Who Has Seen the Wind?
It was the middle of a windy Wednesday morning at Poindexter's Garage and Auto Sales. Tug Armstrong, the expert mechanic who was fondly known in the community as “Bad News,” was replacing the fuel pump on Darlene Maxwell's ancient 1979 Mercury Monarch, when Earl Ogden stopped by to invite Tug to play on his slow pitch softball team. Earl's team was currently in first place in the Geezer’s Summer League and scheduled to play the second place team, a group of loud, obnoxious fellows who were sponsored by Menards and wore mufti uniforms and caps displaying the emblem of the Swiss Army Knife.
“I need you to play first base tonight/” Earl said, getting right to the point. Usually Earl would wander around and around the point, circling like some huge bird of prey, going off on all kinds of interesting and informative tangents, and then, when the listener had let his guard down, Earl would zoom in for the kill. But on this morning Earl was desperate to find a substitute for his injured player..
Slowly Tug Armstrong wiped the grease from his hands and poured a cup of coffee. Then he looked at Earl and said, “I had better call Jane and see if she has any plans for this evening. I am in the doghouse with her because she learned that I went to Peoria over the weekend and checked out Patti Melt and the High Five Gentleman's Club. The problem was that I didn't tell her where I was going. She was waiting up for me when I came home. It seems that Gladys Ikenbee had called and told her that a group of fellows had gone to see what the club was like.”
When Jane answered the call, Tug said, “Dear Heart, Mother of my children, Woman of Incomparable Beauty, Problem Solver par excellence, Delicious Cheese Pudding of My Life, Bud of Spring in the Bone-chilling Days of Winter, do we have plans for this evening? Earl Ogden is here to ask me to play on his slow pitch softball team for his game tonight. I told him I would have to check with you first.”
A look of consternation spread across Tug’s visage, and he exclaimed, “What? You say you had some chores lined up for me? You want me to insulate the doghouse and weed the garden? Look, can I do that tomorrow night? Earl desperately needs someone to play first base. He doesn't want to lose to the Menards team, and I am his only hope.”
Tug turned to Earl and said, “I’m sorry, but Jane has some chores for me to do tonight. Can’t you find anyone else?”
Earl shook his head and replied, “I have tried everyone I know. Look, why don’t you ask Jane if you can do the chores tomorrow night? Here, let me talk to her.”
Earl took the phone and said, “Earl here, Jane. I need Tug to play tonight. We don’t want to lose to that obnoxious Menards team. I’ll tell you what,. if you let Tug play, I will help him with the chores. You can even think of more tasks for Tug to do. Now how’s that for a bargain? Yes, I’ll put Tug back on the phone.”
Tug Armstrong spoke to his wife, “Jane, what do you say to Earl’s proposal?”
Then he hung up, grinned at Earl, and said, “Jane agreed to postpone the chores until tomorrow evening if you can help me with them. She always attaches some new conditions when she lets me get out of something she wants me to do. Now she wants us to ditch the meadow. Will you help me with the chores?”
“I promised I would, but I didn’t think Jane would take advantage of me. You were the last person on my list,” Earl answered. “I couldn’t think of anything else to say, but I don’t like it one bit.”
“Speaking of not liking something,” Tug said, “I don't like this wind. I hope it calms down for tonight's game. For some reason, I don't play my best in the wind.”
Earl Ogden thought a moment, looked Tug squarely in the eyes and said, “Plato was right when he claimed that we can't see the most important things in our world. He believed they were invisible and that's was why they were most important. He was referring to such abstractions as love, justice, honor, goodness, and truth. But he could also mean the wind. After all, we don't actually see the wind. We see the force of the wind and how it affects the things in its path, but we don't see the wind itself. That reminds me of a story my Uncle Biff used to tell.”
Then, inspired, Earl told the following story:
“There was this good woman who had a houseful of children, eight of them to be precise. Usually they were good kids and she loved them dearly, but occasionally they would have a bad day all at the same time. At such times they would drive her up the wall.
“One very windy day they all went ballistic and ran around the house yelling and screaming.. The reason? Who knows for sure? Maybe it was the wind that caused the problems. Blame it on the Bossa Nova if you can’t think of anything else, but the children were unusually wild and noisy, fighting, throwing things, tormenting the dog, and arguing with each other. They were impossible. The noise was deafening, and the poor woman couldn't calm them down or get a moment's peace. She was beside herself, a nervous wreck. Her husband wouldn't be home for three hours, and she knew she couldn't last that long if the racket continued.
“Finally she had an idea. She got a balloon and blew it up and painted it with bright colors, orange, blue, purple, yellow, red, and green. She gave it to the kids to play with. Her plan worked like a charm. The kids loved it and had a good time batting the balloon around and chasing it. The good woman was able to enjoy some peace and quiet. She even got some work done.
“Well, the kids began to lose interest in the balloon. It was slowly deflating as balloons tend to do, so the kids tired of it and threw it in the bathroom stool. The kids had used all of their energy in playing with the balloon and lay down on the floor to rest.
The woman had to use the bathroom, and she came in and sat down without looking into the stool.
“When she got up, she looked down and saw this strange object. It was orange, blue, purple, red, and green. She panicked and thought she had lost something important from her insides, so she called her doctor, but she couldn’t describe the problem sufficiently so he could offer a diagnosis, and he told her he would rush over right away.
“Now the doctor was a kindly man, but he was slow and elderly. In fact people in the community thought he might be two days older than God. But he was a good man and a good doctor. He always did his best, which is all we can expect of ourselves or anyone else.
“When the doctor arrived, the worried woman quickly ushered him into the bathroom and pointed at the stool, which contained a strange object that was orange, blue, purple, yellow, red, and green.
“Even with his thick glasses, the doctor's eyesight was very weak, so be knelt down to get a close look at the object. He had never seen such a thing in his medical career. Bewildered, he took out his Swiss Army Knife and gently poked the object, but couldn't tell what it was. Finally he gave the object a vigorous poke which punctured the balloon. It exploded, spraying the contents of the stool in his face.
“Calmly and deliberately, the elderly doctor stood up, wiped his face, and then his glasses. He shook his head and said, 'Lady, in 50 years of medical practice that's the first time I have ever seen a fart.'”
That evening Earl Ogden’s team, with Tug playing first base, defeated the Menards team by a score of 18-15. Tug had two home runs, a triple, and a double. He made two sparkling defensive plays to rob Menards’ players of sure hits. Clearly, Tug was the difference in the game, in spite of the strong wind and the trash talking of the Menards players. They were so discouraged they didn’t have the heart to sing “Save big money at Menards.”
Earl and Tug walked off the field in triumph and decided to celebrate the win with a libation or two at Suds Guzzle’s Lounge and Billiard Parlor.
As they parted, Tug reminded Earl of his promise to help him with chores the next evening.
A worried look suddenly appeared on Earl’s face. He shook his head sadly, and said, “I just remembered that tomorrow night I promised Gladys Ikenbee I would take her to Peoria to see Mama Mia. I don’t have the heart to disappoint her. I’m afraid you’ll just have to go ahead without me. Under the circumstances, I believe Jane would understand.”
Tug replied, “She would understand all right. She would sweep you up like a mighty wind, tie you to a chair, and force you to watch Mama Mia for 48 straight hours; then she would do the Fat City Tango on your skull. After that you would be going around singing the Menards song and spend your evenings waiting for Godot .”