It’s a good feeling to know that our government and medical community really..really likes MoMo and me. Last week we received 4 Covid home tests; yesterday, we received 4 more, and a month ago, we received 4. Our mail carrier must think we are hypochondriacs or we are terminal with the pesky little virus.
I now feel guilty for not having the disease. I may take a test later today just to feel better about it. All this work by the medical company and the US mail; it takes effort to get these little boxes to us, not to mention the cost. Instead of the test, they could send us a gift card or a 40 percent off coupon for Hobby Lobby.
I guess we could go to Walmart and lick the handles on the baskets or the restroom door handles or kiss a coughing old lady, and we might contract the Covid, although it’s not guaranteed.
Looks like some of our friends will be getting the Covid test for Christmas.
Once, many years ago, I remember being in a San Antonio hotel bar and conversing with an older man who claimed to be beholden of holy powers, extraordinary visions, and able to see the future and to change the present.
I was in town for business for one day and night, then back to Dallas. My project was in Eagle Pass, Texas, a forgetful border town full of crime and drug cartels. My superintendent carried a sidearm and counted the minutes until the Lowes store was completed.
I was drinking an almost flat beer, and the fellow seated next to me was somewhere around his second or fourth round of expensive neat scotch. The bartender had removed it from the top shelf with a stool and a set of tongs and dusted the bottle before she poured it; it was obviously an expensive vintage from merry old Scotland. She gave him less than a full shot, but he didn’t notice, maybe didn’t care. Four drinks of scotch would significantly affect my speaking ability, but not his. Without introduction, he started a conversation.
He was a credible orator with a mellifluous voice like a hypnotist, an NPR radio host, or a con man might use. He was the main speaker of a soiree that would gather in the hotel’s small ballroom within the hour and was well on his way to being a drunken hot mess, but who am I to warn him off. This could be his method before speaking; fire water gives the weak courage to make a fool of themselves.
In our conversation, the words preacher and minister came up a few times, as did divinity school and exorcisms. Billy Graham was a fishing buddy; he had lunch with the Pope and was a regular guest on late-night radio shows. I assumed he was a man of God, but with the amount of alcohol he had consumed, it was questionable. Jesus and his disciples drank wine, but this guy was a certified sot.
Middle-aged men in lightweight suits and women in colorful summer dresses floated through the bar on their way to the ballroom. A few stopped to pick up a white wine or a cocktail. I was his captive for a while longer; being the only empty seat at the bar, I had claimed it as mine. The man and his story came with the territory.
This balding, pudgy, bespectacled fellow reminded me of Mr. Toad of the children’s books. I christened him “Toady.” He was convinced and said to be believed by thousands that if you think about a situation hard enough and long, you can change the physical nature of that situation to your advantage by creating an ectoplasmic event, changing the outcome of nature or God’s will. I asked him if that meant returning the deceased or healing the lame and sick? He had yet produced no one from their final rest, but he and his believers had cured a few people of minor illnesses. They were so close to returning the departed; it could happen any day now. I listened for a while longer, bought him another round of house scotch, and formed an opinion that his belief was the spoutings of a mad-hatter conferee, a half-assed self-educated preacher that believed his own self-absorbed rantings. He wouldn’t admit to being a Believer or even a papered man of God, but he knew how to captivate and emulate as one did. He was a beggar of alms from the poor fools who believed in him. He didn’t possess the stature or the hair to be a TV preacher, so this was his gig. He was good at his trade. As I unseated to leave, “Toady” grabbed my arm and said,
” I beg of you to try my method; believe in the power of the mind.”
“No thanks,” I replied, ” I only believe in the power of God and the Holy Spirit; anything more than that is new-age crap.”
That said, I moved on to a table to eat supper and left him to his fifth scotch and his followers awaiting in the ballroom.
I have been watching videos of Pastor Greg Laurie, the now older man who played a significant part in the Jesus Revolution in the late sixties. One particular video addressed the right and wrong way to pray and repentance. Watching the video reminded me of the encounter with a fellow in the hotel bar.
I can stare at the cedar trees in my backyard for twenty-four hours straight without blinking and drink Irish Whiskey until I see holy visions, but my prayers, repentance, wishes, and yes, some begging will not bring my son back to this earth, death is final, and there is no return.
