These Stories are dedicated to:
My wife Marci and my three children Saundra, Jessica, and Jimmy – Thank you for believing in me!
And to the rest of my chosen family – may they learn to recognize the truth in all that I write!
The ˇ of Skinny & Fuzz
Having Fun is Hard Work
I have to say this. Skinny and Fuzz are always working! Whether they are working AT work or working to AVOID work, doesn’t matter – it’s still work! But I am here to testify that they do put more effort into the latter than the former. In any case, their desire to AVOID work usually ends up in more work for those around them. Especially me!
Let me explain. Skinny is the younger (and most dangerous) of the two. That is, if you discount Fuzz sitting on the sidelines egging him (and me) on! But Skinny is the one that usually ends up trying something first. It’s hard to get them both going at the same time – sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t – it surely isn’t for a lack of trying on my part! You see, my goal in life has been to frustrate their efforts to have fun, or to gain some pleasure out of watching them do dumb things, or both. Either way – I get to have some fun!
Until they get some kind of idea that includes me that is! Those ideas are usually the result of some scheme dreamed up by one of the two malcontents to get out of doing work. For the most part, I am able to deal with that if approached individually. It’s when they both come up with an idea that I am most likely to fail to frustrate their efforts.
Being Johnny McDunn, known associate of Skinny and Fuzz, sometimes leads to trouble. It usually starts out with the words “McCiiiityBoy” – followed closely by an Idea. “McCiiiityBoy, Let’s go bear hunting” or “McCiiiityBoy, Look what I bought” or most often “Hey McCiiiityBoy, dare me to…” Don’t get me wrong, I usually love it – whatever it is, until we get to the actual implementation phase. Because, implementation is a euphemism for “McCiiiity boy, got your checkbook?” If it has nothing to do with money, then it has something to do with my weak mind, and even weaker back!
Shoot, last month, I received a call from Fuzz, which is usually an ominous sign. Skinny has enlisted Fuzz to egg me on or to get me to do something he wants done. I usually screen my calls, ah the wonders of modern gadgets, but in this case my traitor of a son answered the phone while I was out looking at the new DR field and brush mower Fuzz sold me a few months ago.
My son came to the garage and said “McCiiiiiiity boy” with a giggle. So with my head hanging, I traipsed into the house and picked up the phone.
“No” I said! Get that right out in the open. Nip it in the bud! Never gonna happen!
“No what” Fuzz replied.
“No whatever it is!”
“Come on, you don’t want to miss out on this one. See, our boss has been having a hard time with his fish pond. He said we could take a couple of days off WITH PAY to clean out all the old fish before he has it restocked with new trout from the fish hatchery. We have the next three days to clear em out”
“What do you mean – clear them out? And what’s that got to do with me?” I asked with a little fear in my voice. Which Fuzz either chose to ignore or didn’t catch, because he chuckled and said they needed me to go to Wyoming to buy a bunch of fireworks.
“What in the world for?” I asked suspiciously.
“Were gonna go fishing the way you did while in the Navy. With grenades!” Oh how I wish I hadn’t made up that story! “Since you aren’t working today, we thought we’d ask you to go pick some up.”
“How are you going to keep the fuse lit in the water” I asked, desperately trying to figure a way out of spending the next eight hours on the road.
“Dang McCityBoy, don’t you know nothin?. I thought you did this in the Navy?”
“Not with fireworks I didn’t”
“The fuses don’t go out in water” Fuzz said exasperatedly. “Anyway, Skinny and I are working today so we can’t go pick this stuff up.”
My final attempt to skip out of this involved the law “Isn’t this illegal?” I asked.
“Nah, were on private property and we’re getting rid of an invasive species not natural to the pond” he replied.
“What kind of fireworks are we talking about anyways? You can get M80’s locally” I complained.
“Mortar shells! It’s the only ones big enough to get the job done!” he replied.
“Donny, you can’t be serious! Mortars for crying out loud?”
“Yep. That’ll get it done. Them fish’ll come right to the surface once stunned, then we’ll collect them” he said.
“No. I’m not going to pick up mortar shells in Wyoming for heaven’s sake” I said with finality.
“Come on McCityBoy. This is 3 days off, with pay, we’re talkin here. Plus we get to play with mortar shells. What could go wrong with that?” He argued. “Plus, your wife can practice scuba diving to pick up the fish that don’t float.”
That was it. The threat was out there. He was going to call my wife – his sister – who, by the way, was raised by their mom and dad. Need I clarify this? She’s going to be all for it!
Needless to say, I went to Wyoming! They had a trailer already loaded. All I had to do was hook on and drag it back to Idaho. $500.00 lighter in the wallet too, so I did get pretty good gas mileage on the way home!
