Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Thank You, Thank You For Coming

Some call them alternative housing or assisted living places. Some are called nursing homes. I’ve only been in a couple…and it seems they are mostly like any other home, they differ. It takes special people to work there, gifted in ways most of us are not and the last thing one wants to think about, other than that other thing we don’t like to think about is having a loved one or even ourselves living there. But it happens.

Mom and I visited one the other day. Mom’s eighty eight and she wanted to give an old friend a “warmer” to put on her bed. I have no idea how old the old friend was, probably not eighty eight. We’ve been lucky. “You know, she may not recognize me this time, she was coming and going the last time I visited.” Mom said. “Well, that’s ok, I said, I’m sure she’ll enjoy the warmer anyway.” I waited in the lobby and browsed through some photo albums while she went down the hall. The pictures showed a happy staff who looked like a great bunch of folks even though they stared death and her “handmaidens” in the face every day. After twenty minutes or so mom came back with a smile on her face and I asked, “Well, did she remember you?” “No, she said, but I could tell she was trying hard.” (I guess that was enough for mom.) “I’m sure she’ll enjoy the warmer.” “Yeah, I said, wonder where she was today?” “She seemed happy” was all mom would say. “That’s good.”

Years ago, at a local church, there was a greeter. He could always be found standing out front prior to the service and whenever you showed up, whether seven days or seven years since your last appearance, he would say, “Thank you, thank you for coming.” He was a short little fellow with a great memory, a widower with a big Sunday morning grin each time you entered the vestibule of the church. “Thank you, thank you for coming” he would say, as if your simple act of walking in the door was the most important event that had taken place at that church in years... equal to a visit by the Pope perhaps or maybe Billy Graham.
He seemed really happy to be able to say “thank you” each time someone entered. A few years ago a friend and I went to see him in his nursing home after he’d had a series of strokes. We asked for his room and the attendant showed us down the hall. We both had misgivings about the visit, I hadn’t been to church in years, and a walk down “guilt trip lane” was just not something I was into that evening. As we got closer to his room I felt the walls closing in, as they say, but my friend helped me take a few more steps. Then there we were, face to face with this wonderful little fellow who had made us feel at home each time we visited the church. I didn’t think he would remember me but he did, or so I thought, and as soon as I entered his room he looked up from his wheelchair and said, “Thank you, thank you for coming!” I felt relieved and grateful he had remembered this old sinner from a few years back. I started to mumble something about “how are you” or some such and then he said it again, “Thank you, thank you for coming” and I realized those were the only words left for him to remember, six simple words that had meant so much to the people attending his church.
We stayed only a short while and left with tears as the echo of his greeting followed us down the hall. “Thank you, thank you for coming.” I wondered where he was that day and thought about all the memories and words he could have been left with in the home. He may have been luckier than we know, forever the greeter, “thank you, thank you for coming”.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Getting One's Mind Right

It is that time of year again, “the holidays”, and let’s face it…they started with Thanksgiving. From now until “Superbowl Sunday” no meaningful work will be done by anyone except those who consider work life and life work. I suppose I’m one of those but I do enjoy the reward that comes as a result of me doing my life’s work. In other words, if I won the lottery, I would still do what I do…well for a few hours anyway. Still, when this season arrives, as my wife would say, to quote Strother Martin in “Cool Hand Luke”, “you gonna get your mind right!” Well, I’ve had thirty years to get my mind right and still find myself in the “ hot box” cause “what we have here is…”failure to communicate”.

My wife takes this time of year seriously and it usually begins with unpacking the attic. That’s where all manner of stuff “holiday” is located for eleven months. This takes two days and three fights as I threaten to have a yard sale and she gets all melancholy about fifty year old Christmas stockings in need of a good seamstress. I go up the ladder while she stands at the bottom and greets each piece of holiday cheer as though she were seeing some relative for the first time in ten years. If these pieces could talk I’m sure they’d be saying, “Please, not this again, just when we were getting comfortable up there…who wants to hang on somebody’s door for a month!”

She also thinks the holidays mean family reunion time and that’s great but when you’re sixty-three a lot of the family’s Elvis moment came and they “left the building” and the ones still here are oft times starving, too young to remember the ones worth remembering and in love with somebody who they bring to the holiday festivities, usually at our house. And of course there’s always the living relatives you’d rather not see in the first place who manage to “just stop by” for a day of eating and cleaning out the liquor cabinet. This is where I do the, “this ain’t no soup kitchen routine” which gets me in a lot of trouble, particularly if they happen to be on her side of the family. So I have to get my mind right or the holidays will be a time to remember for sure as “Miss Holiday Spirit” will remind me how I ruined another opportunity to watch old people drink, and young people eat massive quantities of turkey, watch football, sleep on our couch and turn the bathroom into a Nascar experience.  
 I guess it’s that male menopause I’ve been hearing about but for the last several holidays the pets we’ve had down through the years always seem to come to mind. If I recollect correctly, they only drank water, ate their own food, watched the animal channel, slept on the floor and most times used the bathroom outside. They were a great bunch of folks to have around and when I see them in family videos, dadburned if they don’t seem like family. There was old Chipper, the blond cocker spaniel, whose ears always got in the dressing when he ate out of his bowl. And Duke the Boston Terrier who would chase a squirrel up a tree trying to get Christmas dinner on the run. Or Deuce the hairless Yorkie whose idea of a good holiday meal was anything he didn’t have to run down to eat or whatever somebody would bring to his bed. They were my kind of folks. But, like ol’ ”Bring on the Eggnog” says, I’ve got to get my mind right. I would suggest flying to some exotic warm place but I haven’t had my “junk” touched in years and it looks like the TSA officers have their hands full as it is.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

