495. Dx: Sousaphilia, a depraved love of tubas, usually occurring in older males

Image result for Tubaplayer picturesIt’s not a typical diagnosis, and one that should not be made lightly. First a thorough intake history must be taken of the patient. When did he (’cause it’s always an offbeat older male) first meet up with a tuba? The earlier the bond was made, the worse the expected outcome will be. It’s analogous to Super Glue bonds between a penny and concrete. If the date on the penny is more than ten years old, you will not separate the penny from the sidewalk without destroying one or both. The literature confirms the indissolvability of such bonds, which are often called “marriages made in chemistry”. In fact, researchers speculate that budding sousaphiles excrete a rare protein in their sweat which bonds with the brass in the tubas they contact, thus the breathy betrothal begins.Image result for pennies glued to sidewalk pictures

Other researchers have examined the role of fluttering lips in sousaphiles and drawn a connection between late oral stage, pleasure-seeking male infants who blow air ‘raspberries’ with eventual tuba players in middle school and found a strong correlation of +2.0 within a margin of error of –.666. Furthermore, many mothers of sousaphiles report a fascination in their infant sons with blowing bubbles in liquids or an over-dependency on drinking straws. More than one mother was quoted as saying, “He never sucked; he just blew.” Even in third world countries without access to tubas, such boys are said to be descendants of the feared mythical chupacabra, known for its blood curdling raspberry trumpet blasts in the wastelands of Mexico, Peru, and Mongolia.

The patient before me was, of course, Joel. He was sharing his weekend update with me on this past Monday when I realized for the first time that he was not only an eccentric tuba player with the community band, but he had been silently suffering alone from Sousaphilia for decades. My throat swelled with compassion when the realization hit me. ‘The poor unfortunate soul. Bless his little reptilian heart.’ All these years now and I had missed it. Perhaps his suave sociability had fooled me, the way he worked a cocktail party room– until a strange woman across the room told him his tortoise shell eyeglasses were fascinating to her like an old world chameleon is to a herpetologist. Well, of course, he was a rock star in 360 degrees of sightedness, as he launched into a rendition of Frankie Valli’s “You’re Just Too Good To Be True”… as sung to a horsefly.

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“You’re just too good to be true
I can’t take my eyes off you
You’d be like heaven to touch
I wanna hold you so much
At long last love has arrived
And I thank God I’m alive
You’re just too good to be true
Can’t take my eyes off you
Pardon the way that I stare
There’s nothing else to compare
The sight of you leaves me weak
There are no words left to speak
But if you feel like I feel
Please let me know that is real
You’re just too good to be true
I can’t take my eyes off you”
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And so, returning to the matter at hand, after much inter-species flirting and mating dance rituals were demonstrated with a muffin and iced tea as table props, I took Joel’s tarnished brass history.
“Well, I got into the tuba game fairly late. I was in eighth grade when the band teacher realized she only had a single senior tuba player left for the marching band and needed to replace him. She noticed my bright,curious manner with other instruments and then did a saliva test for the mystery protein. Apparently I had what it took, genetically speaking, for the intrepid journey into sousaphilia.Image result for tuba player pictures on football fields
No one asked me if I wanted to go, mind you. I was like a young Ted Kaczynski, a guinea pig from a small town. The next thing I knew I was marching around during half time at football games, praying that the wind would not blow me over as I struggled to balance that brass monster on my narrow shoulders during blustery November nights. I said nothing of my pain. I merely shouldered the load and took it all for my alma mater.Related image
Later on in college ROTC I realized this was my way out of tromping through the jungles of ‘Nam. If I played the tuba well, it could save my life, unless General Westmoreland decided to stop napalming the Viet Cong and send in a marching brass band, like a herd of wild chupacabras, deafening the hearing of villagers and collaborators for miles, thus forcing a mass surrender and the end of an undeclared war of attrition. However, that did not occur. Instead, after many semesters of marching on the campus lawn, I developed Type 2 Sousaphilia, which is both nature and nurture driven. No words can convey my desolation, but a cash settlement would be nice.Image result for army marching brass band pictures
I was discharged honorably and found myself listless and yet longing for the feel of brass. In my desperation I decided to end it all, to kill my soul, and so I went into the shadowy lair of law school. I wanted to expiate my sin, my avarice, my love of brass, but I wound up with a j.d. (just desserts) and my riscence. Soon I was clad in tweed and chasing ambulances and dump trucks into county court. All the while, though, I found that something cool, metallic and golden was missing. I knew I would never be fulfilled until I held my sousaphone closely against the void that once held my cold beating heart.Image result for skeleton playing a tuba pictures
The year was 1976, and our community band leader Herb needed a full brass band that could march crisply for a mile to celebrate the bicentennial while keeping pace with Brownie troop 142 from Roxbury. Fortune smiled on me again. I auditioned for the tuba section. Herb was very complimentary, may God rest his soul. He gave me a can of Brasso and a shammy cloth to shine my bell. I still have them.”
As you can see, the patient meets all the criteria for Type 2 Sousaphilia as well as various other disorders. Do not throw stones of condemnation, dear blog readers. There but for the grace of God and one randomly occurring protein chain, go you and I.
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494. The New Old Normal

Image result for raised rancher house picturesBusy weekends are the norm now that we have no kids, no debt and no dog at home. The wife and I are off the leash on weekends, able to dance and party outside our circa 1985 raised rancher where we raised three girls and lots of pets over the past 33 years. Never imagined having the money or time or energy to do all we are doing in our early 60’s, that’s our dog years not the 1960’s. Plus, since my wife looks so much younger than I do, it’s like I’m Roy Moore. Ick, let’s see. How about Hugh Hefner?  What? Dead? Uh, how about never mind? Anyway, she’s still beautiful and we’re getting more competent at ballroom dance, twinkling through the rumba, aka, the dance of love.Image result for rumba dance pictures

Danced Friday night with fancy dance friends, foxtrot lesson, and then kept on going to a brewery joint with a blues band cranking till past my bedtime. Anti- nursing home fun was had by all. We danced as the younger patrons went home. What? Oh truly, youth is wasted on the young.  Our table closed the place. Each couple weighed in at 110 plus years of life experience times four couples; all told we were pulling over 450 years among us. I felt like I was in the dance mafia with Kirk playing Don Corleone. “Sonny, give this money to the band. Make them an offer they cannot refuse.” The band played on. Got home after midnight and it wasn’t even New Year’s Eve. I rarely see the a.m. side of midnight anymore, but there we were, flopping into our bed around 1:00 a.m. Naps are lifesavers not breath mints, my friends. Personally, I believe an hour of daytime sleep is equivalent to two night time hours of sleep. And yes, these late nights would not be possible without the generous sponsorship of late afternoon naps.Related image

