544. Legends of the Fall

Image result for s curve concrete sidewalk picturesWe were joyously walking down the curving concrete sidewalk that sloped down and away toward the Harvest Restaurant at Hershey Hotel. Brunch on my birthday. How nice. I carried my 20 month old grandson Max at the front of the party. My bride was behind me with granddaughter Leah, age 5 yakkety yakking to Grandma about Barbies and kindergarten politics. Grace, Jess and Zach brought up the rear on this chilly, blustery brunch hour. That’s when it happened.

Related imageIn a flash I stepped slightly off the left side of the curving sidewalk and lost my balance with my precious little buddy in my arms.  We lurched forward awkwardly. I thought I’d recover with my cat like reflexes, but not this time. My momentum was potentiated by the slope and Max’s forward leaning weight. I splayed out forward, trying to keep Max’s noggin from slamming into the concrete. Thinking about that second now, I see myself as a wide receiver trying to drop the caught football safely out of bounds. I could not break my fall with Max in both arms, so I extended and tossed him to the dormant grass to my left. Then my right elbow hit; the rest of my body torqued in unfamiliar ways; and I rolled into a full somersault. In the midst of all this kinetic activity, my brain tumbled into itself like an Idaho baking potato falling into an abandoned missile silo. Bad.Related image

As adrenaline raced to all parts of my falling body in preparation for a hard landing, I thought several thoughts. First, Max must land softly. Second, this reminds me of my seizure 15 years ago. That was not good. Third, pull up and out, don’t fade to black. Fourth, what if I never wake up from this moment?  It was a good run. Give my knees to the needy and give my love to Rose. Fifth, is anyone else seeing this?  If so, could I reach an out of court settlement for real and/or imagined injuries? Where is Joel when I need him?Image result for fallen man pictures

One second later I was facing my worried family who had rushed to help me out of my wild eyed gymnastic crouch. Grandma comforted Max who gently reached out to rub my arm and back. What a sweetheart! I checked my knee and elbows. No broken parts or blood, though I felt swelling erupting in the right elbow. “Yeah, yeah. Okay.” I stared at the perfectly unblemished sidewalk. How did that happen? No matter. Just ride out the adrenaline rush. Humor is always a good tool for defusing any situation.Image result for brad pitt legends of the fall images

I asked Zach, as an entertainment trivia ringer, if he knew Brad Pitt’s early work in movies?

“You mean Legends of the Fall?” he responded.

“Exactly! We have a winner.”

Later on he asked if I was familiar with Alicia Keyes’ work.

“Of course, in fact your mother-in-law and Grace went to see her here at the Giant Center back in high school. There is a funny outlaw story connected to that experience.”

“So you know her break out hit, “I Keep on Falling… in and out of love with you.”

“Well done, sir.”Related image

“How about ‘I Fall to Pieces‘, by Patsy Cline?”

“Then there’s Dylan’s ‘A Hard Brain is Gonna Fall‘.”

“I believe that’s ‘A Hard Rain is Gonna Fall.”

“Don’t forget ‘Papa was a Rollin’ Stone‘.”Image result for temptations images

“Technically that’s the Temptations, not the Rolling Stones.”

“I was just about to say that one. Uh, uh, Tom Petty, ‘Free Falling‘.”

“Elvis, ‘I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You‘.”

‘I’ll Never Fall in Love Again‘, Dionne Warwick.”

“Impressive. That’s an oldie, Burt Bacharach most likely.”

“I’ll  see your oldie and raise you with ‘When I Fall in Love’, Nat Cole.”Image result for nat cole pictures

“‘Why Do Fools Fall in Love?‘, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. Boom!

“Stop the madness! Have I passed the cognitive function test, Doctor? I need to know if I have a concussion.”

“Please sit down, Mr. Burrito, on this arm chair. What you have is not a concussion but a a butt cushion.”

“One more pun and I will gouge your eyes out with a plastic spoon.”

“Your threats are harmless, sir. I think you’re tripping again. Gouge out my eyes and I will market them as white olives, sir. Also known as mozzarella balls.”

“Did you know Malcolm X said, ‘A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything‘?”Image result for malcolm x pictures

“That’s deep, but I stand for anything, even the national anthem of Croatia, and fall for nothing. Here’s a sweet one, ‘Into each life some rain must fall.'”

