The wife and I had an opportunity last week to visit beautiful Gig Harbor, Washington. It is a wonderful little fishing village on the Kitsap Peninsula. We had a great time there and I can recommend it if you are ever in the Seattle area. I was, however, reminded that folks don’t talk the same way they do back home in Indiana or in the Texas Panhandle where I was raised.
We stopped in at a local owned restaurant for lunch that day in Gig Harbor. The waitress was very friendly and helped us navigate the menu. I do not remember what the wife ordered, probably seafood. I ordered, and I quote: ” I would like a BLT no maters.” Just like that. Having gotten both of our orders, our waitress confirmed back to me that I ordered a BLT no mayonnaise. I responded that, no, I had ordered a BLT no maters. “Yes, that’s what I have…a BLT no mayonnaise,” she sought to assure me that she had understood.
“No mam,” I repeated. “I want a BLT no maters.” At that, our very patient but frustrated waitress stared at me long and hard and asked, “What’s a mater?” It was then I realized I was not back home and a more pronounced English was needed. I said, “I would like a BLT no tomatoes.”
True story. I got my BLT no “maters.”
(Been on a little hiatus – I think I’m back). This story is dedicated to every guy who has ever had a grade school crush.
When I was in the fourth grade at Western Plateau Elementary School in Amarillo, Texas, my teacher was Miss Brown. She was a new teacher and, as far as I knew, the year I was in her class was her very first year in the classroom.
She was as pretty a gal as my nine-year old self had ever seen! Folks, the first time I saw her and she smiled at me I came near on to wetting my pants for embarrassment. I did! I couldn’t hardly talk around her. About all I could do was just sit and stare at those big brown eyes surrounded by those rosy cheeks and chestnut hair. When she did speak to me, I was sure I’d died and gone to heaven.
I would dream about Miss Brown at night and stare at her all day. She could’ve asked me to fight a bear and I’d a done it. You know, I think a couple of nights I may have even studied my homework. (Don’t tell anybody)!
One day right after Christmas, she was gone. We had a substitute teacher. Nobody said where she got off to except that she would be gone a couple of weeks. It was the longest two weeks of my life. I was as miserable as a body could be waiting on my dear Miss Brown to come back.
When she did come back, she had a different name. She’d done gotten herself hitched. I was crushed beyond words. Even now, some fifty years later, I twitch at the pain of that memory. In a split second, my hopes and dreams were crushed. It would be twelve-plus years before I met another woman that would have that kind of affect on me and I had the good sense to marry her before somebody else did.
I am amazed at the stuff that shows up in my email spam folder. Let’s have a look, shall we?
Here is an email informing me that I have won the national lottery of a nation that I have never heard of. I stand to collect upwards of USD 85,000,000.00 and all I have to do is respond to this email and assure them that I won’t tell anybody because this is a “secret” lottery.
After that, I see another email purporting to tell me that I am, as it turns out, the long lost heir to the throne of some Kingdom somewhere and I alone am allowed access to the crown jewels and its attendant riches. Out of concern for my personal safety, I must be silent about my new career and riches until arrangements can be made to transfer untold millions to my bank account. Just a quick replay to the addressee and the arrangements for my coronation can be made forthwith.
In two emails, I have been elevated to sovereign of an unknown nation and been given riches beyond imagination! What could be next? Here’s one: I have won a new super sports car and would I please verify my identity so the sweepstakes company knows in whose name to put the car’s title?
My spam file has somewhere around forty emails to sift through. What could possibly beat a title, gazillions of dollars, and a new sports car? Turns out, a bank president in another country needs my help moving USD 42,000,000.00 out of the country and he is willing to pay me a 10% commission if I will help him. I’ll bump him to 20%.
Ok, so now, I am a King with a new car and USD 89,200,000.00 in cash. The remainder of my spam file offered medical treatments to heal any and all disease with the promise of eternal life if I just swallow this or use that. If I am going to live forever, I’ll need more money. There are thirty seven more emails to go through. That ought to be enough.
March Madness is upon us and that reminds me of my very short basketball career.
If memory serves, I was in the fifth or sixth grade at Western Plateau Elementary School in Amarillo, Texas in the mid-sixties. The school didn’t have a sports program so we played under the umbrella of an association called “Kids Inc.” Our team wore red and gold and I think our team name was the “magpies.” Don’t ask me how we got that name. To this day, I don’t know what a magpie is and don’t feel like looking it up. Anyway, I cannot remember a whole lot about my one-season career save two events.
We played somebody (I don’t remember who – maybe the cows or the moose’s, – something like that) at the local Boy’s Club. I was one of those players whose job it was to make sure the bench didn’t wander away. The league had a mandatory “everybody plays” rule so I left my job for a few minutes every half and played center. I was in the thick of things just where the three point line would be if the rule had been around back then. I took it in my mind that I didn’t want to bother with running all that way to the basket for a lay-up so I took the easy way out and launched the ball from midcourt. As luck would have it, the shot sank and I scored two points! I was elated! Two points! My first (and sole) ever in a game. My euphoria did not last as my services were needed on the bench just a scant minute or two after my basket.
