Monday, October 5, 2009

The Black Bean

There she sat, eyeballing some Newman’s Own Salsa, the kind with the black beans and corn in it. Loves it on just about anything, which is what we were eating that evening. I saw her eyes move to the last one on her plate...A big bean he was, standing out among the corn and tomatoes and begging to be eaten. Her eyes got that glazed over look and I knew she was probably having one of those epiphanies that usually lead to me doing something around the house. “This color would look great on our shutters” she muttered, moving him around the plate. “Sure would, I said, save it.” She likes the stuff so much I knew there was no way big guy was going to make it into a plastic bag. I figured I’d be safe when she finally finished him off because as they say, “in the tummy, out of mind”. It makes me shutter to think about it because all our shutters are fifteen feet off the ground and the ladder I use every ten years to paint stops at ten. After that it’s me, a gallon of paint, and a brush, balancing on rung number one. Around the neighborhood they refer to me as “Mr. Wallenda”. Not that I mind painting understand, in fact I used to paint for money…now I just paint for love. It seems the sight of me holding a paint brush does wonders for the wife’s libido… that and the weedwacker. I try to weedwack once a day whether the place needs it or not. Our yard looks like the Sahara Desert but with gas at $4.00 a gallon, I may have to cut back to every other day. But I digress…again.

She ate him … but he had left one of those indelible marks on her brain, or maybe her taste buds, and so she still wanted to paint. So we developed the project sans bean, which was a real gamble, considering the value of our house is dropping like cow manure on its way to becoming a paddy. So I said, “You know, I think I remember that thing having a little red in it.” She picked her teeth and said, “Yep, I think you’re right”. “But that could have been the tomatoes in the salsa”, I said. “Could have” she nodded. I’m feeling like that little guy with the flower, “she’ll love me, she’ll love me not”, but we’re having the longest conversation we’ve had in days and I’m rather enjoying it. We finally settled on something that had the color of one of the dogs’ collars, reddish/black/maroon. The guy at the paint store didn’t like salsa but said “black bean is a color you know.” I thought I might find it somewhere near an illegal immigrant poster but went with the dog collar color.

Our shutters are currently green, so we’re looking at two coats for optimum coverage. I’m the idiot who put the green on there and I regret it. We could have gotten by with one coat, my painting philosophy being, if they can’t see it from the road, why bother. But ol’ “Beana Reena” wanted green so…So I called a good friend, who is a great painter and claims to be the guy who came up with the, “it ain’t the fall that hurts, it’s the sudden stop” adage and he convinced me we could get the shutters painted in record time if I would pay him a decent wage, buy him a ‘cuttin’ brush and put gas in his Lincoln, which he can drive to Myrtle Beach and half way back on a tank of gas. So I agreed to pay him something less than what is fair, being he’s my friend. We spent the next day painting shutters and talking basketball. He was just one shot short of the NBA in the eighties and I was thirty dollars short of being able to watch it on cable.

We finished the shutters with no mishaps and Mrs. “Mona Lisa” appears to be happy. Well, gotta get to the store for some gas. Time to fire up the ol’ weed wacker.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Current Issues in Deep Fat Frying

I had a conversation with a friend the other day. A man of integrity who I respect and am grateful came into my life. I call him Coach Green and he is one of those self made men, born in the south in 1942 who became a successful educator, coach and sometimes a philosopher. Coach Green, is still, at sixty seven, a powerful physical presence whose soft voice and genial personality put people at ease. His wife Linda is, well, beautiful in all respects and, more than happy to help you find the bones in the deep fried catfish when you forget to bring your reading glasses to dinner. Years ago, when we were growing up, Coach Green and I sat on opposite sides of the balcony at the local theatres; I went in through the front door and he entered through the side. Through it all (and all was a hell of a lot) we arrived at a few similar opinions. Today, when we can, we enjoy watching a good football game, sipping on a cold “soldier” or playing poker, where he beats me out of money I shouldn’t be gambling with anyway. My respect for this man comes from watching him work with children, listening to him talk about his family and something else. We both raised daughters. Can you imagine your daughter having to go in the side door? Green can and still welcomes this old relic of the sixties (me) into his home. We’re friends who realize our country is in a struggle right now…here and around the world but there’s going to be a serious fight if someone forgot the Crisco for the fryer. But that’s another story.

