Life lessons from an Old Guy…for old guys. LOL Or young guys. Or Old Gals, or young gals. Or, just people. LOL

If I do something you don’t like me doing, it doesn’t mean I don’t like you.

No one can read minds. If you need, want, or expect me to do, or say something- tell me what it is.

I don’t care how many people you have sex with, you still need someone to talk to.

Other people aren’t you with a different face, they aren’t you- period.

Save 10% of everything you earn, ever. LOL

Learn how to sleep well.

If you know how to talk, learn how to listen, not to reply.

Forgive, or let hate and anger rot your heart.

Make enough money for what you need, make your wants hang around until you need them. LOL

Keep it simple.

Hug everyone you love.

Tomorrow isn’t here, and might not be, so if it has to be done, do it today.

Taking care of yourself, isn’t the same as being selfish.

Don’t listen to other people’s opinion of what you should be doing in your life UNLESS: A) they are in your life a lot, B) You value and respect they way they live their life, C) You know they know what they are talking about. D) It is actually something you asked for advice on.

The secret to complete holistic (in the sense of body, mind, and heart) health: Eat, drink, breathe, and move. Then: think, love, contribute, laugh, and get really, really, really good at something.

In spite of all the Social Media and Daytime talk shows: Your private life, and thoughts, should be yours. Not everyone needs to know your demons, and if you have a demon that needs to be addressed, talk to someone – privately. LOL

THEY – don’t exist.

And finally, to have a great day tomorrow, think about it before you go to bed, and decide what a great day would be…if you wake up and get that day- have fun making it great.

Smiles to all.

“Pointer Angels…your life as it could have been”: A short story by Kevin Hughes Flash Fiction.

Hey there, if you are reading this, I guess you know I am a Pointer. Pointer’s as you know, force you to look at the last moments of your life, or significant moments in your life, and point out what you could have done better, or different. A lot of folks don’t like us Pointers. When we are not working, we often go hang out with Angels who don’t know us, at least in our professional capacity. It makes it easier to get along- even here. Not many people forget what their Pointer showed them- or how easy it would have been to choose a better action. Free will does exist, the problem is – it requires thinking. In fact, it requires a lot of thinking, deep thinking, an actual development of a philosophical outlook that takes over automatically in a crisis, or BEFORE you act , speak, or do something. Emotional reaction is much, much, much faster, and requires little thought- in most cases, unless you have done the deep thinking before hand, well, emotion can even overrule that “little voice in your head.” You know, the one that pretty much told you: “This is a bad idea.” Or: “This is stupid.”  Or: ” I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” Since you are you- you should have listened to yourself. You didn’t. So, you spend an eternity -or what seems like an eternity (to you) with someone like me- a Pointer.

Say a guy cuts you off in traffic, so you speed around him, slam on your brakes and give him the finger at the same time. He catches up to you at the next red light. He gets out of his car. You get out of yours. You are raging mad at this lunatic driver. You are so hopped up, you don’t even see the gun in his hand. You are so sure you are right, that you just walk right into your death with thoughts of how you are going to : ” Give him a piece of my mind he will never forget.”  Unfortunately, that must have been the piece of your mind that the forensics folks couldn’t find, as the second bullet tore through your brain. The next thing you know, you are standing in front of me. A pointer. One minute you were a warm blooded human being, going about your day. Worried about things at work, what’s for supper, and if you should take the kids to the zoo on Saturday. The next minute, you are standing next to me (Pointers never stand in front…it is hard to point from that angle) as I point to your grieving wife and kids. It seems so senseless to them. I show the Officers showing up to tell them. I show your parents, as your Mom hands the phone to your Dad, and slumps down in agonizing grief. You see the look on your bosses face, when he sets the phone down, looks over the meeting and says:

” Ben…is….dead. Killed by a guy in road rage.” I point out the different feelings they each have about you. When I point…well, it isn’t like a picture or a map being pointed at. No. Not at all. When I point, YOU feel every emotion, every pang of regret, every ounce of grief, of what your actions have wrung out of folks who knew you. When I point…it hurts. Not always. Sometimes, when I point, to someone who had taken the time to think about life, who had a philosophy to follow, I get soft smiles, and contented sighs. Those are the days that make me glad I am a Pointer. In case you are wondering, a Pointer only handles a one case a day. Even God knows how tough it is. We live for eternity. For the sake of our sanity, we are the only Angels that can separate time into an Earth Day and then slip back into Eternity at will. So, our Pointing exactly matches up with a calendar year. We are given holidays off, we do take turns working a Holliday about every ten years in Earth Time. Nobody, not a single Pointer I know, likes to Point on a Holiday. The impact on the other humans is so exponentially wrenching. So at the meeting when your Boss, who- by the way- considered you a talented man, and a close friend; has to tell everyone about your death-well, it isn’t easy for him. In fact, that night is the first time he has gotten drunk in more than five years. Not coincidentally – it is his first, DUI too. Yes. You are responsible for that. Instead of everyone going home to talk about your death with their spouses, they decided to stop at the Pub you used to have lunch at, to deal withs the pain. Had he gone home and cried in his wife’s arms, well, he wouldn’t need a Pointer when HE dies.  You get to feel that, when I POINT it out. Oh, and you get to feel the glee in Cheryl’s brain. She wants your job so much she can taste it. She knows she is the best qualified, and would be better at your job then you were. The only problem was, she didn’t know your Boss considered you a friend too. Since she doesn’t have any friends, to her, people are tools to be used to climb the Corporate Ladder, and she has been climbing like it was an escalator. Over the wrecked careers of many a coworker…I sure wouldn’t want to be her Pointer…it is going to be a long, long, long day for the Pointer who gets her death.

