*Editor’s note: This column originally ran in Sept. 2011 and has been re-worked for a second term.
Not that I have any choice in the matter, but mind-boggling things sometimes happen to me and around me.
Being so comprehensively locked into proper, sensible, rational patterns of existence, many people could never truly relate. But in my life and the lives a select few other citizens of this planet, the laws of physics sometimes simply don’t apply. Gravity is sometimes defied, time can speed up or slow down, and phrases like “never before” and “that’s impossible” give way to “anything goes” and “it figures.”
About the only law that truly does apply is Murphy’s.
To offer a glimpse of living in a realm where the known and accepted seem to at times take a back seat to the surreal, allow me to elaborate.
•I wear glasses. I can be sitting at a desk, driving in a car or doing any number of other things that would seem to shelter my eyewear from the potential of attracting dirt.
But lo and behold, against all odds and seemingly without rhyme or reason, the lenses of my glasses will get smudged or otherwise gunked up. Mind you, this transformation takes place without my head being placed under a Krispy Kreme Donut glazed icing machine.
For that matter, nothing has to go near my glasses for it to happen, not even my potato chip-greased hands.
It’s an unexplainable force at work, one that resembles that of a magnet attracting steel.
•I like to eat hot dogs. But if and when I do, it’s inevitable that a condiment is going to end up out of place.
All I have to do is bite into a bun with an Oscar Meyer all-beef wiener inside, and a tiny bit of mustard or ketchup suddenly grows wings, travels in the direction of a freshly cleaned shirt or tablecloth and attaches like a burr to a dog’s tail. Sometimes it’s my own shirt, but sometimes it’s a table runner, doily or other object made of clean fabric (often fragile) that is positioned in such a way that reaching it would seem to require a condiment droplet to make a midair direction change on its way to becoming a stain.
And never mind being careful – no amount of awareness or preparation can prevent this phenomenon coming to fruition. It’s a similar form of unstoppable magnetism.
It’s not a matter of if, but when and where.
And spaghetti? There will be a sauce dot.
•While my body is fairly long, it isn’t exactly wide (although its girth certainly has increased and continues increasing).
When I worked for a while with a heating and air conditioning company in Northeast Georgia, my supervisors used to like to “send me in” when a crawl space allowed only two inches clearance above one’s face or when a duct needed to be run in an attic space between two surfaces separated by inches rather than feet.
But narrow stature notwithstanding, I can bash my shoulder on a door jam or archway with the best of them. In fact, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that when I walk from one room to another, a force precedes me that reduces size of the opening for just an instant.
These body blows can happen in any building, both in dark and brightly lit conditions, but it seems to be a more common occurrence in locations I am most familiar with – like my own home.
If only I had a nickel for every time I heard “did you just hit your shoulder?”
•Now and then I’ll go to a grocery store having been told by my wife to pick up a few specific things.
But all I have to do is set foot in the store and its inventory goes through a set of changes worthy of a popular science fiction movie. My mere presence apparently has the ability to cause wide-ranging rearrangement on the shelves and a major shuffle in pricing.
Where the desired pint of half-and-half once rested, a half-gallon of Florida orange juice now sits. While the 8-ounce block of sharp white cheddar was marked down 55 cents as little as 16 hours earlier, it has now been hiked to a point 45 cents higher than it was prior to the markdown, resulting in a one-dollar turn around.
And the brand of requested hair coloring? Not there. The “good” style of salad mix? Also gone.
I sometimes think cell phones were invented by someone who faced similar challenges when making trips to the store. It’s good to be able to call for “plan B” or explain why I’m about to come home without the special vinegar.
In a way, I feel a little sorry that some people may never know the pain of knocking the same knee on the same desk again and again, experience the wonder of having a different car problem every other week, or being humbled by the inanimate shelves of a grocery store.
But there are those of us who do – or will – know what it’s like to get motor oil on a favorite coat, drop an expensive watch on the hardwood floor, or spill grape juice on a white carpet. And I believe we must be steadfast in upholding that status.
I’m not saying there’s anything noble or historic about such an endeavor, but I believe there is duty in its recognition and pursuit.
It’s about making way for the inexplicable and showing respect to the irreversible. But most of all, it’s about carrying on the unexplainable.
Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald.