Monday, December 31, 2012

The Tempest Thanks You

As 2012 comes to a close, a word of thanks is in order. A year ago I reported to you that this blog had received 8,500 page views in it’s first year of existence. Now I can report that in it’s second year, it has logged over 23,000 page views, 16,000 of those in the last six months.

These numbers are astonishing to me. This is basically a self-indulgent enterprise, where I get to write whatever happens to be on my mind. The fact that so many of you are interested enough to actually read it is an amazing thing. Kinda cool, truth be told. Since I still have the same number of “followers” as I had in 2011, the increased numbers must be due to many of you reposting my stuff elsewhere. Thank you for that.

After 300 blog entries, I’m sure that the more savvy among you have picked up on several annoying literary tics, occasional bad grammar, dangling modifiers, abysmal punctuation, etc.. Thank you for overlooking such amateurism. Others of you probably have engaged in much eye-rolling at my political views. Thank you for reading anyway. While I do believe that there is some truth to be found here, it’s not all truth. Some of my opinions have merit, some are prejudicial, and a few will no doubt be proven spectacularly wrong by coming events.

So, thanks again for bearing with me on this amazingly fun, surprisingly therapeutic experience I call “The Tempest”. Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

2013 New Years Resolutions...still trying

Three years ago I wrote what follows, my last attempt at a measurable set of resolutions. I had mixed results, to say the least. However, it was quite a good list and worthy of another try. Maybe if I keep publishing it, I might one day actually start checking a few things off as done. Although in fairness, I did landscape the yard!


"New Years Day is one of 365 days in a year, yet it produces in us a unique desire for reflection and self improvement. It is the turning of a page, a flipping of a calendar, a chance for a fresh start. Towards these ends, the New Years Resolution was born.

The beginning of a new year launches a thousand campaigns of self improvement from physical fitness to vows of sobriety. We promise ourselves to be better husbands, fathers, businessmen. We devote ourselves to greater levels of organization, more prudent spending and less junk food. By March the first, most of us are washing down a box of doughnuts with a beer while we rack our brains trying to remember where we put that letter from the bank informing us that we overdrew our checking account.

But no matter how spectacular our past failures have been, nothing stops us from making the effort. This year will be different, we tell ourselves, and mostly we believe it to be true, such is the genius of human deception. So, after much thought, here are my resolutions for 2013.

 
I could use less cynicism. It might be nice to look on the bright side every once in a while. It might help to be less critical, more empathetic, less of a smart-ass. My contentment level would probably rise if I was less obsessed with the future and more invested in the present. I should attempt to be a better listener, offer my opinions less frequently, and not hold those opinions in such high regard. I should pursue friendships with more vigor, hold grudges less tightly. I should spend more time in prayer. I should read the Bible more and the Drudge Report less. I should recommit myself to my hobbies, more golf and fishing, less excuses. Greater enthusiasm for my profession, more thankfulness, less fatalism. I need to escape the treadmill of politics since it only breeds frustration and resentment, and give the guys on the other side of the aisle the gift of my indifference. Cleaning out and organizing the attic and the garage would be a valuable use of my time. Replacing the countertops in the kitchen and making a sustained investment in landscaping the yard would be very popular expenditures, and earn me considerable good will. Maintaining my present weight would be wise. I should improve my dish washing skills and be more observant when emptying the dishwasher.

That’s a long and daunting list. Wish me luck.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

2013 Predictions!!

Three days left in 2012. That can only mean one thing. It’s time for my 2013 Predictions Blog. Perhaps no blog I write all year is as eagerly anticipated as this one. Cutting edge prognostication is always in demand in troubling times such as ours, and my stellar record speaks for itself. Last year, I absolutely nailed it with my prediction that 2012 would NOT bring peace to the Middle East, and that the US government would spend more money in 2012 than it did in 2011. Its that type of bold, fearless forecasting that my readers have come to expect. While it is true that I whiffed on a few last year, Kim Kardashian did NOT become a born again Christian on Joel Osteen’s TV show, and the New Orleans Saints did NOT win the Super Bowl, However, I will stack my record up against anybody. So now, without further delay, I present my stone cold, lead pipe lock predictions for 2013.

 

1. My life will be made a living hell beginning Sunday night when the Washington Redskins beat the Dallas Cowboys to win the NFC East title. The second most obnoxious fans on the planet will suddenly appear everywhere wearing Redskins hats, jackets, and t-shirts. The ubiquitous “HAIL” will dominate my news feed on Facebook. The insipidly infantile “Hail To The Redskins” fight song will haunt my dreams for the next three weeks or so as they make their way through the playoffs riding the arm and legs of RGIII all the way to the NFC championship game where they will finally, mercifully lose.

2. Due to the Keystone Cop incompetence of our elected officials in Washington, we will go over the fiscal cliff. Nothing terrible will happen. Then, when the new Congress gets back in town in January, a patchwork fix will be passed that restores the lower tax rates for most Americans. That way, Congressman Dinglehoff from Pennsylvania can run obnoxious campaign adds next November with the tagline…”Dinglehoff, a proven tax-cutter”

3. 2013 will have it’s share of natural disasters, a hurricane or two, tornados, assorted blizzards, floods, droughts heat waves, hail, humidity, and annoying morning fog. The New York Times will blame each of them on global warming.

4. A deranged knife salesman from Buffalo, New York will go on a Red-Bull fueled killing spree through a Starbucks on the campus of Canisius College. It will be the worst knife attack in the nation’s history, and after weeks of relentless demonization by MSNBC, Cutco Knives will file for bankruptcy.

5. In his 2013 State of the Union speech, President Obama will shatter his own personal pronoun record by referring to himself 115 times in the 52 minute address.

6. On his first day on the job, Secretary of State John Kerry will declare the United States the “worst country in the world” and open negotiations to turn over our sovereignty to France.

7. The Chinese government will purchase Hostess and bring back the Twinkee. In a twist, the new Twinkee will be filled not just with that yummy white goodness, but also a fortune.

8. After watching his Cowboys fail to make the playoffs yet again, owner Jerry Jones will trade Tony Romo, fire the entire coaching staff, name his son as the new coach, and install himself as the starting quarterback.

9. Chris Christie will compete in and win a special celebrity Biggest Loser by shedding an amazing 115 pounds. The spike in his favorable poll numbers will be short-lived however when its discovered that under all of that flab, he’s actually a Democrat.

10. Jealous of Quentin Tarantino’s success with making a spaghetti western about slavery, Steven Spielberg begins production of a new holocaust film done in a game show format.

11. Sometime around June the first, ABC World News Tonight will officially lose it’s very last viewer.

12. Speaker Boehner will disclose that he is dying of skin cancer. The next day Chuck Schumer will introduce legislation authorizing the purchase of three new state of the art tanning beds to be installed in the Republican gym.

13. Hugh Jackman will win the Oscar for best actor for his roll as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables. Jackman will sing his entire acceptance speech.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Christmas to Remember

Christmas at Linda’s was a raging success. I had secretly been dreading it for weeks. The cloud of my mother’s passing still hangs over my family, and when we are all together, her absence feels heavy and oppressive. Add the emotion of Christmas to the mix and well, I wasn’t counting down the days.

It couldn’t possibly have gone any better. Linda was amazing. The house looked great, so festive and full of fun. We were crammed in there like sardines but the presence of so many little children diverted everyone’s attention from the congestion, and right before the blessing, Linda addressed the elephant in the room with eloquent grace. Yes, she said, we all miss Mom terribly. But we are all together on one of her favorite days of the year, so let us rejoice and be glad in it. Everyone took a breath and then Dad led us all in prayer. You couldn’t miss him. He was wearing a smart new striped shirt with a bright red sweater vest. Best looking 88 year old of all time. Every girl crazy ‘bout a sharp dressed man, I believe the expression goes.

It should be pointed out here that the Dunnevant family is a musical tribe. At any gathering of more than 5 or 6 of us something musical usually happens. But yesterday we took it to the extreme. We broke out in song more often than the cast of “Glee”. First there was Cameron’s understated performance of “Old Toy Trains”. Then there was a marathon carol sing with yours truly playing the guitar and Paula pitching everything as an alto and Donnie insisting that Joy To The World should only be sung in the key of F…shhheeesh, everybody knows that! Then later there was Donnie’s yearly performance of the Ray Stephens classics, Santa Claus is Watching You and the politically incorrect Ahab the Arab.

Towards the end of the night, my brother shared a song that he had written three days after Mom died. It was written from her perspective and included the often repeated line, “don’t cry for me”. After he finished, my father, who had been largely quiet suddenly spoke in a surprisingly strong voice, “I don’t cry for her. But I do cry for me!” We all fell silent as he continued. “She was with me for 65 years. It’s hard to let her go.”

Leave it to my Dad to tell the unvarnished truth. Whenever people have said to me that my Mom is in a better place, I have wanted to yell, “Yeah, but I’m not!” To hear Dad say it, to know that he feels it, helped me let go of a bit of guilt, the guilt of insufficient faith.

Once again, Dad leads. We follow.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas, And The Great Hair Fire Of '98

Yesterday, I was at church reading the scripture of the day on my iPhone app, when I received a text message from my son. Wow. I just reread that sentence and thought how just ten years ago it would have made absolutely no sense. Anyway,…the text informed me that there had been a wreath fire at Patrick’s church that morning that required a fire extinguisher to put out. It had plunged that Episcopal congregation into much chaos and tumult. When I got this news I immediately thought about a similar episode years ago that involved my Mother. The Great Hair Fire of ’98, it has been called by all those who witnessed it. Since I was a mere 6 rows away from the action, I can give an accurate account of the thing, although my sisters might dispute a detail or two. Linda and Paula cannot be depended on to tell a tale without distortions and embellishments, while my finely tuned detectives’ eye for detail and photographic memory is much more trustworthy. Besides, I have a blog, and they do not.

