February 25, 2024

That Really Bunches My Panties by Brendon Marks


For the last few years, I’ve always been involved in one building project or another. A friend remarked, “You’re going to die with a tool belt on.” I was a little concerned about that because he’s a Baptist minister and I was afraid that he might have some inside information. Like maybe he’s seen a list or something, but whatever will be, will be.

It occurred to me that virtually every project that I start has one common factor. It always begins with my hands wrapped around the handle of a shovel. Even the very first job I had as a fourteen year-old started that way. My new boss handed me a shovel and pointed me toward a dairy barn. He figured that this was one piece of farm machinery that I could operate without hurting myself.

Since that time, I’ve broken a couple handles and worn off some points so they’re nearly square, but I expect the heat-treated, fiberglass-handled beauties that I have now should last me the rest of my natural life.

I’ve got other tools for digging besides shovels, like a pick, and a digging bar. I was talking to a neighbor once about my digging bar and said, “It works great. It’s six feet long and weighs eighteen pounds.”

“Heck,” he said, “mine weighs twenty pounds.”

I replied, “This one used to weigh twenty pounds, but I wore two pounds off it.”

My latest project required digging fifteen holes, each thirty inches square, and three feet deep. It took me one day to dig three of them. It was hard digging. My wife said, “Maybe you ought to get some help. Hire a couple young guys and get it done.”

So I called a couple of neighborhood brothers in their early twenties, showed them what I had in mind, and pointed them toward the tools. I was working on something else up by the house, but I could hear the clink and clang of tool against rock, so I knew they were hard at it.
About half an hour later the music stopped and I heard them coming up across the yard. I looked around the corner of the house and they were carrying their shirts in their hands. I knew that was not good. The older one said, wiping his face with his shirt, “We just wanted to let you know we’re leaving. We don’t wanna do that anymore.”

“Ok,” I said. “You don’t owe us anything for what we done. Man, we feel sorry for you.”

And they were gone. They had started two holes; one was about twelve inches deep, the other about eighteen.

Another neighbor, Colonel, and I picked up where they left off and finished the job in a couple of days. Maybe in about ten or twenty years these young guys will figure out that the reason you get paid for work is because it ain’t fun.

I also had plenty of time to think about digging holes. One absolute fact that never fails is that when you have reached the point where the hole is exactly two inches shallower than you want it, you find a rock as big as a Volkswagen bus. Therefore, if you want a hole three feet deep, you must announce (in a voice loud enough for the Rock and Hole Fairy to hear you), that you’re going to dig a hole three feet two inches deep. Then when you hit the rock, you’re done.

The other thing is that you never, under any circumstance, start digging a hole you can’t complete in that day. If you leave a hole unfinished overnight, the aforementioned Rock and Hole Fairy will refill the hole halfway with rocks that are the offspring from a union between a bowling ball and a 16 pound shot-put.

I also decided my minister friend is wrong. I’m not going to die with a tool belt on; it’s going be face down in a hole somewhere and whoever finds me will need only pry the number two, heat-treated, fiberglass-handled, round-pointed shovel out of my hands and use it to cover me up.

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