Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Walking in the rain

For a while now I have been in a funk. I really haven’t felt like doing much and have had no inspiration to write. I have basically lived in a pair of old shorts that has become my uniform of choice while siting around the apartment. When you can’t work and basically have no life things can get fairly depressing real quick. Until today that is, today I went for a walk in the rain. As I sat watching television I heard the thunder begin and soon I heard the rain drumming on the vent pipe for the stove. I quickly dressed in an old pair of jeans, waterproof boots, jacket, and my dusty old hat and headed outside.
While others were rushing to get to their cars or inside buildings I was thoroughly enjoying hearing the rain beat down on my old hat. Cars passed and the drivers gave me strange looks. As they thought they were better off in their hermetically sealed interiors I was splashing through puddles and enjoying nature. I waded up the road to a store and bought a candy bar and a Dr. Pepper. Inside the store I got more than a few funny looks from people who were waiting out the storm; especially when I walked back outside and sloshed across the street to the little coffee shop. I was rather disappointed when the rain stopped before I started home.
Back at the apartment, I shrugged out of my soaked jeans and dripping jacket and replaced them with the shorts. (Thanks to the boots my feet were actually dry even though I waded through racing ankle deep water more than once.) Now my hat is dust free and I feel much better. Rain isn’t just good for trees and grass. If used properly, it’s good for people too.

I am still alive

Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. I know it has been a while since you have heard from me. I would like to say that I have spent the past few weeks in quiet introspection and meditation. I would like to but it would all be a lie. The fact of the matter is that I have spent them reading too many Zane Grey novels and watching waaaay too much TV. Summer always does me like this. I get the lazys - the terminal lazys as a matter of fact. I know that this technically isn’t summer but why wait is my motto. I have been doing a little writing. I have half of a new book written. One of these days I will finish one. I have so many ideas for this new one I don’t know where it will lead.
So here are a couple of things I wrote recently. I hope you enjoy.

Where have all the men gone

One of the greatest things about being a man has always been that we didn’t have to work at it. I mean women have to work at it. They obsess about an inch on their waist. They get up three hours early to paint on their faces and rebuild their hairdo. But men are supposed to look rough around the edges. That is until now. Now we are supposed to get manicures and moisturize our faces. Television commercials bombard us with hair care products and new razors that will shave our faces back to our childhood. We are supposed to worry about looking like actors and have no body hair. We aren’t supposed to smell like men either, but like a sea breeze or a winters afternoon. What ever happened to being a man? What happened to having a five-o-clock shadow and combing your hair with a screwdriver?
I remember a time when moisturizing a man’s face meant that the tractor had a hydraulic leak. I had a woman who cut my hair who asked me what I used on it because it was so thick and wonderful. I told her I routinely rubbed it under cars and washed it with dish detergent and I was telling the truth. What is wrong with having a little stubble? When I was a kid I couldn’t wait till I got to shave. Now it seems that men are supposed to look like they never reached puberty. What is wrong with a little dirt under a man’s nails and un-moisturized skin? I say it is time for the men of this world to be men.
Would the Marlboro man worry about his skin? NO! He would sharpen his knife on his stubble and then slice open a cow with it (the knife not the stubble) and have a steak then wipe his hands on his pants. He wouldn’t care if his socks matched his belt or even if they matched each other. Skin care for him is a pair of gloves and hair care is a Stetson. If he smelled like a sea breeze it was because he was on the beach. I can’t imagine John Wayne saying, “Let’s moisturize our skin, and make sure our belts and our hats match then go out and waft our fragrance over the hills until the bad guys surrender.” Never! He would say, “All right ya’ smelly dogs, get yer guns and let’s go after them scoundrels.” Now days Wyatt Earp would have been too busy conditioning his hair to go to the OK Corral.
So join me men. Let’s go out and get dirty. Let’s grow stubble and don’t shave till morning. Let’s wash our hair with unscented shampoo. I challenge you my brothers to shave with a razor that has fewer blades than a helicopter. Let’s smell like anything but a summer breeze. Gain a pound and don’t fret over it. Drive with the window down and let it blow through your hair. Toss that hair gel in the trash and let your hair be free. Throw out the tofu and quiche and have a steak. Be men. Get in touch with your feelings. Cry when Ol’ Yeller dies, but be men. Be a man or wear a dress. Let the women worry about facial hairs and hair fragrance. After all, they are supposed to make the world beautiful – not us.

