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If You Can’t Laugh at Yourself…. Laugh at Me Instead

July 2, 2012

where it all happened – lousy pic but I don’t feel like waiting until tomorrow morning to take another in proper daylight

Sometimes God (I don’t have the energy to be politically correct, feel free to replace ‘God’ with any deity or lack there of that makes you happy for the remainder of this post) plays practical jokes on us that are just too hilarious not to share with the world.  And as embarrassing as this may be for me, every minute you are reading my blog with laughter is a minute you aren’t reading ignorant and hateful comments on the Huffington Post with contempt for humanity.  (please note that I am referring to the comments, not the actual content of the site)

As anyone who knows me personally will verify, I am a chronic pacer. If I were to list the ten questions most frequently asked by my students, “Wilson, can you PLEASE stand still? You’re giving me a headache!” would be in the top three. Their request will never be granted for two reasons. First of all, I am incapable. Second, my pacing is one of the main reasons I am a successful teacher. Besides the obvious benefits that every first semester education student could recite, the endless pacing combined with my unpredictably quirky and erratic behavior make it impossible for my students not to pay attention in my class. They are generally terrified and fascinated by what I might do or say at any given moment. The headache they falsely attribute to hours of head turning, neck craning and looking over their shoulder is actually the result of their brain repairing years of cerebral atrophy.

Ok, no more tangents… I promised you a story.

As I established in paragraph two, I pace – especially when I am talking. My current residence is not conducive to indoor pacing, so phone calls are taken outside. As you can probably imagine, the size and shape of the yard in concert with the large pool at its center forces my pacing to take the form of laps – which for reasons I dare not ponder too deeply – are always counter-clockwise.

I have logged well over a hundred hours of “phone laps” without incident this year alone, and Saturday started no differently than any day prior. I was about 15 minutes and 12 laps into a conversation (damn it, I hate it when I come up with clever lines like that – now I’m really curious to calculate my average velocity during phone conversations) when the inevitable happened. It was only a matter of time.

As I prepared to round the second corner my foot ever so slightly snagged on a crack. Not enough to make me fall, but just enough to cause a differential in the velocities of my lower and upper body. At that moment I entered an altered state of consciousness for a length of time I was only able to determine utilizing concepts and equations from Newtonian physics. My perception of time was gone.

As I began to realize what was happening, my head spun forward so my eyes could confirm what my stomach had already told me. In super slow motion I watched the phone which I had bought only a month earlier rise up and away from my now clenched fist. The phone gracefully demonstrated the parabolic trajectory which had been the topic of class discussion only a day before, and I did not need to calculate the zeros of this real world function to know that the relevant solution lied somewhere within the domain of the pool.

In a desperate last moment attempt to prevent this tragedy I extended my foot – an instinct that has saved countless fragile objects from sharing the fate of Humpty Dumpty. While I was successful in reducing its velocity to a rate I believe would have prevented a life-ending shatter, I was not able to alter its trajectory enough to yield any experimental data to support or disprove that theory.


My phone was no more than a few inches below the surface when I experienced another radical shift of consciousness. What was slow motion a moment earlier was now fast forward, and the intelligent, rational person in my brain who normally helps me make good decisions was replaced by Tom Bergeron who provided constant narration without managing to actually say anything intelligent or useful.

Although my mind and body were in fast-forward, the phone still appeared to be in slow motion. It hadn’t gotten half way to the bottom and I felt that I still might be able to save it if I acted quickly enough (my brain had effectively left the building by this point). I grabbed the long net which was conveniently resting nearby and attempted to scoop my phone to safety. What I found out too late was that the knob that allows one to adjust the length of the pole was not tight. I positioned the mouth of the net in the path of the phone and pulled up to reel in my catch only to watch the pole telescope beyond its maximum length, leaving a netless pole in my hands and a poleless net at the bottom of the pool.

Although my phone was now resting beside my net and certainly beyond repair, I had already turned over control of my body to instinct and fear and they were not ready to let my brain take the reins back just yet.

My only option now was to dive into the pool and save the phone with my bare hands.

There was no time to change into a bathing suit but I wasn’t concerned about getting my clothes wet. As the owner of a partially blind dog I often consider the frightening possibility of him falling into the pool and how I may at any time need to dive in and save him without hesitation. That action plan felt appropriate for this situation so I quickly kicked off my shoes and went to empty my pockets. As a person who always loses things I have trained myself to do a ‘three tap check’ before I go anywhere or do anything. It has saved me from losing my wallet, keys and phone (hence the three taps) countless times. It is so second nature to me that I don’t even realize I’m doing it.

Something was wrong. My three tap check sent back a red alert – something was missing. I couldn’t jump into the pool unless I was certain those three crucial items were not going to jump in with me but there was no time to figure it out. The only logical solution was to take off my pants and jump in wearing nothing but my underwear. It would have been embarrassing if someone walked by but not that embarrassing; people often go swimming in their underwear when they can’t find a proper bathing suit.

But God and his evil sidekick Tom Bergeron weren’t done with me yet.

Years of hands on experience wearing pants has taught me that I needed to loosen if not take off the belt, unfasten the button, unzip the fly and pull down. But somehow my brain forgot the proper sequence for performing these steps which resulted in my underwear and zipper becoming inseparably attached.

I saw a towel nearby, so I tossed it toward the edge of the pool and did another check for any unwelcome spectators. My solid grasp of optics gave me confidence that as long as I got into the water unseen the image of my naked body would be distorted enough to preserve the only privacy I actually have control over these days. So in I went with nothing but the refractive index of water to hide my God-given, McDonalds-defiled form from any person or police helicopter that might pass by.

After a couple unsuccessful dives I realized that this plan was not such a good one either. While making one last attempt I realized that while I couldn’t grab the phone, I had no problem grabbing the net. I pulled myself out of the pool, wrapped the towel around my waist and reconnected the net to the pole. Of course, scooping up a phone eight feet underwater wasn’t much easier than my previous method. I realized my only option was to use the net to push and drag the phone to the shallow end of the pool where I could grab it more easily.

By this point my brain was taking back over and time was returning to its normal flow.  Annoyed that I solved his/her little brain-teaser (with little or no help from my actual brain), God decided it would be funny to impose a wardrobe malfunction with almost every push of the net.

At precisely the moment I stopped giving a damn, I gave the phone a push and watched it hop up from the floor of the pool and land in the center of the net.

I reached in to grab the device, and with its dying breath it demonstrated its anger and contempt for me in the form of an electric shock.  I quickly tossed it to the ground and let out a sigh of frustration and relief.

And then my towel fell down again.

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