Cords…They Hate Me

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It’s one of those things I have to get off of my chest, an admission, a coming out, and it will surprise even you, my dear readers.

I am troubled by cords…they are out to get me, and they have, many times. No, I’m not talking about musical chords. No problem there. I’ve made friends with musical chords, and we share mutual respect, even longing for each other. Its just cords, and by that inclusive word, I mean ropes, electrical wires, cables, hoses and the like. Just about anything that is rather round and linear.

My troubles started long ago, but at the time I attached no significance to it. Rather, I was self-depreciating about my experiences and travails, blaming any difficulty on myself rather than accuse an inanimate and otherwise harmless object. As a youth, I worked with my father in the summertimes, helping him with electrical work. I even got paid a minuscule sum, likely what I was actually worth. Several times, I was asked to perform a simple task…roll up the extension cord or unroll the extension cord. Never could I do this elementary task without creating a hopeless tangle…a gordian knot of electrical wire so hopelessly intertwined that I considered using a pliers and cutting myself free. More often though, my irritated father would snatch it away mumbling “gimme that” and in a few furious seconds, the matted tangle would disappear but not his scowl in my direction. It was so bad that I would even trip over any cord or line innocently lying on the ground under my clumsy feet.

How could I know that it wan’t an adolescent clumsiness at fault? It was a cord conspiracy, and it got worse over the rest of my life. Later, I took part in vertical rock climbing with my son, and during training, our instructor would frequently yell in my direction that I was “ Yo! Standing on the rope…again!” Sure I was, but what he didn’t know was that it was a protective move on my part. I was simply holding down the rope to prevent its mischief. Try as hard as I might, the habit persisted until the instructor gave up. I was hopeless. Later, my son and I hired a professional guide for some really hard climbs. Heading up Devils Tower, I was entrusted to carry the spare rope, coiled in neat even coils and tied off like experienced climbers do. All I had to do at the appointed time was to tie one end off and toss the loops into the void, supposedly allowing the rope to uncoil and hang down obediently all one hundred eighty feet along the sheer wall. You know the rest. When the time came and the rope went down, there were not one but three knots swinging defiantly along the course of the rope. After I pulled it up, nearly being pulled off the side by the rope trick of wrapping around my feet, I untangled it and tossed again. It took three tries to finally get it straight. When we started down, I gave some thought to what the rope might try to do to me as I used this single important device on which to dangle my life. I’m sure I would still be up there trying to descend, but the calming hand of my son on the lower end of the rope demanded order instead of allowing chaos. Cords don’t hate him.

By now you are convinced that either I am exaggerating or am headed for therapy and medication. I assure you that I am totally sane and physically competent. The stark truth is that cords hate me. Let me give you an example. Any time, any day, in my basement projects I have to be unusually careful about cords, air compressor hoses, pull chains. They all give me trouble and are particularly devious about it when I am not attentive. For no reason at all, the electrical cord of the saber saw will end up in under the basement door. I don’t put it there or even allow it to happen, but when I try to extract it, the plug becomes wedged on the hinge side and nearly any effort won’t budge it. Still think I’m crazy? Then here is another example. Under my computer desk there are, of course, many cables. Given my lifelong experience, I am ultra careful about routing, grouping and securing the cables, nearly to a mania. It doesn’t matter in the least, because the wires and cables, alone for a few moments will creep relentlessly into a tangle.

I’ve had to deal with my fate as best I can, coping without anger most of the time and only occasionally giving in to shredding and cutting…and cursing. Thinking it over, I surmise that one innocent day in my youth, I gave offense to a well-meaning cord, and well, so it goes.
Alexander Francis

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