Fell off the wagon

This week I fell off the wagon. No not that wagon. Not that one either. The wagon I fell off of is the sugar wagon. No not that kind of sugar. I am talking about the kind you eat. You see for the past many months I have almost completely removed all sugar from my diet. In the process I lost a good deal of weight. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 pounds. As you can imagine I have enjoyed wearing a lot of clothes that have been lurking in the closet for a while. I have been doing real good with it too. Since I know myself and that I will have to have some sugar I allowed myself one candy bar a day. That is it. I haven’t bought any cookies or cakes or anything like that. No brownies or Little Debbie cakes. There has been no sweets in my apartment since sometime around Thanksgiving. I made it through Christmas and even Valentines day with no problems. Then came Easter. I suppose that if every one claims that Valentines day was invented by the greeting card companies Easter was created by dentists. Easter and possibly Halloween most likely pay for more boats purchased by those in the dental profession than anything else. I made it for a week after Easter and was doing good. Then I walked into CVS. As the door slid open I was assaulted by all of the goodies that I haven’t eaten in months. Reeces cups, Cadburry eggs, York peppermint patties, Jelly Bellies all lay in baskets waiting for me to enter and buy them all. All on sale half off. Being the savvy shopper that I am I grabbed them up. I debated for about .000000003 seconds over buying them. I knew that I had the willpower to resist the wonderful chocolate sugary goodness. At home I took them to the kitchen and put them in a drawer. There was enough sugar in there to last me for months. I even managed to forget about them. Then my sweet tooth, which has a terrific memory, reminded me about them. I went in and got two Recees cups. I walked back to my desk and worked on writing my book. (For the record I have started a third book. I finished one completely, one stalled halfway through, this third one has taken on a life of its own.) After I finished the two Recees my sweet tooth began to remind me that there was a whole bag of them in the kitchen. Before long my sweet tooth had convinced my feet to carry my hands into the kitchen. I was unable to contain the mutiny before I knew what had happened my sweet tooth had forced my hands to shove a half a bag of the delicious peanut buttery chocolate cups into my mouth. Then the tooth convinced my hands to grab a knife and cut open the Jelly Bellies. Of course it used the age old lie, “I will only take a couple.” In a few short minutes my hands had shoved almost a full bag of the candy down my throat. Finally I managed to quell the mutiny I forced my sweet tooth to behave and went back to the living room.
Sometime during the night my tooth woke my legs up and told them to convince my feet to take me back into the kitchen. While this desperate ploy was being carried out my eyes opened and told my brain that things were going awry. Since it was early in the morning my eyes decided that they wanted to read and told my feet that if they would take my hands to get my book things would be OK. OH my lying eyes. They knew that if I went to the desk that they would see the pile of little aluminum foil wrappers off of the Reeces. Then a rebellion that was uncontrollable took place. My feet sped to the kitchen and my hands grabbed all the sweets. Before I could get things reigned in again the bag of Cadburry eggs was empty, a tattered pile of aluminum foil lay on the table, and my teeth were full of jelly beans.
SO now my sweet tooth is in exile. It has been banished to the land of crackers and water for the indefinite future. Next time I go to the store I will have to close my eyes till I get back home.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

