The first thing you gotta know about digging holes is you can’t turn your back on them. Holes are crafty sons-of-guns, so you need to be alert all the time. Had a friend one time took his eye off a hole and it up and bit his foot clean off! Now, I’m not saying that’ll happen every time. Sometimes a hole’ll just give you a sharp flick or spread rumours about how you pee in neighbours’ bushes at night. But you can’t never tell with holes.
So if you can, have a spotter with you, someone who can keep an eyeball on what that hole is gettin’ up to while you focus on the digging and the whatnot. If you have a third person, even better, because then they can take care of the whatnot and, if time allows, the whozit.
First, though, you need to have the right tools. Personally, I like a spade with a tapered tip, but I’ve seen people dig holes with trowels, butter knives, ice cream scoops, wind instruments, commemorative plates, Neil Young CDs, mop handles, bric-à-brac, canoes, Trivial Pursuit pies, ear-hair trimmers, personal massagers and etcetera. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s in good shape and not the stolen property of Homeland Security.
Next, you need to determine the location of your hole. Once you start a hole, you can’t just move it somewheres else. I started a hole in my workshop and tried to move it outside, but the change in barometric pressure was too much and the hole just snapped shut like a mouse sphincter in a monsoon. So pick where your hole’s going to be at. As the saying goes, “Measure twice, let’s put a hole right there.”
Here’s where things get tricky. Now that you know you where your hole’s going to go, you can’t just start digging. Your hole’s not going to let you just go ahead and dig it! That ain’t holes’ way! What you gotta do is walk away from the hole spot. “Hmmm, don’t think I’ll dig a hole today,” you say. “The last thing I want to do is dig a hole. No holes for me, thanks. I don’t even know what a hole is, to tell you the truth.” Then point at the clothesline: “Is that a hole?” A cat: “Is that a hole?” A neighbour peeing on your sumac: “A hole, yes?” Then, just when the hole thinks it’s in the clear, you come running back screaming like a band saw, and you stab your digger tool into the hole spot. Gotcha, hole!
A word of warning, though: watch out for your spotter when you scream and stab and whatnot. It’s not so bad if you’re digging with a copy of Newsweek, but I’ve seen some sad consequences for spotters at the business end of a piccolo.
Now you’re ready to get to digging. This is where people make mistakes. A lot of folks start feeling impatient and want to dig the bottom of the hole first. You can’t do that because your hole’ll come out upside-down, and whatever you’re planning to put in the hole will fall right out. In a pinch, you can get away with starting at the middle of the hole, but that’s no way to live your life.
Oh, wait, I forgot: did you get your hole permit? Towns are mighty particular about the whereabouts of holes, whether they conform with the zoning, making sure they’re not too close to other holes, because then you get hole glut, and once hole glut sets in, it’s the hardest thing to get rid of, because holes is 90 percent nothing, and getting rid of nothing is something, let me tell you!
So: with firm, easy strokes, push your digger tool into the hole place and scoop upright to collect whatever material you’re digging. Then you toss it away. Make sure you don’t toss the material where your face is. You also shouldn’t carry the material to a nearby daycare or family-style restaurant. The simple thing is you want to put it beside the hole or into individual zip-loc bags.
Now step back slowly so you don’t fall in. Let the neighbours know there’s a hole too. Best call that daycare while you’re at it. Every year, 1 in 5 children are eaten by holes. I can’t say this enough: never trust a hole.
So congratulations! You’ve got yourself a hole! Don’t feel bad if you’re not very good at digging holes. What you gotta do is practice, practice, practice. Especially when your mother asks you.