“Y’all Finished, When Y’all Done”

Dignity can not be taken away, unless we allow it to be.

Staying on my side of the centerline.  This is a semi-serious story about the process of writing and other things.  Wait a minute–the process is serious.  A process that reflects on everyone and everything in this room.

In every boardroom,  backroom, penthouse, hovel, and hacienda–it’s all anyone wants to talk about today.  Did you know it was worse than what everyone thought it was?  I’ll stay in the shallow water, as to the seedy aspects of this subject.

The resignation of this state’s governor, is plastered across the headlines.  Thanks goodness, former Governor Bentley, had enough dignity left to do the right thing and resign.  Everyone, including myself, breathed a sigh of relief. Kay Ivey will do a good job as the new governor.

An Indian girl was alleged to have been, or not been, raised by monkeys.  There should be a new time zone–called “Giraffe Standard Time.” That’s not as weird a suggestion, as one might think; considering someone suggested that April the Giraffe run for Alabama governor.

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LET SLEEPING DOGS LIE

horse and plow

I’m a little late to the dance–like an old plow horse plodding along.  Yesterday, I learned a valuable lesson about blogging, blogs, and bloggers.

“Let sleeping dogs lie.”  I should have known better than to put in my two-cents worth.  This conversation has more to do with what blogging isn’t, rather than what it is.

It isn’t a true debate forum.  Some intentionally take positions they can’t defend–for reasons, known only to themselves.  I despise vague generalizations, unsubstantiated value judgments, prejudicial statements about individuals, groups of people.

A compelling title suckered me in.  That was when the claws, bared teeth came out.  I called someone out for their accusations–which I thought were unfounded.  Then all hell broke loose.  Who was I to question their right to be miserable?

Because of certain key words in their reply–I felt I was being condescended to, and became defensive.  My mistake–sticks and stones.  My profile is public information–I don’t like it used against me.  Whether, it’s because of my age, background, or whatever.

With deference to emotional and mental health issues; those that get-off on being controversial, shouldn’t be surprised when their controversial remarks cause controversy.  Perhaps, they liked things that way; and, as a matter of control, wished to control responses as well?  Nobody controls my thoughts and opinions–except myself.  Self-pity, the home version–as a lovely parting gift?  No thanks!  “I’m letting sleeping dogs lie.”

IF I’M LUCKY ENOUGH TO LIVE THAT LONG

If I’m lucky enough to live that long; I’m going to be as full of life, as the folks performing in this fictitious talent show; for the residents of Mayfair Assisted Living Center.  I’ve recently stepped way out of my comfort zone and joined the local YMCA.  My first impressions were–it’s mostly old folks here.  Maybe, It should be renamed the O-M-C-A?  

A few sessions later–I’ve changed my mind.  Sure, there were oldsters, using walkers to go around the jogging track.  But, they were making efforts to do something; make their lives better.  And, by golly, one nice lady, was proud that she was 87.  Her mind was sharp–she could tell young whippersnappers, like me a thing or two.   She’s been there–every time I’ve been there.      

————————————————–

SPRING CONCERT & TALENT SHOW

MAYFAIR ASSISTED LIVING CENTER

Friday & Saturday: March 29th & 21st

4:30–7:30 in the cafeteria

FEATURING: Our own talented performers

  • Jerome & The Whippersnappers
  • Twirpy & The Dingbats
  • Two Hot Tomatoes
  • Larry & The Pacemakers
  • Melon Collie & The Babes
  • The Duke of Pearls
  • The Old Spice Girls
  • The Liver Spots
    WITH AMAZING MUSICAL RENDITIONS OF:

    “No, I’m Not Dead” “Who Did You Say You Were?” “Pass Me More Butter” “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” “I’m In the Mood For Love–And You’re Simply Pretending You Can’t Hear Me” “Where You Lead, I Can’t Follow” “Just Pretend I Love You” “Getting Up in the Middle of the Night” “Broken Hips and Ruby Lips” “Say It Again–Louder” “It’s All New To Me” “If I Don’t Remember–Just Remember This” “Everybody’s Shouting At Me” “Angina In Carolina” “Doc–Stop Playing With My Heart” “Aching Pains and Golden Needles” “I’m Doing Fine–I’m Not So Sure About Him”  “Wild Thing, You Make My Ears Ring” “Thankful For What I’ve Got”

    FREE JUICE BAR & COOKIES
    “TWIRPY” SEZ–BE THERE–OR BE SQUARE!!!!

LOVE YOU BROTHER

pope francis

The last time, it was Bob Dole, that crashed my dreams.  This morning, Pope Francis was there.  Along with some of the higher ranking cardinals on his staff.  I’m not Catholic, so I’m not versed in church hierarchy.

Right before, I woke up–they were in my bedroom; standing beside my bed, talking.  A flock (word choice?) of eight or nine cardinals, found room to mill about and chat.  My bedroom isn’t small, but it isn’t conference room size, either.

The group ran out of topics to discuss, made their way to the door.  It was a lot like, parishioners, departing, after regular Sunday Mass; complimenting the Good Father, for meaningful words, and wishing him well.