The mid-term election looms over us and I felt compelled to write about something politicians must know a lot about, stress. Can you imagine the stress involved in spending millions of dollars on getting elected to “higher” office only to find you are not worthy or wanted? To put your soul, mind and body into the effort, expose family, friends and pets to today’s scrutiny only to be rejected by the voters who, by now, are very familiar with everything from your last colonoscopy to your favorite Dancing with the Stars contestant. By the time you read this many will be feeling the pain of rejection, some rightfully so; others will feel the stress of taking on a new job and for the first termers, one for which there may be no means of preparation.
But stress seems to be different things to different people. Stress to a politician these days would have to be wondering when and where he’ll be when someone digs up enough dirt to make sure he doesn’t win again. And speaking of digging, stress to a dog would have to be a flea, small, insignificant but the dog never knows when one will bite and so you see that worried look on the poor pooch’s face when he’s got a flea (female dogs probably don’t have fleas). Then, when the bite does come, the dog goes nuts and begins biting itself to find and kill the rascal that bit him. I’ve noticed that my boy Hercules will sit with that worried look on his face if he has just the one flea but if he’s got a bunch of fleas, he just gives up and sleeps in a state of depression. It seems that when we have a lot of stressors in our lives we do tend to “give up” and just let things happen. I suppose Ol’ Herky feels like he might have a shot at the one flea but when he’s got ten, who cares! I would buy him one of those stress balls but he’d just stress out trying to figure out how to hold the thing.
Folks with a lot of kids don’t seem to stress out as much if one “goes astray” so to speak, whereas my wife and I spend days worrying about our one daughter, who keeps telling us she’s perfect. I can’t refer to her as a stressor so I just call her “small stuff”, as in “don’t sweat the small stuff”. “Small stuff” got to me the other day so I tried listening to music. Found one of Beethoven’s sonatas, No. 6 it was, and of course found myself thinking of the out of doors, the farm, cows and such. That brought to mind the time I was visiting my Uncle Melvin in Sevierville, Tennessee, walking the land as it were and stepped in a cow paddy, then tracked the stuff into his house. I turned off Beethoven, put on some country music and poured myself a strong one.
Stress is most times where you find it and it can be found anywhere. I still think of sitting on my brother-in-law’s porch in the N.C. mountains, enjoying a Danish and watching the squirrels wreck havoc on his bird feeder until the quiet was interrupted by the sound of his twenty-two echoing through the woods as he blasted away at his stressors. I guess those squirrels were his “small stuff” but the boom of that 22 was large stuff to me as I choked on breakfast. Still, finding out what the “small stuff” is in your life is not easy and without knowledge of that you might as well be pouring Drano down a manhole. I’m looking forward to Tuesday night when we see the results of months of work and some new faces on the political horizon. Let’s all hope they don’t continue pouring our tax dollars down the D.C. manhole that ain’t no “small stuff”.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Popcorn Tree

It was a clear fall morning and dad and I were sitting on the porch enjoying the sun in his and mom’s rocking chairs. We had the football games to look forward to and other than that, nothing going on. I had no idea what happened next would mean so much over the next few years. She was walking past the front porch hauling a basket full of small plants in a carrier. She looked to be about dad’s age, stooped from osteoporosis and breathing hard when dad hollered from the porch, “hey, whatcha got there?” “Oh, nothing much, just a few popcorn trees” she replied. “Well, lemme take a look, we been needin some trees on this lot.” And with that he gingerly got up and walked to the street. Dad was known for saying the first thing that came into his head, like it or not and so out came, “Shoot, that ain’t nothing but a weed.” “Nope, it’s a popcorn tree” she said. Put one in the ground and see what happens.” Dad was also known for his frugality so his next question came easy. “How much?” When he heard, “No charge” he was sold and took one of the small “weeds” back to the porch. He and mom planted it later that day. Dad could be a stubborn kind of fellow and for the next ten years or so he called these plants, there were now four, everything from roots to vines but never trees. They stand about thirty feet tall now and I never heard him call them a tree but each year, about this time, the yard is full of beautiful shade, and these little white balls that cover the ground to remind mom of the love of her life, dad. He left us about this time last year.
Several years ago I brought one of the roots of those trees back and planted it in my front yard. It’s about twenty feet now and as it continues to grow, it reminds me that things are not always as they appear, nor are we. It stands as a reminder that we can all look like weeds at some point but when placed in the right soil, grow and flourish. Dad took a chance that day, took that elderly, stooped over woman at her word, “it’s a popcorn tree” and he planted. He watered, watched and nourished that “weed” out of curiosity really, just to see what would happen. One thing he didn’t do was give up. Now the fact that he never really called them trees is moot. Like it or not, the man spent many an afternoon in the shade of something growing from the ground. I know we sometimes look at our children and think, “Lord have mercy, will this thing ever become a tree?” But one has to remember, some plants need more than others, more food, sun, water. That first popcorn tree would have died in the ground had dad not provided for its needs. Our children are no different and there is no statute of limitations on love. When I read about the tragedies involving the children of Macon and other areas, I think about the popcorn tree. Someone saw a weed too soon and simply gave up or were afraid to give it the water and food it may have needed to survive. Another way of thinking about it is our children may or may not provide us with “shade” as we get older. Some may leave us in the desert of despair and rightfully so, for we failed to help them become the shade trees of our future.

Monday, September 27, 2010

American Education

I was relieved to hear both Nathan Deal and Roy Barnes tell PAGE how important public education is to the state of Georgia, but they were, as they say, all over the page on how to fix the thing. Mr. Deal comes from a background loaded with educators (wife, parents) and sympathizes with the teachers’ as they take work home to be done for the next day, referring to them as “unseen servants”. Mr. Barnes credits his father with taking him to UGA, in a pickup truck and dropping him off to begin college. Great stories from two guys who place a lot of importance on education and there were some really good ideas expressed by both. Whether to make better use of resources (Deal) or stress professional development and stipends for those teaching math, science, foreign language and special education (Barnes). Deal stressed the idea of taking the micromanagement aspect out of the classroom and restoring the joy of teaching to those in the profession while Barnes talked about extending the school day fifteen minutes in the morning and fifteen in the evening. They agreed on many points during most of the discussion such as making sure a child can read on grade level by grade three. So how do we get there?  If, as the former governor said, “you turn SATs around by making sure a child is reading on grade level by grade three”, how do educators ensure that will happen?  Years ago in a county near here, there was a young lady who began to hang around the gym to watch the girls’ varsity basketball team practice.                                                                                                      
The coach noticed her for about a week and then asked her if she would like to join the team. She said she would and became the tenth member of the squad, having no experience and in grade eleven. She never missed a practice and became a defensive player because there just wasn’t enough time to learn how to shoot. A day came when the coach noticed her still in the gym quite a while after practice and she said she needed a ride home so off they went. She lived several miles out in the country and it was dark when they drove down a winding dirt road finally arriving at a run-down shack of a house in a clearing. No lights were on, only the faint glow of candles in the window and he watched as she washed her hands in the pump at the end of the dirt driveway. It was then he realized why this child had wanted to play basketball. It was to keep from going home. She went on to graduate and enter college, majoring in psychology. I hope she’s doing well.

