376. Precision Dawdling

The Nation met this morning and inspired me as usual to chronicle this meaningless meeting of human mediocrity. Let me first say that tomorrow is my 60th birthday and the fellas knew it. Steve and Doug were waiting with a chocolate chip muffin on a napkin. Adorning the muffin were two wiggle candles, one yellow and the other green, that resembled DNA strands without the connecting rungs… or bug antenna set on fire. Pick the one you feel is more appropriate. A plastic conifer tree stood at attention in the center, guarded by a plastic clown head that somehow resembled Donald Trump. I was touched as I snuffed out the two snakey candles and peeled the wax paper cup liner off the base of the muffin. MMMMm, not a bad way to start Coffee Nation.

No sooner had I begun eating my muffin than Joel arrived in a spiffy gray pinstriped suit with a black bow tie. Sharp as a diamond studded platinum tack in Al Sharpton’s silky lapel. Steve compared him to Harrison Ford in his fashionable tableau. I just called him Hair Ass, Son, with an Asian accent, and left it at that. Joel noted that his deceased father-in-law celebrated the same birthday as I. “He lived to be 99… and was a miserably smart, horse’s ass who disdained me from the get go.” Harsh words from the usually mild mannered Joel, but I was beginning to see things that only a father-in-law can perceive. Well, that eruption struck me as a methane burp from old decomposing feelings.  Therefore, I decided to share my evaporating weird dream from last night so as to steer a new course for Joel’s psychic dingy, away from the wicked shoals of cranky coral.

I was getting dressed , somewhere in my dream, for the birthday dinner party my wife had set up at the Gourmet Goat in Hagerstown. She had invited 15 folks to join us. We were waiting in a familiar glass house having a glass of wine with vague anticipation, or was it dread? Oddly, Donald Trump was a guest and behaving unpredictably civil. I asked him, “Donald, would you like a drink?” He declined without a bit of attitude, insisting that he did not drink alcohol and loved Mormons, Muslims, Morons, Mandalas, Mandelas, Mandolins, and that was just the M’s. Though it did look like he was passing a kidney stone.

The house began to fill with cousins whose names I did not even know.  They looked familiar and were dressed up for the dinner party.  I counted heads like my border collie does with folks in my house. He likes to keep inventory. He was abandoned by an accountant who moved to Oklahoma with the petrochemical surge in 2010. Fracking idiot!  I was keenly aware that we had way too many Indians for our reservation. As I looked around in my dreamscape I saw my sister-in-law and her kids; my wife’s cousins and their kids; and a deceased aunt who told me, ” I knew you wouldn’t invite me so I invited myself.” She looked good for a dead woman; wore a nice white satin dress; hair perfectly coiffed. Things were getting weird, though, and as  usual my bladder nerve was the director of this movie, so visuals started pulsing faster and faster. My dream self searched frantically for a bathroom or a bush.

That’s when Steve from Coffee Nation pulled into the driveway in a red car. He was early as usual, but had to go buy a helium party balloon at the grocery store. He was in a hurry and no one was in the empty Giant store. Creepy. Being an engineering genius, he went to the helium tank and inhaled two lungs full of the gas… and began to float like a Macy’s Thanksgiving blimp. He grabbed onto a shopping cart for ballast and sort of bounced out of the store, hovering six feet above the ground, resembling a gymnast on a runaway jet ski, only it was all in whoa slowa motion.

Meanwhile back at the house everyone else took off in various vehicles for the restaurant, leaving me behind to select a sports coat. As I exited the newly acquired second story, I realized that I was in Mexico, far south of the restaurant. Just then a Jeep with four Mexican soldiers showed up and arrested me in Spanish. I tried to explain to them that I had reservations for 15 at a restaurant north of the border, but they just looked at me like I was speaking English. I made a run for it up a flight of stairs that simply ended above a walled garden. Two little girls ran around me, teasing me with toilet paper and the key to the locked bathroom door that stood across the courtyard.  I heard the heavy footsteps of the Mexican gendarmes pounding up the stairs behind me. I closed my eyes and took a leap of faith.