I knew we had to move the bed upstairs on Saturday. To make this happen we had to clean out two rooms, move the broken-down bed parts, and then clean up the original bedroom where we had slept for the last 23 years, back into the bedroom we had vacated when the kids were little… 1994. Weird, weird, weird. The mattress felt like a dead sumo wrestler as we pushed and pulled it up the stairs, huffing and puffing with only the edges to grasp. I cursed in Japanese…Kuso! which is not the brand name of my old mattress. Once we had all the components upstairs, we re-assembled and leveled the frame, box spring and sumo wrestler.Image result for mattress moving pictures funny

Okay, you might think we were done, but no, you’d be wrong. After much cleaning and rearranging,  a power nap revived us for an evening dance that night. Three hours of chatting, laughing, snacking, drinking and dancing wound up at 10 p.m. Oh we waltzed, rumbaed, cha chaed, fox trotted, strolled, tangoed, and generally had a wonderful time. Well, we needed to wind down with some red wine before sleeping in our new old bedroom. Maybe 11:30 p.m. when we settled in as the super moon shone outside. Inside we slept like happily hibernating brown bears spooning and mooning on the dead sumo wrestler mattress, which occasionally grunted “Oh matsuma”, which means nothing in any language. I just like the sound of it.Related image

Sunday challenged us to get up for church services. I’d been tagged to teach a lesson on communication. Imagine that.  Breakfast was banging apple crisp, fresh brewed coffee, and scrambled eggs. Away we went, groomed and grooved for church and then a fast escape north for a day with our  grand kids. Everything fell in place and we did not fall on our faces somehow. I’m encouraged.  I’m not sure if life is better or I’m just more appreciative of it in my sixth decade. So far my wife and I remain healthy as we prepare for retirement up ahead. Still, we’re getting up every day and going to work without many complaints. So far, so good… like a good red wine that only improves with age.

Image result for archie and edith bunker picturesWhen I recall my own parents at 60+, I don’t associate vigorous movement with them. In his green fake leather wing chair, my dad lifted cigarettes and coffee and beer to his lips while camped out behind the Washington Post. Smoke signals would arise from behind the A section as he read George Will’s editorials. My mother called him Dad, which is weird to me now. Sometimes Dad would put the paper down and respond. Sometimes not. Arterio sclerosis is a quiet guest that ever so slowly moves in to one’s dormant arteries. All of them, disabling the circulatory system and then the heart. “Who invited the Sclerotics to this party?” Nobody, they just show up like termites.  Come to think of it, he died the day we moved into our new house in 1985. That was another new normal for me: a sterile new house in PA, smelling of new paint and carpeting and a fresh grave back in Mount Comfort Cemetery, smelling of damp soil and dead flowers.Image result for fresh grave pictures

I’d walked through that cemetery countless times as a kid. We used it as a shortcut on the way to Beacon Hill stores. I wrote about setting it on fire with Chris Young in the post “Burning the Dead”. Later in my teens we ran through it at night with girls from Wilton Woods on the other end, drinking sangria. Those normals came and went quickly. And I always loved the fast pace of change. Slower is more appealing these days, however.Image result for normal setting on dryer pictures

So odd how life unfolds, or for folks like me who don’t fold very well, wrinkles would be the more appropriate verb choice. As the years stretch out ahead of us, I’m sure there will be that day when folding and ironing out life’s wrinkles won’t be an option. And the smell of raw earth and dying flowers will hover about me, but that is not today. I’m enjoying this new old normal too much.Related image

493. The unshared past

Image result for family photosIn families with multiple children it is not unusual for separate histories to emerge between and among the siblings, especially if many years separate them. Even identical twins emerge with differing personal histories about their formative years. Unfortunately, even monozygotic twins can experience favoritism working for or against one or the other. Hard to imagine, I know, but I also know it happens. Who gets named after the paternal grandfather or someway or another becomes a hero in the family later on also gets named as the executor of the will and prime beneficiary thereof.  Such inequality can lead to injustice and resentment…bitterness, feuds, and dysfunction for generations. Just ask Esau or Ishmael if you can find either.

Image result for family photos by birth order oldest to youngestThe classic complaint is often lodged by the eldest child against siblings who follow him or her. Number one child inevitably compares his/her own experience against that of the latter child(ren).  It’s trickier if the next child is the other gender because there are built in anatomical and assumed gender identity differences. But it remains indisputable that the second child will have a different two parents who are two or five years older and have a child. Child two starts with two parents and a bigger kid who acts as an agent of the parents, i.e., a third parent. Sure, there are lots of exceptions. For instance, if the first born is handicapped or dies or is much older. Then the second child may function more as an only child.

Image result for small apartment photosWhat is missed by sibling comparisons is the fact that family dynamics do not hold static over the years. Parental income may change along with the family residence. Child one starts up in a two bedroom city apartment with clueless parents. Child two comes home to a town house and sleeps in a bunk bed with child one above. Child three comes to maturity in a single family house in the suburbs with a yard and garage, weathered parents at the helm. Child four has his own  bedroom and a playroom as his older sibs leave the home, leaving him/her alone with tired old parents. Each child from the family carries a unique historical map, although there will be large overlaps among their maps. Oh, but let’s not forget the adopted child who has a completely foreign map and shares no DNA with his/her siblings or their culture. Yikes, it’s getting deeply complicated now.Related image

A common history is what holds us together in the larger family of our community. It is the unity in community, our indivisible oneness.  Language connects us in the moment to our history. Over time, however, if we don’t connect regularly, divisions set in. Look at East and West Germany. Over time these two random groupings of the very same people evolved away from each other due to opposing governments. It took many years after the Berlin Wall came down to reincorporate the two Germanies. They are still trying to weave one shared history going forward despite the awful Soviet satellite status and criminality that ran East Germany for 40 years.Image result for berlin wall images

Today in Korea we have a similar sociology project going on. South Korea practices democracy and capitalism, whereas North Korea combines cultic family worship with Stalinist communism. After 65 years of separation they are deeply divided and mistrustful of each other, though they share DNA. The north practices a bizarre religious mythology that forcibly elevates the Kim family to perfect divinity status. In the south an imperfect form of representative government runs from election to election.  The south has a vibrant economy and has made tremendous progress since the end of the war. The north still operates mostly in medieval ways outside of Pyongyang. Freedom and individualism are non existent in the north, which operates more as a nation of slaves,  like ancient Egypt only nukes have replaced pyramids.Image result for korean dmz images