You see, education is not about money. It’s more about caring. Most of our teachers began their careers with no thought to what they would make, only that it would be enough. They learned about the intrinsic value of some things in life. They loved a subject and they loved the kids and wanted to put the two together. The truth is teachers today need help. Not the kind that comes from a stipend or incentive pay, although those are worthy offerings. No, the help they need comes from home in the form of parents or guardians, grandparents or stepparents or whoever has major influence over the child. The person who can say, “Yes, it is important to learn how to read, to write, to think, so you can communicate and tell others what it was like to be you.” There has to be collaboration between home and the school or even the most effective teacher is going to have difficulty. When you think about it, what did it cost you to learn how to read? Nothing really…A mother or father, grandmother or maybe just someone who cared enough to see it happen.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Dad always said, “son, don’t ever hit anybody in the rear when you’re driving cause it’s gonna be your fault.” He was right of course but I just had to test the theory, having driven for forty-five years and not actually experienced a rear-ender from the giving side. I was a receiver once…some woman in a Cadillac hit the trailer hitch on my old truck but when I pulled over to see what damage had been done to her car…she just waved and kept on truckin. I guess she thought I was going to sue or something but my back felt ok and I couldn’t catch her anyway. When you get hit in the rear it’s always a good idea to be holding your back when you get out of your car…just in case.

The other day, it was a perfect morning; I was sitting in the right lane with cars to my left and an old beat up government car in front of me. I assumed whoever the driver was must be on his way to wherever they take old government cars when they retire. I was wrong. Someone had given me this nice little pen and notepad set and I was looking at it when the cars to the left started moving. So, I pulled my foot off the brake and bumped into the piece of junk sitting in front of me. Remember the old Bill Cosby album about the surgeon who makes a mistake and the patience hears him say, “oops and then asks, did you just say oops?” I went oops.

It was a tap for Pete’s sake! I got out, walked up to the beat up ol’ government vehicle and this guy in the driver’s seat rolls down his window and, I’m not making this up folks, says, “what happened?” “I think I bumped you”, I said. He says, “Oh” but I am reading his mind and what I read is, you mean like, from the rear! As in, payday! I asked if he was ok and he says yes and we pulled over to a parking lot to check the vehicles. My truck has not a scratch. It was a tap, for Pete’s sake!

The beat up ol’ government vehicle has so many cuts and bruises he can’t figure out which one I may have put there but, by golly there’s got to be one somewhere cause, I’m feeling mighty lucky this morning and this pain in my back came from your truck. So I stand there as he makes a thorough inspection of this hunk of junkyard refuse walking all around to make sure me “plowing” into him didn’t cause any frame damage or whatever.

I notice a slight limp developing about the time he hits the passenger side door but I go through the motions and say, “well, looks like we’re ok here, sorry this happened, have a nice day, let me get the heck out of here before you need CPR and an ambulance. “Uh, I think we need to call the police”. Christmas has arrived!” “My ship has come in!” “Time for that little Bermuda cruise, after I have my back looked at of course.” Now we’ve got the local police involved and because this was a government vehicle that looked like a piece of Swiss cheese, he wants to call the GSP! Mr. GSP makes another thorough inspection of the car from hell, asks if we’re ok then says, “well, looks like we’re done here I’ve got a serious call to get to across town.” Whew! Glad that’s over, could have been worse, the driver of the future parts on wheels could have been seriously injured, I thought. The next week I get a call from, you guessed it, my insurance company. “Oops”. Seems Dad was right all along, “son, don’t ever hit anyone in the rear unless you’re willing to pay for a cruise to Bermuda.”

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Years ago there was a boy named Bryce Petree who used to wear shin guards whenever he mowed folks’ grass. His lawnmower had thrown a nail into his leg and he wore them after that for obvious reasons…in case there was another nail waiting in someone’s yard. He was a stooped over kind of fellow, sort of like Charles Laughton (Quasimodo the bell ringer) in the Hunchback of Notre Dame and he looked weird when he mowed. But while the rest of us thirteen year olds were making fun of him, he was making money cutting grass. It was only when I got to know him I began to appreciate his work ethic and the fact that he was still friendly, even though we had ridiculed him. I guess you could say Bryce had character.

The Ramirez brothers, Richard and Dennis, were Hispanic and Catholic. Their dad, Joe, was a strict father and would make them rake the yard of pine straw before they could play marbles in the alley with the rest of us. There was something about that which caused me to wish my dad had made me and my brother rake our yard. We didn’t think about them being Hispanic, we thought they were American. John Leslie is a friend who plays racquetball. He’s American but some call him African-American because he’s dark skinned and sometime, years ago I guess, somebody in his family came from that continent. He’s Baptist I think. I get dark when I spend a lot of time in the sun but I’m Scotch-American and Presbyterian. Another friend we call Mo is from Pakistan, is a Muslim and works in a college I.T. department. We’ve taught him how to cuss when he plays racquetball and he’s gotten pretty good at it.

I’m going to miss all these guys when our time on earth is done because I guess I’m the only one who’s going to pass through the pearly gates on my way to my heaven, me being Presbyterian. I haven’t read much about games in heaven, mostly singing and such and I worry because I can’t carry a tune in a good tile shower. I worry about not seeing the differences we have here on earth…I kind of like them…makes things interesting. Somebody said a friend is just a stranger we haven’t met yet and I believe that to be true in most cases. These are all friends of mine. I wonder what it would be like if we were all like the seagulls… there they stand, all looking the same, with an occasional pigeon thrown in, staring out to sea, waiting for the tide to come in and bring food to their feet. I’m sure they’re all thinking the same thought, how long before dinner arrives. America’s strength lies in her differences and acceptance of those differences. It’s who we are and what makes us different from other countries and it’s why we became America. Not having those differences would be like eating a mayonnaise sandwich for lunch every day.

Thank goodness we don’t all think the same, worship the same, eat the same food, or play the same games. What kind of world would that be? I blame the internet for a lot of what’s going on today. It’s a kind of Pandora’s Box we’ve opened and reveals extremism in chat rooms, news and blogs that seem to bring out the worst of the human race. And we’ve locked ourselves in our world of Ipods, cell phones and blu ray wannabee games in an effort to create our perfect environment. When I was growing up you could hear the sounds of people at night coming from their houses. Now the drone of air conditioning fills the air and I wonder if anyone is even home.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Spooning At the Buffet

Carl Sagan was always one of my favorite astronomy guys and next to Mr. Wizard one of the smartest guys I ever heard on TV. When he talked about “billions and billions” of stars and how, with that number, there had to be intelligent life on some other planet I took that to mean all the politicians in the universe lived here on earth. The odds were just too great for it not to be.