I braced myself for a hard landing, but when I opened my eyes I found I was standing on Steve’s back, just like I was surfing without water beneath me. Wordlessly I communicated to him that he needed to vent some gas so that we could get moving laterally as the gendarmes lowered their rifles and aimed at me/us. He complied and we took off in a zip. In dream time it was a matter of seconds before we arrived above the restaurant 2,000 miles away. I know because Steve was singing Margaritaville and only had time for two lines…

“I stepped on a pop tart,

let out a big fart…”

The next thing I knew I was droning above the multitude as one of my cousins ordered a shark steak off the menu. Suddenly a 14 foot bull shark crashed onto the table and devoured him. The rest of the party looked away and ordered the chicken in unison.

The fellas interrupted my mad tale so that Doug could present me with a brown tee shirt he had made up for me. It had a nice coffee logo with Coffee Nation written boldly in a circle. On the front chest where pockets usually go was a smaller version with Supreme Leader underneath. I was touched, but wait, there’s more. Doug folded the front of the shirt up like a belly reveal shirt and upside down in white letters it read, “You need to GROWASET”. It was utterly perfect precision dawdling.

 

372. Time Management

My time management is weak, my chronic blogetrics. Heck, if I did manage my time well, I would not blog my almost daily drivel, and then where would you be? Don’t answer that question. It could put me out of business and ruin my fragile elf esteem. (Growing up as an elf was traumatic until I had my ears done and started on a blogesterone regimen.)  Instead of blogging I would do my billing and prepare my taxes and write checks to folks who are waiting to be paid on time. Hold on a second… I forgot to write a check to my bookkeeper. Where’s a pen that works?  Stamp. Envelope. Alrightee, back to The Velvet Underground’s Greatest Hits.

Okay, where was I?  Yes, noodling seems to preoccupy my hours. Now let me justify that with this:  I don't cruise porn sites all day. No addictions beyond blogging and groundhog hunting in season. Harmless activities unless you are a groundhog or a blog aficionado with no taste or standards, i.e., an intellectual groundhog. Who on earth insults his own readers?  A guy with too much time on his hands, thasswhoo. Remember those Salvador Dali surrealistic paintings of melted watches and clocks?  That's me, except my time waste portraits would be served over steaming pasta, timeless timepieces like grilled oysters dripping over a mountain of buttered linguine. Now you're hungry for my world, right?  Oh, but the crown of time mismanagement weighs heavily on the King's head. It can literally crush a man with a weak neck. I've been hospitalized for collapsed neck syndrome twice now. I know, I make blogging look mindlessly easy, even trite, but do not try it at home without adult supervision, kids. It's like lifting weights without a spotter. The wrong run-on sentence, bench pressed inches from your throat, could slip away from you and asphyxiate you. (There's a great Scrabble word.)

I remember my neighbor Michael had a pet boa constrictor that slithered around his bedroom while he slept. I wondered how that would be if the boa ever got hungry for a snack while Michael was asleep or just too stoned to put up a fight. You see, Michael supplemented his sewage treatment plant income back then by dispensing medical marijuana without a license. If Slithers had swallowed him whole, how long could Michael have lived without water and air? I suppose if the snake started at his feet, Michael could technically have carried on for hours as the snake ingested him, all the way up to the White Afro he sported. Hmm, would Slithers later share that recipe in Martha Stewart’s Slow Cooked Meals for Constrictors? And what would she call it? Miss Slithers’ Meat Stick with Curly Frosting. Perhaps. Baked Caucasian Cauliflower? Michael was very pale.

I am a be’er as opposed to a doer. Doers are all about action and task completion. They work off lists and manage time as if they were dying, or at least billing by the minute. They tell you things like, “You’ll never get this hour back.” While that is true, it is also true that we don’t get any time back, whether we cure cancer or smoke another cigarette.  Be’ers often drink beers, which is not cannibalistic, though the nearly identical spelling might lead you near that conclusion’s neighborhood. That tiny apostrophe separates a human being from a brewed adult beverage, just barely. What? Did I hear a gasp of amazement coming from the frozen tundra of Blogland? Possibly from Das Kapital city, Wreck Ya Vick.

In Wreck Ya Vick idlers rumba along the cobblestoned Groucho and Karl Marx Boulevards drinking beer beneath the melted Dali clock in the town rhombus. Some smoke cigars while others merely use them as props. They say things to each other that have no conviction or urgency. They sing Dean Martin songs…

“When Marimba Rhythms start to play

Dance with me, make me sway

Like a lazy ocean hugs the shore

Hold me close, sway me more.”

