three: I'm assigned to begin work behind the latrine, where the slope is steep, the boulders are many, and opportunities are few. With pitchfork and12-tine rake in hand, I set about making piles of oak leaves and pine needles, being ever-vigilant for one of the timber rattlers I've never encountered. I attend to this task while pondering the deeper meaning of the dream I experienced during the night. Picture this, if you will: a 12" square, clear Plexiglas cube divided by a shelf in the middle. On the shelf in a collection of "Hot Wheels" toy cars, in all shapes and colors, parked bumper-to-bumper, with a red sedan in the middle. The floor of the cube is empty, save for an identical red sedan, parked directly below its counterpart on the shelf above. There is a "dialogue" or "title" associated with this cube: "You will attend the dinner party with Antoinette on the lower level of the parking structure, and Antoinette will die."
That's it; that's the total extent of the dream. I can't explain it, but if your name is Antoinette I would strongly suggest that you never dine and party inside a parking structure if Hacksaw's present.
Hour Four: While Betty continues her grueling, half-naked assault on the upper slope, I move to the area immediately in front of the cabin. This is easy territory for me, fairly level and mostly free of rocks, so my mind again wanders. I start thinking about the challenges I've faced recently since making a major lifestyle change: switching from button-fly Levis to zipper-front Wranglers. You see, I'm at that stage in the transition where I'm still alternating between both, waiting for the last pair of Levis to wear out. Therein lies the problem.
Both Levis and Wranglers have buttons at the top. When buttoning-up a pair of Levis, it makes sense to start at the bottom and work your way up, whereas with Wranglers it's standard practice to button the top first and then pull up the zipper. So, when I'm wearing the Wranglers and I button the top, I tend to think the job is done. But if I'm wearing Levis and make the mistake of thinking I'm wearing Wranglers, I fasten the top button and tend to overlook the four below it. Either way, I walk around with my fly open until some strange lady is kind and brave enough to bring it to my attention, at which time every other female within earshot turns and stares. Sure, if the Wranglers are involved, it's simple enough to just pull up the zipper and get on with my life, but not so with the button fly. In fact, it's pretty much necessary to stand up and leave the restaurant entirely before completing the job.
Hour Five: Betty is taking a break to sew up a torn cushion, and I have moved into the road, or what most would call the driveway, in that it dead ends at the cabin. There's very little duff here; mostly just pine cones which are fun to punt into the forest. I should have brought a nine iron. Seeing the label sticking up out of the back of Betty's tank top makes me think about women's fashions. I've learned to never mention any deficiency in a woman's apparel, for her entire self-esteem is based on the perception of her image gained by looking in the mirror. What she doesn't see is not a part of that perception, including anything visible only from the rear. She does not want to know if the label is sticking up from the back of her blouse, or if the butt of her jeans is ripped. I know these things because I work in an office building with hundreds of women. If two women are talking, and one has her label sticking out and the other has her blouse hiked up on top of her butt, neither will tell the other of the distraction. Amazing.
Hour Six, Seven, Eight: Betty fetches the wheelbarrow. Together, we load 39 piles of duff and make them disappear. A job well done, and I've gotten a lot of things straightened out in my mind. I see a red sedan coming up the drive, cast a reassuring glance at my crotch and instinctively reach for the pitchfork. Everything is according to plan.
Calendar Hacksaw hides his duff at http://www.calendarhacksaw.com, and he thinks it would be a good idea if men would look in the mirror more often when wearing Levis or Wranglers. And women would do well to keep track of what's happening behind them, or else learn to differentiate between "criticism" and "correction."