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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Perfect Words, Imperfect Timing

As you may recall — because I haven’t stopped reminding you lately — I also write over at the newly-revampified Bugs & Cranks baseball emporium. This being both the first week of our relaunch and the first week of the MLB regular season, I’ve been trying to squeeze in as many posts as are feasible over there recently. For instance, in the past couple of days, I managed to bang out Part of a Well-Balanced Ballclub, about the Braves’ multipronged attack, and Wednesday Walk Watch: spWing tWaining Wrapup, celebrating (and ridiculing) those hitters who seemingly refuse to take a base on balls.

Fine. That’s good work. So I figured I’d take the night off. No more baseball musing until Thursday, at least.

“Don’t know, don’t want to know, and certainly don’t want to eat at “Mr. Lucky’s House of Wag” down the street ever again.”

Then the Braves went and saw their bullpen collapse like a post-Viagra comedown, coughed up a seven-run lead in the space of an inning and lost to the Phillies in a game this afternoon. That sort of monumental implosion seemed to scream out for some sort of comment. Like ‘Guuuuuuh!,’ for instance. But I figured I could be more eloquent than that, if only a little.

So after I finished up my work, I stayed at the office a few minutes longer to bang out another piece, entitled This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Teams. I didn’t have a lot of time — our pooch hangs out at ‘doggy day care’ on Wednesdays, and they close shop at 8pm. You get there too late, and… well. I suppose I don’t really know what happens if you’re too late for pickup. Maybe the mutts stay there overnight. Or maybe they go home with the people at the store. Maybe they get sold to fast food Chinese places, and become Thursday’s moo goo gai pups. Don’t know, don’t want to know, and certainly don’t want to eat at “Mr. Lucky’s House of Wag” down the street ever again.

(I knew I tasted schnauzer in the wonton soup last time. And my wife said it was just MSG. J’accuse!)

Anyway, I had a deadline. So I rushed out a few paragraphs, and gave it a quick read-over on the way out the door. It was fine. I didn’t hate it, completely. But it seemed like it was missing something. There was one spot in particular near the end that I thought I could spice up. If I could just drop an appropriate little zinger in there, it’d tie the whole piece together, and I’d be a lot happier with it.

But the clock, she continued to tick.

By 7:30, effectively the very last possible minute, I’d corrected a few spelling mistakes and formatting issues. But I didn’t have that zinger. With the dog possibly teetering between the prospect of a warm blanket at home if I rushed to get her and the business end of a peanut dipping sauce if I didn’t, I had no choice. I submitted the piece and flew out of the office to retrieve the mutt.

But that zinger spot, it bothered me.

All the way to the car, and most of the way to the dog’s place, I racked my brain for just the right sentence to add into that spot. Finally, as I was circling for a parking spot, I latched onto one. It had the right rhythm. It flowed with the rest of the paragraph. It was wildly inappropriate. In other words, it was perfect.

Deathly afraid I’d forget it, I silently repeated the sentence over and over to myself, trying to burn it temporarily into my brain. I parked the car, collected the dog and drove home — the whole way reciting the same little mantra in my head. As soon as I hit the front door, I’d log in and amend the original piece, adding the de resistance cherry on top. That was the plan.

Instead, when I hit the front door, I found my wife on the other side with hands on hips, shaking her head and frowning at me.

Where’s the dog food?

Wait. I picked up the dog, and now I’m supposed to be picking up bags of stuff to put into the dog, too? What kind of deal is this, anyway?

I gave her that blank wide-eyed husband stare that says, ‘I know you’re mad, and I know it’s probably my fault. But I have no clue what the hell you’re going on about, so please let me in on my stupidity and I’ll backpedal as best I can.‘ She turned frownier and said:

I told you yesterday, the dog’s almost out of food. You said you’d pick up a bag tonight.

I still had no memory of this. But it does seem like something I might say — and she did appear to have an awful lot of details to back up her case. A vague flicker of a conversation about dog food, or lack thereof, flashed across my consciousness. Oh, right. Dog food. Yeah, that’s my bad.

But it’s odd, I thought. If I remember that chat at her prompting now, then why didn’t it trigger off back at the dog place? There are bags and bags of dog food sitting on shelves there. That’s what the whole conversation was about; you’d think my brain could put two and two together once in a while and keep me out of trouble. Evidently not.

And then I remembered why. The whole time I was there, I was preoccupied with remembering my sentence. The one I should be adding to the baseball story right this minute, instead of standing here debating where the responsibility lies for our temporarily kibble-less pooch. So for one night, we feed her popcorn or sand or an old shoe or something. No big deal there. Meanwhile, I’ve got this sentence to get to.

I should have just apologized and excused myself, but I didn’t. That’s my problem, always wanting to explain how I got myself into a mess. So I told her:

Oh, sorry. I was preoccupied trying not to forget something, and the food slipped my mind.

That was clearly the wrong angle to take. Hands still on hips, she leveled her eyes on me and asked:

Well, what was it? What was so damned important that our puppy has to starve tonight now?

A smart man would have cut his losses then. Deflected the question, or thought up a lie, or just run screaming away until the heat died down. Not me, though. I don’t have those sorts of filters, or the wherewithal to defend myself. Without thinking, I simply blurted out the snippet I was saving for that B&C story:

The Braves threw more balls in the dirt than a team of gay midget mud wrestlers.

Let’s just say that didn’t go over so well. Everyone’s a critic, I guess. Maybe if she’d read the rest of the piece first, maybe. Seen the context. Or a big bag of kibble under my arm. That might have helped things along.

So now the wife’s mad, the dog’s starving and I’m in hot water again, as usual. But at least there’s a silver lining. I finally did get around to updating my post. And from now on, I think I’ll ‘announce’ new Bugs & Cranks content here with a snippet sentence like that one, rather than a big descriptive prequel to each post. I might add a link back to this post to explain the rationale — and why I’m sleeping on the couch for the next three weeks — but I like the idea of the snippet as teaser.

Not sure I’ll be able to top one with gay midget mud wrestlers any time soon, but I’ll sure give it a try. Just as soon as I buy more Alpo tomorrow. First things first, you know.

Permalink  |  1 Comment

One Response to “Perfect Words, Imperfect Timing”

  1. J.W. says:

    HAHAHAHAHA! You crack me the hell up.

    I’m glad that the dog is still doing ok, albeit STARVING, poor puppy. Careful, she may eat your face!

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