It was in December. The church in Chester, Virginia was festively adorned with Christmas finery and the small sanctuary was bathed in candle light. At the alter there was one sturdy hand carved table. This particular church didn’t have much of an alter. There was no kneeling rail, no steps, just the one table which usually displayed a large opened bible, but today was covered with several huge honking candles. These babies were serious candles, meant to provide light for years. They were as big around as a baseball bat and nearly two feet high. They gave off a prodigious flame actually providing warmth to everyone in the first two rows.

When dad finished his sermon, he issued an alter call and the congregation began singing “Just As I Am”. My Mother was the only person in the building who felt moved by the spirit to go to the alter. She stood close to the table on the right and bowed her head to pray. My Dad was several steps in front of her to her left, and was anxiously scanning the congregation for troubled souls when it all happened.

My Mother, like many women of her generation, had a fondness for hair spray. Not just any hair spray, it had to be Aqua Net, in the tall purple and white ozone-depleting aerosol can. Mom would cover her hair with a thick blast of Aqua Net and her hair could withstand a Category 5 hurricane. Of course, I loved it when she threw away the empty cans because there was always a couple of blasts left that I would spray onto a lit candle in the back yard to impress my buddies. The three foot long flames that would blaze out from the can were great fun, and the fact that neither I nor any of my buddies were ever incinerated is evidence of God’s grace and protective care.

Mom stood at the alter table deep in prayer and contemplation, her head bowed in solemn piety when suddenly her hair nodded an inch too close to one of the candles, and just like in the back yard her hair suddenly became engulfed in flame! A gasp shot through the crowd as my Dad, with cat quick reflexes began slapping Mom’s head with his hand. One slap, two slaps, three slaps, and it was out. The whole thing was over in five seconds, the only evidence that it had happened at all being a brief powerful whiff of seared hair and Aqua Net. Mom barely moved the entire time so intensely focused on her prayer was she that not even her head catching on fire could distract her from her mission.

What I remember the most about The Great Hair Fire of ‘98 was that although it was potentially a very dangerous thing, I couldn’t stop laughing. It is a terrible thing to be in church with an uncontrollable case of the giggles, especially when it’s your own Mom whose hair caught on fire, but there I was in row 6 desperately trying to stifle a torrent of belly laughs. But in the end Mom was saved by Dad’s heroic action, and after a quick trip to the beauty parlor, Mom’s hair was as good as new. Christmas was saved and now through this blog, the legend is preserved for eternity.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Present Balancing and Christmas Without Mom

Something weird is going on here at Dunnevant Christmas Central. Yesterday afternoon, December 21, instead of being incinerated by the world ending meteor foretold by the Mayans, Pam and I were wrapping the kids’ presents. Four full days before Christmas, Pam and I were done shopping. That’s a Dunnevant family record.

For all of you veteran parents out there, have you ever noticed that as your kids get bigger, their presents get smaller? In the old days we would spend half the night cursing at the assembly instructions for some huge plastic thing that one of the kids just had to have. Now, everything they want comes in small, sleek boxes, light as a feather. Wrapping this stuff is a breeze. But then we put it all under the tree and we look at each other and ask, “Wait, is that it?”

Some things never change though. Each year Pam has to lay their stuff out on our king sized bed, Patrick’s stuff to the left and Kaitlin’s to the right. There has to be an even number of presents. If there isn’t, one of us is making a midnight run to Target. Here’s how the conversation usually goes:

Pam: Look at how much more area Patrick’s stuff takes up.

Me: That’s just because his stuff is bulkier. They have the same number of presents.

Pam: Yes, but it looks unfair.

Me: Huh?

Or this classic exchange:

Pam: Kaitlin has two more gifts than Patrick does.

Me: Yes, but we spent the exact same amount of money on them both.

Pam: Yes, but Kaitlin will be opening two more presents than Patrick.

Me: Yes, but it doesn’t matter because we love them the same.

Pam: Doesn’t matter? It most certainly does matter.

Me: Honey, I can show you the receipts. We spent the exact same amount of money on them.

Pam: This isn’t about money, it’s about appearances.

Me: Wait,…what?

Pam: I know, I can put Kaitlin’s earrings inside her Vera Bradley bag. That will eliminate one extra present, and then you can go to Target and buy Patrick a Chipotle gift card.

Me: Yeah, but that will mean that we will have spent more money on Patrick.

Pam: Yes, but it will come out even.

Me: ………….OooooK

 

Something else feels different about Christmas this year. My mother isn’t here. It’s difficult to imagine what it will be like when we all get together for Christmas dinner without her. All of us will be there, my brother and his family, my two sisters and their families. Dad will be there. But this year it’s going to be at Linda’s house. That will be different too.

There have been several times this Christmas season when I have missed Mom, times when I have felt her loss more acutely. It’s always the strangest things that stir up the most powerful emotions. The other day I was walking into Mom and Dad’s house. Right at the door there is a cabinet to the right. I looked at it and noticed that nothing was sitting on the top. I thought of that terribly tacky mechanized Santa Claus that Mom used to put at the door, the one where if you pushed the button he would start dancing and playing “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”. The fact that it wasn’t there washed a wave of sadness over me.

There have been many odd moments like that this season. But, although I’m sure that Christmas morning at Linda’s will have it’s sad moments, I can’t remember a Christmas where I am more anxious to be with the family than this year. Part of me wants to avoid it all together, but the other part wants to spend all day with them.  Losing Mom and caring for Dad these past five months has brought me closer to them. We have always loved each other, but this year seems different, same love, but much more respect, much more appreciation.

So, this year Mom is in heaven, and we are all left with the next best thing…Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Very Good Day

Six days before Christmas, and I finally did some shopping yesterday. As it happens, that is something of a record for me, a monument to planning and foresight. I am famous for going to the bank, withdrawing a wad of Ben Franklin’s and hitting the mall on Christmas Eve morning. I do this not because I am forgetful, or unorganized, but rather because I always wait for inspiration. I prefer getting caught up in the Christmas spirit, and lavishing those I love with all their hearts desires by spending way too much money. It’s the one time every year where I spend money like a politician, without conscience or remorse. This year has been different. I watch the news, and read the dispatches from Washington, and a small voice inside my head says that maybe I should be careful, hold on to a little more of my money. The bad guys up there are crazy, and they are coming for it.

So, this year, more caution, more practicality, less impulsiveness. It sucks.

Yesterday was a good day though. I bought some stuff for Pam which always gets me in a good mood. I noticed the kids more this year. I saw them with their frantic mothers and grandmothers, and I was thankful. I thought about Newtown and wondered how horrible the empty houses will be on Christmas morning. Kaitlin comes home today, Patrick not until the wee hours of Christmas morning. I won’t be at rest until they are both asleep in their beds.

Then I went to a Christmas lunch. It was in a nice private room at Hondo’s. I was surrounded by the people I have worked with for the better part of twenty five years. My business partners, their wives, and three of their children were there. I remember them when they were five. It doesn’t seem possible that they are now grown people. There was even a four month old, a beautiful, peaceful little guy. To have made it nearly thirty years in a profession, and to actually love those who work with you is a gift. I looked around that room and realized that I have managed to surround myself with quite a group of good and decent people, no small feat.

Then Pam and I headed down to Christmas Town. This time we sailed in, practically had the place to ourselves. The music, the lights, the shows, all worth every penny, even worth a second attempt to get in.

A very good day.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The End Of The World

The end of the world is two days away, so if I’m going to blog about it, I better get cracking. My Mom always taught me that every dark cloud has a silver lining, that happiness in life depended on one’s ability to find that island of good in the sea of bad. The last six months of my life have put Mom’s proverb to the test, Newtown the latest storm stirred up by the ill-winds of that sea. But certainly the end of the world would finally prove Mom wrong. What silver lining could there possibly be to the catastrophic death of every living thing on the planet?

Well, it turns out that after a little thought, this Mayan Apocalypse isn’t all bad. If December 21st is really the last call for mankind, there is a bright side. In no particular order, here are a few.

 

1. The United States will not go over the Fiscal Cliff

2. Joe Biden will never become President

3. The SEC will go into eternity on a six-year National Championship winning streak.

4. The Washington Redskins will not make the playoffs.

5. All of my creditors will get the shaft.

6. I will never again have to write a five figure check to the IRS.

7. I won’t have to worry about the professional embarrassment of outliving my retirement savings.

8. I won’t have to spend $500 bucks replacing two tires that won’t pass inspection on my Cadillac in March.

9. The Yankees will never win another World Series.

10. Hillary Clinton will never become President.

11. We will finally end our dependence on foreign oil.

12. I will never again have to drive on 95 North.

13. I will be spared the insufferable sophistry of the coming gun control debate.

14. Abortions will end.

15. Sarah Palin will never become President.

16. I will never have to suffer the indignity of living in a country without Saturday mail delivery.

17. It turns out that I won’t have lived to regret not backing up my computer.

18. The fact that I never really was a consistent flosser won’t end up causing me to lose my teeth.

19. The world will finally be free of the Kardashians.

20. I will never be reduced to tears watching a Hollywood remake of Casablanca starring Zac Efron as Rick.

 

Still, even though mankind will have dodged this impressive list of bullets if the world ends Friday, I’ll still be disappointed about a few things…

1. No Grandchildren

2. Never got a novel published.

3. Never made it to Italy with my family.

4. Never built that lake house in Maine.

 

Stupid Mayans!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Newtown, Connecticut

It was a bright, clear day in Bath Township, Michigan. The students at Bath Consolidated Elementary school were counting down the days until summer vacation. Just outside of town, Andrew Kehoe began his day by bashing in his wife’s head with a shovel. He placed her dead body in a wheel barrow and rolled her into the barn out back. He then set the barn on fire. Just before the fire trucks arrived, he remotely detonated a bomb that he had spent the better part of six months assembling at Bath Consolidated. As the stunned rescue squads and fire crews began arriving at the school, Kehoe drove his car into the midst of them and set off his car bomb with a single shot from a Remington rifle he had purchased two days prior. When all the dust had settled, there would be 38 school children dead, 6 adults dead, and an additional 58 injured. News organizations didn’t ask questions about what social pathology was to blame for this horrific crime. No one thought to blame the decaying culture, violent movies, the insidious influence of video games, or lax gun laws. In fact, the nation wasn’t moved very much at all to lobby their elected officials for remedies. There were no live reports from the scene, no 24/7 blanket coverage, no interviews with grieving parents. No one suggested that the killer had a mental illness, or was the victim of a bad economy, or lacked education or opportunity. That’s because the killer was 55 years old and the President of the Bath Township school board, and this unimaginable horror took place on May 18, 1927.

