When I was starting out in the newspaper business, I sometimes had to edit something called the "fire log."
This was a list of fires and other emergencies that local crews had responded to the previous day.
It would include things like:
11:30 a.m. Garage fire.
2:16 p.m. Meat on stove.
(I believe we had a reporter who wrote that as "meat upon stove." "Ouch!" one of my male colleagues would say in response. This same reporter was also known for writing that someone was pronounced "dead upon arrival.")
The paper stopped running the fire log many conflagrations ago, fortunately for me. For if it had still been around a few weeks ago, it might have contained this entry:
I'm sure there must be an easy, convenient and painless way to remove those plastic rings. It's just that I'm constitutionally incapable of finding it. And this isn't limited to six-packs; if there's a long, inefficient way to do something, I'll come up with it for sure.
I especially remember how my high school geometry teacher's eyes glazed over when it took me maybe 20 steps to prove some theorem that any third-grader could have polished off in three.
A few years ago, faced with another six-pack, I came up with what I was sure was an efficient, if not downright clever, idea: Simply cut the plastic.
Perhaps this would have worked if I weren't such a klutz with tools, but my lack of skill was established for all time in my grammar school art classes, where my clumsiness made me so unpopular that the nuns kept encouraging me to run with scissors.
So I should have known that when I tried to cut the plastic rings with my scissors I would end up piercing the bottles instead and spraying the floor with soda.
But I'm smart enough to learn and to never make the same mistake twice -- after all, why do that when you can make whole new mistakes?
In this more recent case, the mistake was trying to wrestle each bottle from its ring while my cell phone slept in my shirt pocket.
At one point, one of the bottles bumped against this pocket and I heard the unmistakable sound of my phone calling someone -- without my bidding.
I took the phone out and discovered that I'd called 911.
But Alex, at right, must have been on another line that day -- maybe on hold with a cable company, if there's any justice in the universe -- and my cell phone rang again.
I answered, and a man's laid-back voice asked me if there was an emergency.
I explained that I had bumped into my phone, and he accepted that and thanked me before hanging up.
Now I concede that my explanation wasn't exactly accurate, but why go into needless detail with the guy when he could be on another line and hearing about a real emergency -- a five-alarm fire, maybe, or a bank robbery, or a murder, or even a presidential assassination attempt, and why indeed go into needless detail when the future of our country, indeed the free world, might well be at stake?
Call me a klutz -- but call me a patriot.
And at least I didn't butt-call the guy.