Archived Story

Be especially wary of Thursday the 12th

Published 8:59am Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Column: Tales from Exit 22, by Al Batt

It was jet lag without involving a jet.

I was slightly overdone, like a pork chop simmering on the stove for hours.

It had been a good day, but a long day.

I’d spoken at a delightful gathering and had encountered a shirttail relative there that I’d not met before.

“I believe I’m your first cousin three times removed,” she said. “But now that I’ve met you, I think I’m going to move you up to my first cousin twice removed.”

Something like that leaves a fellow chuckled.

I drove to another speaking engagement, stopping to see some American golden-plovers in a mudflat. Is it pronounced plover or plohver? I say “plover” as in “lover” because there must be 50 ways to leave your lover not your lohver.

I walked into the building to the accompaniment of buzzing cicadas.

I have a smartphone.

It’s smarter than I am. No great accomplishment, even for a phone.

I still try to hang up a cellphone. It’s impossible.

I completed my yapping duties at a thing on the shores of a lovely lake.

It had been a twerk-free occasion.

I’d left my cellphone in my car. I placed it in the glove box or cubbyhole or glove compartment to make sure it wasn’t heard from during my talk.

It was dark as a middle linebacker’s heart as I headed for home. I needed to stop there for a few hours of sleep before heading to Lincoln Nebraska for work.

My glove compartment began to ring. Not really a ring but a ringtone. I opened the glove compartment, expecting to find my cell phone. I didn’t find it.

I’m a creature of habit. I put things in the same place. Not just the same place as if I’d put it in the same drawer, I put it in the same part of that drawer. That applies to suitcases, briefcases and glove compartments. It makes it easier to find things, but causes a panic of epic proportions if the item isn’t in its proper habitat.

The glove compartment has an opening at the top of its backside that allows any overflow to tumble over and out. My cellphone had done that. It was proof of engineering genius at work. I pulled over into a gas station and searched for the phone with no luck. I removed the glove compartment under the glare of a flashlight. I found proof of auto insurance from 2009. What I didn’t find was my cellphone.

The phone rang. I’m thinking of changing my voicemail greeting to, “My phone is ringing. I’m hope I’m not in a public place.”

It rang several more times on the journey home. A disembodied voice. The phone was a ventriloquist that made itself sound like it was coming from the floor mat. It wasn’t there. It was as if I were part of a “Twilight Zone” episode featuring a bodiless cellphone. Arriving at home and finding better light, I located the cellphone. It had lodged itself perfectly into a bit of the framing behind the glove compartment. It was cleverly hidden in a dark corner. A perfect storm of disappearance. Sometimes people and things fall into places where they fit, but don’t belong.

By the time I’d arrived at home, it was Friday the 13th.

Triskaidekaphobia is a fear of the number 13.

Paraskevidekatriaphobia is the superstition related to the specific fear of Friday the 13th.

Friday the 13th was a great day. Thursday the 12th had provided a challenge.

I fall for it every year.

Great egrets stood out like sore white thumbs rimming the edge of a wetland.

The word equinox comes from the Latin words for “equal night.” There are two times during a year when the sun crosses the celestial equator and the lengths of day and night are approximately equal. There is the vernal equinox and the autumnal equinox. The sun sets a little earlier each evening. It’s this changing amount of light that sets off a chemical reaction in trees and causes leaves to change color to the stop and go lights of autumn.

It’s too early to rake and too late to mow. Fall is a flagman warning us to slow down because winter is just ahead. A good fall is when you’ve finished raking leaves before beginning to shovel snow.

Here, outside the Batt Cave, wind is the chief method of leaf disposal.

We fall back. Sometime during the fall, we find an extra hour.

It had been hiding with the cellphone.

 

Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.