The Key FOB Story

 

Mary’s — Colorado City, TX

 

After leaving Mary’s Country Café in Colorado City, I was feeling bloated and wondering how and why I packed away so much of their chicken-fried steak. I was driving down a depressingly hot and joyless west-Texas country road, 20 miles east of nowhere special.

 

Chicken Fried Steak, gravy & extra, fries, Texas toast, green stuff

 

The desperation of the settlers who first moved there is unimaginable for me. They didn’t even have a/c in movie houses, movies at all, or a/c for that matter. The middle of nowhere may be overused and trite, but this place is there.

My excuse for being here is that I married a native. Her family and what is now our tribe live around there. I reckon they don’t know any better, but I’m here cuz they are.

After a while, I spied one of them plug-in jobs on the roadside. Casually leaning against the car was a hot (in both senses of the word) little number lookin’ plumb distressed in her flipflops, cutoff jeans, and a sweaty, thin tanktop. She was on the highway side with her arms folded looking at her cell phone like she might get service. Not out there.

 

See the blue dot on curve, right side?

 

I forget which rule it is that says no honorable man shall pass such a sight without rendering aid, so I just pulled on over after slowly driving past. It was a hot dry day, too miserable to be stuck in a fix of any kind. But that sweet little pumpkin-head was dressed fer it.

“Howdy ma’am. I’m Billy Don Russel from o’r West Bumbfuch. Y’all doin’ a’right?

That little girl acted plumb excited to see me. “Oh-Em-Gee. Thank God!”

Did I mention she had long black hair pulled tight into a quarterhorse tail that was sitckin’ out the back of a ball cap, like they do? The cap said Daisy Riding Service.

I managed to keep my eyes on hers and my eyebrows down. Men in them parts follow a strict role or can’t be trusted. And women like that are usually packin’ small caliber. Texas, ya know. We got critters, some are human.

With a neighborly smile I asked her, “What seems to be the problem, young lady?”

She held up her key FOB and screeched through her bright white teeth for the world to hear, “My clicker thingy won’t unlock my effing door and I can’t get into my gee-dee car.”

“Would you like me to try, Ma’am?”

She handed me her keys. I quickly glanced around expecting to see if a candid cell phone recording all this. First, I tried to open the door with the handle. Sure ‘nuff, locked. Pressing the unlock button changed nothing.

I looked closer at the metal portion of the key and then back at the distressed damsel. She gave me a “told ya’” expression and shrugged her hot, sweaty, bare shoulders.

I gently slid the metal portion of the key into the little hole near the door handle and twisted slightly to an audible click. Handing her the key, I suggested she drive off first to be sure everything else is ok. She got in her car and rolled down the window.

“Thanks, Grandpa. I’m so embarrassed.”

“You drive careful, young lady. It’s dangerous country out there.”

“Please don’t tell Mom or Dad. They already think I’m a brainless twit. Tell Gramma I said hi.”

I managed to get back into my pickup with a straight face. My wife asked, “What was that all about?”

I looked at her and smiled, “Jessica said to tell you howdy. I’ll tell ya the rest over dinner, but she was having some technological issues.”

“She didn’t know how to use it?”

“More like didn’t know how not to use it.”

 

Look both ways on them deserted roads.
Tumble weed and roadrunners will get cha if ya don’t mind the gaps.

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Happy Father’s Day

Glad Dad

this very day it’s been about
those many years you called me out
by a that tag without a name
with rules never quite the same

i must admit and i’m truly glad
yet sometimes i was very sad
the years i called my father dad
now it’s this time for me to add

it was easy as you may see
in the game of one two three
to wish the better for me to see
dad is neither simple or free

days were good yet sometimes bad
i still love my kids to call me dad
my special treasure to be had
their father’s name my greatest fame

Look both ways and mind the gaps.

God’s Plan

 

Just one of many books similarly titled

Recently, I saw a book for sale in the local library. The title was God’s Plan for Church Leadership. I don’t recall the author’s name, nor did I think any more about it until the title came back to me while driving home. I haven’t read the book, but apparently the author was sharing this information about God’s Plan in a book.

All I needed to do was buy the book and read it. Then, I too would have the wisdom and insight of this plan, whatever benefit that would have. I suppose part of the plan was for the book’s author to get the messages telepathically, or however that works, so that the book could be written, published, and sold. It must follow that I would see the book, not buy it, and write about it. It’s all part of the big plan.

