Saturday, December 8, 2012

Monkey Dodgeball

We bought some doggie diapers for the dogs…had to really. It wasn’t so bad in the winter but when the warm weather kicked in, the house smelled like the monkey cages at the zoos, before we became more benevolent and caged them on the outside. I remember the monkey house at Chilhowee Park in Knoxville, Tennessee. You could find it by following your nose and listening to the screams of families as wads of waste were being flung at them from behind bars. When you stepped inside you fought for position along the nearest wall and somewhere behind unsuspecting folks who were making their first trip to primate land. I can still hear one well meaning father, obviously on his first trip, telling his six year old, “Get up close Amanda, you’re going to love this experience!”

I often wonder if she ended up in a sanitarium, veterinary school or at home raising her own little monkeys. Once inside there was no turning back. The monkeys knew where the entrance and exit was and stationed themselves for maximum coverage. Working in teams of two, with the grandparent monkeys watching from above, the ones I suppose would be considered “teenagers” or young adult monkeys searching for the meaning of life, had you sandwiched inside the bowels of the monkey house. When the panic started, the humans would forget which way was out and it looked like Custer’s Last Stand as a hailstorm of excrement, monkey epithets (they blamed everyone on the outside) rained down from the cage.

It was a slipslide experience rivaled only by the rides at Disney World. Well, what could we expect, most of these monkeys didn’t have attorneys and therefore were not well represented, spending their “productive” years behind bars, which made them angry. The monkeys always won and the humans always felt guilty that they had been driven to such levels of “inhumanity”, which is interesting when you think about it. In the end it was as much fun watching the humans play “Dodgeball” as it was watching the monkeys playing “poop and hurl”. Of course zoos are much better now but one has to wonder, if they had the chance, would they do it all again? But I digress.

Yes, the Maltese are in diapers. Hannah’s has flowers around the top for the feminine touch and Hercules (my daughter named them both in a moment of “total consciousness”) is more macho with the wrap-around towel look. I’ve noticed a definite change in his demeanor about the house since he began wearing them. Sort of struts about now with a look that says, “My diaper is better than yours.” We had no idea what was going on before diapers until we began washing six a day in an effort to keep up with the demand. We were naive enough to believe they had their “spots” when actually her spot was anywhere and his spot was hers and everywhere else. But in a time when nothing appears to worth as much as it was, I must say, these two have increased in value. Do they bark? Yes! Do they snap at small children? She does! Are they well trained? Of course not, the training ended with me! Would I trade them for anything? Make an offer! But seriously, if you could train your wife to meet you at the door wearing nothing but a towel and a smile everyday, wouldn’t you put up with a little barking?

Friday, December 7, 2012


I read this news report the other day that said 21 people burned themselves while walking across a bed of hot coals at a Tony Robbins seminar. They had paid somewhere between $995.00 and $2595.00 for the experience and you cannot make this stuff up. That’s a lot of money, I thought, wonder what else they could have done with their contribution to the world of psychiatry and podiatry because this thing demands a study of some sort. Here’s what I found. 995.00 will get you approximately seven pairs of Michael Jordan basketball shoes which, if given to the right kid, might be turned into a college scholarship or render him a victim of crime via theft as he tries to make it home one night after practice wearing his new shoes. 

$995.00 could also get you membership in a local country club somewhere in rural Georgia, (exceptions noted) where you can hang out at the pool, drink beer, eat chicken fingers, greasy hamburgers and salty fries, put on twenty pounds, harden your arteries and bring on depression all in one exciting summer of fun in the sun. You could play close to eight rounds of golf over at Reynolds Plantation for $995.00, and on just one of those trips, drinking beer all day while riding around in a cart gambling and losing money you don’t have, drive home wasted, receive a DUI, spend the night in jail and squander your one phone call to try and explain to your wife it was the guys’ fault for telling too many golf stories at the clubhouse. 

$995.00 would pay your termite control invoices for many years, saving your home and leaving you a nest egg for those retirement years where you can relax and drink beer (yeah right). You could have unlimited cable and sit around drinking beer and watching 700 channels of pure garbage for six years on 995.00, thereby exposing yourself to all manner of charlatans, shysters, swindlers and religious fanatics willing to take your money for their causes. One of them might even be able to heal you of the golf addiction. 

Years of Braves’ tickets can be had for $995.00 and you can make the trek to Turner Field, enjoy a game while drinking too much beer with the one dog cause two is just one too many, get a DUI on the way…well you know the rest. You could buy a nice big dog for $995.00 and watch as he/she runs out in the road and bites your golfing partner who, along with you, is trying to walk off the pounds he gained drinking beer, eating chicken fingers and fries at the country club over the summer, thereby rendering you liable in a potential lawsuit you can’t afford because you spent too much money on the beer you drank with him. 

But pay $995.00 to walk across hot coals?! Why would you want to do that? Put that money in a nice savings account and watch it grow at 0% a year. Now that will make your hair stand on end. Is it any wonder most of us are in therapy? Oh, $995.00 will get you several sessions with someone who’s dying to hear about your weight, drinking, and wife problem (think chicken fingers, imbibing, and depression), but he/she probably has more issues than you, with the exception of finances of course, you spent all your money on beer.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Confirm or Run Like Hell

Honestly, I was going to write something about our children, and then something popped up that made me think some grow up a lot faster than others. I went on the web to look up a word, probably something simple, and there in the corner of my machine was an invitation from somebody I had never laid eyes on (I swear) to chat. She looked about 20-something, blond, attractive no doubt, just a couple of miles away.

Her name was Stephanie. She didn't give a last name. I figured she was probably too shy, and I guess she was asking for an introduction because she said something like, “want to meet me?” Well, I looked around the room and saw it was just me, Herkie the dog and Milo the cat. That dog is a mess. He thinks Milo is a furry toy that can jump really high and slap really well but other than that, has no real worth to speak of. Truth is, Milo plays Herkie like a fiddle.

Anyway, he had one eye on me and the other on Milo, who was just a few feet away and looking over my shoulder at Steph ... purring, even though he’s been fixed for years. Steph was just a grinning and had two keys below her picture. One said “confirm,” the other said, “run like hell.”I never had Herkie fixed. Figured it would be OK since he seldom goes outside and when he does he’s looking for a ball or somebody to bark at. Sort of like I used to do years ago.

Besides, the last dog I had fixed put on weight and looked at me out of the corner of his eye, as if he knew he was missing something, and it was me who might still have it somewhere in the house. “I know whatever I lost is around here somewhere and you need to find it.” Herkie knows there are those who would love nothing more than to take the lust out of his eyes. He appreciates the fact that dad is simpatico. He looks at me straight on, eye to eye and we see things the same way, if you know what I mean.He eyeballed Milo and knew he needed to be with dad on the couch. A short fight ensued. Milo got two slaps in before the dog knew he’d been slapped and then Milo went to sit somewhere else, lick his fur and stare at two fools buried in a machine.The look on his face seemed to say, “You two cannot be that stupid. Do you really think her name is Stephanie?”

