“Oh, Fudge!” said Ralphie.

“Only I didn’t say fudge. I said the word! The big one! The Queen Mother of all dirty words! The F-dash-dash-dash word!” said young Ralphie’s older self in his reflective, adulthood narrative of the flat-tire changing scene from the movie A Christmas Story. Ralphie learned the “fudge word” from his father, played by Kevin McGavin, though upon interrogation by his mother, played by Melinda Dillon, “Where did you learn that word?” Ralphie places the blame for its source on his innocent friend, Schwarz.

You know the story, or ought to. It runs twenty-four-seven on one of the major television networks from 6:00 PM Christmas Eve through 6:00 PM Christmas night. Originally made in the 1980’s, the film is set in 1940’s Indiana, and has become a Christmas movie classic – yeah that’s right, Christmas, not holiday. The whole tale revolves around Ralphie, played by Peter Billingsley, wanting a BB Gun, where his mantra is, “I want an Official Red Ryder, carbine-action, 200-shot, Range Model Air Rifle.” (With a compass in the stock, and this thing which tells time). That line was written in Ralphie’s school theme that his teacher, Miss Shields asked the class to write.

“No. You’ll shoot your eye out,” was his mother’s reply. “BB guns are dangerous.” Everyone in the movie, even Santa Claus,  seems to be plotting against Ralphie’s dream of owning said Red Ryder carbine, with ‘you’ll shoot your eye out’ as the film’s most-enduring, iconic phrase.

“Oh, fudge.” That’s not what I just said. But it’s close. Why? Because I just spilled a full cup of hot coffee on my tying table. A full cup! It was one of those big, about 14-ounce mugs. I went to reach for it while I was standing up, and my right forearm brushed against the shade of my table lamp, which was very hot. It wasn’t so much the heat, but I was startled. My grip on the cup handle wasn’t quite secure. And I had it placed rather precariously, not flat on the table where it should have been – there was no room due to the clutter. It was on a little pedestal of three small plastic boxes, barely large enough to accommodate the mug, to the left of my vise, about four inches above the table top. This  position gave the coffee cup increased height above the surface of my desk and thereby, being so harmlessly and innocently located, allowed gravity to exert greater influence once the inertia of the mug; and this is your physics lesson for the day – inertia (in-NER-sha)  – the tendency of a body to remain at rest  – was suddenly interrupted by my clumsy and careless right hand. Now you know the rest of the story.

What a mess. An absolute disaster to a fly tier. The preeminent position of the mug allowed the coffee to rush forth as if I had deliberately poured out its contents. That’s when I said, “Fudge!” Not once, but repeatedly. Or as writer Pat McManus, author of They Shoot Canoes, Don’t They, and other very funny books, always writes, “You bleeping bleep-of-a-bleep!” I reached for a bath towel on the laundry shelf to begin the mopping up process, which will likely take me another half-hour. In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, this language was referred to as colorful metaphors.

Here’s the good news. My tying table needed a good cleaning. I had four different Carrie Stevens streamer patterns lying flat on the table surface, underneath and to the right of my vise, their heads hanging over the edge to dry since I had just added another coat of head cement this morning. After that application set up a little, I moved them to hang on the ventilation holes on the shade of the offending table lamp to dry. Had they been where they were, they would have been inundated. They were fortuitously spared. That was a relief.

I had at least four ounces of coffee in my Griffin Waste-trol, which even though last evening I thought about emptying it; no, I didn’t and left that task for another time. The time has come. I plunged the towel into the container and then took it out on the driveway and wrung it out. What remained was a damp mass of, well, you can imagine. The bag kept that much coffee off the carpet.

I have an eighteen-compartment container where I keep my spools of floss. It was underneath the table on a stack of plastic drawers. Two of those compartments have standing coffee in them. I guess it was fortunate that my tying table needed cleaning, because the assortment of feather snippets, small bundles of loose dubbing, numerous loose strands of peacock herl, thread spools, and assorted clutter acted more or less as an absorption mat to prevent the liquid from spreading further. And no coffee leaked into the drawers.

Another note on how this could have been worse – I drink my coffee black, so there will be no sugary, sticky residue that will attract ants, that will make stuff stick together, or that I’ll have to clean tomorrow, next week, etc. A few flies were soaked. I may see what a coffee-stained Professor looks like when it dries.

Writing this has been therapeutic to ease my utter chagrin of an hour ago. I was initially so upset by this. When I said the F-dash-dash-dash word, I soon thought of Ralphie, and “fudge.” My next thought was, “I think I would have rather shot my eye out.” Now I feel better. So much so that I think another cup of hot coffee would be really nice. Better yet, a big piece of chocolate fudge to go along with the coffee would do wonders to assuage my pain.