However, unlike drooling Trump drones, they are not easily swayed. In fact, they are quite  politically savvy. Some say they like a man with an open mind. Pressed for details a man who wanted to remain nameless stated, “Because you can feel the breeze better.”

Bloglanders bounce their thick eyebrows and say ridiculous and funny things to each other all the day long.

“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside a dog, it’s too dark to read.”

Even the paramedics get into the swing of things in Wreck Ya Vick. Why the other day an EMT was witnessed taking a man’s pulse at an accident scene. He uttered the imbecilic line,

“Either this man is dead, or my watch has stopped.”

Because it lies above the Arctic Circle, Blogland had many pristine ski slopes. They are pure and perfectly groomed because in Blogland we ski uphill. It’s a great cardio work out, like a big frozen treadmill. But it’s all free thanks to a freed proletariat.

The Mayor of Wreck Ya Vick is Michael Iceberg, a big fan of Groucho’s work. In his acceptance speech he concluded his remarks with this line,

“Those are my principles. If you don’t like them, I have others.” On marriage law he opined,

“Despite what the pundits claim, marriage is the chief cause of divorce.”

His Vice Mayor, Anthony Weiner, was unbowed and defiant in front of the press. He was heard to say,

“Women should be obscene and not heard.”

When asked about women’s rights, Mr. Weiner said,

“I like both sides of women… Lefts and rights.”

Police Chief Dick Cheney was also asked for his thoughts. He shared his dreams for Wreck Ya Vick.

“Last night I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I’ll never know.”

Attorney General Bush Limbaugh was flustered when asked for his credentials. He said,

“You’ll be hearing from my attorney as soon as he graduates from law school.”

Finally, Director of Voyeurism, Bill Clinton summarized what all Wreck Ya Vickians hold true,

“I’ll dance with you till the cows come home, Hillary. Better yet, I’ll dance with the cows till you come home.”

Now don’t tell me I’ve nothin’ to do.

 

361. Onward, Mr. NOodle!

Yes, yes, onward, blogobstacles!! Let no man grow weary of slacking and surfing the net. We are the thin plutonium powder line between reality as we know it and impending chaotic doom of galactic marginalization and lardification.

“In a world where aliens and interstellar thugs reign havoc on the innocent, one man will rise to lead the broken nerd herd to conquerdom. A quiet hero called to duty by Elmo….”  Blast, boom, explode, sound effects. Bright lights. Hopeful music. And one chiseled face rises up on the screen… “His name? Mr. Noodle.”

How his name became a group’s battle cry is a long story without a beginning, middle, or end. Dave and Vicki and my wife and I and Dave’s two sisters were at Hauser’s Winery on the mountain top overlooking Gettysburg in late summer, early fall. There was a band around the corner but no seats for us, so we huddled against the warm stone wall at a metal table with eight chairs and drank wine, laughed, ate, and noodled around as we are prone to do. This was not our first rodeo, no sir. We would entertain and supervise ourselves, by golly.  Stories were told and an occasional dance occurred to warm up buns and feet in the evening chill. Not for Dave, though; he has the most unnatural covering of body hair known to homo sapiens and that insulates him year round. Vicki actually has to groom him twice a year with an electric razor that they also shave the dogs with. He was wearing shorts, of course. We wore sweaters and jackets.

As we carried on and played with words and songs, Deedee made the first reference to our hero. “Who is the guy who Elmo talks to? You know, he never talks.” Well, Sesame Street was two decades away in my memory vault. I could not even guess, but I can do an Elmo voice, which I proceeded to do. You see, when my oldest daughter was an only child, for almost five years, she loved to play dramas like The Wizard of Oz. She would be Dorothy and I was then compelled to be all the other characters, constantly changing voices and body language to entertain her and meet her approval. She was a tough audience. Still is. Anyway, I have a little bit of a mimic skill in me and can often imitate characters. For some reason I can do Marlon Brando’s Godfather voice by pretending to have a sinus infection while holding a dry prune in the back of my throat and gutturally groaning past it.

“You come to me , (inhale slowly) on the day of my daughter’s wedding,(exhale slowly) to ask me this favor? (Pause with a quavering lower lip) And yet, (inhale) I asked you to be my friend years ago, (exhale quickly) but you did not want my friendship.” It’s close enough to bring smiles.

But Elmo’s voice is all high pitched with simple vocabulary. No tone like Bert or Ernie or Grover, Super Grover!!

