Saturday, September 14, 2013


The old man could hear himself calling out but it was as if he wasn’t in his own body. His voice was faint and distant, even to him. He pressed the little button on the pendant that he wore around his neck.

“Help… Help… I've fallen and I can’t get up.” There was no response to his weak cry. He pressed the button again.

Ralph had been warned that he didn’t belong where he laid helpless now. Everyone told him to stay in his Lazy Boy with the TV remote control and a good book within reach.

“I ain’t dead yet!” He would always tell them. “As long as I can get to the crapper on my own and still wipe my own ass, then I ought to be able to go where I want to go and do what I want to do.”

Now he wasn’t so sure. He was having a little trouble breathing. That could get worse very soon. If only he hadn’t gone so high, he thought to himself.

When Ralph saw it coming, it was too late to get out of the way. At first it didn’t look like much but more and more just kept coming. It put him down hard. He was buried. He continued trying the little button on the pendant.

Ralph was 79 years-old and he felt like it but that didn't mean he had to be confined to an ass-lifting recliner chair. After all, there were other old farts still riding bicycles (or tricycles) and they went where they wanted to.

His children bought the butt lifter for Ralph for Father’s Day. He feigned appreciation to them but he hated the chair. The way that Ralph felt about it, when he couldn't get his fat ass out of his chair on his own then it was time to lie down and die. Now here he was, in the prone position, and he just might die there if he didn't get help.

There was still no response to the old codger alert pendant. That’s what Ralph he called it. Ralph tried to move just a little but pain from his hip electrified his entire body. He tried to dig himself out some but; the cruel truth of it was that he didn’t see the point of it. Fear and anger were soon replaced with complacence.

Ralph lost track of time and drifted off for awhile. He was awakened by the sound of a voice. It wasn’t from the worthless pendant. The voice was close and familiar.

“Ralph! Are you alright” It was his wife Nancy. He turned awkwardly and looked up at her.

“Hell no, I’m not all right! Does it look like I’m all right? I've been knocked down and buried by a damned avalanche. How can you ask me such a question?”

With exception of his broken hip, Ralph was pretty well back to normal at the sight of his wife. The complacence quickly faded. His fear was gone but he had no shortage of anger.

They had been married for fifty-seven years. Much of the credit for those years was to Nancy. She learned in the first year that it was better to let her husband rant when he was angry. Trying to talk to him when was he was this angry was like spraying water on an oil fire. It was always best to let it just burn out, no matter how hot that it got.

Nancy could see that Ralph had been in the process of making coffee. The canister on the counter was nearly empty so he was attempting to get a fresh bag of coffee from the top shelf. She picked up the kitchen step stool, folded it and slipped it into place between the fridge and the counter. She gathered up the various plastic bowls, cups, lids and odd containers while her angry husband continued to rant.

“I have never in fifty-seven years understood why you had to have so much Tupperware. It wouldn't even be so bad if it all fit together in some organized manner, but NO! We have to have a hundred bowls with a hundred matching lids. The only trouble is that you can’t ever find the lid that matches the bowl that just got filled up with left-over soup. So what good are they?”

Ralph paused but Nancy knew it wasn't because he was waiting for an answer. To try answer his question would only fan his fire.

“I have less money in 35mm cameras that you have in Tupperware and I have a LOT of camera equipment, but you know what? Any Nikon lens that was made in the last fifty years will fit my Nikon digital camera that was made in 2008. Do you think that Tupperware could understand such user-friendly manufacturing practices? Hell no! They change designs, colors and fit every year just so they can get you to buy more of their junk at their ridiculously inflated prices. In the end, a bowl is just a bowl and a lid is just a lid.”

Another pause… but Nancy waited quietly.

“What we ought to do is to throw all of the lids away and just use that press ‘n stick plastic wrapping stuff. It’s a lot easier on my patience than trying to find the right lid out of the wrong selection. Why, it’s no small wonder to me why they put a life-time guarantee on their junk. It’s sure to kill one or both of us sooner or later. It’ll either be me for suffering another avalanche or you for buying more of the junk because, if you do, I just might have to kill you.”

Ralph quieted considerably with his last sentence. They both knew that he didn’t mean that. Even though, Ralph stayed quiet a little longer this time, Nancy waited patiently. She knew he had to blow through his second wind.

“And I’m going to tell you another thing, too. There just ain't no reason, at all, to have so much plastic in the guest bedroom that it looks like a Tupperwarehouse. Do you want one our grandchildren to die in an avalanche of plastic? Why, if I was to have all of that plastic recycled into a stiffer grade, I could probably mold the hull for a sizable bass fishing boat.”

Ralph quieted again. Nancy was pretty certain that he had played out now but she waited, just the same. Then the anger faded from his face and he looked like the loving man that Nancy had adored for so many years. He winced.

“What can I do to help you?”

“You’d better call 911.” His voice was calm and even. “I think that my hip might be busted.” He held the pendant up. “The other thing that you can do is tape a nickel to his piece of crap. Then put it in a Tupperware bowl, complete with a matching lid, and throw into the street. Whoever finds it will be five cents better off than we are.”

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