Now I know there are those who would doubt this and it may have been my imagination, which runs a little crazy on the web, but once he got up on the couch and saw her for himself, Herkie looked over at the cat as if to say, “Me thinks this old man is about to make a career decision.” Well, she looked like that Locklear girl would have looked 30 years ago with bad teeth. Her smile seemed to say, “I know whatever I lost is around here somewhere and if you’ll click “confirm” we can look for them together.”I started to click “confirm” to recommend a good dentist but thought better of it. Herkie gave me a silent nod like John Wayne did to Opie Taylor when he threw that pistol across the floor in “The Shootist.”

There’s all sorts of things out there today that can make you shoot yourself in the foot. Sometimes it just takes a good friend to help you not take that last drink, or click “confirm” when you should click “run like hell.” Sometimes all it takes is a good dog. I wonder whose little girl Stephanie used to be anyway.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Too Liberal with His "Markers"

Recent news items have shown that as an American, I’m probably not responsible for much of anything anymore and one of the few things I might be responsible for is the fact that I am no longer responsible. That might be a good thing because as I see us, I’m beginning to see a population that is about as responsible as this dog I've got at my feet right now and he’s wearing a diaper, a “safety net” if you will. We don’t talk about his right to not wear it, because we made that decision for him based on his past history. He’d been way too liberal with his “markers” on his trips through the house and so we had to “rein” him in, so to speak, with a mandate passed by us, his caregivers. 

He doesn't seem to care about the exact wording of the mandate, what it was that caused him to have to wear the “safety net” and since he can’t read he’ll never know exactly what’s in it…we just put it on him and because he’s only a dog, likes to eat (fed by us), and is not big enough or cares enough to do anything about it, he follows the mandate. There is no vote here either because he is simply not smart enough to vote. We are his benevolent “federal government” you might say. Well, we felt that we knew what was best for him and since we were the ones feeding him, we got to choose and we chose the Doggie Depends “safety net”.

Oh, that’s the way it goes you know, whoever provides the food and the “safety net” becomes the decider. I will admit he was a little confused at first. The first time that “safety net” went on he was like, “Ok, so let me get this straight. If I want to eat, watch Big Bird and the animal channel and get my rabies shot, I wear this. If I pass on the free food, live outside and dodge squirrels all day I can take the other option. We chose the “net” for him but he really didn't seem to mind giving over what tiny bit of self-control he had to begin with. 

As the administrator of the mandate I will admit I was a little disappointed, even though the house smells better. I would have preferred he behaved like an American Bull Dog, Pit Bull or some other independent breed. You know, “Me, wear that!? Don’t think so. I’ll take my chances with the squirrels!” The sad thing is he’s become dependent on the “safety net”, lies around the house all day and since Big Bird is only on once a day, stays depressed and eats too much. Of course since we put the mandate on him in the first place I guess you could say we’re responsible for his depression so we were mandated to pay for the trips to the vet for counseling in mental health, diet and did I mention he has retained a doggie representative who comes by once in a while to make sure we are following the mandates given by the counselors?

If this sounds familiar, it should. And it didn't take long and it sort of crept up on the poor pooch as he didn't really see it coming. I suppose one could say that if he’d only watched where he wet this would never have happened but that would have required some responsibility on his part and it just wasn't there. So you’re probably wondering exactly what his responsibilities are at this point? Well, he still gets the paper each day…still barks when someone comes up the driveway and whines when his food bowl is empty. If we want more than that out of him we’re going to have to have him re-trained. 

Did I mention the house smells better?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Grey Matter

My wife and I were married around thirty-two years ago and that was also the last time I sat in a barber chair. It wasn’t that I couldn’t afford a barbershop haircut, although it was close. Shucks, I’d been getting barbershop haircuts since I was old enough to sit on the board Mr. Ennis would put across the arms of the barber chair at the Cove Barber Shop in 56’. I still remember him pumping that chair up with me on the board so his back wouldn’t spasm during the procedure. You want to talk about self-esteem?! Try getting pumped up on a barbershop board in front of ten patrons. But, I must say, the Cove Barber Shop was also the place where you could improve on your prepubescent vocabulary by listening carefully to the guys who didn’t have to sit on the board. I always felt like I had a lot less hair but a lot more flair when I left ol’ Ennis’s barbershop.

Yes, thirty two years ago we were in love and I’d learned about all I could from sitting on the board, which was a lot because I was small and had been sitting on that thing for a while. Well, she was also in love with my hair. I suppose she saw it as something that was temporary and therefore needed to be loved and cherished. Of course there’s always the possibility she saw the value in saving on haircuts. I figure we’ve saved around three thousand dollars in these last thirty-two years. I haven’t actually seen any of that money but her closet is full of shoes and very few pairs are flip-flops. She’s always been smarter than I when it comes to turning a shortfall into an excess. But that’s another story. What woman, if given the chance, wouldn’t convert her husband’s haircut money into shoes? Sure, there’s labor involved here, but I bought the scissors. Plus, it used to take her about thirty minutes to get the job done. Now we’re done in the time it takes a squirrel to eat a nut.

I know this because I watch them as she cuts my hair on the deck. Have you ever watched a squirrel eat a nut? Don’t blink. Well, these days she fakes it in an effort to make me think she’s still having to put forth maximum effort in the trimming and of course still cherishes these “weeds” that resemble hair. So I hear ridiculous comments like, “Oh my, there’s a new one up here” or “It appears to be growing faster on the starboard side than port!” Sure. Like this stuff is coming back and Katie bar the door, buy some big boy clippers and pomade! Will you please!? Can we not just slip away in dignity? Head slick as a wick and if not for eyebrows extending to the forehead, there would not be a shred of forestation near the peak. Not to mention the fact that she cannot wait to see it blown off the deck and into the back yard, which bothers me just a bit. How times change. And yes, some days I feel as though I’m ten and still sitting on the board as she takes this opportunity to inform me of everything wrong in our lives and the lives of everyone we’ve ever known or read about. She subscribes to People and that’s a lot of folks. You’d think she’d be spending her time collecting what’s left of my “grey” matter or at the least, sucking it into a vacuum cleaner for some future display on a mantle. I learned a lot sitting on that board and for sure, nothing lasts forever. But looking on the bright side, in dog years I’m still only around ten, still sitting on the board.

Medical Research of the Outer Rim

Did you know that there is a spot on one’s rear end that can only be seen by someone else? A place so hidden away only medical personnel or someone in the government with top secret clearance may have access? It resides just next to the tailbone on the back inside (medical term) and unless you are truly "gifted" you will not be able to find it. And the larger your rear end, the less chance of even catching a glimpse of the outer rim of this place which in my case contained an abscess. 

This thing came on me like a foreclosure and I couldn't sit for four days, preferring to lie down or stand in an effort to get some relief. I tell you this because I cannot be the only person in the world having had this condition but if that's the case, I welcome those who may be in medical science who are looking for research topics. In the end, I couldn't see it but I knew it was there and after a visit to a free clinic (bless you all) in Florida, I became intimately familiar with my new friend. I knew I had a problem when I'd try to sit down and something back there would quietly throb, "no”. A low throb it was but still very insistent and perfectly clear as it said, “There will be NO sitting today, or tomorrow and in fact, NO sitting at all until I feel like being sat upon.” 

