The Journal Gazette
Saturday, November 21, 2020 1:00 am

Darn of a new day

In life or on road, perfection too much to hope for

Frank Hill

Life is not perfect. The best we may get, if we are lucky, is a darn good life.

“Darn Good” is what I aim for on a daily basis. If, on occasion, I get a perfect day, well, that is great. Think of a baseball pitcher who goes into the ninth inning with his team leading and he has not surrendered any hits. One opposing batter gets a hit in the ninth inning but the pitcher's team wins. The pitcher has had a darn good game. Not perfect, but darn good.

No, life is not perfect. Recently, for example, we had been planning a getaway.

We were considering a brief driving trip to the southern U.S. It would have included the Smoky Mountains National Park, which we had driven through on our honeymoon.

Back then I stopped the car at a lonely but scenic spot. It was a cold day in November. Other tourists were few in number. I walked up a path to a higher location to get a better view. My bride stayed in the car but decided after a few minutes to follow me. She locked the car. The keys were still in the ignition, not in my pants pocket.

That was not a perfect day. It was darn good, but not perfect.

Back to the present. I began doubting our plans for a second November car trip through the Smokies. The pandemic and the printed word had made me cautious. I rarely read horoscopes, but on the morning of Oct.19 I read ours in the Detroit Free Press. For Capricorns like me it said: “It's important to keep the momentum and so you march on, whether or not there's anything to march toward.”

Conflicting advice appeared in my wife's horoscope that same day. As a Pisces she was told: “It's not like you to do an about-face in the middle of a journey. Nonetheless, sometimes the only turn to make is a U-turn. “

What were we to do about our planned trip? Should we go forward even though there may be nothing to march toward or should we make a U-turn?

I saw a situation requiring a U-turn when I was in Army ROTC while I was a student at Indiana University. One day a fraternity brother of mine was assigned the role of marching our ROTC class around a large field. At one end of the field was a high fence. A sergeant was supervising. Too late, my fraternity brother realized he was marching us directly into the fence. The sergeant said nothing, probably looking forward to the impending opportunity to chew out my buddy.

My fraternity brother, a future doctor, was up to the challenge. He quickly gave us a darn good command: “Away from the fence, Away!” No, it was not perfect but even the sergeant laughed. The future doctor had us in stitches.

When my wife's horoscope told her to make a U-turn, the horoscope might have been referring to her life, not to traffic. Was she being advised to dump me and track down her old boyfriend from high school? I never met him but I bet he wore the same outfit every day of the week. You know ... blue jeans and a white T-shirt with his pack of cigarettes rolled up in one of the sleeves.

I'm glad I never met him. He probably could have beaten me up. Any guy who rolls up the sleeves of a T-shirt to show his muscles and store his smokes is darn tough.

Though ambivalent because of our conflicting horoscopes, we began our intended trip south. We made it to Ohio, en route to I-75, trying to keep momentum and march forward, as my horoscope recommended. My wife told me to make a U-turn, as her horoscope recommended. That ended my plan to search en route at yard sales and antique shops for a hood ornament for our car.

Admit it. You would be envious if I found a cool hood ornament.

Younger readers might think a hood ornament is part of a Star Wars Halloween costume. Older readers know otherwise. Years ago the cool cars had chrome hood ornaments such as sleek jaguars, airborne eagles, swans, flying ladies and leaping greyhounds.

Those old cars were great. Bench seats were in the front. If your date hugged the right front door, you took her home early. No point in spending much money on her. However, if she sat right next to you, it was a darn good day.

Though life is not perfect, often life is pretty darn good. Sometimes, of course, the emphasis is on “darn” instead of on “good.”

By the way, do you know where I can buy a hood ornament of Venus rising from the sea?

You don't? I say, “Darn!” My wife says, “Good!”

So goes another darn good day ... not perfect, but I should not be greedy.

Frank Hill is a Fort Wayne resident.

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