Who’s on first?

“One of the poets, whose name I cannot recall, has a passage, which I am unable at the moment to remember, in one of his works, which for the time being has slipped my mind, which hits off admirably this age-old situation.” — P.G. Wodehouse


At times I have done dumb things, in the outdoors and in the indoors. In one of my books, I dedicate a chapter to my most headshaking blunders as a hunter. These mistakes are all lumped together under an acronym I dubbed CTB, Capacity to Blunder. As I get older, my CTB mishaps seem to me to be more amusing and less personally embarrassing as they once were.

You may have done some of these dumb things yourself. Anyone trying to light a malfunctioning butane mountain stove could set his wool hunting pants ablaze. Surely I was not the first deer hunter to drive away from a hunt spot having left his rifle leaning against the pickup’s front tire. Or accidentally discharge a deer rifle into the ground while demonstrating safe gun handling to a grandson.

Women mess up, too. A middle-aged lady I know told me about her first grouse hunt. A bird flushed. She swung on it and the 20-gauge dry fired on the bird. Opening the action, she found that instead of a number 7 bird load a tube of Chapstick had been loaded and locked in her new shotgun breech.

Whether in the woods, on the waters or at the homestead, my advancing age seems to be accelerating my penchant to step on it. Wintering in Florida seems to help the old joints but doesn’t seem to mitigate my CTB issues. This was a first. I parked the truck at our marina, got a bag of groceries out of the back, locked the truck and walked away — with the engine still idling and the AC on. Five hours later, Diane discovered my “oops moment” as she opened the door to an idling engine and a properly cooled truck cab.

Late last fall, while closing down my lake house for the winter for the umpteenth time, I drained my hot water tank after switching off the circuit breaker to the tank (or so I thought). Stunned was I to discover in returning in April that, indeed, the tank’s circuit breaker was never closed! Yes, indeed, a new water tank was necessarily purchased and installed.

But I am saving the best for last.

“Hello, is this the Ellsworth landfill office?” I queried, after finding the phone number online. A polite and friendly woman assured me that, indeed, it was and asked how could she help. I then explained that I needed to dispose of a metal water heater and needed directions to the landfill, never having been there. She said, to my surprise, that I could unload the old water heater at the landfill no charge! “Now to find the landfill,” she said, “do you know where ChoChoo’s Restaurant is located?” I explained that I had not heard of it but that I don’t eat out much. “How about Home Depot?” she asked.

“Oh yes, right across form the Walmart,” I offered. “No, no, Walmart is on the other side of town,” she said with incredulity.

By now I am beginning to question my sanity and no doubt so was she. “How about the prison, you know where that is?” she asked.

“Prison?” I exclaimed. “There is no prison in Ellsworth!”

I think it hit us at the same time. “Do you live in Ellsworth, Kansas?” she asked with a smirk in her voice. We both had a good laugh. She was almost in hysterics.

Since she was going to dispose of my water heater at no charge, I almost asked her how far a drive it was from Ellsworth, Maine, to Ellsworth, Kansas. But, hey, that would have been pushing it.


The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. His email address is [email protected].

V. Paul Reynolds

Columnist at Ellsworth American
The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. His email address is [email protected]

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