545. Liberty and Justice for All

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Lately I’ve been in court as a spectator, observing the ebb and flow of the local judicial system. I get involved in custody cases occasionally; less often there are criminal cases where I am asked to testify. It’s awkward at best. Nonetheless, it’s always interesting in so many ways.

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I recall one of the first visits to court in a disputed custody case where mom wanted full custody of her children rather than supervised visitations. She had many deficits, but she was very pretty, coy, and a fine actress. When she testified, it was like Meryl Streep on the stand. The judge swallowed her narrative like it was a double chocolate shake. And it was, as it turned out, just another sweetly malted concoction, nothing more. Within six months she self destructed, and by default her alleged “monster” husband gained full custody. It’s easy to mistake a less than stellar husband for a bad husband, but that’s just bad logic.Image result for billiard table pictures

Mom gained another hard lesson in the billiard ball school of hard knocks: Early on sobriety is like Jello in hot hands. What one believes does not always translate into actual behaviors. Acting is not equivalent to being an honorable person. If you stick a fork in your drunken eye, you lose. In the land of blind parents, the one-eyed parent reigns…not the perfect fantasy parent.Image result for one eyed kings pictures

The bar is low for keeping custody of one’s kids.  As long as you have a mattress on the floor and a bit of food in the cupboards, you pass muster with Child Services. No matter the filth or obvious safety issues, even with photographic evidence. Just say you will fix them, and that includes moving to a new place after you skip out on your last month’s rent, leaving the unsatisfactory trash heap behind you. Just smile and promise to keep the new place rat free. Everyone loves a redemption story, but when it’s the fifth or sixth iteration of the same old thing… well, redemption seems unlikely. “Your Honor, my client realizes his/her past mistakes and promises to do better going forward. They will smoke less and play less often on their phones. In addition they will make sure their kids attend school and all doctors appointments.” How can this be news to a parent? Will a caseworker stop by to make sure the parents breathe, chew, bathe, and brush?Related image

Future promises are easy to make, especially if one is not held to any account for the train wrecks left in his/her wake. Just set up a new home plan that sounds nice. Look sincere while in court. File another bankruptcy. Quit another job. And then go home, lather, rinse, repeat. Parenting is not a label on a bottle of shampoo.Image result for shampoo bottle pictures

Criminality can overlap and impact civil issues. Once, a guy I knew well was busted for propositioning an undercover cop posing as a 15 year old girl on the internet. He got eight years probation and a mug shot on the county’s sexual predators photo line up for 15 years. Despite finishing college while working full time, he was judged/condemned over and over as a forever felon. Nowhere was it ever alleged or proven that he was a bad father, yet he soon lost not only custody of his two children but his parental rights. Linkage. If you are guilty of one thing, you must be guilty of the other. Heck, it’s logical. However, when indisputable negligent parenting is staring a judge right in the face, he/she refuses to make a logical conclusion to remove the child in the photos. The same judge can condemn the internet creeper as unworthy of parenting or his right to even be a parent. Image result for father with two kids pictures

I have the luxury, if you want to call it that, of hearing adult horror stories of abuse suffered long ago at the hands of their parents. “We swept it under the rug. Pretended it never happened. Yeah, my dad put a gun to mom’s head once, no, twice, and promised to kill her. We handled it as a family, dad lived in a motel for a while, and then we got back on the crazy train again. Yes, we reported it to the police the next time, but the results were pretty much the same when mom recanted. I swore a sacred oath then that I’d never repeat my mother’s mistakes. And I haven’t, but I’ve been so cautious it’s hardly living… a skittish squirrel on the edge of civilization. People suck. All of them.”Image result for isolated double wide rural trailer pictures

This last example never got to a court of law. It was settled out of court in the hearts and minds of a dysfunctional family. That settlement is still paying enormous dividends as each family member acts out irrational behaviors which grew out of trauma and shame. The perpetrator is long dead, but his “parenting” lives on. And here is where the justice gets slippery and prickly. Is the bad criminal a bad parent?  Is the bad parent a bad criminal? Either question may have more to do with the lawyer you hire than the facts you produce. If your attorney just resigned from the D.A.’s office, he/she may be able to strike a sweet deal for you that someone on the outside can’t ever hope to get. Or if your attorney is often in Judge McShakey’s court and held in high esteem, you have a better shot at a better outcome. Why?  Because Lady Justice peeks under her blindfold.Image result for goddess of justice