But we need look no further than across the table of Coffee Nation to see the effects of separation and coercion among us. Brother Lance preached it again this morning, how deeply ingrained prejudice, racism and white supremacy are in the timbers of our American society. Even calling ourselves Americans is a bit possessive. Aren’t Canadians and Mexicans also Americans? And Central and South Americans…what are they? By our exclusive use of the term, we exclude these other nations from the term. Are Cubans allowed to call themselves Americans? How about Peruvians?Image result for peruvian highlands pictures

We have to remember that the victor writes history, right or wrong, and mostly it’s wrong, not by accident but by methodical strategy. Western immigrants took over Native American lands, forcibly moving the original inhabitants west to marginal lands. Here is one example of a divergent history. Western settlers and their descendants have documents and deeds that demonstrate the legal history of their ownership. (You need paperwork when there is no trust.) The Native Americans have only stories and empty white promises and broken treaties.Image result for navajo reservation pictures

Because of systemic sanitization, we don’t share a common history.  Instead, we have a politically homogenized version of what sells best as history.  Those in power run it up the flag pole and our kids are told to salute. It’s not North Korea but it is still a subtle indoctrination. Every victor does this editing of history, minimizing atrocities and glorifying victories. And this is where the fissures and wedges are in our modern day United States of America. Lance made the radical suggestion of celebrating his people’s heritage on the streets of our town, just as the Union soldier facing south guards the town square and Confederate soldier re-enactors stride about in costume, he wondered aloud what sort of response and reaction he’d receive if he walked about in shackles and a loin cloth with a slave owner pulling him toward a southern plantation. I can only imagine the shock and horror of our townspeople if he portrayed his history on our streets. And there it is in a nutshell:  the streets are his also, right? But his history is shunted away into a footnote. Until and unless we get to our united history, however, we will continue to have racial and political earthquakes rocking us awake most rudely.Image result for chambersburg pa town square photos

For one man to understand his fellow man, he must communicate and study the history behind the eloquent eyes of the other.

492. Flag wrapped burritos: Trumpelstiltskin.

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The flag of the U.S.A. is very pretty, especially the over sized ones that fly along major highways and interstates. The blue and white field of 50 stars over lays the 13 alternating red and white stripes. Altogether this visual display symbolizes a unity and individualism that e pluribus unum gets at in Latin. We speak of schools as alma maters, languages as the mother tongue, and mother and fatherland for countries. The flag is like these other substitutions: it holds familial power and importance to be respected… like a mother.

Patriotism and/or religion and mommas are often used as the final refuge where the guns come out to end arguments or differences of opinion. When you are at the end of reason, you go after the other person’s momma. “Well, your momma is x.” Incendiary words through out the universe, I think.  Calling others a son of a bitch or son of a whore is common in many cultures. It is an insult to the other and his mother. No wonder it is so offensive. Just don’t involve mothers, you know, unless of course that is the message. “Not only you but your momma sucks rotten watermelons.”

Image result for anthem protest picturesLately, we have seen the flag used as a political football, whoa! Did I say that?  Yep, a political football that divides our country into camps and tribes, the very opposite of its legitimized purpose. We get e unus pluribum instead, (technically not correct Latin, but you get the message of reversal here). “From one, many.” i.e. division and reductionism. And who on earth would weaponize yet another dog whistle for political division and another bonfire of chaos? Yep, the evil one himself, Donald the Imp Trumpelstiltskin. “What’s my name?  What’s my name?”  Apparently he forgot it because he had to label buildings, golf courses, casinos, vodkas, resorts, meats, games, books, etc. with his shortened name, Trump, in order to always recall it. Or maybe it was something else, like naked narcissism. “I love me so much. I love you too”, said the reflection to the self. Image result for narcissus myth images

Like Rumpelstiltskin the Donald showed up when things looked not so good. America was trying to spin straw into gold and doing a fine job of running up $20 trillion of debt due to two wars, massive tax cuts, and a historic collapse of real estate and wicked sectors of Wall Street. He wanted to fix things, Make America Golden Again, for the small price of our collective soul. He claimed super powers that mere mortal politicians lacked. He was godlike, a star, the epitome of success. Why, all you had to do was ask him and he’d tell you how awesome he was. He’d been fabricating his life story all his life. He’d turned doubles into home runs in high school; graduated first in his college class; made his fortune all on his own; made a university out of nothing; and many, many other falsehoods that collapse under scrutiny. Over time Trumpelstiltskin fell in love with his lies so much that he preferred them to the real truth. So spinning straw into gold was nothing. He’d been turning chicken crap into chicken salad for 70 years when he moved into the White House. Along the way he developed an uncanny skill at speaking out of both sides of his mouth while smiling simultaneously. 

So now the flag burrito. On many occasions Trumpelstiltskin has managed to literally and figuratively wrap himself or his talking points in our beautiful flag. Early on he raised the flag for white Americans, who like his own family had immigrated to the U.S., and against any new immigrants. His dotard wall idea brings to mind the Great Wall of China, a serpentine marvel of construction driven by Chinese xenophobia. China feared the rest of the world and insulated itself for centuries. So fear and racism are key ingredients in the wall flag burrito. But the Donald adds a secret insult sauce to Mexicans, Muslims and other Bad Dudes: he stirs up suspicion based on torturous verbal misrepresentations, a.k.a. lies. In his in versus out frame work, Obama is a foreigner not a fellow American. Muslims universally are terrorists. But self proclaimed Nazis in Charlottesville and Russian oligarchs and strong dictators the world over are really fine people who should be wrapped in his wall burrito.Image result for trump hugging the flag pictures(Trumpelstiltskin molesting the flag. Fake news. Bad.)