The week after my triumph our team ventured out again to play at the Boy’s Club. This time, we were to play a team from the rough side of town. I think they were called the junior convicts. There wasn’t much to write about this game except the magpies had bruises and scrapes over every inch of our bodies.
THAT, dear friends, is the sum of my basketball career.
It’s difficult to describe the indescribable. How do I explain what happened just two nights ago? The trauma that I find so painful to recount has left me with a sore neck and a battered and bruised truck. I will chronicle the events as best I can and allow you, dear reader, to separate fact from fiction.
Some of you may know that we have a foreign exchange student that lives with us. On Friday last, it fell upon me to drive from our Southside home to the university to pick said student up. It is a trip I have made many times with never a sign of trouble. It was after dark when I left my home with the full expectation of an uneventful journey. Such it would have been save an encounter at the point just north of where two major streets split into a fork. It was there that the unseen terror struck.
As I was driving along, my SUV was grabbed by the left front tire in such a violent manner as to make my head jerk back. In that split second of horror, the truck that had served me so well for so long was found in the grip of a monster known as potus cavus. The beast of the underworld made a savage attempt to drag my faithful truck down into its nefarious subterranean lair. Were it not for the quick reaction of my truck, it is probable that neither I nor it would be here today.
After my truck wrestled itself free from the potus cavus, I got to the side of the road and away from the subterranean monster and checked the wounds that bad been inflicted on my friend of some six years. It was clear that it had suffered some great harm and I would need to get it to people who could tend to its needs. Damaged though it was, it was strong enough to inch its way to help where it sits now.
I do not know the extent of its damages. It will, no doubt, recover. Dear friends, let this be a warning to all who read this. Potis cavus has invaded even our beloved Southside. Be watchful, dear reader. Be watchful and wary.
I had a warning a few days ago that a malady of some sort would be arriving to visit me. It moved in yesterday and has unpacked for the long haul. It has robbed me of sleep and, more important, my voice. Oh, it’s still there and does work to a point but I sound like an angry goat or a happy frog, depending on my mood at the time.
There could not be a worse time for my voice to stage a work stoppage. My day job requires that I be able to talk and be understandable. Furthermore, the timing of this work cessation on my voice’s part is made worse because I have two talks to give next week. I can well imagine the reception I will receive as I “bleat” my way through these two presentations.
So, in an effort to convince my voice to get back to work, I sought out the advice of my speech coach, Ellen. She knows about stuff like this. First, according to her, I am to go into complete silence. I am not allowed to utter a word. Easier said than done. I told my wife about this idea. She did not give an opinion on this particular course of action though she reflected a disguised grin. Hmmm.
Second, I am to wrestle with my neck twenty minutes of every hour. The idea behind this, I guess, is to dislodge the old voice box and force it back to work. My first attempt gave me a headache. Until now, I had never once wrestled with my neck. I hope I don’t put a sleeper hold on myself. I have tried this treatment a couple of times now. Hard to tell whether my voice is cooperating or not being as how I remain under a talking ban.
The final assault on my voice box involves gargling with salt water six times a day. I have yet to inflict this cure considering that I have not wrestled the thing into submission yet and am using the salt water as a threat. I will institute this final application at evening unless my voice begins to cooperate and gets back to work.
Course, how am I going to know any of this until I can start talking again?
I have to get organized. Course, I say that every year and repeat it at least once a week. I do manage to drag myself through the years without missing too much but it’s getting harder.
As of this writing, I am in the possession of, or have exclusive access to, two desktop computers, a laptop, a tablet, smart phone, and a paper planner. I have a business card scanner and an app on my smart phone for the same purpose. In short, I have every possible tool that could or would make my personal and professional life the envy of my neighborhood. The end result of this state of organizational copiousness is nothing works.
The two desktops have different versions of the same time and task management software. Neither one of them will talk to my cell phone though they will talk to each other if they are in the mood. The laptop is old and works when it feels like it. Because it was the workhorse of the bunch until a few days ago, much of my history is on it. I can get it switched to a desktop when the beast is up to working. It’s just plain ornery in its old age. The tablet is so conceited it won’t talk to anybody. The smart phone tries to get along but it’s tough when nobody will talk to anybody. Oh, I failed to mention that I have a twelve-plus year old customer relationship management software that will talk to nobody but itself.
I bought a business card scanner and its attendant smart phone app in the hopes that I could, at long last, get this crowd of braniacs to talk to one another and help me get my act together. The end result is I have to load each card twice. Once into the desktop scanner and again into the cell phone with no advantage at all to me.
The only “system” I am not having problems with is the paper planner. It never crashes, does not NEED to talk to anybody but me, and does not require any weird stuff or tools. It’s also cheap. Its sole downfall is the entry clerk. “He” can’t write worth a hoot.