“Okay, I am weary of this tomfoolery, young Berkie. You have matched me weird for weird. Now, let us duel for a final victory round.”

“It’s a four part final Jeopardy question. Capiche?”

“Capiche.”

“Fallen Angel….”

“Fallen arches…”

“Fallen late night t.v. host…”

“Fallen Waters…”

“Okay, Lucifer is the Fallen Angel.”

“Judges say, Okay.”

“Fallen Arches, the medical term is pes planus.”

“Judges say, wow kid. Nice work.”

“Fallen late night t.v. host… Jimmy Fallon.”

“Judges say, okay. dilly dilly. That was a ringer to make everyone feel smart.”

“Finally, Fallen Waters, Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic house in Acme, Pa. “Fallingwater terraces “Technically, it’s called Fallingwaters.”

“Okay, close enough. Let’s not sticklerhood get between old friends, shall we?”

“But Jimmy Fall on. His name is a soft a like fallow or foul ball, not fall on.”

“Listen, like salty pretzels I’ve had about all I want to have from you.”

“What are you gonna do, Bro?”

“Quote Jimmy Cliff lyrics, ‘the harder they come, the harder they fall, one and all….'”

So as sure as the sun will shine 
I’m gonna get my share now of what’s mine 
And then the harder they come 
The harder they’ll fall, one and all 
Ooh the harder they come 
The harder they’ll fall, one and all

“Oh, mahn, I deed not see that one combin’.”

“Me neither, Bro. It’s like a crack in the sidewalk, ya mahn.”

“Yah, Bro. Like a pocket full of posies, mahn, we all fall down.”Image result for bob marley pictures

 

 

 

339. Free Agency

The concept of free agency comes from the world of professional sports, as far as I know.

In professional sports, a free agent is a player who is eligible to sign with any club or franchise, i.e. not under contract to any specific team. The term is also used in reference to a player who is under contract at present, but who is allowed to solicit offers from other teams. In some circumstances, the free agent’s options are limited by league rules.Image result for Richmond Braves pictures

Before Curt Flood sued Major League Baseball for being a monopoly, pro teams simply drafted players and more or less owned that player exclusively. Players were traded with or without the players’ input. It was reminiscent of an enlightened plantation system. Players were paid but did not have any bargaining leverage.  Minor league teams are still called the farm system.plantation, cockspur island, georgia, slaves, slave life, black history

And what is farmed then harvested  there?  Pro players, human beings.  Sometime in the early 1970’s the Supreme Court agreed with Curt Flood and a system of free agency developed in baseball and then all pro sports. Salaries exploded and so did individual egos and prices for anything connected to the superheated frenzy of professional sports teams.

I often borrow the concept to instruct clients, who are sometimes players also, about transitioning from one relationship status to another. It’s not as simple as Facebook status changes where you merely click on a different label. For example, I often have angry seventeen year olds who are jacked up about getting out of their parents’ control and house. These kids think that on their 18th birthday some sort of mind meld magic will transform them into free agents. FREEDOM!!  Legally, yes, they are considered new adult citizens and they gain various rights like voting or signing contracts. They tend to overlook the responsibility load that is the counterweight to freedom. However, make no mistake about it:  they are not free agents in any other sense. Naturally the question is asked of me, “So what makes me a free agent and when?”

My answer is my own. It has not been researched or surveyed or subjected to statistical analyses. I say something like this… “When you have been paying your own bills without any help for five years. When your old bedroom is a den. When you are fully affiliated with a new team. When you make all of your own decisions and stick around for the consequences.”  All of these comments add up to this, “When you have grown out of financial, emotional, legal, and psychological dependence on your folks.” Breaking one link is just the beginning. It takes a long time and a powerful chisel to blast off the invisible handcuffs.

