Af­fairs in or­der

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - Harold Wal­ters Harold Wal­ters lives Hap­pily Ever Af­ter in Dunville, in the only Cana­dian prov­ince with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach him at gh­wal­ters663@gmail.com

Wel­come to 2017. Hope it’s the best year ever!

Christ­mas 2016 is dis­as­sem­bled, boxed and stowed on as­signed shelves in the base­ment.

New Year’s rocket can­is­ters, rav­eled stream­ers and silly party hats have been swept up and dumped.

In a few more days Don­ald Trump will be King of Amer­ica.

There’s a thought to give you the cold shiv­ers, eh b’ys? It’s a time of new re­solve. “Harry, my New Year’s love,” said Dear­est Duck on New Year’s morn­ing, “why not make a res­o­lu­tion to put your af­fairs in or­der?”

“Af­fairs in or­der, my Duck?” said I.

“Yes. Tidy up the lit­ter you have around the house.”

“Oh, those af­fairs. For a sec­ond I thought you might know some­thing I didn’t about put­ting my af­fairs in or­der,” said I.

“Don’t be silly. Just clean up your clut­ter. Start with where you are,” said my life’s con­trol­ling force. “Where I am? What?” I was in my favourite place in the world — for­eign lands in­cluded — my Lay-Z-Boy, with a mug of Tension Tamer lodged on a wob­bly tower of books on the end ta­ble be­side me.

Dear­est Duck pursed her lips — what­ever that means.

Feel­ing some­what im­pose on, I shuf­fled the as­sorted re­motes scat­tered around the foot of the tower and lined them up in mil­i­tary or­der.

“That’s a start,” said Dear­est Duck. “Don’t stop.”

Lev­er­ing the chair’s footrest into sit­ting po­si­tion I leaned over and hauled out the end ta­ble’s drawer. Then us­ing the edge of my hand I raked a log­jam of pens and mark­ers into the drawer and shuffed it shut.

Like a pup, I raised my eyes for as­sur­ances of love from Dear­est Duck only to find she’d gone away. Sat­is­fied with my start, I s’pose.

Af­ter cen­ter­ing my read­ing light on the ta­ble I col­lected my iStuff, and dropped it into the Lay-Z-Boy’s pocket. I was ready to de­part this site of freshly or­ga­nized af­fairs.

God­dess Sees-It-All, called from the kitchen. “Don’t for­get your of­fice.”

Sar­casm dripped from “of­fice” to re­mind me I worked [?] in the spare bed­room, com­fort­ably en­sconced at a com­puter desk among book­shelves, a cou­ple of print­ers and a throw­away lap­top.

My of­fice was a dis­or­derly af­fair. There were no vis­i­ble flat sur­faces. Reams of stacked pa­per leaned against each other in loose leafed [!] em­brace. Vol­canic book­shelves had erupted and spewed vol­umes of nov­els into cor­ners. Books oozed be­neath the bed and into my desk’s knee-well like cool­ing lava. God­dess driven, I fisted in. At the end of an ex­haust­ing day, af­fairs in my of­fice were in or­der.

“Lovely,” said Dear­est Duck af­ter a glance.

Pea­cock proud, “Thanks, my Duck.”

She slipped a pat-pat­ting arm around me. “To­mor­row, the base­ment,” she said. Never an end, eh b’ys? By base­ment Dear­est Duck specif­i­cally meant my fee­ble ex­cuse for a work­shop.

I con­fess it was a sham­bles. All quiche-starved men know what it looked like. As­sorted bits and bobs of boards with un­evenly sawn end; a work­bench lit­tered with mys­te­ri­ous power tools, cords tail­ing from them like worms flee­ing fish­er­men; some­thing dark and dirty — a torn piece of tarp? — peep­ing from be­neath saw­dust heaped like a haystack.

Like a cow­puncher rid­ing herd, I freed my Shop Vac from a dark cor­ner, cut it loose from a col­lec­tion of ma­chin­ery — a lawn­mower with a limp pull cord; a snow blower rusted and an­gry-faced; whip­per-snip­pers tum­bled like pick-up-sticks.

Shop Vac stogged to the gills, I snagged the tails of power tools, hauled them off the work­bench and hoisted them like a skiver of trout from an alien world.

With glacial haste, or­der took form. Screw­drivers, wrenches, two ham­mers, vice-grips and some­thing ar­cane — maybe a plumb bob, what­ever that is — found places to live on a peg­board wall.

At one point dur­ing the two days it took to clear up my work­shop, I peeled a ru­ined I said, hand­saw from a con­gealed smear of grease and oil. Pappy would have whacked my nog­gin for mis­treat­ing a fine tool in such a fash­ion.

Fin­ished, my chest pumped up like a banty rooster, I in­vited Dear­est Duck in for an in­spec­tion.

“Good job, my ha­rassed honey,” she said. “All af­fairs in or­der.”

Still on topic — truly: If God spares me un­til my next birth­day, I’ll en­ter a new decade. And guess what? Poi­soned, I’d hove out yes­ter­day’s mail. You’ve seen the like, I bet — a post­card-sized promo from some Shield — blue or red or pur­ple — an­nounc­ing with words to this ef­fect:

AFFORDABLE FUNERAL COVERAGE. PROTECT YOUR LOVED ONES. PUT YOUR AF­FAIRS IN OR­DER. For frig sake! Thank you for read­ing. Happy New Year!

By base­ment Dear­est Duck specif­i­cally meant my fee­ble ex­cuse for a work­shop. I con­fess it was a sham­bles.

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