Ostomy Memories Working with my Hands


SOMEWHERE ALONG THE LINE I lost that allotment of mechanical ability granted to every boy. I think it was around 1962. In high school, driving my first car, I was still in possession of sufficient manual dexterity to remove the stock muffler from my ’54 Ford and install a glass pack in order to rumble through the neighborhood rather than simply drive. But by 1963 my head was more into books than tools. Books were not only teaching me things, they did not involve grease, dirt, or tissue damage.
My post-high school education pretty much demolished any natural mechanical ability reservoir remaining. I went out to conquer the world, my poor head whirling with extravagant BS and practical simplicities. Bertrand Russell, I decided, was right: “Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth’s surface relative to other matter; second, telling other people to do so.”
How sad that, when we moved to Utah after my second retirement, I ended up the only man in a small town of 350 people who lacked the competence to dig up and repair my waterline. At bottom, I do know the difference between a hammer and a screwdriver, but there are high school dropouts who are substantially more able than me to perform feats of accomplishment with the wondrous contrivances available at any Home Depot.
It was embarrassing and so I grew a beard to compensate. A beard roars masculinity as loud as any enhanced exhaust system or hiked-up PU truck. But facial hair does present certain problems. Every day activities like blowing your nose, spitting, and eating Italian food become problematic. In fact, it was food that caused me to shave my first beard. I left home, stopped for breakfast, then went on about my business. People kept staring at me and I discovered why when I went to a men’s room. Looking into the mirror, I saw a big glob of egg yolk nestled into my chin whiskers. I immediately went home and shaved.
Even a mechanically-challenged mug like me can wield a razor.

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