It was the visit to the clinic that gave me a clue as to what was speaking to me from my rear. By the way, this "voice" from the rear is not a recent phenomenon, as we've heard it from politicians most of our lives because they speak out of it all the time. But I digress. Enter Sonja, the Las Vegas “showgirl”. She was about 35, tanned, dark hair, blue eyes and when she said, "Good afternoon Mr. Harmon, my name is Sonja and I will be your P.A. today", I practically swallowed the tongue depressor. Then I heard this ridiculous statement, "Take off your pants and let's (as in let us both, knowing I couldn't) see what the problem is. I'll be back after the nurse takes your vitals." The nurse took my vitals and asked if my BP was normally 170/100 to which I replied, "I'm still here am I not?" I'd like to think it was simply the pain of Mr. Throb but the combination of waiting for the "event" of me being bare butt naked in front of a Las Vegas “showgirl” and fear of the unknown probably had something to do with it. After all, I hadn't been to "Las Vegas" since the last time I ran for congress, if you get my drift.

 Evidently this thing I'd been hearing from was large enough to be seen from an advantageous angle because, instead of the dreaded "Bend over this will only take a second" guys hear from the family physician, all I heard from my showgirl was, "My this thing must hurt!" "No, I said, only when I'm awake. Then he speaks to me in a strange, throbbing Middle Eastern slang." "Turn over, she said, after positioning me on a slab, and take a deep breath." And I still do not know what went on back there because I don’t have a security clearance for that area. I have to say, as I write this, I'm feeling much better and whatever she did must have worked because I don't hear voices anymore telling me I cannot sit and Lord knows, at this age, sitting is an Olympic sport. The bottom (excuse the pun) line is, I have no idea whether these things originating in an area that can only be seen hopefully by that someone with a top secret clearance are going to be covered with Obamacare; but if they're not they ought to be. It's one intrusion I will gladly permit.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Secure Your Loved Ones

She was getting up in years, slowing down a bit, had a few scars here and there like we all do, but I had hoped we’d be able to spend a few more good years together before she’d need to go to one of those places where all old girls eventually end up. We’d had what I guess you’d call a “quality relationship”, never demanding too much from each other as the years took their toll. I wasn’t as agile or quick, as I once was and she seemed to know that, backing off at the right time and making life easier for both of us.

She had no idea what had been going through my mind for several years, a secret that was easy to keep because of the hurt I knew one of us would experience when the truth came out. She deserved better; Shoot! We both deserved better. I’ll admit I had been looking around, feeling my secret was safe as I had visited “those” places when she had no idea as to my whereabouts. They all looked the same. Newness wherever one looked and temptation where there should have been guilt. I had also seen what was at the end of the line for both of us. Security fences, hopelessness, a feeling that our best years were behind us and whatever happened was out of our control. The stench of worn out parts that could never be replaced, even with today’s modern technology. Worn out old girls and others who looked as though they wondered what in the world happened, and how they ended up in such a place as they yearned for their youth.

The last time I had seen her she was sitting under a palm tree in the front yard. She looked as good as the first day we met; I can take a little credit for that, having spent many a weekend seeing to her every need, making sure she was full, and ready for another day of discovery and adventure. I drove off feeling good, knowing we’d be together again, taking in the beach, the bay and visiting places only she and I had been. She liked to follow, preferring I lead the way on our travels, and I was perfectly ok with that. Leading was just not one of her things and I never heard her complain a single time about where we went. She followed me day or night, sometimes in the rain to mosquito infested campgrounds or down dirt roads leading to a lake where we could relax and find some solitude from the world of work. She was always perfectly content to just be there, near the truck, near me.

Sometimes (on rare occasions) I would feel the need, a burning desire actually, to lock her up in order to make sure no one but me would be able to enjoy her company. In fact on this particular day I had chained her to a tree. Oh, I know that sounds cruel, maybe even inhumane but it seemed the right thing to do at the time and she never before complained about the restriction. Maybe it made her feel safer. Well, some low rent scalawag took it upon himself to cut that chain, haul her off to the woods, cover her with pine straw and steal her identity! She was my Sea Doo and if not for the beach police, she would probably be in a hundred different pieces by now or floating in a river south of the border. A good Samaritan discovered her, languishing on her trailer in a most disreputable part of town. I asked the police why anyone would want to steal something obviously loved and cared for by another person and they replied, “Because they could.” Secure your loved ones folks, these are hard economic times.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Equal Opportunity VS. Distribution of Wealth (A Battle for the Heart of America)

There are some very simple reasons as to how we went from a philosophy of equal opportunity to the re-distribution of wealth and they involve work ethic, vision, common sense and yes, the environment into which we are born. Years ago I commuted to Middle Georgia College from Warner Robins. We would take the road out of Bonaire, seven bridges I believe it was called, and on to Cochran, for a day of classes and then make the drive back. Quite often, when the season was right, we would see a young fellow on the back of a large tractor plowing a field in Bonaire. His name was Sonny Perdue and he came from a successful family. He could have been content with mediocrity, just doing what he needed to do to get by, inherit whatever there was to inherit ETC. but we all know what became of that young man. His inheritance was work ethic, among other things and it probably came from someone who raised him.

It’s hard to put your finger on work ethic because it’s usually instilled early in life and can take unfortunate forms. For instance, I can work very hard at being a thief. Some find it by listening to and watching a hard working relative, or serving in the military, where not working can sometimes find one in the brig. Unfortunately there are no games found on the Blue Ray that teach work ethic. So while you can have equal opportunity, unless you have work ethic, you really have nothing as your opportunity will surely slip away. But ol’ Sonny had something else that’s probably as important as work ethic and that was a vision. I suspect it came from a lot of different sources I.E. parents, teachers, church folks, mentors. Someone gave him a realistic vision of what he could become and he ran with it. Visions are difficult to come by if the people around you have never had one because they don’t know any more than you.

Most successful people were given a vision by another successful person. You can define success. Equal opportunity without a vision is waste because one hasn’t a clue as to how to put the opportunity to use and cannot get on “the road to success”, so to speak. Visions ideally come early in life when one is preparing for a life’s work. Now common sense will tell you that if you don’t have work ethic and a vision and someone comes along with a check…you’d better darn well take it, opportunity be damned. There may not be another one coming along for a while. And yes, our environment contributes to all of it.

For instance, if I grow up with a mother who shoplifts at Wal-Mart, then comes home and brags about the great day she had at “work”. I begin to believe that to be the way to success. I cannot wait to put my work ethic to “good” use by doing what mom does, perhaps even improving on her methods. Would you like to call that culture? Doesn’t make it right but it becomes “normal” for me and I consider myself a success as a shoplifter with all the important self-esteem that entails.

How we have slowly gone from the idea of equal opportunity to the idea of re-distribution of wealth involves opinion. The majority opinion is slowly coming around to the idea that, because some have no means of obtaining monetary success in any other way, they might as well take what those who were given the work ethic and vision have accumulated.

