My life long best friend Jim passed away a few years ago. All of us who knew him still miss him very much. In addition to being a good hearted person, Jim was also a constant source of humor for us all. He had a way of turning a mundane activity into a hilarious adventure. (Reference my earlier blog Jim and the Hat) Jim also enjoyed hearing about the adventures he created and laughed as hard as the rest of us whenever they were told and retold. One of Jim’s most frequent “victims” over the years was his dad, Mel. This is another story in which Jim provided a hilarious adventure, at poor Mel’s expense.
My best friend Jim and his family had a cottage on a small lake near Wautoma, Wisconsin. The lake had a nice population of panfish, as well as some nice bass and a few northern pike as well. There were many other lakes and rivers in the area along with a few other attractions, which lured us up there over the years. Jim and I went up there quite a bit in our youth, where we had many fishing and hunting adventures….and a few miss-adventures as well.
At one time, some years ago, Jim and I along with his brother Don and his parents Mel and Isla were all up at the cottage at the same time. After an extended rainy period, the yard had become a mud wallow and Mel’s boat and trailer sank into the heavy muck. Mel recruited Jim, Don and I to help him get his boat and trailer dislodged from the mud and moved to higher ground.
I looked forward to the task, as any affair involving Jim and his Dad usually turned into a slapstick adventure filled with hilarity.
From an early age, Jim had gotten into the habit of “borrowing” things from his dad, with little or no notice. Jim continued this practice into adulthood.
Mel was a big fellow, quiet but with a wry sense of humor and a keen wit. Over time, Mel, being rather shrewd, implemented a plan to keep track of his possessions and the flow of them. He accomplished this by spray-painting all of his tools and equipment iridescent orange.
Now having done this, any time Mel needed an inventory of his possessions, which he suspected Jim of appropriating, he merely paid Jim a visit and anything with the telltale iridescent orange paint was promptly repossessed.
The plan worked fairly well, however not all of Mel’s possessions lent themselves to the garish paint job, and those items that were not suitable for the orange treatment were, unfortunately for Mel, still vulnerable to Jim’s predation. A contributing factor in all of this was that as a young adult, Jim was about the same size as Mel.
Now, back to our story regarding the boat and trailer mired in muck. On this particular day, the four of us headed out to rescue Mel’s rig, and sure enough, there sat the boat and trailer, buried in about two feet of mud. From where it was located, all we could do was try to push it out by hand, as there was no room for a vehicle on either side.
While Mel and Jim positioned themselves on one side of the boat, Don and I took the other. We were giving it all we had, struggling and pushing it through the muck, while at the same time trying to maintain our balance so as not to end up lying in the wallow alongside the boat. Things were progressing fairly well, and it looked like we would soon get the boat and trailer onto dry ground until Mel suddenly dropped his load and started yelling at the top of his voice
“What the hell are you doing with my new shoes on?” Mel roared.
Don, Jim and I all looked down, and sure enough, caked in mud though they were, you could clearly see the fine crafted leather of Mel’s formerly impeccable new leather dress shoes…on Jim’s feet.
Now Jim knew he was in trouble (been there before), and he was soon back peddling as fast as he could, while all the while professing ignorance.
“Dad, I thought they were mine, no kidding…I didn’t realize I put your shoes on!”
Red with rage, Mel wasn’t buying it, as he went after Jim like a pit bull after a ham bone, yelling and snorting in the process.
Soon Jim was running around the trailer full speed, with a game old Mel hot on his heels. Don and I, now holding up the entire load, and of course laughing like hyenas, finally dropped our load as well.
This hilarious scene went on for a minute or two more until Jim danced far enough away and out of reach, after which Mel just stood and glared at him.
Eventually Mel calmed down and Jim, maintaining his proclamations of innocence, promised to clean the shoes up as good as new; placating Mel just enough. Jim went in the house changed into his own shoes, and returned to position himself at the boat again, making sure to stay out of Mel’s reach.
Soon with the boat on dry ground, we all retreated to the cabin, where Jim spent the better part of an hour cleaning Mel’s new shoes…under the watchful eye of Mel of course.
NOTE: Although Jim borrowed some of my “stuff” over the years, as I borrowed some of his, I never had to worry about him borrowing my clothing or foot wear. Jim was 6’2” tall and had enormous hands and feet. He wore a size fourteen shoe, compared to my size eight.
On more than one occasion I complained about having to pay the same amount for my shoes as he did for his, despite the difference in size. “Yours take half a cow” I would say.
Bald at an early age, Jim would respond by pointing out that he and I paid the same amount for a haircut. Case closed!