Skinny Digging

By Jim Hagarty

Should be a good week.

Saturday is World Naked Gardening Day. I always look forward to it.

Of course, I garden naked every day, but this is the one day of the year when I really feel like I belong.

Like all things, however, even this day has its downside. My neighbour George, for example, has really embraced the day.

Another special day is recommended: World Don’t Walk Past George’s Place Day.

My Licker Problem

By Jim Hagarty

Our doggie can’t hold his licker.

He likes to lick my neck, bald head and ears. To him, I am a 200-pound salt block with glasses.

Two members of our household hate to see this extreme tonguing going on and shut it down. They are known as the licker inspectors. Doggie hides his licker when he sees them coming around.

And there I sit – all lickered up.

If he and I are in the shed alone, it’s OK. We call that the licker cabinet.

Misfortune 500

By Jim Hagarty

I am about to be murdered.

It is true. I don’t usually joke about my own violent demise, but the crime is about to be committed. I can’t tell you the exact time or place or the method that will be used to end my existence, but I do know who will perpetrate this misdeed. The murderer even now preparing to do me in is my neighbour, ten houses to the west of me. He used to be a good guy, as far as I can tell, but life has made him hard. And determined. I have no doubt about his determination.

Why, you ask, would anyone want to take the life of such a terrific soul as me, you rightfully wonder. What have I done to so enrage my neighbour that he is willing to spend the rest of his life behind bars to right what he sees as a wrong? Not to make excuses for myself, and you don’t have to believe me, but I have done nothing. However, in this weird little passion play, the fact that I have done nothing is a big part of the reason for the passage of the death sentence upon me.

The fault lies with Bell Canada, and as my neighbour hasn’t got the resources and know-how to kill Bell Canada, his murderous intent has been directed towards a simpler target – me. Five years ago, Bell Canada, for some reason, gave me the wrong address in its phone book. Instead of my own address – 550 Albert, they put me down as living at 500 Albert where, coincidentally, my neighbour actually lives and will continue to live until his arrest someday soon by a SWAT team. Because they steal Bell’s phone book listings, all local phone books produced by other companies over the past five years have also listed the incorrect address. As have Internet directories. The result has been that my neighbour’s mailbox, for five years, has been jammed with mail that is meant for me.

At first, this merely annoyed my neighbour. He would knock on my door, hand me my mail, and ask me to correct the phone book listings. I said that I would. And I meant what I said. And I have tried. For years. But with every new phone book, I see the mistake has never been corrected. Over those years, my neighbour’s attitude towards me has deteriorated. He used to scribble, in small letters, across every piece of mail, “Change your address!” The scribbles turned to scrawls. And now, each envelope is covered in lettering worthy of a kidnapper demanding ransom: “CHANGE YOUR ADDRESS!!!!”

And this is where, I have to declare, that I could get a sex change, and then have it changed back again, easier than I can get an address change. I could have had cornea transplants, hair weaves, stomach-stapling, joint replacements with more ease and speed than getting Bell Canada to change my address. I floated a few alternatives with my neighbour. Maybe we could just switch houses. Maybe he could nail his mailbox shut. Maybe I could move to another town. But I am pretty sure he has settled on neighbourcide as the best solution. And I think I know how he might be planning on ending the torment that I have become for him. He has a grumpy dog named, ironically, Jimmy. I think Jimmy is being prepped for his first kill. At least I assume it will be his first.

So this week, I decided that my past failed attempts to right this wrong had to be set aside and I needed to try again. So, in the only life-saving move I could think of, I phoned Bell Canada. I talked to numerous people at Bell Canada, in fact. And I began each conversation with this life-saving plea, spoken in a tremulous voice: “My neighbour is going to murder me. Please help me!” Well, points to Bell Canada employees. They expressed full support for the idea that my being murdered was not a desirable outcome. I spoke finally to a wonderful woman who I really think wants to know that I die peacefully in my bed someday and not by wounds delivered by the sharpened teeth of Jimmy the dog. She put me on hold to talk to a supervisor and came back with the good news that I would be receiving a call within 48 hours by people from another department, fully trained in saving lives. They would sort it out.

I was relieved. But rightfully terrified that I would miss the call. I carried my cordless phone with me everywhere. Everywhere. I was careful not to get beyond the 75-feet range that my phone is capable of reaching. I was bound to my property at 550, not 500, Albert St. Forty-eight hours passed. My fully in-range phone never rang. Yesterday, I phoned Bell Canada again. Gonna be murdered. Please help. Talked to several wonderful people. None of them up for contributing to a slaying. Finally reached a sympathetic woman who I think should consider counselling as an occupation. She put me on hold. Went to talk to a supervisor. Came back with the information that my file is still being worked on and that Bell is very busy. If I do not hear from Bell by the middle of next week, I should call back and re-start the process.

Please do not send flowers to the funeral home. Instead, make a contribution to our local, understaffed Humane Society. When it is all over and done with, I think it only fitting that two Jimmys be laid to rest. Not side by side. The only cemetery in our town is so big it has streets and numbers. Bury Jimmy the dog at 500. AND ME AT 550!!!!

My final wish: Do not let Bell Canada be involved in the arrangements.

Now Appearing Live …

Barn painting

By Jim Hagarty

I am a singer.

During the first 20 years of my life, I performed hundreds of free concerts. They were well attended. I worked my magic on a unique, slow-moving stage, sitting atop the leather seat of a John Deere AR tractor. The concert halls were the 335 acres of plowable fields on my family’s farms. My inattentive audiences were the birds, mice, snakes, foxes, squirrels, ground hogs, raccoons, dogs, cats and cattle that occupied the fields where I practised my craft.

No humans ever heard my dulcet tones. And that is just the way I wanted it. I learned how to project my voice so I could hear myself over the noise from the tractor. I always knew I could not be heard by anyone in the vicinity of those fields. The tractor sounds were too loud. That was fine with me, as I tended to the shy side.

One afternoon, towards the end of my John Deere days, I was standing in our farmyard when I heard something going by on the concession road at the end of our lane. It was a farmer singing at the top of his lungs as he rode past our place on a tractor. I couldn’t hear the tractor. I realized the tractor noise must have been travelling through the air on a lower and slower sound wave than was the farmer’s voice. His voice reached my ears loud and clear; the tractor putt putt, not so much.

It was an awakening. I realized that at least some of my back forty concerts were probably heard by humans somewhere who happened to be in the vicinity. If I had known I actually did have non-critter audiences, I might have charged admission to my shows and be a rich man today.