Sunday, July 18, 2010


I’ve never been thrown to the ground and handcuffed behind my back. Thrown to the ground? Maybe. Handcuffed behind my back at the same time? My lawyer quietly requests I decline to answer the question on the grounds it may incriminate me.

Some things I’ve never done despite what you may have heard. And unless you are able to provide photographic proof to the contrary, you should just mind your own business. And read on.

I’ve never come in first place in a marathon. Never came in last either, in case you were wondering. When I used to teach kindergarten, I’d bring my new marathon medals to school to share with the pupils. They are shiny and heavy (the medals, not the pupils . . . well, not all the pupils) and the five-year-olds enjoyed oohing and aahing over my stories.

At least I think they did. They might have been groaning.

Every time I brought in a medal, I’m talking every single time without exception, some kid or another would ask, “Did you come in first place?”

“No!” I’d bark. “That wasn’t the point.” They were too disappointed to pay attention to my explanation of what makes an old man run a long way and be happy with not winning. They would have to grow up and survive long enough to learn how it is we adults suffer through life, properly and privately.

I never could figure out why that was always the question du jour, even if the same class had seen me earn five or six medals. I guess they always held out hope that I might win, despite what they knew of my stats.

“Did you come in second?”


“Did you come in third?”


“What place did you get?”

“2,563rd. Are you satisfied now?”

They were never satisfied. Or maybe it should be said that I never satisfied them. Perhaps I should have run faster. Perhaps I should have left the medals at home. Sometimes I am my own worst enemy.

Like at weddings.

I have gone to a fair number of weddings over the years, and four or five times I have been brazen enough to predict divorce for the currently-being-wedded couple. Not loudly, of course, but in quiet whispers to my wife, who found my behavior quite distasteful (a problem that has come up repeatedly, and not just on the subject of marriage implosions).

Here’s the point: I have never been wrong. Even as my unblemished track record grew in number, the next time I foresaw a future break up Kristin would deny such inevitably whilst simultaneously shoving her elbow in my side. So while I was never wrong, she was never amused. Everybody has a “never” story to tell, eh?

I go to fewer weddings nowadays (coincidence? you be the judge) so I must amuse myself in other ways. That’s why I never turn down an offer to conduct a wedding. And no, clever person, it’s not because it is easy to not turn down something that is not offered. I have been asked precisely once, and I followed through with it exactly that same number of times.

Also no, clever person; the wedding for which I had a one-day pass from the county to act as ringmaster was certainly not one where I caught the scent of dissolution on the breeze. That union is doing just fine, and their son calls me Uncle even though there is no blood relation. The boy just happens to like me, and has never been disappointed by me.


In all honesty, the handful of failed marriages were easy to predict, probably half the people in the crowd were thinking the same thing. Sometimes you just know. But if you never want your own beloved to shove her arm between your ribs, you just might want to keep your thoughts to yourself.

Some things I’ve never done, but I fully expect to do them some day. I’ve never visited Antarctica, but I believe I will before being called to my final reward. I’ve never cared about separating the whites from the coloreds (laundry, folks, just the laundry), but one more pair of pink underwear might convince me to reconsider.

On the other hand, I’ve never killed a man, and I believe I will draw my dying breath saying the same. I’ve never painted my toenails purple or made a suit out of cardboard, and those will likely not come to pass either.

Sometimes a never is a good thing.

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