Red Hill

Kathy is fifteen or sixteen, a junior in high school, she often works in her mama’s restaurant as a waitress, and I assume this is where she picks up her spending money.  We have talked numerous times about a lot of things, contact lenses, school, college; boys that are stupid, what movie have you seen.

One thing I noticed about Kathy in our conversations is how important “networking with her friends seems to occupy a large part of her life.”  She is on Myspace and she text messages on her cellphone, she has Twitter and I suppose a few others that I am not privy to.

It just struck me the way that all of this was so effective for her, how it works for the younger generation.  I guess the thing that got me started down this path is the fact that “she and her girlfriends plan things before they do them.” They get together or rather they use the various mediums in their lives and they make plans and create order in their lives or social endeavors.

Now this is a prime indicator of how life in this day and age is important to the internet or different mediums and a necessary aspect of young people and to our society in general.  I found myself thinking about when I was the same age, and how we did things.  Being from small town America, we would drive down to Main Street on Friday night, park and when someone came by and stopped, we would start putting things together.

We did not plan ahead; we had no other way to communicate other than “draggin’ main, burning cheap gasoline, and finding someone else to do it with.”  At sixteen years of age, I was allowed to go into the garage, and use the telephone there to talk with my girlfriends and I was also limited to the amount of time I could spend on the phone, usually about fifteen minutes tops.

My home town, Purcell Oklahoma, has a hill on the north side of town, the name of this hill is “Red Hill.”  By most standards it isn’t much of a hill, 250-300’ high at the peak, I climbed it one time on my motorcycle.  As far as I know I was the only kid in town to accomplish this feat, and I have never heard of anyone doing anything similar in nature over all these years.

Most folks in my generation were adventurous in nature, nothing like that today.  Everything is fairly laid out and in place for today’s generation, and the majority of it doesn’t require nature or the outside in order to accomplish the majority of it.  Skateboarding isn’t an adventure, Dungeons and Dragons, Grand Theft Auto.  A computer controller and a bag of chips, not much adventure in that.

Red Hill is also where Susie introduced me to the pleasures of young manhood, under a clear sky, loaded with stars, and air thick with the smell of summer.  Where we laughed, we cried, we schemed and we dreamed, and we thought of all the world we wanted to see.  We “hooked up on Main Street and we slipped off into the night.”  No pre-planning or networking in that, that was the way it was done.

I often went to Red Hill and sat on the stone fence there and I would stare off to the east to a horizon that seemed to go on and on, almost forever.  I would look in the direction of Boston, or Atlanta, Memphis and Nashville and I would as a young man wonder what it was that was out there and if I would ever see it.

When my relationships went sour, and things did not work out, I would go there, sit down pull out a Marlboro and work it out in my mind.  This was my fortress of solitude, Red Hill, and I often spent more than one long afternoon there blowing the cobwebs out of my head.

Not long ago someone sent me a invitation to join Facebook.  I of course declined, I don’t have the time to sit around and talk about myself and open up my life to basically what I think are virtual strangers.  I do enough of that right here.  Facebook for the most part is a straight jacket for people who have nothing better to do than talk about themselves.

Take a minute today to think about it.

Do you want to know that the “girl you idolized in high school, is now a pudgy housewife with four kids, living in Paducah, Kentucky and cleaning up her cats’ hairballs?”  How about the great looking, blond headed kid that sat on Red Hill for hours at a time, do you want to know that he is now a balding old coot in Oklahoma and he is glad it is almost the weekend.

It might work for Kathy and her gang, but it surely isn’t my cup of tea.


The Short Rows

Don’t really know where the term “The Short Rows” originated, I first heard it as a lad, applied to the practice of plowing a field. When you are harvesting or plowing a field, and you are almost done, you are in “the short rows” which is the very edge of the field.

It also could apply to a person’s life, when you reach that point, where you have more of it behind you and very little of it left in front of you.

And last, I guess we could apply it to the year, being close to November, we are in “the short rows of 2008,” and 2009, is just around the corner.

I remember a long time ago, walking in a graveyard in Livermore, California, I came across a tombstone (head marker) that read: “As you are, I once was. As I am, you someday shall be.” That always stuck with me for some reason. A grain of truth in that believe it or not. What goes round … Comes around … Where I am at, you are some day going to be.

That is, if you are not already there.

There are three things that will eat your proverbial lunch in this life. Most folks would agree with me on this, and they are: (1) Taxes. You have them always, they never go down, and they never, ever, go away. (2) Insurance. You are dammed if you have it and dammed if you don’t. Almost like heroin, it is something you cannot live without. (3) Health Care. Which is of course, a form of insurance, but never the less, something you desperately need. A very necessary economic fact, especially on the downhill side of life.