If we applied this to the Olympics we would simply allow the best athletes to continue to do what they do, train for years, sacrifice time, money and friends until they receive their medal and then melt the thing down for those who came up short where all would share the reward. Where would the incentive to train and work hard come from for those who are work ethically challenged (new term), if they knew in the end the rewards would be shared regardless of effort?  When certain values are not present I will take a guaranteed check over opportunity every time and when work ethically challenged people with no vision become the majority, things are going to get interesting. And we are very close.   

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hello Neighbor!

Ever had a “helpful neighbor”; One who has each and every one of your concerns on their mind twenty-four seven? My ninety year old mother has one of these living near her home in Florida. We’ve been doing some work lately on her fifties home and he’s been observing from a distance but curiosity got the best of him the other day when we were putting down some sod. About an hour into the laying of the stuff, here he comes; Big grin, cup of coffee (it was early) and about to burst with suggestions as to the laying of the sod. Now I had never seen him lay a single piece of this stuff, and he mostly observes what we’re doing, but when a guy walks up with a big ol’ cup of coffee and a grin you feel obligated to give him an ear. I had laid sod before, front and back yard, so I considered myself somewhat of an expert in getting the stuff laid, but one can always get better at what they do and I could tell that if he didn’t get this thing off his chest his health was at risk.

I will admit the back yard is once again a litter box but I blame this on my mother’s lack of watering skills, and the wild cats someone insists on feeding… not sod placement.  So here comes “Mr. Home and Gardens” with the first words out of his mouth being, not, “good morning” but, “You know you’re going to have to put a lot of water on that.”  I wanted so much to say, “Duh” but I smiled and said, “Really?” This elevated “Mr. GreenJeans “got to help quotient” to the next level and in the next few minutes, and while I keep on hauling the sod he suggests re-designing the front yard. “Your sprinkler will need to go about there.” Right. “You can get a splitter and attach it to a couple of cheap hoses. Put it where the bird bath sits.”

Sure. Sweat, sand and dirt are running down my glasses as I visualize moving the hundred pound block of cement called a birdbath. “It wouldn’t hurt to fertilize, but not too much. It looks like this grass could use some iron.” The price of a palate of sod just went up. “Looks like you’ve got some weeds in that. You’ll need to mow with the blower pointing outward to prevent weed seeds from taking over.” I suppose I could pull up what I’ve laid and request weed-less sod but…naw, we’re going with weeds, at least they’re green. Mulching is obviously out of the question. “They carry all that stuff at Lowes, you know.” Me having all the attention deficit problems of today’s eight year old, I am in no way going to a Lowes to become more confused. Some days I feel as though I just learned how to drive. “You look like you could use some water.” First sensible thing you’ve said all morning my friend. Something, perhaps a moment of divine inspiration, causes him to look up and what does he see?! “That roof’s gonna need replacing soon.” Like I said, Mom’s ninety and our definition of “soon” is a whole lot later than his; probably in the area of not in this lifetime. Then “Mr. Peepers” comes up with the crown jewel of his morning presentation. I suppose it may have been the reason for his visit in the first place.

 I’d been at it several hours by now and was probably dehydrated, causing hallucinations, because I thought I heard him say, “Oh, by the way, I’ve installed a security system with lights that should cover your yard too!” Guess we can get rid of the neighbor watch volunteers but we’ll definitely lock the doors. Thank goodness he finished his coffee about the time he got into his own home improvement plan. The man loves coffee and we don’t so he went home and I sent mom to Lowes for a splitter.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Officer Friendly to the Rescue

Sometimes you see them parked by the roadside, or maybe giving a well-deserved ticket, checking the car-born computer or talking with a pedestrian. They wear different uniforms, some blue, some white, some coat and tie. They are the Panama City Beach Police and they do a terrific job.

I had the good fortune to meet one the other day named Officer Gillman. He’s a big fellow with red hair and a nice demeanor. He answered a call to our house at the beach concerning a missing watercraft. Filling out the report, I asked him how many of those things he had recovered in the past and he said his record was perfect — “none.”

We laughed … or I did. He just looked sort of sad, as if he wished it were not true, but they tend to get away quickly when missing. I figured I’d seen the last of my old friend, the WaveRunner, as it was going on 10 and probably couldn’t find its way home if it had to. Gillman and I parted company after the report and I tried not to think about the rest of the weekend and summer without being able to get out on the water.

A few hours later he called. “Mr. Harmon, I have some good news,” he said. “I’m standing next to your WaveRunner!”

Actually he’d been there for a while, questioning folks, getting necessary information, etc., and it was hot. I said I could be there in a few minutes, not thinking about how long he had already been there, and he said that would be fine. Keep in mind this WaveRunner is an old boy, not much to look at, but still runs pretty darn good.

A good Samaritan walking his dog had phoned in a tip and Officer Gillman had wasted no time in locating my old friend. When I arrived, Gillman could have said, “Well, there it is, take care, good luck, see ya later!” But he didn’t do that. He actually helped me and a friend push that thing from the woods back to the road where we could attach it to a truck. And, like I said, it was hot.

So, just a word of thanks to a great person, a young person who means a lot to the community of Panama City Beach. I hope he stays safe, and if you see a big, red-headed guy in a police car, probably with a smile on his face and a ready wave, wish him well. He’s there for you, too.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Dogs Vs. Cats

Honestly, I was going to write something about our children, and then something popped up that made me think some grow up a lot faster than others. I went on the web to look up a word, probably something simple, and there in the corner of my machine was an invitation from somebody I had never laid eyes on (I swear) to chat. She looked about 20-something, blond, attractive no doubt, just a couple of miles away.Her name was Stephanie. She didn’t give a last name. I figured she was probably too shy, and I guess she was asking for an introduction because she said something like, “want to meet me?”

Well, I looked around the room and saw it was just me, Herkie the dog and Milo the cat. That dog is a mess. He thinks Milo is a furry toy that can jump really high and slap really well but other than that, has no real worth to speak of. Truth is, Milo plays Herkie like a fiddle.Anyway, he had one eye on me and the other on Milo, who was just a few feet away and looking over my shoulder at Steph ... purring, even though he’s been fixed for years. Steph was just a grinning and had two keys below her picture. One said “confirm,” the other said, “run like hell.”I never had Herkie fixed. Figured it would be OK since he seldom goes outside and when he does he’s looking for a ball or somebody to bark at. Sort of like I used to do years ago.

Besides, the last dog I had fixed put on weight and looked at me out of the corner of his eye, as if he knew he was missing something, and it was me who might still have it somewhere in the house. “I know whatever I lost is around here somewhere and you need to find it.”Herkie knows there are those who would love nothing more than to take the lust out of his eyes. He appreciates the fact that dad is simpatico. He looks at me straight on, eye to eye and we see things the same way, if you know what I mean.He eyeballed Milo and knew he needed to be with dad on the couch. A short fight ensued. Milo got two slaps in before the dog knew he’d been slapped and then Milo went to sit somewhere else, lick his fur and stare at two fools buried in a machine.

