Before I retired, I was often accused of lying down on the job. Now that I’m not working, it’s my job to lie down.
And what better place to do it than in my brand-new hammock.
I needed a new hammock because my old one, which I’ve had for at least a dozen years, was eaten by mice.
I had always thought that mice ate cheese, though where they get the money to buy it, or if they have it with wine and crackers, is a mystery.
But one or more of the rascally rodents chewed through the ropes of my hammock, which I have kept in the shed so it would be protected, not only from the elements, but from hungry critters like - you guessed it - moose.
No, I mean mice.
The first inkling I had that my hammock wasn’t in the best of shape, just like the guy who owns it, was when I took it out, attached the rings on the ends to the corresponding hooks on two posts, plopped myself in, promptly fell through and hit the ground with a thud on my backside. I did not, thank goodness, spill my beer.
I disentangled myself and noticed that several of the braided ropes had come loose. I tried to tie them together but to no avail.
My wife, Sue, who bought me the hammock, saw tufts of rope on the ground and, later, in the shed.
“I hate to say this,” she said, and proceeded to say it anyway, “but I think this is the work of a mouse.”
“Mice don’t eat rope,” I responded, with absolutely no authority, “unless they want to get some fiber in their diet.”
Still, Sue suggested that I stand on a lawn chair, one of the few things in the shed that are of any practical use, including me, and check out the raised plank where I keep the hammock.
Sure enough, I saw little brown droppings.
“It’s a mouse all right,” I told Sue. “Or maybe a family of them: mommy, daddy and baby.”
The Three Stooges’ theme song, “Three Blind Mice,” began running through the cavern that is my skull. In one classic Stooge short, the boys were exterminators who brought their own mice to the house where they’d been hired to get rid of them.
“This never would have happened if Henry were still alive,” I told Sue, recalling one of our four cats. Henry routinely assassinated little creatures - birds, bunnies and, of course, mice - and brought them to us as gifts.
Sadly, like the other family felines, Henry went to that big litter box in the sky. Now the field mice are having a field day. And they’re eating my hammock. So Sue bought me a new one.
There’s just one problem: It’s too long. The first time I set it up and plopped myself in, I hit the ground with a thud, though this time I didn’t fall through.
The new hammock is a foot longer than the old one, meaning I can’t lie in it with a beer and swing myself to either sleep or stupor.
I emailed the hammock company and got a quick response from someone named Nova, who said they don’t make a shorter hammock and suggested I try to shorten the new one myself.
I wouldn’t know how, so I went to a home improvement store to buy new hooks, which I planned to insert higher up on the two posts. But a friendly employee named John looked at the photos I took of the posts, which are old, cracked and splintered (a good name for a law firm), and said the new hooks probably wouldn’t hold.
Now I’m hoping to get new posts or find someone with a post hole digger to move the present ones farther apart.
In the meantime, I think I’ll buy a mousetrap. It’ll be cheaper than getting another cat.
Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Tribune News Service and is the author of five books. Email: JerryZ111@optonline.net. Blog: jerryzezima.blogspot.com.