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Saturday, Dec. 22, 2001
sorry for the long delay, an incredibly busy and harassed week is about to come to an end, and the sooner the better…

My good pal Sandy came to visit yesterday and today. Somewhere in the midst of an incredible amount of fun, she got wind of a story which I have tried hard to suppress. You might even call it my most embarrassing moment. Stu told it to her, of course. He who never knew a funny story he didn't like to repeat.

It happened years ago, when we first started our company. One of the first big jobs we ever did, in fact.

To set the scene, we were working on a huge new high school. Outfoxed was manning the belt sander in a large auditorium, at the very front of the wood stage. The flooring had been laid in a large radius that protruded out into the orchestra pit, and I was charged with smoothing the edge of this floor so that we could add a trim piece. As a bonus, two flooring guys lounged disinterestedly some distance away, awaiting this task to be completed so that could mop on floor sealer and go home. Stu and his son (we call him Stu Jr. or just Junior) were in another part of the building.

Me, my belt sander. Holding it on edge, I happily ground away at the oak floor, pushing against the sander to speed things up a bit. At belt height, the floor edge rapidly assumed the curve I was looking for, and I pressed on. The Picasso of belt sanders was I. The dean of power tools. A craftsman without peer.

Right up to the point where the sander suddenly snagged on something and cut itself off. At the same time, an incredible tightening of my khaki panted waistline was occurring.

The damn thing had caught the front of my pants and run it up into the belt rollers. Several rolls worth, in fact. I now had an appendage at my zipper which had nothing to do with procreation. Had a lot to do with Porter Cable Tools, of course.

I tugged and yanked. Wiggled and rolled. Tried to get at the belt-changing lever to loosen it. No dice.

I had the bright idea that maybe turning the sander back on would roll the pants out. Sort of like an old-fashioned clothes wringer. It succeeded in taking another couple inches of pants into its' maw.

At that moment, Junior entered the auditorium in search of me and strode briskly my way. Assuming a pose which would imply my casual holding of the sander while surveying the nearly completed stage, I turned to greet him.

Outfoxed: "Hey, what's up?"
Junior: (Looking askance at my bunched up trousers) "Uh, nothing. Nothing at all."

He backed out of the auditorium and was running full tilt by the time he hit the door.

Desperately, I resumed the tugging and levering, at one point actually considering the use of a hammer claw. Until I remembered what I would have to be clawing against.

Junior found Stu and, through tears, tried to croak out an understandable version of my predicament. Stu, fearing dismemberment at least, rushed to the auditorium.

Meanwhile, I had thrown modesty and everything else aside, withdrawn a utility knife and was busily engaged in making a micro hula skirt out of a reasonably new pair of khaki pants. The two flooring guys had wandered over, attracted by my struggles. They soon found new uses for their profession by rolling prone on the floor, gasping out their mirth in loud and conspicuous cackles.

I had just cut the last of the front of my pants off when Stu rounded the corner. The sander fell with a thud and I felt an immediate draft. Everything, including the last few threads was, shall we say, dangling.

Stu, a veteran of decades of construction incidents on some of the toughest jobs in the country, never so much as twitched. His wizened countenance betrayed not a shred of emotion.

He approached gravely, picking up the sander as he went. With a tremendous jerk, he pulled perhaps a six inch square piece of khaki from the rollers. Turning it over in his hand, and carefully inspecting it, he eventually stuffed it in his hip pocket.

"Never can tell when you might need something like this."

The day was a bust. Tools were silently packed. I took my jacket and tied it around my waist like a loincloth in an effort to afford some decency on the jobsite. They drove me to my house for re-armament.

We have a code of honor, Stu and I. What happens on the road, stays on the road. And I've never known that code to be broken. Except for this one time.

Days later, when rummaging for something in Stu's garage, I happened to notice a dartboard with a familiar looking piece of khaki covering the bullseye, attached by a green feathered dart.

Outfoxed: "What the hell is that?"
Stu: "That, my son, is a story."
Outfoxed: "And just how many have heard this story to date?"
Stu: "Why, hardly anyone at all……

Suffice to say that meant it had yet to be translated into an obscure Pashtu dialect, but was getting close.

Yesterday, Sandy happened upon the dartboard in the garage of Stu, the teller of tales…….

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