I know that’s a lot to swallow, so let’s look at another burrito. It’s the sports are for Black people burrito. Trumpelstiltskin combines a clever mix of bigotry and racism that is guarded to look like patriotism. He uninvited the NBA Warriors to the White House when he felt slighted by these mostly Black men. He disapproved of their disapproval, like spices that fight one another. He knew this would not work. So he sought out sure things, safe White people or compliant mixtures of races. He had the NFL Patriots visit because he knew Tommy Boy and Belichik and Kraft had sold out for him in the election. So there’s the white meat component. However, later in the year he got his panties all in a wad when a few Black NFL players knelt or sat during the national anthem at games. Don the Imp jumped right into that mess and drove a stake into the heart of America. Speaking in that bastion of free speech, equal rights and high morality, Alabama, he referenced the NFL protesters as ‘sons of bitches’ as he back flipped into our lovely flag. Being a patriot provocateur, he finishes this flag burrito with a bilious green sauce that is to die for. Such a patriot that if it weren’t for cowardice, wealth, lust and bone spurs, he’d have been in the jungles of Vietnam instead of comfortably spending his daddy’s millions building his own fortune. After you digest this burrito, you’ll agree he is entitled to grab women’s genitalia, even though he admitted to saying so but not doing it until he questioned his own testimony as a conspiracy of fake news.Related image

(You know I just can’t help myself. When I see beautiful, I just grab em by the … fake news.)

It’s a shame I don’t have room for more than three burritos here. The daily special is always available, however. It’s the hypocrisy burrito that includes carmelized alternative truths, mixed with immoral equivalencies, and backed up with thin skinned ego oysters. All of this is served on a plate of envy;  with petty rolls; and includes a side of sour grape twitters. All to say that no American president has accomplished so little, at such low levels, than Trumpelstiltskin, the flag wrapped, ulcer inducing, herniated burrito imp from Hell.

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(Melania says I’m not an imp but elfish… what? oh, selfish. Nevermind.)

 

491. Black Friday

Related imageThe parking lot outside my second story window is empty on this chilly morning. I can see the misshapen  shadows dripping down the beige brick wall of the Central Presbyterian Church, sinking as the late November sun gets out of bed. The last fuzzy arms of the night retract spiderishly, scurrying under cars and into alleys.  Quiet on all fronts. Businesses closed. Schools too. Hardly any traffic.

Image result for homeless man in a tee shirt photosHushed breath makes steam in front of my face outside. On the way over to the coffee shop I noticed the local homeless guy walking downhill toward the stream that bisects our little town. The railroad ran alongside it decades ago. Rails to Trails replaced the steel rails just like the railroad replaced the stream.  You know how transportation systems replace one another? A paved road put the train out of business. We call it progress until we see the next pair of vacant eyes looking back at us. The Salvation Army center is on the uprise beyond the stream, replacing the old convenience store/ gas station.  Headed toward the Salvy, Dude was in a grey tee shirt and jeans. That’s all. 30 degrees Fahrenheit and he’s obviously shivering to keep even with the cold via mushrooming goosebumps.Related image

I was half shocked at his exposure, but then he’d spent the last two winters hunkered down under sleeping bags and blankets on park benches around the downtown. I’d been close enough to see the open sores all over his body on warmer days. He’d rub his raw  legs in the sunshine while grimacing between itches and scrapes. Reminded me of someone scaling a dead fish, only in this case the fish and scaler were the same entity. Different times he’d come into the coffee shop for a drink or a muffin, more like a sickly wild animal than a human. More like a leper with all his scabs and scars. Even his thick eyeglasses were coated with layers of grime. How can he see? Maybe it’s better that he does not.

He turned and called out to me, “Hey, could you help me buy a sandwich?” I turned around to him and said, “Sure, but don’t you need a coat?”

“I know where I can find a coat. I lost my  place in subsidized housing. I’ve been staring at the ceiling for the past year anyway. Someone stole all my stuff. But I can find a coat.”  His voice started up toward a cry like a wounded coyote in a trap.Image result for black and white photos of homeless man

I reached into my pocket and pulled out a ten dollar bill. Sufficient for a sandwich and something else.  His hair was wild, stiff from poor hygiene. His eyes might as well have been frozen and glazed tuna eyes at the seafood counter, lifeless and spent. He thanked me and turned toward the Salvation Army, sliding back into his poultry stride. I continued on my way, warm in my down jacket and gloves, my newish clothes and shoes.Image result for eddie bauer male models in fleece jackets

As I got farther from him, I thought about the $20 and $50 bill in my wallet. I should have been more thoughtful and given him one or both of those. I imagined folks doubting him with a crisp new $50, though. “Dude, where did you steal this?” I don’t get that reaction. It’s more like, “Really, is that the smallest bill you’ve got?” Sometimes it is. Not my poor neighbor’s problem. Not a problem at all.

I kept thinking about Street Dude. I’m comfortable amid plenty. I had just parked a newish comfortable car with heat and stereo surround sound, driving from my comfortable home to my comfortable office.  All paid for. I could have given him my jacket, easily.  Not a problem for me. Would have been a nice gift for him, a Jesus moment for both of us. These ideas came too slowly, though. They got clearer the farther away Street Dude went from me. That’s the problem with Christians like me: we are not sharpened in the Word by 8:00 a.m. We’re slow and miss opportunities to bless others as a result, we run out of oil before the bridegroom arrives.Related image

The irony of Black Friday is not lost on me. Millions of rabid shoppers are hours into their frenzied material feeding at malls and box stores across the country, piranhas and sharks gobbling up electronics and toys and hot new fashions.  I imagine that’s where a lot of the traffic moved to, the malls. Before the manic predators enter the stores they must first gobble up parking spaces. So what? In my ironic gaze am I judging the masses to feel good about myself? Not shopping or not diving into materialism is not a holy action. (Triple negative if you are scoring at home. Translation: I still suck.)Related image

My little do gooder action does not make me feel good or superior; it actually sits in my guts like a live coal. What is his name? What’s his story? What else does he need? How do I fit into that process? I feel inadequate in hindsight. I gave a man a fish not a fishing pole. I can roll back into a comfortable check writing position and recount previous acts of generosity. Sure, but that would be fake and not appease this Black Friday nagging.

There is another Black Friday that comes to mind, the Friday of Jesus’ death and entombment. It is not a celebration of wealth and materialism. It is instead the nadir of Christian sadness, the bottom of the empty well. All hope and joy wrapped up in burial cloth. In real time it marked the end of the dream, the kingdom reborn, the fulfillment of many promises. Silence reigned instead of a king.Image result for holy friday crucifixion images

And maybe that’s the connection here. This unnamed man shivered crucified before me and I was crucified on the hard truths of my faith, “Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me.” And my little tastes like sour wine on a dirty rag. I  have my earthly reward.

 

490. The Solution is the Problem

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Have you heard the Trump supporter who said if Jesus came off the cross and told him that Trump colluded with the Russians that he’d have to say, “Excuse me, Jesus, I need to check with my president first”?  Yeah, crazy, huh? Disturbing on a whole new level… the supernatural. The guy went on to say he was from Jamaica and owned/ran a pest remediation company. I guess he’s an exterminator not a special ed teacher for pests. I get it now. If you use pesticides or LSD long enough, you can confuse the solution with the problem at hand. Instead of trapping rats, you begin catching toddlers. Instead of termites, you kill off stands of virgin timber. Instead of fleas and ticks, you poison dogs. It happens. One day you wake up backwards. You think with your feet and walk on your hands.

