Monday, January 25, 2016


            Richard, who worked as the foreman of the lumber manufacturing company for which my mother was bookkeeper, had a problem with alcohol.  Habitually he came into the office on Monday morning, asking for an advance in pay against the check he would get at the end of the week.  Mr. Joe, President of the company, finally told the women in the office, “No more advances for Richard.”

            The following Monday morning, Richard came into the office and asked for an advance.  The lady at the counter said no, and explained Mr. Joe’s directive.  “But this is an emergency,” explained Richard.  Bea, his wife, he went on to say, had to go to the hospital. 

            “What on earth?” inquired Lib.

            “Well, it’s like this.  She was sitting on the commode.  My shotgun was standing in the corner.  It was loaded.  Somehow the gun fell. When it did, it went off and shot the commode out from under Bea.  She fell over, banged her arm on the tub and broke it.  Hit her head on a piece of the tank.  Wonder she’s alive.”

            Lib told Richard to stay put until she could consult with Mr. Joe.  Choking back her laughter, she could hardly hold it until she got to Mr. Joe’s office where she erupted, giggling until she cried, spilling out the impossible yarn.  Mr. Joe shook his head and said, “Give him the advance.  Anybody that could make up that good a story deserves it.”

            A week or so later, Bea came into the office.  “Bea!” one of the women exclaimed.  “Whatever happened, Bea?” 

            “I guess you wouldn’t believe it,” said Bea.  “I was sitting,” she whispered, “on the commode, when Richard’s gun fell down and went off and fired right between my legs and blew me off the seat.”  Jaws dropped.  Eyes widened. 
            Someone said, “Well I’ll be.”

            Truth.  Sometimes what seems preposterous turns out to be true after all.

            Much of the time we operate as if what is true is whatever is most believable.  And what is most easily believed is not infrequently what accords with our preconceptions of what is possible.  Or likely.  These are not necessarily bad assumptions, just not very dependable.

            The Buddha once asked some monks, “If a blind turtle were swimming in the oceans of the world and also a wooden yoke, and this blind turtle came up for air once every hundred years, could she put her head through that yoke?”  The monks declared it impossible. 

            “Not impossible,” said the Buddha.  “Improbable, but not impossible.” 

            Just because we cannot imagine something does not mean it cannot be.

© Frank Gasque Dunn, 2012

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