It was departing words, between Pope Francis, and his most-trusted staff member–that I found most compelling.  Right before exiting–Pope Frances, gave him a hug and said, “I love you. ”  The Cardinal answered–without hesitation, “I love you, too–Brother.”

Many people have no concept of what the word “love” really means.  The powerful four-letter word, pulsed through my body, like an electric shock.  No further explanation was needed.

At that moment, I knew Pope Francis’s words, were honest, genuine–from the heart.  I answered back, “I love you–Brother,” and meant every word.

STATE OF THE BLOG (Inner Critics/Faking It/Confidence)

rickles

The last thing I expected on a rainy day was a visit from my “Inner Critic.”  If you don’t have one–you should bow down in thanks.  The  regular group was at the door, plus some uninvited guests.  I brought in lawn chairs from the garage.

To make matters worse, my two dogs were bored–there would be no morning walk.  They checked in with me every half-hour to see if conditions had changed. Why were The Stooges here? …With Curly Joe, the funnier Stooge, and not Shemp.

By way of explanation, my “Inner Critic”– is a concoction, liberally seasoned with advice from my parents, grandparents, my drill sergeant, a crusty old farm hand, named Floyd, a pinch of Don Rickles and John Wayne added for extra zing.

“State of the blog, state of the blog–Hey Moe, that rhymes with frog.  State of the frog, state of the frog,” Curly Joe chanted.  “Shut up you imbecile,”  Moe slapped Curly on the back of the head.

“Is this the place?” Larry asked.  “This is the place,” Moe answered.

“Well, if there’s no other place around the place, this must be the place,  I reckon–Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk,” “Get outta here you moron,”  More mayhem, some eye pokes, more head slaps.

Moe led Curly out the door by the ear.  Larry followed.  I wasn’t sorry to see them go.  Slapstick comedy wasn’t what I was looking for this morning.

“What’s up with taking more risks and getting fewer rewards?” I asked.

“What do you mean, Dear?”  Grandma asked.

“I don’t want this blog to get stale–so, I tried some new stuff.”

“That’s nice, Dear–it’s going to take time.”  “Just don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.”  “I brought you some sock monkeys.”

“Thanks, Gram,” I answered.

“I almost called this post, “Thoughts on a Rainy Day,” but changed my mind.”

“I’m glad you did,” Said my drill sergeant.  “That’s too wimpy.”

“Just write what you want to–what you feel is right,”  Said Floyd.  “If the xxx-xxxx idiots, don’t like the xxxxx-xxxx-xxxx–it’s their xxxxx problem, not yours.”

“Aren’t we all faking it?  I mean everybody does it–everyday.  Acting like we know what we’re doing–whether we do or not. We do it at work, in public, when raising a family.”

“That doesn’t make it right,” Mom said.  “It’s the same thing as lying.”

“But, Mom–It’s not really lying.  It’s showing confidence in facing the unknown.  Because, for most people, showing weakness is a liability they can’t risk?  Could it be, that some people are more afraid of failure, than success?”

“I’m glad you brought that up, Pilgrim,” John Wayne answered.  “Acting is nothing but faking it.  Movie sets are fake.  You have to convince others, that what you say, is genuine and real.”

“Mr. Wayne, Did you ever feel insecure?  That some day the bottom might drop out?”

“You’re damn right I did–many times!  I tried not to show it.  I guess that’s what you mean by ‘faking it.’  The day I first met with the head of a movie studio to sign a contract, my knees were shaking.  There was a lot at stake.”

“That’s what your mother and I tried to teach you,” My father said.  “There’s no reward without taking some risks.  You shouldn’t attempt anything expecting to fail.  Be confident, shoulders back, eyes straight ahead–let the chips fall where they may.”

“I’m hungry,” Grandpa said.  “Where are we going for breakfast?  We’re not going to get anything around here.”

“Come on Rickles, you’ve been unusually quiet, Said John Wayne.  “Duke, the sloppy sentiment around here’s killed my appetite.  Maybe some coffee.  Let’s go to the IHOP.”

My guests, gathered their things and left.  Don Rickles got in the last word–like he always did.

“I’m outta’ here.  Don’t make me come back.  This place is a dump.  You oughta’ clean it up, sometime.  And I don’t want to see you doing sock monkey puppet shows–either.  Because that would be sick.  You’re a sick man.  Nobody really likes you anyway–you know.”

———————————-

Tangled in the falling vines
Waiting for a punch line
I’ve just been fakin’ it
I’m not really makin’ it
This feeling of fakin’ it
I still haven’t shaken it

–Paul Simon–

A PIANO THAT HAD TO BE

piano

An old piano–scarred, and battered
Sat abandoned under a canopy
That ran along the front of businesses
Near a city park, replete with
Pleasant fountains, footpaths
Fragrant flowers, whimsical statues
Brought together under live oak shade

Working people passed by
Paid the old piano no mind
Enjoyed pastries, ice cream
From local merchants
Discussed water cooler gossip
In their, lucky to escape
From the cubicle, sylvan setting

It was astounding, how
The broken-down old piano
Spared from a landfill
Was still making musical
Memories–reflected in the eyes
Of curious children on field trips
Allowed to bang on the keys
Tourists recalled piano lessons
Recitals, searches for middle “C”
For these many reasons
The old piano had to be

EVERY PARLOR NEEDS AN UNCLE BUBBA

victorian 3

When Aunt Gertrude and Uncle Bubba came to visit, the women went to the kitchen and talked about families, childbirth, and homemaking.  Uncle Bubba went to the parlor with Dad.  My sister, Grace and I, wandered between both settings.

