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Going in Circles,

by Dennis McDougle


Dennis has worked as a therapist in a mental hospital, taught courses on human relations, and written self-help articles for Hearst Publications. He says most of what he knows, though, comes from his early days as a milkman and like Mark Twain, he tries to never let his schooling get in the way of his education.

            After their honeymoon, Bill and Shirley moved into their new home on a wooded lot next to a lake. It was a beautiful setting, though their “new” house was actually seventy five years old and needed a lot of fixing.

            On their first Saturday in their new home, Shirley served Bill breakfast in bed, then busied herself cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry, and scrubbing baseboards. She imagined Bill was outside, firming up the loose boards on the porch, tightening the creaky shutters, painting the weather-beaten gazebo, or doing any of the other things she’d noticed during their first week in the old house that needed to be taken care of. She was surprised to find him still in bed, watching a NASCAR race on TV.

            “NASCAR”! she shouted. Do you know how much has to be done around here? And you’re going to spend your Saturday watching NASCAR!”

            “Now you know I worked hard all week”, Bill said. “A guy needs to unwind some on the weekend.”

            “Unwind?” Shirley retorted. “Is that why those idiots keep driving their cars in a circle, so you can unwind?”

            “Yes dear, that’s how it works.”

            “Well it’s getting me wound up! Only lame brains would keep driving their cars in a circle.” Her face was flushing. Bill took a deep breath.

            “Racing in a circle is much safer. There are no intersections. Most accidents happen at intersections.”

            “Do you know how much gas they are wasting?’ she tried to reason with him.

            Bill smiled pleasantly. “Fuel efficiencies like fuel injection were developed in racing cars. Every gas engine in a car now has fuel injection. It saves millions of barrels of oil.”

            “But they’re filling the air with pollution, just driving around and around in their silly circles,” she reminded him.

            “Yes they are,” said Bill. “Remember though that further advancements which came from racing cars, like variable valve timing, enable the engine in your car to produce more power with less weight. Your car gets twice the gas mileage and pollutes much less than your mother’s first car did.”

            “You sound so, so mannish,” Shirley said. “So I guess they’re just going to keep chasing each other around and around in circles.”

            “It looks that way.” Bill said, giving her a naughty smile. “What if I chased you around and around the bed in circles?”

            Shirley put her hands on her hips and spoke firmly, “What if I wanted to get caught?”

            The TV remote clicked and the screen went black. His arms were firm, but his embrace tender, as Bill softly spoke the words to Shirley which every bride hopes to hear her husband say: “To hell with NASCAR.”

            Football is another story.

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