In broken romantic relationships this concept is painfully obvious to outsiders. The unhappy wife flirts with a paper hanger guy because her husband does not pay her any more attention than he does the furniture.  Shabang! Image result for wallpaper hanger guy pictures

Bob the wallpaper guy has all the time in the world for Sylvia as he teaches her how to soak the paper and book it over into a manageable size. It’s thrilling as he stands close behind her hardly whispering instructions to her on how to smooth out the bubbles and glide the wet paper into its proper alignment. Something tingles in Sylvia that has not tingled in years and she is smitten with his voice, his strong clever hands, his aftershave, even the Juicy Fruit gum he slowly chews as he squint winks at her from head to toe. “You are a mighty fine woman, Sylvia. I tell you what I’d like to do if you were mine…”

Of course, Bob leaves out the fact that he is between spouses himself. He fails to correct the small sample size that Sylvia is rushing to fall in love with. He owes back child support and his last divorce attorney a pile of money. And there is his current paramour Janet. But, hey, none of that is around right now.

Problem is that the ecstatic Sylvia is not a free agent, nor will she be for years. By then the wallpaper will have become so yesterday and very unsexy. No matter, she will have jumped ships, only to find out the rest of Bob’s story is so, so unsavory… A1 sauce on sunbaked road kill possum. 

No free lunch or free agents at that buffet. Oh, but the promises of Chateau Briand and Cabernet Sauvignon only make the available grub that much more nauseating.

No one wants to grieve or wait to love again. So men and women going through a divorce date others, who may be going through divorce themselves. No free agents here. Instead a compromise lives with or promises to marry another compromise, which makes for interesting introductions at gatherings.

“This is Sylvia, my, uh, friend, good friend. Buddy, partner, love of my life.”

“But Bob, you are still married to Stella, aren’t you?”

“Well, she just has to sign the papers and we’re done. I’ve moved on emotionally.”

“How convenient… you get to skip all the grief work and the transformation that suffering renders in a soul laid bare.”

“We are spiritual spouses,” adds Sylvia. “We are married in God’s eyes.”

“Did God tell you that?”

“No, but I’m sure He wants us to be happy. That’s what Jesus died for.”

“Um, not sure about that, Sylvia. I think he wanted us to be holy, honey.”

“Whatever!  When your husband quits desiring you, he’s basically breaking the contract, so you are free to go. That’s in the Bible, somewhere.”

“In the Book of Bob, I think. Look, you guys are driving a duct taped together rusted minivan  relationship off a cliff, and your kids and friends and other relatives are hanging on as you bounce into the spikey abyss.”

“Kind of exciting, isn’t it?”

“Kind of bigamy, isn’t it?”

“You are so old fashioned, Dude. Let’s go Bob. Gun the Harley and jump the canyon. If it makes me happy, it can’t be that baaaaad.”

 

 

310. Tragic Muscle Head Cars

My blog post numbers are getting up near the high horsepower engine range. It is just a natural association for me to recall that 327 CID was a Chevy engine, though I am no motor head.  There was a Ford 302. Chevy also had a 350, 396, and 427.  I just know that they were powerful and fast, too fast for the teenagers who tried to drive them. Which is perhaps symbolic of how woefully unprepared some adolescent males are to maneuver through the twisting course of adult life.

Where to begin?  Charlie Young drove a Camaro Z28 when we were all teenagers. I have no idea where he got the money to even buy the gas, though it was cheap in the early 1970’s. It was a sweet car to be sure, green base with wide white racing stripes. A shrine to the young male ego, sporting  slotted mags, a Hurst shifter, slick spoiler on the back, and fat tires. Yeah. Charlie posed in it like Clint Eastwood on a racehorse. Cool squint and a John Travolta smile.

There was talk of races behind the high school and big talk about how fast this car was or how fast that guy shifted gears. I don’t recall how Charlie fared in these much heralded races. I just recall that the Z28 went away one day, and not into a museum. He got married early and moved into a travel trailer parked in his parents’ side yard. The last I heard about Charlie was that he was working for the sheriff’s department back home transporting prisoners. Someone told me that one of the prisoners persuaded Charlie to stop at a liquor store during the trip to jail for one last good time. Good Time Charlie obliged and got drunk too; the prisoner escaped; Charlie was fired. The funny part is that there is no surprise here. It just got away from him like the Z28 did years before.

Let’s go up a few cubic inches. I believe Glenn Barret’s Nova SS had a 307 or a 350. I used to know these things like baseball players’ batting averages. Glenn’s car was red and black, manual transmission. He was constantly cleaning or waxing it, posing with the door open. He had this cool rolling start he liked to pull where he’d start the car just by popping the clutch. Cool cubed, man. He’d silently cruise into a parking space with the engine off or drift down a grade noiselessly and then pop that clutch. VRRRoooom!!

