A Little Off The Ears

Often checking the bathroom mirror early in the morning can be a sobering experience. I am standing there and I am wondering, “Why is Willard Scott staring back at me, it is not my birthday!”

So, as it was either get a haircut or a dog license, I chose to make the six mile drive to town.

Buell’s barbershop in El Reno, Oklahoma (small town America, the last vast great stronghold of good community living) is an interesting place on most days.

A place where the patrons will request of the barber that he does not give them “a summer-time haircut, because it is still purty-nippy outside” and you can catch up on all the latest.

Where else could you hear about the guy in Texas who mistakenly used a loaded gun to scratch his back last Thursday and ended up shooting himself? He wasn’t unhappy though, according to the story teller. His reason being; that day he had lots of gold-bond powder in his underpants.

Stepping outside, the cool air of the morning, feels a little bit different on the back of my recently shaved neck and head. The sign in the window reads, “You can have sexy hair, now only $10.95.” Sucker born every minute, I know for a fact, that at age 63 sexy hair, most hair, is a thing of the past. I grow hair in my ears now, not on my head. Even the barber inquired, “You want me to trim those eyebrows?”

Evidently “One continuous eyebrow is no longer accepted as cool in America anymore.”

Snatching a big breath of country air, I venture out to the interstate for a quick snack of an Angus Burger at McDonalds.  No visible sores on the kid, and his acme isn’t all that bad, I figure it is going to be a good day.  In the corner and old man is busy cleaning tables, the new work from the cradle to the grave policy in American fast food joints is in effect. I get in line next to an old woman and fish out my money clip.

The elderly woman, small and frail, looks about 75 or 80 steps up to the counter and in a small voice says, “I would like a hamburger, small order of fries, and a small coke, please.” The kid behind the counter says, “You want cheese with that?”

She says, “I want a hamburger, small order of fries, and a small coke sonny.”

The kid looks at her and says, “You want a large order of fries?” The old woman turns and looks at me and in a crisp voice inquires of me, “Am I speaking English?”

I reply, “Yes mama, yes you certainly are.”

She then tells the kid ONE MORE TIME … “I want a hamburger, small order of fries, and a small coke sonny. If’n I wanted cheese, I would’ve asked for a cheeseburger, if I wanted large fries I would have asked for large fries.”

Mr. future CEO then asks, “You want a large coke?”

The old lady turns to me one more time and says, “I must be invisible or something.” She then turns and walks out, in no apparent hurry, Mama shuffles off to the nearest exit, with I suppose, her ravenous appetite in check.

The sad part about all this is … I know just how she feels on some days bless her heart, and often I secretly wish that I could be just that … Invisible.

Taking it one step further, I bet you do too.


The Old Days

Think back to when you were growing up in South Dakota or Nebraska or somewhere where three billion people have never been and times were just as tough.

When you had to, like my dad, walk 14 miles to school each day round trip, uphill BOTH ways on never a nice day, to a one-room school house.

This after he had milked twenty-seven cows, strung a mile of barbed wire and plowed two acres by flashlight behind Ol Rivers the family Mule.

You remember those days … don’tcha?

Every now and then I will remember them when my four year old grandchild climbs up in my lap and says “Tell me a story about the olden days Grandpa.” Then it all comes rushing back, the seat on a bucket in the high-chair-step-ladder in the kitchen, and the home style haircut that dad used to give me to save .75 cents.

A haircut that was so bad that it made me cry when the kids at school laughed at me the next day. The afternoon sitting at the kitchen table “writing my words” on the paper with big lines and a pencil.

Reading the newspaper to my mama when she cooked supper because my teacher sent a note home that said “Donnie isn’t reading very good, he needs a lot of work.” Learning how to do fractions and homework instead of going outside to play with the dog.

No daycare in the fifties … Back in those days … You raised YOUR kid. Someone else did not do it.  It was your JOB … It was expected of YOU.

Kids today have it good, they are too soft, and we are turning them into non functioning dummies. Video gaming, text messaging (which butchers the language brutally), and an age of convenient shortcuts. Cell phones, cheat sheets, calculators, computers.

The short road to oblivion.

In my 19 — none on your business — school photo album I see all the pictures of the generation that was going to change it all. Glancing thru my old classmates book I see seven future doctors, two Nobel Prize Winners, three preachers, two generals and one of the first female airline pilots. Missing are lying senators, presidents, bankrupt savings and loan officers, stock merchants, very few rotten apples in the entire bunch.

Why? Because they slapped the crap out of us in those days and they MADE US learn something, they forced us to take something with us on our journey thru puberty. If you were a problem, they didn’t cut you loose at the end of the day, you got detention. You paid for your sins.

They made us learn how to read.

It used to be “if you got into trouble at school, you were in trouble at home. And I mean BEFORE you got home” now days it just isn’t so. So now you know why eight out of ten American high school graduates cannot even make change for a dollar, because they never had the daylights’ beat out of them in the primary grades that is why. Why kids in Eastern/Western Europe, Japan and most of Asia kick our butts in just about any type of scholarly competition.

When you do not learn, then you are doomed to a lifetime of Anger Management classes at the local family health clinic, instead of being a productive citizen and family maker. Having virtually no education disables a kid before they even have a shot at the American Dream, that is, what is left of it these days.

We have a society being run increasing by dysfunctional illiterates and we have no one to blame but ourselves.  Our neglect of our young is now our curse

The sixties were very good to me, so therefore, I can understand our President who frequently speaks in terms of often-mocked malapropisms that could stem from dyslexia, or a lack of education in his youth. He certain seems to have his share of problems forming and processing words or sentences.

But when you stop to think about it, he doesn’t need to be big on language, he is after all from Texas.

So when he says something like: “We brung some dead deer parts that Cheney shot to Aunt Martha’s place and she showed us how to stew ‘em in this big pot and then we gorged ourselves on them to excess” that is wrong.

But it sounds much better than “bursting.”

In closing I must admit that I haven’t a clue on the use of the split infinitive, I might have known it at one time or another, but like I have said before, “The sixties were really good to me” and that is my only proffered excuse at this time.

Today I find myself thankful that I can read, I do have a command of the language, and I can thank my teachers, my parents for that. Also, I am just glad that my current social status in this life, doesn’t require me to have a “power vocabulary, do simple math, dress for success or to live in Texas.”

Got to go! I am late for my class on Pumpkin Carving for the Criminally Insane.


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