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.