The look on his face seemed to say, “You two cannot be that stupid. Do you really think her name is Stephanie?”Now I know there are those who would doubt this and it may have been my imagination, which runs a little crazy on the web, but once he got up on the couch and saw her for himself, Herkie looked over at the cat as if to say, “Me thinks this old man is about to make a career decision.”

Well, she looked like that Locklear girl would have looked 30 years ago with bad teeth. Her smile seemed to say, “I know whatever I lost is around here somewhere and if you’ll click “confirm” we can look for them together.”I started to click “confirm” to recommend a good dentist but thought better of it. Herkie gave me a silent nod like John Wayne did to Opie Taylor when he threw that pistol across the floor in “The Shootist.” There’s all sorts of things out there today that can make you shoot yourself in the foot. Sometimes it just takes a good friend to help you not take that last drink, or click “confirm” when you should click “run like hell.” Sometimes all it takes is a good dog. I wonder whose little girl Stephanie used to be anyway.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The American Village

I love that quote from Hillary Clinton, “It takes a village to raise a child” and although it took some hits from conservatives, it deserves another look. So let’s take a look at the raising of children in today’s American village.  Nowadays we’ve got some children being raised by village folks who are good at it (Boys and Girls Clubs, Big Brothers and Sisters come to mind), some children being raised by parents (this occurs rarely but does occur) and some children being raised by village idiots (you know who you are and are probably not reading this). Oh, quite right, the parent can double as a villager and also be the village idiot. As I see it, the problem is twofold, air conditioning and villagers who cannot catch the child in order to raise it. 
Let’s look at the air conditioning problem first. How can we expect the village to raise the child when he/she is inside trying to stay cool and cannot be found to raise? Years ago children to raise could be found almost anywhere, riding a bike, playing Kick the Can, baseball, hopscotch; Now one would have to go inside to find the child in need of raising. In fact I submit that that if the American village is to raise the child it must be done in the fall and spring when a villager can catch a glimpse of a child outside, catch it and begin the raising process.  A child found inside presents all sorts of problems for the villager. Video games depicting aliens annihilating each other on a Blue Ray and Jerry Springer (who may be an alien) are forces the villager must overcome in order to raise the child. Then there’s the other villager in the room. The one who is also watching Springer and making sure the child eats his/her ration of Twizzlers and Gummy Bears, and gets enough Kool-Aide to make it through the night.
This person may not be the one who actually birthed the child but may be older and simply presiding over its wasted afternoon. Seeking a child to raise inside also requires mounds of paperwork signed by whoever is paying the bills for the afternoon “entertainment”, AC and snacks. A villager sometimes referred to as “mother”.  After that the child may indeed be raised. But let us say there was, by some fluke, some cosmic storm, some phenomenon heretofore unexplained, a child who actually wandered outside. Perhaps it had seen enough carnage on the screen, enough screaming, vile language or who knows what.

We might even call this child “gifted” for it had indeed found the gift of fresh air and freedom. The bad news is our current American villager, now in hot pursuit of something to raise, would have a problem running down the child in order to raise it because, sad to say, most of our villagers are… obese. Unless the child can be cornered in a McDonalds or Burger King, it will eventually find its way back to Blue Rayville before you can say, “Debit”. Today’s American villager cannot be asked to catch, and raise that child. But, there may be one other time when the child can be contained and raised. Many are caught by the villagers in blue known as policemen (I know it sounds crazy but it happens) and detained at a facility considered to be safe for the child. This is where a lot of villagers can have access to the child. Here, captured children who dared to venture outside during daylight hours are gathered together and raised by the men in blue until the person who paid for the Twizzlers shows up. Yes, “It takes a village to raise a child” and how unfortunate they seem to do it better in Africa than we do here in America.   

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Protecting the Unworthy

Years ago there was a young man who was called to care for a people in a country called America. To him many gifts were bestowed, among them the gift of insight.

He understood and fell in love with a race of people whose ancestors had been brought to a place called America aboard ships from lands far away. He loved these people because he knew them to be a gentle folk above all else.

He became their leader, guiding them, not for personal gain or historical merit, but because he knew at that moment in time, there was no one else to stand and protect them. They were his people and when he looked down from a speaker’s platform, a pulpit or out from a jail cell, he felt compassion few of us have known.

His compassion was great because his people had suffered much and were suffering still in America, a land where something called “the American dream” was a reality for many, but not for a child with ebony skin.

She stood there, down front, looking up with dark innocent eyes, waiting for words of hope from the man who spoke of a dream. Looking down from a pulpit into those dark eyes, compassion like water flowed from the man in the pulpit. For an instant, he saw her as many in America saw her -- as something less than. Not a slave, but less than free. Not helpless, but less than able. Not ugly, but less than beautiful. Not ignorant, but less than brilliant. Less than worthy of something called “the American dream.”

She existed in a state of nothingness, something to be tolerated, a nuisance. It broke the man’s heart when he saw her as she was, a child with a future. And with his gift he looked into the future and saw her as she would become -- an adult who would be seen as less than.

The man, who had been around these less-than-worthies all his life, knew they were more than worthy and in fact very worthy to be called Americans. But in his time, people were not yet ready to have less than worthy people called that so other names were bestowed. Black, African, African American, were used to soften the idea of less than worthies being called Americans.

This seemed to make everyone feel better, even though most of his people had been born in America, and Africa was a continent with over 40 different countries. His people had no country. They just didn’t look like the other Americans. His people were not free. And so he had a dream.

He dreamed of a place where the little ebony girl with the big dark eyes would be judged, not by the color of her skin, as beautiful as that was, but by the content of her character. He dreamed of a place where she would be judged, not by her ancestors’ past, as difficult as that had been, but by her ability to change the future. She came from a people whose spirit was indomitable, and who had been given gifts of patience, laughter, a caring nature and much more.

This man knew his people needed hope and so he told them about his dream. And in that dream, they began the greatest social revolution in America’s history. A movement based on nonviolence for they were a nonviolent people. A movement founded on biblical principles for they were a religious people and a movement designed to appeal to America’s guilty conscience. No one knows what became of the little ebony girl who stood down front, but there are others like her waiting for the dream to come true. And while America continues to twist and turn in the winds of guilt, the revolution continues. Each must play his part.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Putting Out the Fires

Yes, the price of gas is going up and we’re all frustrated because we don’t have the information to figure out why. From our vantage point, all that has to happen is for some Iranian dictator to threaten Israel and we pay more for gas. It took my daughter $87.43 to fill up her truck the other day. Her truck is a 2003 Ford Sport Trac. It gets good gas mileage for a truck, about 17 in the small town, 23 interstate, if you don’t mash down on the gas pedal too hard. She doesn’t spend very much time on the interstate but she goes to a lot of fires so she gets 8 and 12, but the cost of a fill up doesn’t change, it just comes more often.

What I need is an electric vehicle but I think they’re charging way too much for those Fords up in Detroit. You’d think we could get a discount since we bought some of the other companies. If they’re anything like a golf cart, that would be nice. I love the electric golf cart. You can get one for around eight grand and in towns where it’s legal, ride all over the place and sneak up on folks before you have to plug em’ in somewhere. Plus, the one’s I’ve seen on TV come with a blond. Too bad they’re illegal in most towns but it’s for the best… I couldn’t keep the blond. We’ve got enough mouths to feed around here.