Themis holds a sword in one hand and the scales of justice in the other, which makes for nice symbolism. However, in my abbreviated sample size, the scales are harder to move than the sword. Facts are supposed to accumulate in the scales first as the legal process evolves. Only when there is a clear verdict is the sword of judgment supposed to fall. In our deal making era with clogged courts and over scheduled attorneys, pleas and ARD arrangements, expungements and probation before judgment serve to further confuse and complicate the muddled process of juris prudence.Related image

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.


344. drizzle… the rain…deer

A glorious November  deteriorates into soggy goose down weather that slowly slides down the smoky gray skies. So long seventy degrees and no layers. Hello icy drizzles. Light the wood stove and keep it lit from here on. Seal up the windows. Get those stinking non functional Christmas lights up as the temperatures exit the fifties. Oh crap! they just blinked out again! Wait for a day in the thirties in January to take it all down again. Farump! Happily if not completely, the yard work is over till spring. Where’s that snow blower?  Better yet, where is that ticket to Tucson?

A few distant booms preceded the alarm this morning. It’s the first day of buck season in PA, a holy day for a million soggy pilgrims in the woods and fields of our commonwealth who worship at the Whitetail Temple of  Boom. Soon deer carcasses will be festooning  fenders and decorating truck beds as the happy hunters return home tonight. The grisly job of butchering lies ahead after the meat seasons a bit. Eventually it will find a way to the dinner table as burger, jerky, roasts, and steaks. Heck, I made a venison meatloaf yesterday that was la- la- la- luscious. The meat was either two or four years old. I couldn’t tell. It was deep in the frosty freezer and unlabeled, but still better than store bought beef. Mine were the only hands that ever touched that venison. Think about that as you eat your next burger served to you by a sniffly waiter at a greasy spoon.  “You want to thooper thize that, thir?”

I won’t be venturing out to kill Bambi this year. Standing in the rain last season doused my hunting flame for a while. Misery– cold, dark, chilling wet forest stagnation is all I recall from the time spent under an umbrella screwed into an oak tree. It felt like my penance for killing two deer over the past three seasons. Not that God minded; I respected and enjoyed those creatures. They did not die in vain nor did they die in rain. But no matter, this pilgrim is staying home for the duration. I can entertain myself with the written word, and cut and paste pictures like I do. It lasts longer than deer meat and usually does not smell so gamey. Go ahead and sniff your screen. Now smell some fresh kill venison. See what I’m saying?

But, gather round my chilly children and hear the tale of Drizzle the Whitetail Rain Deer.

Twenty five years ago on this very day a solo buck wandered into the old J.C. Penney store at the Southgate Mall, which borders the Conococheague Creek at the south west corner of Turtle Town, just above the flood wall. This deer was not shopping on Black Friday, folks. No. It was in rut, I think, and picked up the smolty unmistakable scent of Doe-Eyed Danger that Doris Muhlenberg wore at the perfume counter that dark and tragic day. Some shoppers say the buck saw a deer mannequin in the Christmas display window; others reported that it was being chased by a Tibetan yeti. (Of course, that was Fred’s belief. He’s got the bipolar bear complex.) Me, I’m going with the perfume theory. Crazy, I know.

Unreliable witnesses claimed the buck bolted up out of a patch of woods near the creek bed behind the strip mall, and pursued a woman in a three quarter length suede coat and black heels, later identified as Doris Muhlenberg (59) of 612 Franklin Street, apartment B.

Some say from a distance she looked like a doe prancing on her hind legs that day. She apparently walked or pranced briskly toward the shopping center, unaware of the buck bounding across the parking lot in hot, frothy pursuit.