I am bored and uninspired. Writers’ block has crippled my creativity, and painting a picture on canvas no longer holds my interest. My guitar rest in a closet, untouched for over two years. It calls me, but I refuse to hear. My tubes of paint have dried and died. My hair hasn’t been cut in four months, and my facial hair speaks of radicalism, so the time is right for a change. My wife says I look like Kenny Rogers; I see myself as Buffalo Bill, but minus the buckskin and rifle.
Consistently pissed off about everything is my nature at this time in life. Restlessness on the pillow takes its toll. Two major surgeries have left me with a gait like Frankenstein; the waltz of the monster mash. Children recoil in fear when I stumble in their direction. Old ladies in the grocery store give me the evil eye and cross themselves. I view my titanium cane as a weapon instead of an aid and have used it as such. Either I change, or the world changes to meet my demands, and that will not happen, so I will accommodate myself.
I will splatter my canvas with vibrant colors, the ones you see in dreams. Your art is the Holy Ghost blowing through your soul. I will marry my novels and have little short stories for adults who see themselves as children. A raconteur of genial ditties that will keep them amused or disturbed.
No, my dear, this will be different and life-changing. “This coming Monday,” I say, “around 9 AM CST, I will no longer be a grumpy old dude, but instead, will become a finger-snapping, beret wearing, caffein guzzling, poetry writing, deep thinking Hep Cat, a Beatnik or a Bohemien Pontificator, and a Deranged Poet”
She touched my whiskery cheek and said, ” now won’t that be fun.” She thinks I am not serious this time, but she can hide and watch.
I didn’t realize a change was afoot six months ago. This transformation has been deadly silent and gradual. It’s as if Tinker Bell, or the Beat Fairy, has visited every night and sprinkled pixie dust on my pillow.
Last night, after a few cocktails and after watching Wheel Of Fortune, during our supper, I announced to my wife, MoMo, that I have decided to become a Beatnik. Without looking up from her plate of manna, she asked, “So it will be like time when you decided to become a Hare Krishna and move to India to become that Beatle guy and play the sitar and hang out with Yogis.” Ouch, that stung. She knows me too well.
A month back, out of boredom, I re-visited “On The Road” by the great beat author Jack Kerouac. It’s a challenging read, but I made it through for a second time. The free and rebellious nature of the characters piqued my imagination. If I can capture their “cool factor,” it might add a few more years to my punch card. Dreams of change have no age limit or shelf life.
Perhaps Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty had it, right? Drive a beat-up car across the country, searching for the real America; find that touchable and believable reality. The young Marylou is along for the ride; she adds the angst to their search. A real woman, one to drive the two of them mad. Three is a tangled mess. Two recovering Catholic boys question their upbringing. Harsh realisms, self-flagellating, pot smoking, cheap liquor guzzling, teetering on becoming a criminal or a saint.
Roughians, hooligans, hipsters, Bohemians, and rapscallions. These were the self-educated beast shaped by the great depression that taught us that America isn’t perfect and never can be as long as flawed and greedy people make decisions for the masses. Lords and Cerfs; Alms for the poor, sir?
The late 1940s was a time of realism. Fantasy was for the dreams of children. The recent brutal world war ended the tragic depression years, and sacrifices and loss of human life in far-off lands all played out in real-time, not on a roll of film. There was no “escape from reality.”
The coterie of Bohemian writers and artists was forming. Jackson Pollock was dripping paint, Picasso was mutilating women on canvas, and Papa Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Alan Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Neal Cassady, and Jack Kerouac sat around small tables in dingy cafes and bars slamming down hooch, and writing the real stuff that made us cry or recoil in disgust. They took the American reality from the 1930s and 1940s and gave it to us with a backhanded slap to the face. It awakened some of us, the ones that paid attention.
Jack Kerouac and the rest of his group weren’t meant for literary sainthood; they were too stained, too fallible, and over-baptized. America was real; life was not always the astringed family of mom and pop, two kids, and a cocker spaniel. Sometimes it hurt. More often than not, it was damned good. Men were riddled with imperfections but still knew how to be male, and women were as perfect as they were created to be.
Somewhere on this trip, along the road, America lost its reality, and people turned to fantasy. Now, we are lost in a landslide, with no escape from a warped reality. The road goes on.