The writer of Ecclesiastes said it best 3000 years ago, “…there is nothing new under the sun.”

I watched the terrible story from Newtown, Connecticut unfold yesterday for much of the afternoon. I switched back and forth between CNN and Fox. I became sick to my stomach. I felt the need to drive over to check on Pam at her school. Even though as an American, this sort of thing has become all too routine, this one felt different. Maybe it was the fact that the victims this time were children. They never had a chance. The longer I watched, the more despair I felt. By the time the President made his brief statement, I noticed that my hands were shaking. I watched him catch himself, looking rattled and anguished. He was processing this not as the President, but as a father, and I felt for him.

The first reaction of some of my friends on Facebook was a call for political action of some sort, tougher gun laws, or banning guns all together. Part of me sympathizes with them. Much was made of the fact that half way across the world in China a 38 year old man had knifed 22 kids at a school, the point being that even in a country where gun ownership is punishable by death, crazy people still find ways to do crazy things. But, 22 knife victims, all of whom survived, sounded a lot batter to me yesterday than 20 dead 7 year olds.

 

I don’t own a gun. I have never fired a handgun. When I was a teenager I hunted a little with rifles and shotguns, but as an adult I have never had the desire or felt the need to own a gun. I’m not a zealot on the subject of the second amendment one way or the other. But when I hear people say that these types of crimes wouldn’t happen if we outlawed gun ownership, I have my doubts. There are currently over 270 million firearms legally owned and registered by U.S. citizens. My question is, how do you gun control advocates suggest that we confiscate these guns from their legal owners? The guns used in Newtown yesterday were all legally purchased, with background checks etc. The last time our government tried to criminalize a formerly legal and widely accepted activity cold turkey was Prohibition, and history tells the sorry tale of how that turned out.

I heard a commentator suggest that maybe we have gotten to the place where we can’t handle our freedoms any longer, so they should be handled for us. Watching the events of yesterday gives me great sympathy for that argument….until I think it through to it’s logical conclusion. The only thing that frightens me more than living in a country with 270 million privately owned firearms in circulation, is the thought of living in a country where only my government and criminals have access to guns. After all, every totalitarian government in history has had one thing in common,… an unarmed population.

Still, I think of the horror in the eyes of those precious children as a twenty year old man stands in front of them firing a Glock point blank, and something inside me dies, and a place in my broken heart wants to destroy every gun ever made.

We live in a Therapeutic Age. We have bought in to the conceit that no human pathology exists that cannot be mollified by the right combination of medication, psychoanalysis and government program. But history tells me that there lies within the human heart the awful capacity for evil. We are children of the fall, in desperate need of redemption. There exists no pill that can cure us of our inclination towards sin and rebellion.

 

One of my friends on Facebook observed that while offers of prayers were all well and good, they served only to make the one offering the prayer feel better, but did little real good. His preferred remedy was political action. He is young. I will allow him his naivetĂ©. But there is nothing in this universe that will do less good and serve only to make us feel better than yet another law. The great human disease can’t be cured by the stroke of a politicians’ pen. Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves with his Emancipation Proclamation, but our hearts are still enslaved by racism. Thousands of statutes live in dusty books outlawing every conceivable human cruelty, yet that cruelty marches on in defiance. The human race is in open rebellion against our Creator. When I am exposed to the fruits of that rebellion, the only thing that makes any sense to me is the grace of Jesus Christ.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Cornball Brother?

Excuse me, but I need a little help from my younger, hipper friends. What exactly is a “cornball brother”?

Yesterday, some guy on ESPN named Rob Parker expressed his concerns about Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, and whether he was REALLY black or merely a “cornball brother”. It seems that Mr. Parker has heard rumors that RGIII is a Republican, and this rumor, when added to the fact of his white fiancĂ©e adds up to a suspicion that he might not be “one of us”. This exchange was aired not on some backwoods radio talk show in Texas, but on a national broadcast of the most popular sports television network in America.

The fact that I feel compelled to come to the defense of a member of the Redskins pains me more than you could possibly know. However, when I hear this sort of thing I seriously feel like giving up, like maybe it’s time to walk away from even trying to deal with the subject of race. Why bother?

Think for a minute about what Mr. Parker is suggesting. In Robert Griffin III we have an amazingly gifted athlete, a leader of men, an accomplished student from a fine university, a man of sterling reputation who is universally respected by his peers. But the only thing that Mr. Parker can find to like about him is his braided hairstyle because, “that’s more like a real brother.”

Apparently the reason for Parker’s angst was RGIII’s answer to a question that he had been asked a day before about his race, identity and career. The troublesome answer that set Parker’s racial antenna atwitter was as follows:

For me, you never want to be defined by the color of your skin. You want to be defined by your work ethic, your character, your personality. That’s what I’ve tried to go out and do.”

So, Mr. Parker doesn’t like the fact that RGIII is trying to live out the vision of Martin Luther King.

Would Mr. Parker feel better about RGIII if he had a few arrests under his belt? Would he be more accepting if he didn’t speak with such erudition and perfect grammar? Maybe he would feel more comfortable with him if he were into dog-fighting?

RGIII is not a credit to his race. He is a credit to the human race, especially that fraction of whom play professional sports. There shouldn’t be a father alive who wouldn’t give anything if their sons turned out like Robert Griffin III. But in today’s race culture, he’s not black enough, to the point where he is called a “cornball brother” on national television.

I give up.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A New Christmas Carol

As of 7:40 on Thursday morning the 13th of December, 2012, I officially have stopped caring about the fiscal cliff. I am now convinced that we are being governed by the biggest collection of self indulgent losers ever assembled in a single government since Commodus’ Roman Senate. The fiscal cliff is a completely manufactured crisis, and the manufacturers are the very same politicians who now wring their hands that we have reached such a perilous moment. This is always how it works with government. Politicians line their own pockets crafting an unreadable Byzantine tax code, then express shock, SHOCK that corporations devise legal means to avoid paying those taxes. French politicians jack up taxes to 75% on millionaires and are appalled to learn that those millionaires are applying for citizenship in Belgium. My personal favorite was when good old Ted Kennedy rammed through a huge tax on yachts so he could stick it to the rich only to run for cover two years later when the boat manufacturers in his home state filed for bankruptcy and laid off 7500 workers. Oops.

So, I’m done. The fiscal cliff is a phony-baloney, plastic banana, good-time rock and roll piece of political theatre that means nothing. Less than nothing. Go over the cliff, or work out a deal, it matters not a whit. There isn’t one man or woman in Washington DC with a plan to balance the budget and pay down our 16 trillion dollar debt. Not one. All the pseudo-plans out there are just schemes designed to get us to disaster at a slower pace. So, it turns out that we have elected the politicians we deserve. We tell them that we want our taxes to remain low while also telling them that we want the government to solve all of our problems. Our political schizophrenia has wrought this fiscal cliff, and there isn’t a Psychiatrist in sight.

In honor of this dysfunction, I have taken it upon myself to rewrite the lyrics to one of my favorite Christmas carols, “Caroling, Caroling” :

 

Pandering, pandering, here we go

Fiscal cliffs are calling

Groveling, groveling, to and fro

Fiscal cliffs are calling

Democrats are full of cheer

Republicans all need a beer

Ding Dong, Ding Dong

Fiscal cliffs are calling

 

Biden and Geithner don’t have a clue

Fiscal cliffs are calling

Nancy Pelosi is clueless too

Fiscal cliffs are calling

Chairman Ben will crank the press

Our kids will have to clean the mess

Ding Dong, Ding Dong

Fiscal cliffs are calling

 

Speaker Boehner has got the flu

Fiscal cliffs are calling

It’s just as well, he’s such a tool

Fiscal cliffs are calling

Obama wants to tax and spend

Mitch McConnell wears Depends

Ding Dong, Ding Dong

Fiscal cliffs are calling

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My Brother

Tomorrow is my brother’s birthday. The IRS knows him as Donald A. Dunnevant. His friends know him as Don, but to everyone in his family, he has always been and always will be…Donnie. He is ten years older than me, the oldest of my three siblings and my only brother. A few observations.

When I was a kid, Donnie was some kind of Greek god to me, a magical combination of Mickey Mantle, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Paul McCartney. He was this larger than life figure who I worshipped. Even though I was ten years younger, and constantly under foot, he always had time for me. He taught me how to play baseball. He would hit me ground balls until dark in the summertime. We would listen to Frank Soden’s play-by-play accounts of the Richmond Braves and recreate them in our back yard. He taught me how to switch hit, how to run the bases, and why it was so important to hit the cut-off man.