Accounts differ after that. Some say the buck waited for the Walk sign to light up, and others claim he bounced right across Washington Street in one clickety jump. In either case, he landed in front of the store. He either waited for the electric door to open or blasted his way through plate glass, depending on which histrionic local you spoke with. What all agree on is that this buck had a constant post nasal drip so heavy that he left a puddle of drizzle on the pavement beneath the overhang. As the buck snorted and sniffed and cavorted after Doris, other witnesses unfamiliar with deer in the wild, believed he had allergies or a bad head cold. Possibly a chronic sinus infection. Thus the name Drizzle was given to him, and unlike most facts from that day, it stuck.

“After I put my lunch and coat away, I came out to the perfume counter station across from Ladies Intimate Apparel and Hardware Department. We have some size 3x ladies in town who require steel reinforcements in their bustiers. Oh, listen to me. TMI, as my grandkids say. Anywhoo, as I was settling down on my counter stool, I heard an ungodly commotion coming from the front, so I did. And what do you know? A drippy-nosed six point buck was slipping  and sliding on the tile floor.”

Hunching down in a whispery voice…

“I sensed I was in danger, so I crouched down a tad, keeping constant eye contact with the beast through the display case. I grabbed an atomizer full of Chanel # 5 in case he charged me. I read somewhere that deer hate aerosol sprays. I made peace with my Maker and braced myself for the most bizarre encounter of my life… worse than my honeymoon with my first husband.”

“That dang Drizzle was dazed from all his blood lust and perverting about. He sniffed and started trotting a bee line towards me. Suddenly, though, his front legs slipped out from under him and he crashed into an end cap full of ladies bras, several of which got tangled up on his antlers. I’ll never forget being eye to eye, no farther than you are to me, and seeing a Bali bra label at the base of his rack.It was a living lingerie nightmare, let me tell you.”Bali Lace Desire Demi BraJust then, Chief of Police Cecil Smack came rushing in brandishing his 9 millimeter sidearm. What a sight he was! I knew I was gonna live through this bralopalooza after all. So I stood tall to watch it all go down.”

“Out of nowhere Leonard Finkle, the maintenance guy who’d been moping all morning about having to work on the first day of buck season, came roaring out of Men and Boys with a box cutter in his hand. He leaped onto Drizzle and began to hack at him with the box cutter. Dang fool didn’t have the blade out, so all he did was ride the deer around Ladies Intimates and Hardware until poor Drizzle collapsed in a heap under Leonard’s weight. ”

“Later on the Game Warden come in and tazed old Drizzle and hauled him off to a petting zoo in Altoona. Truthfully?  I think the warden ate Drizzle for Christmas, but I can’t prove nothing. Any ways, the reporter and photographer showed up and I was in all sorts of newspapers, people wanting my autograph and deer meat. Some “friends” asked for the soiled bras, I mean, if they was gonna throw’m away any ways, and all. I mean they give me cup size and style just in case. You know what a good bra costs these days? Quite a few bucks, heh, heh…. That there is a joke. Y’all can laugh now.”


297. Dx: Imperfect People Disorder

“The problem is this:  you live in a world of imperfect people. No one is smart enough or drives well enough or talks fast enough to suit you. And you are entitled to a reality that suits your needs. Heck, you’re what?  13 now. You are completely able to make adult decisions because of your superior IQ. Is that what you are telling me?”

“Yeah, my parents just don’t get it. They are slipping behind my abilities. I feel like they are skiing behind my speedboat and I have to pull them along, but really, they’re just slowing me down. My mom doesn’t understand, no, can’t understand quantum physics like I do. I’ve told her once what it’s about, broken symmetry and entropy and stuff. Her eyes glazed over and she kept having to say ‘What?’ It’s annoying!!”

“Mmmhmmm. It’s a form of rudeness and disrespect to your superior abilities, and yet you still need her to drop you off and pick you up from sports camps and school functions.”

“Yeah, and she’s always on her phone. I can’t stand that. Distracted drivers are now the number one cause of fatal car crashes.”

“Yeah, I saw that on Facebook. Now when you drive, how will you do it?”

“In-tell-I-gent-ly.  If you use your native intelligence to full potential, well, it’s not that hard. Driving requires less than one per cent of your available brain power.”

“But what about all the other drivers who are not as gifted as you?”