It strikes me as special when people say things like “God’s Plan” because it stakes the claim that they have factual inside-information from a deity. In this case, it’s specifically Christian, but that concept is by no means unique to the 75% of Americans who claim membership in that group.

The other two groups of the Abrahamic tradition (Jewish and Muslim) have similar claimants. But this author was Christian. I have always been baffled by folks who can tell me precisely what the plan is, other than what may be specifically spelled-out in scripture. I don’t agree with much scripture, but at least I know it to be the source.

If there is a plan for us, it is coded in our blood, bones, and brain – our DNA – what capabilities and limitations we have are pretty much set from day one. We are all the same in many aspects, yet very different in many observable ways. I’m not saying there is any plan, but the blueprint for my life was of my own making, given certain realities, realizations, limitations, and abilities. There are also coincidences.

I’ve seen no other evidence of planning. We are quite on our own. We can make the best of it. Conversely, we may under-perform to phenomenally low, yet undiscovered, levels. Failure in life is an option, even when disguised as success.

I find it frighteningly bizarre that since Armageddon is apparently a religious end times prophesy (I’m not looking it up, but I think it’s in Revelation) of God’s plan, many Christian people work hard to rush that event to fruition, thus ending human life on earth. And in their mind, sending people like me straight to Hell to their everlasting joy. An eternity of “I told you so.” For Muslims, it’s Al-Malhama Al-Kubra – but it’s all the same to me.

You can buy these and give them to your heathen friends.

Now, for the person who claims personal and privileged information regarding the specifics of a deific plan for church leadership. I would cheerfully bet a six-pack of any brewery’s finest amber ale that the same preacher/follower-man or woman (it was guy, but I’m feeling inclusive) would call down fire and brimstone into the after-death fortunes of anyone who would aspire to fortune-telling – as either practitioner or consumer. Yet, that is exactly what this self-proclaimed, religiously acceptable prophet is claiming to do.

It seems that in this case, and in so many others, God apparently needs this human’s help to pull-off the Big Plan. God is omnipotent but likes to entice His or Her enslaved underlings to do this bidding, just because.

I can say from experience that God’s plan is very clear to some of us, until others of us start asking questions. The brand of answer for the prior ilk is too often a version of God works in mysterious ways. The honest answer might sound like I don’t know.

I am not picking on all believers (at least not here). I know many religiously devout people who do not claim to know the plan (thus, so many books for them to buy), and do not believe this mumbo-jumbo any more than I do. They may even proffer that making such a claim would be heresy.

Waiving my bullshit flag has brought trouble into my life. It would be fair to wonder why I don’t stop. I can assure you that I will continue objecting to such ludicrous nonsense until the day the king puts on his clothes.

My plan and wish for us both is to have a wonderful day. Allahu akbar (not to me).

Always look both ways.
You don’t know what Allah’s plan is, or if she will protect you.
So, mind the gaps like you mean it.

Postscript: I returned to the library but could not find the book again anywhere, nor could I locate anything like it in the catalogue system (likewise in cyberspace). During my search, I did notice several similar titles. There are many people who seem to know God’s plan. As I searched graphics for this post, I noticed more literature about God’s Plan.

Essay: My FWB Neighbors (3 of 4)

 

I have always liked the Diamond Rio song, Norma Jean Riley, so it follows this dribble for no other reason than I like it.

Part 3 of 4: Norma Jean (not Riley) and Mac

I met Norma Jean and her hubby, but I recall little about either of them. He was quiet; she was not. I had no judgmental opinion, but my wife seemed to like them. That means they are “fine.” They were longtime residents of the neighborhood and had raised their kids there and all of that. But, we all have our foibles, right? So, I will set this up for you.

We rented the house on the cul-de-sac we lived in for three years. When we announced we planned to move, the owner put it on the market and sold it. The couple who bought the house had children, were of some middle eastern ethnicity or nationality, and of the Islamic faith. I never met them, but I may have seen them when they looked at the house, since it was being shown while we lived in it.

