Category Archives: Life

Batshit Crazy

I don’t normally use profane language, but I think it’s appropriate in this case.  The whole world has gone batshit crazy since the election was called last night. I was smart enough to deactivate my Facebook account before it turned any uglier.  I’ve already heard how awful it has gotten as the day has progressed.

Yes, I am a Trump supporter.  I have never burned a cross in front of anyone’s yard.  I have never beaten anyone for being a homosexual.  I have never sneered anyone wearing a burka.

Yet today, I am being told I’m a bigot, homophobe, and generally a horrible person (pssst… I’m really a pretty good guy).

I get the pre-election head-butting.  But when the dust has settled, we are supposed to shake hands and congratulate the other side.

When did it become ok to treat each other so terribly just because your chosen candidate lost?   This is worse than the Alabama-Auburn matchup each November.

I’m praying for you, America.  Praying hard.

 

Rented Mule

To the lady sitting behind me at the theatre festival:

I love High School Musical probably more than a 47-year old straight man should, but you, ma’am, have set the bar higher than I thought possible.

First, I want to compliment you on your lung capacity and power. The shrillness of your screams at the end of every song inspired me to duck for cover instead of applaud. I enjoy exercising my 2nd amendment rights and, although I wear hearing protection, it’s inevitable that I fire off a round or two without my ear plugs in. It’s pretty loud. Ma’am, you are infinitely louder than a 9 mm round being fired from my Sig Sauer. Kudos to your lungs. 

But as impressive as that is, it doesn’t hold a candle to your arm strength. When I saw a pom-pom in your hand prior to the show beginning, I didn’t realize you were holding the object of my future nightmares.

You worked that cheer accessory with passion unseen in modern history. The repeated pummeling to the back of my head quickly accelerated my hair loss. I stopped by Marshall Medical on my way home to ensure my pom-pom inflicted concussion won’t have lasting effects.

Lady, you beat me like a rented mule, like the proverbial red-headed step-child, like a drum, like wholesale carpet, like…  I’ll stop.  You get the idea.
I don’t know who your trainer is, but they deserve a medal!

You are truly a fan among fans!

We’re all in this together!

Go Wildcats!

Chris

 

Admit One

Friday nights were magical.  Around the age of eight, my mom would drop me off at our town square with $5 and a promise to pick me up in 2 hours. It was not the age of child abductions to be sure.

I would walk to the window and buy my ticket, sometimes with a cousin or two, but more often without. The posters would tell of next weeks feature but the future held none of my interest, only that moment.

Walking into the Martin Theater, my ticket would be torn and the stub handed back to me, stuffed into my pocket.  There were no names or coupons on the tickets in the mid-seventies, only the generic Admit One.  I would walk to the concession counter, ask for a large suicide and box of Raisinets.

Having only one screen, the only choices were to see the movie or not. I begged my mom’s younger brother to come to accompany me to see Rattlers because I was  afraid to watch it by myself.  Lucky for me, he wanted to see it too. A few minutes into the movie, my feet propped themselves up against the seat in front of me, #becausesnakes.  The usher came by and warned me put my feet down.  A few minutes later, he told me he would remove me from the theater if it happened a third time.  The snakes slithered around my ankles the rest of the movie and I was miserable and it was AWESOME…my first horror movie!

Several months later, Grizzly was playing, and once again, I called upon my uncle to accompany me. I don’t remember much of the plot line, but when the giant bear slapped the horses head clean off, the memory permanently fused some of my neurons together, only to be further imbedded in my mind the following, because it was played a second run.

In May of 1977, a movie called Star Wars (you may have heard of it) was playing. I had not seen anything about it, but that was normally the case.  You rolled the dice every Friday and sometimes ended up with Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.  Not that week.

Even watching Star Wars now, with its antiquated special effects, I’m instantly sitting back in that cool theater with the golden “prop-not-your-feet-upon-these-treasured-seats” watching two hours of science fiction heaven.

Four times I watched it.  It played for a month and I saw it every Friday and almost cried the week it was replaced. That 28-day run was the longest of any movie at the original, one-screen theater before it closed and the Martin Triple opened a few miles away.

Jaws kept me out of the ocean for 2 years and after a legitimate shark bite 3 years ago, I’m retiring my swim fins and goggles. Superman inspired me to save the world, even if I had to make the planet spin backwards. Halloween taught me it’s possible to watch a movie with my eyes shut. George Burns demonstrated God’s sense of humor.

Before it was the Martin, it was the Ritz, and it has since reopened as a music venue, taking on it’s historic Ritz name. But sadly, the Martin Triple is closed, leaving the people of my hometown without a place to hatch their own movie memories.

ritz-martin-theatre

 

 

The Pier

The memory of the wooden pier has grown dim.  The gray planks that I walked across almost daily for 5 years of my life could tell hundreds of stories of teenage joy and angst. My mind gets older and the details are fading.

On a crumbling paved road in Talladega County, my mom and step-dad built a house on Logan-Martin Lake when I was twelve years old. To help contain my excitement, I refused to go see the progress until we were only weeks from moving in. It was worth the wait.