“That’s a problem. I think you ought to have a minimum IQ to get a driver’s license. Only smart people should be allowed to drive. It’s stupid to let stupid people drive on the same roads with lawyers, surgeons, judges, and CEO’s of cutting edge tech firms. If one of these leaders is killed by a moron, that’s a huge loss. If a moron head-ons another moron, no loss.”

“Because low IQ folks bring no value to society, right?”Image result for dumb people pictures

“Absolutely. They are here to be ruled. If you can’t compete, you sit the bench or sweep the floor. Not everyone can be a starter. Those are facts.”

“So, it’s hard for you to be surrounded by imperfect people, huh?”

“You have no idea. I’m in the 99th percentile in achievement tests I take. I’m smarter than a lot of my teachers. It pisses them off,  so like, they’ll try to catch me not paying attention and ask me a question.  Wrong!  I can multitask. So their little traps backfire on them and they get pissed that I beat them at their own game. So then they change the storyline to manners and arrogance and disrespect crap. It’s unscientific and subjective. But it doesn’t matter. Same as my parents: They make the rules for now, but don’t expect me to respect stupid people.”

“So what do you think the per cents are for smart people like you?”

“Well, my measured IQ is over 135, I’m sure. But I think it’s a lot higher… so let’s say I’m in the top one per cent, maybe even higher.”

“Must be lonely up there.”

“Sure is. You can find a dumb person in a second. Finding an exceptionally smart friend is next to impossible.”

“So your friends are not your intellectual equals?”

“No, I mean I like them and all, but they are pretty dumb. They do stupid things and we laugh, but they don’t get the deeper issues of life either.”

“How about finding a girlfriend? If you struggle with your mother’s level of intelligence, and she is an accomplished professional by the way, how do you think dating or marriage is going to be?”

“Uh, she needs to be smart and good looking and ambitious. I mean, I’ll be making six or seven figures and living the cool life, so she’ll have to be okay with my choices. I don’t want a dumb chick who will make me look bad, ya know?”

“You are pretty sure of yourself.”

“It’s easy to be confident if you have the smarts and talent to back it up. Okay, so like in baseball, I’m on base a lot and score most of our team’s runs. In basketball I’m usually the leading scorer. So if I plan on being a neurosurgeon, why would it be any different?”

“I don’t know. I’m wondering how you’ll interact with dumb patients and nurses and other professionals who don’t measure up, though.”

“I think that they will be so glad for my expertise that they will spare me their pettiness. At least I hope they will. In any event I will be at the top of the food chain, so I can call the shots for the most part.”

“Yeah, like a polar bear or an eagle or a lion. The king of the jungle. You’ll be the king pin.”

“Someone has to be at the top. Talent and IQ rule. Cream rises, right?”

“Oh yeah, and milk just sits there. Not to mention skim milk.”

“So, do you have a diagnosis for me? My parents said something about a narcissistic personality? Is that even a diagnosis? Plus, my friends are dying to know.”

“Yes, it is. It encompasses a sort of fixed personality, a set of beliefs about oneself, that you are special even if there is no evidence. Narcissists lack empathy. They believe they are entitled to preferential treatment and should be treated deferentially. But that’s not you. No sir.”

“So do I have a diagnosis? I mean I don’t want to waste my time in therapy if I don’t have some incredible set of issues, ya know?”

“Oh, yes. I get it. And I’ve thought about your condition long and hard. Aside from being here to guide your parents and peers, I think your issue is that you are surrounded by imperfect people.”

“Absolutely. It sucks. Forrest Gump was a good movie but not in real life. I want smart people who think and act like I do.”

“Exactly. That’s why I’m diagnosing you with imperfect people disorder.”






192. Forgiveness and perfection

The guy across from me was telling of his false starts in life, his addictions, and his desperation to make it all right. I listened attentively, validating as he went along. Then I shared a thought, “Forgiveness is key to the redemption process, you know. Otherwise you are assuming that perfection is not only possible, but that it is the normal order of life.”

He paused. “That’s the most profound thought I’ve heard in years, Man. I’m gonna sit with that for a while. Cuz I don’t ever forgive myself; I loathe myself. Which makes me want to get morphine and numb out, but then I hate myself even more for being a deadbeat addict. I want to be a good man, a good husband and a good father.”

