A man had terrible lungs and went to Colorado for the air. Got along all right for a while, but gradually weakened and could not take his long walks any more. So his loving wife, determined he would get the mountain air, rigged up a chaise lonuge with wheels. She tied it to the bumper of the car and, at no telling what personal sacrifice to her, drove him around every day.
For some reason the fellow rosened and the loving wife spent more and more time driving about with her dear tied to the bumper, but nothing helped and he died.
God give every gentleman (as the old ballad says) such hawks, such hounds, and such a leman.
Good Samaritans often do mischief, of course, and I rather like the laws that hold people responsible for the first aid and general mercy they dispense. You have heard horror stories of a man who bled to death because bystanders were afraid they might be sued later for malpractice.
But if the guy is bleeding and you pour a pint of radiator seal down his throat to stop the hemmorage you haven't really done much to help.
And if a man is drowning and you rescue him, and then set him in a fire to dry out, you might as well have left him to drown in the first place. There is a great art to doing only enough to avert the present catastrophe and then phoning for help. The trouble usually comes when some helpful idiot goes that second mile (that idiots are always ready to go) and really does the rescue up brown.
Once I was driving through a wilderness when a 12-wheel gravel truck left the road, sailed up in the air and came down bouncing three times before stopping upside down, the driver neatly laid parallel to his cab on the grass with gasoline dribbling down on him from the disturbed fuel tank.
I got him beneath his shoulders and dragged him a safe distance from the gas. He looked as good as new but died in a few minutes.
This is the way life usually comes at you: You know a guy in these circumstances positively should not be moved. At the same time, you doubt it is good to let gasoline flow over him from the broken gas tank, and you are not strong enough to move the truck.
Anything you do is probably going to be wrong, and the question is which thing is least wrong, and which choice is most likely to give the guy at least a chance in a hundred to make it.
So I moved him. Better a bone through the gizzard, I estimated, than an explosion. But you never know.
In a more cheerful upbeat mode, we had a house guest from the Deep South who gave a beautiful tribute to tolerance down there. Not total tolerance, mind you, but tolerance of a sort:
A fellow in one of those southern provincial capitals was thought a nice harmless guy, not likely to set the world afire, but nice enough for purposes of saying hello to. Then he came into an unexpected inheritance and after a few weeks he simply vanished. People did not worry, assuming he had gone traveling with his new money.
After a bit he returned and said please call him Dawn from now on, since he had had a sex-change operation. He then married a chauffeur.
All of which the town took in stride. Except some said:
"Isn't it sad that Dawn went and married a Baptist?"
Which shows that people will take a good many shocks, but not all shocks. And it shows perhaps something else:
Religious prejudices linger longest. And that is why it is a mistake in any civilized society to stir up the savages.
Not all savages, needless to say, are religious. Some of them operate instead at the Eastman School of Music. My old buddy, Larry, and I used to play cards Sunday nights and there came an awful time when the Eastman School presented music, and Larry would say good grief.
Anyway, they had some real music up there at Rochester sometimes, and Erich Leinsdorf was conducting the "1812 Overture," which makes all the advanced music folk groan because it's got tunes in it.
At one point a cannon goes off, and four of the Eastman students thought they'd enliven the general dullness by having some ducks fall out of the ceiling when the gun sounded. They couldn't find any ducks, but they did find a pillow and when the cannon sounded a cloud of feathers descended over the audience.
People laughed madly. It doesn't take much to amuse you at an Eastman School concert, I imagine. Leinsdorf stalked off the stage in a medium-high dudgeon, returning a minute later with a pistol which he gave the concert master who put it to his head and pretended to drop dead. Haw.
Now, 29 years after the event, the criminal who loosed the feathers has been apprehended, or at lest identified. Roger H. Steward of Los Angeles, a student at Eastman at the time of the Leinsdorf concert, did the deed with three accomplices. Now you know. He confessed.
Speaking of criminals, there is a cat running around named Eddy-puss. Guess what he did.