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In education it is not unusual to hear teachers complain about their students. They reverse the focus of education; instead of putting their students’ needs first, they put their own needs in the ultimate position. “We are not thanked, respected, honored, compensated, or loved as we should be.” So this victim mindset entreats these teachers to avoid students and seek supervisory positions in administration, or as directors of programs removed from the students. They talk the same talk to adults and paper, about what the kids need and blah blah blah, but it’s pretty clear they care only about their padded lifestyles and eventual retirements. In toxic situations it’s easy to confuse the solution for the problem.

Back in the mud slide running of the bulls known as the presidential campaign debacle of 2016, we heard so many audible atrocities that it would take 1,000 pages to chronicle all of them. Hillary was awful. Donald was abhorrent. The media? Whorish. Day after day it seemed more like a Looney Tunes cartoon than reality. Late night comics skewered bits of the day’s craziness on monologue schticks. So easy a fifth grader could make political jokes because the partisan diatribes hovered right around late elementary school cognitive levels. Just like in war, the first casualty was the truth, if it ever existed prior.

How is it that these bulls kept running through the mud? Did some dam break behind them? And the electorate ran wild-eyed ahead of their goring horns, slipping on cobblestones of excreted lies and allegations. Foolish people ran ahead of the rampaging beasts. They found no mercy or comfort when trampled by a Democrat or Republican bully. Only fools believe you can ride them, after all, unless you are a lobbyist rodeo cowboy working for the super wealthy. Eight seconds is all it takes to count. One photo op.Image result for bull rider images

The Johnstown flood ravaging all downstream was nothing compared to the Potomac’s approaching wrath when it pounds the swamp lands of D.C. on reckoning day. The city is bordered by the Anacostia and Potomac rivers, and sits at sea level between their shores. Yeah, it was swampland to begin with, Maryland swampland. The Virginia side of the original diamond was returned to Virginia in 1847. D.C. could use some of that high ground these days as decay flourishes in the whirlpool of septic politics percolating there, with raw sewage served up like sparkling water in fine dining establishments. “Here’s a tax bill for a trillion and a half, brought to you by the fiscally conservative waiters in Congress.” The in party serves it up in crystal goblets while the out party bottles up reserves for the next even year. “A bottle of the 1992, please. That was a great year, heady and Newty with a delicate bouquet! Ummmm, smell the sulfates.” Toxic effervescence hisses when served cold with a vengeance. Cheers, Tommy Jefferson.Image result for washington d.c flooding pictures

Drink it! We can’t drink it, even though we thirst for it, the pure waters of truth. Filter upon filter is needed to remove what can’t be detoxed. More chlorine. More agitation. More percolation. These filthy waters are only good for putting out fires in the White House or washing down the Capitol Hill pig troughs. The whole thing is backwards. We were supposed to be herding the bulls ahead of us, harnessing them to the social contract plow. Somehow we got ahead of them, Hillary, Donnie, and the Hydra headed Media. Now we are ensnared and pulling them unaccountably along behind us in rickshaws.Image result for rickshaw runners

Like so many other countries before us, the stratospheric division into the super rich and powerful few versus the beleaguered, powerless many is on. Royals and commoners, gods and untouchables, high priests and the sacrificial masses– it’s not news. E pluribus unum was the exception not the rule. These days it’s the exact opposite trajectory– from a sometimes awkward national unity to free falling tribal divisions. And the solution that works is to keep both sides busy blaming each other. For whom does it work? Well, the Russians enjoy expanding influence and power as they blow up western democratic elections by exploiting cracks in our society. The modern day oligarchs and pharaohs also benefit from the battles among the lower and middle classes. It’s the same old strategy used in the U.S. south to keep free blacks and poor whites at odds, battling for the low wages paid by the insulated upper classes of business and government. “If they’re fighting each other for a seat on the bus, then they aint fighting us for a raise.” Works like a charm.Image result for civil rights bus pictures

How do you make the solution the problem?  Simple. When confronted with sexual assault accusations, re-assault the victims by calling them liars. Make it an “us versus them” scenario.  There’s the solution. When diversity becomes challenging in the pluribus, ban the brown and black, the least and last, the different. Make sweeping, unsubstantiated claims to rattle the pluribus. Though major crime rates are largely lower per capita, instill greater fear in the populous by seizing on particular crimes, especially if a brown or black person is involved. That’s a BOGO deal. Remain silent when your side offends. Deny, deny, deny facts while blowing up alternative facts like enormous lawn ornaments.Image result for outrageous blow up lawn ornaments pictures

But let’s give Tommy Jefferson the last word here…”Tho’ you cannot see when you fetch one step, what will be the next, yet follow truth, justice, and plain-dealing, and never fear their leading you out of the labyrinth in the easiest manner possible.” Boom!Image result for thomas jefferson pictures

 

489. American Idol

Image result for frozen duck pictures“Stuck,” He said, “I’m stuck. Simple as that. I’m a frozen duck.

I can’t go forward and I can’t go back. I’m Outta luck.

She’s not happy anymore and I’m a schmuck, is what she told me.”

 

(And I thought this would make a decent song lyric,

but he doesn’t want to hear the song right now.)

 

Image result for old wise man pictures“Hard as it may be to believe, One day you’ll forget her name and her smell,

her voice, her hair, And strain to recall this pain”

 

Image result for duck tears picturesTears dripped down his feathered cheeks as he quacked on.

 

Related image“These things… you can’t grieve them alone

Have you shared your hurts with anyone else?”

 

“No, I don’t want to make it real”
Image result for images from movie matrix“Sure, if you don’t name it, then it doesn’t really exist, huh?”

 

“Sort of. I just want her back so bad, I can’t admit it’s over. The pain keeps it real.”

 

“But if you pretend hard enough, it’s never over.”Image result for niagara falls frozen pictures

 

“Right, If I drop out of time, I can subvert it, you know, transcend time?”Related image

 

“But the pain won’t ever heal either.  Let’s review the pieces of grief, okay?”

“No. I don’t want to. It will hurt too much.”

“There’s shock, denial, and clearly that is where you are right now.”Image result for pictures of denial

“No I’m not.”

