A Late Morning Soap Opera


Now Playing: Oh, My Sweet Carolina, by Ryan Adams. “I went down to Houston And I stopped in San Antone. I passed up the station for the bus. I was trying to find me something. But I wasn’t sure just what.”

I ran into a friend yesterday. I’ll call him Arnold. He was limping. When I asked him why, he told me the following story, which he swears is true. It had me falling out of my chair. Here goes:

Arnold was wrapping up a free-lance article yesterday morning, trying desperately to finish so he could run some errands that afternoon. He had one more person to talk to – this person wasn’t even central to the piece, Arnold just had to tie up a loose end with him. Anyway, he’d reached the source’s handler that morning and had gotten a commitment for a phone interview sometime that day, probably early afternoon, because he was in a meeting right at that point.

Arnold shifted in his chair, wincing a bit, as he told me what happened next. He got his questions ready, went over his other notes again for the piece and waited for the source to call. Finally, at about 11:45, he decided to shower, figuring that the guy probably wouldn’t get back to him until early afternoon.

Well, you can guess what happened next: Arnold got in the shower, put shampoo in his hair and lathered up all over with soap. All over. And then the phone rang. “Crap,” he thought. “I’ve got to get that.” The problem being, he said, if he didn’t talk to the guy, then he might not the rest of the day.

So Arnold dashed out of the shower, covered in soap, shampoo and nothing else, and grabbed the upstairs phone. Sure enough, it was the source, who wanted to talk right then.

He dashed downstairs as he chatted with the guy, the CEO of a company in Greensboro, and got to the computer, where he had his questions ready.

Keep in mind he’s still wearing nothing but soap and shampoo. Thankfully for the neighbors, he’d closed the blinds on the downstairs window in his office.

But there were still problems.

Problem No. 1: He didn’t have time to grab his glasses. And trust me, Arnold is pretty blind without them. So he was depending on his ability to find the home keys on the keyboard – as always, the boogers on the “f” and “j” keys helped.

Which brings us to Problem No. 2: When Arnold sat down in his vinyl office chair, he was still soaped up. Which meant there was no friction. Which sent him sprawling out of the chair to the ground. Not once. Twice. So he knocked the stuff out of the card-table chair he keeps as a credenza in his makeshift office and used it instead as – wait for it – a chair.

That was a precursor to Problem No. 3: Because he was using both hands to type the CEO’s responses, Arnold – as is common for reporters, even those who aren’t naked, blind and covered with suds – tucked the phone between his shoulder and his ear. Only there was no friction there, either, just slippery soap. Which meant the phone squirted out of its position there to the floor. Not once. Not twice. Three times, finally turning itself off. Luckily, Arnold said, CEO guy called right back, and the delay gave Arnold a chance to grab a hand towel from the downstairs bathroom and dry his shoulder, neck and face.

They completed the interview without any other incident – I shudder to think what CEO guy thought of the obviously discombobulated reporter on the other end of the phone, but I didn’t say anything to Arnold. He was embarrassed enough without any sarcasm from me.

After they finished, Arnold headed upstairs, finished showering and then came back down to make sure his notes made sense. They did, he said, and he finished the story a little while later.

In the meantime, he’d discovered that the falls from the chair had left him with a pain in the groin and a limp noticeable to his friends – one that would make quite a story. Not to mention an as-told-to blog entry the next day.

That’s right. I must confess: I’m Arnold. And I really did fall out of my chair.

As Keats might say: Beauty is truth, truth beauty – and there wasn’t anything beautiful about that situation, even if its true.

Shalom, my friends.

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