I used to think my grandparents ’highest moments were incredible nonsense with my grandchildren. Now I realize that I am no longer the main grandfather. This is because I recently met a friend who makes a living climbing trees.
Rene Funes is a happy married man with four children, four grandchildren and nerves of steel. I am an unhappily married man, I have two children, five grandchildren and aluminum nerves, so Rene came to my house.
He and Mario Asoria were accused – though, thank God, not of electricity – of removing the top of a not very powerful oak tree, the limbs, branches and branches of which hung over power lines in the backyard.
“Rene is 62 years old,” Mario told me after his acrobatics colleague tied a pair of spikes to his legs and jumped like a squirrel on a 50-foot tree with a chainsaw hanging from his belt. “And,” added Mario, 44, as we watched safely from below, “he calls me old.”
“I’m also a freak,” I said, noting that I was six years older than Rene, “but I could never do what he does.”
“Why?” Mario asked. “You look like you’re in good shape.”
“It’s because I make curls at 12 ounces,” I replied. “But I was petrified from a height.”
I explained that when my wife Sue and I moved to our two-story Colonial 24 years ago, I had to climb stairs to clear the gutters.
“I thought I was in the gutter,” I said. “So we have gutter guards.”
Since then, I have stayed at terra firma, a Latin phrase meaning, “What will you be buried in if you fall off the roof.”
“Or,” I added, “of wood.”
“I have to tell you a secret,” Mario whispered. “I’m also afraid of heights. That’s why I don’t climb trees. “
“Are you leaving this job to the old guy?” I said incredulously.
“Yes,” admitted Mario. “Rene is much braver than me.”
But they work well as a team. While Rene was doing, like a rockaboy boomer, on top of trees, literally coming out on a limb to prune, cut and saw off potentially dangerous branches that could fall on electrical wires and leave the whole neighborhood in the dark, Mario was in boots on the ground, relaxing the massive wooden twigs with ropes and pulleys.
“Careful!” Mario warned, as one large branch seemed to land on my toad.
Unlike Mario and Rene, I didn’t have a helmet on.
“If he hit me on the head,” I said, “it would split into a hundred pieces.”
“Your head?” Mario wondered.
“No, branch,” I replied.
“You’d have some firewood,” Mario said.
“It would be quite dangerous,” I said.
“Why?” Mario asked.
“Because,” I said, “we don’t have a fireplace.”
When Rene was finished, he rushed down like Batman, put down the chainsaw, removed the spikes, looked at the logs, limbs, and branches stacked in the corner of the yard, and smiled modestly as I showered him with compliments.
“I feel guilty,” I told him.
“How so?” Rene was surprised.
“I’m the same grandfather as you, but I could never do what you do,” I said.
“God is watching over me,” Rene said.
“He studied at Bible College,” Mario said of his sinewy colleague.
“When it’s on a tree, it’s closer to the sky,” I said.
Rene nodded in agreement and said, “I will work for another five years.”
“You will be 67,” I said.
“After he retires,” Mario suggested, “you could take his place.”
“Never,” I said. “That would be the height of stupidity. Besides, I’m the only grandfather who’s happy to be a cone on a log. “
Jerry Zezim leads a comedy column for the Tribune News Service and is the author of six books. His last one is “One for the elderly: how to stay young and immature, even if you’re really old.” Contact him at [email protected] or through jerryzezima.blogspot.com.