Archive for April, 2012

Flushing My Teeth

Hot summer days in Alaska were a rarity.  We had no air-conditioner, but simply opened windows after cutting through the paint with a razor-blade.   On one particular balmy day, my mother cooked some delicious chocolate chip cookies.  From the moment they started baking, my mouth watered as their sweet smell permeated every inch of our home.  My six-year-old tummy growled as I lay on the sofa, reading my favorite Dr. Seuss book.  The green eggs and ham did little to squelch the roaring cookie monster living in my belly.  I wanted cookies more than a fish wants water.  Without a thick, gooey, chocolate chipper melting in my frothing mouth, I was sure to die.
Finally the cookies were ready.  There were a dozen.  I counted them and tried to divide the amount I would be alloted by staring at the hot sheet.  Twelve divided by four people was not yet a part of my education.  Instead, I took the four rows and figured one of them was mine.  Therefore I had one, two, three.  Three!  Awesome, I would eat one now and save two for later.
“Mom, can I have a glass of milk with mine?” I asked, hoping she’d get the hint.
“Yes, when we have them for dessert tonight,” she replied.  It was as if she hit me with a brick!  My expression dropped and I tried to think fast.
“Can I have one now and eat the other two for dessert?” I pleaded, trying to look like Oliver Twist.  My mother gazed down at my wretched bargaining attempt and took pity.
“OK, just one, but that’s it.” she said, smiling as she put a cookie on a small plate.
“Thank you, mom!  You’re the best!” I shouted as I hugged her benevolent leg.  I bit into the cookie and all the joy ever experienced by humankind exploded in my mouth.  It was the best cookie ever!  Well, the last one I had was too, but still.
After eating the cookie with a small glass of milk, my mother insisted that I brush my teeth.  Normally, I would have balked at such a suggestion.  Cookie mouth is to be savored, not cleaned away with nasty mint.  However, we just got a new electric toothbrush and I was excited to go solo with it.  The previous evening, my mother brushed my teeth with it.  It tickled and I spit toothpaste down my shirt.  Today, I was going to do it on my own like my big brother.
A few minutes later, my mother heard the toilet flushing.  The first bowlful seemed normal enough, but the second and third caught her attention.  She rushed up to the bathroom to find me dropping another head of the electric toothbrush into the toilet.
“What are you doing?” she yelled.  “Are you crazy?” I snapped my head around in a start.  The toothbrush was not plugged in, so it did not work when I tried to use it.  I carefully reasoned that it was dead, just like my goldfish.  When it died, we did the same thing, so I simply told her what my father told me.
“We’re a Navy family, mom.  When a sailor dies, you bury them at sea!”



Reflected Love

Touching heart and mind with thoughtful flirtations
Gazing with eyes, penetrating deep within
Speaking emotions from places not fathomed
No sweeter tune plays a bowed violin
Hands of gentle embrace with strong intention
Grasping my soul with unbreakable binds
Sweetly flowing her deepest expression
Her reflected beauty in my eyes she finds
Encompassing tightly my fervent praise
Desiring passionate affection not wavered
Longing the release of grand appreciation
Approving with glances most favored

No Charity Please

A peculiar mystery puzzled our church board.  Toilet paper was continually missing from the stalls.  We replaced it only to find it gone the next Sunday.  Finally, we asked someone to keep an eye on the toilet paper (how crazy it that?).  The detective deacon soon caught scent of the paper perpetrator.  A new attender was pilfering it.
When asked why she was taking it.  The woman said they did not have enough money and needed some paper at home.  Because we were a church, she was sure we wouldn’t mind if she took the leftovers home each week.  We told her we would be glad to go get her some at the store and even food if she needed it.  The paper pilfering perpetrator responded, “Oh I could never accept charity.”

Creating Dissonance

   Living together in harmony is a beautiful idea.  I’d like to teach the world to sing and buy it a Coke, right?  All the wonderful people should dance in meadows filled with butterflies while children laugh around a fountain of endless chocolate pouring forth from a mountain made of fulfilled dreams.  What a wondrous harmony that would bring.  Unfortunately, that tune only exists in fantasy.
     In order to show the pain that they and others feel, some create dissonance.  They sing a very different tune in the midst of those trying desperately to find harmony.  When the diminished fifth clashes with the propagated chorus, people look to find the source of the disharmony and, hopefully, change occurs.  Often, the dissonance does not address the pain, however.  “Life is Meaningless” is not the antidote for “Life with Blinders.”  “I Hate My Life” does not mitigate “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.”  Instead, the dissonance is seen as a ridiculous attempt to grab attention and distract from the harmony for neurotic narcissism.
      I love dissonance.  From prophets to poets, philosophers to philanthropists, those who step outside the harmony to call us to higher plains are my heroes.  Without genuine purpose, however, dissonance is only an ugly noise that will be drowned out by a louder chorus.  Rage against the machine, but understand its mechanisms.  Fight the power, but know our hoped end.  Rail against injustice, but first ascertain a viable ethic.

A Familiar Voice

Far too many times, I have picked up the phone only to have someone say, “hello” without giving their name.  They obviously think that I know them, even though I have no clue as to their identity.  Rather than embarrass myself and insult the caller, I continue talking until they will say something that gives me an “aha” moment.  This seems to work 99 percent of the time.
The other day, however, the other person was not so helpful.  Instead, I labored through the call trying desperately to find the morsel of information.  It never came.  The man told me about his aunt’s arthritis, how the new job was going, and finished with a crescendo of why he was contemplating a divorce.  I began to feel like I was eavesdropping on my own telephone.  It was too late to say I did not know who the other person was.  After all, I was now counseling him through his marriage issues.  Suddenly it dawned upon me what to do.  I hung up.
The phone rang again.  “Bob?” I asked.
“No, it’s Tom again.  I think we got disconnected.”  Suddenly I knew that this was my old friend from high school.  Everything he said fell into perspective.  Both of our egos remained in tact and Bob’s marriage is doing great…or was it Tom’s?  Well someone is doing well somewhere.

Enemy Mine

Cold, still, rigidly lying on silken ruffles
Hands folded across her quiet heart
Peaceful, now that her battle’s over
Fought in a war she didn’t start
Eating away all but her spirit
Anguished by pain that never ceased
Smiles through tears unwontedly flowing
Though her foe’s attacks increased
You are my enemy, vile cancer
Eating the flesh that gives you life
I will not stop ‘til you are history
This woman you stole was my wife

(Written for a friend)


It’s been said that bitterness is like drinking someone else’s poison and waiting for them to die.  Bitterness is a cancer that eats upon the host.
We have a dungeon in our minds where we keep those who have hurt us in the past.  The crass teacher, the bully, the girl or guy that laughed at us, the one who took our job or our whatever.  We keep them in that dungeon and periodically go down into that dark place and whip them.  Grown men and women will pace in the living room saying, “If only I would’ve… if only I had said…if they were here, I’d…” Afterwards, we whip them all into bloody pulps.  Locking the door of that dungeon, we return to life, not realizing that the dungeon is festering our whole lives.
The only way to find peace in life is to go down and unchain the prisoners.  Let them go and refuse to re-shackle them.  Only then will the vapors of pungent bitterness stop permeating the other rooms of our lives.