“…bargaining, anger, sadness and acceptance, maybe.”

 

Related image“ Okay, full disclosure:  I’m there all right. Blown away on Saturday, in denial since.  I’ve cried out to God, tried to make a deal… anything, Lord. Funny thing is He and I were so much closer before I chose her.

I was young and hungry to know what God said then

But completely satisfied by my goddess Autumn instead.

Now it hurts to breathe.”Image result for painful breathing faces pictures

 

“Yep, she was so perfect, and all you had to do was

Twist yourself into the human pretzel knot to keep her “Image result for human pretzel images

“I didn’t want her to change for me, so I…”

“Got carved out like a sandstone canyon”Image result for sandstone canyon images

“Yeah, washed away by a brutally cold river”

“Not an equal relationship, my friend.

Did you put her on a pedestal?”

“A big one. I worshiped her like…”

“An eyeless Idol?”Image result for images of idol in front of god's throne

“Yeah, I guess so… but, no. There is no but. I sat her down before God’s throne.

My goddess, my everything. Now she’s gone.”

“Idols are like that. Best thing you can do is push them over. Know the difference between an idol and an idiot?”Image result for broken idols pictures

“No. What?”

There is no difference. One looks at the other stupidly.

“Ahhhhhh!!! I made her everything—the moon and sun, the stars. Oxygen. Life.

She promised to be my wife.”bastet cat woman goddess statue

“And now you find she made you less of everything despite her promises.”

“Yeah, I sound like a drug addict, huh? ‘I caught you knockin’ at my cellar door. I love you baby, can I have some more?’ What’s that Neil Young song called?”Image result for neil young junkie face pictures

The Damage Done. It’s about heroin.”

“I get it now, I really do. When love is coursing through your veins and all around your brain, you don’t want anything else– sleep, food, work, God. The only thing you can think about is the loved one, when can I get some more?”Image result for psychotic images flying out of one's head

“Yeah, that’s addiction. Love is not a tsunami that overwhelms and conquers you. It’s a joining of two persons who grow one another. Love does not shrink the other.”

“But I wanted to just be her shadow, her aura, her breath. I didn’t exist without her. I don’t exist.”Image result for shadow images

“Seems like it. I’m just conversing with your pain.”

“Uh huh. I’m an echo of an echo in an empty desert well.”Image result for desert well pictures

“Whew! How long did you date her? 18 months or so?”

“17 and a half. That first half was like gold rushing through my soul. I felt like a pop star in Seoul.”Image result for korean boy band rock star pictures

“And then?”

“Lake Bacteria. Only eels and carp could survive in that putrid swamp. All I did was try to please her with money and attention, gifts, special notes and texts. Luxury without limits. I had to get her back, that first taste of ecstasy thrashing about.”Image result for filthy lake pictures

“Sure, sure. Funny thing with all these fast acting drugs is that they quit you just as fast. Ever notice that?  You know, a butane fire is one big kaboom! and it’s over. But a slow burning fire of apple wood or hickory, now there’s a whole night of warm magic.”Image result for close up wood fire pictures in fireplaces

“Uh huh. Our love was like a crack pipe… fast and furious. It hurt so good and ruined me with bliss.”Image result for lit crack pipe images

“And here you are, man. Vaporized, burned out, used up… crying out for more. What? Blissters?”

“Just a little taste, that’s all I want now.”

“Love empowers the loved one through shared vulnerability. It’s a paradox.”

“I don’t know what that means, but I’d appreciate it if you’d take my body with you when you go. Being a gas is less painful. If you see her, you know I…”

“Sure… Idolize her.”

Image result for huge idol pictures

 

 

 

488. Trickling Tricks

Related imageSo years and years ago one Richard Milhous Nixon put forth the famous trickle down tax theory, whereby blessing the rich and corporate world first with a huge loaf of bread, it was believed a certain crumb or two would eventually trickle down to the common little citizens at the base of the Rocky Mountains of capitalism. This same despot froze prices and wages to cool inflation, but he gave businesses a heads up so that they could raise prices the night before the new rule kicked in, thus delivering detritus to the rest of us. Yeah, Tricky Dick.

DefinitionTrickledown economics is a theory that says benefits for the wealthy trickle down to everyone else. These benefits are usually tax cuts on businesses, high-income earners, capital gains and dividends. … It assumes they’ll use any extra cash from tax cuts to expand businesses.Related image

My concern is that the only guarantee is the front end. A tax cut is given first to folks and corporations who are doing just fine without a tax cut, corporations who are so America First that they have moved jobs and company headquarters to offshore settings in order to avoid paying their legal share of U.S. taxes due. We’re talking billions and billions of dollars each year. They did what soulless corporations do: make money. Period. No moral compass involved since you can’t monetize a moral compass.  Now the American public is expected to trust our current elected elites to cut the taxes for the wealthiest folks once again, in the hope that some sort of nationalistic pride will make them want to spend more money on their fellow Americans by raising wages and creating good jobs in the USA. There is no guarantee or government edict that requires any of the definite tax savings to be reinvested domestically. Oh, but trickle down will work, so we are told, as if it’s a law of physics. Trust the process. Sure, politicians are so trustworthy. Sign me up for the detritus downstream.

Related imageI imagine trickle down economics as follows. Wealth pulls up and away in bad economic times like a snow pack on the mountain peaks. If and when the economy heats up, some of that frozen, inaccessible capital melts, turns liquid, and flows down to where the little people work and live. Sounds so natural, you know, when Providence shines on those silvery slopes of frozen assets in the springtime, and hundred dollar bills like retarded green salmon begin their annual emigration down the streams and rivulets of Mt. Wealthy to water the plains of Eddie Slobinski’s junk yard. Problem is that it does not work. Wages have been stagnant for decades in the USA when adjusted for inflation. I borrowed the following from Economic Policy Institute:Image result for images of stagnation

Stagnant wages for middle-wage workers, declining wages for low-wage workers

Over the entire 34-year period between 1979 and 2013, the hourly wages of middle-wage workers (median-wage workers who earned more than half the workforce but less than the other half) were stagnant, rising just 6 percent—less than 0.2 percent per year. This wage growth, in fact, occurred only because wages grew in the late 1990s when labor markets got tight enough—unemployment, for instance, fell to 4 percent in 1999 and 2000—to finally deliver across-the-board hourly wage growth. The wages of middle-wage workers were totally flat or in decline over the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, except for the late 1990s. The wages of low-wage workers fared even worse, falling 5 percent from 1979 to 2013. In contrast, the hourly wages of high-wage workers rose 41 percent.