My Addiction

I admit it, I am an addict. I have always loved coffee. Not instant coffee, but real brew. From the first time I tasted it till today I have a soft spot for the dark brown brew. When I as a kid I would sneak into the kitchen after my dad had left for work and pour myself a cup out of what remained in the pot. Back then I had as much cream and sugar in the cup as I did coffee, but I loved it. By the time I started to drive my dad had quit drinking coffee for health reasons. I would stop at one of the many convenience markets I passed on my way to school., church, or wherever I was headed and grab myself a cup. After I graduated from high school I started to drink it black. I never was sure why I did it, but a woman offered me a cup of coffee and asked if I wanted cream and sugar and I said no. It was then that my addiction really began. I found that I loved the taste of good old black coffee.
When you have an addiction like mine you start to collect various means of supplying your habit. My first coffee pot was a $12 dollar Regal coffee maker. It took about 30 minutes for it to decide to make a pot of coffee. I loved that pot. It lasted five years before it went to the great coffee house in the sky. Then I bought the holy grail of coffee makers. I managed to buy a Bunn. It was wonderful. Coffee in about five minutes. After another few years of constant brewing (my addiction was bad at this time 4 pots a day on a good day, and when friends came over it was worse) it went off to join the Regal. I then came into possession of a percolator. It made good coffee and it had the added bonus of being able to take it to work with me and always have a fresh pot available. I became real popular among other addicts that were in the buildings I did security in. Given the choice between instant coffee machine coffee and my dissolve-your-teeth brew they came to me in groves. I think my ex-wife sold that one at a yard sale (same one she sold my juicer at too). Now I have two coffee makers. One is a 12 cup Mr. Coffee with a timer and all that cool stuff. I don’t ever use it much because of the other coffee maker I have. The other one is a neat little device that makes individual cups and put sit in an insulated mug. The original mugs are long gone but I have two One Stop mugs that work just perfect. (By the way, One Stop coffee is fresh ground. If you are an addict like me it is a great place to get your fix) Now I can make a cup of coffee in a few minutes and it is fresh and hot. When that one is gone I can brew another. Quick and easy.
I watch with amusement the news reports that say one day how evil coffee is and the next what a wonderful thing it is. I also have seen the same reports on alcohol, eggs, and yes even my beloved hot dogs. I ignore them all. I figure that one day someone is going to shovel dirt in my face, and when they do I want to have enjoyed the journey to the hole. And when that day comes someone will have to pry a cup of coffee from my cold fingers. Dark black coffee – just like there will be in heaven.

In memory

You never know when an old memory will come to see you. Not repressed memories but those you just shuffle to the back of your mind and forget about. Today I was walking to the store and I saw a car. Not just any car, but I saw a 1987 Toyota Supra. It was blue and grey. It was just like one owned by a friend of mine in high school. Tommy Searcy was two years ahead of me, but do to the vagaries of small towns and private schools there was no class between us. We got to know each other fairly well. His parents owned a small store in the bad part of Springfield, TN. The year after I graduated they were found murdered in their home. I heard rumors that there was some involvement with drugs but it was never confirmed. A year after that my mother called and told me that Tommy’s body had been found on a back road in Robertson County. There were rumors of drugs in his death too. I can’t hear the song "you’re no good" without thinking of him.
Thinking of him got me to thinking about other people I knew who died unpleasantly. Andrew Stephens was a college friend of mine. He left school to go home and help his parents out. A short time later he was murdered. Sharon Davis was my high school principals daughter. She got involved with a bad guy and her body was found in a hotel room. Phil Aycock was another college acquaintance, but one who went bad. He was killed by the police after he robbed a store and stole a case of beer.
The most personal loss was Jason Robertson. He was a closer friend of my little brothers but I knew him well. He worked at a junkyard in Springfield, TN. A guy came in to try and return an engine that he didn’t buy there. When the guy was told to leave he pulled a gun and shot three people in the shop killing two. Jason was one of the two. I still have his picture on my refrigerator door. He was the only one who left a family behind a new bride and a baby. Whenever I hear "I like I, I love it" I think of him. Once last year I admit that I pulled the truck over to the side of the road and cried when the song played over the radio.
It is easy to look back and wish that I had spent more time with any of them. There are things I wish I had said to each one. There were times that I didn’t spend with them that I really could have. All I have of them now is memories. And those I wouldn’t trade for anything.