Column: The empty tank, the bedpan and the town pastor

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 5, 2001

I am one of those men who likes to live on the edge.

Wednesday, December 05, 2001

I am one of those men who likes to live on the edge. By that I mean that I do not fill my pickup with gasoline until the needle of the fuel gauge has dipped well into the red area. The red, of course, means danger.

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This habit of mine does not go unnoticed by my wife, The Queen B. Wives do not miss much. She is constantly reminding me of the foolishness of my actions or my inactions. She is forever telling me that I am going to run out of gas one day and then I would be sorry. I listen to her. Our wedding vows stated that I had to love, honor and listen to her.

I listen and then I wait until that needle ventures into the red before fueling up.

I was on a pizza run to Hartland the other day when the old pickup sputtered and ran out of gas. It really wasn’t my fault. I think the fuel gauge must have gone bad. That happens a lot. I could hear my wife’s voice telling me how sorry I would be if I ran out of gas. I knew that I would truly be sorry only if she found out that I had run out of gas. I could just hear her, &uot;Honestly, if Allen’s brains were gasoline, he wouldn’t have enough to prime the lawn mower.&uot; Or, &uot;Allen, the village called, it is missing its idiot.&uot;

My pickup was resting right at the end of Pat Pending’s driveway. His driveway is an extremely long one, even longer than sitting through a Minnesota Vikings’ game. Pat is our neighborhood inventor. He has more patents than Carter used to have Little Liver Pills. Pat’s wife is named Pat, too. Some years back, she was runner-up in the Miss North Dakota contest. She would have won, but her tractor broke down during the talent competition.

I walked up the drive and knocked on the door of Pat’s shop. I knew he’d be in there inventing something; he always is. Pat came to the door. He greeted me and then he had to show me his latest invention, a lawn mower engine that runs on toenail clippings. Then he had to give me a look at an alarm clock that uses an electric cattle prod to get people out of bed and then apologizes. The U.S. Marine Corps is interested in it if he can remove the apology part. Pat has a lot of great inventions.

I finally got around to asking him for some gas and he told me to help myself. I told him that I was sorry to bother him, but not as sorry as I would be if my wife, The Queen B, found out that I had run out of gas.

I had another minor problem and that was that I didn’t have a gas can. Pat Pending didn’t have one either. All of his went into his building the world’s largest lock washer. Can you believe that &uot;Good Morning America&uot; still hasn’t come out to take a look at that? I mean it is the world’s largest lock washer. Pat and I looked around in all of his junk and the only thing we found that could possibly hold gasoline was what looked like an old bedpan. It looked like an old bedpan because it was an old bedpan.

I took that bedpan and filled it with gas. I told Pat that I’d be right back and began hoofing it back to my stalled truck. The Pending’s dog, Phideaux, a French poodle, accompanied me. I’m sure it was worried that I was swiping the bedpan.

The driveway had become even longer in my absence. I hiked as fast as a man can who is carrying a bedpan full of gas. I got to the pickup, removed the gas cap and began to pour the gas from the bedpan into the gas tank. I was hurrying to get the gas in before my wife learned of my foolishness. While I was busy doing this, one of Hartland’s Lutheran ministers, Reverend Pastor, drove by. I nodded at the passing car, quite happy that it wasn’t my wife. The good Reverend hadn’t gone far past me when he hit his brakes. He put his car into reverse, backed up to me and watched as I poured the contents of the bedpan into the gas tank of my pickup. Reverend Pastor rolled down the window of his car and said, &uot;Now that is what I call faith.&uot;

Hartland resident Al Batt writes columns for the Wednesday and Sunday editions of the Tribune.