So, as I am so fond of saying, down the road you go. You work hard, you build something, and hopefully you rest a bit.

Youth has a way of slipping by without your really noticing it. One day you stand before the mirror as you have day after day, but this day it is different. What was youth, is no longer there staring back at you. You get busy working, raising a family, watching the kids grow, spending every waking hour searching for that little extra each month, to kind of nudge it over the top.

You plan and you scheme, you cry and you dream, God smiles,and life just sorta slips by unnoticed.  The weeks into months, months into years, first thing y’know.

Looking back to 1974 (which to me, doesn’t seem all that long ago, but it was) I can remember stretching my monthly dollar value to buy the best possible house I could afford. It cost me and the bride, $118 a month, and at that time, I was really concerned that I would be able to meet that $118 obligation each month. Today the taxes alone, are over that amount. By the time I had finished paying off that house, some seven years early on a thirty-year note. My payment had escalated to over $269 per month. Why?

Taxes and Insurance.

It is almost impossible for me to even wonder where all of this is going to end up in the end. My only consolation being, I more than likely am looking at the short rows on this at this point in my life. So in retrospect you wonder if you made a change. Did you leave something for the next person down the pike?

I am not sure if I have or not, to tell you the truth.

In a way, you want to warn young people of the apparent dangers of government that is clearly running a muck. You want to try and point out the pitfalls of life, and give them a friendly “heads up” on what is really going on. You don’t want them to have to deal with the misery and pain that you have experienced, you feel the need to pass something onto them, so hopefully, their generation can make a positive change.

Most of the time this simply doesn’t work, and falls on deaf ears. As such was the case when my father and those before him, tried to pass it on to me. Generational curse or something I guess.

It is often difficult trying to deal or explain things to someone twenty years old or younger. They see the world in a totally different light than others. The American Dream is totally out of reach or foreign to them in scope or concept and the moral foundation is completely different from people my age. It often screws things up big time, communication is at best, difficult.

Just in case you weren’t feeling old enough today, the remainder of this will certainly change things.  If you have hung in here this far, might as well stick around for the rest.

The people who are starting college this fall across the nation were for the most part, born in 1990. they have no meaningful recollection of the Reagan Era and probably did not know he was shot. They know nothing of LBJ’s Great Society, Nixon’s resignation and shame, Woodstock or Kent State.

They were infants when the Persian Gulf War was waged, pre-pubescent when Saddam went down, more than likely, have only known one Pope in their lifetime. They were children when the Soviet Union broke apart and the Berlin Wall came tumbling down, they do not remember or possibly even know of the meaning of the word, Cold War.

The majority of them are too young to remember the space shuttle blowing up. Tienanmen Square means nothing to them. Bottle caps have always been screw off and plastic. Jay Leno has always been the host of the Tonight show.

Atari predates them as do vinyl albums and hot wax. The expression “You sound like a broken record” sounds foreign to them and more than likely has no meaning. They have never owned a record player. They have likely never played “Pac Man” and never heard of “Pong.” The CD was introduced when they were one year old.

All homes have always had an answering machine, home computer, most have never seen a television with only thirteen channels or a black and white TV. They have always had cable TV available to them. There have always been VCR’s but they have no idea what BETA was. They cannot fathom life without the use of a remote control.

They don’t know what a cloth baby diaper is, or know about the “Help Me! I have fallen and I cannot get up commercial” famous years ago. They were born in the year that Walkman’s were introduced by Sony. Roller skates have always meant “in line” to them. They have no idea when or why Jordache jeans were cool and country music was not.

Popcorn has always been cooked in the microwave. They have never seen Larry Bird play. They never took a swim in the ocean and worried about “Jaws.” The Viet Nam War is an ancient history to them as WW I, WW II, Civil war and Korea.

They have no idea that American’s were once held hostage in Iran. They can’t imagine what a hard contact lens might be. They don’t know who Mork was or where he was from (it was the planet Ork, if anyone cares to remember). They never heard the expression “Where’s the beef?”… “I’d walk a mile for a Camel or “de plane!, de plane! (Fantasy Island ABC).”

They have no idea as to who shot J.R. and more than likely even who he was.

Michael Jackson has always been white (or kind of off white). Kansas, Chicago, Boston, America, and Alabama are places they have heard of, not bands. They never new Cassius Clay but followed Muhammad Ali and have seen the movie of his life and times. There has always been MTV. They don’t have a clue as to how to use a typewriter, have never purchased a 19 cent hamburger from McDonalds or purchased .22 cent per gallon gasoline.