I got five spam calls this morning with my local 817 area code. Thank you, iPhone, for identifying the little pest. I did, just for shits and giggles, answer one. The girl on the line talked fast and had such a heavy accent I couldn’t understand a word she said, except for medical, and she gave me my correct address, which worried me. How did she obtain that?
I gave her some reign and let her sputter on for a few minutes, letting her think she had a perch on the line; then I asked her this; ” where are you calling from?” she said the company name, “No, what country are you calling from because it’s not from Fort Worth Texas.” Click, end of the call. These calls are called “spoof” or “spook” calls. The scammers use a local area code and number without the owner of that number knowing it. Then, from a call center, likely in India or another Asian country, they attempt to get your information. Thank you, Artificial Intelligence, the company that sold your number and Medicare, that makes your information public.
I wrote this story a while back, but in acknowledgment of the coming Colonial Golf Tournament, I find it appropriate to republish it. Some, or most of my readers, think the Misters are a fictitious couple; I can assure you they were neighbors and as crazy as I portray them in writing. Most everyone recalled has passed, so I’m sure they won’t mind the praise.
I have written about my childhood neighbor and his wife before. Mr. Mister and Mrs. Mister of Ryan Ave, Fort Worth, Texas. Every kid should be so lucky to have known the original mad scientist.
Pictured above is Mr. Mister’s early prototype of “The Mister Mower 5000,” a self-propelled riding reel mower suitable for golf courses and yard snobs. This baby was something else.
Constructed from junk jet aircraft parts he pilfered from Carswell Air Force Base, his employer, this little hummer would reach a top speed of 20 miles per hour and cut the grass so low it would give an ant a flat top haircut. It was the first riding mower with a zero-turning radius, a drink holder, an ashtray, and an under-dash air conditioner taken from a wrecked Chevy Corvette. The fathers in our neighborhood would gather and watch when Mr. or Mrs. Mister would mow their front lawn. Mrs. Mister was a Hollywood starlet type, so she usually garnered the most significant crowd because she always wore a bikini bathing suit for maximum tanning effect.
In 1956, sales for “Toro” lawnmowers were sagging. After learning of Mr. Misters’ new invention, the executives arranged a demonstration at the Colonial Country of Fort Worth, home to the prestigious “Colonial Golf Tournament.” Mr. Mister was ecstatic.
The demonstration was the day before the big golf tournament, so the Fort Worth bigwigs could attend and be handy for photo-ops. The Misters arrived with the “5000” strapped to its custom-made trailer towed behind their menstrual red Alfa Romeo sports car. Fred and Ginger, their poodles, were strapped into their car seats, wearing head scarfs and sunglasses like Mrs. Mister. Ben Hogan was almost as impressed with the invention as with Mrs. Mister, so he asked if he could be the first to drive the contraption. Of course, Mr. Mister, a vast Hogan fan, agreed and instructed Mr. Ben to operate the mower. Remember, this machine was experimental and subject to total failure at any moment.
The mower was rolled into place on the 18th green, which was a bit shaggy and needed a buzz. Ben Hogan seated himself on the machine with his ever-present cigarette in his mouth. Mr. Mister set the required mowing height and gave Ben a few final instructions, but Mrs. Mister was standing next to Ben, who was transfixed on her copious boobs and didn’t hear a word of instruction.
Now, Ben Hogan was the world’s best golfer then, but he didn’t know Jack-squat about driving or operating machinery. So Ben put the mower in gear and started around the green. “Ooohs and Ahhhs” from the crowd gave him a bit of encouragement; the newsboys were snapping some great shots, and folks were clapping and whistling, so he upped the speed a bit and pulled a lever underneath the seat, hoping to increase the efficiency of the “5000.”
At that moment, Mr. Mister realized that he had failed to warn Ben about that one lever that was hands-off. Too late. Ben engaged the “Scalp” mode, which increased the power and lowered the blades to the “Eve of Destruction” setting. At twenty-five miles per hour, the “5000” and Ben Hogan holding on for his life, dug up the 18th green deep enough to plant summer squash and Indian corn. Dirt and dwarf Bermuda was flying like a Texas twister. The Leonard Brothers, part owners of the club, fainted in unison. Mrs. Mister, a track star in her early years at Berkley and still in great shape, sprinted to the runaway mower and leaped onto Ben’s back, hoping to reach the kill switch, another part Mr. Mister had failed to show Ben.
