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July 12, 2012 10:00 am

MY LOUSY WORLD: Doug day afternoon

Written by Doug Blough

June 30 began like many days for me: partly cloudy with a 70 percent chance of pain. But even I could never have guessed the perfect storm about to befall me. It was another Doug Day Afternoon, and as Mangold is my witness, every word is true.

I had taken another day off for a holiday I like to call Wednesday, and I only had to deliver shingle samples to Evelyn Lawson’s house across from city hall and buy dog food. Since my dogs wouldn’t be in the heat for long, they were treated to a rare, summer ride.

I left my truck idle while talking to Evelyn’s daughter Meghan and her precocious 4-year-old son Taylor. The conversation lingered until Meghan said, “Why don’t I hear your truck running anymore?” Getting gas was the other thing on my schedule.

As Meghan hustled away for a can with precious little gas inside, I helped my dogs from the hot truck for a walk to Ron’s Exxon several blocks away. As I sniffed the can to make sure it actually was gas, I heard, “Sniffing gas again, Blough?” It was the amused Mayor Mangold getting into his nearby car.

The scant gas was insufficient, so we headed south in the broiling sun — 13-year-old, 110 lb. Trinity lagging behind and perpetually spunky Trina jerking me forward. In front of Cody Motor Lodge across from Wendy’s, Trinity stopped suddenly and assumed the familiar, hump-backed posture in the middle of the sidewalk.

Putting No. 2 and No. 2 together, I knew exactly what was about to happen. I begged him to hold it for just a few seconds to reach a bush, but he looked at me like, “Your odds of getting struck by lightning are better than me changing course at this point.”

He left first one, then two more fiber-deficient piles that weren’t even a natural hue. An observant motel guest seated in front of the office made some dumb joke and offered to fetch paper towels. Bounty might be the quicker-picker-upper, but Bounty met its match on that steaming sidewalk.

It must be the only block in Cody with no garbage can, so now I’m crossing busy Main Street with the disgusting towels, the can, one dog yanking me forward and the other barely moving behind me. With motorists braking in pity, I finally reached the Exxon pump as the 3 p.m. sun registered 95. A tourist couple at the next pump started a conversation, asking how old my dogs are and telling me about their dogs back home.

Now they come over to engage my confused dogs, and I’m worried a flustered Trinity might bite, while someone starts chatting me up and making jokes from the furthest pump. It was nearly obscured by RVs, but I recognized the voice of old friend Rich Evans. Bent over pumping gas while holding two leashes and fielding questions from three different people was almost unbearable.

The owner of the Jeep parked directly in front of me emerges from inside, and it’s another acquaintance from the past. As Bob’s telling me how he quit drinking because of high blood pressure, I was about to start crying. I don’t hate people or anything, but in that heat, smelly towels within nose-shot and strangers poking at my dogs, I have no desire for kibitzing with old friends or making new ones.

I just wanted this nightmare to end, so I hastily twisted on the gas cap and pretty much threw my $2 in the station door. Re-tracing across Sheridan, Trinity was really struggling as traffic again slowed or stopped. In the alley behind the defiled motel, I saw a railing in the shade and decided to leash my overwhelmed dogs and sprint to my truck a block away.

With Trina jerking her leash, I felt a cool wetness permeating my leg. The can’s cap lay in the dirt, and 85 cents worth of regular drenched my nice pants I’d worn for my day off. I truly couldn’t endure much more as I ran, sloshing and dripping.

A dozen attempts to start the truck by priming the carburetor failed. It would tease me by starting, then dying. I bolted back to rescue my dogs while trying to call a friend from a worthless phone I planned to exchange. It also teased and died several times, but Jerri figured out where I was and arrived just as Trinity’s bad hips collapsed crossing Rumsey Ave. to my truck. We finally got him up and in her SUV, and my truck started during one final try.

We got home and Trinity recovered, but I did not. I had forgotten the canned dog food they so deserved after all they’d been through. My nephew Jay called just as I was pulling into the store lot, and I recounted the entire, improbable story to him. I hung up as I entered the doors and realized I was NOT at K-Mart, but Albertsons.

Mangold is lucky he was only a witness to the very beginning of this bad dream of pains, stains, and automotive ills. Truth is way sadder than fiction.

1 Comment

  • Comment Link July 20, 2012 12:13 pm posted by Mark Williams

    Hi Doug,
    Enjoyed reading your column. Nice slice of life in Powell. Indeed some days just seem to go that way.

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