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Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.

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Tim the Tool Man        This is only a drill. Had it been an actual emergency ….

Even above all the noise I am making, I hear noise.

Might be your beautiful brown-eyed bride calling you, suggests Screen Two.

I stop. My lovely lady’s lilting voice floats down the basement stairs to me. “What are you doing, babe?” she sweetly calls.

“Cutting this license plate in half,” I say, gritting teeth and pushing dull saw blade through flimsy metal.

“Why-y-y?” Two hesitant syllables, maybe three.

“Because someone stole the other plate off my car. Had to buy a new set.”

“Oh.” Lengthy pause. “You’re not using a tool, are you?” Anxious tones.

No, mocks Three silently. We’re biting through with our teeth.

“Well, yes, I am. Stuck the plate in Pop’s old vise. Cutting it with a saw.”

“A power saw?”

ArmstrongYes, replies Screen Six. Armstrong-powered.

“So it’s not electric, right?” Though I remain silent, Miss Laura sighs in contentment and strolls off to her comfy couch, warm blanket, good book.

Your wife, observes One, gets downright panicky when you work with tools.

“Understandably so,” I mutter. “Haven’t got the best history with them.”

Right, affirms Five. I mean, you did plunge your paw right into a logsplitter that time.

How ’bout when he whacked his knee with a hatchet? recalls Two.

Remember, asks Four, how you tried to show you could hammer equally well with either hand –

Ambidexterity, spouts Three. Beautifully demonstrated, Boss.

– but all you got were two blackened thumbs?

And, chimes One, apparently feeling left out, it took you almost half an hour to change your car’s halogen headlight bulb. But your farmer friend Mark did the next one in 17 seconds.

Headlight bulbs are tough, sympathizes Six. “Thank you!” I say, but he adds, Still, even changing a regular household bulb proves difficult. Oh, how you dance when your wedding band draws current from the socket you thought was de-fused.

“OK,” I admit, “so I’m not Tim the Tool Man.” My screens applaud in agreement. “Might as well tell one on myself.” More applause.

cement block“You guys remember the time I slipped and dropped a cement block on my big toe?”

Sure, says Five. The blood pools thickly under your toenail even before sneakers are off.

And ohh, that pain! sympathizes Two.

So I call over to Dan Plotner, my handyman neighbor, and ask if he’s ever done that. Confessional laughter floods the phone. Then he says, “‘I take a drill bit to my toe to let the blood flow and relieve the pressure.”

I write his suggestion for later use and go about my day. But next morning, my first steps out of bed are sheer agony. I spot the note filled with wise counsel and realize the solution is just moments away.

Six jumps in. So I tell you, “Whip out that drill, Black. Fill it with a sharp bit – a tiny one should do the trick – plug in the juice and your pain is gone!”

Just as I lean over to commence the whirling work – gonna be a gusher! cheers Three, reliving the days of wildcat oil drillers – Dan walks in. I look up at his white face, his eyes wide as they take in my medical procedure. “Stop,” he whispers in disbelief. Walking over to me, he shakily takes the drill from my hands, unplugs the power, loosens the bit and hands it to me.

“Place that on your toenail, Blackie. Now, lightly twirl it by hand.”

Wow! claps Two, as a small crimson fountain flows forth. Not as fast, but sure does work!


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Postscript: Last week’s column about the, um, “well done” baby crow left readers mistakenly believing I meant to roast the tiny bird in my woodstove. Truly, I did not.

I also do not mean to knock out the pileated woodpecker. But it’s probably good that I do.

Day after day this large pine-poking predator punches away at my palace, his incredibly tough beak bashing and breaking my farmhouse siding. I do not know if his efforts bring him grubs or slivers, but I do know this cannot go on much longer.

Especially since he pecks late at night and early in the morning, yawns tired Three.

One time, however, I hear the process last mere minutes. I sneak outside and see the bird has fallen asleep in the midst of his labors. Grabbing a brick, I line up my throw to whomp the siding above his (apparently) steel-encased head.

Scare the socks off him, eh? murmurs Six with a conspiratorial grin. Two bad shoulders take one brick and fling it upward.

Say, remarks Four, noting the errant result of my toss toward the heavens, isn’t there quite a fine for killing one of these?

I drop to my knees, horrified at having slain the creature. Anxiously looking for life signs, I lean in.

The big bird explodes in my face – wings and beaks everywhere! screams Two, re-enacting scenes from Hitchcock’s The Birds – and takes off for finer farmhouses in foreign lands.

This probably tanks your National Audubon Society presidency, sighs Five.

It’s worse than that, laughs Six. Your dreams will be haunted by Woody Woodpecker.

* * * * *

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