Man Looks on the Outward Appearance

With my wife gone for the week taking care of our grand babies, it’s been hit or miss for me in the kitchen. Tired of cereal and toast, I opted to visit a place my wife simply refers to as “Awful House.” I don’t know why she has an aversion to a place that brings you waffles and hash browns in abundance. Sure you don’t have to swallow since most of the food slides down; but where else can you go and see such an eclectic group of people? Don’t say Walmart, it’s in a class (less) all of it’s own.

As I awaited my meal I couldn’t help but notice the clientele. Just on my side of the restaurant there was a Muslim couple with the wife in her headscarf (they didn’t look happy) a grandmother, daughter, and grand daughter sat at the second table, they didn’t look happy either. The young granddaughter sported a nondescript fish hook piece of jewelry in her nose. Then there was the gay couple, who spread out over the whole two seats with their combat boots and tufted hair styles. At the far table, three old men sat talking about the old days. Oddly, they were the most animated in the whole room.

It took some time for my order to arrive, so I sat and studied the remainder of the room. I should have been more patient since the cooks today were all trainees; apparently a new place was opening up across town soon. After my meal arrived, my confidence in the trainers went out the window. My waffle tasted like an oven mitt with an uncooked center, my toast wasn’t toasted. It merely tasted like the bread came from a bread bag that had been left open all night long.

However my expected meal was forgotten as I studied my town’s smaller version of the United Nations.  Except for the old timers in the corner, not one person in the place smiled even once the whole time I ate my breakfast. It was sad really.  The waitress complained of her car having transmission problems to another customer, someone needed $300 for something else and the remainder had their heads down either phone surfing or just trying to ignore the world.

I often wonder as I sit in a strange place what others may think of my presence. Am I just as odd to them as I sometimes think they must be to me? Herein lies my thought process. I scope a room and I don’t see much that impresses me at all. My training tells me God on the other hand does the very same thing but He sees something I don’t; individuals who are extremely valuable. No matter the hair style, jewelry, or background, He can take the same occupants from this sad room and do some amazing things with them. He did it with a bunch of course fisherman once, why not an unenthusiastic group from this diner?

My breakfast wasn’t memorable, but it didn’t have to be.  The “Good Book” encourages me to always view a roomful of people with the same eyes God has. If I do that, then I will recognize this bit of truth, a lousy meal is easier to swallow when you are among friends. After all, family reunions taught me that!



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I Propose a New Cable Show

Having traveled extensively around the country over the past year, I’m always intrigued by the accents of various regions. None fascinate me more than where I was born, New England. I can tell the difference between Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont accents. In this whole region, the letter “A” replaces the “R” at the end of the word and vice versa. I remember a young woman I worked with a number of years ago who went by the name of Donna. Frustratingly for her, our boss always called her, Donner. I used to joke with her at Christmas if she was going to bring her friends, Blitzen and Cupid to the Christmas party. She always stuck her tongue out at me.

In other parts of the country like Kentucky, eastern Appalachian people merge words together to form a new word. The phrase, “No More” is converted to one word, namore. In Maine the words “No Sir” are converted to No-Sah.

It is with this in mind that I came up with a brilliant new show for cable. Throughout my travels, one thing has been universally constant, the wearing of yoga pants is being abused. You’ve heard of the show, “Say Yes to the Dress” right? I suggest a Down East citizen of Maine hosting a show with a heavy accent entitled, “Say No-Sah to the Yoga!” I can imagine the host saying in typical Maine flair, “Yess-uh, we bout seen a bit too much of a wicked good thing he-ah (here).

I can hear their colorful play-by-play even now with every episode. Announcer: “Mutha (Mother) is behind them curtains they-ah and she’s checkin out a new fangled ex-acise suit. I’m hopen she looks more like a Volkswagen beetle cuvvah (Cover) than a sausage casing!”

For all of us, you can’t tell me that you haven’t seen your own version of Ipecac, in spandex. I was returning to my car this week when I saw the worst form of spandex abuse ever. The woman’s tight yoga outfit made her look more like a large python from Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. The kind that has eaten a baby rhino and is now sunning itself on a rock. I couldn’t help but think, “Does she own a mirror?”

I’m not trying to shame individuals with girth, I’m one. But there’s a reason why at my age when I go to the beach, I don’t don a Speed-Don’t bathing suit. This is the reason why homes have blinds, seeing too much, is most often too much! I get it, we all want to think of ourselves as having the perfect body, but in spandex unless you have the body of an Adonis; you are going to look like a kielbasa ready to explode.

One thing about Mainers, they know where to buy their outfits; L.L. Beans of course. Besides, it’s perfect. After 4X comes tent right? I’m sure I can get a bargain if I don’t need the tent stakes.

