Wednesday, March 7, 2018

True Colors

            Cyndi Lauper was on the radio in the kitchen singing about sad eyes and true colors.
I laughed as I walked out of the kitchen and into the dining area of my part time job. I was laughing at myself.

            You see, I knew the song, I knew the singer and all my life I’ve never given it or her any thought. Sure I had girlfriends who liked her music but back then, as a middle teen filled with anger, angst and a general skeptical outlook for my friends, family, government and life overall… well, any pop-music was too “feely” for me. For me, there was no hope, no help from others and no bright side to anything.

            I’ve grown older since then and maybe, just maybe, a bit wiser.

            Still I laughed at myself for not realizing what a great voice Cyndi has and not thinking twice about the lyrics of the song.

            I approached a new table, an elderly couple who I’ve waited on before. We said our pleasantries and then the man says to me “I was talking to someone the other day who knows you.”

            “Really? I hope they were nice.” I replied with good humor.

            “Oh yes, she knows you well… NAME REDACTED.”

            “Ah yes, I’ve known her for thirty years.”

            “Sad news about her husband, we were in high school together and I even hung out with him when he worked for NAME REDACTED.”

            A lump formed in my throat. My hands began to tremble. The floor beneath my feet felt soft and squishy. “Uh, yeah. George was a good man. I was very close to him.” I stammered trying to think of any excuse to leave this table.

            You see, I thought I was okay with Georges death. I thought I had put those pains to rest. I thought I was okay.

            I thought wrong.

            My mind filled with memories of how he taught me not just engine machine skills but life skills that most people develop by the time they’re fifteen. I didn’t get that. I was too hard headed as a youth. Too filled with my own perspective of right and wrong. Too stuck in my own adolescent pain to listen to anyone.

            When I met George, he didn’t care about any of that. Not my past. Not my angst. Not my skepticism. Not even my fear of failure. He just cared I was willing to learn and do the best I could do.

            I tried my best to not disappoint him.

            “Uh, yeah, what would you two like to drink?” I asked as I felt tears welling behind my eyes.

            They ordered and I walked away quickly. Stopped in the bathroom, splashed water on my face and tried to stop sweating. That’s when the lyrics of Cyndi Laupers’ song hit me hard. The song that’d made me laugh not moments ago.

            I smiled.

            Not because George had ever said any words like the lyrics to me. Instead, he’d shown me the lyrics in action. Over time. Thirty years time. He showed me his true colors and in doing so, he passed those on to me.

            Through painful, endless conversations he taught me how to be a man, a husband and a father.

            Through his actions as a provider he taught me how to put aside my physical pain and power through so my family’s needs will be met.

            Through his patience with me and everyone around him he taught me how to be patient with myself, my co-workers, my friends and my family.

            He taught me so much and I never thanked him for it and for that, I feel like the shitiest person in the world. I’m sure he knows how grateful I am and I’m sure he never really expected a thank you from me. After all, that’s the kind of man he was.

            I don’t think I’ll ever get over this loss right now. I don’t know how I can. I lost a friend and mentor. It’s been months and I thought all this emotional mess was over but it isn’t. After all, even from the grave George is showing me his True Colors.

Have a great week.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

From the Porch 2

            I’m not a blind follower. I’m not a robot. I don’t follow orders unless I want to. Punishment does not work on me. I find my own company the best company.

            I served in the United States Navy and on no less than three occasions did I end up bleeding and on one occasions I even died for my country. I know what the nations flag stands for and I’ve even written on two separate but equally important events on the honors and ceremonies’ of not just the flag but the rank of officers involved.

            With that, I refuse to bend to the will of those who use the flag and what it represents to stand behind. I honor the people who stand in front of the flag and what it represents. After all, I can ask no one to do any less than what I’ve done myself.

            I know what our flag represents… Blue for loyalty, red for the blood of patriots and the stars for our states. Each stripe represents one of the original thirteen colonies. I know this. I understand this. I’ve bled and died for this.

            I’ve defended what the flag stands for. I’ve also defended the rights of every citizen in this country to either honor or destroy this flag but not what the flag represents. The flag represents America. It is a symbol. America is an idea. Symbols can be destroyed. Ideas cannot.

            I’ve always believed in our country. Not our flag.

            When I left the Navy I took with me a small souvenir. The steaming ensign of the ship I served on. It was my last act of defiance to the fleet. It was also something in which I felt I was owed. An artifact I hope one day to be buried with. Currently it sits folded in my office waiting to fly again. I’ve no idea if it will ever fly again, but I do hope it will one day.

            I love my country. I hate my country.

            I believe we are a melting pot. That we take in all and help them find their way. Absorb into our culture, their culture. That no one is beyond asking for a helping hand or helping others when the call arises.

            What I’m sick of is people who use our need, our desire, our passion for our country for their own needs. For their own gains. People who hide behind patriotism to mask their true motives.
            This sickens me.

            And then I’m told to stand. That’s when I sit down.

            I’m told to shut up. I yell.

            I’m told to accept. I deny.

            I’m told I’m a traitor. I bleed for our founding fathers.

            I will not follow an empty shell of a so called leader.

            I will stand with my fists by my side.

            I will not be called names because I don’t agree with you. I will call names back.

            I will not be treated as less than you. I will prove I am better than you.

            I’ve no use for sabre rattling. Let’s get down to business and start cutting.