So when you stop and try to explain something to the younger set, you are more than likely not on the same page, level, plain, or neighborhood. It is entirely possible you could not even been remotely close to their zip code.

Having no earthly clue as to which way the wind will blow in this country in the coming years, having no crystal ball to look down the beaten path a ways, I just do my best to pass on what it is that I do know. The future for me is just as hidden as the past I can no longer see.

So in the time that I have, I feel it is my duty to try and pass on something, anything that I can. To humbly explain whenever possible that there should be more to life than just being a tax slave for the U.S. government (or any damn government). The longing of the human condition to search out and find life, we deserve it, we need it.

It seems so necessary now, to just to take the shot, plant the seed and hope it lands somewhere where it will grow. Because as you see …We are all morally challenged (like it or not) to give something back as we pass thru life, we are all designated to try and change it and make it better.

Take time today to stop and consider one important aspect of life.  If you fill your heart with regrets of yesterday and the worries of tomorrow, you have no today to be thankful for.  If you want to make a change for the better … then it is up to you.

As my friend in the U.K. puts it … “Mind The Gap” … Celebrate life, don’t let it grind you down. Before you know it, you could find yourself like me, standing here in the short rows wondering where it all went. If there is one scintilla of truth in all of this it is this … As you are … I once was … As I am … You someday shall be.

Bet your last dollar on it.


Pretty Women

Chinese food for lunch today, I am looking forward to it.  Asian women seem to catch my eye, I am into them.  When you eat Chinese food, one of the benefits of this, is of course, a high concentration of Asian women.  You know Chinese wait staff girls are certainly attractive, I noticed that recently.

Asian women are beautiful. Asian guys, well, they are relegated to “tech support.”

Over at the Super-Center the other day and saw this girl, all decked out to the nines, clearly a professional woman.  She was looking so good, and she had two small boys with her, dressed in Soccer Attire.  I thought to myself, “here is a girl who has put in a long day at work, now she is shopping’ for the family, taking it home, cooking it up and taking care of the brood.”

My hat is off to her.  Women work too hard, for too little in this day and age, and they surely have their hands full.  They clearly deserve more credit for what they do in the home …

We went to the Mall yesterday and I started it again.  The younger generation, whatever they are calling them this week, they tend to really bug me.  “I just want to grab ‘em, every one of ‘em, and say ….. Listen, the bill of the cap goes on the front of your face, tie your damn shoes, and pull up them baggy pants, yo’ underwear is showing!’ But Cup Cake reined me in and told me to cool it.

T-Shirt at the Mall:  “I graduated, where is my car?” Yup, that sounds like the American Way to me.

Paper says that I am going to get my economic stimulus check in the first week of June.  Gee whiz, isn’t’ that just peachy cool.  Things must be getting tight, I notice that my neighbor across the street is taking his own lunch to the Indian Casino’s now, must be rough.

Aren’t Y’all (Okie Talk) proud of me, I made it all the way to the bottom of the page, and haven’t mentioned gasoline one time.  It is part of my new attitude adjustment thing I am working on.  I find that nothing can destroy my mood quicker than a trip to the 7-11 for a fill up on one of our trucks.  I can be in a great mood, up and until I pull up to the pump and I look at the price of the fuel.

This is when I discovered a kinky little quirk in my personality.  If you’re normal, you periodically feel little surges of anger that you don’t express.  Which can of course be risky in today’s PC society.

Suppressing your feelings over a period of time, can be dangerous not only to yourself but to bystanders, other people in the area at the time.  I believe the teen-agers call it going “postal.”  So I have found something that seems to work for me.

Before heading down to the root n scoot for fuel.  I go into the garage, close the door and then I throw about a five-minute snot-nosed fit-ritual about twice a week.  My new self induced therapy procedure with no witnesses except the cat, and even he is not sticking around for any of it here lately, I notice he is avoiding me like I have rabies.

For four minutes, you fume, seethe, curse and yell.  You huff, puff, the vein on your neck sticks out!

For the final sixty seconds, you compel yourself to laugh, as hard as you can, uncontrollably if this is possible.  This free’s up all them End-o-morphine things that reside in your body next to your fat cells and hormones.  Immediately afterwards, you load up in the car/truck, rush down and pay for your motor fuel, this is when you enter into the hysterical crying phaseof the process.

We will cover that tomorrow along with locking gas caps, and proper air pressure.

I am now going to devote the rest of this day to some kind of timewaster or cheap thrill.  Such as giving my bologna a middle name, or some other important issue.  I am not, under any circumstances going to mow, sack, cut, trim, sweep, take to the curb or re-arrange anything other than the head pillows on my easy boy recliner.

It’s a tough job … but someone has to do it.


Related:  Refining The Problem