Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Kansas Wheat Field

Well, it finally happened. The baby boomers are turning into their grandparents. And to be PC, let me say I appreciate being here this long. There we sat, watching that new sitcom, “Modern Family” of all things... me, the dogs and wife, hugging the new space heater and enjoying a gay couple, and two “dysfunctional families”  and…  I like that Columbian woman, she’s really funny and because I have an eye for “talent”, I can appreciate her contribution to the show. But I digress.

 I remember it like it was yesterday, truth is, it had to be or I’d probably forget it. Nine thirty rolls around and the wife decides it’s time for bed. I’d had a nap earlier so I was going to stay up for another five minutes, loads of energy and all. She gets up, looks back at me, sitting next to my TV  table and says, “You know, I can’t put my finger on it but I had the strangest feeling I was seeing your granddaddy Harmon sitting there. I said, “He’s been gone since 80’, as far as we know, what’s this all about… dear?”  “Well, she says, there’s  two pill bottles, a box of Kleenex, three pairs of reading glasses, some Corn Huskers lotion and a tube of Cracked Heal sitting on your table. Reminds me of that picture we took of him thirty years ago that sits in the den.”  I had no idea they had all this stuff back then so I walked in there to take a look and sure nuff…it was all there but the Cracked Heal (new remedy I suppose).
I’m thinking, there must have been some additional items that made those folks REALLY old, so I said, “Well, you don’t see a TV Guide or magnifying glass around here anywhere do ya?!” “Nope, she says, we’ve got internet, the   magnifying glass is in the bedroom where you left it.” She’s always claimed the female has some part of their anatomy that acts like a GPS system or locator that can find objects the male loses.  I adjusted my laptop and thought about… being old. It sneaks up on you.

At some point we all think about what was, more than what is to be and that’s when it begins. When you hear yourself saying, “I remember when” or “I used to” more than “I can’t wait to” you know something has changed about you. Your first indication, unless your wife decides you need to know, might be the mirror. Most guys begin shaving around the age of fourteen or so, can’t really remember it was so long ago, and they tend to concentrate solely on the face. At that age we have no ears in a mirror. Now our ears look like a Kansas wheat field. 
Ever try to look into your ear? You can’t do it without some exceptional mirror work. My granddaddy had one of those three-way mirrors in his bedroom which allowed you to look sideways at yourself. When we were fourteen we used it to check out the backs of our heads…a place I have no inclination to view anymore.  I wonder who got it when he left us. I sure would like to see inside my ears. I just have the feeling something is in there that shouldn’t be.  I now know why he put so much stock in that mirror. He had discovered his wheat field. I have several older friends who have yet to discover theirs’ and wonder if I should say something like, “say Ray, noticed anything resembling wheat growing out of your ears lately?”
 Another indicator of “getting on” is the realization that you have little in common with most of the people you run into. Aside from medication, ailments and grandchildren (which I have none of) there’s little to talk about with the other humans. At this age I’m looking at getting my last dog, last car and hopefully hanging on to my last wife. So when Hugh Hefner twitters his engagement to a twenty something, I figure one of two things; either that mansion he lives in has everything but a three-way mirror or she’s from Kansas.  

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Our Song

Packers versus Steelers. “The American Bowl” where two historically significant teams met in the, man I hate that name, “Super Bowl”. I didn’t like the name when it was first coined back when baseball was still our national pastime. It seemed corny or too much like “Metropolis” and the Joker. “Super Bowl”. Why? The halftime shows have been anything but super over the last few years. I miss the bands, they seemed more American to me. Watching young people marching to patriotic themes was really super. I say, “Bring back the bands”. I miss someone singing our national anthem that remembers the words or at least holds up a piece of paper with the lyrics so they can get it right. It’s an important song.

Folks in other countries listen to it when we sing it at the “Super Bowl”. They probably don’t know the words either. But we should. After all, it’s our national anthem. It used to be recognized all over the world as it was sung so many times at the Olympics (in its natural state) and other venues where Americans were successful. Now it often sounds like a rehearsal for American Idol. What’s up with that? Also, it’s getting more and more difficult to understand the “superness” of the “Super Bowl” itself. We know there’s a super amount of beer and nachos sold, and a super amount of money spent on tickets, a super number of super souvenirs one can purchase at supermarkets and a super amount of betting hinging on the outcome. But, other than that, what’s so super about the “Super Bowl”? One thing’s for sure. It’s not the halftime show. I sure do miss the bands. But I digress.

This business of singing our national anthem in an appropriate manner is important. It’s akin to the saying of the Pledge of Allegiance. Oh, I know the anthem sounds like a fight song with rockets and bombs, but that was a part of the history of our independence. We’re Americans, we fight for freedom, justice, and we offer our best for those unable or unwilling to do so in order that others might be free. Singing our national anthem is not an audition, nor a time to show off one’s vocal cords. It’s a time to acknowledge not only our country but the sacrifice made by so many who chose to honor America with their service. Does it not deserve to be sung reverently, accurately, and with a sense of awe that there are those who lived before us and those who live among us, who were and are willing to give their lives for an idea?

Years ago, another time, same place, patriotism was a part of each day spent at school. The Pledge, assemblies and music classes were filled with songs about America, our home, refuge and pride. We were taught about the things that made America a wonderful place to live, grow and become. What happened? How is it that our national anthem can be taken for granted, desecrated or made less than it is? It’s simple actually. We stopped teaching those things we cherished to those who came after us. We assumed that patriotism, love of country and all it stood for were inbred. They are not. Each generation has the responsibility of teaching the next generation love and history of country. When that fails to happen we begin to see what we have seen in recent years. I refuse to say, “with all our faults” blah blah blah. Each family reading this has someone who has made a sacrifice for our country. It’s time we said “enough”, if you want to sing our song, sing it right, if you don’t want to sing it right, sing along with those who do. And sing loud. I sure miss those bands.