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18 comments on ““Oh, Fudge!” said Ralphie.

  1. Jon Andrew says:

    What a hoot. One of my favorite movies. Jean Shepard wrote it about his childhood. I had a friend lick a metal railing once in wintertime New England with results similar to those in the movie. Also Bumpus’s hounds that got the turkey-well let’s just say Labrador Retrievers love roast chicken – my dog Gracie pulled one off the kitchen counter and ruined dinner-for us anyway.

    Love to get your postings Don. Keep it up.

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Jon;
      Oh yeah! My oldest daughter loves that movie. She starts watching it every year, usually before Halloween. Though now that her son, my grandson, three-and-a-half year-old Gabriel repeats everything, she has to be careful what his little ears are exposed to. For example we wouldn’t want Gabriel to exclaim Ralphie’s disappointment when he discovers that the secret message he receives while deciphering the message from his newly acquired Little Orphan Annie Decoder Pin is actually “a crummy commercial.”
      We’re always using lines and recreating various scenes from that film:
      “Hey dad! Betcha can’t guess what I got you for Christmas!”
      “A new furnace.”
      “Ha, ha, ha, that’s a good one!”
      “I like the Wizard of Oz.”
      “Leave me alone, I’m, I’m thinking.”
      “I hate the smell of tapioca.”
      “I can’t put my arms down!”
      “Put your arms down when you get to school.”
      “He looks like a deranged Easter Bunny.”
      “My dad loved a deal as much as an Arab trader, and he was twice as shrewd.”
      “Oh no! I shot my eye out!”
      I have a very funny story, a real life event, where I actually used that line in exclamation to something I (thought) I had done.
      Thanks for your comment Jon!

  2. I love that movie. I once seen that Leg Lamp in a store and was tempted to buy it.

    I’ve also been there with the spill, only mine was a new bottle of head cement. I’m now a little more cautious with the stuff, and there is a permanent reminder there of what happened. I have my waste-trol thing to thank for getting the worst of it, and luckily it was sort of full and the scraps and feathers soaked it all up.

    Great post Don

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Darren;
      Thanks for your comment! Most tiers have their own story of some tying desk trauma. As far as The Christmas Story, I have a model of “The Old Man and Leg Lamp,” given as a gift like ten years ago. It’s Barbie and Ken style and size, in a box where it still remains. Mint condition. It’s a doll of the old man dressed in his sweater vest. And of course I also have an Official Daisy Red Ryder 200-shot, carbine-action, range-model air rifle. 🙂 Given under a recreated set of circumstances very similar to the scene from the movie. But I was not dressed in a pink bunny suit.
      “Be careful out there, don’t shoot your eye out.” :mrgreen:
      Cheers!

  3. Kelly L says:

    Don, sorry about the coffee mishap. I never place a drink on my fly tying table at home. At a show I have put water near by. I use the cap on top though, to avoid any problems. Drink your coffee on your break, which you should be taking while tying anyway, to rest your eyes.

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Kelly;
      I have been drinking coffee, water, OJ, beer, wine, scotch, tea, etc., for years at my tying desk. I am generally very careful, and this is the first accident that I have ever had, or that I can remember, at least. I did once spill a bottle of head cement, but I suppose every tier does that one sooner or later. My morning routine involves coffee, and often I’m not tying right away, like this morning I was coating the heads on about 10 Carrie Stevens streamer patterns…thanks for your advice…and for your comment!

  4. Terry Chapman says:

    Don, glad it wasn’t worse. You should have heard me swear one winter afternoon several years ago, when I was tying at my desk and the phone rang. I jumped up, expecting an important call, scissors in hand; rushed into the next room and picked up the phone and saw the scissors fly by my nose! X#+%%#@^^Wow! And it was a wrong number.

    Terry Chapman

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Terry;
      It’s funny – afterward – unless some serious damage would result to materials from a spill. I can imagine that tomato soup spilled on a tying desk would not be good.
      My scissors in hand; when I was tying commercially, that’s where thy always were. I would get up from my desk, walking around the house, usually to answer the phone or someone at the door, and then inadvertently lay the scissors down. Then back at my desk…”Where are my scissors?”
      Thanks for your comment!