“Hey, hey Bert. Would you like to see my new ball?”

“No, Ernie. I am organizing my paperclips right now. It’s not a good time for me.”

“But Bert, I uh, I can bounce my ball and it comes right back to me. See? Can your paperclips do that? Huh, Bert? Can they? Huh?”

“Oh, Ernie, that’s silly. No one bounces paperclips. Why don’t you go on and roll your ball somewhere else, okay?  I’m just about finished here. Just straighten this last row out.  There.”

“But Bert, don’t you want to bounce my ball? Go ahead. It’s fun. You’ll love it, old buddy.”

“Well, okay, if you’ll leave me alone.”

Bert bounces the ball and it explodes onto his paperclip collection sending it all into a flittery fish scale mess.

Ernie. You ruined my work!! Now take your stupid ball and get away from me.”

“I’m sorry, Bert, old Buddy. Heeheeheee. That’s how the old ball bounces, hee hee.”

And Grover was the world’s best restaurant customer. In our basement my two younger daughters set up the Angel Café around a plastic kitchen set. They would make menus and set up a table with plates and a tea pot. Eventually I would be called to be their customer, at which time I’d channel my Grover.

“Here is your menu, sir. We have a spaghetti special today with salad and a roll and tea.”

(Sotto voce) “Order that, Dad.”

In falsetto Grover voice, “Uhhum! Waiter, I would like a bowl of bean and onion soup, please.”

“Sir, we don’t have soup. We have spaghetti.”

“I’m not interested in spaghetti. I had that for breakfast.”

“No you didn’t! Sir! You have to order from the menu.”

Grover, “I don’t care for your menu. I’ll have the soup.”

“Hmmmph. You are not playing right, Dad.”

Grover, “Who is this Dad you are referring to?”

“Nevermind! ”

Jessica, returning with a bowl and slaps it on the table. “Here’s your soup.”

Grover, “How rude! No wonder there is no one in your Café.”

Jessica walks away to gather her six year old wits.

Grover, “Ahhh! Waiter, there is a fly in my soup.”

Jessica snaps. “No there isn’t. We’re just pretending and you aren’t playing right.”

Grover, “I want to speak with your manager.”

Ten year old Grace arrives. “Sir, you are creating a disturbance and must leave.”

Grover, “Not until the fly is removed from my soup.”

Grace places the bowl on my Grover head. “There you go.”

Those were fun times for me and gave the girls a lot of material for later therapy sessions.

But, back to the winery and finally someone came up with Mr. Noodle. I don’t know if it was the wine or all the intellectual foreplay, but once his name was uttered, we all burst out laughing. For the next hour Mr. Noodle was worked into various comic contexts. We were helpless in our infantile humor.

 

“That’s what Mr. Noodle said.”

 

314. the silent man

He doesn’t say much, so it’s hard to tell if he’s thinking or what he’s feeling. His is not so much a poker face as it is a deflated basketball face. It seems that he used to have more substance on the inside that pushed his chin out and cocked his mouth into a confident smile. More bounce. Back then his warm eyes promised more to come. Now he spends an inordinate amount of time staring into his phone, barely tethered to family and friends, like an absent minded astronaut doing a space walk in the zero oxygen environment of black space.

“I’m going to eat in the bedroom tonight.”

“I’m going to bed now.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow night.” And he disappears into that black void beyond gravity’s pull. It’s a weightless but joyless place he goes, and it chips my heart every time he does.”

She is left with behaviors as the evidence of what lies within her almost champion’s heart and head.

“He’s kind and caring… my anchor, but I need him to be the captain of the ship. It’s easy to take an anchor for granted, you know. It’s out of sight and just barely attached. You don’t realize it’s even there when it does its job. In a crisis you pray that it will hold firm… but it’s hard to love an anchor.”

“He’s in chronic pain, tired, and deflated. Yeah, there’s that deflated idea again, where you have to slam the ball down to get it to come back up half as high. Underinflated, hmmmm, like depressed. But let’s not fix anything, no.  I don’t want to be a nag, but I won’t be a doormat either. I’ve done both before and neither worked out. I love who he is; I just don’t get to see much of his who. All the whats bog us down.”

“I’m all over the place with emotions and words and actions. I’m the pilot, the cook, the look out, the medic, the mechanic, fire police, security, accountant, and I swab the ship’s deck. I need him to step into the captaincy, you know, assert some authority.

