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Peek into Puppy Out Of Breath

#34: I Would Never Say Hello To Her

My Shoes Are Not Highly Polished

My commanding officer, Captain Marjorie Johnson, said that she was recommending me for promotion to sergeant. All I needed to do, she said, was be examined by the Fort Lewis promotion board.

I said, “Thank you, Ma’am,” and started worrying about facing the promotion board.

On the day I was to go before the promotion board, I polished my shoes, put on a highly starched uniform, and walked over to the building where the board was, avoiding stepping in any dust that would undo my polishing job.

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#7: Never Squish It; Always Flick It

Blistered by the Alarm Clock

When I arrived in Africa in 1965, I had to learn how to sleep inside a mosquito net.

There is a technique to unfurling a mosquito net so that nasty insects don’t fly inside it. There is a technique to tucking it in so that no nasty insects can crawl inside it and a technique to slipping yourself inside so that no nasty insects take advantage of the brief opening.

It’s a cozy world; cocooned from the abundant African insect life.

One morning, when I had been in Africa for about two weeks, my alarm clock blistered me. I had reached out of the mosquito net to turn off the alarm, and when I pulled my hand back inside the net, there was a large blister on the back of my hand.

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#70: A Little White Duck Doing What He Oughta

An Early Form of Karaoke

Back when I was a kid, I serenaded my aunt when she came over to our house for a visit. I was about three years old. The tune was “The Farmer in the Dell”, but I wanted to sing something original for my aunt, so I changed the words to: “The Farmer Jumped over the Fence”. This song is one of my earliest childhood memories.

Back when I was a kid, everybody sang.

At home, I would sing duets with my mother. Our favorite song was “Little White Duck”, which we learned from a Burl Ives record: “There’s a little white duck, sitting in the water; a little white duck, doing what he oughta.” Mom and I sang our duet with gusto.

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