Born in Sheboygan. Nuff said?
Fred Murphy was born two months early, but the doctors had warned of this possibility because of certain medical indications, so Fred’s mother was prepared. She had a suitcase packed with her personal belongings by the front door; the neighbors were all notified of the situation, her husband, mother, brother, pastor, cousin, best friend, the police, fire department, ambulance and Chinese take-out restaurant were all on speed-dial. Fred’s mother observed the conflicting advice of her doctors to take bed rest and to exercise regularly by lying in bed and performing calisthenics, with the phone by her side. She had candles and a cell phone just in case the power went out.
When the cramps came, and Fred’s mother’s water broke, the power was on, and she speed-dialed her way with clockwork efficiency into parturition. She lay quietly in bed, knowing that it could be hours before actual labor began, and waited for her team to assemble. She thought maybe she’d call the baby Tiffany if it was a girl and Zachary if it was a boy. She looked dreamily out the window, admiring the fat snowflakes drifting lazily down. By the time her husband got home, she had to pee, so he helped her up, and held her elbow as she made her way down the hall. They then deliberately and calmly performed all the tasks on their lists, preparing to take the drive to the hospital. They called the Chinese take-out place and placed a take-out order, to eat at the hospital while they waited in happy, contented anticipation for the great event.
How those two people spawned a kid like Fred is a mystery. There is speculation that they, like Calvin’s parents, and the parents of Dennis the Menace, wondered if it was possible to send their unlucky kid back. But you know, once you open a can of worms, the only way to re-can them is to use a bigger can. Fred was the guy who, if there’s more than one possible outcome of a job or task, and one of those outcomes will result in disaster or an undesirable consequence, Fred will do it that way. The story of his life is so painful to read that the Fifth Dentist himself banned all depictions of Fred Murphy’s travails. Fred became a saint in a leap year, with all 52 Fridays falling on the 13th, three total eclipses, eight plagues of locusts, 40 days and 40 nights of world-wide, complete and utter gridlock on every road ever made, and every piece of toast that fell that year, fell butter-side down.
Pray to Saint Murphy when you try to open a CD wrapper, and after struggling with it for an hour with seven different tools, the axe slips and you chop off a finger. Pray to Saint Murphy when, on the day of your court appearance the power goes out so the alarm doesn’t go off and in the 17 seconds you have to make a cup of coffee to take with you, you discover that the milk is sour, then you take the wrong road and realize it only when the next chance to turn around is 13 miles away, and after you turn around your radiator overheats and there isn’t any traffic to flag down for help so you start walking and it begins to rain. Then a van full of Hare Krishnas stops to give you a ride. This would be the time to hail St. Murphy.
LITANY TO SAINT MURPHY
(For Private Devotion)
Have mercy on me, of little faith and less dental floss. Restorer of lost ways, Conqueror of hopelessly knotted shoelaces, Terror of evil spirits, deliver us from all dangers of planning and execution of plans, from the snares of anything declaring “assembly required”, from pestilence, famine and public speaking, Through the merits of Saint Murphy, in the day of judgment, we beseech you, hear us. Unless you’ll screw this up, too.
Saint Murphy, glorious for the fame of your miraculous legal prognostications, since you are so gracious to point out that inside every large problem is a small one struggling to get out, obtain for me from Dental mercy this favor that I desire (mention your request).
Every Friday the 13th. Eat only uncooked food. Aim for dry cereal, spoonfuls of peanut butter, bananas, plain water – no make that vodka, so you just go back to bed – and raisins. Don’t even think of lighting the stove or trying to operate a can opener.