“Sometimes it’s like playing with my old Mr. Potato Head. I start with a blank slate and give him arms to hold me, cuz I need hugs and touch. I’m a feely kind of girl, you know. Hugs are my drugs.

“Then I’d snap in those smoky eyes I long to fall into. It used to be automatic that I’d see his soul jumping like a pair of dolphins in those deep waters. I can’t find that accessory today, only sad or tired or glazed over eyes in today’s toy box. Mr. Potato Head, I need your soft hands to hold me. I need your strong arms to draw me into that cove where dolphins leap in tandem.

“You’re gonna need more tissues. Honk!!! Sniff. Sigh. I have a buy one get one free coupon for tissues.”

“No thanks. I get a perverse pleasure out of paying full price for things.”

“I’ll give it to your wife. I’m sure she loves a bargain.”

“Oh Yeah.”

“I have three fathers. You know my birth dad left when I was two. He went back to his native country and the familiar world where he was someone of notice. For over forty years I had nothing but radio silence, not even a pop or static on the line, as his blood flowed through my veins. However, my adopted dad showed up big in my life, and I couldn’t have asked for more. I think about that often. When I felt the empty space pull on my soul, I leaned into my Father God. He never left. He’s always held me together when I felt my seams breaking. He sent my adopted father to stand in the huge scarring gap my birth dad left behind.

“Funny thing is I’ve had three husbands also. My adolescent husband abandoned me along with the truth, dignity and the American Way. He chose the past also, where he was someone special. He burned the truth as a sacrifice on the altar of his self-indulgence. He grew like a pimple on my butt. So incredibly annoying and demanding.  Just like with my dad dilemma, I fell into God’s loving arms, exhausted and shattered. Again, My God Jesus walked as a husband with me, filling in the abyss until Chuck and I started the sequels to our first marriages.

“Chuck is the good sheriff who shows up and brings order in the bad cowboy town. I was so hopeful that he’d keep growing, sharing in my life, and not just settle for safe streets. That old song plays in my head about standing by me. I need that so much.

“Stand by Me” by Ben E. King
When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we’ll see
No I won’t be afraid, no I won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me
Oh darlin’, darlin’, stand by me, oh stand by me
Oh stand by me, stand by me
If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
And the mountains should crumble to the sea
I won’t cry, I won’t cry, no I won’t shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me
And darlin’, darlin’, stand by me, oh stand by me
Oh stand now by me, stand by me, stand by me-e, yeah
And darlin’, darlin’, stand by me, oh stand by me
Oh stand now by me, stand by me, stand by me-e, yeah
Whenever you’re in trouble won’t you stand by me, oh now now stand by me
Oh stand by me, stand by me
Oh stand by me, stand by me
And that’s where I am today, with that old song playing in my exhausted heart. I know God held me in His hands till my True Dad showed up and made it all work. In faith I have to believe He is doing the same with my True Love.

283. Deal me out, Bro’

Jerry Garcia sang it clearly…

“Deal”

