Three Orphan Tales
From the cutting room floor.
When I write a book, I often jot down short stories that I know are connected to the book’s overall narrative. But I haven’t yet figured out how they are linked (or I’ve somehow forgotten).
So I write them down so they are handy.
“Oh yes, the story of getting shot with a paintball on the tip of my John Thomas is exactly what I need for this section of the book on gripping a chisel. Or playing the piccolo.”
The following three stories are ones that are unlikely to find a part in “The American Peasant.” But they required great effort to write. And so I present them here, like an band’s EP of B-sides.
Frank & the Boar
An early germ for “The American Peasant” was planted in my brain by Frank Klausz, a furniture maker who escaped Communist-controlled Hungary to start a new life in New Jersey.
While Frank was a freelance writer for Popular Woodworking Magazine in the early 2000s, I was his editor, and I got to visit his shop many times to work on photography for his articles. We often ate lunch and dinner together during my visits, and so I got to hear a lot of fantastic stories.
His most vivid stories were about his memories of Hungary.
Where he grew up was both civilized and wild, with dense beech forests that filled entire valleys, while the people lived on top of the cleared hills surrounding the forest. Like a fairytale, the forests were quite dangerous, and people avoided entering them unless they had to.
“Dangerous,” I asked. “Like, there were Soviets in there?”
“No!” he replied. “Giant boar. Bigger than a man. They gore you to death.”
Then he told the story of how during his last visit one of his relatives went and killed a wild boar in the forest so that Frank could take the hide back to America.
I looked skeptical, so Frank took me out the back door of his house and up the hill to an old circular building on his property. The structure had been a water reservoir for the town years ago, but now it was a place for the Klausz family to hold parties.
Inside, hanging on the wall, was a boar hide that was at least 8’ tall and 6’ wide. Frank held out his hand like a waiter showing me to my table.
I stood there in awe for a few moments.
“Big f-ing pig,” was all I could muster.
Not for the Chapter on Finishing
Thanks to the midazolam that was administered before my first colonoscopy, I don’t remember much about the procedure. But I do know there are a couple people at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati who will never forget it.
I woke up after the procedure on my side, bare-ass naked with my butt against a curtain wall. The first thing I saw was Lucy’s face, looking at me lovingly (I don’t deserve her).
I heard a man’s voice telling me to take it easy and not try to get up. It was the attending nurse, who sported a handlebar mustache and a vest over his scrubs that were covered in patches from his military tours overseas.
I was happy to take his advice and just lump there for a while as the sedatives wore off and we waited for the doctor to offer some thoughts on what’s inside my butthole (it’s OK to click that link if your grandmother is in the room with you).
But soon the nurse wasn’t happy with my progress.
“You haven’t farted yet,” he said. “And that’s the signal that everything’s working down there. So I need you to fart for me.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” I replied. “I… uh, think I have one in the chamber.”
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