So when I took mom to one of those crab leg buffets and watched this hairy guy reaching under the plastic guard to get some cocktail sauce, I knew the odds of there being a hair left in there were, well, astronomical. They had the crabs’ legs way down on the end, after the roast beef and mashed potatoes, beans and chicken fingers. I guess they wanted us to fill up on some of that before we got to the really good stuff, which supposedly comes all the way from Alaska, which is why it cost twenty four dollars a piece to eat there. Thank goodness I didn’t find that out until the check arrived. My nephew was across the table and I probably could have gotten my fill just watching him eat. He ate like he thought the twenty four dollars meant you could eat the legs of twenty four crabs. The next time we get a hankering for seafood, mom and I will probably go to Mickey D’s, split some fries and a fish sandwich.

Buffets have always made me feel like a cow waiting for the farmer to splash some grain in the trough and although I’m sure the food is clean, those plastic shields they put over the trough are there for a reason and it’s got body hair written all over it. Whenever I eat at a buffet I try to do a couple of things. One, never get in line behind a hairy guy and two, wait for the fresh trough. You can’t tell me when Mr. Neanderthal reaches under that shield something’s not falling off his body and into dinner. But I digress, again.

Tonight I did something I thought only others did. I dropped the serving spoon into the cocktail sauce. You know, one of those really long spoons just loaded with all manner of germs from a thousand Mr. Neanderthal’s hands. You never see anyone going to wash their hands BEFORE they eat, only after, and that’s the problem. That spoon could have everything from follicles to fly dung on it and I knocked it into the sauce trough, which just happened to be full. I made a quick grab for it, looking around to see if anybody was watching, no one was…too busy loading up on farmer Brown’s sweet feed, I suppose. But it had too much sauce on it and slipped right through my hoof.

Now I watched like Anthony Perkins in Psycho when he drove that Curtis’ woman’s car into the swamp in order to hide what he’d done to her in the famous shower scene. I wanted to run but instead stared helplessly as the spoon took its time sinking into the sauce and I don’t know how much time went by but Mr. Neanderthal was halfway to the legs when I finally saw the spoon submerged. The handle made a sucking sound as it bubbled beneath the cocktail quicksand, leaving only the sound of desperate people trying to eat their way through twenty four dollars worth of cold food and hot butter.

I quickly moved over to the steak…knowing I wasn’t about to pick something requiring cocktail sauce, and loaded up on cow. There were other troughs containing other sauces and I began to wonder just how many spoons lay hidden beneath the green beans or banana pudding. Or, how many others for that matter, had been waiting to spoon with my spoon in the trough I’d left behind. According to Dr. Sagan’s theory, “billions upon billions” of germs could be quietly waiting for exposure when some unsuspecting bovine beauty hits the bottom of the trough. I walked slowly to a table (didn’t want to arouse suspicion) to await the scream I knew must be coming.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Too Much Stuff

A few years ago a singer/songwriter named Delbert McClinton came out with a song entitled, “Too Much Stuff”. My wife loved it. One stanza goes: “Big house, big car, back seat, full bar. Houseboat won’t float, Bank won’t tote the note” She thinks we may have too much stuff and I’m about to agree. Plus most of the stuff we have requires other stuff, like insurance and such, which makes it more stuff. Within the last several weeks a lot of our stuff has been messed up and that means more stuff has to be bought to fix the old stuff. In fact, the money spent to keep your stuff in working order is sometimes more than you paid for the stuff in the first place.

The hot tub broke. Ever tried to get one fixed? We’re still waiting for the guy who took out the broken part to at least call and say where he or the part got off to. They’re both missing now and I have no idea what part of the tub he took. The wave runner broke and it’s going to take a bank loan to get the thing fixed. Fact is, it’s not worth much more than the part required to make it run. Seems part of the problem was I didn’t ride it enough but it was stuff I never should have bought in the first place cause no one went out on the thing but me and usually only when I was trying to forget about all the broken stuff at the house.

The lawnmower broke the other day… miracle of miracles I was able to fix it. It was nothing but the air filter…sounded like it had a case of T.B. now it just sounds like emphysema but I can cut the grass if I push it slow. Someone here got the bright idea of purchasing a wading pool for the dogs to stay cool in during the summer. We put the thing on the deck (which needs repairs) filled it with water and watched as the dogs ran around it and the mosquitoes hatched offspring for the tadpoles to eat. Now we can’t get the thing off the deck (too heavy) without a siphoning hose. I ran out and got some bug spray the other day. Too much stuff.

Before you start thinking, what a jerk, this guys got too much stuff; I only got this stuff after turning fifty or so which means I had to work a long time to get it. But now that it’s here I’m wondering why unless somebody up there figured I had too much time on my hands. I take solace in the fact that most of me still works but with my weight approaching 230, one could make the argument that I am also…too much stuff.

One has to wonder if our country has too much stuff. We can’t seem to keep anything fixed long enough to make it pay off. Everything from oil wells to Afghanistan seems to be broken including the people voting on this stuff. Maybe we should all just sit back for a while, take that ol’ pause that refreshes, and learn how to manage the stuff we have before jumping into more stuff. When you buy something it’s only as good as your ability to either keep it working or take the thing back. We’ve bought several countries lately, now it’s time to see if we can make them work. Unlike like lawnmowers however, they aren’t that easy to return.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Earring Microphones

There appears to be a magic number of dollars that when attained causes temporary insanity. The number could involve things such as assets, savings, inherited wealth, publicity shots ... who knows? What we do know, through extensive Internet research, is that it seems to affect both males and females, is no respecter of race or ethnicity and sends the possessor (who is already in another world and has been for a while) into a spiral of lust, degradation and either binge eating or starvation equaled only by others of this persuasion.

Let’s be honest, flying from L.A. to Soho for makizushi would make anyone a little screwy.

You can get fairly raw fish down by the river, when you think about it. But I digress.
Howard Hughes was probably the first person to come under scrutiny by the media when he attained heights of weirdness because of large sums of money. Howard set the standard for absurd behavior, and he set the bar very high — so high in fact that no one would believe the heights today’s weirdos attain when they hit the number. If not for the miracle of the earring microphone, I doubt ol’ Mel Gibson would have believed it himself. We’ll get to that later. The smartest of these folks seem to dodge the insanity by finding ways to give their money away before they hit the magic number. The number of dollars one would have to accumulate is probably somewhere in the neighborhood of a half billion. Once that number is achieved, the owner of the number goes nuts.

It is an equal opportunity number. Elvis hit it after the concert in Hawaii, and Michael Jackson got there sometime in the ’80s. Gibson may have hit it shortly after his last film, if current news can be trusted.