Donnie had this unnatural, freakish musical talent that allowed him to play the piano by ear. Everything he heard on the radio once he could play on the piano. Mostly what he listened to on the radio was the Beatles. He became obsessed with them. Still is to this day. He made sure that I became a huge fan too. He brought home a beat up old guitar from college one summer and bought a new one with the money he made working at a concrete plant all summer. When he went back to school that fall, he left the beat up one at home. By that time it only had five strings. He taught me three chords, then disappeared again for his sophomore year. Playing the guitar became the only thing I ever learned how to do better than my brother. Well, that and golf, and maybe I turned out to be a better dresser…maybe.

As we both grew up, the Greek god thing went away. I found out that he wasn’t perfect. Like any brother, he had knuckleheaded moments. When his first marriage ended he was devastated and was made to endure several bleak years. I watched him suffer through all of it without ever losing his optimism. I marveled that he didn’t just run away, leave everything behind and start fresh somewhere 5,000 miles and a thousand faces removed from the mess. But he stayed. He worked every imaginable job, often several at a time just so he could eat. I no longer worshipped him, but his fallibility had produced in me a deep respect. I became profoundly proud of him for his amazing toughness. He took whatever life threw at him and threw it right back.

Eventually he built a new life for himself, met a wonderful woman, and had a fourth child, a son. Now he slings mail for the Postal service in Gaithersburg, Maryland, surrounded by a bunch of worthless Marxists, the lone voice of reason in a building full of slackers.

Donnie is the only one of the four of us who doesn’t live within twenty minutes of Dad, so he isn’t able to share in the daily care. But every night at 6 o’clock, my father’s phone rings, and it’s Donnie calling, wanting to know all about Dad’s day.

If ever a manual is written about how to be a good brother, Donnie’s picture will be on the flyleaf. He always had time for me, never made me feel like an annoyance, although more often than not, I was. Coolest. Brother. Ever.

Happy Birthday Bud!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Two Concerts

There are two concerts on the Dunnevant calendar this evening. The first will take place at Carnegie Hall where my Son will perform for the second time in as many months. This time the work will be Cantata Criolla by Antonio Estevez and Choros no.10 by Villa-Labos with the Simon Bolivar Orchestra of Venezuela conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. I don’t know about you, but I feel more cultured just having written that sentence!

The second concert will take place at the famed Atlee High School Gymnasium where the Chickahominy Middle School Band under the direction of a very nice man who also teaches Algebra will perform some awesome Christmas music along with at least one Jewish song in a minor key. My nephew Isaac Nunn will be playing a killer trumpet solo at some point in the program.

Isaac’s dad will be driving like a maniac from two hours away where he is stuck on business to make sure he’s there for his Son. I will not be taking the train to New York like I did last time Patrick sang at Carnegie. But I will be there in spirit.

One of these concerts will be reviewed in tomorrow morning’s New York Times. The other will soon be forgotten, but not by a particularly handsome trumpet player, or his proud family.

Such is the joy of music.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Epic Date Night Fail!!

It all started with me getting an idea. Pam and I had had a really trying couple of weeks. Date night was coming up. I finally had more than 15 cents in the checking account. “I know!!”, I thought. “I’ll surprise her with a trip down to Christmas Town at Busch Gardens!!” A perfect idea. Romantic, beautiful night, a road trip, Christmas spirit everywhere. What could possibly go wrong? As date night ideas go, this was a win-win.

It was 65 degrees when we left the house at 3:15 in the afternoon. Although its tough knowing how to dress in this kind of weather, at least we wouldn’t be freezing our tails off like the first time I took her to Christmas Town. That was three years ago, and from everything I’d heard, the thing has gotten bigger and better every year since. The lights were going to be amazing. Pam had even downloaded a Christmas Town app that gave us all the details on the great shows that we couldn’t wait to see. There was the traditional Jingle Bell music of “Deck The Halls“, and a show telling the real Christmas story called “Gloria“. They even had a song and dance show for atheists called, “The Santa Claus Is A Capitalist Tool And Jesus Is A Myth Extravaganza“, performed by some outfit called the Pagan Players. (Just kidding) We were getting stoked!

We sailed down 295 onto 64 east without a hitch. Pam tuned the radio to Lite 98 to hear Christmas Music. Of course, they were still going full throttle with their “sob-a-thon” fund raiser for the Children’s Hospital, but eventually they began to play the standards. We started playing this game where we tried to name the artist to every new tune. I’m great at that game so it was no contest. A particularly beautiful rendition of “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” came on, sung by a soulful female voice. I said, “That’s either Lena Horne or Ella Fitzgerald.” Pam answered, “Lena Horne”. About the time that the little scrolling song and artist identifier thing revealed that it was Ella, I noticed a sea of red taillights ahead of me. After a couple of minutes 64 had become a parking lot. The sign up ahead said, “ Busch Gardens 1.5 miles”. I glanced at the clock. 4:10.

No reason to panic. Hey, it’s a popular attraction, beautiful night, lots of people anxious to see the beautiful lights and get into the Christmas spirit. We were in no hurry. It’s not a race, after all, just two people looking for a nice romantic night and some quality time together. Lite 98’s reception began to crackle and pop. No problem. Pam cranked up the Pandora Christmas station on the old smart phone. 4:25.

The car directly in front of us was one of those huge four wheel drive buses that rich west end women drive all over the place. The Denali, Escalade-type thing is perhaps the most useless vehicle ever made seeing as how the chances that one of these women will ever take it off-road are about as high as my chances of winning a Pulitzer Prize. However, this particular Titantic sized beast was performing a helpful service since it was blocking my view of the road ahead. Therefore, I couldn’t actually see just how terribly doomed we were. Ignorance is bliss. 4:40.

Wow, I thought. It’s been thirty minutes, and we still haven’t made it to the exit. Maybe there’s an accident. I must remain calm. Don’t want to ruin the mood by becoming “Angry-Driver Guy”. That would be a huge date night buzz-kill. Just listen to the festive music and hold Pam’s hand reassuringly. 4:50.

“At least it will be dark when we get there so we’ll be able to see the lights right away”, I offered with a nervous laugh. Suddenly the duplex on wheels in front of us bolted out of line. Then the enormity of what we were facing was laid bare before our eyes. A snaking double line of taillights stretched out in blurred intensity for another half a mile, all the way to the $14 parking toll plaza. There was a flashing light that screamed out something about the possibility that the parking lot might reach capacity, in which case no reentry would be allowed. What? Why would anyone want to do this twice? Reentry?

I was in the right lane. The left lane naturally moved consistently, while we right laners would sit for 40, 50 seconds at a time with no progress whatsoever. Typical. I never pick the right lane. At fast food joints, I always pick the lane with all the indecisive people. “Get the combo, you idiot!!” At the movies when I want some popcorn, I always pick the line with the spaced out slow-motion hipster guy with the ironic eyes and the earlobe plug the size of Rhode Island. Now, I had picked the right lane, the one that was absorbing the incoming traffic from 60. In a flash of desperation and, I admit, the beginnings of panic, I made a bold lane change when the driver of a van in the left lane made the mistake of sending one too many texts. Now, we were going places baby! Steadily inching forward at a robust 8 miles per hour. 5:10.

We were so close now, we could taste it. I rolled down the window with my twenty dollar bill at the ready. The toll collector was a matronly woman with white hair and an expression of practiced nonchalance. 5:20.

Wait. What was happening? Several frantic people in glowing orange vests were waiving their arms wildly as they ran out in front of the toll booth. Several cars with flashing roof top lights appeared a hundred yards ahead. Men materialized with traffic cones. Our white-haired toll-collector was not impressed. “That’s it,” she said. “They’re full.” 5:25.

It had taken us an hour and 15 minutes to move 2 miles and when I finally reach the promised land I am denied admittance. Now I’m the first guy in line to begin the u-turn onto the service road to go back home. I am literally the first reject. Ever the optimist, my wife says, “ Actually this will work out fine honey. Says here that these tickets are good until December 31st. We can come back one day next week when I’m not working. Traffic will probably be a breeze on a Tuesday.”

This is what happens when well-meaning husbands get ideas. I was able to save the day by making a last second decision to head into Colonial Williamsburg. We got a table on the patio at Berret’s under the propane heaters. Cheesy grits with shrimp and boneless ribs, an admittedly odd combination, but one that worked well. Duke of Gloucester street was lovely, and date night was saved.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Terrible Dream

Last night, I awoke at 1:30 from a horrific dream involving a dead family member. There was much hysterical crying and such depth of feeling, that I bolted upright in bed covered with sweat. They say that we dream every night but forget them all when we wake up. Well, I will not soon forget this one. Of course, I look over at Pam and she’s laying there enjoying the peaceful sleep of the just, like every night, oblivious to my terror. So, I got up, and walked down stairs to get some water and shake it off.

Molly was no help, dead asleep, acknowledging me only with a couple of feeble tail wags. I drank my water. Now I was wide awake in a completely dark house. I go back upstairs to my office, sit down at the computer and ask the Facebook universe, “ What does one do at 1:48 in the morning.” The answer was self-evident, in the year 2012, one surfs the internet.

It’s always a dicey thing for a parent to post a comment on their kids’ walls. The danger of embarrassing them is very high, the probability of annoying their friends even higher. Earlier in the day my son had posted a picture of an “atheist Christmas tree”. It was a tree-shaped frame consisting of books with a banner hanging in the background with the word “knowledge” in huge letters. Some of the titles featured Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagen, and other atheist luminaries. Patrick’s comment was “ So this is how atheists decorate Christmas trees…” I thought it was a funny picture. I noticed that the shot had cut off the top of the tree so I couldn’t resist a snaky observation as follows:

“ Ok, the picture cuts off at the top. What’s up there? The hammer and sickle?”