I like a vehicle with a GPS system. You wouldn’t need one with a golf cart, although I’ve seen some in them. I can’t imagine being so inept at finding the hole you would need a GPS system on a golf course. Most holes can be seen from high ground, usually the tee box, due to a flag pole sticking out of the ground. The hole is usually right under that flag. Maybe the GPS’s are for only to be used on par 5’s or dog legs.
Maybe it’s time to bring back the Go-cart. We had one back in 62’, the year Fireball Roberts spoke at the high school. That thing would fly! The back yard was fenced in and since we couldn’t ride it in the street we drove it in a circle, similar to Daytona, without the concessions, around the back yard. Gas was .25 cents a gallon and the only pit stops required were for driver changes. We could run all day for the cost of mowing the grass, which soon became unnecessary because within the first week the back yard became an oval dirt track with only one car running around under a large brown cloud hanging over the driver and everything else. We wore mostly browns to school that year. Our races were popular in the neighborhood and we must have had a huge, what we currently call “fan base” in those days because the phone was always ringing in the house when one of us was “racin”.

The Ramirez brothers, who lived across the alley and had a cumquat tree we used to raid, got Cruisaire motor scooters. Here they’d come, racin around the block sure to whiz past me and my brother peddling away on our bikes. One day, on my knees and with tears streaming down my face I asked mom, why we couldn’t have a scooter and why those boys’ parents loved them more than ours loved us. She mumbled something or other about getting killed, never forgive herself, what would dad think, too expensive, we had bicycles and yes, the ever popular and always useful, “I love you too much”. I never looked at my bicycle the same after that. Now I’m thinking I may have to get it out and ride it again. Come to think about it, that might be fun if they keep the golf carts and motor scooters off the streets. Sure be safer.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sometimes, when I watch the evening news, I get discouraged. Is that hard to believe? Think about it. So many things appear to be out of my control and in the hands of people I either don’t trust because they don’t look like me, belong to a different political party or maybe it’s just me. It makes me wonder if the guys I send my money to can get anything done that will help my friends and me have a better life or if I should stop sending them money. There are a few things these guys don’t seem to control that don’t appear to be all that difficult to put into place and I’d be curious to see what the results would be if that happened. Some are personal and would affect very few but others are ideas I find interesting.

For instance, I’d like to see folks stop spending their money on professional sports tickets. I’m curious as to what it might do to the price of a ticket. I think it might go down and that would probably mean more parents could take their children to a game or match. I’d like to see a higher academic standard set for high school athletes. Not just a “C” average but maybe a “B” or better. I’m curious as to what it might do to the graduation rates for these students. I think the rates might go up and who knows, maybe it would give the athletes a sense of pride in something other than their athletic ability. I’d like to see everyone who’s able give ten cans of food and ten dollars a year to a local charity. I’m curious as to what it might do to help some folks feel better about themselves. It might go a long way toward getting people more involved in their communities. I’d like to see more vegetarians. I’m curious as to what that would do to our national obesity and heart disease problem. It might lessen our health care costs and prevent me from having to look at those pitiful chickens packed twelve to a crate in those eighteen wheelers and heading for slaughter. I’d like to see small towns pass ordinances allowing golf carts in their city limits. I’m curious as to what it would do to Ipod sales. It might give folks more of an opportunity to talk…about whatever and lessen the demand for gas (of course). I’d like to see folks who are out of work with job skills in labor putting those resources to work in their local community while they wait for a paying job. I’m curious as to what it would do for self-esteem and the re-establishment of community pride. It might do a lot. I’d like to see moms hugging their children in the grocery store instead of smacking their hands or face when they reach for something. I’m curious as to what it might do to their child’s sense of curiosity. It might help them to be less afraid to ask questions, to reach out or fail at a task of some sort.

There are many other things I’d like to see but I’d settle for these because I think they are doable and don’t require any action from the folks in D.C…and isn’t that a pleasant thought? Call me a glass half full sort of guy. I still believe in our country, its ability to overcome, organize and make things better. And, after all, we are the country are we not? If you’re curious also, and can think of other things we can do without the help of those in the beltway …send me a note on the comments section of We’ll have a conversation of sorts and it won’t cost a dime.

Monday, March 5, 2012

We used to make a lot of things in America, and my wife is convinced there were a lot of things made that may still be in the stores, but I’ll be doggone if I can find them. However, what I do find is always interesting. The other day I found myself wandering through a very large, “we have it all store”, boogying down to the sounds coming over the speakers and looking for a few of these items. She enjoys sending me on these “crusades” while she sits happily at home waiting for my phone call that assures her the items on her list came from her head or have not yet arrived from China.

I know this sounds like deviant behavior, but we cannot afford a psychologist to make me feel better and help her see we do not make stuff anymore. It usually takes about thirty minutes for me to figure out she duped me into looking for a cat food suitable for dogs, a chemical so powerful it will clean your shower and (if you fail to rinse) rot your feet with the mere touch of a button, and a spray that will make a black tire whiter. I have to say, the music helps, even though as I dance through the store to “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” I’m thinking that would not be a bad idea. Walking through the store, I join the other “shop till we droppers” who seem to be boogying with their buggies and jamming to James Brown’s “I Don’t Want No Body to Give Me Nothing; Open up the Door, I’ll Get it Myself.” 
It seems as though they’re all like-minded, thinking, quick, where do I sign; this Visa Card is melting a hole in my pocket! I am ready to make some serious charges! On my way to automotive I stop by the hardware/paint cubicle. Did you know you can actually watch paint dry to “Time Keeps on Slippin, Slippin, Slippin Away”? I usually dress down for shopping, preferring to fit in with the rest of the folks and a few of the employees. Today I’m wearing a fashion statement sweatshirt with the words, “If you talk about my mamma, I’ll slap you with my purse” in pink letters. My daughter left it on the kitchen table and I threw it on without looking. Staring up at the automotive “wall of fame” I see nine members of what could be an acid rock band (perfectly capable of talking about my mother), who can’t wait to put four tires on my jeep and watch as I go “slippin into the future”. The garage area has three more of these “post office Pennzoil brothers”, who are “sagging” to Van Morrison’s “Bright Side of the Road”. 

I’m sure I’ve seen these guys while mailing a letter. And now the waiting begins. NASCAR can change a tire in fifteen seconds so I’m figuring in fifteen minutes, including the oil change; I should be back on the track to home. That gives me enough time for coffee and news in the waiting room…a room designed for Middle Age monks…who mostly wrote while drinking mead from wooden cups. There were two other monks sitting there but they had the last two copies of Motor Trend Magazine, so, I’m left staring at a wall and feeling like a fifth wheel while the sagging three do the “shim sham shimmy” on my car. Glen Miller’s “In the Mood” plays in the background. My “crusade” in search of products that no longer exist will end two hours later as I browse through the outdoor department to Pete Seeger’s, “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?” Oh, by the way, those tires? Well, they were made in good ol’ America. No offense to China, but sometimes I bring my family along for the ride.  

