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By Staff | Sep 25, 2009

Driving can be a grisly task these days; an endless supply of juicy, late-summer bugs smacks against the windshield like semiautomatic gunfire in a war zone.

Certainly this isn’t what the bugs had in mind. They didn’t crawl out of their chrysalises and say, “Now if I can just find a speeding car! I want to go out with a big splat!” These car/insect collisions are no doubt accidental, a messy end to a carefree existence of swimming through the translucent ether. It’s a huge irony that these bug impacts make our buggies’ windows less transparent.

Spattered windshields reinforce the lesson that life is full of unintended consequences. Some consequences are more consequential than others.

For example, one autumn I decided to put a new steel roof on our old chicken coop. This wouldn’t be very consequential but for the fact that I am a klutz.

My wife and our kids were away at a ball game.

“Perfect!” I thought. “Nobody will be around to ask annoying questions like, ‘Why do you hammer your fingers if it hurts so much?’ and ‘What do those words mean?'”

All went well until my klutziness kicked in. Somehow – duplicating this would require a professional gymnast – I lost my balance, which caused the back of my wrist to violently impact the edge of a sheet of roofing steel.

Initial examination disclosed no damage. But then I bent my wrist downwards and one of the wrinkles opened way up.

Glistening, salmon-colored flesh smiled up from the depths of the yawning crevasse.

It didn’t hurt, nor did it bleed. Just as I began to think I may only need a bit of bandaging, the blood began to trickle. This trickle soon became a torrent.

There was little discomfort, so I was more annoyed than hurt. I went to the house and bound my wound with an old dish towel. The towel quickly became soaked.

It dawned then that stitches might be needed. But alas! The laceration was on my right wrist and I am tragically non-ambidextrous. Self-suturing was out of the question.

So I drove myself to the local ER As the stitches were being installed, I heard one of the ER people say, “Calm down, ma’am! We’ll check and see if he’s here. What’s your phone number?”

As the ER person began to read back the number she was being given, I correctly rattled off the last four digits of our phone number. My wife was on the other end.

According to my wife, she and our kids came home to a ghastly spectacle. It looked as if someone had used our kitchen to recreate the infamous shower scene from the movie “Psycho”. That’s an exaggeration; I don’t recall leaving a single spatter on either wall or ceiling.

Another unfortunate misfortune took place one fall when I was getting ready to chop silage.

The chopper’s header needed extensive repairs, so I removed it and hung it by a chain from a loader. As I lay beneath the header and wrestled with a recalcitrant bearing, it occurred that this might not be pleasant spot to occupy should the header fall.

I had just moved my skull from under the heaviest part of the header when I heard the metallic “thrrrp!” of a slipping log chain. The header slammed down where my head had been moments before.

My face was scraped and cut by the header during its plummet to the earth. One leg was trapped beneath half a ton of cold, hard steel, but I was otherwise unhurt. Except for my pride, that is.

I faced an inextricable dilemma. If I could just get my leg out, I could use a nearby spud bar to lift the header and free myself. But if I could get my leg out, there would be no need to lift the header.

I opted to yell for help instead of continuing to consider this circular conundrum. Fortunately, my brother was nearby to hear my hollers and release me from my steely trap.

Another trip to the ER followed, along with another set of stitches. Because of her reaction to the previous incident, I decided against telling my wife.

That evening she asked what was up with my face.

“Nothing!” I replied breezily. “You know how Michael Jackson wears just one glove? Well, the latest thing is to wear mascara on just one eye.”

She then pointed out the stitches above my eye.

“That’s just age coming on! Everyone knows that we guys tend to sprout extra eyebrowage as time passes!”

She didn’t buy that either. After hearing about the day’s misadventure she let me know how stupid and careless I had been. She was right, as usual.

Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug. But it’s best if you can avoid being either.

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

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