Now, as humor goes, it was a poor effort, I admit. But at least it was an effort. Well, now at 2 o’clock in the morning I notice that one of Patrick’s friends has responded with eye-rolling disgust…”..because all atheists are also communists”.

Man-o-man. Must the death of faith always be accompanied by the death of humor? Thoroughly chastened, I resisted the urge to take the bait. I immediately regretted saying anything in the first place. A less evolved parent, or the me of ten years ago, may well have shot back with:

“ Oh, I’m terribly sorry. It’s not that all atheist are communists, it’s that all communists are atheist. I always get that mixed up. My bad.”

But, it was 2 am, so I let it go. I suppose its fine for atheists to assume that all believers are against “knowledge”, as this display powerfully suggests, but positively Neanderthal for us knuckle-dragging Christians to drop the “C” bomb. Ok, I get it. Lesson learned.

After an hour or so of Facebook, ESPN.com, and the latest gossip from the hot stove league, I was ready to give sleep another try. After tossing and turning for thirty minutes or so, and marveling at the picture-perfect sleeping form of my wife, I finally drifted off to sleep. When I finally awoke, it was 8:45, the latest I have slept in over a year. My mother would have been appalled. Half the day was gone. I feel cheated. Now I can’t eat breakfast without screwing up lunch. All because of a dream. Pam reminds me that there is a solution to this problem. It’s called…brunch!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Silent Night, Holy Night

http://www.facebook.com/v/1173550190130





Many years ago, when Vander Warner was Pastor at Grove Avenue, I was asked to play Silent Night at a Christmas Eve service. The lights were dimmed, and as I played, everyone would light a candle. Tradition tells us that the original performance of this song back in 1816 in Germany was performed in this way. Well, three years ago, Patrick insisted that I play it for him to record on his i-phone so he could post it on Facebook. Despite the sound of the dryer running in the backgroud, I think it turned out pretty well.  I publish it here to get everyone in the Christmas spirit as we begin the weekend.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

RG III, Andrew Luck, and Russell Wilson

Every year a study comes out that grades the big athletic universities’ ability to graduate their “student athletes.” And every year, the schools that get terrible grades make excuses. The “student athlete” model is broken, they say. Schools make so much money on their star players, they should be paid, they say. The fact that they get only free tuition, room and board, and an opportunity for a life changing education is insulting, they say. Big time college sports are nothing more than a training ground for the pros, they say. We should get over our insistence that a guy who represents a university should be required to actually attend, and complete his class work, we are told.

There are three rookie quarterbacks in the NFL this year who beg to differ. First, there’s the local kid, Russell Wilson, who incidentally once beaned my son in a Tuckahoe little league game. Russell graduated from N.C. State with a 4.0 GPA in business administration while juggling football AND baseball responsibilities. Then there’s Robert Griffin III who completed his degree work in Political Science at Baylor in only three years while competing in big time college football. His GPA? 3.67. Last but not least, Andrew Luck graduated on time with a 3.48 GPA in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University.

The fact that these three gentlemen are experiencing great success in the NFL should come as no surprise. They have a proven track record of accomplishment. They have proven that they possess discipline. They understand time management. They understand the importance of study. Does anyone doubt that if these young men were to suffer some career-ending injury, that all three would go on to be successes in some other endeavor?

Without hesitation, I would point out to you that two of the three men I just named are African-American. I bring this up because one of the implicit, if unstated, arguments against the student athlete model is that it expects too much from the overwhelming number of African-American athletes who excel in college sports. As a famous man once said, this is the soft bigotry of low expectations. I submit that we expect too little of our athletes, not too much. The assumption that black athletes aren’t smart enough to make it through college is an outrageous lie. Yes, many of them come from disadvantaged backgrounds, many without fathers. While it may be unreasonable to expect every athlete to be on the Dean’s list, it is not unreasonable to expect a good faith attempt to learn, improve, and to better oneself as a student. If I were an African American student athlete, it would infuriate me that most people assume me to be too stupid to pass an English Literature exam, while my dumb-as-a-post white teammate is assumed to be a scholar.

I’m sure I will get a lecture from some of you about what a money-grabbing institution the NCAA is and how much of a crime it is that they exist to exploit the athlete. It’s true. But I personally believe in the redemptive power of an education, and the fact that it’s value is so undervalued in this calculation is the real crime. The fact that the average football, or basketball career, if it happens at all, is less than four years, should illustrate the importance of a degree. Instead, one and done coaches flatter themselves as “dream facilitators”. The only thing they are really facilitating is their next obscene contract extension.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Amazing Grace?

Maybe it’s the weather. It’s 75 freaking degrees in December. Maybe it’s my personal business slump. Maybe it’s sitting in the hospital with my Dad since last Thursday. Whatever it is, I just had an epiphany. Here it is: we are all sinners, selfish, mean-spirited, despicable sinners.

I was reading a commentary about the controversy surrounding Susan Rice, her handling of the Benghazi information and her fitness for the job of Secretary of State. After the article there were around 150 comments. I made the dreadful mistake of reading them.

The article itself touched on several different themes, but it’s primary focus was basically Republican criticism of Rice and Democratic accusations of racism being the primary cause of the criticism. The comment section covered these topics but also wandered into the fever swamps of affirmative action, and feminism.

What a bunch of miserable people we have become. Now, I am fully aware that the comment thread of a political website doesn’t exactly qualify as a representative sample of the American population. The very fact that you’re on a political website, let alone that you took the time to write a comment, probably means that you are a partisan outlier. Nevertheless, the level of discourse I found was so hot, so untethered from reality, so bitterly unreasonable. It was like driving by a terrible car wreck. I just couldn’t stop reading, and the more I read, the more I was convinced of the existence of sin.

I read that article with an opinion, that the author managed to validate. I believed his points to be sound and reasonable. But when I read the comments, even those who agreed with mine, I was shocked at the venom, the bitter acrimony, the accusations of treasonous intent. It was as if nobody on either side of this debate could admit the slightest possibility of error, no one could grant anyone from the other side the slimmest presumption of good faith. The debate wasn’t a debate at all, but rather a dogma-slinging contest where the goal seemed to be the humiliation of the enemy.

And then it hit me. A memory flooded into my mind from some long forgotten sermon. There was a bible verse that went something like this…

For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God…There is no one who is righteous, not even one, no one who understands, no one who searches after God.”

Strange that I would remember that verse when normally I can’t remember where I put my keys. But that truth resonates with me this morning. We are all a bunch of dreadful sinners, blinded by our own conceits. We have all convinced ourselves that the truth we possess renders our enemies idiots, and somehow not fully human. We speak about those with whom we disagree as if they are aliens, creatures from another world, instead of men and women with flesh and blood and beating hearts. If the argument causes us to lose our humanity, what good does it do to win?

Last weekend I saw the Lincoln movie. Nothing in our political fights today can hold a candle to the existential battle going on in 1864. Fevers were high. The debates in Congress were vicious. We were literally killing each other. But, the one thing that struck me about Lincoln was his graciousness towards the conquered. In victory, there would be no gloating, there would be no unquenchable thirst for revenge, no humiliation of Lee or his men at Appomattox. Grace would win the day. Amazing grace.

It made me ask myself, who is demonstrating grace in our politics today? The answer came swift and sure…nobody, including me.

Monday, December 3, 2012

My Dad's In The Hospital

My Dad has been in the hospital for five days now. He has heart palpitations that haven’t responded well to several medications. My brother, two sisters and I have taken turns sitting with him. I have been with him last each night, so I see him after a long day of hospital drudgery. Some nights have been better than others, for him and me.

I arrive around 7:30. He never fails to smile at me as I walk in. He looks tired. I tidy up his covers, get him something to drink and ask him about his day. He tells me that he had a good day. Every day is a good day. He hesitates to provide anything that sounds like a complaint. He speaks glowingly of his nurses. He tells me that he got a visit from Chuck Ward or Mark Becton, and what a blessing they were to him. He tells me about the food and that it isn’t very good, but it’s OK because Linda brought him some homemade soup and Paula snuck in some wonderful cookies.

When he tries to tell me a story he forgets his words, then apologizes for being so forgetful. My heart breaks a little that he feels the need to apologize. We watch Huckabee. He loves that show. Tonight Huckabee isn’t there and there is a pretty blond in his place. Dad informs me that she is Dana Perino, who used to be President George Bush’s press secretary. Dad likes her because she is very smart, and pretty too. He listens intently to a story about very bad parents. He can’t imagine how any father would provide kegs of beer for his sixteen year old son’s birthday party. “What’s this world coming too?” he asks me.

I watch the night nurse come in to give him his medicine. She is perky and smiles a lot. She gently places each pill in his mouth and then gives him ginger ale. There are so many pills. She is very patient, and jokes that she should probably have given him the sleeping pill last since he might fall asleep before he makes it through all his pills. Dad smiles.

After Huckabee is over Dad struggles with the remote and finally asks me just to turn the television off. We sit in silence for a few minutes. Finally he tells me what a good job his kids have done taking care of him since Mom passed away.

We go through our nightly ritual when it’s time for him to go to sleep. I turn out the light and tell him I love him. I pull the curtain and then shut the door to his room. He’s right across from the nurses station and he tells me that they talk too loud. Sometimes he feels like yelling out to ask them to be quiet, but that would be rude. I walk down the long hallway towards the elevator past rooms with open doors. Terribly sick men and women, all of them alone. There’s a portrait of former Governor John Dalton right next to the elevator. Every time I pass it, I become irritated for some reason. Is there no place on earth where we can escape politics?

I arrive at my car in the mostly empty parking lot and sit there in silence for a few minutes. I think about my Dad and marvel at what kind of life he has lived. After losing his wife of 65 years and after five days in a hospital bed, he still finds things to laugh about and still finds people to be thankful for.