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Extra! Extra!

My brother and I had what were known as paper routes back before adults got in their cars and did it the easy way. We walked and rode bicycles to deliver the Knoxville Journal, the morning paper. I was thirteen, he twelve. Dad was fresh out of the service, like many today, and taking jobs wherever they could be found. Mom stayed at home with us five kids. She would get my brother and me up at 4 AM, give us a hug and off we’d go to roll the papers for delivery. We didn’t use rubber bands back then, but there was a special way to tuck a paper that held as good as a rubber band and that’s what we did. I can still see the headlines we rolled during that period, all about Kennedy, Khrushchev, bomb shelters and something called fluoride that folks wanted to put in the water. It was the winter of 61’, and the headlines made it seem colder.

Snow came early and stayed forever that year in Tennessee. The papers were delivered a few blocks up the street in bound stacks and I would roll eighty-five while brother rolled ninety-five. It’s funny what you remember. Brother’s route went one way and mine another but our routes paralleled each other so on very cold mornings we’d do his route first, where a customer had a basement we could duck into to warm up. That’s usually where we would pick up several dogs that would follow us the rest of the way. The dogs never said much, just loped along, content to be with people I suppose. Have to love a dog. Our customers weren’t so easy to please. Each one seemed to have a specific place in mind for the delivery of their paper, which was the most important document they would read that day. I reckon they wanted to know for sure when to start digging the bomb shelter. Screen doors, ledges, mailboxes, and near the bird bath were all potential paper receptacles and if we expected to get a tip they expected to see Kennedy’s smiling face staring back at them from the bird bath. It was an older neighborhood and I can still remember the old folks complaining about not being able to find a certain day’s paper. “Son, I thought I told you to put that thing by that thingernaut down there by that yard bird!”

This is probably when my hair began to leave the building and so soon, as it was only now on arrival. Truth is, we missed a few houses, missed a few placements but…we never missed a day… and if I knew what it was that made us not miss a day, I’d probably be on TV. Maybe we just didn’t want to disappoint mom and dad. Maybe it was seeing dad leave after breakfast for a job we knew he didn’t like but did anyway. Maybe it was a way to make us feel better about ourselves and our way of saying we’d do our part. Maybe if we had had the ability to kick some fictitious character’s rear on a Blue Ray box in the bedroom we’d have felt just as good. Guess we’ll never know because the ol’ Blue Ray was in the future. Or do we know?  I’ve never asked my mom nor did I ask dad, when he was alive, why they let us deliver papers in the winter of 61’. I don’t think they thought about it back then…because back then work was looked on as a good thing, regardless of the work one did and making money was looked at as security, and worthwhile. Isn’t that the only way one can look at that stuff? One thing’s for sure…some memories are keepers and some weepers. The paper route is a keeper.

Friday, January 13, 2012

It's a War Zone Out There

I’m just a voter, like many of you. And over the last few years I’m feeling kind of used. I’m not sure who has my best interest at heart. It seems like every politician I hear from has the same message.  “I will fight for you!” Listen to them… they all say the same thing. “I will fight for you!” Personally I will stick my neck out and say that I have no enemies at this time here at home.

My wife is a relatively calm person, she does possess a fairly good throwing arm, but we don’t entertain all that often, having two vicious Maltese, and we just don’t have anyone to fight.  So, I really don’t need anyone fighting for me. Now, if there was someone out there, heaven forbid, who was going to come by and steal my riding mower, the weedwacker or one of the dogs, we’ve got a problem.

But…I don’t think I would call my local politician and say, “Dear representative, will you please fight for me?” What exactly are they fighting for? It seems, in the age in which we live, in order to run for office and be elected one has to be fighting for something. Therefore, politicians put themselves in a fighting mode to fight for us when we really don’t need anyone to do that. Then they get to wherever the fighting is supposed to take place, like a legislature or someplace and there you go, they find the other guys who are supposed to be fighting also and they all fight.

Well, we elected them to fight for us and that’s what they do. This year I’m not going to vote for anyone who’s going to fight for me. I’m going to vote for someone who speaks for me…or maybe represents me? See, I don’t want my man/woman going up there with a chip on their shoulder. I want some common ground found. We get these political pit bulls so wound up over fighting why, they even fight the people in their own party!

Doesn’t matter which party…they all fight! Just look at those repugnant republican debates. At last count there were six fighters fighting each other for the right to fight for us. And what in the world were they fighting over? Do they oppose gay marriage? It depends on the votes. Are they conservative enough? It depends on the state and who’s voting.   And then there’s that question of when someone is born.
If you ask my wife she’ll say, February 24, 1986. It was five AM and her water broke. I’m lying there in a puddle and she rolls over and goes back to sleep. She says our daughter’s birth happened sometime after that but I’ve gone through at least six months of bloating, morning sickness and swollen feet so it must have happened sooner.
So they fight about the conception thing (I’m pretty sure I know when that happened) when the important thing is there’s another person on the planet for whom we are responsible and we’ve got the Chinese breathing down our throats with lead paint and toys that don’t make it through Christmas.
If our “leaders” worried as much about how death happens as they did about how or when life begins, we, the voters would probably be better off. We are just not picking our politicians’ fights very well.   Maybe it’s time we changed the climate by changing the language we use to send these “gladiators” to congress in the first place.  “I’ll represent you.” Sounds humane, like a person would be more willing to listen and not annihilate their fellow “gladiators” during a debate.  What we seem to have now are political termites eating away the fabric of our country who will say or do anything for a vote. You want to talk about throwing someone under a bus!? These guys invented it.
Where’s the leadership? The integrity?  The moral courage?  I guess they’re under the bus with the rest of us. I don’t know who I’ll vote for in the next election. I just wish it didn’t have to be someone fighting someone else for me. If you take your hand out of my pocket, I am perfectly capable of defending myself. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Old New Year Has His Say on '12 Resolutions

Well, Happy New Year, from the Old New Year! Yeah, it’s me ... again. How do I know it’s me? Well, ’cause I ain’t no different than the New Year from last year.

I realize for the next few days I’m not very welcomed around these parts, but ’til Sunday morning rolls around I intend on having my say and letting y’all know this Ol’ New Year ain’t going out without a struggle.

Actually, I’m wondering what the heck happened, although I should be used to this stuff, ’cause the same dadburned thing happens every single year. Ya’ll remember last year? Here came New Year and the “resolutions.” Not talking about that band ya’ll danced to ... talking about those things you made up when things were going good last Dec. 31.

See, New Year was all about having fun, losing weight, reading a book a week, planting some plants, adopting something that needed adopting and in general, saving the planet. Well, helloooooo. Look at me now! Old New Year, a little older a little wiser and trotting in here on a Wednesday before this next New Year, looking just about like I did last year. Don’t go looking away! I know you remember me.