Image result for uneven scale of justice images

In 2013 the average CEO made $15.2 million per year. Feel that trickle? It’s like ice water.

So, folks, it’s not tax cuts for the corporations or the 1% that produced a brief increase in wages; instead, it was a two year period of lower unemployment in the last days of the Clinton years that drove up wages. Not the Bush or Reagan era tax cuts. Not trickle down economic lies. Wages elevated when employees were scarce. The fantasy of the super rich investing their extra cash in growing the economy is just that, a fantasy. The fact is a labor squeeze amped up wages ever so briefly.Image result for hour glass images

I see it like this… the rich want to keep their money despite any patriotic b.s. to the contrary. They self aggrandize that they are the engines of wealth and deserve to keep more of their hard earned money. They are righteous, taxed enough already patriots. Ignore the gap between workers and CEO’s in America, the fact that the one per centers’ incomes skyrocketed since the 1960’s to the present time, dwarfing any gains made by the millions of employees who actually produce something, they need yet another tax advantage so that they can further prosper, and maybe one day down the road they can toss the rest of us a bone to gnaw. Oh thank you, one per cent. Oh thank you, government.Image result for hungry dog gnawing a bone pictures

U.S. corporations are free to reunite their offshore billions today. They have historically high levels of capital on hand. And yet, they don’t hire more Americans or raise American wages now. And they won’t. They have no incentive to do so. They are money making machines. It’s a ruse that decreasing their tax load will magically benefit the middle class worker bees who produce their billions. Nope, their billions are sitting un patriotically offshore in Ireland and Caribbean islands. Good for them. And now the American population is supposed to be enthused that the tax cheaters and avoiders might come home because we will now reward their selfishness? Sure. Can’t wait. Why would they want to pay taxes now? They have successfully avoided tax burdens for decades.Related image

Their money held back is like the ice pack in the Alps or Himalayas. It is assumed that when that ice is moved back to the USA it will melt and water the parched middle class folks below. However, since human economic nature is balanced by greed and fear, the ice pack from overseas will simply be added to the Rockies, frozen above 13,000 feet. It’s not going to melt and water anyone below in the USA any more than the same accumulated wealth watered anyone overseas. It’s about greed holding onto wealth. Pretending that millions of American middle class folks will benefit from such tilted tax reform can be unequivocally smacked down by the history of Herbert Hoover, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. All practiced some form of trickle down economics. None helped the supposed target audience, the famed American middle class. The last great straw man available to set on fire with “voodoo economics”, to quote George H.W. Bush.Image result for mt everest pictures

So you can keep on believing that giving the richest 1 per cent a 99 per cent tax cut that results in 1 per cent relief for the 99 per cent is a good idea. But you’d be foolish. The snow packers will most likely build another ski chalet at the summit of their expanded wealth. Cheers, sucker.

Image result for phenomenal ski chalets pictures

487. Nostalgia

Image result for nostalgia pictures[Nostalgia comes from Greek nostos, meaning return home and Latin –algia, return. No surprise then that a moment of nostalgia requires one to look back in time.

Medical Definition of nostalgia

1:the state of being homesick
2:a wistful or excessively sentimental sometimes abnormal yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition]

 

Image result for late november sunsets photoThe mid November sun is setting . The Skins lost another one. At 4 and 5 it’s over for their season, which is fine with me. I’m not gonna watch meaningless games later in the season. Not after the glory years of Joe Gibbs and Riggo.  This will free me up to… uh, read great books, and uh, clean, um, and get ahead in my billing, maybe iron my socks. Yeah. It’s a lose / win deal. My bride is on the way home from her aged mother’s with groceries that I will help unload. After cutting the leaf smothered grass and drinking two beers, it’s slowly becoming Sunday night in our recently emptied nest… quiet and clean and orderly.  Yup. Still, I long for little feet padding around upstairs and little voices seeking something I might be able to get. I don’t need to be needed; I just like to be needed by little ones who call me granpa. Or kids who call me Dad. I miss the snuggle zoo tooImage result for snuggle zoo pictureswith my granddaughter in front of the sectional couch where all the imaginary kids would come out to play with us under a blanket tent.

Ken Burns’ Vietnam War documentary is on PBS. Sad and depressing. I remember living through the Nixon years, the lies and deceptions, which seem all too familiar these years. Why couldn’t folks see through his duplicity back then? He was a sweaty liar and fraud. Even a 13 year old could see that. Many died because of his political magic tricks .  On muddy videotape he and Henry Kissinger speak cynically of running the war out, like it was a football game. Poof, the air horn blows and it’s a political victory. Don’t mind the blood.  And then there is that historic photo of the little girl burned by Dow Chemical’s napalm, her skin blistering off. Like the dead students at Kent State, it was impossible to look away. Don’t look away. It’s still disturbing, and the world still needs your horrified response… only now it’s Mynamar or North Korea. The world never runs out of genocidal tribes. Those kids have grandparents too. They might be snuggling with their own grandkids these days, trying to explain their scars to innocent minds.Image result for napalm girl in vietnam photo

My neighbors across the street might quite reasonably think we have become drug dealers as we keep moving nondescript boxes out of our house, multiple shipments of stuff for my middle daughter in Hershey and my baby girl in town. Then this morning we loaded up returns for my mother-in-law 90 minutes away.  Sure, it looks like we are bundling crack or crystal.  Well, actually there was some Czechoslovakian crystal and nice china along with sterling silver that needed to be returned to grandma bear.Image result for people loading suv photos

“There they go again, Jim. Moving who knows what to who knows where. I think they’re Russian spies.”

“No, Lisa. I don’t think there ‘s no collusion with no body goin’ on. It’s just late fall cleanin’ They aint spies.”

“Well, it’s mighty strange if you ask me.”

“No body asked you, Lisa.”

“Don’t get smart with me or you’ll be packing up next for Siberia, mister.”

Related imageNow, I don’t know what my neighbors think, truth be told. But I do imagine what they think of all the goings on across the street, just like we wonder when their 28 foot travel trailer will break loose and ram into our living room. I know, you are wondering who has time to wonder what his neighbors might be thinking. I don’t usually.  And firmly put, I don’t care what others think about how I live my life. However, when there is three feet of snow on my driveway, it’s nice to have an amicable relationship with one’s snow blowing neighbors.