“What kind of day did you have Dad?” I ask him.

“A good day, I had a good day,” he answers.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Colin Kaepernick's Tattoos








When I turned on my laptop this morning, the online sports pages were on fire with stories about Colin Kaepernick's tattoos. Who is Colin Kaepernick, you might ask? He's the second year backup QB for the San Fransisco 49ers who recently was placed in the starters roll when Alex Smith suffered a concussion.  The kid has played amazingly well, so the job is now his, along with the scrutiny that comes with it. Part of said scrutiny concerns the prodigious amount of ink he sports. While certainly not rare for professional athletes,( it seems like a requirement to play in the NBA), and not even rare in the NFL, tattoos are rare among Quarterbacks. So now that the new guy is covered with them, it's become a story. Some writer at the Sporting News wrote a column criticizing the guy so it's blown up into a controversy.


   
While reading all of the stories I learned some things about Kaepernick. He's an adopted biracial kid with a 4.0 grade point average, a health nut who neither drinks nor smokes, has never had any problems with the law, and apparently is very religious.
 
The tattoos that everyone sees on his arms on Sunday are of scripture. The large particularly hideous one that covers his back depicts a battle between angels and demons. Colin takes his religious views seriously enough to want them forever immortalized on his body. Ok. So why all the fuss?
 
Here's the deal. I think tattoos for the most part are disgusting. When I see some kid all inked up from neck to ankle I see a series of uncomfortable job interviews in his future.  I think that his youthful exuberance for a popular rapper comes back to haunt him when he's forty trying to explain to his kids what "rap music" was. I think maybe he might regret declaring his eternal devotion to "Nicole" once he meets the woman he actually wants to marry, named "Becky". I could go on like this for hours since the concept of permanently staining the surface of one's skin with a slogan that appeals to the sensibilities of a twenty year old is so self-evidently insane for anyone who plans on living until they are eighty. However....
 
The existence of tattoos on Mr. Kaepernick tells me nothing about his personal character. The accusations made in some of the stories I read about this topic assume that tattoos equal moral depravity, unfitness to lead, dreadful example for kids etc..etc. Well, tattoos depicting rape, drug use, and devotion to Adolph Hitler would indeed equal those things. Colin Kaepernick's tattoos are a road map to Jesus Christ, and the joy of competition as far as I can tell. While I wish he wasn't covered in this way, absolutely nothing about these tattoos disqualify him from leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl. From what I have read about this young man, he will be a fine representative of his team in the San Fransisco community, a community in dire need of God-fearing role models.
 
Give the kid a break. 
 
                 
                                                

Friday, November 30, 2012

What I REALLY Want For Christmas

A couple of weeks ago I published my Christmas List..er,..HOLIDAY LIST in this space. Although partly in jest, it was a legitimate list that was duly published on the now famous Christmas Central website for all interested family members to examine for gift ideas. But, what do I really want for Christmas? If I were King, and could remake the world by fiat, what would that world look like? What follows is what I really, really want for Christmas.

1. I want the “fiscal cliff” to be a real, honest to God cliff. I want television cameras set up to film all of our elected officials plunging to their deaths over that cliff, if they don’t compromise on a deal before January the first, 2013. Then, to replace them all, people will be chosen at random from the white pages of each Congressional district in America. If chosen, you must serve, no matter your profession or education. Accordingly, the next Congress would literally be an accurate representation of the people, as there would be carpenters, electricians, hair-stylists, truck drivers, and assorted cooks, waitresses, and firemen in Congress instead of 450 lawyers and a couple dozen heirs and heiresses.

2. I want to suspend the ageing process in my Dad and my dog. I want their health to be restored to a point that produces in them less humiliation, and in me less despair.

3. I want the church to once again become the patron of the Arts. When last we were, we sponsored some of the finest music ever written for a thousand years. Since we abdicated that patron status and turned it over to the secular world the results have been mixed. While the world did manage to give us Casablanca, the Godfather, Gershwin and the Beatles, more frequently, it gives us Two and A Half Men, Twilight, and 50 Cent.

4. I want every business in America to run as efficiently as my trash man, C.L. Taylor of Glen Allen Va.

5. I want bacon, fried chicken, sausage, and cheese to be altered molecularly so that they become the healthiest foods in the universe.

6. I want the manufacture of lite beer to be criminalized.

7. I want the smartest guys in the high tech field, the most imaginative dudes at NASA along with the money-making machine that is the porn industry to join forces and get to work on making teleportation a realty. It would sure make my life easier once I start having grandkids.

8. I want the most annoying people in America to all be publicly shamed into silence, all at once, in some grand moment of decency where all of America becomes repulsed by the mere sight of:

Kim Kardashian

Harry Reid

Nancy Pelosi

Alec Baldwin

The Ladies Of The View

Eric Cantor

Karl Rove

Glen Beck

Joe Biden

Paris Hilton

Joel Osteen

Pat Robertson

Chris Matthews

Charlie Sheen

Brad Pitt

Angelina Jolie

Sarah Palin

Mayor Bloomberg

Snoop Dogg

Paul Krugman

Jerry Jones

9. I want Tim Tebow to get married, then get traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars. So rejuvenated will he be with the change of scenery and regular sex, he will lead his new team to the Super Bowl and I will get to see every talking head on ESPN apoplectic with rage for three months.

10. I want to hear some preaching in 2013 free of pandering, condescension, and rhyming, and full of fearless, indignant rage. Occasional spittle would be nice.

11. I want to enjoy my profession again.

 

What about you? What would your world look like if you got your wish list fulfilled? It’s fun to contemplate, isn’t it?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I Hope The Proctologist Was Right!

Some weeks are better than others.

This week has been one of the “others”. Suddenly, arbitrarily, bad news washes over you in waves. Just about the time you get your legs steady underneath you, a new wave rolls in nearly as powerful as the first.

First there was the unrelenting dissatisfaction with my business, it’s unpredictability beginning to dominate me in a new way that feels like oppression. Then there was a 6 AM disaster involving my dog and a bathroom accident. Looking back on it, there was much to laugh about and it would have made for a hilarious blog, but right in the middle of the episode, Pam pleaded with me, “PLEASE don’t blog about this!” Then finally early this morning there was news of a possible deterioration of my Dad’s condition. We will tend to that today.

It’s times like these when I need to look past the present and remember better days in the past, and look into the future with confidence, knowing that I am not a prisoner of this moment.

Like the Proctologist said to the man who was in pain because he had accidently swallowed a large marble…”This too shall pass.”

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The War On Christmas? Puhhhleeze...

Around this time of year, Facebook becomes inundated with complaints from Christians about how awful it is that Christ has been taken out of Christmas by our decaying culture. The “war on Christmas” fights on many fronts. Here are just a few.

An ACLU chapter somewhere invariably has a manger scene removed from some Courthouse lawn. Christians immediately get their stockings in a knot.

A clerk at Walmart greets a shopper with a “Happy Holidays!” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Christians conclude that the four horses of the apocalypse are about to be unleashed.

Christians nearly drive off the road in fury when they see a flashing portable roadside sign advertising fresh X-MAS trees.

When some news reporter refers to the lighting of “holiday trees”, a flurry of phone calls and letters flood the station manager’s office.

When school systems refer to “holiday parties” instead of “Christmas parties” and greet everyone with a hardy “seasons greetings”, home-schoolers everywhere smile smugly, grateful that their kids don’t have to suffer similar humiliation.

 

Where to begin? To start with, I should say that sometimes, the things I just listed do irritate me. It does seem that people twist themselves in rhetorical knots with the politically correct “offend no one” approach to discourse this time of year. Holiday Tree? Frosty the Snowperson? Seriously? However, it is my opinion that the Christian reaction to all of this is equally irritating, and annoyingly inconsistent.

Where was the Christian community fifty years ago when Madison Avenue hijacked the birthday of Christ? I wonder how many Christians were there at the gates of Best Buys all around the country at the stroke of midnight on Black Friday? Why would we even want the celebration of the birth of our savior to be associated with the most out of control exhibition of greed known to mankind? Would having a clerk at Target say “Merry Christmas” make everything all right?

Christ was removed from Christmas in this country long before the first ACLU lawsuit. Does anyone really believe that anything approaching a majority of the people grabbing Tickle-Me-Elmo’s off the shelves of Toys-R-Us are doing so out of some deep-seated desire to celebrate the birth of Jesus? Why are we as Christians suddenly so thin-skinned that the culture has forgotten the true meaning of Christmas? Does it have anything to do with the fact that maybe we have too?

When Jesus talked about salvation he made it clear that Christians would forever be in the minority.
“… For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many will find it, but small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and few will find it.” So, why are we now so out of sorts to find Christianity and it’s celebrations minimized by our culture?

There is nothing stopping us from greeting all who we encounter with a ”Merry Christmas”. There exists no law preventing us from erecting manger scenes on our front lawns, nothing to stop us from buying our trees from only those merchants who bother to spell out the word Christmas. But if we are busy elbowing people out of the way to get that last smart phone at the Apple store, then we have no standing to criticize the store owner who thinks it might attract more customers if he tries to soft-pedal the baby Jesus thing. He’s busy doing what comes natural to him. What comes natural to us?

Monday, November 26, 2012

My Boycott Is Over. How Did It Go?

Well, my scream news blackout/boycott is over as of yesterday morning. As promised I refrained from watching, reading, or listening to any of the popular news outlets in America for two weeks. My theory was that my overall attitude and sense of well being would improve by swearing off the ranters and screamers of American politics. So, was I right?

