Musin's and Thinkin's - March/April 2013 - Believer Magazine
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Musin’s and Thinkin’s – March/April 2013

Musin’s and Thinkin’s – March/April 2013

Jack Pendarvis
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Every columnist needs a sideline to fall back on, and it is no secret that I make a little extra pocket money in lumberjack contests.

I’ll never forget one particular experience up around Grindstone Lake, when my partner in the two-man crosscut sawing competition didn’t show up. I had a lot riding on this one. That prize money was going to get my poor old mother an operation. Luckily, just when all seemed lost, a mysterious volunteer stepped forward to help me out.

“What’s in it for you?” I asked. Years of part-time semiprofessional lumberjacking had made me moody and suspicious.

“The satisfaction of a job well done” came the forthright but muffled answer from the depths of a woolen scarf, wound for warmth around the face of my unusual benefactor. All I could see were the eyes, sparkling and twinkling merrily with unspoken knowledge.

With little other choice, I welcomed my new partner into my confidence, and good thing, too. Quite the team we made, easily besting all the other lumberjacks. Only after we had received our blue ribbons did the figure remove its tuque, allowing curly auburn locks to freely flow. For that champion crosscutter turned out to be a beauteous woman! Beneath the many layers of flannel that added deceptive bulk to her petite frame, she wore a ritzy cocktail dress and stilts. I was pretty surprised because I thought she was going to turn out to be Santa Claus. I told her as much, to which she responded with her full-throated and seductive laugh: “Ho, ho, ho!”

I was repeating this story just the other day to someone who asked how I met my wife.

I was repeating this story just the other day to someone who asked how I met my wife.

After a fun day of winning every lumberjacking event, holding hands, picnicking in a lonesome spot, and discussing our dreams and aspirations, we agreed to meet up at a local bar, arriving in separate cars. According to a prearranged plan, I picked a squabble with a few of the beefier rowdies in the place. “I could easily beat you at arm wrestling!” I challenged, to their rough guffaws and offensive jibes. Normally I would have picked them up, twirled them over my head, and tossed them one by one through various plate-glass windows. But on this night I was cagier, and with good reason. I had them right where I wanted them. “Why, I bet even that frail slip of a girl at the bar could beat you at arm wrestling,” I prodded mercilessly, tossing a secret wink to my accomplice, who winked back and raised her martini glass in a toast to our brilliant scheme. “In fact, I will wager cash money on it!”

“What woman at the bar?” they asked. And sure enough, when I looked again, she had vanished. My intended patsies had to catch me as I swooned.

“Why, that was no lady… it was a g-g-g-g-g-ghost!” I exclaimed. In answer there came the faint jingling of sleigh bells.

The bar was silent, and many the face of a hardened thug glowed with something akin to magical wonder that eve, you may be sure.

So what am I saying? That it had been Santa Claus, after all, in some unholy and perverse disguise he puts on for kicks during the off-season? That is the most logical conclusion, though I prefer to think of my unexpected helper as a hot elf in the employ of Santa Claus. Admittedly, I am not a theologian!

The person to whom I was relating all this said, “I thought you were going to tell me how you met your wife.”

“No, you inferred that,” I said. “It’s none of your damn business how I met my wife. Now, are you going to leave quietly or am I going to have to throw you out?”

Just then, my wife herself came into the room bearing a tea tray laden with tempting delicacies.

“Who the hell are you talking to?” she asked.

“This guy wants to know how we met,” I said.

“There’s no one here but us!” she replied.

But the joke was on her because I wasn’t there either. I don’t even exist. My wife was talking to an empty room. She’s crazy.

 

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