Since it cost a lot to win
and even more to lose
You and me bound to spend some time
wondring what to choose
Goes to show you don’t ever know
Watch each card you play
and play it slow
Wait until your deal come round
Don’t you let that deal go down
I been gambling here abouts
for ten good solid years
If I told you all that went down
it would burn off both your ears
It goes to show you don’t ever know
Watch each card you play
and play it slow
Wait until your deal come round
Don’t you let that deal go down
Since you poured the wine for me
and tightend up my shoes
I hate to leave you sittin there
composin lonesome blues
It goes to show you don’t ever know
Watch each card you play
and play it slow
Wait until your deal come round
Don’t you let that deal go down
Don’t you let that deal go down, no
Don’t you let your deal go down
Image result for human poker player pictures
Simple formula, dontcha think? Cards are the metaphor for life. We all play each day, week, month, year, hoping to win. But win what?  We all have different goals. Real estate deals, job interviews, car deals, drug deals, dating deals… what’s your deal, man? Are you in all the way or just posting up on the ante? How many hands will you invest in?
I’m only familiar with poker hands, whether five card stud or draw poker or seven card stud. Folding is an option all along the way, if you must fold to protect your assets.  No shame there. If you can figure out odds, then you know when you have a useless hand. On the other hand this dearth of good cards could call forth your acting, i.e., bluffing skills. Though you have a nine high nothing, you may choose to play it tough, stare down your competitors, hypnotize them with bluffery. What a victory that would be in a hand of poker or a real life deal.
I’m imagining a called bluff scenario that must be fairly common in the online dating world. If your profile picture is from ten years ago and fifty pounds lighter than the present day, you know you’ll  have to show your cards at some point, most likely at hello. I know even less about dating than poker, but I believe they are both very risky activities, sometimes ending in mayhem or murder when things go wrong.
After some time spent flirtatiously suggesting chemistry and connection on line, Sally and Harry decide to meet in person for the first time at a local dimly lit Irish pub.
Image result for awkward first date in a bar pictures
Harry enters the bar, smiling stiffly and blathers unedited, “You must be Sally, right? You look fabulous, just like your profile picture. Harry, (reaching out his hand) Mc Featers, like feet, or defeat, you know, like we are walking on de shoes, ha ha.” (Nervous as a nun at a strip club.)
Inwardly both are groaning at the awkward dissimilarity to their online repartee, as if Cyrano De Bergerac had been outed as clumsy, inarticulate and gender conflicted. Meanwhile Sally has positioned herself with her best side showing from the corner of the booth with the television above and behind her left shoulder, knowing all men will tend to zone into the screen and not pay such close attention to her dyed hair and half a second chin. Of course, she is wearing an all black outfit over her spanx for the sake of illusion. Bluffing goes both ways.
Reaching up to shake, “Sally, uh,  Myerson.  Harry, glad to meet you.”
“Yes, really great. Wow. It’s amazing to see you in person. There’s just so much more to a person in person, don’t you think?”
Sally starts to cringe and blush at his ghastly speech. ‘Could he possibly be this stupid?’  “Yes, let’s order a drink, why don’t we?” she hurriedly suggests to get something in his dry, nervous mouth besides pigeon dropping comments.
“You betcha. Waitress a double vodka tonic for me and, Cindy, I mean Sally, what would you like?”
‘I’d like to slip into a coma right now, but I can’t.’ “Uh, do you know how to make Sex on the Beach?”
Harry, “Whoa, no but I can learn, Sandy, I mean, Sally, ha ha!!”
Waitress, “Sure, Honey.” Then with a knowing glance and a half pitiful wink she whispers, “Good luck with him” as she takes the drink menus away.

“So, Harry, how would you like tonight to go, you know, what goals do you have for our evening?” she probes a bit drily.
“Oh Sally I don’t set goals; I score them, if you know what I’m sayin’. What did you have in mind?”
“Well, first I want to know if we should order dinner or not.”
“Whoa, baby girl. Settle your jumpy heart. We have the whole night. We can have dinner, dance a little, cuddle up, and then get naked.”
“Harry, yeah, to tell you the truth I’m about to leave right now. The only naked you’re getting from me tonight is the naked truth. Understand?”
“Um, Um, whoa. Here are our drinks. Just a sec.” Waitress smirks and leaves the online hopefuls to their self-inflicted condemnation.
“Yeah, I think we got some wires crossed. I thought you were, you know, pushing the envelope with your drink choice. I’m sorry if I got too frisky too fast for you.”
Sally chugs the entire drink and belches. “Whew. Excuse me. This damn diet is killing me. I only eat celery sticks on Saturdays.”
“No, no problem, Sal. You want another one?”
“Yeah, what the hell?”
Waitress, “You’re staying?”
Sally, “For one more drink.”
Waitress, “Don’t you want to let that first one settle, Honey?”
“Who’s settling?  I’m fifty three years old, Honey. All the good ones are long gone.”
Waitress, “I’m sorry, none of my business. Just thinking of that old song, ‘don’t let your deal go down’, ya know?”
Sally, “It’s a little late for discretion, Sugar. My desperation clock struck midnite. I’m in overtime, ya know? Just deal me out, Bro.”

231. Uninspired Torpidity 1961

 

Inspire conjures up the act of breathing, breathing in some magic spirit like freedom that leads to the creation of something new. But that breath does not always show up, just like perfect crystalline days don’t show up too often here in Central Pennsylvania. Many days are smudgy with all the humidity loitering in the warm air. Old timers blame all the trees that grow here for the moist weather. They expire, the trees and the old guys do… and I don’t get their reasoning. However, when the dew point moves past 60, muggy is the word. I sort of like the criminality of that weather word, as if the very air is forcibly robbing us with nothing more than a sweaty hand in its saggy pocket.

