Learning through Laughter

Bob Owen, Humorist

I know he’s behind it.  People say he’s dead.  But, he’s behind it.  Allen Funt.  He was producer of the Candid Camera show on TV, in which hidden cameras caught people doing weird and wonderful things.

When I think about visits to my orthopedic surgeon’s office, I know without question I was being videotaped.   I’m not all that clear about motive, but it’s enough for me to believe Doc doesn’t mind making fun of hurt, old people.

Before Thanksgiving, I was putting Christmas lights on a holly tree in our yard and was standing on a six-foot ladder.  The ladder shifted as I reached for the top branches, and so did I.  The contrast is that the ladder quit shifting, and I continued to do so until I was in a heap on the driveway.  If I had been pulled over by the cops, everyone in the neighborhood would have been in their yards.  But, as I lay lumped on the ground, there was no one.  

After the holiday, I had an appointment for my bad shoulder with Doc and am convinced the examinations were videotaped.  Most of the questions the ladies out front asked me were not relevant at all.  They just needed the information for filler on the film.  “When did you fall?”  Good one.  "The day before Thanksgiving?  “What were you doing?”  Also OK.  “Putting lights on an outside tree?”  “What kind of tree,” she asked.  WHY?!?  I just starred at her.  “What kind of tree,” she repeated.  “A dang tree,” I retorted.  She hurmpphed and scribbled taboo words on my chart.  “Why were you putting lights on the tree?”  I stood up and walked over to a nearby closet and opened the door.  “Can I help you sir,” she asked.  “Where is he?  I know Allen Funt is here somewhere.”

“That’s not funny, Mr. Owen.”  “No, m’am, it’s not.”  “Would you answer the question,” she continued.  I knew it.  I had died and gone to hell, but I did answer the stupid question.  “Because they were Christmas lights, and I was decorating the tree for said season.”

“But this was BEFORE Thanksgiving,” she snapped.  I shook my head.  I opened my mouth to explain that we were going out of town and I wanted the lights up, so that when I returned after Thanksgiving they would be ready to turn on.”  But, I stopped cold and whispered, “I can’t tell you.  They’re watching.”

After I had read through “Gone with the Wind,” Doc called me in.  With the door open and in his clearest megaphone voice, he asked, “So, Bob, at your age, why were you on a ladder putting lights on the tree?”  The camera was rolling.  

He came over and pulled my injured arm straight up in the air.  “Does this hurt?”  He held it in that position.  Tears poured down my cheeks, and I was able to whimper, “Do you go home at night and beat up small children?  You are a sadist!”   He ignored my concern and continued to turn my arm until I was a pretzel.  With each turn, he looked at the nurse and called out the degree of each contortion – or something.  He will say that he was noting the current state of my ability to move my shoulder.  I think it was code for such statements as, “watch him when I turn this way.”  “If he doesn’t cry this next turn, you win 5 bucks.”

At the end, I was so thankful he was finished, I would have said my sister was pretty.  I don’t have a sister.

“Bob, you really must be more careful,” Doc lectured.  “When I put Christmas lights on a tree, I make sure I’m standing firmly on the ground, not on a ladder!”

“Well, Doc,” I seethed, “you must be so very proud of yourself.”

He laughed and stepped forward as if he were going to clamp down on my shoulder and said, “You’re a bit of a smart aleck, aren’t you?”

“My wife would say you’re half right.”  I turned to make faces at the camera behind the mirror before I left.

Date of Blog Story: 
January 13, 2011

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