WD-40

Orville and I sat on his porch, Ruby Puppy resting comfortably on my feet. There was a slight breeze, a tickle maybe. It is third nesting season around here, another round of male cardinals and finches and robins fighting one another for dominance. At Genehouse, two broods of two finches each already hang out at the feeder and scream at their parents to feed them. A third nest is now in place and eggs laid.

My friend had a heart attack a few weeks ago. He’s fine now, or I wouldn’t be writing bout him. He refuses to stop working, joking that if he doesn’t weed the tomato plants I would curse and throw a fit. He won’t let me do some weeding, of course: There is the Orville way and the highway. His kids and grandchildren have been showing up unannounced, grabbing his riding mower and mowing while Grandpa sulks in the kitchen and watches Fox News.

Ruby Puppy jumped up and ran into the yard and intercepted a vole dumb enough to appear above ground. Ruby learned from mama Reba (now deceased) how to pick up voles, toss them in the air, catch them head first and swallow them whole. There is regular dog breath, and then there is vole-swallowed-whole dog breath, the latter making loved ones in the vicinity fight the urge to hurl.

I stood up, citing work and naptime coming. I had to stand for a moment and stretch and move my hips, legs and shoulders, stiff from my four-mile walk early in the cool morning. I can still climb the bluff hills—three 300 footers a day on average—but afterward I turn stiff as a board.

“I ever tell you about our old neighbor Evelyn?” Orville said. “And this ain’t no story. Evelyn, she was like you, exercisin’ all the time but stiff. She got the bright idea to take a bath. In WD-40. She poured two five-gallon cans of WD-40 into her bathtub and laid in it and rubbed it all over herself. Then she’d drain the stuff—it went into the septic tank—and she’d shower regular.”

“You know this how?” I asked.

“Well, I wasn’t in the bathroom with her,” Orville said. “You know, you lay in ten gallons a WD-40, it ain’t gonna go up over your belly. You squish-like in it, rub it all over yourself. Evelyn, she knocks on our door and tells Bev (Quilt Queen) she found the elixir of life. You could always tell when Evelyn had the treatment—she smelled like a lubed car engine.”

I walked home thinking it had been a long time since I squish-liked in anything. There was the incident of the cans of blue paint in the Monticello Women’s College scene shop where the goddess Donna and I stripped and painted each other. It was the 60s, man.

Come to think of it, I might just take a whole jar of my favorite Palmer’s coconut butter and rub it all over…

Nah.

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