First of all, I must confess to having been a bit bored with the “just the facts, please” news outlets. The Associated Press is a dreadfully dull outfit. It’s C-Span without video. Awful. I actually found myself wondering what I was missing. The world seemed eerily quiet, unnaturally free of existential angst. Without hearing Rush Limbaugh or Glen Beck chronicling the coming apocalypse, it was tempting to believe that life had returned to it’s relentless monotony, grinding onward, free of Greek drama, but full of farce. Then I fired up the laptop and began wading through my old friends to discover all that I had missed while away.

“Secession Movement Spurred By Racism”

“Churches Offer Concealed Weapons Training”

“Obama Re-elected By Illiterate Society”

“Opposition To Susan Rice Nomination Is Racist”

“New Vending Machine To Dispense Caviar”

“Three Men Brawl Over Pair Of Sneakers In Middle Of Mall On Black Friday”

“ Teachers Hire Stand-ins To Take Certification Tests”

“Republicans Warn Of Shutdown Over Filibuster”

 

It would appear that there was plenty of drama, I was just blissfully unaware. But, is that a good thing? Doesn’t it behoove me as a citizen to know what’s going on in my country? Shouldn’t I be able to talk intelligently about whether or not the secession movement is, in fact, racist? Does the appearance of lots of bumper stickers in Texas and the existence of several petitions with 10,000 names scribbled on them qualify as a “movement”? My church doesn’t offer weapons training of any kind. Should this concern me? Have we totally missed some clear teaching of scripture on this subject? And what about these fake teachers taking tests for real teachers? Are the stand-ins Union members? If not, why not?

The fact is that although my attitudes have improved these past two weeks, I have felt constantly out of the loop, off the grid. I have been greatly disturbed to realize how much I enjoy my sources of propaganda. My daily helping of hyperbole, fear mongering and invective have been sorely missed. Denying myself exposure to it has taken away my sense of superiority. I am not able to hover above all the pettiness and drivel if I don’t know what the drivel-ers are saying.

So, I suppose I will return to my daily routine of pointing and laughing at the merchants of misinformation, all the while bemoaning the fact that too many Americans are doing what I’m doing.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Grovers 1997-2007...Thanks From MisterD

The day after Thanksgiving brings with it a throbbing ankle, twisted during a football game that my team lost 35-28, largely due to inconsistent QB play by yours truly. Somehow, at 54, I seem to have lost a step. Other than the outcome of the game, it was a wonderful day. Last night we decorated the tree together and watched Ralphie shoot his eye out…again.

Today, we will begin the process of Christmasizing the house, out with fall colors and in with the reds and greens, out with Pilgrims and in with the Wise Men. By tonight my house will look better than it does all year.

One more thing before I leave Thanksgiving. There’s something I’m thankful for that I never say enough about. It’s been over five years now since I retired from Youth work at my church. All of the kids that I worked with have now gotten on with their lives. I read about them all on Facebook. There’s an architect and a local news producer in Kentucky, an accountant in Atlanta. There are missionaries serving in China, a social worker in Tennessee. There are bright ambitious grad students all over the place. I see hostesses and bar-tenders, seminary students and advertising account executives. Best of all, I see husbands and wives, mothers and fathers doting on their precious children, the pictures of whom always bring a knot to my throat. Some have become raging successes, others have struggled. But most all of them are in fine health. I haven’t lost a one. I can honestly say that not a single one of them have disappointed me. Each of them added something solid and memorable to my life. When I see a troubling status, I lift up a quick prayer. When I read about some celebration, I celebrate a little myself. I realize now much more than I did when I was hip deep in all of their drama just how lucky I was to have known them. I still have their wallet-sized senior pictures magnetized to my refrigerator. To all of them…and they know who they are…here’s a big thank you from MisterD.

Oh…and would it kill some of you to drop in to see me over Christmas??

Thursday, November 22, 2012

2012 Christmas List

Let it be known far and wide that this year, I produced my Christmas list on Thanksgiving Day. I am not the last person to get it done like every year in the past. Now, perhaps the Christmas List Nazi’s will give me a break.

 

 

 

Doug’s Christmas List 2012

 

1. An online subscription to the Wall Street Journal

2. Sports jacket that will go with jeans/khakis

3. A year’s supply of beef jerky

4. Season two of The Boss

5. Stylish sweaters to replace the ones I borrowed from Dr. Huckstable during the filming of The Cosby Show

6. Barnes & Noble gift certificates in any denomination (except Presbyterian)

7. Long-sleeve shirts that are casual enough to wear to a barbeque joint but nice enough to wear to church without eliciting glances of scorn from the blue-hairs

8. Underwear

9. Running shoes, size ten, preferably with no neon colored stripes down the sides

10. Big honking leaf rake with the big fat rubberized handle

11. Gift certificate to Loew’s so I can buy stuff to organize the garage

12. A Republican candidate for President who doesn’t have bank accounts in the Cayman Islands

13. A year of good health for my Dad

14. A two week vacation for my sister Linda away from the crushing responsibility piled upon her shoulders…preferably in the Cayman Islands, where an inadvertent bank error results in Mitt Romney’s fortune being transferred into her account

15. $250,000 advance from Simon & Schuster to write my first book, tentative title,” The Fiscal Cliff-Notes, An Idiots Guide To Economics”

16. A cool hat

17. A Segway that I can give to Donnie so he doesn’t have to walk his route every day

18. Better spelling skills

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Want To Possibly Die Laughing? Listen To THIS!

http://youtu.be/TN8YQVM1GQI


Before reading this blog, please click on the above link.

I stumbled upon this audio yesterday on Facebook and I laughed until I cried. My laugh muscles were cramping. Seriously, if I had just drank water, I would have spewed it out all over the place like they do on TV. Now, I understand that humor is subjective, what is gut-splittingly hilarious to one may seem infantile to another, so I run a risk here.

This guy is leaving a routine voice mail for his boss as he is driving down the road, when he witnesses an accident in front of him. He then proceeds to describe what transpires in front of him in real time. I find everything about this audio to be fantastic. His detailed description of the event is priceless, almost lyrical, akin to a great play-by-play man in baseball. But then as the action picks up, it's "the laugh" that sends me over the edge. What I wouldn't give to be able to laugh like that. This guy 's laugh starts at the soles of his feet, passes through a gravel filter and then exits in waves of infectious fun out of his mouth. I can picture each of the little old ladies pummeling this guy as clearly as if they were in my living room. I have no idea who this guy is, but I would like to thank him from the bottom of my heart. For the rest of my life, I will have this audio file to go to when I need to take my mind off my problems, since nothing does the job as well as a good belly laugh.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Is Israel Our 51st State?

My church has been in the throes of an Israel fixation for a couple of years now. One day we walked in and found an Israeli flag hanging in the foyer. Before long, the leadership team was organizing trips to the Holy Land complete with full media participation. Then came invitations to local Messianic Jews to speak, then a Jewish music festival, a Passover celebration, and as my bulletin from this past Sunday informs me, a Hanukkah celebration coming soon. What in the name of David Ben-Gurion is going on here?

Well, for one thing, our savior was Jewish and it is impossible to fully understand his life and teachings without an appreciation of that fact. Christians still read the Old Testament, read and believe it. The Old Testament speaks often of the Jewish people as God’s chosen ones. We are warned to come against those chosen people at our peril.

For hundreds of years Christians took those warnings to mean that we as Christians should not persecute Jews, but that we should honor them and treat them with respect and kindness. When the Jewish people were being massacred by the thousands at the hands of Hitlers’ Nazis, it was Christians who led the charge for their deliverance. In light of history’s record of terrible treatment of the Jewish people at the hands of the Christian church ( see; The Inquisition), we have naturally evolved towards a much more favorable view of the Jewish people, partially as a way of assuaging the guilt of our awful past. I understand and support that evolution.

But in 1948, with the establishment of the modern nation-state of Israel, something began to change in the Evangelical world. Suddenly, everything was about the “end-times”. Books were written, seminaries taught about it, and an endless stream of predictions about Armageddon began to dominate discourse about Israel. Now, support for and protection of God’s chosen people morphed into support and protection for the nation of Israel. This is not a distinction without a difference.

America has strategic interest that match the strategic interests of Israel, and accordingly, they are our ally. In the screwed up world of the middle east, Israel is the only country that even looks and feels like a modern state to me, so I understand why we support them strategically. But, our church needs to calm down with the over-the-top middle school crush-style devotion to Israel as if it is some sort of litmus test for biblical fidelity to the Jewish people.

For one thing, which Jewish people are we referring to? There are roughly 14 million Jews on the planet. Around 6 million of them live in Israel, or about the same number who live in America. So, there are more Jews who live and have citizenship outside of Israel than there are citizens of the state of Israel. So, which Jews do we claim to support? And, exactly how far does this support and devotion for Israel go? Are we to have a death wish in this matter? Contrary to some of the rhetoric I hear from the pulpit of my church, Israel is not our 51st state. It is a modern, fully functioning nation, with its own strategic interests. Do you think for a minute that Benjamin Netanyahu wouldn’t stab this nation in the back if he thought it would advance Israel’s interests? Sure he would, and he would be right to do so, a feckless and ineffective leader if he did not. Right now, our interests are aligned, but when they diverge, he will fully advance his agenda, and we will advance ours. A little clear eyed realism would go a long way towards disabusing us of the silly notion that what’s good for Israel will always be good for the United States. The Jewish people and the State of Israel are not and have never been interchangeable terms.

So, knock it off with the Hanukkah celebrations, and while you’re at it, take the Israeli flag out of the foyer. I would hate for someone from a Muslim background to walk into our church to investigate Jesus and mistakenly think he had stumbled into the Jewish Community center.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Moving Day, in more ways than one.