Bill Gates gives a lot of money to charity, making him exempt. Jimmy Buffet does free concerts for all sorts of causes, rendering him immune as well. And Oprah Winfrey opens up schools, so she’ll be fine. These few have kept themselves immune by being charitable, but there are many very close, say within $300 million or so, who bear watching.
Several of the “lucky” ones are in alcohol rehab, divorce court or have children living at home, which keeps them from hitting the magic number. Britney Spears and Paris Hilton come to mind. I am probably one of the luckiest people I know because I would have to live forever and remain employed to accumulate that kind of money. It’s not going to happen.

But, with Gibson we have a wonderful opportunity to see just how out of kilter these people can get. The first indication, after careful revue of the earring tapes, came when he allegedly said, “I need a woman” to his former girlfriend. He must have been really close to her ear when he said it because it sure came out clear.

The second came when she must have somehow spoken into her own ear and said, “You need medication.” I have to believe ol’ Mel has had all the “medication” he can stand, which may be another part of the equation.

Now before you get all weepy on me — I’m not the one who hit the number — that was Gibson, and anyone who can make a successful movie with letterbox has got to be smart enough to know his former girlfriend may be wearing erring microphones. I’m sure Gibson, at some point in his life, realized there are cameras and microphones everywhere these days, but when he hit the magic number he simply forgot. Now, instead of being able to enjoy days on the beach and nights getting drunk, he may have to go back to work.

Hearing about these folks on the news makes me want to go home, feed the dogs, wash the car and mow the lawn. Oh, guess I’d better check the wife’s jewelry box first.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

They're Perfect Just Ask Them

I was doing some “surfing” the other day, can’t do it at the beach so I did it on the Internet, and I ran across this interesting research article written a few years ago by the Pew Research Center on Generation Next (people from 18-25). I don’t know if Pepe Le Pew was involved in the research but it certainly helped me better understand folks in their 20s. Here are some findings the Pew folks found and a few findings of my own:
They’re optimistic. Well, why wouldn’t they be, we gave them most of what they have and we still seem to have more “stuff” to give.

Half of them have tattoos on their bodies and holes where they shouldn’t be. Some have weird hair color like purple or orange. This was surprising to me because we’ve always told them how wonderful they are. Why would they want to change perfection, but that’s just me.

Most of them feel the government is perfectly capable of running most things. Well, in truth, the government does run most things, as those of us who pay taxes are aware.

Most of them are Democrats. The good news is they prefer entertainers as role models over politicians.

The majority of them say their top goals are fortune and fame. Two very worthy causes for sure and so easy to accomplish. Does it matter how one becomes famous?

Twenty percent don’t attend church. No need I suppose with the government handling everything.

They like to stay in close contact with parents and family. This is a no brainer. Wouldn’t you?

The truth is we’d better get used to them. They’re going to be around for awhile, soon to replace the “Greatest Generation,” the “Boomers,” and “Generation X.” We’ll soon have “Generation Next” and the “Millennials” calling the shots. Sounds like a rock band singing that old standby, “Works for Me!”

Everything works for the “Nexters” because everything has always been just hunky dory. I asked one the other day what he wanted to be when he grew up and in the space of five minutes we went from physical therapy to engineering.

This group can do it all because, well, they’ve been told they could. And guess what? They believe it. From the time they were born these folks have been a success in everything from Little League (they all were All-Stars and have the trophy to prove it) to playing a musical instrument via the Epiphone Les Paul Pee Wee Rave Rig.

So when we arrived at engineering, I ask the obvious question, “How good are you at math?” A pause, then, “Well, to be honest,” he said, “I don’t do math very well.” “What about beekeeping?” I ask. I’m thinking. Most folks love honey. He could sell that and I’m sure he’d be a success. I will say this, they are very big on communicating, using every medium available from cellphones to texting to Facebook.

I listened in on a conversation the other day and was amazed at the amount of information that changed hands in just a few minutes. It went something like this:

“Hey.” “Hey.” “Whassup?” Whassup widt you?” “Nuttin.” “Same here dude.” “Cool.” “I saw you on Facebook the other day.” “Did?” “Yep.” “Cool.” “Yeah, I checked you out too.” “Cool.” “Hey.” “What?” “Can you come pick me up?” “Whassup widt dat?” “My car won’t start.” “Oh, you put gas in it? “Course I did, right after my ol’ man bought it.” “What about the radiator. ... you put water in it?” “Uh, whassup widt dat?” “Oh man, you got to put water in it.” “Well, next time I will, just come pick me up.”

And so it goes, the wonderful world of the Nexter, never knowing what is going to happen next. How do I know so much about these folks? Well, I live with two of them and their dog, Sunnie, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Disappearing Way of Life

Tried not to write about the oil spill again, but what can one do? For most of us it simply means seafood will cost more at the grocery store, but for the people of the Gulf it is potentially the end of a way of life. A disaster made worse because of our country’s seeming lack of a coordinated effort to help the Gulf states out.

I’ve watched Mike Huckabee so much lately I’m beginning to sound like an Arkansas hick, but he’s had a lot on his show about different ways to clean the mess up — once it’s stopped.

What’s frustrating is there seems to be no one saying, “Yes, that’s what we need to do, so let’s do it!” It’s beginning to look like we have finally gotten into something we can’t fix, no matter how many lawyers are involved.

Oh sure, we can throw money at the folks at the beach, but they’re going to want their lives back and I just don’t have a lot of confidence that’s going to happen.

I grew up in Panama City, lived in “The Cove” near Watson Bayou, and for many of you, that would be akin to living on the lake in these parts. It is a way of life for young and old.

At 12 I was fishing with bacon bait off the docks in the bayou. I always had to take my younger brother along because he wasn’t afraid to take the fish off the hook. We enjoyed fishing with bacon because every kind of fish in the bayou ate it, and you never knew what was going to be on the other end of the line until it came out of the water. Besides, I didn’t want to chop up the fish we’d caught and use them, they’d already had a bad day.

At 12 we experimented with all sorts of water sports in the bay. I remember rigging a bedspread for a sail and hoisting it on a raft made by Ernie Mahaffey, who was smart enough to know better, then floating out in the bay for a good 30 seconds before sinking. We were the Wright Brothers on water.

Ernie played the trombone two doors down the street and back in the days before air conditioning he would serenade the neighborhood until somebody hollered long and loud. His mom would then abruptly end practice.

He’s so rich today he has to give his money away, but I know for a fact that he couldn’t play the trombone or sail more than 30 seconds with a bedspread. We didn’t have much sense at that age.

When we got older and could use the boats, we’d always find Pam Ward sunbathing on her dock in the bayou. Ol’ Mike Walker never missed a chance to spray her as we pulled him near the dock. We were crazy at 15, but the bayou showed us something new each time we visited her.

