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Take a good look at yourself first

It’s been said that laughter cures many ills and I think there is truth in that statement.

As we dig ourselves out from the pandemic that ruined 2020, perhaps a little humor could help. Humor will not cure covid, but it should cure the malady known as cabin fever.

Cabin fever hits most of us after being cooped up for nearly a year, and even wearing a mask will not help. In fact seeing a cabin fever afflicted loved one wearing a mask might be more than a little scary, and maybe even dangerous. Any marriage that survives being confined together for months is a marriage that will last.

For me the best medicine to cure cabin fever is to read something from my favorite author, Patrick McManus. In my opinion his writings put him in a league with the famous Will Rogers, except McManus’ writings are always based on his outdoor experiences.

But don’t let the outdoor themes keep you from reading McManus. The situations his characters get into will make you laugh or at least chuckle. I predict even readers who have never wet a line or missed a deer will at least smile when reading these caricatures of real life.

Just the titles alone should convince you that Patrick McManus has a sense of humor. How about “Never Sniff a Gift Fish?” One of my favorites is “They Shoot Canoes Don’t They?” How about “Rubber Legs & While Tail Feathers?”

If the titles don’t whet your appetite the characters should make you curious. McManus’ characters trace his life from boyhood to adulthood, and some of them come much too close to me and my friends.

As a boy, Pat’s friend was Crazy Eddie Muldoon. Together they tried to build an airplane and fly it off a barn roof. That failure ended with a crash landing in a manure pile. If that was not enough to give their parents a nervous breakdown, they nearly drowned in a homemade diving suit.

The description of how the neighbor’s cows reacted when Pat popped up out of the creek wearing a stewpot diver’s helmet always makes me laugh. It was reported those cows did not give milk for two months.

As an adult Pat’s buddy is named Retch Sweeny, but my favorite character was Rancid Crabtree. Old Rancid was a hermit mountain man and was Pat’s hero and mentor. Rancid had perfected the art of never actually working for a living so no wonder he was idolized by young Pat. It would have sounded like a good plan to a young Bill Harding, too. Why waste time working when you can spend your time hunting and fishing?

The incidents are so close to my life that as I write this column I often have to check to make sure I am not plagiarizing McManus. Even the characters are often too close to home.

None of my real life buddies could be a crazy Eddie Muldoon or a Retch Sweeny, but we have gotten ourselves into some very similar situations, and somehow survived with nothing but our dignity damaged.

Sadly Patrick McManus is no longer with us as he passed away in 2018, even though there will be no more escapades with Retch, or Rancid some of his books are available online at Amazon and eBay.

I checked Amazon and found that there are actually a couple McManus books that I do not have in my collection so I need to place an order. I cannot wait to read the ones that I have missed. I need to laugh a bit as I wait for spring fishing.

Hope today’s column brings you a much needed chuckle and maybe you’ll try a dish of Patrick McManus’ famous “Whatchagot Stew.” You can actually look up the recipe on Google.

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