Our conversations wouldn’t make the Research Quarterly or the New York Times because they involve more important things. Like, what’s wrong with the Braves or haven’t we had enough rain? So when I read former President Jimmy Carter’s comment, "There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president"; I called my friend to get his perspective. (I don’t really know that much about our former president, to be honest, except I’m sure he entered the theater through the front) but his comments opened the wound and so we went there. I think both of us would rather have discussed methods we use to hide money from our wives. That’s the way most of us our age are now, realizing the horrible realities of the past but also understanding we’ve got some serious stuff out there in 2009 sitting side by side in the theatre, classroom and bus and we’d better be getting about the business of solving problems. As always my friend gave me some food for thought. “Sonny, it was politically incorrect and poor timing, he said. We can always find reasons to hate people rather than like them, magnify their faults not our weaknesses, but everyone has a right to their opinion, including President Carter. I’ve always chosen to treat people the way I want to be treated.” As always, with Coach Green, I found the guy who sat on the other side of the balcony to be a source of wisdom. And now I’m wondering if that buttered popcorn was something I shouldn’t have been eating all along. I’m not a politician, wealthy landowner, or even all that intelligent but I do know this. The racial issues in this country will not be solved until we find a way to get to know each other. Once that happens, color will disappear and what we will see is….just another person and most of the time a lot like us. You rarely see folks fighting when they’re eating deep fried catfish and I have the feeling that there are a lot of people out there like Coach Green and me…tired of the issue, opinions on the issue, words associated with the issue, and people making money off the issue. What we are concerned about is whether the last check we wrote is going to bounce because our wives bought People Magazine so they could read about somebody else’s issues.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Winning The Lottery

I stopped by a convenience store this morning with a pocket full of quarters and saw the headline in the newspaper box that read, “Prince Harry comes into his inheritance”. It seems he has inherited what would be to us a major win at Lotto. Two things usually happen to me when someone wins at Lotto. One, I get physically ill and mentally fatigued thinking of one hundred million ways to spend one hundred million dollars and two… I develop an intense dislike for the person who won in spite of the fact that I don’t know them. So the voice goes off, again, saying, “That dirty Harry, I’ll just bet he had a good day today.” This gave way to the urge to buy my own winning ticket and I listened as “Self” started this persuasive rant saying, “This was Harry’s day, maybe it’s your day too. Somebody has to win, why not you? “Who knows? This store probably hasn’t had a winner in awhile; the odds are probably only ten million to one today. What else are you going to do with all those quarters? You have enough gas in the tank, buy something else.” And on and on she rattled (my self is female when it wants me to buy something) until I gathered up four quarters and walked toward the store entrance. Reaching for the door my other self (the male self and fortunately or not, the one I consult most often) said, “Why not buy a ten million dollar cup of that good flavored, five hundred calorie cappuccino? You won the lottery sixty two years ago!” And in fact I had because that was when my mom and dad decided to have a child who became me. Now I’m not saying they won that day but I know I did and in fact have won several lotteries since. I won in June of 1962 when Mrs. Peacock was there with her car to take me to the hospital after a boating accident. I won again in 1980 when I got married and darned if I didn’t hit it again in 86’ when my daughter was born. There are those who would say the possibility of winning the lottery four times is, well, impossible but I have had other wins as well. I won the day Matt Author told me to go to school to be a teacher and coach. We were playing in a church softball league; I was eighteen and had not one clue as to how I was going to spend the next forty years. That was a Mega-million day for sure. Some of my wins are in the Megabucks category while others are what I consider Fantasy Fives. And when I stop to think about it, none of my wins actually involved money. Oh don’t get me wrong, money makes this ol’ world go round and round for sure and without it we are sometimes want to find “the good life”, but my lotteries have always involved winning in other ways. So while I can appreciate those who continue to support education in our State, I wonder if the idea of winning the monetary lottery is looking on the wrong side of the coin and just makes our lives bigger without making them any better. What would we do with a hundred million dollars? Probably buy something, that’s what money is generally used for. When it just sits in a drawer it becomes like a sock or shirt but can’t be worn. No, money has to be spent to be worth anything. So what would we buy? Something big, bigger than the one we currently own. Food, probably more than we need which would lead to buying bigger clothes, a larger dry cleaning bill and a large depression when we see ourselves in the larger mirror we purchased to accommodate our new large bodies. Or maybe we would just buy a larger view of something we like to look at. So actually, when you think about it, winning the monetary lottery can make things bigger but not necessarily better. I walked on through the door and bought a cup of coffee and two lotto tickets. Figured, well, you know what I figured, “somebody’s got to win the darn thing, Harry did.” Now I’m wondering if I’ll still like myself when I win.