Mrs. Mister finally attempted to reach the switch by climbing over Mr. Hogan’s head and wrapping her track star legs around his neck. Finally, on her last effort, she got the toggle, and the mower abruptly stopped, throwing her and Mr. Ben off the machine and into the beautiful pond adjacent to the green.
Ben waded out first, bummed, lit a Camel, and strode across the destroyed green to the bar, where he ordered two double Scotches. Mrs. Mister, wearing a promotional white tee shirt with ” The Mister Mower 5000″ printed on the front, waded out of the pond to a round of applause. The news photographers were popping flashbulbs like firecrackers.
Of course, Toro passed on the mower, and Mr. Mister was distraught until he started his next invention, the 18th green was re-sodded in a few hours, Ben Hogan won the Colonial Tournament, and Mrs. Mister inaugurated the first Wet Tee Shirt Contest in Texas.
I am in the process of writing my families history in the form of a story, that may turn into a Hemingway or Steinbeck inspired novel. I must be careful not to plagiarize either of my literary icons, but since they wrote much of what my family endured in the early part of the century and the 1930s, it may be impossible to slip here and there. Then, I remind myself that they have passed on, so if I do slip up a bit, I doubt they will be knocking at my door.
“Family Search” which is operated by the Mormon Church seems to be the most accurate for genealogy research. I tried “Ancestry,” the site that is considered the go-to library for family history, but the site gave me a headache.
My sister gave me a membership to the 22 something DNA site for my birthday. I had a few drinks of Irish Whiskey, spat into a vile and mailed it. It came back European, mostly Scottish and English with a trace of Asian Hun and a bit of Viking. The Irish Whiskey may have altered the DNA evidence.
I checked my lineage on “Ancestry” and it came back European, mostly England and Scotland. I know this is false because my grandmother was a Cherokee and was born and grew up on the Indian Nation in Oklahoma. How she met and married my blue eyed Irish grandfather is a mystery. A horse trade, or a debt may figure in there somewhere. My Granny knew and spent time with the famous Cherokee Chief, Quanah Parker, and from what I heard from my mother, she may have known him a bit too well; holding hands on the banks of lake under the moonlight and all that lore.
My mother looked like “Sacagawea” the famous Shoshone Indian girl that aided Lewis and Clark in their 1804 exploration of the America’s west of the Mississippi; all she needed was a buckskin dress and moccasins. She figured herself to be a little less than half Cherokee, which would make me chock-full of Indian DNA. My sister swears that DNA doesn’t lie. But doe’s it? Look at OJ, his DNA lied like the floor mats in his Ford Bronco.
Around the third week of research, I found in Family Search that the Cherokee Indian Nation does not release information to the “white eye,” meaning the white folks; Custer and all his hooligans. Who could blame them, distrust last a lifetime. So, I am convinced that I am Cherokee. My hair is almost long enough for a pony tail, I like sharp knives and if I drink too much “fire water” I am apt to do strange things. I also can ride bareback on a horse and shoot a bow and arrow, as long as my wife keeps adding the quarters to the slot attached to the child sized mechanized pony ride in front of the grocery store.
I contacted Ancestry via email and the nice lady replied with one; “I could go on acting like an Indian if it made me feel good about myself.” Well, bless her little wokie heart, it does make me feel better. Now Family Search says I am related to President George Washington and Elvis Presley. I am officially living the life of a mongrel humanoid.
I don’t expect much these days. My childlike visions have long since faded into the past. Reality is a daily awakening that greats you with your morning cup of coffee and the news. I didn’t expect the world to be a better place this morning, but I held hope that it would be. My coffee tasted the same, the birds ate their seeds, and I was once again disappointed in the failures of humanity. There should be a religious name for the day after Easter Sunday. Any ideas?
Another Easter weekend is fading into the last hours, as I am.
I remember, as a small child going to the Poly Baptist Church and being told I was a sinner and going to hell for two hours. I was six, so sin wasn’t on my radar, and the preacher told us hell was right below our seats, so I kept my legs up most of the time. I was an easy target to be pulled through the wooden floor.