Image result for bonfire picturesLong, long ago I remember trying to build some sort of civic relationship prior to the internet. I thought it would be nice to have a bonfire and invite the neighbors, which I did. The old Christmas trees burned but the social payload did not. It was just an awkward evening in the January dark, unlike my memories of community bonfires in the 1960’s behind Leroy King’s house in my old neighborhood. Fire was our only commonality in the early 90’s, but back in the 60’s the social contract was way more cohesive and communal; there was nothing on t.v. back then and few options anywhere. So a neighborhood bonfire seemed a pretty rockin’ good evening adventure.

Image result for pumpkin carving picturesThen we carved pumpkins with the neighbors and tried to make something special happen. It didn’t.  Neither did the neighborhood cook out. And then we stopped trying.   If you can’t crack the pinata in three strokes, well, it’s not gonna crack, no candy will spill out, no party will ensue. A re-calibration was needed to bring modern reality to my antiquated expectations. Back in my old Virginia Hills neighborhood it would have been a huge success to simply have a beer with a neighbor while the fireworks went off at the elementary school a block away.  A cook out would have been dicey because too many folks would show up and crowd the house and yard.  Carving pumpkins? Pretentious. Do you know how many kids and knives and pumpkins that would have involved? Still, I had a longing to recapture some of my childhood’s poignancy. Swing and a miss. You can’t ever go home again.Image result for pinata swings pictures

So time goes on and things change. Not always for the better. Seems the social bar was a lot lower in my formative years. A party did not need invitations or formalities. Stuff just happened. You had sodas after a baseball game and cookouts after the season. At the community pool on Labor Day we dove for coins at the bottom of the pool. Pennies from heaven. Snowball fights broke out spontaneously. And a good time was had by all.Image result for local community party picturesThe irrecoverable condition, I suppose.

486. From persuasion to coercion and back again

Related imageIt’s not unusual for my old therapists group grope’s points of focus to show up the next day in practice. We have read several books that try to blend Christian faith and modern science. A lot of the content honestly goes past me like a Maserati on the Autobahn. I’m the 1959 Volkswagen Bug burning oil at 35 mph. However, some of the issues linger in my linguini-like neural pathways. Image result for photos of cooked linguine noodles

Recently we were discussing God’s self limitation in relationship to humankind’s free will. Whew!! (I know, I just pour the coffee for my four post doctoral guests.) In the heady text we’ve been reading [with small print and no pictures] coercion versus persuasion was posited as a way to understand God’s immeasurable power (coercion) versus His great love for mankind (persuasion). Although God could force us to do certain behaviors or not, through His self limitation He allows us humans to try and fail and try again to imitate and/or comply with His will. In many ways this relationship is like a loving parent allowing a child to fall and get up and fall again as the child learns to walk, talk, play with others, learn at school, do chores, spend money, drive, date, etc. Okay, most parents don’t do this very well, but you get the idea.Image result for parents watching toddlers crawl pictures

It is amazing and awesome that rather than predestining everything in a mechanical sense, God allows human beings to sin, to dismiss Him, even disown Him in our prodigality. Maybe you have also done some of the above.  I listened to my wise colleagues opining while also listening to my dishwasher, refrigerator, and electric fireplace kick on and off as they were designed to do. Unlike household appliances, however, humans are free to some degree to make nearly unlimited choices. And then to choose again if they don’t care for the early returns. We are not machines; instead, we are evolving creations moving into a future we share with our kenotic (self emptying) God. Pretty cool stuff.Image result for waterfall pictures

Perhaps you can relate to this analogy in your own adolescent journey from childhood into adult life. It was not a light switch that instantly and completely flicked from off (childhood) to on (adult life). No. The metamorphosis required many trials and errors, along with pimples, bad fashion choices, unsavory friends, and sophomoric brilliance. If you are honest, you’d probably slap your 15 year old self if you met him/her later today. I certainly would, and my 15 year old self would happily slap your 15 year old self, believe me. But then you’d also want to hug that early version of yourself and encourage him/her to keep evolving, holding fast to truth, being truth. See, you’d be in the God position, knowing the past and the future of your objective self.  Okay, see how I got a sprained brain?

Image result for 1960 station wagonSo let me flesh out the abstracts. When I was 15, I think, I did not want to be in the life or body that I inhabited. I wanted to be out there, somewhere else, living a cooler version of life in a much cooler place. My next door neighbor and best friend at that time was Richard Cooper. Somehow it happened that someone who knew Richard wanted to give him an old station wagon, a really old and ugly station wagon. My Google search makes me think it was a 1960 Chevy Nomad Wagon. Problem was this was in 1971, two or three mega cool factors removed from 1960 car cool. No matter how you looked at this thing, it screamed “Grandpa”. Oh, it was  painted a very sexy pale mauve, as I recall.

Image result for defiant teenager and parents photosWell, Richard could not store it in his yard, at least that’s what he told me, so he worked on me to park it in my yard and it would be “ours”. I was all in. Sure, we’d work on it and share the costs and all the anticipated adventures we’d share zooming around. Heck, we’d drive it to Florida in the winter or early spring when I got my license. Oh yeah. It was an adolescent dream, which is all it turned out to be. My folks were not pleased when they came home to find an old mauve Chevy Nomad station wagon parked in their back yard. But I was resolute, ready to push back like MLKing at that bridge in Montgomery, Alabama. ” We shall overcome, we shall not be moved.” They relented without violence either way.Related image

I’d sit in the old wagon during late fall and winter nights, listening to the am radio until the battery died, occasionally smoking my dad’s pilfered Camel cigs. They tasted awful but the Nomad wagon was a refuge for me. After rooting around in the back seat, I found an old WWII leather bomber jacket. Surprisingly it fit me just right. Wow! Instant cool wrapped around my shoulders. With no real effort I had half an old station wagon and an entire leather bomber jacket. Things were looking up. Sure, my folks were not believers in the coolness parked in their yard. They regularly mentioned the monster to me. Somehow I argued to a draw, which meant the wagon did not leave.Image result for tow truck towing junked car pictures

Then there was the day Richard left for Florida without me. “Sorry, man.” And it was someone else’s doing, for sure. My resolve began to melt away as the imagined freedoms and revelry evaporated like frost on the windshield of that crappy station wagon. Suddenly the Nomad was just an ugly monstrosity and evidence of an embarrassing battle of adolescence. The next time my parents wanted it towed away, I pretended to resist and then with false righteousness capitulated. I wanted the damn thing gone too. I kept the bomber for two more years and gave it to my new friend Rob in London, when I made my own futile adventure across the pond. That’s another story with embarrassing moments for another time. No one forced me through that knothole, so any splinters in my butt were on me.

Image result for British teens in leather jackets