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Our “Brief” Encounter

Throughout history, there has been a dearth of volunteers to work kitchen duty. One of my wife's favorite sayings is, "We only have a kitchen because it came with the house." Being the parents of three children and having hosted a cadre of their friends, we haven't forgotten the mountain of work it requires to feed and clean up a kitchen after a party.

I remember one exhausting day during those teenager years, I looked around the house like it had been hit by a tornado and exclaimed, "We don't have children, we have locusts!"

Now that our children have grown and left the nest, we "feel" for those individuals who are left with a ton of work after the last of the party goers have vanished. So like the biblical character Martha, we tend to stick around until the end of a celebration to help clean up.

One night many years ago, we were invited to some church friend's home for a Christmas party. Their place was teeming with guests, most of whom we had never made acquaintance. To keep from mindless chatter and chit-chat conversations, we chose to work in the kitchen, it's safer and we always felt more productive. The night seemed to go on forever as sunset comes early in northern New England.  Finally the last of the guests said their goodbyes and we wrapped up our self imposed duties of cleaning up.

The soiree must have worn out the hosts because as we said so long to them, the outside light went off the moment we reached our car in their driveway. Moments later as we we began to strap our children into their car seats, our friends in the house did the most unexpected thing. Thinking everyone had gone, they rushed into their bedroom like they'd been shot out of a cannon and began to undress in front of their large picture windows. With lights still blazing inside, we saw them undressing faster than Superman finding an empty phone booth.

Before we could even get into the front seat, we watched in horror as pants and blouses were thrown about the room as if they were being ejected by a threshing machine. Now down to their underwear, it was then as the lady of the house began to unhook her bra strap,  I panicked. My wife with urgency said, "Let's get out of here before they see us!" I whispered back, "I can't! We're only 25 feet from their window, if they see our lights, they'll be mortified!"

Thinking quickly, I said to my wife, "Don't turn on the lights, scoot over into the drivers seat, I have an idea. Place the car in neutral and I'll push you out the driveway." My wife said, "But the house sits on an incline." I knew that if I could get a running start, the car could just go slightly up the hill as it left their property. I then could hop into the car and glide down their hill out of view, where I could then turn on our lights.

As I huffed and puffed our sizable car out their long driveway to freedom, I dared not turn around. I would have to change churches and friends if they reached their birthday suits. I'd always seen them in church looking so prim and proper, I didn't want to be educated otherwise. I'm convinced God gave me the extra oomph to get our beast of a car out of their driveway. My cheeks were doubly red as I huffed and puffed and eventually jumped into the drivers seat; one from the cold and the other from…..well you know.

Since that time I have had short, long, and small encounters with friends and acquaintances. It has been 30 years since that "brief" encounter, here's hoping for another 30 before the next one.

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Where is All the Laughter?

It has been a long time since I put pen to paper.  No I’m not ignoring you, but laughter seems harder to come by…excluding my paycheck of course.

It seemed only a few years ago, I could write funny stories with great relish. Now I start each day as if I’m looking at life through a circus mirror. You know the ones I’m talking about, you’ve seen them countless times and laughed. You’d stand there with your kids, pointing, looking at yourself bloated and out of focus, with a huge head and would then double over laughing. Except now I’m getting the same effect in front of my bathroom mirror and I’m only in a towel.

Nothing wipes away a smile more than seeing a caricature of yourself becoming…well, you. Recently because of a bum knee, I rented an electric scooter to traverse an amusement park. As my young acting wife and daughter energetically went from one roller coaster ride to another, I could be found sitting on my little zippy ride looking like an octogenarian. Getting bored and feeling self conscious, I found myself whistling over to the dipping dot ice cream shack for a space age treat.

I still don’t understand how an ice cream can be so therapeutic on a scorching day, but it miraculously minimizes even the embarrassment of using a geriatric  scooter. I felt like a kid. As I ate my treat and licked the spoon, I swung my legs and had not a care in the world.

I beg to differ with experts that say, “the first thing that begins to go is the hearing.” I believe it’s pride. By the late afternoon I had no shame if anyone was laughing or mocking me, I was popping wheelies and beeping my pathetic little scooter horn with abandon. It was extremely satisfying. By the end of the long day, I even reverted back to my childhood. My wife kept saying over and over again, “We can get another little scooter tomorrow Johnny, let’s go home now to beddy bye and night night.”

I’m not saying electric scooters are the cure for what ills the earth, but wouldn’t road rage be relegated to giggles and snorts if an angry voice were to be followed by the piercing sound of a Fisher Price horn?

Today I’ve decided to find my laughs riding a scooter at Walmart; now that’s a two-fer if I ever heard one.

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