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Dave Casper: When a young man discovered hidden danger of a clothesline
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Getting “clotheslined” can be hazardous to your health, even if you’re not an NFL running back.

Just ask my buddy Arvin about that. On my handy-dandy Jeff Foxworthy desktop calendar is this sage advice: “You might be a redneck if you’ve ever walked through your living room and caught your neck on a clothesline.”

Perhaps you consider such a thing improbable. If so, follow on to the “rest of the story.”

Do kids today even know what a clothesline is? With the advent of the clothes dryer, it’s hard to find one. To them, the term means garments on sale at a high-priced clothing store, and they always have to have the ones with the multimillionaire designer label, especially the French ones.

When I was a kid, every backyard was decorated with a clothesline. One could wander through the neighborhood, and discover just what kind of clothing that the occupants wore. My friend Lamar almost got in trouble when he went behind the neighbor’s apartment unit and she ran him off.

Arvin was a very nice boy and would never have participated in such shenanigans. He was tall and bashful, and caught in the throes of teenage love, or some other dangerous emotion.

Maybe that was the reason the papa of little Jeanie did not like Arvin talking to her. He especially did not like it when Arvin’s buddy, Bart, began to join him in talking to Jeanie outside her window in the evening. (Alvin was too bashful to talk to her on his own).

The talking, gawking and giggling went on for a while until the papa happened by and spied them. Then panic struck. Panic is normally associated with young love, and it set in at this inopportune moment.

The two boys tore off across the backyard like Olympic sprinters. Arvin could really move, with long legs and an overdose of adrenalin. Bart was short, but that did not keep him from making good on his getaway.

The best-laid plans of mice and men — and teenage boys — will go awry, and this plan was no exception. In fact, it could not be deemed a plan at all. It was more like overwhelming terror.

Arvin knew about the backyard clothesline, since he lived near the papa, but apparently it didn’t cross his mind as he flew around behind the house, leaving Bart in the dust.

The clothesline caught Arvin in the throat. But his legs kept going until his body was parallel to the ground. Then he came down with a “whop,” on his back, knocking the wind out of himself.

Much later, when Arvin was able to discuss the matter rationally, he said, “I was laying there on my back, and couldn’t breathe. I thought her papa had killed me, but I couldn’t have moved.”

It turned out her papa was rendered immobile himself after seeing what happened to Arvin. He was holding his knees and laughing himself silly.

“And they all lived happily ever after.”

Dave Casper is a longtime South Hall County resident and frequent columnist.

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