Sometimes it would be one of those huge manta rays swimming along the bottom by the dock or a blow fish or blue crab daring you to stick your hand deep enough to rile them up.

Once in a while, when swimming, you’d get a friendly reminder that you couldn’t breathe under water. There’s grass down there, you know, reeds and such, with all manner of wildlife hiding and waiting patiently for something edible to swim by.

Sunfish reflect the sun from beneath the water in a ballet of sorts as they swim in the shallows. I suppose one of the things I learned from the bayou was that a lot of those creatures just want to be left alone and hang out with other things that look like them and wait for food. In that way, I guess they’re a lot like us with the exception of we’re not on each others’ food chain. Or are we? Yes, a way of life seems to be leaking away and I’ll sure miss it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Victoria's Secret Comes to France?

I’ve been paying closer attention to the news lately, something I usually avoid because listening to the talking heads usually makes my head hurt. There’s also the fact that most of the news these days is more about opinion and less about news. I sometimes get the feeling people are being misinformed, misidentified or both... something that can happen just about anywhere. Take that mess over in Korea (please). Did you know that South Korea used to send money to North Korea to keep those people from starving to death! I suppose the Christian president of South Korea felt it his duty to support the poorer people of the North. The people of North Korea were misinformed about the source of the money so their leaders put it into the development of nukes and well, here we are. I recall a war we had between the north and south and it seems both sides were misinformed. According to a reliable source, (Rhett Butler, circa 1936) the North thought it could win in a few weeks and so did the South. The Koreans have been at it for sixty years, even though they’re all Koreans. You’d think that would help them get along, although it didn’t do much for us Americans back in 1860. You have to wonder if the two Koreas remember what the war is about, since most of the people who had all the information leading to the “conflict” are probably watching from somewhere in the clouds. Now there’s so much misinformation flying around about who did what and when, no one knows the truth. And there’s no language barrier! They all speak Korean, and still can’t get along! I’ll say this, if Hillary can keep up with all of it, she deserves somebody better than Bill.

There’s also a “war” going on here at home between MSNBC, CNN and FNC. The sad thing is that the folks in charge of these outlets think we’re not smart enough to see it. Easy to see how we could be misinformed on news issues listening to three different takes on every story that crosses the “wire”. It makes you wonder who’s out there keeping us informed as to the truth and not just trying to sell us on an opinion. Picking a network to watch is like buying a pre-owned (usually used) car. You know the guy bouncing out to greet you (Mr. news anchor) wants to sell his car at his price (the story) and convince you that your car (the other anchor’s opinion) will never get you anywhere. If you don’t stay informed you’re liable to buy any old junk. I try to stay informed by listening to my wife, who knows everything and has my best interest at heart. The other day she was watching Venus in the French Open and hollered at me from the living room. “Honey, come in here, you gotta see this! I think she’s wearing a nighty on the court!” I’m not much of a French Open fan but I am into fashion so I immediately tuned in. What I saw was indeed a fashion statement. The problem was Venus looked like she’d slept late and decided to wear what she had worn to bed to the tennis match, forgetting to check the mirror before putting on her tennis shoes. At first glance (a long one)it appeared she had forgotten another important item that would go under the nightie, but a closer look revealed a skin colored pair of tennis panties molded to fit her derriere. While we’re on fashion here I might as well add that the outfit clashed dramatically with the clay of Roland Garros, but that’s just me. I recovered quickly and said, “yes, well it looks like she might have a problem reaching for those overheads for sure, dear.” Victoria’s Secret comes to France? You be the judge.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Class of 65'

It’s class reunion time for the class of 65’, that would be number forty five, and as I enter this “golden age of living” appreciative of every additional day on the planet and knowing many in this generation are no longer here to enjoy the miracles of modern medicine, I still worry about my image. I’ve done about everything I can do for about the last two weeks, trying to pull and tuck but it looks like I’m destined to attend in the bag I’m wearing.

Actually, I worry about the image of all the “boomers”. We are now depicted as incontinent (living on various continents I suppose) unable to get up when we fall, using enough hair dye to turn the Blue Danube brown and riding around in our hover rounds hoping for that all important four hour Cialis moment. Not a pretty picture. When your stomach’s as big as volleyball and your skin’s as dry as week old pork skins the four hour “whatever” is just not a major issue. I doubt that I could fish for four hours and my brother and I always preferred tinker toys to erector sets anyway.

The image problem just might be the fault of cable news advertising. These guys see the “boomers” as their main source of revenue for at least the next ten years…longer if they can just keep us alive. The class of 65’ is the mother lode for medicinal miracles from the medicine doctors and if you tune in you can always find some quack selling something to make you feel longer, stronger, and more in charge of your life, however drugged out you might be. All this while taking ten different pills to help you stay happy.

We’re sixty-three, look like seventy three and feel like eighty three when the ads tell us we can be forty-three again if we just buy the right cream or drink the bark off a healthy tree. Well, the truth is, we’re buying it. And why not? We always thought we were something special and now just look at us... supporting the economy in a way in which no other generation thought possible, through chemistry. My real problem with most of the ads is their lack of sensitivity to my health problems in the first place.

Why do I have to have everything that may be wrong with me broadcast over the idiot box to three hundred million healthy people? My night sweats, my going and going, my aching arches, and poor timing when the “time is right”? And if I get one more email telling me there’s a Russian girl out there who wants to get to know me I think I’ll liquidate all my many “assets”. Oh, then there’s the one that lets me know someone has a great place for my “aging loved one”. That would be mom and she’s got more energy than I! She told me once that every ten years of her life was better than the previous ten and she’s in her eighth decade.

I now understand what Ol’ Mick’s quote, “If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” I hope I can say I never harmed anyone as much as I harmed myself. That would be a good thing. Can you imagine the gnashing of teeth that would take place if each one of us decided to take better care of ourselves, eliminate the necessity for drugs in our lives and take a positive attitude into the future? Who told us we needed drugs to make us happier in the first place? It probably began when some infomercial on television, kept us up later than we should have been to sell us on a product designed to give us the energy we wouldn’t have needed had we gone to bed in the first place.

No Driver's Ed for Tiger

It’s Masters Week and I hope Tiger does well. After all, he’s been humiliated, missed his son’s birthday, messed up his marriage (hopefully temporarily) and lost a bunch of money for car dealers, watch makers and people who make razors and such. The sad thing is had he taken a simple course in Drivers Education and kept his eye on the ball, much of this could have been avoided. One of the first things you learn in Drivers Education is the importance of the rear view mirror and had he been looking into that thing he might have been able to avoid the disaster in the form of the nine iron or whatever club she used to help him get out of the Escalade. The questions that loom are, did he trade golf immortality for temporary immorality and what drove him to it in the first place.

