"Fly fishing is my passion, hunting is my weakness, and mules are a perplexing addiction."

Wednesday, July 4, 2012



In today’s episode, Tom discovers the joy of a somewhat frustrating conversation with a directionally challenged 911 operator as he attempts to locate an elusive hospital hidden somewhere in the remote, high desert expanses on the outskirts of Pahrump, Nevada, all while going over his last will and testicle with his wife, Cathy, who is driving.
And now; As the Stone Turns…
When I was a youngster in school, kids were taught the fundamentals.  English grammar and the three R’s; readin’, writin’, and rythmatic, these were the building blocks of education.  And while I no doubt slept through most of that stuff and have forgotten the rest, I am pretty sure that rythmatic is spelled with an A at the beginning.

Back in the ancient times of my youth the archaic educational system forced us to change into gym clothes every day while a crusty, old coach with more wrinkles than a wet boot made us do calisthenics and physically participate in PE; cruel and unusual punishment by today’s standards where one can simply opt out and stand on the sidelines texting on their I-Phone what a grueling day they are having.  

We said the Pledge of Allegiance every morning, and dare I say, we recited it using the G word.  Today, any reference to God is banned from most schools for fear of offending someone or getting yourself placed on a Homeland Security domestic terrorist list.  Instead of yoga in PE class and learning about gay rights, illegal immigration rights, welfare rights, and every other kind of rights imaginable today, we had to learn the Preamble, the Constitution, the Gettysburg Address, and the capitals of every state in the union; all fifty-eight of ‘em.  Today, most kids can’t even tell you the names of all our states.  

At any rate, one other thing we learned at that tender, young age was the songs, and we learned lots of them.  Row, Row, Row Your Boat, She’ll Be Comin’ Around The Mountain, Alouette, and others.  I suppose the purpose was to prepare us for careers as rock stars, or at least, tolerable shower singers. I’m not sure, but out of all of those old songs that we learned, the one that was my favorite and has stuck with me all these many years later is The Erie Canal.  I suppose it was because much of the song dealt with a mule named Sal.  Even then I had this strange affinity for anviheaded longears, or at least that’s what I believed the song was about until last weekend.  Last weekend some of the lyrics came flooding back to me at a most unusual time and place, and they took on a much different meaning as well.  It was on a dark road on the outskirts of Pahrump, Nevada, out in the middle of nowhere, trying to find a misplaced hospital; or what would turn out to be the hospital from hell!

It all began innocently enough at the handgun range over at Front Sight Firearms Training Institute, (and you wondered how I was going to be able to write that trip off on my taxes?)  Shortly after the noon lecture let out, approximately twelve-thousand-and-forty-two armed gun nuts made a mad rush for the restroom before the next range class began.  With a line longer than Disney’s Space Mountain ride, I decided to pass and went directly to my range.  Two hours later, dancing like a mad ostrich on hot pavement, I asked permission to unload and make an emergency dash to the restroom.  That is when a strange pain in my right side began to rear its ugly head.  

At first I thought it had something to do with holding my bladder for so long before going to the restroom, but as the pain grew worse I began to wonder if it might be my appendix.  That evening, after eight-and-a-half hours of worsening pain, my wife, Cathy, gave the order, “Get in the truck, Buster, you’re going to the hospital!”

I should mention that earlier in the day one of the Front Sight instructors gave me directions to the hospital in Pahrump should I need to go.  I should have paid attention.  Still, I had a general idea of where it was located and I remembered he said it was somewhere off Wilson Road.

Turning off the highway onto Wilson Road we quickly left the lights of town and the surroundings turned dark in a hurry, as rural areas are wont to do.  It was at this point things began to get rapid as the pain in my side began to increase in intensity.  The annoyance also decided to change its location and now was creeping lower into my abdomen in the area just below my navel and above where Johnson and the twins reside.

At this point, having driven a considerable distance and still no hospital in sight, my patience was growing thinner than Billy-Bob’s hairline; there wasn’t much out there.  In fact, there was nothing; no lights, no houses, no other roads, no signs, no nothing.  Nothing except desert, that is.  Something was wrong as I was certain we were getting farther and farther out into the desert and no one in their right mind would stick a hospital way out here.  I decided to call 911 to find out where this hospital was.

I have never had the pleasure of a late night chat with a 911 operator, so imagine my delight as Jessica Simpson answered my phone call and the conversation that ensued went as follows:  “911, what is your emergency?”