Not only do I point out how you could have driven “defensively” without getting defensive, I POINT it out, in detail. So much detail that you see the life you would have had, had you not gotten out of the car, or slammed on your brakes, or given that guy the finger. I also point out how your seven year old daughter cries herself to sleep. How on Daddy/Daughter day, she stands silently in a corner, crying inside, but not outside. She has no tears left to shed. I POINT and you see how angry she is with you for abandoning her. She is only seven, and her anger is nothing compared to your wife’s. For your wife knows how you died. She knows exactly how you get behind the car. She TOLD you a million times: “Let it go Honey. He is just a bad driver. I am the only one who can hear you. ” I POINT to the feelings of fear she has when you are driving. She is afraid for you, and her daughter in the back seat in the car seat. I POINT out that you never cared, when you were behind the wheel, you were the MAN. Well, you weren’t much of one, and I POINT that out too. Years later, when your daughter can’t even remember you, and how, at her Wedding,  (age 35, first and only marriage) she sat quietly with Brian, her step dad of more than 25 years (Yes, your wife remarried, less than 2 years after you died. ).  I POINT out to you their conversation where she says: “….no Dad, you deserve to walk me down that aisle. I barely remember my biological Dad. For me, you are, and always will be- my Dad. ” They hug. They leave the room holding hands. I POINT that out to you too.

Oh sure, there are some good things to POINT out. But, that isn’t a job of a Pointer. OUR job is to point out what could have been, should have been, and would have been, if only you had thought for a second. Our job, is to prepare you for your next existence in TIME. Oh, not on Earth. You missed that chance.  Creation never stops. There are new Universes popping up all the time, with new worlds in them, and new “people” on them. If you learn from a POINTING  session, there is a good chance you will be sent to one of them. I hope so. I can’t wait to become a POINTER PLUS…those are the ones who get to work with people while they are living. THOSE angels have an impact now. They have many restrictions, like they can only POINT at critical junctures, and surprisingly to you mortals, at seemingly innocuous moments, like picking a flower, or holding a door, or helping quiet a baby for a young mother. I can’t wait to be one of those POINTERS.

Okay, now let me point out where that first bullet goes. I must warn you: THIS IS GOING TO HURT.

 

re: Just some things that made me laugh this week…

I am in the sandwich shop getting a Philly Cheesesteak. In front of me in line, is a couple of women with their  eight year old boys in tow. The one mother says: “It is so expensive to eat out these days.” To which one of the little eight year old’s says: ” Then learn how to cook.”  Laughter ensued.

My friend and his wife celebrated fifty four years of marriage last week.  I sent them both an email in which I said: ” I hope you made wild passionate love, went to a great dinner, and spent the evening looking back at oodles of great memories. Here is their answer: ” Kevin, that was sweet, but we made love about five years ago, and it just didn’t work out. We had coupons for Hardies,  so that was our dinner. The only memories that are still fresh, are from our childhood days, and we didn’t know each other then. ”  Needles to say, I rolled.

And this one , which is both sad, and Ironic that I got from another friend:

“There is trouble in the Mid East, racism is running rampant, people are protesting, soldiers are suffering from PTSD, corporations are greedy and being fined,  elected officials are getting indited, or convicted, schools are underfunded, and under staffed, and the water isn’t safe to drink. Name the Decade: 1960,70,80,90,2000, 2010…or : “All of the Above.”

This one in a Salvation Army Store, while waiting for my wife to finish shopping. I am standing near a dress rack. A man and his wife are looking at some clothes. The man holds up a dress and says: “Honey, what do half sizes mean?”  From the other side of the rack, a male voice says: “Half the size of a house.”  LOL

A guy is walking four dogs. All of them look almost identical. I say: “Are they related?” He says: “Yep , all four are sisters.” “Where’s the Mother?” “At home working on having a boy.”

The sign in the Ice Cream section of my local grocer store had a sign: “Two for five dollars.”  A teenage boy standing nearby says: “That’s a lot of money for a two.” The look his mother gave him, would have melted any ice cream.