It has been estimated that his romp in life’s rough has cost his sponsors billions in lost revenue but if he shoots 68 tomorrow he’ll once again be the darling of the media and back on the fairway of life, capable of commanding huge sums to sell merchandise. It’s the American way but isn’t it interesting that because he can putt and chip well we all think he’s our business? Notice I didn’t say anything about driving.
They used to teach this stuff (Drivers Ed) in schools but they stopped and now we have people who believe the car to be a rolling phone booth. I learned early from a guy named Paul Car…that’s right, I said “Car”, that the automobile is a potential missile on wheels that demands our utmost respect. The rear view mirror, often used to apply makeup in order to make the eyes and lips look larger for today’s late to work, grossly underpaid “supermodel”, is our best defense against surprises like nine irons. And the turn indicator, that foreign object protruding from the steering wheel, and usually used only at the last possible second, can be a valuable information tool when used in a timely manner and not while actually into the turn.

Now I understand that some cars have put the widow wipers on the turn indicator knob and some drivers can’t decide whether to wash the windows or signal for a turn but if it’s not raining this seems like a simple decision. There are those who can apply their face, signal for a turn, wash their windows and text at the same time but they’re probably athletic. Ever been riding down the road, using the cell phone, hung up and then wonder what you passed during your conversation? It’s called acting without thinking, something I’m prone to do around the house and I’ve probably hit more hydrants and trees than most folks. The text message scares me, much as it did Tiger, for one cannot send a text message without taking his eyes off where he should be going and there lies the problem…unless you have Marty Feldman eyes (Young Dr. Frankenstein) and can look two places at one time. Even if you do that one of those places is going to get blurry and in Tiger’s case it was his home life.

Similar to a person with a drinking problem, he just “blacked out” with regard to the family and hit that fateful tree. He took his eye off the ball of life, so to speak. Most text messages are trivial nonsense anyway like, “Hey, sup dawg?” but I’m not surprised Tiger drove into that tree. If you had twenty plus teasers, textin, tweetin, talking and trying to get steer you into the rough (where most balls are lost) a tree would be the least of your worries. Tiger’s going to be ok as soon as he’s convinced he can have just as much fun in the fairway and not lose nearly as many balls. He just spent a little too much time in the “rough”.


However you interpret the Bible or whether or not you even believe it to be true, you have to admit we have fallen short in our role as earth’s stewards. Sitting here, writing this, looking at pictures, trying to get a “grip” on what I’m seeing; I just cannot fathom what we humans have done. There’s no one to blame, if you drive a car, own a refrigerator or have any “normal” existence at all, you use oil. I guess that means we’re all at fault for the disaster facing the southeastern coast of America.

My fear is that this tragedy, like others in recent times, will go by the way and lessons to be learned will be lost. Dad use to have us pile into the car and take us to the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen. The road that led us there was unpaved and narrow, with only a few places to park without getting bogged down in the sand.

And oh, that sand! Sand as white as snow…so white it would hurt your eyes and water, so emerald blue you could see thirty feet down. There were sand dunes as high as buildings with sea oats and wildlife scurrying about. We’d run up the dunes, slide down the other side and there it would be…the gulf... beautiful, pristine, our playground, and a wonderful gift from mother earth. We would be the only people for miles around as we rode the waves and played in the white sand. Somehow we thought it would always be there. I realize now it may not be there for me anymore and probably not for my daughter and her children. Mom still lives there…hope the fumes don’t affect her health, I heard the EPA is checking for toxic levels.

I grew up with an author named Thornton W. Burgess who wrote fables in the early 20th century. His stories were about Sammy Jay, Longlegs the Heron and others who lived near the Smiling Pond and Laughing Brook and had varying opinions about Farmer Brown’s Boy…their human. If the dolphins and sea turtles of the gulf could speak, I wonder what they’d say. “We saw you coming, watched from the sea as you began your assault on our home. We wondered as you took away the dunes, replaced them with towers so you could stay longer, look farther, drink harder and enjoy our home. We cried as you took our bounty, our sons and daughters for food and sport and left us with cigarette butts and beer cans. And we mourned as you drilled, knowing one day we would have to leave. When God placed us in the Garden we were blessed by Him. He entrusted you with naming and caring for us. You have betrayed that trust.” And they just might be right. I think that one of the lessons of the tragedy in the gulf is that we are entrusted; we do have responsibility whether from God or nature. That our actions with regard to the “little people” of the planet be they fowl, fish or mammal, have consequences for us and them.

I’m speaking of the wildlife of course, those little fellows that scurry when we come, don’t understand and just want to enjoy the life they have with us as the creatures entrusted with their care. I grieve for the turtles, birds and fish that will wash ashore, covered in something they didn’t understand. The tragedy of the gulf lies in each of those creatures we failed to protect. We humans have a way of coming out on top…sometimes…this time it may be different, but we’ll probably find someone to pay, someone to fix it, someone to blame . Call me crazy but I still cannot figure out why people insist on mistreating their dogs.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lighting a Fire

I passed a turtle on the road the other day and couldn’t help but wonder what he was thinking trying to cross a four lane road at zero miles per hour. It seems with the armadillos there’s enough road kill out there to feed half of Detroit. When you’re my age everything tastes like chicken anyway. But that turtle trying to cross the road makes you wonder, unless you understand that he really wants to get to the other side. If you watch carefully you’ll see him duck his head about the time you reach him. Obviously some higher order thinking skills here or why duck when a two ton car about to turn him into buzzard buffet passes by. Yes, you have to wonder what gets that turtle fired up enough to try to cross the road. I would guess it’s one of those basic needs we hear about. Sort of like a politician’s need to be re-elected again and again. Some of us are turtles and take a little more time crossing the road (some become the armadillo) and others get there fairly quickly, like a squirrel for instance.

It’s the fire we’re sometimes missing, the fire that burns in the turtle’s belly and moves him across the road. When I read about some of our schools I want to ask, where’s the fire and who’s got the matches? I don’t give a rat’s rump about scores on a test. Also, I’ll let you in on a little secret, not all our kids are going to find the fire in college. Another apparently little known fact is that some aren’t even going to college. Where did we get this idea that all fires are lit in college anyway?! If I were a high school administrator I think I would find a way to ask my faculty a couple of questions at the end of each year. “How many fires did you light this year and how many times did you become a fire extinguisher?” Those are the important questions. If you want to pay on merit (a good idea if they can get the fire extinguishers out of the buildings) find out who’s lighting fires. As a parent I would be asking the administrator, “Who do you have lighting a fire under my son/daughter?” Not, “uh excuse me Dr. Doolittle, can you tell me why Tabitha can’t score high enough on the SAT to get into UGA?” The answer to that is as plain as the deer in the headlights look on Doolittle’s face. Tabitha is sitting on marble and her rear end is as cold as that armadillo that wasn’t fired up enough to cross the road. Tabitha will glow like a roman candle whenever someone lights her fire, be it teacher, parent or maybe somebody at church.