One day he was parked on the incline in front of Bobby Doering’s house, door open, coolness spilling out of his car like chilled air conditioning. He was all set to do the silent back out, but this time he forgot to close his door. As he glided back down the hill, his driver side door caught the fire hydrant he had neglected to account for. The interaction ripped his door out away from the frame of the car like an airplane wing.  Now this would upset any driver of any car, but factor back in that Glenn worshipped this Nova SS. It was his first love, his status symbol, his everything. Like Barry White sang,

“I know there’s only, only one like you
There’s no way they could have made two
Girl, you’re my reality, but I’m lost in a dream
You’re the first, you’re the last, my everything ”

He married young and took up golf. Not sure how either of those endeavors turned out.

Then there is the king of foolishness, the late Bobby Doering. He moved from Oklahoma in his junior year of high school. He could talk and bluster and brag with a western cockiness that was infectious and charming. He was famous for sayings like, “That sounds like a cow pissing on a flat rock.”

Bobby had a couple of cute sisters, plus his dad had a Porsche that we drove around when we cut school. What more could a 17 year old need? He also played ice hockey when that was unheard of in our experience. What more? How about a  forest green Chevelle SS 396 with boss wheels and dual exhaust? One of the coolest cars ever.

 Bobby lacked common sense and a healthy fear of death or injury. He’d smoke the tires with no provocation whatsoever. I imagine there is great pressure to blow out the four barrel carburetor when you have one, just like the pressure to drive your dad’s Porsche 135 miles an hour on the Beltway while skipping school and listening to the Stones “Under My Thumb”.

Bobby was keen on my girlfriend’s girlfriend Lisa, who was 15 then, I think. Lisa’s parents weren’t too keen on Bobby being around Lisa, for obvious reasons.  However, on Halloween of that year Bobby was driving both girls around the neighborhood  in the SS 396 when he decided to gun the engine and smoke tires. He did and lost control of the green monster, dumping it into a deep ravine to his left. He and both girls fell forward as the Chevelle went 90 degrees into the concrete culvert. I forget the physical damage done. Everyone received injuries as no one wore their seatbelt. Bobby was bankrupted. The car was totaled but the loan against it was not. He had to get a job and work off the debts he’d accumulated while  worshipping at the shrine of the 396.

I don’t know when, but through the grapevine I learned that he died a couple of years later, maybe while playing hockey. Cardiac arrest. Rest in peace, bro, like Dick Clark– forever a teenager.

I don’t recall the CID of Mike Dean’s Charger or Challenger. It’s too far back there. It was a big muscle car, I do know. He hung out in the same neighborhood of Wilton Woods, where there were plenty of cute girls. Mike’s car was not the problem, though. The story is murky, but as I heard it he blew his brains out with a gun after this girlfriend dumped him. Too much power in the hands of boys wanting to be great.

Tragedies are poignant because they did not have to happen. Some character flaw or bizarre circumstance destroys a good manboy. Yeah, well let me finish by directing you to Tom Waits’ “Big Joe and Phantom 309”, a lovely old ballad with a tragic seed.

 

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.”

 

 

 

 

 

252. “Call the doctor or I’ll kill you!”

I tend to exaggerate, but my wife did say something like this to me this morning. You see  a month ago she’d written on a piece of gray cardstock that my doctor’s office had called me for a follow up appointment … because she does not want to be a widow at 58, especially since I have finally learned to dance with her and show some promise for retirement. I had faithfully used that reminder card as my bookmark for the past month. She bugged me a few times and I said that I would call the office to schedule, but here I am thirty days later, senseless and defenseless. She’s worried that I may have some hidden cancer that is eating me up, metastasizing as I am fantasizing about being younger and buffer than I am. I told you that I tend to exaggerate. Now keep in mind, my blogstas, this is the same woman who once told me to unloosen my belt and unthaw the frozen roast beef. To which I replied, “You want me to tighten the belt and refreeze the meat?” The current threat is ironic, I think.  It boils down to this paraphrase, ‘Prolong your life or I’ll end it now!’ In some strange way I think I still have to unthaw that meat and I am it, and I am scared.