And then this last one…from the gym.  A woman walks in with three kids, as she takes them to the day care part, so she can do her workout- one of the kids says: “It isn’t fair, you get to workout, and we have to stand here.”  She looks down and says: “Honey, there are lots of things to do in there, and Mommy needs her exercise.” “Well we need exercise to, or we will be fat like Daddy.”

And that was my week, of things that made me laugh, with one more to go:

A sign outside a house having a garage sale:

“If all you have is a nickle, it is still a quarter.”

Flash Fiction, two sentence stories…

The Alien stared, which is easy to do if all you have is one eye. I stared right back with both my eyes. Intimidation seemed to be the right course to take. A moment later, when I saw the tear form in his eye, I realized I was wrong. Just an instant before a ray shot from his hand and turned me into several million molecules of varying sizes. They were right, never hold eye contact, especially when you don’t know each other.

 

She took a deep breath. Then…another. Yet…another. “God, air tastes so sweet. ” A moment later, another head popped up. She watched in fascination as it took a deep breath, and then another. When the head turned towards her , she recognized both the face, and sweet taste of air on his countenance. Yet another head surfaced. They had all made it. Except the boat. She looked for land. There it was, only a mile away. She was relieved, until it dawned on her: “I can’t swim a mile.” She began laughing.

 

He had never heard a confession like that. 26 years in the Priesthood, and today was a first. What to do? He remembered every chilling word: “Forgive me Father, for I am about to sin.”  “About to?” “Yes. Tonight, when you finish Mass, I shall murder you in front of the entire congregation. ” “Why?”  “Because I want to see if confession is really only between a Priest and a confessor. If you stop me, I know you told someone. If you don’t. You are dead. But you will die knowing that God will judge you righteously.”  Still puzzling over it, Father Brian, slipped on his robes to go out and say mass.

 

She kissed him softly, gently, sweetly. It didn’t matter to her that he was dead. She kissed him the same way when he was alive. She kissed him that way for 54 years. After tonight, all her kisses will be memories. She bent and kissed him again: softly, gently, sweetly.

A shot rang out. Well, no. It kind of made a loud banging sound. Well, no that isn’t quite true either. It sounded like a hammer hitting a board- hard. No, that isn’t quite right either. “Dammit.” he thought. “This is why people who are literal shouldn’t write fiction.”

 

The girl reached over and took her baby brother’s hand in hers. She was six, and he was only five. She knew he didn’t know any better, but she did. She pulled him away from the pool. He was angry, but he came along. She was glad. She knew her Daddy and Mommy would yell at the pool guy for leaving the cover off of the pool. There was no way she was going to let him get his new shoes wet.

 

The dog barked. Once. A moment later it would never bark again. The cat hissed. Once. A moment later it would never hiss again. The older couple didn’t hear either sound. A moment later, and they would never make another sound again. Still the twisting wind kept ripping the house apart, heading for the next one.

 

She sat at the end of the dock. Barefoot, with one foot in the water, the other dangling just above the water. Next to her, he sat with both his feet in the water. His legs were so long compared to hers. Her heart beat a little faster, as his arm went around her. She leaned in a little closer, resting her head on his shoulder. “What are you thinking?” He asked her in that deep masculine voice she loved so much. ” I am glad you are taller than me. ”  He laughed. She snuggled a little closer. “Me, too.”

Dave Chapelle went back to Hartford, and won them over. My worst bomb on stage, I went back too…with much different results. Comedy is a strange animal…

I watched, in amazement, as David walked out on that giant stage, only to be regaled with a standing ovation, cheering, and appreciation.  His opening line was precious: ” I have to be honest, I didn’t prepare for tonight. I thought coming out on stage would be funny enough. ”  LOL  ( This was after his T-shirt Story, which was a great ice breaker)  He did, like a lot of good comics do, wandered a bit, mingling old bits, with things bubbling out of his mind in the moment.  For Dave, or anyone who “wins” a crowd over, it is a remarkable feeling. To come back to a place where you failed miserably, where you bombed famously, to where they bad mouthed you for an entire year, and walk out on that stage…well, unless you have done it, it is hard to explain. I have done it. Unfortunately, my story doesn’t have a happy ending. In fact, I tried a THIRD time, at that same venue, only to get the same results, like some horrible nightmare, where no matter what you do, it turns out badly. LOL

I did a show at a huge venue (well for back in the 80′s it was a huge venue- more than 1,000 people in the audience). This was at a time when most Comedy Clubs seated less than 100, to have ten times that amount of people in venue, for a road comic, it was heaven, or should have been. There were three comics, plus an MC. The MC was a local boy, from the radio station- he got them rolling. Then the opener went out and had the best set of his young career. He was flying when he came off , almost like a runners high. The Middle Act went out into that energy , scooped it up, stormed through his act with power and aplomb – which should be an oxymoron, but wasn’t. His show was superlative -receiving raucous, glorious, thundering laughter- followed by not one, but two encores! I was thrilled beyond belief, chomping at the bit to get into the Act…no pun intended. When you are in the throes of that kind of energy, it must be like Athletes feel before the Olympics, or the Super Bowl, or World Cup, the energy is so high, it is palpable, it makes you want to be a part of it, to leap right into the frothing water of fun.

