June 25, 2008 · Updated 9:38 PM
"Warren G. Harding was the first president to throw out a baseball. He threw it out from the grandstands to the field. That's an easy enough concept to understand.Saturday, I threw out my back. But from where to where, I'm not sure. It's odd to throw something out and not know where it landed, but wherever it is, I hope it comes back soon.This particular throw pretty much had to happen in order to make the high school graduation ceremony miserable. For years I've been complaining about such ceremonies, including my own way back in the '60s. Thousands of people cramped into a hot, dark gymnasium isn't my idea of creating fond memories.But in the year 2000, things were to be different. We had glorious sunny weather to go with the first outdoor graduation ceremony in South Whidbey's history. Great idea. We could sit in the sunshine, daydream, feel the cool breeze, and wake up when our own kid's name was called.But first, there was the matter of cleaning the garage, a process that went well until I decided to dump out the cats' litter box. I tolerate the two cats but normally refuse to go near the litter box, which is reserved for cat lovers. The cats consider this arrogant human behavior and have always hated me for it. Somehow, they rigged their litter box so that when I picked it up it threw out my back. Shucks, it wasn't even heavy. Earlier in the day I'd lugged around garbage cans filled to the brim with heavy household refuse. The litter box was nothing by comparison. Nevertheless, I felt something pull and suddenly things stiffened up. I knew my back was thrown out, and the sound of snickering cats only confirmed it. I was in for another long graduation day.It wasn't the type of throw that would permanently ground a guy. It was just painful, and made it hard to walk and stand up, two of the most important activities on graduation day. I walked like Walter Brennan and stood up like Grandpa Jones, and found that if I sat a bit akilter the pain wasn't all that bad even though the promised 70-minute ceremony lasted 85 minutes and 14 seconds, not that I was counting. I started standing at the 80 minute mark, and managed to be vertical with everyone else by the end of the ceremony.After a long limping walk to the car, we honored out graduate by dining out at a nice restaurant where the entertainment was watching Dad trying to sit down, and later stand up. I exited, hunched over, through the back door so nobody would see me and call 911.The rest of the day I spent in various types of repose, trying to get comfortable, waiting for the back that I threw out to return from wherever it went. Thanks to the cats, it was another miserable graduation day. But I'll get even. Their Purina is almost gone, and their next bag of food will be Western Family."