Tuesday, Oct 23, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Tom Walton


If it weren’t for bad luck, they’d have no luck at all


Tom Walton.

The Blade/Lori King
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It’s been a while since we last checked in on Harriet and Harvey Fizblister, the hard-luck couple for whom nothing ever seems to go right. Their inexplicable run of misfortune is not what sets them apart. What makes the Fizblisters stand out from the crowd is the brutal honesty in their holiday letters.

Most of the holiday messages we all get tout the wondrous career and life achievements of every member of the sender’s household and celebrate the most inane accomplishments:

“Billy got a ‘B’ in his geography class. We are so proud of him.”

“Grandpa Jake has a new girlfriend. Not bad for 92.”

Unfortunately, there are no such happy tidings for Harvey and Harriet.

For better or worse, here’s their holiday letter for 2017. It arrived with postage due.

“Hello All,

I can’t believe another year has flown by so quickly. It’s time for our annual holiday message to our friends (you both know who you are). As has so often been the case in years past, Harvey and I have to say that this one sucked bilge water for the Fitzblisters.

The year started out all right, I guess, at least by our standards. I finally persuaded Harvey to get rid of the old 1992 Ford Pinto that had pretty much outlived its usefulness. There was no upholstery in the thing anyway. We used that to recover the sofa.

That’s the extent of the good news.

We tried trading the Pinto in but the dealer took one look and laughed.

“That thing is hideous,” he said. I wasn’t sure if he was talking about the Pinto or the nasty welt on Harvey’s forehead, sustained while sniffing for a gas leak in our barbecue grill. Those lids are heavy.

I told him “Harvey, it’s January. Leave the darned grill alone.” But did he listen?

Anyway, we were hurt by the dealer’s callous disregard for a classic, so we took the Pinto to the scrap yard, where it fetched $25. Guess we showed the dealer.

So now we have no car, but because Harvey got his second hip replacement in March, we had no place to go anyway and don’t miss it.

Our youngest boy, Spike, finally got his parole this year. You’d think that would qualify as good news, but no. He couldn’t stand the loneliness. He said he missed his friends on the inside. So he knocked over a 7/​11 and went back.

At least we know he’s eating, and he seems happy, so we try not to judge.

I got into some trouble myself last spring. Eager to do my civic duty, I volunteered to serve as a polling place worker at the primary election. My job was to sign in the voters as they arrived.

Everything was going along smoothly until I told several Democrats they were not welcome. Some people are so touchy. I’m glad they didn’t throw me in jail, although it would have been nice to discover for myself what appeals to Spike so much about the experience.

Daughter Lucy had her own run-in with the law. She was at Wal-Mart buying several boxes of white-fudge Oreos, the ones that only come out in the winter time, and when she returned to the parking lot, the police were putting a boot on her car because of a bunch of unpaid parking tickets.

Lucy told the officer what he could do with his boot. One thing led to another, and, well, Lucy quickly became dismayed by her behavior. Now she says she wants a stun gun of her very own.

As for me, I am doing okay now that the bandages have come off.

I took a bad fall six weeks ago. Harvey and I were in a playful mood, something totally out of character for both of us. We decided to play Hide and Seek.

Next thing I know I’m tumbling from our second-floor bedroom window into the shrubs below. I think I won, because Harvey didn’t find me until the next morning. I’m not sure how hard he looked, but we’ll stick with poker from now on.

Mack, our oldest, closed his bait shop in Texas this year when the bottom fell out of the night-crawler market. Worms are his life, so we wonder what he’s going to do with himself. Law school is an option, he says.

For a guy who thinks “Einstein” is “one beer,” his chances are not good.

In the meantime, he landed a job as a sanitation worker. He told us he’s the mon-back man. We had to ask what that is. Mack explained that he’s the guy who stands behind the garbage truck and yells “Mon Back” at the driver.

He applied for the driver’s job but was rejected because he lost his license last summer. He drove his pickup truck through a residential neighborhood at 70 miles per hour. Boy, you fly through one school zone and you’re branded for life.

We continue to get Christmas cards from Harvey’s old girlfriend, Muriel. Evidently she’s still looking for love in all the wrong places. Harvey found her old whips and chains for sale on eBay. If that woman says one word about sexual harassment, Harvey says he’ll take it as a compliment.

That’s about it from our house. Sorry to be such a grinch, but the year has not been kind. We don’t even watch television anymore. Our TV broke and Harvey gave it to a needy family.

Blessings of the season be upon you.

Thomas Walton is the retired editor and vice president of The Blade. His column appears every other Sunday. His radio commentary, “Life As We Know It,” can be heard every Monday at 5:44 p.m. during “All Things Considered” on WGTE FM 91.

Contact him at twalton@theblade.com.

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