The MC introduces me, I run out onto stage, filled with confidence, bolting out there like someone had released my leash, or taken my halter off, and told me to go play. I hit that stage with everything in my favor, great comics before me, an audience that was on fire, and the knowledge that my Act was good, and I was feeling fantastic…then, I bombed. Immediately. It didn’t take that audience more than three seconds to not like me, or go along with me on a ride down my comedy viewpoint. Nope. I got complete silence on my first joke, my second joke, by the third joke, they were booing. By the third minute on stage, they had become hostile.  I had done hostile audiences before, strangely enough, sometimes you can win a hostile crowd over- for the energy is there, it is just negative. Think back to all the great sex you have had in your life, because you were making up after a fight…it is that kind of “on-off” switch. Negative switches to positive, and suddenly, you are on a roll. There is a great example of this on YouTube- by a comic named “Bill Burr,” it is a legendary turnaround of an audience, on film, in Philadelphia. It made him a National Figure. Alas, that was not my fate. LOL

By then end of my forty five minute set, only about 30 people were left in the room. When the MC said: “Come on folks, give him a hand. At least he did his full set, you have to give him credit for not bailing. ” To which, 30 hands gave me the finger at the same time. A unique salute, and not the whole hand the MC was expecting. When I went back stage, the owner took my money, threw it on the floor, and said: ” I don’t know why they sent you, but there is your money, I don’t ever want to see you in my club again.”  I was married, with two young children under the age of six, sleeping in the motel just across the street. I so wanted to leave the money on the floor, where he had thrown it. We stared at each other for a moment, rage, anger, embarrassment warring for dominance on both our faces. After a minute or two, I noticed a broom in the corner. I went over got it and a dustpan, swept the money up, put it on his desk, stacked it neatly, and put it in my pocket. I took off my sweat soaked smelly shirt – which smelled of fear, failure, and frustration- put it on his desk with a splat. It was soaking wet…and made a splush slurping sound when it slapped onto his paper work. He started to say something. I held up my hand:

“I gave it my all. They didn’t like me. You don’t like me. But, I EARNED that money. I have my wife and kids in the motel, and they deserve this money. I swear, as soon as I get enough saved up, I shall return every penny you paid to me. ”

I turned and walked out. When I got to the motel, the clerk , who just a few hours earlier, had laughed and enjoyed my jokes at the front desk while checking in- and who was sadly disappointed that she didn’t get to go to the Comedy Concert- wouldn’t even make eye contact. The word had gotten out. It was a small town, and well, bad news travels fast. The morning paper had one of the worst reviews of my show ever, and the most glowing the Middle Act had ever gotten. He said: “Man, I don’t know what happened Last Night Kevin, it was magic for me. It was an amazing night for the opener too…I never thought I would see you bomb in my lifetime, but to bomb like that, and get written up like this…I have to save it. I bought all the newspapers from the front desk, this article is going in my Press Kit. Sorry.” I laughed.  Of course it was going in his Press Kit, he got one of the strongest, highly flattering reviews any comic ever got. While we were eating breakfast, the front desk says I have a phone call (no cell phones back then, remember?) I go over to the desk, and it is my Agent: “What happened last night Kevin? The guy wants his money back, and he said if I ever sent you back there again, he would never hire another act from me?”

 

So, I told him, in no uncertain terms how good everyone but me, was. I thought that would be that. You stumble, fall, and fail, pick yourself up, and move on. In fact, in the next 18 nights of that series of gigs, neither the )Opener, nor the Middle Act, got the response they had that first night. I, on the other hand, did quite well. Very consistent shows, with a few standing ovations even. It just wasn’t my crowd, my audience, and by the end of my set that night, they weren’t even my mob, which is what they turned into ten minutes into my show- a mob. I had learned.

Six months later, I see that I am booked back in the Club of Death. I tell the Agent I really don’t want to go back there again. He says: “Well the guy didn’t want you back either. But I told him about your successes in other clubs, sent him some of your cable stuff, and articles, and explained that sometimes, people just bomb. ” He agreed to give you a second chance. So, back I go. A thousand people in the audience, the MC nails it, the Opener Kills, and the MIddle Act (even though all three are different people than I worked with the first time at that venue) gets an encore. Almost the identical situation from six months earlier. I go out feeling great, I am on fire mentally, I have more -and better- material, plus another 180 shows under my belt ( I worked every night back then, and many nights were two show nights. I wanted to be great, and that takes stage time) I was READY.  Then…deja vue..it happened AGAIN. Only this time, the crowd literally rioted. They threw things at me, including folding chairs, right up onto the stage. They had to turn the lights off, and hurry me off stage for my own protection. They tried to put the MC, Opener, and Middle Act out on stage to do some Improv, but they were having none of it. Show over. They had me sit in the guys office while they handled all the folks who wanted their money back, and cleaned up the stage.  The Opener and the Middle act (both friends of mine) were subdued and afraid for me. The Middle act told the owner of the Venue: “I don’t think Kevin should stay at the motel tonight. They know he will be staying there, and might make a scene. ” We all agreed, for my personal safety, I should leave town. Luckily, I didn’t bring my family on that trip. Just in case. LOL