As I understand, after we moved (bless her heart) sweet ol’ Norma Jean, who is of the Southern Baptist tradition, went to meet and welcome her new neighbors. It’s what we do. Being neighborly, right? In classic, southern, Bible Belt fashion, she invited her new neighbors to attend church and especially invited the children to Vacation Bible School.

The father of the children explained to sweet Norma Jean that he and his family were Muslims. He added that while his family would be following their own religious tradition, Norma Jean and her hubby were invited to a sit-down discussion of religion so that they might understand Islam better.

I don’t know what Islamic sect or part of that tradition the family followed. The conversation ended there. I’m sure Norma Jean sweetly declined the invitation. But then, bless her heart, Norma Jean shared the experience and her take on it all with my wife.

Apparently, Norma Jean was quite upset (shocked?) by the invitation for a chit-chat on the topics of Jesus and Mohammed. In righteous indignation she contacted my wife and shared her venomous opinion of such a request. “I have never been so insulted,” is how she felt about it.

I asked my wife how Norma Jean could in good conscience invite a Muslim family to a Southern Baptist church and to Vacation Bible School, but be offended by an offer to compare notes, quid pro quo, especially about two of the three Abrahamic religions of the world.

Some things I will never understand. Most people I will never understand. Southern Baptists and Muslims are two groups that fit both categories. But, that is fine since it is unlikely that they understand me either.

Look both ways in comparing notes with others. Turnabout is fair play but mind the gaps.

Essay: My FWB Neighbors (2 of 4)

Part 2 of 4: Parents and Children

This is the second of my four-part ‘tattletale’ series about our neighbors in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. I had three kids, and my kids have kids. So, I have some street cred opinions about this.

I never met the man who lived in the house to the right of us before he died. A younger couple with several children and a dog eventually moved in. I forget their names.

Their children were girls and the girls always seemed to have friends around, so I never got a good head count. I think someone in the family had enemies as evidenced by regular TP in the trees and spray paint (much more serious with ugly messages) on the house.

I recall seeing the children routinely jumping off the roof of the house onto the trampoline in the back yard. It looked like fun, albeit dangerous. Yet, I recall no 911 or EMS calls – at least not for that address. Except for our house and that one, all other homes on that cul-de-sac had at least one emergency call during the time that we lived there.

I think the youngest of the daughters was regularly under severe attack from zombies or some other mean and vile creatures, and their dog tried to save her. I could tell this by the blood curdling screams (her talent) and the crazy loud insane barking which provided accompaniment. We lived with it – but she and their dog both had very capable lungs. Her sudden screams were startling and a bit funny.

Then one night the kids were about 20 feet from my bedroom window and playing loudly on the trampoline. It was a weekend night, so being up late was no big deal. However, after midnight I got a flashlight and decided to join the party. I did not turn on the flashlight until I was at the fence, thus eliciting more screams. Yes, I scared the crap out of them. And yes, I intended to.

I advised the girls that I appreciated there was fun was to be had, but I wanted to sleep and my bedroom was nearby. I asked if there was an adult nearby. They said there was not. I got lots of “No sir” and “Yes sir” answers to my questions, so the kids were polite and just having fun. But still. My intervention stopped the noise. I don’t know if parents were ever aware of the situation, my complaint, or were even home.

I suppose my wife and I may have been overbearing parents compared to those folks. They had cute and polite kids, but I never saw the children and the parents in the same place at the same time. I seldom saw evidence of adult supervision, period. All of this was more experience than problem, if that makes sense.

It was only a few more months before we moved. Following one of the loud, panicked, world-ending screams, I looked at my wife and said, “I wonder how much I will miss living here.” Shortly after our relocation to a Seattle area 55+ community, I made the comment, “The silence here is deafening and disconcerting.” It was too quiet. For a while, I missed the little boogers.

Look both ways. Children are everywhere. Mind the gaps, too. They hide there.

 

Essay: My FWB Neighbors (1 of 4)

We moved from San Antonio, Texas to the Florida Panhandle (aka southern Alabama or the Redneck Riviera) in 2012. It was to be my last assignment before retiring three years later and subsequently relocating to live near Seattle for a few years.

I got the idea to blog about my neighbors from reading one of Joey’s posts. To be brief, I’ll post it in four parts, each with a featured glimpse of one of the real-life characters/neighbors I met whilst living in the Sunshine State.

