David Bruce: Mishaps Anecdotes

• Can a pothole be a hero? Don’t be silly. Can a pothole save a life? Actually, yes. In November 2011 while attending school in Cincinnati, Ohio, eight-year-old Laci Davis accidentally swallowed a heart-shaped gold locket that lodged in her throat, making breathing difficult. She said, “I was trying to put my hair up and I had my locket in my mouth, and he [a friend] was making me laugh so I was laughing at the same time, and it just went down my throat.” She found breathing difficult. She said, “It felt like something was stabbing me right in the middle of my chest.” Doctors X-rayed her throat and told her mother to take her to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Her mother rushed her to the hospital, and on the way the car hit a pothole. The jolt dislodged the locket, which fell into Laci’s stomach. Laci’s mother, Amanda Cullum, said about the drive to the hospital, “We hit a pothole, and she looked at me and said, ‘Mom, I feel better.’ I said, ‘What do you mean you feel better?’ She said, ‘I don’t feel it anymore.”’ Laci said about the pothole, “It was my hero and I when I got home I was like, ‘Thank you, bump.’” She added, “It’s going to have to come out the old-fashioned way. I’m just going to get a new necklace because I’m not going through that ‘treasure.’”

• Richard Burton bought his wife, Elizabeth Taylor, the famous La Peregrina pearl. She had a pajama party with some friends, including fashion designer Vicky Tiel, and served fried chicken and champagne. At the party, she showed off the pearl. At one point in the evening, however, she looked at the black velvet box the pearl had come in and screamed, “Oh, my god!” The pearl was missing. At first, they thought that the room-service waitress must have stolen the pearl but they realized that she had not been near it. That meant that one of the people present must have taken the pearl — or perhaps it was lost. They searched for it a long time, but fell asleep. The next morning Elizabeth’s guests woke up first and worried about telling Mr. Burton that the pearl was missing. Mr. Burton walked into the room and woke up Elizabeth and handed the pearl to her, saying, “Here, I found your dog in his bed chewing on this.”

• Despite his obvious high intelligence, Isaac Asimov could be absent-minded. When he was married to his first wife, he once took a bill to the gas company and complained about how much it was. He said, “We have never used enough gas to bring us up to the minimum. We have no children. We both work. We cook perhaps four meals a week. How can we possibly get a gas bill for $6.50? I demandan explanation.” The gas-company employee had a good explanation: “This is an electricbill.” By the way, television reporter Walter Cronkite once interviewed Mr. Asimov, who wanted to tell him, “My father will be very thrilled, Mr. Cronkite, when he finds out you’ve interviewed me.” However, he was afraid of sounding immature and so refrained from saying it. During a break in the filming, Mr. Cronkite said to Mr. Asimov, “Dr. Asimov, my father will be very thrilled when he finds out I’ve interviewed you.”

• Mishaps occur in nursing. When Joanne Murnane was a new nurse working in a hospital, one of her patients died. She prepared the dead patient, and seeing dentures on the dead patient’s table, she stuffed the dentures in the dead patient’s mouth and then took him to the hospital morgue. When she returned to the room to care for the other, live patient there, the live patient said, “Miss, have you seen my teeth? I laid them on this table but can’t find them now.” Of course, he had put his dentures on the wrong table. Thinking quickly, Nurse Murnane said, “I’m cleaning them for you, sir. I’ll have them back soon.” She says, “Of course, I did clean and sterilize the dentures and returned them to their correct owner, all the while thanking my lucky stars that all had worked out acceptably.

• Frank Sinatra tipped well — extremely well — but he demanded good service. He once invited his husband-and-wife friends Don and Barbara Rickles to a dinner party to celebrate their second anniversary. Everything was wonderful: the cold Jack Daniels, the hot hors d’oeuvers, a magnificent Chinese dinner. Well, almost wonderful. The service was slow, and this got on Frank’s nerves. And when a server dropped noodles onto Frank’s lap, Frank tipped the table over and left. The Rickles were left covered in Chinese food. Barbara rose to the occasion. She pointed to the glass of vodka that she was holding in her hand and asked, “Waiter, could I have some more ice?” (Frank sent Barbara a note of apology the next day.)

• Works of art can become lost, and not just in the usual way. For example, a bust of William Shakespeare is thought to have been on exhibit in the outdoors on Lookout Mountain at the Lookout Mountain National Military Park near Chattanooga, TN. Officials searched for the bust, but they were unable to find it. Apparently, it is still there — hidden under vegetation such as poison ivy. Susan Nichols of Save Outdoor Sculpture! says, “I call outdoor sculpture ‘orphans of the cultural community.’ Outdoor sculpture often suffers from benign neglect, as well as from the environment. We need to become more active and vigilant in caring for them.”

• In the 1994 movie The Browning Version, starring Albert Finney, the Greek schoolmaster he plays appears in a scene with schoolboys who are having trouble translating the ancient Greek of Agamemnonby the tragedian Aeschylus. Classicist Mary Beard points out that it is no wonder that they are having trouble: On each schoolboy’s desk appears not an edition of Aeschylus in Greek, but instead a Penguin translation of Aeschylus into English. (Penguin books have instantly recognizable covers.) Ms. Beard writes, “Presumably some bloke in the props department had been sent off to find twenty copies of the Agamemnonand knew no better than to bring it in English.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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John Ford’s The Broken Heart: A Retelling, by David Bruce

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William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure:A Retelling in Prose, by David Bruce

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Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist:A Retelling in Prose

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