I didn’t take the money, which – this time- he had placed neatly in an envelope. We got paid cash back then, or by check ,which you simply endorsed back to the guy, and he gave you the cash. Nobody left without being paid.  I reminded him that I said if I got rich enough I would pay him back, so I said: “Keep the money. They didn’t like me- again. This is not my audience, and obviously I am not a comic they like.”  I drove to a hotel more than 100 miles away, checked in and called my Kathy …and cried. I had never been HATED on stage before, I had bombes, and had ugly sets, but HATED? Oh dear.  The Agent never brought it up again. Yet, it wasn’t over. Not quite. There would be yet a third attempt at that venue…at the request of the Venue owner.

The Agent calls me: “Kevin, you know that club where they hated you?” “Oh, yes I do.” LOL  “Well, they called and want you back.” ‘WHAT?!” “Yes. The local college wants you, but they don’t have a venue big enough, so they asked him if they could use his venue, and pay him to rent it for a night. He agreed, as long as I would do two nights. One with the College Crowd, and one with His Crowd. He has been tracking your career, which was moving up quickly, he saw you were making a name for yourself on both the college circuit, and the cable TV shows. So, he wants you back. The choice , is yours.”  I said : “Okay. ”  I left my family back home in Louisville – where we lived at the time- because if I had to run out of town in the middle of the night again, I didn’t want them in any danger. It had been two years since that first debacle on stage, I was much better on stage, more material, and better timing. I figured I would do fine, and even if I bombed, it would be an ordinary bomb. So, off I went to to the two nights.

First night, the college night. What can I say? It was one of those nights that make you stay in Comedy. Everything worked. Every nuance,  every reference, no matter how obscure. The audience was so in tune with me, and going along for the ride, that punchlines were laughed at before they even arrived. It seemed like I was on stage for five minutes. It turns out , it was my longest show – ever. I did almost 2 hours. Incredible. I wasn’t on stage for two hours, like some acts where they were up there time wise but they only did forty five minutes of material. Nope, this was a full on two hours of being PRESENT on stage. Marvelous. Ecstatic. Orgasmic. It was, at that time, the best show I had ever done, and even now, more than 30 years later, it would rate in the top five.  The owner of the venue was in disbelief. The next night, when I came back to do the show for the general public, he had me sign the review from the College Paper, which had my picture on Font Page with the headline reading:

” A superstar is born. Kevin Hughes was stunning!”

The rest of the article makes the word “hyperbole” leap to mind. The owner was jumping over himself with praise and admiration. “You know, Kevin, after watching your show last night, I can see why you are in demand. I can see why your Agent called back to have me give you a second chance. I hope you will give my audience that second chance too, and go out and do the kind of show you did for that college crowd. ”  I assured him, I had no grudge against him, or his audience. I would give it my best. Since he had just seen my best, my very best, just the night before, we were both confident I would do fine.  We were both excited as I went to the green room.  So, what happened?

The MC killed, the opener was on a roll, the Middle Act got an encore…the energy in the room was palpable, pulsating, and there was plenty of it. As I walked from backstage, the Owner clapped my on the back, smiled, and said: “They are ready! Blow them away!” I smiled, and high five him, and hit the stage. The silence was deafening. Not a peep. I looked over to the wings of the stage, on one side, the other three acts, looking bewildered. I look to the other wing, and the owner is standing there with a look I imagine only a deer in a headlight beam could replicate. Five minutes into my act, dead silence. Nothing. Like a whole audience had snorted novocaine and become numb. No anger, no joy, no laughter, no heckles – just an endless silence that sucked all emotion out of every word, so in the distance from my microphone to their ears, the words became flat, fuzzy, awkward things that settled own to muffle all feeling. Like mud and dough had joined forces to make bland a proper noun. I wasn’t going to let this happen again. I stopped. I asked a guy down front to give me a chair. In complete silence he handed up a folding chair from the end of the row.

I sat down, put the mic stand behind the chair, and stared at the audience. I let my eyes rove from one side of the venue to the other, I looked over to the wings, where the owner and a few others stood with a look of consternation and curiosity on their faces, in the other wing, the other three acts looking dumbfounded…”what is he doing?” I could almost read their minds. After a minute, I said quietly: “Let’s talk. ” And we did.  I chatted with that audience for 45 minutes, as if they were a single entity. A single organism. A single person. For , in a way, they were of one mind, a collective “we” that became an “I”. We simply talked. The way you talk to the girl you broke up with in High School, a year after the break up. Or the way you talk to your brother you hadn’t spoken too in ten years, or the way and Alcoholic talks to people he has hurt, once he joins the program. It wasn’t a funny talk, it wasn’t a show, it wasn’t an Act, it wasn’t a set, it was two people – although one of them was made up of a thousand individuals with one mind- it was two people TALKING.