“Yeah, well those are  possible in our imperfect, broken world, but you can’t be a perfect anything. However, you can pursue excellence. ”

“Okay, wow. This means something strong for me.”

“I can see that. Sometimes there are light bulb moments in counseling. They are fun, cool, even holy.”

“Tell me some more on perfection cuz I’m messed up about it.”

“Let’s see, I used to say that perfection is a living room you can’t live in, a car you can’t drive, a coin you can’t spend or a stamp you can’t send.  It’s a museum not a life. On the other hand real life is  meticulously messy and thoroughly incomplete and wonderfully disappointing.”

“Man, this is news to me. I never thought these thoughts before. Where did you learn this stuff?”

“From life, you know, experience and interacting with suffering persons. From my faith. and my own failures. There’s a lot of overlap between Christian beliefs and what is good in psychology. Like forgiveness, it’s a fundamental piece of the New Covenant that is Christianity. It’s essential to resetting the brokenness and separation from God that results from our sin. But even secular forgiveness produces a similar outcome of relief and a resetting of relationship. Think about this:  if your wife forgives you, then the waters of your relationship can begin flowing again. You are not dammed up any longer. Your relationship can move and dance again. In Christianity it’s an even bigger thing… you are not damned any longer when you accept your sinfulness and repent of it, then accept Jesus as your savior. Your soul can dance forever, not because you are perfect but because you are forgiven by a perfect God.”

“Man! I went to church as a kid, but I never got that concept. How is that possible?”

“Hey, I sat through Algebra I and II in high school and Business Calculus in college, but I can’t tell you a thing about them. I passed them all, but I have not a single lasting memory.”

“Yeah, yeah, you weren’t invested in it; you didn’t apply it so it wasted away. I get that.”

“Pretty much. I couldn’t be a NASA engineer…not that I ever wanted to be one.”

“Hmmmm. I don’t have to be perfect, so I don’t have to be angry at my brokenness? I like that, it’s a relief already. How did I get to these beliefs, I wonder?”

“Well, I imagine your family modeled some of this to you… you know, all or nothing behavior where all equals perfect and nothing equals obliteration by shame.”

“My mom was like that, always doing and doing, and then she’d drink alone every night. Not drunk so much as  just unavailable. I think I’m a lot like her, sort of going through the motions but not really living in the moment or enjoying what I do. I’m always looking for the approval and endorsement of others. When it doesn’t come immediately, I get pissed. But I won’t show it to anyone. I put up my mask of ‘everything is fine’.”

“I guess it gets lonely behind such a mask.”

“Oh yeah, only my wife gets in behind it, and then I want her to fix my life, make it all better. But that’s my job. I get so twisted up  and confused that I want to use again to reduce the anxiety and self loathing. So I cycle around and around. See, in my family it was not the work you did that mattered; it was how much money you made. I got into my field cuz people said I could make a lot of money without much schooling, and I did.”

“Okay, but your soul dried up, right?”

“Something like that. It wasn’t rewarding to me even though I was good at it. I was impatient for more, something bigger.”

“And that’s what the morphine gave you?”

“Absolutely. It erased my daily anxieties and self loathing till the next day. But the next day I’d start lower, you know, like standing on the beach as the waves hit you and undermine the sand beneath you.”

“Yeah, you get shorter with each receding wave.”

“So I don’t have to feel this way any more? ”


“But what about when the anxiety hits the roof and I start coming unglued?”

“You get with a sponsor or mentor and sweat your way through it. The anxiety will subside when other trusted folks show up.”

“That’s something I’ve never done, ya know, shared my fear and self  hatred.”

“Well, that’s the way through it, Man, not around it or under it. THROUGH IT. You can do it. ”

“Whooooowwww. I hope so. I can’t wait any longer to start my life.”

“Hey, make no mistake:  you have started your life. These lessons are gonna be burned into your brain, tattooed on for the rest of  your days. This is not sleepy Algebra class. You will make use of this agony one day. Take that to the bank.”

“You make it sound simple but not easy.”

“Simple as sawing your leg off rather than dying of gangrene. Simple? Yeah. Easy? No way.”

“Okay, where’s the saw?”

“That’s next week, tough guy. Power or manual?”

“Definitely manual.”