“Stick’m up, pardners! This here is a wet robbery. I got a big old squirt gun under this paper bag. Plus, I got a fat lady with a wet wool blanket ready to squeeze  you taight if you don’t behave.  Ya’ll been sweatin’ up a bunch of stink. You’ns can put your arms down now. Whew. I’m just muggin’, okay? Nobody needs to get hurt here if you just slow down and act like some good ole Alabamians. Get you some tea and put your feet up in a shady spot. There ya go. Just procrastinate a while. Live in the past. Drink a lot of liquor.”

Whether or not you like it, weather is not that polite or predictable. It swarms in over night and saturates the local atmosphere. No negotiations.  The combination of heat and humidity can stultify a man’s brain, leaving him uninspired, a locked vault door behind which are wonderful treasures piled high. We can’t have this outcome, bloggitties. A psychic thunderstorm must well up and conquer this wet blanket of oppression. We cannot tolerate weather thugs with bags on their heads mugging us.

 Ah, much better. Refreshing actually. But is it enough to turn over the inspiration ignition?  Let’s see. “Vrrr, rrrr,rrrr, room, room, room.” Alright! I’m breathing hard and deep. Ready to run a creative marathon. Maybe just finish this post. We’ll see.

So, I’ve been observing lately that doubt precedes faith, which precedes proof or facts, and then eventually along comes validation. The other night I was watching a show about The Freedom Riders in the 1960’s Deep South. What heroic folks they were. They knowingly boarded Trailways and Greyhound buses for Montgomery, Alabama and Jackson, Mississippi in order to be arrested at their destination and put into prison on bogus racially discriminatory charges. Along the way they were often beaten or nearly killed. In Mississippi they were put in an infamous prison and forced into hard manual labor or death row accomodations. And still more came, flooding the prison. In the film footage I watched, the Freedom Riders looked curious and resolute but never scared. They complied nonviolently with hostile morons in police uniforms who believed in or belonged to the KKK. Somehow the Freedom Riders stayed united in spirit, unbroken in their faith that they would prevail along with justice. The native whites reminded me of nauseating Nazis off the leash, unrestrained. How on earth did that unjust oppression work for so long against so many? Makes me wonder if we have a similar atrocity building up today that is merely tolerated and buried in the back pages of our news. There is no shortage of ignorance or guns in our country after all.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, the Kennedy brothers looked for political solutions. They did not want to turn the conflict into federal versus states’ rights. Backing southern governors into a corner only fueled the anti-federal government feelings already at fever pitch in Old Dixie.  The rule of law had to come from their pens not from the elitist East Coast Kennedys or the Supreme Court. The south refused to recognize the fact that Jim Crow laws were found to be unconstitutional. They simply continued on as usual. The political humidity built and built past muggy into severely oppressive, into  total saturation. Southern torpidity was complete; a fresh wind had to blow through like a tornado and turn shacks and shanties upside down. And that is what happened.

The fresh cool wind was actually comprised of committed black and white Americans on buses and then trains heading south, into the torpid wall of resistance and ignorance. Cold dry air slamming into hot moist air creates tornados which create havoc and destruction. Yes indeed, as in mother nature so too in human nature. The two forces collided and both moved.

On May 14, Mother’s Day, in Anniston, a mob of Ku Klux Klansmen, some still in church attire, attacked the first of the two buses (the Greyhound). The driver tried to leave the station, but was blocked until KKK members slashed its tires.[8] The mob forced the crippled bus to stop several miles outside of town and then firebombed it.[9][10] As the bus burned, the mob held the doors shut, intending to burn the riders to death. Sources disagree, but either an exploding fuel tank[9] or an undercover state investigator brandishing a revolver[11] caused the mob to retreat, and the riders escaped the bus. The mob beat the riders after they escaped the bus. Only warning shots fired into the air by highway patrolmen prevented the riders from being lynched.

 

I wonder what the sermon was on that Mother’s Day that those Klansmen had heard? I don’t ever recall hearing a call to arms in all my 58 years of going to church. Never heard one that urged me to hate my neighbor or to kill my perceived enemy. Rather, I recall being urged to love my neighbor and my enemy, to seek justice and to give mercy.

Eventually the federal troops arrived; desegregation began in earnest; and the humidity of stupidity began to drop below muggy for the first time in 350 years.