            I’ll not die many deaths, I’ll only die one.

            You cannot punish me, for I’ve been tempered through the fires of hell and beyond.

            I’m a veteran, I’ve bled and died for my country on multiple occasions and your empty threats mean nothing to me. I’ll be here when you are gone and forgotten.

            I’ll stand when I want, I’ll say what I want and I’ll live and love as I want. This is America. Where we are free to do all of those things and that is what makes this the greatest country in the world.

            We are free. We are Americans and we shall be for an eternity.

Have a great week.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

From The Porch

            I grew up in the 1970’s, decades ago. Matter of fact, it was in another century. The world was not what it is today. Nope. Not at all.
            First off, soap was an acceptable for doing the dishes, laundry, washing the car and in certain instances, like if one of your parents, neighbors or even school teachers caught you cussing, for getting your mouth washed out. It was not used as an idiotic challenge by hoards of social media-wannabe-stars to stick in your mouth and try to eat.
            No, our challenges were called dares; like “I dare you to jump into the river.” Or “I dare you to climb to the top of that tree.” Or “I dare you to take a bite out of that dried up dog turd.” And if you were dared to do something then you had two course of action…you could decline and be called a “Yellow-bellied-coward.” Or you could accept the dare and then commence to work out the reward for completing said dare. The reward was usually an unchallenged dare to be named in the future. Sometimes it was money. Most of the time… we all just settled for the unchallenged dare. However; as kids who’d been handed healthy doses of ass whoopings from parents, we knew never to do stupid shit that would land us in the emergency room or dead. Nope, most of our dares were of the “who’s got the biggest balls”. Hell, I even took up a dare to jump a dirt bike over a thirty foot long pit just to impress a girl. Okay, the pit may have been ten feet long, but none of us had a tape measure at the time and it sure as hell looked thirty feet long at the time. But I did it. And, coincidentally, I got the girl but that is a tale for another day.

            I guess what I’m trying to say is that while it may have seemed at the time that life and limb were on the line, they never truly were.

            We grew up watching western movies, war movies, kung fu movies and the occasional musical. We were taught the plight of the Native Americans was terrible, Nazis and Russians were always bad that Sonny Chiba was a god of martial arts. To me, those truths still hold water to this day.

            There was no such thing as fake-news or alternative facts. There was right and wrong. Good and evil. That simple.

            Now, I know issues are not always black and white these days.  I know there are many shades of gray to stories. I learned this the hard way. Through experience. Through living my life, making mistakes and learning from them. I learned from talking with people, traveling to foreign lands and taking in their culture. From seeing good people get fucked over and bad people succeeding when they should have failed miserably. I’ve seen blind justice served to innocent people and mercy shown to the guilty and I’ve been on the receiving end of both. Each and every time this has happened, I’ve been hurt me to my core.

            However; my premise for life has kept me going. That is perseverance, persistence, patience and pestering will get you far. The four “P’s” as I call them. But I digress…

            Lately though things have changed… and I don’t want to get political, and before you say “Skip you’re a left wing liberal or Skip, you’re a right wing nut.” I’ll tell you, I’m neither. I’ve not voted for a single presidential winner since Reagan. And, no, I didn’t vote for any Clinton ever. In the last election I voted for Gary Johnson. Why? Because I want my daughter and hopefully my grandchildren to have more than two choices for 1600 Pennsylvania. If asked to classify my political leanings I simply point to Thomas Jefferson.

            Everyone seems so angry today. If you don’t agree with someone they take offense. If you don’t wave or say hi to someone, they take offense. If you don’t smile, they take offense. If you’re mad and start screaming, you wind up in human resources or worse, on a bad youtube video that’s gone viral.

            Life and all its shit is no longer simple or private. You can’t be the miserable ass that you are for fear of being sent to sensitivity training. Then again, if you share too much, then you alienate yourself from everyone in your life. There seems to be a large gray area where you have to live and be happy.

            But we’re not happy are we?

            There are still bills, still relationships, still work, still politics… still life.

            We’re supposed to be happy about life. Supposed to be okay with the powers that be. Whether those powers are a boss, a spouse, a child or a politician. We are supposed to be happy. Well, I’m not happy. Not with what I see on the horizon.

            I see fear. I see forced decisions. I see fear. I see hate. I see misunderstanding. I see voices unheard by uncaring ears. I see orange skies at night (this is not a good thing). I see issues that were once black and white which have become gray going back to black and white. I see people hiding who they are in fear of being trivialized, ignored or worse… persecuted. I see nothing but bad.

            In 1986 I read “Atlas Shrugged” by “Ayn Rand” and I fell in love with the book. I quickly devoured everything she wrote and have revisited her works on numerous occasions even though I find some of her writing over-redundant. To this day I still believe in what her message was. However; I do believe that unfettered capitalism is just as bad as unfettered socialism. Before you get your panties in a wad, I also believe unfettered anything is a bad idea. The mental picture I keep in my head is a sweet toothed diabetic set free inside the Hershey chocolate factory. Everything is okay in moderation. Whether its candy or politics. Also remember, no one is always right and no one is always wrong. Just ask a broken clock.

            I suppose I need to wrap this up. I know it’s been a while since I’ve spoken with you, and I can drone on and on for what seems like eternity so I will leave you with this: I like how things used to be, where the idiocy of our youth was not represented by the leaders of our country regardless of what side of the aisle they sit on.

Have a great week.