At the end of 45 minutes, I still wasn’t the comic they had hoped for. Not at all. But, what happened in that 45 minutes was this- we understood each other. We knew each other. We knew we weren’t meant for each other, just like the High School Sweetheart story above, yet, we wished each other well. We had respect and understanding. I did not leave that stage to a standing ovation, but to a thousand people standing to say; “Thanks for talking. ”  I left knowing we would never see each other again. They left knowing they would never see me again. Yet, both of us hopeful that things would go well for the path we chose. It was -what in the psychology books- would be called “closure.”  A chapter ended.

As I walked to the wings, the Owner actually saluted me. ” I have never seen anything like that. Nor felt anything like that. Thank you.”

I never went back. Until this blog.  Dave Chapelle, I know what it took for you to go back. I am proud of you. Always have been, always will be. My story isn’t your story, but the experience is the same.

“Lies, damn Lies, and Statistics. ” Mark Twain. Twisting numbers to mean what you want them too, seems to be a growing pastime in our country.

Because of facebook, and where I live, I have seen many distorted numbers thrown about over recent incidents. Most of these numbers being used to support one side or another of racial arguments, pent up anger, or to vent frustration over a painful subject without an apparent solution(s).  In all these numbers, some real basic points seem to be lost, ignored, or even buried. No one should die before their time. Except for old age, or disease, or accident… life should be lived for its allotted time- not foreshortened by violence of any kind.

Is a life worth any amount of property? We seem to think so. We are so cavalier with other folks lives, but let it be one of our own, and well, it isn’t so easy to bear. I hear numbers bandied about, and weak supporting numbers to highlight their belief system. It fascinates me to read that one group kills more folks than another. Yet the numbers clearly show – ask any homicide detective- that most folks kill folks who belong to their group. Familiarity breeds contempt.  The numbers are appalling. More folks of any group in America die than were killed in an decade long War. Think about that for a second. The yearly murders in the US, exceed the Death Toll of Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet we somehow are used to those numbers.

I read an article by a highly educated man, who chose to compare European Murder rates , to ours. He used examples of mass shootings, to support his statistical argument that gun laws don’t work. European population of 30 million, roughly 600 murders a year- in the USA, a medium size city, like say: Detroit, can match those numbers, every year. An individual murder, is usually the result of anger, or passion, or alcohol, or drugs, or maybe , all of them in some degree. Mass shootings are almost always by depressed, suicidal, or mentally Ill folks. So, I guess the numbers show that our country has more angry, drunk, mean, passionate people than people who are mentally ill.

To compare a country that has 600, or even 700, murders, to ours: that has 12,000 or more…well, I miss the logic, the correlation, and the point. In countries that have all the same “Race” (which is part of the problem, we only have one Race, Human, with many cultures) murders occur…Religion becomes the group, or Tribes, or who is in power. Yet we don’t bring that up…it becomes simply black and white. Why?  No one should die at the hands of another person, how do we teach peace? So here are a couple numbers I would like folks to ponder:

Number of War Colleges in the World- look it up. It will blow your mind.

Number of Peace Colleges in the World: None. Not one. Zero.

Number of War Classes at Major Universities – to many for me to count.

Number of Peace Classes? None. Good old Leo Buscaglia had the last course on Peace and Love, that I am aware of.

Oh, sure there are some Conflict Interruption Courses, mostly in Interrogation, hostage, and crisis curriculums. They are not the focus, but a periphery of the dominant power theory being taught. Peace is a tough thing to wrap your mind around.

Maya Angelou once said: ” Defense is the first act of War.” At least I think it was her, it may have been someone else, but the point is accurate no matter who said it. Maybe instead of the blame game, or the numbers game, we should look at the elephant in the living room that says: ” Loosing thousands of folks a year, is okay. They probably deserved to die.”  I wonder what the murder rate was before we started the War on Drugs? I wonder what the incarceration rate was too. Funny how violence seems to go up when we try and control “recreational ” substances.

Imagine what those numbers would be, or how they could be used, if the numbers of  murders were – ZERO.

Re: I got so many request for my lovely day, here is the email I sent to family and friends. I hope YOU have a day like this with your family too. Treasure it!

 

Every once in a while, you get sent a day that just flows like smooth molasses: sweet syrupy, and no pressure at all…just easing on down the river. I had one of those yesterday….