  5. Murray Buck says:

    Loved the “Merry “Christmas” comment….NOT holiday. Good positive attitude from you …..after the initial “fudge” comment…LOL! Have loved that movie myself for toooooo many years.
    I fortunately have only had one spill incident …so far. Of course I have only been tying 5-6 years, I’m sure when I have the years of experience that others have…I’ll have plenty of “spill” stories
    Murray

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Murray;
      Thanks for chiming in!
      It’s interesting what can unite people – in this case a movie, and their own personal related experiences and recollections. My elementary school, grades K – 4 was built in the 1890’s. The view out some of the windows was very similar to that of Warren G. Harding Elementary School in the movie, where Flick has his tongue stuck on the flag pole. A neighborhood school.
      “I triple dog-dare you!” said Schwartz.
      “Schwartz committed a slight breach of etiquette by skipping the double-dare and going right for the throat,” replied Ralphie in his narrative adult voice.
      You’re right by the time I was into making the post, I really lost my negativity over the incident.
      Thanks for your comment, glad you liked the post!

  6. Kelly L says:

    Don, I never tie before I have had my morning coffee. If I brought coffee to my cluttered tying table, I would end up either spilling it, or it would get cold, because I’d forget it was there. You are a character…lol. I can walk and chew gum at the same time. But for some reason I can’t tie, and drink anything at the same time.

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hey Kelly, I never tie before my morning coffee, but sometimes I tie with my morning coffee. Sometimes when we’re at the cabin,it’s about 5:30 or 6:00 AM,and I sit at my tying station there and start coating heads with cement. Truman will say, “How can you do that so early?”
      “What?” I reply, being a smart-a**. “I just st here, open my head cement, take my bodkin…”
      Thanks for your comment! Be careful, don’t spill anything. And don’t shoot you eye out!

  7. Bob Stanton says:

    Don, ya jinxed me! No sooner did I finish reading this post when I walked into the kitchen to get some chow and splattered ketchup all over my white t-shirt. Oh Fudge indeed!

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Bob;
      So it’s my fault, huh? Ha.ha! 🙂 AT least in your case, a good grade of pre-soaking agent and laundry detergent should correct that. Ketchup though, sometimes leaves a stain. Thanks for your comment! But I have to say, I laughed when I read about your mishap. Things are funny, sometimes, when they happen to someone else…kidding! :mrgreen:

  8. Bob Stanton says:

    Well Don, you’ll get another chuckle out of this: the t-shirt is soaked and treated, but my washing machine decided to quit working a couple of days ago! Double Fudge! The repair man is coming sometime today, but I’m doubtful he’ll have the parts on hand for these “new fangled” machines, which means hangin’ out with about thirty of my closest friends at the laundromat. Fudge, Fudge, Fudge. On a brighter note, you’ve inspired me to tie up some streamers lately, though the longest hooks I have are 6x (fortunately, the trout won’t care). Liked your Black Ghost photo/post, the very first fly I learned to tie at age 11.

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Bob;
      That is funny! That’s like running out of gas and then getting a flat tire on top of it! 🙂
      I’m glad you liked the Black Ghost photo…I assume you mean the one in the LL Bean fly tying class announcement, though if you searched ‘Black Ghost’ on my blog you’d fine more…
      I have another “teaching-tool” using the Black Ghost relating to streamer wings; buying hackles, selecting hackles, cementing them, tying in wings, fishing flies, etc., that I want to post some time.
      So, you’re going to be “hangin’ out with about thirty of your closest friends at the laundromat?! That’s some laundry party! Will there be a DJ? Refreshments? Dancing girls?!!! Why don’t you just hire a caterer? Though be careful about getting the coffee — and the ketchup — anywhere near your soiled clothes, or it’ll be de ja vu all over again. :mrgreen:
      Thanks for your comment!
      And…”Don’t shoot your eye out.”

  9. Dave Lomasney says:

    HEY DON!

    Ya I don’t drop the F-bombs any more. I just say “What the f-f-f-f-front yard?!!” Like that commercial on TV where the guy tried to get rid of the weeds on his front lawn with some spray chemicals, and when he came out to get the paper the next morning the whole lawn was dead. Sooooo, he said, “WHAT THE FFFFFRONT YARD!”…LOL!!

    Great Blog Don!

    • Don Bastian says:

      That’s funny Dave! I don’t have cable TV so I haven’t seen that commercial. But it’s a wise person who chooses not to use that word indiscriminately, like some do. A substitute is called for at certain times when a measure of decorum is socially expected.
      One my spill, I am discovering a few after effects of my coffee cup “incident;” I am missing a small Swiss army knife that I moved when the coffee spilled; I can’t find a spool of black floss that I know I had there on the table, and now that my “clutter” was relocated somewhat, it’s more cluttered than before. Ha, ha, ha! “Oh, f-f-f-u-d-g-e!” :mrgreen:
      Thanks for sharing!

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