Oceanfront property in middle America

The other night at a popular pub, the wife and I sat down at a high-top table to enjoy our favorite beverages and play a game of cards.

It was at this point that I made my confession. “Honey,” I said almost despondently, “I have Shuffler’s Dysfunction. I am unable to shuffle.”

Looking at me totally shocked she said, “What do you mean you can’t shuffle? You shuffled perfectly well last week. What’s the problem?”

It is at this point in the column that we will travel back in time to one week ago (ethereal music and wavy lines…).

“Honey,” the wife said, “we need new artwork in the stairway.”

“What’s wrong with the art we have?”

“You did it. Don’t take this the wrong way, it’s lovely and basic … very, very, basic. I’m thinking we could find something, well, less basic, maybe even complicated. It should be of an ocean theme to go with our wall color and be framed by an antique window. That way it will look like we’re looking out of the window at the ocean…”

“But there isn’t an ocean around for hundreds of miles. No one is going to believe there is an ocean in our stairway.”

Determined to upgrade our gallery, a trip to Hobby Lobby was made to select a complicated seascape to fool our visitors and guests. A beautiful stretched canvas print was selected, depicting a sandy fence-lined pathway down to the beach. It really was quite lovely and smelled of sea-salt and dead fish.

“This one is perfect,” the wife said. “Now all you have to do is remove it from the canvas frame and staple it onto the back of the antique window I found in a dumpster. Voilà. We’ll have waterfront property just like that.”

The complicated art was purchased and brought home. Upon examination, I inspected the back of the print to see how it was attached to the canvas frame.

Roughly 4,352 micro-staples were deeply embedded into the wooden frame.

So, I began the laborious task of removing staple after staple to free the print from the frame. Using a sharp pocket knife, I was removing one of the last stubborn staples when the knife, under tremendous pressure, collapsed and folded on my thumb, cutting right through my thumbnail almost to the cuticle. I screamed like (in keeping with the ocean theme) a depressed humpback whale.

The wife came running into the sunroom to see what had happened and witnessed a bloody scene. “Don’t bleed on my ocean print,” she screamed. “It will attract sharks and I don’t want any sharks in my picture!”

“I can’t help it. I’m on low-dose aspirin for high blood pressure so I don’t stroke out when I cut my thumb on your dumb pictures.”

“Here’s a bucket. Can you please bleed in that?”

“Grab my belt. I need a tourniquet. Feeling faint … I’m seeing light at the end of a tunnel. I see my dead grandfather … grandfather … grandfather …”

“Perfect,” the wife said inspecting the print, “not a drop of blood on it!”

Well, I did survive the accident and managed to mount the picture on the antique window frame without further injury. It looks wonderful, just like we live at the ocean. I physically get sprayed when I walk by it.

Fast forward one week to the pub (more ethereal music and wavy lines).

“Honey,” I said to the wife, “you are going to have to shuffle the cards. I can’t use my thumb … you know, ocean injury.”

Pulling out an automatic card shuffler she had just ordered for me she said, “This is for your sacrifice, honey. Thank you for my beautiful new picture. Now shuffle those cards.”

Raul Ascunce is a freelance columnist for the Sentinel-Tribune. He may be contacted at [email protected]