Part 1 of 4: Wheeler-Dealer Danny Boy

Not the real guy, but almost.

The neighborhood was built in 1964 and was mid-century semi-modern (i.e., small and old). A man who was a native of either the Empire or Garden State named Danny was my neighbor and lived in the house to the left of ours. Several feet separated our long, sloped driveways.

Danny was an interesting character. If I were to write a book titled, Wheeler-Dealer Meets Reality, Danny would be the main character. His first name was the same as my estranged half-brother and I noticed similarities. Danny’s house was in an uncertain stage of foreclosure. For whatever reason (I neither knew or cared) Danny-borrowed using his home as collateral when the housing market value was increasing. He told me that several times he went to the bank for more as the assumed value increased.

After the collapse of the housing market, Danny owed far more than the property was worth. So, he stopped making all payments. He moved out for a while, opening the door for repo, but then (with legal advice) he moved back in so that they could not repo so fast and easy.

Danny went to different doctors for medical care and used two services. VA for free and some other docs covered by his mail carrier’s insurance. The way he explained it to me was, “I kind of play them against each other.” I cannot recall responding to that comment, but I know what I was thinking. Irony is coming.

I am not sure exactly what marriage Danny was on, but it was number three or four. I never asked him if trading in wives for newer models was precipitous to his financial problems. For as long as I knew him, Danny was deep in debt, in default, and living in a house that was going to be taken away “any day now.” But living there virtually for free. He kept the lights on, but was no longer buying his house. Danny was interesting and while I liked him, I was not gunna follow any of his get rich quick plans.

One day a pre-teen boy knocked on my door. He was a pleasant lad between the ages of 10 and 13. He asked me if he and his friends could use my driveway, which was probably the largest hill in Fort Walton Beach, to ride their bikes (and skate boards and whatever else with wheels) down. I was impressed that he asked, so I said yes provided that their parents knew about the deal. I agreed to this in a town where all children’s swings in the parks had been removed for fear of litigation. While there were some minor crashes, no serious injuries resulted, and I have not been sued. The kids had fun almost every day and I liked the idea that I contributed. It was my driveway on my rented property, or so I thought.

I forget how I learned that Danny had told the kids to go away and that they were not allowed to use my driveway for recreation. But, he did exactly that, and I was pissed. Before I could calm down enough to confront him, Danny had a severe heart attack and was hospitalized for bypass surgery. He recovered, and I decided to let it go. The kids would not return, even if I explained the problem. Danny and his wife eventually moved (evicted), and his home was finally repossessed by the lenders or banks, flipped, and then sold. I don’t recall the new neighbor’s name, but they were not as interesting as Danny. Normal neighbors can be boring.

Look both ways to see your neighbors. Mind the gaps and the children.

Poetry: Honor the CAS Brigade

Memorial Day greetings as we acknowledge our remembrance with parades and poems, and we mark the unofficial threshold of Summer with humbled celebration.

I wrote a poem for Memorial Day…

Agree.

Honor the CAS Brigade

Not the six hundred, your life or mine.
My life for yours, in what noble cause?
You, comrade, have set my stage,
presented me with this chance,
and roll life forward to repay.

Has the world truly lost you?
Is it peace we’ve all gained?
Willing you were, but not for the price
to pay for my freedom, this high liberty.
Did you pay all my dues? What is my debt?

You did not die to win over another,
’twas peace you willed not mere death.
Shall I follow your glorious footsteps?
What cost for Liberty the price to pay?
Was the sum too dear for us to say?

Back to you, no debt can now be paid.
Was there glory in your demise?
Hail Liberty! is now your shroud,
I bow my head and we salute your life,
as today we stand to morn your death.

Comrade be known to only so few,
your loves, your bests, your suffering pains.
Dress right in honored memory
and in memorial spirit. Your life for mine –
no greater sacrifice, no higher honor.

Me. Standing before you,
your stone,
your memory.
Your life!
I’m humbled.

Yet honored.
Not that you died,
But that you lived.
And because you lived, you died,
So I may live. That we can live.

To my fallen fellows,
to my comrades of ideal,
may your sacrifice be honored
within our best brigade.
I salute your life.

Bill Reynolds © 27 May 2018

Look both ways in Memorial to our fallen comrades, yours, mine, ours. Allow no gaps.