Then, with the roaring saw noise seeping into my brain via the hearing aids turned to low volume, I puzzled over that term – give ‘er tar. I hadn’t heard it said for years and years and years. Matter of fact, I couldn’t remember where I had ever heard it. But I knew I had. Probably as a kid, somewhere.
I understand it to mean about the same thing as today’s expressions “give ‘er hell” or “give ‘er shit” or, more recently, just plain “give ‘er!” Don’t know why I said to myself, “Give ‘er tar” but it seemed right at the time.
My mind tiptoed aimlessly through the expression, as I felled tree after tree and bucked them up into stove lengths, wondering if maybe at one time it was an expression of paving crews who had to work with hot asphalt and get it spread and smoothed when the consistency was just right (“Okay, boys, it’s ready right now. Give ‘er tar.”) – seemed possible. Much like farmers making hay while the sun shines.
But, then, I wondered if it might have to do with the Uncle Remus story of the tar baby. I couldn’t make a logical connection there, but figured it would be worth further thought sometime.
Or, what if tar wasn’t the word used in that expression? What if somebody were saying “give ‘er far.” (I spent a few years of my boyhood in south-central Ohio where people did pronounce some words funny – such as far, when they really meant fire). What if the expression meant to light a fire under somebody to get them going? (Only a south-central Ohioan ever understood the cartoon of the Christmas manger scene with three wise men wearing fire helmets. When asked why, the play director said it was because those wise men had just come from afar.) So, could I have misheard the expression when I was boy, thinking “give ‘er tar” was really “give ‘er far?”
Overriding all the silly thoughts, though, was a recurring puzzlement. Since giving up alcohol and starting a diet seven weeks ago (minus 22 pounds and counting, and successfully avoiding all booze) had I suddenly become a nymphomaniac? Hard work in the hot sun does seem to channel my thought process in strange directions. How else could I explain rushing home to tear off my shirt to check my blood pressure as soon as I hit the living room and soon after removing the rest of my clothes and rushing to the bathroom to step on the scale?
My seeming fascination with nuts and other snacks. Seems that with every small meal I’m already calculating the time when I can eat a little handful of peanuts or, on a big day, a teaspoon of tuna on a cracker. Gone are the glory days of looking forward to a fishing trip – now all the anticipation lies with an olive and a dill pickle spear at the bottom of a glass of Clamato juice. True, I get to add a few drops of Tabasco, so it’s not exactly a bland offering.
Saturday morning I had been feeling pretty good, so decided to tackle a small roof patching job on the cabin (I think lodge sounds better – from now on I’m going to call the camp cabin our lodge. Call me pretentious.) I’m not happy with heights, ever, but I got up and got the job done and got back down again without a hitch, then went to work with the chainsaw to start clearing that little back yard at the lodge.
A few minutes later, as I sat in the shade of our little gazebo trying to shake the faint feeling that had snuck up on me, I noted to myself that these things had been occurring regularly for the past month or so, but if I just waited for a minute they’d go away. I’ve never fainted before in my life, but this is the feeling I imagine it would be like, so when they come I feel kinda silly, but I usually grab hold of something and lean slightly in the direction I want to fall, in case this should be the first time. The boat docks are a different story because I don’t have anything to hold on to, so I just lean noticeably toward the middle to avoid fainting into the lake and drowning.
Since I planned to discuss with my doctor at our appointment next month I didn’t tell anybody else for fear I’d be accused of being a nymphomaniac, but in the gazebo Saturday I had to tell Mary since I was sitting and couldn’t get rid of the feeling and was afraid to stand up. Putting on my best nonchalant voice I told Mary I must be having a diabetic attack (What do I know? I’ve never had one of those either, but I’ve had a couple friends who have and I kinda remember what they did.) and asked if she’d go inside and bring me back half a chocolate bar and a glass of orange juice.
HOLY MACKEREL, was that Hershey bar ever good! It was left over from two summers ago when friends brought it to make s’mors, but it wouldn’t have tasted better if I’d been visiting the candy plant and drank it straight out of the spout. Seven weeks without chocolate and wine has been quite the stretch.
I felt better after a while and was able to resume my Paul Bunyan caper with my chainsaw in the back yard. (Yes, I lean away from it while cutting, just in case, you know. It’s a bit awkward, but, better safe…)
I did have to tell Mary about my faint spells as I swore her to secrecy about my nymphomania. She listened with huge, wide eyes of absolute amazement that gradually ran down her face, turning her lips up into one of her incredible smiles as she burbled through spasms of giggles, “Do you mean hypochondria? Do you think you’re becoming a hypochondriac?”
I answered with an almost incoherent comment about people in Ohio talking funny, but secretly thought, “I wonder if I’ve been repressing that N word for years because I couldn’t find an acceptable way to use it, and then in a weak moment it wormed itself right into my life.”
And then I lay down on the couch in our lodge for a short nap, because I was all tarred out.