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Another Productive Day


By: Bill McFadyen

My wife did a fantastic job of compiling a list of chores for me to accomplish that Saturday while she would be in town shopping for Back to College items for our rising sophomore. There was, of course, the yard to be mowed. The destruction of the old boy’s club in the barn had stalled out since the prior weekend and, thus, finishing it made the list. The okra was only barely taller than the water-thieving weeds. There were dirty dishes and soiled clothes aplenty. I was left in charge of it all.

As she exited the foyer, I was moving a washed load into the dryer. Our goodbye was delivered lovingly.

Gazing through the laundry room window, I confirmed that she had indeed gotten away safely. I called her just a few minutes later – not only to say goodbye one more time in an expression of my unwavering love but also to confirm that she had not forgotten her phone, which could have meant an untimely return to retrieve it. She answered via Bluetooth as she was crossing the river bridge and so I dutifully went in quest of checkmarks on the To Do list.

Earlier that morning, I had visited my wildlife food plots a couple of miles from the house, which were bursting with milo and sunflower. Now, on my way to the lawnmower, I stopped on the back-porch sofa to text a few pictures of my food plots to the founders of Dirty Water Outdoors, a homespun hunting and fishing web page hosted by three of the now-adult children from my “it takes a village” early fatherhood. I pressed “send” and mused with intrigue how I had gone from teacher of these boys to craving their approval. Thinking about their YouTube video careers, I pulled up and watched one of their episodes, a seven-minute compilation of a spring turkey hunt.

They had overdubbed a vaguely familiar country song and it sounded to me like the chord progression and the vocal range was such that I could give an excellent performance of it to Norma, the calico who sat on the chair across from me, watching in feline judgment.

I found the song on the internet and spent a reasonable amount of time learning the chords and the words to the song. When I was satisfied that I had given it a solid effort and as the last G chord rang across the concrete for the fifth and last time, I looked to Norma for her reaction.

She was gone.

I gassed up the mower and pumped air into the front tires. As I started to crank it up, I remembered that the laptop was still on the porch. That laptop takes forever to reboot if the battery runs down so to save my wife some time when she next used it, I went back to the porch to get it and to plug it into the charger in the kitchen. My wife likes for us to close all the browser windows whenever possible. While doing so, I saw that Facebook was open. So I took just a couple of minutes to look in on what highlights from their incredibly interesting lives our friends and family had chosen to share from their Friday evening on the stair climber and their Saturday morning at Cracker Barrel.

Then I discovered something monumental that admittedly blockaded my path to productivity. I saw a sponsored post that purported to be able to predict my personality traits based solely on the ratio of the length of my pinky finger to that of my ring finger. With undeniable fascination, I found a very close comparison of my left pinky and ring finger to the one on their chart. With one click, I saw a list of six personality traits. Three of them described me exactly!

Conflict nearly arose when I looked at my right hand’s ring finger and pinky in relation to each other. On that hand, the pinky seemed longer than on the left and that brought up an entirely different list of personality traits. Low and behold, I could find three more of those six that also perfectly described the good and the bad personality traits for one William C. McFadyen!

I was glued to the sofa for probably twenty minutes more as I contemplated these miracles.

Then into my head came the remembrance of my wealthy and eccentric Aunt Catherine from Dallas, Texas. She came to visit us one summer during my childhood at a family retreat to Wrightsville Beach. She brought with her a travelling companion named Valerie. Of all the world’s occupations, Valerie was a professional palm reader. As a gift to each of us for welcoming her to our beach, she read all of our palms. I have always greatly valued that experience even though the only thing I remember was that she said I would have a long life. I considered her some type of genie from my past.

But with old age comes discernment and I am thinking today that Valerie’s palm reading was just one big ruse. I think today that all Valerie had to do was turn up my palm, sneak a quick look at the ratio of my pinky length compared to my ring finger length and then, knowing from that glance exactly what my personality was like, she could just trace lines on my palm prints and claim them to be the road maps to what was so obvious just by her looking at the two fingers.

This revelation was not as negatively impactful as disproving the Tooth Fairy but it did hurt a bit. So I meandered to the garden and managed one row of weeding before the melancholy drove me back the lawn mower. As I completed the front yard, the thoughts of Valerie’s little ruse were replaced by that song in my head so I parked the mower prior to doing the back yard and strummed the chord progression a couple of times more just to make sure I did not lose it from my brain as quickly as I imprinted it there.

Time has a tendency to get away when one is engaged in a day of full-on productivity. Before I knew it, my wife and sophomore were home and we, the happy couple, went about getting ready for some well-earned rest and relaxation at the home of a neighbor – which is somewhat of a shame, as it would have been a perfect night for us to entertain at our home.

It was in near perfect shape, after all.