Depend on it

Every song I’ve ever heard apparently is stored somewhere in my memory. I’ll be busy doing something, and some force in the record player of my mind picks up the arm and drops the needle onto a dusty 78 or 45.

I told you that so I could tell you this: A lot of my ideas for this column come from old songs.

For example, the other day I was replacing burnt-out lightbulbs when I heard Carson Robison reciting a verse from his 1948 hit, “Life Gets Tee-Jus, Don’t It”: “The tin roof leaks and the chimney leans; and there’s a hole in the seat of my old blue jeans; and I et the last of the pork and beans; just can’t depend on nothin’.”

That line, “just can’t depend on nothin’,” got me to thinking. I don’t buy it. The way I see it, you can depend on everything. It just depends on your definition of “depend.”

For example, last night I hooked a big king salmon while fishing on the Kenai River. Right off, I knew I was dreaming, but it felt so good, I kept right on trying to land that king. I chased it downstream a mile or so, and just as I was leading it into the net, my leader broke, right at the knot.

You might suppose that I’d be disappointed, but I wasn’t. In a lifetime of losing fish, I’ve learned to depend on the leader breaking at the knot. Having it happen in a dream was a “first,” but no surprise.

Maybe it’s the rose-colored glasses I like to wear. To me, nothing is undependable. I prefer to put a positive spin on things by thinking of everyone and everything as dependable.

Being somewhat thrifty — even friends call me a cheap bastard — I always buy the cheapest hip boots I can find. Flimsy and so thin they’re translucent, they never last more than a year without springing a leak. I can depend on it.

Some people can be counted upon to object to any regulation that would help keep air and water clean. I don’t know why they prefer polluted air and water, but I appreciate their dependability.

Somewhere, a couple of years ago, some guy convinced his wife that he could make a fortune by plowing snow out of driveways and parking lots. Convinced, she let him take out a second mortgage on their house to buy a new pickup and plow. Knowing they’d be rich, he added two snow machines and a trailer to the deal. We haven’t had a serious snowfall since. Trouble is, he depended upon snow, when he should’ve depended on a lack of it.

People will say they’ll meet me somewhere, and then they show up a half-hour late. When it happens more than once, I know I can depend on these people to always be late.

One good thing about everything being so dependable is that I’m never disappointed. Well, almost never. The other day, someone who had faithfully shown up late arrived unfashionably early. Some people just can’t be trusted to be dependable.

Les Palmer can be reached at

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