The Year of the Leg
2003 was a typical year -- some ups and downs, and lots of in-betweens.
JANUARY: I'm scheduled to teach two computer courses at Ozarka College during spring semester. Along with writing my weekly columns for The News, this will barely keep me afloat financially. Then one of the courses is cancelled because of lack of interest. To make ends meet I dine on acorns and bark twice a week.
FEBRUARY: My father and mother each break a leg during the same week in separate accidents, each requiring surgery. My father spends many weeks hobbling around with a walker, and my mother is confined to a wheelchair even longer. To make matters worse, they're forced to spend lots of time together.
MARCH: Saddam Hussein, the brutal leader of a country with several hundred billion barrels of oil reserves, plays chicken with the president of the USA, a Texas oilman. Don't mess with Texas.
APRIL: Saddam Hussein wants his people to fight to the death. Very few do. The Butcher of Baghdad goes into hiding like a cornered rat. Bush awards his buddies at Halliburton with a rebuilding contract. As usual, big campaign supporters get the gravy and everyone else picks up the tab. In the end, no one wins.
MAY: Spring semester ends. I release my students into the cold, cruel world to fend for themselves. They all seem confident. Perhaps too confident. The real world has a way of turning high expectations into a pile of mush.
JUNE: Some dude buys a couple of acres down the road not far from me and starts building a house. The world is closing in. I consider moving but I'm down to about nine dollars and a small jar of quarters.
JULY: I'm awarded first place by the Arkansas Press Association for best humor column written in 2002. My ego swells with pride. I presume people are actually reading my gibberish and decide to continue writing the column for another year even though I've already said everything I had to say and am nearly brain-dead.
AUGUST: One day I spot a huge creature stalking me. It turns out to be my refection in a mirror. I decide to shed some of my excess tonnage so I get a treadmill. A week later, I take a spill off the back end, whacking my shin real hard. Although X-rays are negative, I'm on crutches for several weeks. Another leg injury in the family.
SEPTEMBER: I'm scheduled to teach three computer courses at Ozarka College during fall semester. It will be a financial windfall. Then one of the courses is cancelled because of lack of interest. The great thing about this time of year is that acorns are easy to gather and bark begins peeling by itself.
OCTOBER: The autumn leaves change color, the air is fresh and the chiggers have gone into seclusion. If I'm not careful, I might become an optimist. But fortunately, I know better.
NOVEMBER: My favorite NFL football team, the Minnesota Vikings, wins their first six games in a row, then loses the next four games in a row. Being a Vikings fan is a lot like marrying the perfect woman, only to learn during the honeymoon that her real name was John before she had an operation to turn her into Jane.
DECEMBER: Fall semester comes to an end. I release another small herd of students into the cold, cruel world to fend for themselves. They all seem confident. If they only knew. Two days later, Saddam Hussein is found hiding in a hole in the ground. While he had encouraged his followers to go down in a blaze of glory, he crawls out of his rat hole with his hands in the air. In his moment of truth, he's all hat and no cattle.
Except for the various leg injuries in my clumsy family, it was an uneventful year in my little corner of the world. In other corners of the world, turmoil prevailed. Uneventful years are just fine with me. I leave the turmoil to those who create it and those who must deal with it. I'm too busy gathering acorns and peeling bark to care.
2004 will probably be another typical year -- some ups and downs, and lots of in-betweens. * * *