Jon de Vos: I blinded her with science
October 20, 2011
The entryway of a Fraser home, at the start of mud season, is a bad place to put a rug. So, of course, that’s where we put one. I was thinking about this contradiction while standing like a stork on one foot, clutching a big bag of garbage.
Frozen mid-stride, like a strobe-light photo, my left foot is in the air, poised and paralyzed by my wife’s words which still hang in the air like a civil defense siren, “Company’s here in a few minutes, don’t get the rug dirty.”
Don’t … how do I not get the rug dirty? Is there something on my shoe? Before the garbage I rolled up the hose. Could there be mud on my shoe? And, most importantly, could I step backwards even if I tried, what with gravity calling to the bag of garbage? I try.
There is no back up. The garbage propels me forward and I step squarely in the middle of the forbidden rug. I leap up as if the five-second rule applied and bound into the garage, depositing the bag into the waiting receptacle.
I look at the bottom of my shoe, hmm, fairly clean. Then I turn in growing horror to the muddy size 12 print in the middle of the rug. Company is coming. What to do? Starting life over in Fresno might be overkill, but never rule anything out.
You don’t know this because I just made it up, but Eskimos have fewer words for “snow” than Grand County residents have for “mud,” if you count all the expletives we put in front of “mud.” Why can’t science develop an enzyme that takes the cling out of mud and poops 91 octane? Or Fat Tire beer? I don’t care.
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Nobody sings about mud season in the Rockies. It’s that time when dirt roads turn into a living entity and start crawling for the nearest carpet. Pioneers had dirt floors because they were smart enough not to invent the vacuum. When they tracked in mud it was called refinishing.
OK, let’s bring this back home where I am staring at my big muddy footprint in the middle of the Sacred Rug. Calmly I whip the rug upside-down to hide my little slip, only to reveal a tiny but muddy size 7 print in the middle of the underside. What does it mean? Me? Size 12. Who in this house has a little … hey!
The kitchen door flew open. My wife glared and growled, “Quit fooling around out there, they’ll be here any minute.”
“Hold on a second,” I said, “Did you know that back in 2004, NASA discovered Apophis, an asteroid about the size of a Super Wal-Mart that could smack the earth in about 25 years. If it hits land, it would wipe out 20 percent of the world population. In 2029 it passes by so close as to be plainly visible with the naked eye. On it’s next orbit, seven years later, smacko! Small, but not insignificant chance, science says.”
She looked back at me evenly, “OK, so our company has just pulled into the driveway. Your point to this very fascinating discussion is …what?”
“In light of getting smacked by an asteroid, we don’t need to get upset over a little mud on the rug, do we? Oh look, our guests!”
Saved by science.