  My youngest daughter (Kaylyssa) turns 29 on Tuesday. So, she came over here on Sunday to make her cake. Yep. She made it herself. Well, my daughter Kevina Kay, came over too. Along with her, she brought- to cute for words- Penny D, and little Lincoln Lorenzo. Kathy was there too. The afternoon drifted by, with little snatches of conversation between different combinations of us. Sometimes I got to be a grandpa, other times, well, I was a Father, other times, I was just someone to talk with, or to. Other times, I was Kevin, or even: “My husband.” Often I was a friend.

 Oh it was delightful. Penny charmed us all with her one woman show of : Georgey Porgey, and : I’m a little tea pot. Applause was thunderous. So much so, even Penny Clapped, although she had no idea it was for her. LOL We should all be so humble. Then – dead quiet, as we all watched that Jamison Whiskey First Shot: short film award winner called; “Jump.” The acting is superb, the story is told, and completed, in only 14 minutes. It is beautifully done, well crafted, with the perfect musical score to guide your emotions along. Well done, and well received, especially by Penny D.

  You see Penny has never seen “tv” , and technically, she still hasn’t. I put it up on my computer. Since none of us have a TV. Nope. None of us. Yet, this was on my computer screen which looks like a TV. Penny was simply spellbound. The story and cinematography, kept everyone over the age of two in the same silent awe. Like Medusa had replaced the TV, and locked us all into a permanent stare. LOL  When that short flick ended, there were shiny eyes everywhere, as the adults sifted through their lens on life, and memories to appreciate the story in their own way. At the end ( Spoiler alert) one actor is responsible for determining how the ending is perceived by the viewer…and that actor pulls it off. Without words.

Then the cake was done. My daughter had announced, while making the cake: “It is my birthday…so, no singing! Just let me blow out the candles – and we will eat the cake.” Okay, a side bit…the candles. It turns out, those little birthday candles? Well, they come ten to a pack. Kaylyssa turned 29…so they would have had to buy three packs, not two. Well, since they are my Kathy’s children – and have that frugality gene- they decided to buy little candle numbers from: 0 to 9. That way, they only had to buy one pack, and just place a 2 and a 9, onto the cake. Which they did. It made blowing out all the candles much less of a challenge. LOL

  So, the cake is ready, and little Penny, with help from “Nanny” carried the cake into the room. It turns out Kaylyssa changed her mind, and did want us to sing Happy Birthday. We obliged immediately. Penny, with the cake in front of her with two flaming candles, was as enthralled as she was by the little movie. Watching a young brain learn is simply remarkable. Her face is so flexible , and she was working her little brain so hard to figure out what this was all about- well, what fun. Having the flickering candle light moving over her face, and reflecting back from her wide eyes…well, it was almost terminal cuteness.

  Then the cutting of the cake caused much hilarity, as we used math to figure out the best way to cut it in the most pieces. After much laughter, it was decided we should just eyeball it, and cut away. Which, we did. It turns out, she baked a great cake. It was delicious. We all had seconds, and it took the will power of four full grown adult people, to save two pieces for the missing husbands (both of them, at work). And that was all that was left. Two pieces.

 The afternoon, faded into early evening, like child slipping into a nap…with hardly a transition at all…the moments just kind of blended into one long, peaceful, satisfied lump of time. No ill words. Conversations that ranged from the ridiculous, to the sublime…moments: both shared and private ones. It was, in my experience, one of the most beautiful family days I have ever had. The other shoe never fell, not even a slipper. Just six folks who know and love each other, in a safe place for everyone.

 Like a lot of good Art…it was the simplicity of it all that drove it to perfection. It was a day of life, of love, of laughter. With none of the usual little imperfections, or cross words, or tiny incidents that roughen up a good time.

It was family time at its best. It ended with graceful elegance. Yep, the families flowed like molasses back into their cars, to go to their respective homes, and Kathy and I went back inside, cleaned up the house, did all the dishes, made all the messes disappear, put back the toys and children’s things. Then…well, then we sat quietly , her in one chair, me sitting next to her on another, with her legs draped over mine, and my hand gently smoothing the hair on her calves, as we sat in the dark, and listened to a playlist of Love Songs of the 50′s and 60′s.

 No words were said. None were needed. Ten or fifteen songs later, I tucked Kathy into bed. A few hours later, I crawled in beside her, she took my hand, in her sleep, and pulled it to her. I said: “I love you.” She murmured back: “Me, too.” Soon, snoring replaced the gentle sounds of the day settling in for the night. LOL

Smiles to all, Kevin

 

What a great day to be retired. A long bike ride with my wife, plus breakfast and a deep conversation, a solitary walk, did some laundry, cleaned the bathroom, and a good book….oh yeah.

The heading says it all: A great day to be retired. What did I do? Nothing much, and enjoyed every moment of it. LOL

The Button. Flash fiction with a semi erotic tone…which is like a semi tone, with some erotica thrown in….I hope it strikes a chord with you…

The button was the last thing holding the front of her blouse closed. Well, not closed, but connected.