Tom:  Hi there, I’m trying to find your hospital here in Pahrump; where’d you hide it?
911:  What is your emergency, sir?
Tom:  I need to find the hospital; I’m having severe pain in my lower abdomen and I think I’m about to give birth.
911:  Sir, what is your address?
Tom: I’m driving, lady.  I’m on Wilson Road; can you tell me where the Pahrump hospital is located?
 911:  Where exactly are you, sir?
Tom:  I’m lost, lady.  For crying out loud, try to keep up; that’s why I’m calling you; where’s the darned hospital?
Cathy:  Be nice, Honey, they’re just trying to help.
911:  Sir, are you having pain?
Tom:  You’re kidding me, right lady; haven’t you been listening?  Yes I’m having pain, that’s why I need a hospital, now where is it?
911:  Sir, I need to know exactly where the paramedics can meet you.
Tom: At the Pearly Gates if I don’t find the hospital.  Can you just tell me where the hospital is, PLEASE, LADY, I don’t need the paramedics; I just need to find the hospital!
911:  Sir, the paramedics can be there shortly if you can just give me your location.
Tom:  You’re kiddin’ me, right?  Am I on Candid Camera, or are you a stand-up comedian in Vegas and I’m on the air?
911:  Sir, where…
Cathy:  Honey, there’s a road sign.
Tom:  Wait a second; I’m at Walton Road and Wilson. 
911:  Sir, you’re going the wrong way; you need to turn around and go in the other direction.
Tom:  Cheese and rice!  Turn around, Dear; she says we’re going the wrong way.
911:  Sir, what direction are you going?
Tom:  Now I’m going the direction you told me to go; the other way.
911:  Are you driving east or west, sir?
Tom:  How the hell should I know, lady, it’s blacker than a stack of stove lids out here.  Heck, you couldn’t find your nose with both hHHHAAAAAANNNOWWWGOOD GOD-AND- A-FLOWERMAGNATE!
911:  Sir, are you okay, where are you experiencing the pain?
Tom:  It’s getting lower in my abdomen.
911:  Where exactly is the pain, sir?  What kind of pain is it?
Tom: The kind that hurts, lady.  It feels like someone’s pushing a goat head burr through my urethra tube with a flamethrower.  Any chance of you telling me where that hospital’s at?
911:  Excuse me, sir?
Tom:  I’m sorry, I confused you; I know better than to end a sentence with a preposition.  WHERE’S THE HOSPITAL, LADY?
Cathy:  Honey, we’re back at the highway; now where?
Tom:  Alright, Lady, we’re back at the highway; now where do we go?
911:  You’re at the highway?  Sir, you need to be going west; you’ve gone the wrong direction.
Tom:  Turn around, Dear, you’re not gonna believe this! Okay, is this Jessica Simpson?  I know you’re not Gracie Allen ‘cause she’s dead, which is exactly where I’m gonna be if you don’t tell me where the friggin’ hospital is, lady.  Can I speak with a supervisor or someone there who understands simple English.

It was at this juncture in our little melodrama that events began to get even more rapid as a flashing pain, located low in the area of what anatomically, (were the area a state,) would be classified as South Florida shot through me like a bolt of lightning through an Iowa cornfield.  Certain that Johnson and the twins were being attacked by a commercial-grade badger I let out a scream of profanities that would force any combat marine to stand back in utter admiration as my head spun circles like a seventy-eight turntable plugged into a 220 volt outlet.  

Now I had never before seen my wife drive while levitated.  In fact, I didn’t even know it was possible, but I am here today to attest that it is, indeed.  Together, in complete harmony, I grabbed my groin and we screamed simultaneously and in complete harmony.  Me, because of the pain emanating in South Florida, and my wife, as she later explained, because my sudden screams scared the grass out of her.   

911:  Sir, what’s happening; are you there?
Tom:  Yes, I’m here, in fact, we’re back at Walton ROO)ad and Wilson. 
911:   Sir, continue west one block to Medical Way, turn right and you should see the hospital.
Tom:  I see it, thanks, Lady.  Bye.
911:  Sir, stay with me; don’t hang up, okay?
Tom:  Okay; C-L-I-C-K!

Once in the emergency waiting room, Cathy did all of the talking. That would be because I was on the floor holding my crotch like I was a spastic rap star doing a break dance.  It was during this time I discovered that admittance, (seeing a doctor), and treatment was ranked somewhere below insurance paperwork and coffee break; all while being asked more questions than a What’s My Line mystery contestant.  

Then, out of nowhere, for absolutely no rhyme or reason, an old song from Misery Elementary School, The Erie Canal, came racing back into my head.  Specifically, one line kept repeating over and over again as I lay on the waiting room floor curled up in a ball and holding my privates.  
Oh, where would I be if I lost my pal?  Fif-teen miles on the Er-ie can-al.

As I lay on the floor in agony while the required paperwork and insurance information was being taken care of by Cathy, I’m certain ice ages have come and gone in less time ,until at last I was as helpless as a cow in quicksand and now I had the urgent desire to pee.  I decided to scramble to the restroom in another attempt to relieve myself; something I hadn’t been able to do all day.  I was messed up worse than a grass rope on a cold, damp morning.  

At this point, blind Bob and the Whirly Twins felt as if they were on fire and then some.  Oh, where would I be if I lost my pal?  Fif-teen miles on the Er-ie can-al.  It was difficult enough standing in front of the urinal, but attempting to complete the task at hand (no pun intended) felt like I was trying to pass a coffee can full of treble hooks.  It was a situation above critical and I felt like a masterpiece of faulty construction.  Oh, where would I be if I lost my pal?  Fif-teen miles on the Er-ie can-al.

About the time I thought I was ready for a Dr. Kevorkian motivational speech, a tiny trickle appeared.  Happy as a piglet on a teat at this long awaited development I couldn’t help but notice another development; the pain had suddenly lessened considerably.  Following copius amounts of happy medication, a ct scan, a shift change, three coffee breaks, and two doctors later the diagnosis was that I had passed a couple of kidney stones.  I had never passed at stone before, so imagine my unrestrained exuberance at having given birth to my first.  What shall I name it?  

I have had more than my fair share of unfortunate experiences in my life.  I’ve suffered accidents that run the gamut from explosions of several types, to spectacular unplanned dismounts off everything from mules to motorcycles.  I’ve experienced life flights, scary flights, and unplanned flights down mountains, rocks, power poles and even flights of stairs, and while I’ve been fortunate enough to survive them all up to this point, and many are fodder for silly stories such as this, arguably the most painful was the passing of a minuscule kidney stone.  A miniscule stone that felt the size of a disco-ball covered with thorns getting shoved through a flex-straw!

Join us for next week’s episode as Tom answers that age-old question, “Will a lighted cherry bomb explode if held under water?”