About this title:
"True-life" tales of man against nature in a collection sure to entertain the most hard-to-please listener. 2 cassettes.
About the Author:
Patrick F. McManus has written twelve books and two plays. There are nearly two million copies of his books in print, including his bestselling They Shoot Canoes Don't They?; The Night The Bear Ate Goombaw; and A Fine and Pleasant Mystery. He divides his time between Spokane, Washington, and Idaho.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Real Ponies Don't Go Oink
Controlling My Life I just read a book on how to get control of my time and therefore of my life. My time has always had a tendency to slip away from me and do as it pleases. My life follows it, like a puppy after an untrained bird dog. Come night, my life shows up, usually covered with mud and full of stickers, exhausted but grinning happily. My time never returns. That is why I read this book on how to get control of my time and my life. The book claimed that the key to controlling your time and life is to make a list of all the things you want to accomplish during the day, the week, and the year. Things you wish to accomplish are listed according to their level of importance in categories labeled A, B, and C. Under A, you place the things that have top priority for the day, under B, the things you really should take care of that day or in theimmediate future, and under C, the things that you might do sometime next century. The system sounded wonderful. Finally, I had a way to actually control those two rascals, my time and my life. Time would no longer merely slip away. I'd grab it by the neck, squeeze every second out of it, and toss the empty skin over my shoulder. My life would become a thing of discipline, methodically achieving great accomplishment after great accomplishment. I sat down to start my list. Right off I was stumped. I needed to think of a great accomplishment to list first under A. Writing the Great American Novel would be a good one, I thought. But it would probably take too long. It took me two months to read Moby-Dick. How long would it take me to write it? Scratch that idea. My wife, Bun, walked in. "Why are you sitting there staring out the window?" "I'm trying to control my life," I said. "Oh good," she said. "Can you think of something great for me to accomplish?" "How about putting up the shelf in the pantry like I asked you?" "No good. Too trivial. It's low C at best, if it even makes the list. Speaking of lists, where's a pencil?" "Go look in the junk drawer." I looked in the junk drawer, but all I could find was the stub of a pencil, with the eraser worn down flat. Not only do you need a good pencil to get your life under control, you need a good eraser. "I'm going down to the store and buy a new pencil," I told Bun. "I hope getting your life under control isn't going to run into a lot of expense," she said. On the way to the store, I bumped into my friend Retch Sweeney. "Where you going?" he asked. "Down to the store to buy a pencil," I said. "I'm getting my life under control." "What's it been doing?" he asked. "Just the usual," I said. "As a result, I never get anything accomplished." "I never accomplish anything either," he said. "Why don't we stop by Kelly's for a beer, and you can tell me how to get my life under control, too." "Okay." We went into Kelly's Bar & Grill. Kelly himself was working the bar. Tiffany, the waitress, was arm wrestling Milt Logan for double her tip or nothing. Two candles were situated so that the loser got his hand forced down onto one of them. Tiffany was winning. "Stop! Stop!" screamed Milt. "I give up!" Kelly chuckled. "Good thing I don't let Tiffany light the candles," he said. "Otherwise, every one of you bums would have the hair burnt off the back of your hands." "Oh, yeah?" Retch said to Kelly. "Well, me and Pat can beat the socks off you and Tiffany at pool." "You think so, do you?" Kelly said, vaulting over the bar. "Rack 'em up, Tiff. How much per game?" By the end of a few games of pool, getting my life under control had already cost me twelve dollars. Then Old Crabby Walters came over and asked if Retch and I wanted to see his new boat. "Sure," I said. "I love to look at boats. But we better hurry. It's starting to get dark." We went down to the marina to look at Crabby's boat. Iwould have guessed its vintage at early seventeenth century, except it was made out of aluminum. The motor looked prehistoric. "You fix this up, Crabby, it'll be a pretty fair boat," Retch said. "Jumpin' Jehoshaphat!" cried Crabby. "It's already fixed up!" "Oh," Retch said. "And a mighty nice job of it, too." "Thanks," Crabby said. "You boys hop in and I'll take you for a little spin." "Gee, it's pretty darn cold out and it's almost dark," I said. "And the wind is coming up." "Jumpin' Jehoshaphat!" cried Crabby. "What kind of wimps are you two? Hop in!" Retch and I hopped in, trying to avoid the rusty gas tanks. The whole boat smelled of gas. Crabby jerked on the starter cord no more than fifty times before the motor roared to life somewhere beneath a cloud of smoke. I wasn't sure whether the motor was running or on fire, but Crabby soon emerged from the cloud, a big grin on his face. "Purrs like a kitten, don't it?" We bolted out onto the lake, the motor coughing and spitting and occasionally screaming in agony. A couple hundred yards from shore it died. "Just have to adjust the throttle a little," Crabby said calmly, removing the motor cover and tossing it with a clatter into the bottom of the boat. The wind had picked up. Icy waves began to toss the boat this way and that, mostly that, which was away from land. Darkness had clamped a lid on the lake. "One of you boys got a flashlight on you?" Crabby asked. "I can't see a dad-blamed thing." "Not me," Retch said, staring at the waves. "Me neither," I said. "I just went out to buy a pencil." The situation was getting on my nerves. "Well, no matter," Crabby said. "I got an old gas lantern in here somewheres. Ah, there it is. I'll get us some light in here in a sec." "Wait!" I said. "Do you think it's such a good idea to light a lantern with all this gas in here?" Retch inched his way toward the bow of the boat. I inched after him. "No problem," Crabby said. He touched a match to the lantern. Flames shot up six feet. Retch and I stared in horror at the rusty gas tanks, now brightly illuminated so we could study in detail the full extent of their deterioration. "JUMP--!" cried Crabby. Retch and I jumped for our lives, leaving poor Crabby to fend for himself. He never even heard the splashes or the muffled shrieks so closely associated with plunges into ice water. I surfaced right next to the boat, expecting to see Crabby doing an imitation of a Roman candle. But he was just standing there with the lantern turned down to a modest glow. "--pin' Jehoshaphat!" he muttered, completing his favorite oath. "One of these days I'm going to buy me a new lantern. Now if one of you boys would ... where'd you go?" Crabby eventually got the motor going, and towed Retch and me back to the dock. Then he drove us to Kelly's to thaw out. Naturally, the boys wanted to hear about our adventure. Crabby told a long, involved story about how he had saved our lives, starting with when he was five years old. Then Retch had to arm wrestle Tiffany for double the tip or nothing, but, with Kelly gone, this time with the candles lighted. Finally, he drove me home. "How long do you suppose before the hair grows in again?" he asked, blowing on the back of his hand. "Probably a couple of months," I said. "Who cares? I lost five bucks betting you could take Tiffany." Getting my life under control had already cost me seventeen dollars, and I was barely started. When I got home, Bun was already in bed. Where does the time go? Next morning I got up bright and early and sat down to do some serious work on controlling my life. "Where's a pencil?" I asked Bun. Copyright 1974, 1981, 1985, 1989, 1990, 1991 by Patrick F. McManus All rights reserved.
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