After Easter service, it was home or to relatives for food, easter egg hunts, and enough sugar to keep me humming for days. I didn’t quite connect between what Easter Sunday was and what it had to do with a rabbit delivering eggs hidden in odd places for us to find and put in a basket. Christianity and Paganism clashed at that point. I know in church, I was miserable in my white shirt and clip-on tie but was happy as a town dog hunting for candy eggs in a backyard. I never saw the rabbit, and after a few years, believed it to be BS. I caught my father hiding the darned eggs so that “jig” was up ( oops..a bad word, I’m canceled, I guess). For the love of Davy Crockett, it was the 1950s, so get over it.
We have the German immigrants that arrived in the late 1700s to thank for the pagan rabbit-egg dealing thing. Those hearty saurkraut-cooking farmers brought it to us. Makes you wonder if little Adolf liked to hunt eggs too? I can’t imagine a tradition and stories of a German Hare making a deal with a German hen to purchase eggs so he can deliver them to children; that’s about as senseless as banning “Matilda” and “To Kill A Mockingbird” from public school libraries. Fortunately, our small town bookstore in Granbury carries those books on the banned list, and our local H-E-B had an abundance of plastic eggs, marshmallow, and chocolate Bunnies this year. MoMo’s grandchildren are likely still awake from all the candy they ate.
I listened to Glenn Beck’s interview with Pastor Gregg Laurie this morning on YouTube. Greg, now an older man, is the young man portrayed in the movie “The Jesus Revolution” that came to Jesus as a seventeen-year-old and became the senior pastor of the Calvary Church along with the help of Lonnie Frisbee, a hippie Jesus freak turned into a powerful preacher, and Pastor Chuck Smith of the Calvery Church in Southern California. It was an hour of enlightenment and awe. Pastor Laurie truly believes that as it happened in the late sixties and early seventies, another Jesus Revolution is taking place among our young and old if we live long enough. This started in Asbury, Kentucky, a few months back and has grown into a nationwide movement, just as it did in 1969 through 1972.
All the same, signs are there; the disillusionment with our government, the decadent lifestyles being pushed on our young via Hollywood and special interest groups, the drug culture that is killing our teens, the threat of a World War, the works of their parents and their schools. It’s the same formula that birthed it in the late sixties, only now the world is a more vile place than it was then. The Hippie movement was never the answer to anything. It was a pipe dream, an experiment, a cop-out. Nothing good could have come from it, except some very good music, but the rest of it was bullshit, and I know I was one of those long-haired freaks that smoked dope and played rock music. Lived it and done it, and so was my wife. We both knew Jesus then but were floundering in our faith. She rediscovered hers before I did. It took me a while longer, but it happened, and now it’s happening again, and it may again before I depart this earth.
Have a blessed Easter weekend, and remember that nothing has changed when you awaken tomorrow morning. God still loves you and to be the person he expects you to be.
“I may not always drink beer, but when I do, it won’t be an Annhiser Busch product.” You can bet your sweet Bippy on that one. The country musician boys are banning Busch products from their shows, and Kid Rock will be touring the country, shooting up 12 packs of Busch beer to cheering crowds of rednecks all through the southland. Let’s hear old Neal sing about this one. This shit is about to get serious, stat, and pronto.
Bring back the bull terrier dog with the spot on his eye, the dude with the beard and the European accent, and the happy young folks on the beach around a roaring campfire. Hell, even Hank Hill and his buddies standing in their alley sipping on a cold Alamo can of beer, anything but this transgendered mutt, Dylan Mulvaney, or whatever its name is. If you have a pecker, you ain’t a girl because you don’t have a babushka and never will. Beer is not a social statement vehicle; it’s a brew to be enjoyed with Mexican food, hamburgers, and hotdogs at the ballpark, not at a drag queen children’s indoctrination show. It’s a sacred piece of Americana, Texana, and Rosanna-Rosanna-Dana; she was a beer drinker too, as is my wife MoMo.
If he were still with us, my grandfather would be having a conniption fit over this latest bow to wokeness. He drank his beer with a few shakes of salt to give it effervescence and increase the foamy head. He drank his brew like a real man, the one that killed German soldiers with his bare hands in the muddy battlefields of France in 1917. There was no room for pansy-assed young folks printed on his beer bottle or in his life. The Busch family might want to reconsider their blunder before their American beer drinkers switch to Irish Whiskey like this old guy has done.
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