When my hero grandfather died in 2013, the love and concern for our family during a terrible time was unmatched. Flowers and cards poured in from all over the country. One arrangement of flowers was particularly interesting. It was a spray of artificial flowers with long green leaves and was carefully situated on a wire framed funerary stand. It was no less than six feet tall and served as the centerpiece for his funeral service. After the funeral, the arrangement ended up in my dad’s basement to be placed at his grave when all the real flowers withered away. Unfortunately, we never laid the beautiful flowers on Meme & Pawpaw’s grave and they collected dust in the basement. Last April, my Dad and Step-Mom went on a trip to Hong Kong for vacation. While they were gone, my grandfather’s last surviving sibling died from a long illness. Oblivious to the fact that our family’s duty to console defaulted to me in the absence of my father, I answered a call from my little sister.
“Did you buy flowers for the funeral”, she inquired?
“Huh..? I bet Daddy…, uh oh”, I said with disappointment in myself.
After we talked about what to do for a few minutes my lightbulb went off! I described in great detail the arrangement that we should buy for our beloved great aunt. She loved what I described. I said, “Great now go in daddy’s basement, wipe the dust off, sign the card, and take the flowers to the Church!”
MORAL OF THE STORY- Sometimes regifting Pawpaw’s funeral flowers is the best option!
Play What You Practice
Let’s get one thing straight, I basically sucked at High School Football. I’m not sure if it was the fact that people were instructed to tackle me when I had the ball, or that the coaches expected me to block people twice my size and fueled with a desire to hurt me until the whistle blew. I was listed as a wide receiver, but really my position was “Stand up Offensive Lineman”! Knowing that every play that I was in the game for was a designed run, I either ran like Forrest Gump like a blooming idiot on a fly route to serve as a distraction or released inside and blindsided the outside linebacker, which was great, until the next play when my pissed off opponent pulled the grass out of his ear and did his best to murder me!
One Friday night in 1999 I was actually being attentive and realized that the other team’s defensive end was being drawn in on every play. I thought that a reverse would work so I told my position coach. He watched a few more plays and agreed. On a subsequent third down he tugged at the Head Coach’s pullover.
“What do you want”, he said irritatingly?
“Clint and I have been watching and we need to run a reverse”, the position coach wimpered.
“Shut the HELL up! Give me one good goddamn reason why we should run a play that we haven’t practiced since spring training? Just get out of my face”, the Head Coach scolded!
We won the game without running the trick play and simply sticking to the game plan, but we practiced that reverse on Monday!
MORAL OF THE STORY- Stick to the game plan, but never miss an opportunity to add a new play to your playbook!
Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes
To reinforce the fact that I really did suck at Football, I present to you Exhibit A. During a hard fought game with a district rival the number 1 and number 2 receivers went down to injury. Since I was a little smarter than most of the others that would run plays in, I would stand behind the coach and quiz the other backups on what they should do on each play. Deep down I guess I thought being close to the coach might get me in the game. When the second receiver went down I knew that by the depth chart that I was going in. I got ready and buckled my chin strap and the coach’s arm came around and started to lower down on my shoulder pad. Then, in a course correction, he grabbed the facemask of an underclassman and continued to run a Jumbo Package for the rest of the game. Of course I was devastated, and the #85 Blue Jersey remained clean for another year.
MORAL OF THE STORY- Hindrances in execution call for all resources to be evaluated and strategies realigned. And along the way people will be forced to understand their value.
The statute of limitations has hopefully lapsed and I’m old enough to evade the care of DHR, so I think it’s safe to share this story.
Being mobile is the greatest moment for a teenager when they turn sixteen. The moment is even better when you get wheels at fourteen! That’s the way it happened for my friend Lance. You see, Lance had a scooter! It wasn’t an ordinary scooter either, it was a super powered beige bolt of lightning on two bald tires! Lance also had the enormous responsibility to take care of his horse, St. John. St. John was a world-class racking horse and was boarded at the Tuscaloosa Riding Club. Each day during the summer Lance would go to the riding club and take care of his horse. One day my parents let me go with him. They obviously weren’t aware that we would be going ten miles away alone on a suped up MoPed. As we were leaving the neighborhood, Lance eased around corner of Blackberry Lane and backed the scooter into the edge of the curb. “Hold on”, Lance said as he rolled his wrist as far back as he could. 35 MPH, 45 MPH, 55 MPH, 73 MPH read out on the digital speedometer as we hit the top of “thrill hill” and jettisoned airborne forty-five feet down the steep road. Lance slammed on the brakes and jubilantly screamed like he had just won the X-Games! I pissed my pants and wanted to cry! But St. John needed us to clean his stable and take him for a lap or two around the riding rink; the show must go on! We left out of the neighborhood and went south on HWAY 69. I was tightly clasped around his waist even as we were sitting still at the red light beside Fazolli’s. Just before we took off at the traffic signal, our middle school principal pulled up beside us and stared in bewilderment, so we naturally looked over and waved at him like Harry and Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber. We proceeded on to the riding club with little incident. When we made our final approach through the roughest section of town at the time, I began to think how long it would take to ride and clean up St. John. It would be dark in a few hours and I’m pretty sure I just heard a gunshot. Lance rode the horse while I stood against the stables by the payphone. I randomly dialed 1-900 numbers incessantly pressing 1 “to talk to a real girl” hoping to actually get through to real girl, unsure of what I would say if I did. Just before dusk, St. John had received his daily work out and we cleaned the stall and set our sails back to Northport. Pretty sure my parents still don’t know about this one!
MORAL OF THE STORY- It can be precarious, but as long as the stall gets clean and the horse gets rode, what happens in between is nonconsequential.
High and Tight
The first year of marriage is the toughest. It’s hard to process the idea of always pleasing an eternal roommate. Needing a haircut, one afternoon after work I pulled in the strip mall by our house and took a seat and waited at Head Start. As the victims, I mean customers, filed out one by one I should have discerned the gravity of my current situation. Then she called my name. I timidly walked around the half-wall that divided the waiting room from the Butchery. She was a frail lady, about sixty years old. Her soiled cigarette breathe landed solidly on the back of my neck as she asked me what type of haircut I wanted. I mumbled something to the effect of short on the sides and blend with scissors on the top. As she began, I could feel her hand shaking and see her blinking very quickly in the mirror. Was she having some kind of medical episode? Should I call for help? I chose to sit still out of fear of being killed by a pair of shears! When the trimmers came over the top of my head with the zero guard firmly attached, I realized that there was no going back from the worst haircut in the history of the world! Apparently she received her training from Paris Island Boot Camp! Oh but wait, there’s more. Before exiting the chair she ran her trimmers across my eyebrows taking them clean off to my forehead and made three long passes down my shirt removing a large percentage of my back hair! Oh my God, what am I gonna do? I can’t go home! I called my wife and told her that I couldn’t come home because I had done something terrible. She must have thought that I had killed someone as I hung up and thought about how I would explain my new look to my friends at a wedding shower that night. My wife was not happy about my streamlined look, and since then I’ve gone to the beauty shop every five weeks just like a good little boy.
MORAL OF THE STORY- You screwed up! It’s just hair and will grow back
Learn from Everything,