Let me tell you. This turned out to be a family affair. They brought their camp trailers, friends, neighbors, enemies, everyone, and enough food for a couple of days of fun in the sun! Mom and Pops were excited too. She claimed they used to fish with dynamite “in the old days” and was feeling rather nostalgic about the whole thing. Pop’s loves to blow things up, so he was in from the beginning.
Anyway, the pond was not very big. I think two or three mortar shells would have done the trick. But Skinny and Fuzz were getting scientific about it. They were trying to figure out circumference and depth of the lake using the fish finder they sold me fifteen years ago. Conveniently it had a depth finder function too! They had their slide rules out, three measuring tapes, and Google was a prominent fixture in the conversation because they weren’t sure about the wind factor and currents. See what I mean about working hard at not working? They were deaf to my argument that there was no current in the little pond, and the wind had nothing to do with it. “How would you like to throw that mortar shell out there and have the wind carry it back to you, huh?” Skinny asked.
Never mind. Needless to say, I was impressed. They put a lot of work into the whole thing. It was almost worth the $500.00 to watch them plan the whole fiasco out. I mean, never mind the morals of shocking fish you didn’t plan to eat, these guys have a methodical mind (yes, only one between the pair), and the drive and ingenuity to accomplish their goals. They work hard at it.
They even had a solution for the wasted fish argument, “The local fertilizer store wanted the dead fish. It would help with the soil” Skinny said.
“I give up! Do what you want, but I’m not climbing in that water to pick up any dead fish. I’ll be right here watching from a safe distance” I said with finality.
“Come on McCityBoy” Fuzz chimed in. “We need you to row the boat while we throw the mortars.”
The final argument for me was the free trout fishing on the pond when restocked with good fish. Not that I like fishing, but my wife, the hidden Skinny and Fuzz conspirator, said it would be great for Pops to be able to come out here and fish. “He’s getting older and can’t get around as well as he used to. Being able to come out here will be good for him” she said convincingly.
“Your father walks me into the ground every time we go hunting. Who are you kidding! You just wanna scuba dive for dead fish” I said exasperatedly.
She smiled and said, “Thanks honey. I knew you’d understand!”
Oh boy, do I understand!
But, an hour later we were out on the pond. I was paddling the boat. Skinny and Fuzz were standing on the Bow lighting a fuse, and my wife and her sister were in another boat 50 feet away with their scuba gear on. This would have been comical if I wasn’t driving the get-a-way boat!
Now, picking up floating or otherwise shocked fish by hand is inefficient at best. But I figured they would tire from the effort pretty quickly, and didn’t say anything out of hopes it would end after the first detonation. Skinny and Fuzz were ahead of me there too. They had laid fishing nets on the bottom of the lake held down by bricks. All the scuba girls would have to do is pull the corners to the center and the boys would haul it onto the boat. Then the process would start all over again.
Ingenious! They really do put effort into not working, don’t they!
Well, needless to say, we spent 3 days “fishing” the pond until there didn’t seem to be anything left living in the area (Including me – I was wiped out).
Turns out, the pond was only five feet deep at its deepest point. The scuba girls were upset, even though neither of them can claim the water didn’t go over their heads, I was upset, and the fish were obviously upset. The only people having any fun were Skinny and Fuzz. They had figured out how to take the mortars apart and were working on analyzing the components to learn how to make their own in the future.
Now, I know that’s only one example of how hard these two work at having fun, so let me give you another.
Two months ago, Skinny’s wife called me up. Now she’s a nice lady and hardly ever calls me McCityBoy! So I took the call.
She said Donny and Bobby were at work and had an idea. They wanted to enter the upcoming lawn tractor races at the county fair. I definitely knew where this was heading. Neither of them owned a lawn tractor. But guess who did!
Now, my lawn tractor is pretty new. But it is also kind of slow. So I agreed to let them borrow it to enter the race. This wasn’t because I was being nice. Noooo, this was purely in my own self-interest. I hoped and prayed they might be able to speed things up for me. You see, on those rare occasions I spent any time at all cutting the grass; I usually ended up spending a lot of time cutting the grass.
Skinny & Fuzz, however, didn’t tell me how they intended to modify my lawn tractor, nor did they tell me they needed me to pick up a few parts while they were at work. Seeing a common thread here? While they were at work, they were dreaming of not working, which resulted in giving me a bunch of tasks that looked a lot like work!
So off I went to the local Artic Cat shop with a nice, long, expensive list of things I needed to buy. This included a “used kitty motor” Skinny said, a shortened drive train belt, a new set of metric tools, two old tracks from an old snowmobile, and a used plastic windshield assembly. I was getting the feeling my lawn tractor would no longer look like a lawn tractor when these to knuckleheads finished with it!
Luckily, after I delivered all the parts, and my lawn tractor, Skinny and Fuzz ran me off. They said “it would be a surprise for your birthday!” Please note that my birthday is 6 months out, but whatever. I didn’t have to do any work so I left like an escaped convict heading for Mexico.