So this  got me thinking about other ironic communications in my life. Years ago in Sunday School class our then single gun-toting cowboy Josh was famous for saying off the wall things that would occasionally make sense. His favorite color was/is camo. His favorite shoe?  Tony Lamas boots. Favorite truck?  Dodge Ram. I don’t recall the exact conversation, but Josh offered that the devil comes on like sheep in wolves’ clothing. He meant the opposite; however, he had such a history of twisted clauses and phrases that it was anyone’s guess which way he wanted it to roll. The imagery is weird either way, but I’d never heard of herbivores skinning out a carnivore for a new suit.

That is the beauty of irony; it’s completely opposite of your expectations. Shame on you for thinking that way! Incomplete communication is the heart of many trick questions. Here’s one that occurred to me. “Which one of the following months has 30 days in it– June, July or August?”  Well, they all have thirty days, but if you push and pull a bit, you can imply that the answer ought to be June alone. And that vague gap is what lawyers drive wedges into to end contracts or nullify agreements or just to be mean.
At the coffee shop this morning the Nation was meeting in earnest. Two games of chess were played satisfactorily. (I dominated.) However, Joel, the consigliere exchequer of the Nation, was making noises behind us, two tables thither. It’s cold this morning, which got me to bust out the Eddie Bauer down jacket, affectionately known as Mr. Fluffy. Joel has a bizarre attraction to my fluffy jacket like the old Charmin toilet paper commercials proclaimed, “It’s squeezably soft.”  He has heard me say that it’s $2.00 a squeeze if I’m in the jacket, and $1.00 a squeeze if I’m not.  Anyway, we bantered back and forth about his predilection and how it meets a primal mammalian need to suckle. I offered to clip a binky on my jacket for next week so that he could have the full experience. He declined saying it was too weird. To which I responded, “Why is it okay for lawyers to pinch and squeeze their customers, but when their customers want a piece of the action, it’s a no squeeze zone?”
Ah, the suckling irony of it all!
Earlier this week, Tuesday night to be exact, I worked until 8:30 p.m. and then checked my cell phone– three texts and three voicemails. I could quickly guess that Danny’s Garage meant my car was ready, so I began walking the two blocks to pick it up, hoping that the keys were under the mat as usual. Two texts were from my wife reminding me to pick up our daughter at 8:30. One voice mail was, I was sure, her attempt to confirm why I had not responded to either text message. I’d been fully engaged with clients since 2:00 pm without any break, that’s why. I hustled to pick up the car, then the daughter, and answered another voice mail with a live phone call. It was exhausting. Guess what? My wife was upset with me that I had not texted her back a simple “ok” to confirm that I’d received her three reminders. At 9 p.m. when I was finally eating supper, I did not have room in my brain to store her complaint. So I just stared at her like the substitute village idiot.
Fast forward to Friday afternoon. As I was leaving my office to pick up the dry cleaning and go by the bank, I noticed a reminder text from my bride to pick up our daughter after her work day. Though I already knew this and had it on my calendar, I panicked and fumbled with my phone. I quickly typed “k” to acknowledge her text and avoid future pain. But my phone would not let me send that. No, technology was using me not vice versa. I tried again as I was driving, which I think is a crime unless you have just picked up 30 pounds of dry cleaning.  I missed the k key and typed “LLL”. I was screwed. The phone tried to edit me and refused to send that also. Finally I typed blindly “PLO” and sent it by mistake.  Uh, what’s the deal here? I pondered how she would interpret this error… “Are you comparing me to a terrorist organization?”
Sure enough, an hour later she called to inquire about the PLO. I told her that’s how you spell “ok” when you are driving a five speed SUV and you are scared of your wife’s retribution. Okay, I guess sometimes the truth is the best policy. She chuckled and gave me three points for the effort. “You know you could have just waited till  you got home to safely text me.”
“I know, I know, but I needed to unloosen my belt and unthaw the meat before you kill me.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

249. Dye to Self

Yesterday my wife overdyed her hair, which she can pull off, by the way, cuz she’s a looker, which begs the question, “Was it too much or not?”. It was darker brown than she had hoped for, okay? Not wanting to be mistaken as her father, I decided to strike out on my own hairdressing trail.  Her bottle reminded me that I  had another box of hair dye, REAL BLACK is what the label said. It was the old kind I noticed as I unpacked the base and color bottles and the plastic gloves. I had been using the premixed stuff with the little comb applicator for the past couple of limpid years, but I forged ahead with this old technology. I worked the goopy cream in, following the directions, assuming that it would simply darken my gray from a light ash to medium charcoal. But when I finished my shower, I toweled off and looked in the mirror. It was ELVIS black. No!! Wayne Newton even!! I had not a single gray or white hair to be seen. Too much of a good thing looks creepy. Even Mitt Romney knew this.

