Harry was a disaster. This tall and awkward man was a living example of "Murphy’s Law." No matter how hard Harry tried something always seemed to go amiss. Just thinking about Harry and his foibles was enough to cause stoic men to burst into laughter. And yet one could not help but feel sympathy Éand guilt for finding Harry’s mishaps humorous when everyone could see that he was a good person, a really nice guy. He was so earnest and always tried so hard yet was such an unintentional clown one could hardly keep a straight face. The simple truth was that Harry’s biggest problem was Harry: the poor fellow was devoid of a protective sense of humor, especially when the joke was on him.

And the stories Harry generated were legend. There was the time at Topock Slough over on the border between California and Arizona when two friends found him cradling his outboard motor, about to step down into his boat. As they watched in disbelief, Harry’s legs spread wider and wider apart while the boat, untethered, moved away from the dock. "Splash!" in went Harry, madly trying to swim while holding the outboard high above his head. When the two friends finally got his attention and urged him to stand, there he stood, shamefacedly, the water barely lapping his waist.

On that same trip, a club trip, it was Harry (first to arrive the previous day) who caught the first bass. Of course, as luck would have it the only bass caught during the entire outing, and one who would have won the jackpot had not Harry thought it too small and tossed it back. That same day Harry sat on his favorite rod and crushed it.

Another time Harry and a bunch of us were sitting around a campfire. It was just at dusk but you could still see. One of the fellows, noticing a neat patched hole just above the door of Harry’s VW van commented: "Hey, Harry, why the patch above your door?"

Harry, with a pained look on his face, answered in a defensive tone: "Aw, it was just a mistake." Pressed for an explanation, he reluctantly explained that he had installed a new wing mirror on the passenger side only to discover that because he had anchored it to both the door and the roof he could not open the door and had to mount it all over again. We just could not believe it! But then again, that was Harry.

It was when Harry’s wife became pregnant and he was due to be a father for the first time that Harry went clear off the deep end. Harry worried and he fretted and no amount of reassurance that all would be fine seemed to alleviate his anxiety. Both were large people—Harry four inches over six feet and his wife a well-built six-footer whose three brothers reputedly played in the front wall of the L.A. Rams. Both had always seemed in excellent health and, in fact, Harry’s wife was in great shape, totally free of the usual morning sickness and carried her baby like an everyday occurrence. Not so Harry. It was as if unconsciously Harry was saying ‘Morning sickness is part of being pregnant. If she won’t I will" and he did. From the moment his wife announced the joyous event that poor devil had morning sickness in spades. He could not eat, and what he did manage to get down he immediately threw up. He was ill every morning like clockwork, even had to take time off from work. It got so bad his wife was forced to appeal to us, his friends, to talk to him. Harry was driving her crazy.

Sadly, about that time Harry stopped coming to the club. We heard through the grapevine that his wife had given birth to a huge and healthy baby boy but that’s the last anyone heard of Harry.

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Copyright 2000, John F. McKim