Wife is steady source of stories

TRAVERSE CITY — People who have read my column for a long time often ask me if I make up the stories I tell about my family, especially the lovely yet formidable Marcia.

For instance, I once wrote about the day she phoned me at work and said, frantically, “Hehp eee!”

“What’d you say?” I replied.

“HEHP EEE!”

“I’m sorry, one more time, please.”

“Eye ung is ozen! Hehp eee, ooo ehiet!” Which I eventually figured out meant “My tongue is frozen, help me, you idiot.”

What happened is she was defrosting the freezer in our apartment (this was before frost-free freezers) by jabbing at the ice with a knife. At some point, she punctured a tube holding refrigerant, which squirted out and hit her square in the mouth, which was apparently open at the time. (I speculate she was saying “Ohmygod!” at the time when the stuff nailed her mid-god.)

So, yes, the things I write about her are real. There are some people in this world to whom odd things simply happen more often than to others. Marcia is one of those souls.

For instance, have you ever been attacked by a turkey?

She has. It happened several weeks ago. She was walking Tonka, our rather crazy-looking Terrier mix, along a path in the woods near our home. In one hand she held his leash, in the other she had a bunch of feathers she had found from a downy woodpecker. She collects stuff like that. I was home “watching” a ballgame, which means I was napping with a Tigers game on, when the phone rang.

“(unintelligible) turkey!” she said, out of breath and frantic. “Come help (unintelligible)! … Tonka (unintelligible)… attack (unintelligible) … chase … ankle!”

Which I took to mean that Tonka had taken off after a turkey. So I grabbed a broom — in case I had to separate them — and took off running. When I arrived, Marcia was staggering out of the woods, bleeding, limping and with one hand clutching feathers.

“My god,” I said, “you fought the turkey?”

But no, that’s not what happened. She had startled a large Tom on the path, but instead of fleeing, it headed straight for her. Marcia — still holding the dog’s leash — tried backing away slowly, which seemed to only irritate the bird more. He fanned his feathers and kept on coming, at which point Marcia, sensibly enough, turned to run. But in doing so she caught the heel of her flip-flop on the ground, tumbled over, hurt her ankle and cut up her toe. Worse, she was now helpless and prone before an advancing Thanksgiving dinner of doom. Death by pecking seemed imminent.

As she related all this, I said “Why didn’t you let go of Tonka?”

To which she said, “I didn’t want him to get hurt!”

As it happens, Tonka — who was going nuts — slipped his collar and chased off the turkey, so he was the hero of the day, earning him numerous treats and much admiration.

Marcia ended up with a nasty sprain and a pair of crutches.

I, of course, ended up with another story to tell.

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Andrew Heller, an award-winning newspaper columnist, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. Follow him at andrewheller.com and on Facebook and Twitter. Write to him via email at andrewhellercolumn@gmail.com.

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