I put on a hat when we went out to lunch later and I did some shopping. I was hoping not to see anyone who knew me well. I felt a bit uncomfortable with the new look. Not quite as bad as having a face tattoo or a bone piercing my nose, but a bit off my usual stride. Something had to give soon. I’m just too dark. My wife said I looked 15 years younger. I wish. No, I was sure I looked like the 80 year old letch with shoe polish hair who asks young women to dance through his loose dentures. I did not want to be that age spotted guy with suspenders holding his saggy pants up, revealing white socks above high gloss black shoes. What a nightmare.

After consulting Google for undying hair recipes, I washed my hair again twice with baking soda and shampoo. Nothing. We went to our usual Saturday dance and the world did not end. It was dark. People drank moderately and focused on their dance steps. We survived. The tough group would be the church crowd the next day under fluorescent lights. To complicate matters, we had to turn the clocks back this very night. I was not so much worried about the bad dye job but about having no good verbal responses to those who might comment on my time warp hair color.

In the morning I realized that I had one decent response. I imagined a congenial congregant commenting.

“Did you color your hair?”  To which I would reply…

“Actually I turned the clocks back last night and BAM! It was 1999 again. I got up this morning and BOOM! My  hair was dark again. How about that?”  No one noticed, which was a little disappointing. Perhaps if I go to church naked next week…no. Once you ring a bell, be it in church or the courthouse, you cannot unring it. Just like this dye job, I’d just have to outgrow it.

When I was teaching years ago, I had to be careful whenever I put color in my hair. Seventh graders don’t miss any opportunity to expound on anything out of the ordinary. I was careful to only color my hair over breaks or vacations, and then with semitransparent color. Even with such diligence on my part, I would inevitably be outed.

“Mr. Burrito, did you dye your hair?”

Now a bigger man might have resorted to honesty, but I concocted a thin fable to confound the immature questioners.

“You won’t believe me. It was sort of miraculous what occurred, but never mind…”

“Sure we will. What happened?”

“Well, I was walking down the beach this summer when a storm came up. There was wind and lightning, but I walked on unafraid.”

“You shouldn’t do that. You could be hit by lightning.”

“Exactly. That’s what happened. I was hit directly by what the EMT’s estimated was a 2 million watt bolt of lightning.”

“Really? No, you’re lying.”

“I can’t force you to believe. But when I was recovering in the Emergency Room, I noticed that my hair was a shade darker. I mentioned this to the doctors. They told me that sometimes this happens to victims of severe lightning strikes– it’s a reverse aging process due to the extreme ionization of the carbon particles commonly found in hair.  They assured me this would stop over time and I’d go back to the regular aging curve within six months.”

“So what does that mean?”

“It means that my hair is unnaturally darker than it should be for a man my age. So to answer your original question, Yes, I do color my hair by adding a touch of gray to it. Cuz it’s just creepy looking to have jet black hair when you’re in my demographic.”

“Nooo… Really?”

Like I said, they were not a tough crowd to fool.

So, after the sermon was preached in church, we went to Sunday School class where I was certain Jerry or DJ would bust my shady look. Not a peep. I was ready with the turn back time line and a bad Cher impersonation.

Nope. Completely Unnecessary. And then I had a spiritual comment come to me while I meditated on my personal vanity.

“Did you dye your hair?”

“Actually, I dyed to self, just beginning with my hair. I am beginning a daily devotional and a journal for my hairdressing journey.”

“I’m sorry I asked.”

“Oh, I’m not. I’m grateful that someone noticed and that I was fully prepared to give my testimony.”

“You know the actual verb is ‘die’ in that verse, ‘die to self” don’t you?”

“Yeah, okay. And your point?”

“…and you are making this all about your self, right?”

“Yeah, Uh, but, um, aren’t you being a bit self righteous?”

“Dude, I’m bald. It’s over for me. You need help.”

“Thanks, man.”