INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Friday morning I gathered together some frogs, books, a peanut butter andamp; jelly sandwich and headed out the door in my white suit for the M.S. Dixie, but forgot my keys. Not to worry, nine years ago I hid a house key. So I set everything down and went about hunting for that house key, which I found. Well, it was a key all right, and it might even have been a house key at one time, but it was not a key to my house. I was locked out without car keys.Now being late to work for me means missing the boat, literally, so I went searching for a ladder, which I found in a neighbor’s garage, and confident they would not begrudge my borrowing their painting ladder, I placed it beneath my second story deck and calculated I could now reach that deck with one hand. So up the ladder I went.As it turned out, I had to perform a gentle push-off with one foot from a hand-bar atop the ladder to reach the deck, which I did, knowing full well I could not step back down to that hand-bar and expect it to hold me. I was committed.With my left hand clasped firmly to the deck above I swung my body back and forth, gathering momentum so as to grab for a crossbeam a foot or so above the deck. Snatching with my right hand, I missed, swung some more, and got it. Now I found myself facing two feet of vertical bars, which I had to carefully shin my way up, inch by inch, all the while thinking, “Hey, pal, if you don’t make it, you’re Humpty-Dumpty.When at last I arrived at the top of the vertical bars I realized I was going to need some leverage from a leg to make the final assault. I kicked my foot out to catch the deck, but the leather soles of my Mark Twain boots would not hold, they just kept slipping and wouldn’t grip. So I focused all my attentions on my right foot and managed to stick it through two vertical bars far enough to steady myself, but got a cramp in my leg.My mind began to race, and I started cussing myself under my breath, “You dolt, if you had taken just one of your wife’s yoga classes you would not be cramping up so, but did you ever take one? No!” Much as the cramp was demanding my interest I made a desperate grasp with my right hand for the top rail and caught it. But this lodged my foot between the rails so tight that I was stuck there, and it occurred to me that I would eventually be forced to let go with my hands and be left hanging by one foot, to die of embarrassment.I could not let this happen. What would the neighbors say? I waggled my foot like it was in the mouth of a crocodile and it came loose. Now hanging by one hand from the top rail, I swung my body back and forth until I could make a snatch with the other hand. I made it, but because I was sweating like Julia Bulette in church, both hands began to slip.Now, I am not a particularly religious man, but in the dim recesses of my mind came the names of three people who might be able to help me in such a time of need, and I called on them with my outdoor voice, “Jesus, Joseph andamp; Mary!”With every fiber of my being that was clothed beneath that white suit I pulled myself up and my prayer was answered. I was over the rail into the house and on my merry way to the Dixie.So if you see me sitting in the pew next to you this Sunday, please don’t point and whisper. I’m there to say thanks for a prayer I made between blasphemies that was answered, and not a moment too soon.— Learn more about McAvoy Layne at www.ghostoftwain.org.
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