Am I allowed to brag on my extended family for a moment? Since this is my blog, I suppose that I can brag on whomever I please, so permit me to say a few words about what happened this past Saturday.

My niece, Christina Garland, and her husband Paul, moved from their recently sold townhouse in the west end, to their Granny Till’s old house in Elmont where my Dad now lives. It’s a complicated story, but suffice it to say that at some point soon they will be building a house on the property, but in the meantime Dad will no longer be living alone.

So, what’s the big deal? Well, the big deal was the list of family members who showed up to help. On the last Saturday before Thanksgiving, I counted 16 pairs of hands on deck. Obviously, Bill and Linda led the charge. It seems like the two of them spend half of their lives doing things for other people, but you would expect parents to help their own children with a move. Christina’s sister Jenny was in charge of keeping the little ones all day. Jenny’s husband, Matt, was there, of course, and Paul’s Dad Roger along with Paul’s best friend, Jason. Then, my sister Paula, her husband Ron, and their son Ryan, home from college for the weekend were there as well. Hat’s off to any kid home from college who spends time helping his cousin move. Although I spent the first part of the day on an extremely rare Saturday appointment with a client who spent an hour referring to himself in the third person, I finally made it over there by 11. Meanwhile, my wife was busy preparing a feast to feed this crew. In this endeavor she was aided by her mother and father, her sister, and her sister’s middle school son. That’s right. My in-laws, and my sister-in-law chipped in half of their day to feed 16 people they are only related to distantly by marriage.

I have come to expect this sort of thing in my family. My understanding of family is that this is what families do. But the older I get the more I realize that this is not at all a routine occurrence any more. For a lot of families, you couldn’t get 16 people together on a Saturday if you were handing out fifty dollar bills and free beer. I’m grateful to be a part of one that demonstrates love for each other in this way. If you are part of such a family, you should be grateful too.

One of the 16 was not related to any of us. She was there strictly as a volunteer. Sometime around 2 or so, in the midst of all the lifting and organizing of boxes, I noticed that there was someone sitting close to my Dad in the living room. She had turned a rocking chair around to face him, right beside his recliner. At first I thought that it was Linda taking a break, checking up on Dad. But as I walked past them later, I recognized Lisa Martz. I hadn’t noticed when she arrived, but there she was with a large bible laid open on her lap reading to dad from the book of Philippians in a bright expressive voice, “ Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” Dad was staring off into the distance, a faint smile on his face, as serene as a mountain lake at daybreak.

Later I learned from Linda, that Lisa does this a lot for Dad, comes over to the house and reads the Bible to him. Lisa had been in my Mom’s Sunday School class for years and grew to love her dearly. I suppose that this is her way of demonstrating that love. All I know is, it brought a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye.

God bless you, Lisa Martz.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Fiscal Cliff? Give The People What They Want

I need to go ahead and get this one off my chest before somebody gets hurt. The news is now filled with talk of the coming “fiscal cliff”. I’m already tired of this media construction. There is no cliff. That would suggest that if someone went over said cliff, they would plunge to certain and immediate death. Someone who plunges off of a cliff doesn’t die 6 months later of complications. Death is immediate, instantaneous, and relatively painless, if I correctly understand the functioning of the nervous system. No, the fiscal cliff involved here would result in higher federal income taxes for every working American, and automatic, across the board spending cuts for all departments of our government. (In other words, the fiscal cliff is what regular people would be forced to do if their family budget was under water, get a second job, and cancel cable). How high and how broad? Well, the fiscal cliff would increase tax revenue to the government by 19%, while reducing government spending by .25%. Yes. You read that right. We are talking a “draconian” slashing of government spending by .25%. This is what we are told will produce untold devastation to our nation, causing much rending of garments, gnashing of teeth, and social dislocation not seen since the destruction of Pompeii by Mount Vesuvius in 79AD.

Having said all that, a deal needs to get done, and soon. While I can make an argument that we would be better off long term if nothing was done, the American people have made it abundantly clear that they don’t care about the long term. What, we’re racking up one trillion dollars a year in debt, you say? Screw it, I want my food stamps, I want the interest deduction of my mortgage, and don’t even think about messing with funding for Sesame Street.

Ok, so here’s the deal. I have some advice for the Republican party. This is not the time to dig in your heels. You want to drive a hard bargain in these sort of negotiations? Well, win an election! President Obama just kicked your ass running on a clear platform of raising taxes on people making over $250,000 a year. The American people were fine with that. So, why are you drawing lines in the sand over a position that was just repudiated by the America people? Listen guys, if you think that the country will be destroyed by higher taxes on the rich, then enact them. Then sit back and watch the economy tank, and in two years send your candidates out there with the message, “See, we told you this was going to happen!!” Elections should mean something. You guys lost. Take your medicine. If you block a deal, the President will hang the fiscal cliff around your collective necks, and blame your party for everything bad that happens as a consequence…and he will be right to do so.

Any deal that is reached will make our debt problem worse than it would have been without a deal. But the American people don’t care about debt, and they have just spoken on the subject. Give the people what they want.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Thanksgiving Fable

It was the cranberry sauce that did him in. Cranberry sauce from a can. He had taken it from the refrigerator and hooked it up to the electric can opener. The thought had flashed through his mind, electric can opener? What, we’re too lazy for the old hand crank kind? We import oil from the Arabs so we won’t have to bother with hand cranked can openers? What a bunch of worthless, lazy bastards we have become. His mood was darkening.

Then he got out the small glass serving plate and turned the can upside down. Slowly at first but a sudden slurp later, the cranberry sauce wiggled across the plate. It bore the image of the can perfectly, every ridge clearly molded into it’s shape. He stood it on its end and stared.






What the heck was this, he thought, suddenly horrified. He grabbed the empty can, turned it in his hand to read the ingredients. Cranberries, sugar, water, and gelatin. He stared back at the crimson blob before him. Perfect, he thought. A perfect monument to man’s unquenchable drive to transform nature itself into something vile and disgusting. What on earth did those cranberries do to deserve this?

She had told him to slice it up in half inch portions and feather them smartly onto the plate. It will be festive, she had said. He did as he was told. The knife slid through  smoothly. These cranberries were planted, harvested, and cooked for this very purpose. It was their destiny to be cruelly humiliated in this way. They offered no resistance.

He wasn’t totally sure what feathering meant, but he supposed it had something to do with how they were to be laid on the plate. His first attempt looked scattered and not entirely festive, so he tried again with better results.





So, this is what his Thanksgiving had been reduced to. No apple cranberry casserole. No cooked cranberry dish at all. Cranberry sauce in a can would have to do. This would be the new normal. He stood over the plate in silence. His wife swooped by and offered faint praise...that’s nice honey, now do the second can, we need one dish for each end of the table.

He looked up from the plate, glanced around the kitchen into the living room. His kids were slumped on the couch watching a parade. His unemployed brother was buried in the classifieds, looking for a job. His annoying nephew’s head was festooned with top of the line earphones, which thankfully kept his vile grunge music private. The only people interested in this meal were his wife and his dog.

The second can looked funny. It slid out more quickly but not as intact as the first. He suspected that perhaps it was bad. Was it even possible to get a hold of bad canned cranberry sauce? If so, this was surely it. There was a troubling gash in the side, and an equally disturbing rim around the top. Quality 
control was a lost art anymore, he thought. Someone at the cranberry plant had taken a bribe and now families all over America were about to eat bad sauce. Well, not THIS family.

Looking back on it afterwards, he couldn’t remember how it had all gotten started. He looked down at his hands. They were bright red. His breathing was labored, his heart was pounding, a feeling close to exhilaration coursing through his veins. A blob of mashed potatoes was slowly sliding down the television screen, partially obscuring Al Roker’s face. Black eyed peas rolled down the hall which led to the front door. His mother-in-law’s face would be forever burned into his memory, mouth agape, wide-eyed horror in her eyes, a patch of sweet potato casserole plastered across her face, a melted marsh mellow clinging to the end of her nose. He seemed to remember throwing a slice of cranberry sauce at his brother. The memory was cloudy and moved in slow motion. Everyone had frozen. The nephew had removed his earphones and smiled broadly. Then it was all a blur. At the beginning, his wife stood with her hands at her sides in dumbfounded astonishment at the sight of her stuffing flying through the air in tightly pressed balls. But soon, she was in the kitchen madly throwing Tupperware containers full of brown sugar and flour into the air.


      


                                                                            
The dog was jumping from place to place in tail-wagging glee, happily cleaning up the largesse. Soon, it was all over. The only thing left on the table was the big bird and two baskets of Hawaiian rolls. Everyone froze in place, chests heaving from the exertion, eyes alive with fun, remnants of cranberry sauce crusted in everyone‘s hair. All eyes were now on him. He, after all, had started it, and now it was over. What to do? What now?

Anyone up for some turkey sandwiches?... he heard himself say. A thunderous cheer rose through the house as everyone gathered around the table. He began carving the turkey amidst the unbridled glee that had overtaken his family. The sandwiches were delicious, the conversation uproarious. After the meal, his father-in-law reminded everyone, that nobody had said a blessing. Everyone looked at him. He stood from his spot at the head of the table, a lima bean sliding off of his head as he rose. Everyone closed their eyes as he began to pray.

“ Lord, we thank you for this day. We thank you for our lives. We thank you for this food that we just finished eating, and the rest of it that we threw at each other before. We ask your forgiveness for the waste, but we thank you for this memory from the bottom of our hearts.”

After the meal, everyone picked up rags and mops and sponges of every shape and size and began the cleanup while the Cowboys and Lions played on the TV. As the nephew walked out the door, he stopped, looked up at his uncle and said, Dude, two words for you...Best. Thanksgiving. Ever.



Thanks, came the reply. And that’s three words, knucklehead.