They had a whole week to get their newest invention designed, modified, tested, and entered into the race. I had my doubts, but I haven’t seen them fail yet. Not when it comes to avoiding real work in any case. This endeavor kind of reminded me the time the modified my wood splitter and chainsaw by attaching it to a Bobcat Skidsteer to use in the mountains.
They would cut down a tree in the normal way, drive up with the bobcat, lift the end of the tree trunk onto the bucket, clamp down and engage the chainsaw. It would cut a 2 foot section off the tree trunk, which would then fall into the bucket. The splitter would then engage and push the log up against the edge of the bucket until it split into 3 separate pieces and fell through the bottom. It was ingenious, expensive, and a lot of fun to watch. Until I remembered I would never get my chainsaw or log splitter back. They put a lot of effort into that project to ensure they wouldn’t have to work so hard when they collected firewood every year. See what I mean about working hard to avoid work?
Anyways, I went to Skinny’s garage while he was resting at work to see how my “surprise” was going, or, in other words, to get a medical report on my lawnmower!
They had removed the engine, cut the frame to extend the front wheels two feet from their original position, welded a new frame in place, installed the Arctic Cat motor, removed the rear wheels to install a snowmobile track, modified the steering linkage to reach the front wheels, and were in the middle of modifying the front wheels to stick out two feet on either side of the frame to give it some stability when they obviously had to abandon their efforts for their real jobs.
Now, one of the main requirements for the lawn tractor race was that it actually had to cut grass. I saw nothing resembling cutting blades and figured they’d be disqualified, but I really didn’t want to mention that to them, lest it cost me more money to resolve that little oversight.
Two days later Fuzz called and asked me to come help run the new mower through field trials. I grabbed my bull’s-eye helmet, knowing there would be some danger involved, and headed to Skinny’s garage. There was the whole family again! Dinner cooking, EMT’s standing by, Life-flight on call, Emergency Room patiently awaiting patient delivery, and the local news station with a mobile van set up to record the event for posterity.
As a joke, Fuzz had mounted his deer head onto the front of the lawnmower that was sporting a new paint scheme. Pink to match my helmet! The contraption was named “Poached” for some reason. I can’t figure out if it was in reference to the deer Skinny had once offered a ride on his snowmobile or to my lawnmower that no longer resembled anything of the sort!
Anyways, the new lawnmower looked like a hybrid Subaru and helicopter. The cutting blades from my DR Field and Brush mower had been installed on either side of the “Poached” – which gave the contraption a six foot wingspan. I wonder if they notified the FAA of this test flight? I walked up with my helmet already on. Fuzz smiled and offered me the honor of being the first to “give it a spin”.
Now, give it a spin, has a Ominous connotation given the looks of the darn thing, more so than I think they intended (or anyone but me suspected), but it turns out to be prescient. I held my body steady so that only my head was shaking in an attitude of disgust and started to climb aboard. Skinny took pity on me (maybe he thought the amount of shaking I was doing would off-center the contraption) and said he would go first, since most of the design was implemented on his property. I think his homeowners insurance might pay for another life flight if things go wrong. That, referring back to my initial statement at the beginning of this story that Skinny is the more dangerous (I mean adventurous) of the two lunatics, was what I was counting on!
He climbed aboard, secured the three point harness, put on his helmet and parachute, and started the engine. So far so good in my opinion, as there was a 70-30 chance it would blow up upon ignition. I guess a lot of the family had faith in the two goofballs, but you could tell everyone else was skeptical because they backed off about 50 feet. I didn’t think that was far enough and had decided to watch from the big windows inside the house.
Needless to say, the darn thing worked flawlessly, If you overlook the initial gyrations resembling a tornado, Skinny quickly learned to manage the centrifugal forces of the two cutting blades as he offset it with the power of forward motion from the engine and tracked propulsion system. The speed was impressive, traction was great, cutting width wasn’t so good in the middle, but a three foot swath of grass was nicely trimmed down to bare dirt on both sides of the contraption. Skinny, smiling ear-to-ear, dismounted the “Poached” and nodded his head in satisfaction. He was able to cut an entire 20 acre pasture in less than 10 minutes. The only real trouble was that Skinny forgot to wear his earplugs, so he has been deaf to my pronouncement that I would like to have my lawnmower restored some day.
The race also went well. If it hadn’t been for the hover effect they wouldn’t have been disqualified. Everyone seemed to enjoy the 65mph demonstration though. I heard it made national news and John Deere was sending someone out to take a look. Maybe I can get them to give me a new lawn tractor to replace my hover-mower?
Next month, I’ve been informed, Skinny and Fuzz are going on vacation. Two whole weeks off, together, both at the same time, in the same place! If that doesn’t give you pause, please (and I do mean PLEASE) let me know. I might need someone to go with me, or better yet, instead of me!