Like most boys teetering between child and man, I loved swimming and fishing. With my “help” (I use that term loosely), my step-dad built a pier that stretched twenty feet into the water. The creosote from the support posts left 2nd degree burns on my skin, but the pain faded with time.  Even though the water was down to it’s winter level, I walked out on the pier every morning before leaving for school, willing the water level to rise.

And rise it did.  After the spring rains, the water level submerged MY pier 2 feet under water.  I’m sure I understood what Noah felt like as I would daily walk to the water’s edge, praying to catch a glimpse of dry wood.

By early May, the waters would recede and I would grab my fishing gear and make the 30 yard walk with my Irish Setter, Zeke.  He would sit with coiled enthusiasm until I’d pull out a catfish or bream. It was his greatest joy to dance around with my freshly caught prize in his mouth.  More than once, I had to remove a hook from his lip as well as the fish’s.

I buried Zeke as close to the pier as I could when he died my senior year of high school.

One spring Saturday, after the water had gone down, we noticed a foul stench in the air. My step-dad and I went to investigate and as we got closer to the end of the slough, the smell became almost overpowering.  Then we saw it.

A very dead, very bloated cow.

As I was emptying my breakfast on the ground, he yelled for me to get back.  I looked over to where he was running from and saw several Water Moccasins coming out of the carcass.  Dry heaving and running are NOT a good combination.  That’s the one memory I would be fine with losing.

We returned with lighter fluid and matches.  He was able to stand at a safe distance and squirt almost the entire container over the body, forming a liquid trail to his perch.  He lit a match and I watched as flames slowly consumed the dead bovine.  I thought it might smell like a cookout.  My thinking was flawed.  He returned a few more times over the next week to continue the process.  I didn’t have the stomach to accompany him.

My love of the night sky was born on that pier.  At sunset, I would grab a sleeping bag and lay on top of it and watch the sky fade as the stars and planets would gradually come into view. I’d tell myself I wouldn’t go inside until I saw a shooting star, and then just more.  And another two more.  Without the lights of the city or close neighbors, it was almost too easy some nights.  And covered with dew, I’d reluctantly make my way back inside.

The house was sold shortly after I graduated high-school.

I drove by the house after my mom passed and the memories were so thick I couldn’t see the road to drive.  There were new houses but none of the names I remember on the mailboxes. As much as I wanted to knock on the door and ask if I could walk down to MY pier (it’s still there), I couldn’t muster the same courage that Miranda Lambert has in her song The House That Build Me.

“And I bet you didn’t know under that live oak
my favorite dog is buried in the yard.”

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Invitation

Each day offers the invitation to be ordinary. 

Like an old sweater it waits for you, familiar, comfortable, safe.

It would be easier to just accept it. To give in. To give up.

Don’t. 

Don’t. 

Don’t.

You were never meant for ordinary. Plain is not your pronouncement. Common is not your curse. 

Write the book. Open the business. Dream the dream whatever unique shape perfectly haunts your unique soul.

Each day offers the invitation to be ordinary. Do not accept it.

                        –Jon Acuff

Pushing Up Daisies

My childhood heroes were my paternal grandparents, Noble and Estelle Holmes.

Noble was born in 1911.  He was forced to quit school in the third grade to help support the family.  Can you imagine an 8 year old working in a saw mill?  I can’t fathom it, but that’s exactly what he had to do as the oldest of what would eventually be 8 children.  After various industrial jobs, he injured his back 1973 and was eliminated from the workforce.  He passed away at the age of 91 from complication of pneumonia in 2003, a few days before his 92nd birthday.

Estelle was born in 1919.  Finishing high school, her work life would be spent working in yarn mills that were, at one time, so prevalent in our hometown.  In October of 1998, she was diagnosed with colon cancer.  I watched one of my heroes suffer with grace and dignity, not once complaining, not once showing the pain.  She passed away in April the following year at the age of 79.

The both were my shelter, my “rocks”, and my escape from a home filled with violence and constant turmoil.

My love of cooking came from spending time with my grandmother on Sunday mornings before church, preparing the family meal.  I’m sure I was quite the annoyance, trying to help, but in the end, creating more work for her.  She was patient with me.  As I’ve gotten older, I find myself with much a much deeper well of patience and I believe that time spent with her is the source.

I inherited my grandfather’s sense of humor. He was always looking for a way to aggravate (in a good way) my grandmother and, as those of you who know me personally; I find myself doing that to my wife.  He also taught me how to fish, garden, train a dog, and the importance of waking up early.

If they could see me now, they’d tell me they were proud of me.  Knowing the conditions they grew up in almost makes me feel guilty for living a (slightly) above-middle-class lifestyle.  But they would be proud knowing they had a huge influence on me, preventing me from letting the circumstances in my home not become an excuse for drugs, alcohol, and/or criminal behavior.

One other thing they’d tell me would be to slow down.  My life goes 150 MPH some days with work, coaching soccer, grass cutting, clothes folding, cooking, cleaning, reading, writing, running, gardening, the list goes on.   Their meaning would be “edit your life.”  Spend more time with your family in the moment, and less time worrying about tomorrow.  Do what your heart tells you to do, not what your calendar does.  Love more.  Laugh more. Dream more.

They’d tell me that time is short and in a blink of an eye we find ourselves pushing up daises.

Eliminate the noise.  Focus on what matters.