There are fire starters everywhere so why have we put ourselves in this box of can’t strike anywhere matches when it comes to our kids? It’s time we began to develop children where we find them, stopped trying to push college for every child who enters the first grade, renew a since of gratitude for those people who can fix stuff that breaks around our houses and put some money in teaching vocational skills again. Every time my toilet breaks I’m wondering what course I slept through at Georgia Southern that taught us the intricate workings of the commode. The answer is always the same…none.

We’re reading articles that tell us the sky is darn sure falling if the governor cuts the budget for higher education. Well, there’s somebody out there all fired up about fixing toilets and sinks who isn’t all that concerned about the governor’s budget. I’ll bet ol’ Sonny himself needs a toilet fixed now and then. Don’t get me wrong, studying art literature and history is time well spent but when you think about it you can read about these things. Teach your child to read and he or she will always be able to “study” art, literature or history. Take pride in that child of yours who wants to learn a trade instead of attending college. Ever ask yourself why scores are considered so important to school folks? It’s simple…they can be measured and compared. Fire, on the other hand, is something beautiful to watch but difficult to measure.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Memories of Wheel Life

I don’t know what all the celebrating is about with regard to New Year’s. It usually begins with a headache and memory lapses for some and a new tax year for others. For me it’s a subtle reminder I’m one year older and there will be thousands of new cars on the road I will not be able to identify. Cars have become like birds and evergreen trees, they all look alike to me. Used to be you could I.D. a car from a mile away and most folks were known by what car or truck they drove.

You could also come pretty close to guessing their “well-off quotient.” Gone are the days when people were identified with what they drove, like Old George Roebuck down in Statesboro, who drove a green Ford pickup truck in the winter as a basketball coach and the same green truck in the summer as a house painter for 20 years. Coach Roebuck, a community icon, always recognizable by his green Ford truck.

Then there was Lew Cordell in Milledgeville, who always drove Cadillacs, even when his “driving” days were over. He had two and when he wrecked one he’d just pull the other one out and steer it until the first one was fixed. Of course, their vehicles were paid for.

Nowadays, a lot of us drive cars we either can’t afford or have no intention of paying off. Some still borrow a ride.

Early on, I always had to share a car with my brother because neither one of us wanted to work hard enough to have one for ourselves. We shared three different cars during our growing up period; one being a ’59 Chevy Biscayne, three on the column and light enough that if the battery went dead, (which it often did) you could start it up by getting it rolling, jumping in at the right time and popping the clutch. You’d have that thing started before you could say help. I took Anita fishing in that car, somewhere down in Kathleen, got stuck in a mud hole and never saw her again. I don’t think we even took any bait now that I think about it. I loved that ’59 Chevy, no seatbelts and big ol’ seats.

When my brother and I didn’t have “our” car, we would borrow one. Jim Dooley, a roommate at Georgia Southern, had a ’56 Buick Special, big ol’ “thang” with fins, a big ol’ steering wheel, and big ol’ seats. Gas was 32 cents a gallon, and if you filled it to the quarter mark you were considered full of gas. Did I mention the seats? I borrowed that car on a spring night and picked Barbara up for a trip to “the lake” where I shut the lights out prematurely, hammered a guy wire, started a fireworks display and sent the campus of Georgia Southern into the dark ages for the remainder of the evening. Barbara soon took up with somebody who had his own car.

The following fall I borrowed my Aunt’s green ’58 Studebaker in Knoxville, Tenn., after hitching a ride with Mike Channel from Warner Robins. Carol and I were going to the Maryville College football game. My aunt failed to tell me the Studebaker’s heater only worked on odd days and that Friday happened to be the 16th of November. Carol never wrote me back after that but I believe those seats were a green plastic vinyl and colder than a well digger’s derriere in the Klondike.

So as the New Year arrives I’m thankful for my family, the fact that I can still recognize most of them by their old cars, and for these nice heated seats I found in my “new” ’06 Solara.

The History of Debt

I was talking to a friend the other day who was concerned about our country’s debt and that we seem to be borrowing loads of money from the Chinese. I said, “Doesn’t worry me in the least, friend. You see, I understand the history of debt, borrowing and such.”

Now, for what it’s worth (probably not much), here’s my opinion on the debt “crisis.” Debt was probably introduced around 2000 B.C. (before credit) in the garden when a rib was borrowed from Adam and given to the creator of all debt — the woman.

This is not to say that the woman was at fault but she simply began, refined and took debt to a level probably not envisioned by Solomon himself. This process took eons and began with the invention of the shoe and crude jewelry.

Shoes and jewelry, quality be dashed, rendered the woman helpless around the time merchants were invented. Since this was before the time of plastic, which has greatly enhanced the woman’s ability to increase debt exponentially (a word I have never understood but know it’s a lot of something), debt didn’t grow much initially.

It took the invention of the purse to fertilize the womans’ ability to increase debt as she found a place to store and hide what she bought.

Mankind has always borrowed, shared wealth and shown an amazing ability toward greed, but recent developments have taken this to the next level.

I’m reminded of the archaic practice of cave dwellers seen dragging women around by their hair. There seems to be an opinion out there that says, “what’s mine is mine and what’s your’s might be mine too if I can figure out a way to make it happen.”

Was this borrowing, sharing or just plain ol’ greed? The invention of the plastic card, which occurred around the time divorce and palimony were invented, jump started the debt we know and love today.

The card had a two-fold effect on people, decreasing their I.Q. while destroying their ability to remember what it was they charged. So at this point in time we really have no idea how much money we owe, nor do we care.

The inventors of the plastic card realized early on that if they sent it via mail we would use it. Now we see millions of Neanderthals spending money they do not have.

Am I saying here that our plastic card dilemma is only the womans’ fault? Of course not.

Men are occasionally seen making purchases, but more often than not, they are buying for women. Most men find using the plastic card boring. It’s the exchange of cash, real money that gets men excited. We see these exchanges taking place almost every day on the street in downtown Macon, as men barter their way to a healthier lifestyle. No I’m not worried about the debt, but our creditors might be another story.