Let’s be honest and I’ll go first. Truth is I ain’t read the first book with the exception of a catalog, I’m so far in debt I have to look up to look down, and if I could lose 10 pounds I’d give up smoking. Smoking jumped up and caught me by surprise disguised as a doggone pipe! I had the smoking resolution in there ... just didn’t think about the pipe thing. In addition, the planet still appears to be on its way to hell in a handbasket (just ask anybody) and the only things I ended up adopting were some of New Year’s resolutions! Total waste of time.

There’s other habits you can get into but I don’t have time to go into all of ’em now. Except, just between you and me, I hear that Internet is a good resource for habits. ’Course you won’t hear anything about those things from New Year. And speaking of New Year! People, New Year is getting ready to put the same scam on you that came around this time last year whilst you was dancin’ and prancin’ to either the Bee Gees (love me some Bee Gees), Johnny Taylor (my personal favorite) or the Bieber (Lord, have mercy; now there’s a bad habit for ya).

The truth is this has been going on since New Year’s ’01. See, Old New Year, that’s me, invented the word “res-o-lu-shun.” That’s right. I’ll admit it. We, (me and New Year), got together -- oh, I guess it was around the time of Adam -- and I let New Year talk him right out of the garden. New Year said next year would be better if he, Adam, was in charge of everything from recreation to Internet sites. Well, we had no idea how long the boy would live. You can plainly see why we’re headed straight for the fire pit! After a time and a million resolutions or so, Ol’ Adam found himself “on the outside lookin’ in” (love Little Anthony too) and Eve cursing the day she ever heard of New Year’s. So this year Old New Year (that would be me) got together with New Year and decided to limit resolutions to one. She (of course, she’s a she!) said, “Let’s tell folks if those old resolutions didn’t work in the Old New Year, just try again. You know, being more persistent can be a resolution too.” Happy New Year Y’all!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Only What We Made Them

Two institutions of higher learning -- what we used to refer to as colleges -- were playing a game of basketball last weekend. It was a blowout and words were exchanged between players. A few of the players felt disrespected and near the end of the game, decided to regain their self-respect as grown men and retaliate. As punishment, one of the coaches required his players to take off their jerseys after entering the locker room.

I remember the retaliation mode as a kid and would usually use it after being asked to do something around the house -- take out the garbage or clean up my room. This would usually result in either teasing the dog or shooting the mailbox or other metal objects with the BB gun. Most of the metal objects around my house were dented and it’s no wonder I was never allowed to own anything more powerful than a Daisy.

My being disrespected in some way was just not an option and the dog knew it. So when dad found dents he would do what any grown man would do and require me to take off my shirt. Ultimate dissing, which is cool slang for actually being disrespected. Something a grown man (whatever that’s supposed to be) would never tolerate).

He would say, “Son, you have to earn the right to wear that shirt and shooting the mailbox with the BB gun will not get you there.”

He explained this technique to my wife before he passed away, and it works for her also. “Harmon, until you get that yard mowed and feed the birds you cannot wear that shirt in this house!” Dissed again.

Now I read where the coach of the University of Cincinnati basketball team has adopted the same strategy. It seems one of his players felt “disrespected” and decided he and some “tough guys” would “zip” up the other team.

Here’s what one of the players said, “We got disrespected a little bit before the game, guys calling us out. We’re a tougher team. We’re grown men over here. We’ve got a whole bunch of gangstas in the locker room, not thugs, but tough guys on the court. And we went out there and zipped them up at the end of the game.”

This is basketball is it not? Putting a ball through a hoop? Maybe doing a little dribbling and passing on the side? I’m still trying to figure out what “zip them up” means. Don’t we have a zipper factory here?

After watching the brawl on TV I take it to mean cheap shots at your opponent when you get dissed. In that way you gain back the respect you mistakenly thought you had in the first place. Or it could be a new IT term college players use when they’re boarding the bus. “Take it away Joe, everybody’s zipped up.” So the coach had them take off their jerseys because they did the zipper number.

Wow. Talk about getting dissed. And I must say, it’s interesting to see how language has evolved with many college athletes speaking, not French, but some mystical language known only to the scholar. Honestly, I’d like to see a little more imagination when it comes to disciplining the college athlete of today.

What about this innovative idea? Have them write on the board, “I will not say ‘them guys’ again” a thousand times. Oops, there’s that self-esteem thing again. This activity might affect confidence in the dribbling of the ball. Now that I think about it, I could have done a “zipper job” on a lot of people down through the years who failed to treat me like the grown man I was supposed to be but wasn’t.

Well, they got one thing correct. It does come down to respect. And I’ll bet you $1 most of these “grown men” will be back on the court in two weeks. Well, they’re only what we made them, are they not?

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Anyone who’s been in the military knows what clean means. There are no degrees of clean. A thing is either clean or it’s not clean because… when you clean it, you own it.  And when you own something you take pride in what it is that you own. You watch it, you care for it, and you let no one abuse it or take it for granted.

It’s sort of like walking on the grass at a military installation or Georgia Military College. By not walking on the grass you show respect for that particular area or ground. One would never step on a grave or the grass at our National Cemetery at Arlington, Virginia, out of respect for those whose remains are symbolic of the gift they gave to our country, their lives. Each American feels an ownership for Arlington and therefore treads respectfully when they visit.

This idea works for our schools as well when the importance of an education is instilled in our children. They in many ways, receive ownership of their school. From that point on the issue of clean becomes one of how clean, for that is how our schools will look. Can you imagine students showing up on their days off to plant and mow? It is possible and happens each year at schools where the students feel a sense of ownership. People will not desecrate that which they respect and own. One can travel the states and see clean schools and schools that are not clean. Do you wonder why? Hold on to your recliner…for it’s simple, something called pride in ownership. If you took fifty children, told them their school “belonged” to them and they were responsible for it being clean, dirty, nurturing, or a source of deprivation, what would they choose? Hopefully they would choose the obvious.

Years ago my wife used to say to our daughter, “books are our friends”. Oh, how that child would protect her books, read them, place them carefully on a shelf or mantle, talk about them. “Books are our friends”, my wife would say. And from that simple phrase, Whitney assumed ownership of her books and cared for them as she would a pet. Today she is a librarian who believes the students at GMC can find a “friend” in a book. Sadly, reading a book and learning is not seen as a friendly activity to many of our children. So, what happened?

Well, we failed to show those in school that reading a book was better than watching a movie or playing a video game. We didn’t sell it…you might say. And… our schools became places on the outskirts of town, with little landscaping, metal detectors and “just the basics”, not objects of admiration and affection. For those little ones still at home and searching for a “friend”… there was always a television. So what’s ol’ Newt talking about when he recommends that our children be given the opportunity to help keep their school clean? Simply, he’s trying to get folks to see that ownership in a school helps students see the importance of education and cleaning a bathroom, mopping a hall or taking out the trash, gives them ownership. 

Unfortunately for many public school children there will be many reasons given why they will not be allowed to take ownership of their schools. Among these are; The children we have been busy not raising will refuse to work.The bathroom is a dangerous place. “My child, not on your life!” It’s beneath our children’s’ dignity to clean up after themselves. “I don’t know nothing bout cleanin no bathroom” “That’s the janitor’s job.” means a great deal.