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July 12, 2006

Low Tidings


Three Grains Of Sand

Sunday was stifling hot, and the soupy humidity made it seem much hotter. Being a hard-workin' truck drivin' man, it was a day to rest my aching bones before another grueling week of work.

But when you're the man of the house, there is always a chore that needs doin'. In this case, Big Blue, my work truck, my bread and butter, needed a good cleaning, and I reckoned I was the man for the job.

Wash, dry, wax on the outside. Vacuum the rugs. Do the windows inside and out. Dust the dash. Clean the seats.

The sweat was pouring off me as I watched the guys at the car wash toil over Big Blue, but hey, I'm a workin' man and I'm used to hard work.

Once back in my driveway I polished the rims and treated the tires — damn they do get dirty. When I was finished, I backed out and parked it so the gleaming hood faced my home office window — the tires turned at the perfect angle the way you see in the four-wheelin' magazines — so I could stare at Blue while I moved on to my next manly task, a long nap, singing the truck owner's anthem:

"This is my truck

Na na na

This is my truck"

You have to understand, in a perfect world, Blue would never move and never get dirty. I don't even like me to be in Blue, because when a manly man gets done with a hard day's work, he's dirty and sweaty and some of that grit rubs off on Blue.

I don't like other people to be in the truck at all, and as a result we never use the back seat, which prompted my long suffering wife Karen to ask why I have a DVD player back there. I told her it was for me to watch when I'm in the back seat, which, of course, is never going to happen, because I would never let anyone drive Blue while I'm in the car.

(The truth is, I bought the DVD player because I keep thinking Karen will wise up one of these days and throw me out of the house, and then Blue — who has a "cooler" that can also keep food warm — will become my new home.)

So there I was, admiring my truck (though it's our monthly payment) and readying to nap, when Karen came in.

"Me and Andrea are going to the beach . . . " she announced.

I turned deathly pale. My heart skipped a, nay, make that several beats. A cloud of panic mushroomed in the inner recesses of my brain.

" . . . and I don't have a beach sticker so we're taking the truck."

My first thought, of course, was where I could stash their bodies after the grisly murders, but a calm prevailed as I watched Blue and the girls drive away while I plotted my revenge.

I saw her cell phone on the table and I called it. "Karen, please remember I just cleaned my truck. Please make sure you don't get any sand in it!"

My mood brightened, knowing I could put her on a guilt trip that would send her reeling for years. My mind raced to my death bed, where I envisioned her sobbing as I motioned to her to pull the tube out of my mouth so I could utter one last touching remembrance of our love. I would then say in a creaky, hoarse voice, "You ruined my entire life the day you took Blue to the ocean." Yes, I would die a happy man.

Picture women on the beach. They enjoy sand. They relish it. It's on their legs and arms. It's caked on their feet. It's in their suits and towels. Men keep sand at a distance. We either sit in a chair, lie on a blanket or go in the water. We keep our interaction with the sand to a minimum, knowing that sand is the beginning of the end for our vehicles.

The destructive grains get to places even the industrial vacuums can't reach — under the pedal, between the seats, in all the little niches and crevices on the floor. Soon, because the sand accumulates, you decide you're too lazy to even try and clean the vehicle. New turns to old, and eventually the vehicle goes to the graveyard, filled with other cars and trucks that succumbed to the hideous killer, sand.

When the girls came home a few hours later, I nonchalantly strolled outside to take a look. To my amazement, the outside looked good. More surprisingly, the inside did as well, at first glance anyway. I got down on my knees, searching for sand. None under the pedals. None on the carpet. I couldn't believe it. I crunched my head under the driver's seat and there . . . yes! Three grains! My wife had ruined my truck.

I stormed inside. "Karen, did you get my message on your cell phone!" I barked, knowing, of course, she didn't.

"No, why?" she asked pleasantly.

"Because I just cleaned the car and I begged you not to get sand in it!"

"And?"

"And?" I screeched. "And this!" With that, I emptied the three grains of sand on the dining room table.

"What's that?"

"It's the sand that you dragged into the truck when you callously went to the beach without caring that I worked all day to clean my truck! I can't have anything for myself. You ruin everything I have!"

I was just beginning to launch into my tirade when Andrea intervened. "But we didn't go to the beach; we went to a yard sale instead," she said.

"Well, you . . . got . . . yard sale sand in the truck," I stammered.

I picked up the three grains and sheepishly walked away, back to the truck. I threw the grains back in, thinking to myself, "This is my sand."

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