It was a strong button. For it was holding back the passion of two teenagers with just its mere presence.

So far, it had resisted the roving hands of a gentle, but insistent first love, and the willing passion of two heaving breasts struggling to get free- with permission.

As yet another attempt to unfasten it went thoroughly unnoticed by her, other than a slight rush of cool air that chose that moment to slip in under the raised cotton of her blouse.

The young man’s effort to dislodge the button failed, but gloriously. Because as he peeked down from kissing his first loves highly exposed, and flushed neck, her young breasts had swollen to fill both his hands and the cups of her bra. He moved his hands away from the fickle button, to caress the sweet curves hidden by the light cotton. He could feel the material shifting over her skin, and the soft firmness of her bra. A light shone in the window. Bright. Disturbing. Alarming.

The young man’s passion instantly transformed to fear, her’s, a bit slower to fade, as she struggled to sit upright in the car, as if rising from a fog, or a not quite dream. The taste of his lips, still lingered on hers, with the pulse point at the nape of her neck still pounding with anticipation..she managed a little squirm. Funnily enough, it was that squirm, and not the determined hands of her would be lover, or the willing hope on her part that the button would lose its grip, inviting even more exploration of those strong, loving, gentle, and very masculine hands. The timing of the button’s release, was horrible. Like an amateur comedian with three more minutes to kill before his time is up on stage. For at that exact moment that the button decided to free itself from constraining her not inconsiderable bosom – was the exact moment that the searching flashlight found the two of them, slightly mussed, slightly fussed, and more than slightly disheveled, both of them breathing heavily.

Luckily, the flashlight was wielded by her much younger sister, her fear subsided, relief washed over her, and she started to giggle. It was only then she heard her sister say: ” See Mom, I told you they were in the garage, sitting in the car!”  It was only then that she realized that the button. Which had held on for so long, for so dearly, had finally given up, exposing most of her flesh from the navel up, to the knowing eyes of her Mom.  Her Mom, perhaps remembering a button form a few decades earlier just smiled and said:

“Jimmy, I believe it is time for you to go home. Honey, button your blouse, we need to talk.”

The button was not the only one to sigh.

“Houston , we have a problem.” A picture is worth a thousand words, but in this case a picture made me mad enough to write a thousand words.

I guess with all the recent revelation of the “militarization” of the Police Forces, due, mainly (it seems) to the War on Drugs, which , in my opinion, has only made War profitable, and drugs the excuse to wage one; it should have been no surprise to see the picture I  saw on Facebook today. It was from the local paper. Apparently the School Board is touting how safe they are making the Schools in our area. Of the Six people in the picture , three are from Various Police Departments or Law Enforcement Agencies. In Uniform. I cried. Really? Education now includes: evacuation plans, shooting scenarios, safe rooms, restricted lines of fire, code words, metal detectors, weapons searches, and more rules and laws, and restrictions on back packs, access to computers, and practice lock downs.  In school.

How sick of a society we have become that we applaud these steps to safer schools? What elephant are we dancing around, that we think nothing of employing security tactics gleaned from past shootings and wars, to set up our schools, and their days? Are we all frogs? You know, where the water around us got warmer so gradually that we never noticed we were being boiled alive? Shouldn’t education announcements be about, well education? Shouldn’t the podium be filled with teachers, and administrators? Shouldn’t the announcements be along the lines of : send your kid here, we have made amazing changes to our physical buildings to reflect the best environment for your kids to learn in. Not only that, we have a cohesive learning philosophy we have developed along with advances in Brain Science, and studies on how children learn best. So, we announce today, a building that implies learning, collaboration, and knowledge, and we staffed it with teachers that can’t wait to facilitate the learning process for your child. Your child learns in his/her own way, we have the science, experience and expertise now to recognize that fact.

But that isn’t what garnered the news coverage. It was the prison like security, suspicion of any one not a teacher , or student (and most of the students are suspects until proven otherwise) the quick access to SWAT teams, and Special Responder Units, practice for mass shootings, or suicide murder rampages. Welcome to educational concerns in the year 2014. Yep, most folks glanced at that picture and didn’t see what I saw. Nor did they read the article. Or , if they are the kind that holds security over liberty first, well, they applauded the efforts of “making schools safer.”

You know, a long, long, long time ago- I found a record that won a Grammy. It wasn’t a music record, it was a “Spoken Word” album by Earl Nightingale, called: “The Strangest Secret.” It was the first million selling record of its kind. Back in the day when you actually had to sell a million to be a million selling album. LOL  What was the Strangest Secret? It was this: “What you think about the most, is what you become.” Yep, that’s it. If we think fear, paranoia, and horror, well, guess what we get? If we think of the first priority of schools to be safety, and not education, well they may very well become safer, but they won’t be great places to be educated. Maybe indoctrinated, but not educated.

The strangest secret to me, is how we got here. Frogs. Human Frogs. Boil away.