Our parlor was Uncle Bubba’s debate forum.  There, surrounded by lace curtains, furnishings frozen in time from the Victorian era, Uncle Bubba held forth–starting with an inquiry as to the availability of home-baked delicacies.

Uncle Bubba was a big, guffawing, hulk of a man.  Aunt Gertrude was a prim and proper wisp of a woman–quiet and reserved.  Her salt-and-pepper hair was usually fixed in a bun.  Unlike her husband, Aunt Gertrude always saw the good in everything.

“It was on Merv Griffin yesterday–people depressed at Christmas, after Christmas, during winter, spring, and every other time of year.  Christmas blues, Post-Holiday blues, the “Boo-Hoo” blues, the “You and Me” blues–who believes that crap?  It’s just another excuse for people to not work and get on the public dole,” Uncle Bubba said.

“What’s everybody looking at me for?  Pardon me for being slow on the uptake. I get it, now.  If it was any of your dad gum business–which it ain’t; I injured my back at the meat-packing plant.  That’s why I can’t work anymore.”

“Nobody’s singling you out,” Dad said defensively.  “Uncle Bubba, who’s Merv Griffin?” Grace asked.  Dad’s stern expression said, “keep quiet.” But Grace went on, anyway.  “Depression is a serious mental illness.  Sometimes people fall into dark holes and can’t climb out without help.”  Grace was like mom–spoke what was on her mind.

“Drug companies are always looking for ways to make more money–that’s all I was saying.  Pretty soon, everybody’s going to be on feel-good pills.  Well, whatever–it was on one of them talk shows.  I don’t even try to keep up.  They’re all the same.  I mean, what other job is there–where you get paid for talking, and don’t have to know anything?”

Dinner guests meant kid shenanigans at the table.  Grace would stick a spoon on her nose; then I’d eat peas with my knife, until Mom or Dad gave us the “stink eye.”  We knew when and where, to not cross the line.  Then, Uncle Bubba concealed amusement with fake coughing attacks, excused himself from the table.

Uncle Bubba’s passion and rage was everywhere.  His lack of discernible skills, made drudgery last as long as possible.  It didn’t stop him from offering opinions on just about everything.  At least, it seemed that way to me, back then.

“Cream rises to the top.  Dregs sink to the bottom.  It’s that simple.”  Was I cream or dregs?  I always thought Uncle Bubba was talking about me.  Especially on the day, my foot slipped off the clutch of his old GMC pickup.  I hit a pothole so hard, the old truck bounced–Uncle Bubba’s head banged into the roof.  “Damn it, Son–you gotta’ be more careful,” was all he had to say.

He was my father’s brother.  They couldn’t have been more different.  My father was quiet and reserved.  Uncle Bubba was seldom, if ever, quiet.  My father was of average height and weight with a full shock of hair.  Uncle Bubba was portly, and bald as a billiard ball.  Could there have been a mix-up at the hospital when he was born?

I loathed working for him.  He was obstinate, stubborn, opinionated–couldn’t (or wouldn’t) communicate.  The only emotions expressed were frustration and rage.  I could never live up to his expectations.  It seemed, as if there were always better ways to do everything.  However, Aunt Gertrude was nice.  How had she ended up with him?

Sometimes the silence between dramatic pauses was too much to bear.  Then, I’d talk about anything and everything, just to break the silence.  Uncle Bubba never said anything about me being a “motor mouth.”  On those days, maybe he just didn’t feel like talking?

“You look like a polecat–with that white stripe in your hair.”  Uncle Bubba said, once, on Halloween.  I don’t think he ever knew or cared–that I was supposed to be Eddie Munster.

“Son, do you know Jesus?”  Uncle Bubba asked one day, right out of the blue.  “Yes, I learned about Jesus in Mrs. Hampton’s Sunday school class,” I answered.  I’d never known Uncle Bubba to be a religious man.  He threw around a few “damns” and “hells,” but never took the Lord’s name in vain.

“I want you to promise me that you’ll ask Jesus to forgive your sins.”  I’d never seen him so sincere–so, I promised that I would.  Was it because he never had a son?  He never said those exact words, but I think it was true.

George Henry Walsh was Uncle Bubba’s real name.  He was Grandma Mary’s son by another man.  The man’s name was never mentioned.  People in those days didn’t talk about such things.  Grandpa Joe raised him as if he were his own flesh and blood.

Uncle Bubba passed away on a gray November day in 1999.  There it was–inscribed in polished granite, plain as day: “George Henry ‘Bubba’ Walsh, Beloved Adopted Son of Joseph M. & Mary R. Walsh.”