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October 26, 2013

Neal Kicks the Bucket

Have no fear, Neal is not dead. He just kicked the bucket.

When Neal was a teenager, about 13 or 14, in the so-called ‘stupid’ years because that’s when you tend to misunderstand cause and effect relationships, Neal was in the backyard looking after his squirt little brother, Noel. Noel was about 3 or 4, sitting in the sandbox, drooling. Neal was often called on by his working mom to look after Noel, but he disliked his brother because he was a baby.

Neal wanted to be a football star, kicking was his specialty. He was, in fact, dribbling a volleyball and bouncing it against the outer wall of the house. If anyone had been inside at the moment, he would have been in big trouble.

Then he got bored, but he had no intention of going down to play in the sandbox with his little squirt brother Noel. Then he spotted it. Noel had left a plastic bucket of sand outside the sandbox on the near side. He was inside the sandbox gurgling and shoveling sand up and down like an idiot.

Neal made a plan. He would take a running start and place-kick the bucket so that the sand would spray all over Noel like a sandstorm. He could see it all before it happened. The running start, the plastic bucket full of sand, the tidal wave on his brother’s head – the perfect plan.

Neal shifted his weight back and then forward on his left leg. Then he took the five or six steps to the bucket. Then he put all his weight and muscle into the kick. Then he screamed. Noel looked up in his direction. What’s your problem? Noel went back to shoveling sand.

A plastic bucket full of sand may as well be full of cement. It’s not powdered sugar or fairy dust. It is extremely heavy. Perhaps the sand was even wet. Neal rammed his foot into the bucket and the most it did was topple over on its side. No spray. Only a scream of pain. Neal would have felt the same thing if he’d kicked with all his might the side wall of the house. His big toe started to swell inside his tennis shoe.

When his mother came home, Neal said that everything was fine. When she saw him limping, he said he’d gotten a splinter in his sole, but had taken it out. That was a lie; his big toe was broken. Neal tried to hide his pain and the swelling and discoloration for several weeks, until his toe partially healed. Getting out of gym class was particularly challenging. Things inside his shoe eventually got back to normal.

The price of a practical joke: that’s what Neal learned from this episode. He’s now in his fifties, and every so often his big toe on his kicking foot still hurts like hell. It reminds him that, although his dear brother, Noel, is in his forties, Neal would still like to dump a load of sand on his head.

Happy trials, Martin

Mutt: An electrician was out late one night and met his wife in the kitchen as he sneaked in the front door.
  His wife asked, "Wire ya insulate?"
  He replied, "Watts it to ya, I'm ohm, ain't I?"
Jeff: Not electrician jokes again!
Mutt: That wasn’t a joke.
Jeff: I know. Okay. A manufacturer of electric light bulbs was talking to the owner of a theater. "I'd like to supply you with bulbs for your marquee," the manufacturer said, "and it won't cost you a penny. It will enable me to realize a lifelong ambition."
  "If I accept the free bulbs," the curious theater manager asked, "will you tell me about this ambition of yours?"
  "Certainly," the man said. "It's just that I've always dreamed of seeing my lights up in names!"
Mutt: Mine was better. If electricity comes from electrons, does that mean that morality comes from morons?
Jeff: You would know. Say, did you hear that in Baltimore, the Psychic Friends Network has filed for bankruptcy. They say they never saw it coming.
Mutt: Hey, Some people are wise, and some, otherwise.
Jeff: And I wanted to be a mime, but I talked myself out of it.