Finding Floyd

THE WORN OUT SWEATSHIRT

Repost and edit from August 2010

What happened to the average I-don’t-care-what-I-wear-on-Saturday people? They’re either gone or they’re hiding.

This was a typical Saturday for me with a few exceptions. Work in the morning, hit the gym early and take care of whatever falls into the “his” category of responsibility.

I don’t dress like Frank Sinatra any day of the week and I’m the polar opposite on Saturday. This is the day that society has deemed acceptable for a person to wear worn out, discolored, wrinkled, outdated or just plain ugly clothing. At least it used to be. Come to think of it, I guess I’m probably the only one at the gym with  holes in my clothes nowadays… Whenever they changed this code they didn’t inform me of it.

I went straight home from the gym, got my wife’s much past due for an oil change car and took it to the “lame lube”. (We don’t pull out into the desert to change oil anymore, I did get that memo) They were even slower and more inept that day than usual. I didn’t have time to let them try to figure out how to reset the oil life percentage read out. My youngest daughter was at home waiting to be taken to her orientation at the library where she has volunteered to work on the weekends.

She is definitely a “chip off the old block.” She loves books even more than I did when I was young. There is a possibility that she has read more books in her life than I have in mine. At any rate, we only had time for her to hop in the car and head straight to the library.

She was a little apprehensive about walking into the library by herself. She wanted me to walk her in. This, a job that she volunteered for without my wife or me coercing her into. I didn’t even know they had such positions. I thought you had to be middle aged, wear glasses, wear your hair in a bun and have strong lungs to be able to say, “Shhhhhhhh!”

What do I know? I know enough to know that she needed to walk in alone and learn to be independent.

“Please go in with me?” She pleaded.

I responded, “Do you really want me to walk you in with holes in my shirt”? A perfect prop for the occasion.

She started again, “I think y-“-RIP!!! I cut her off.

Mid sentence I reached over to my left shoulder and enlarged the size of the hole in my shirt… to ensure independence.

“Okay, Dad.” She smiled as if to say, “That was a good one.”

I finished with, “I’ll wait out here for a few minutes in case they need me and my ripped up clothes to sign anything.”

She walked briskly with intention in her steps, I know because I followed her at a distance. The library is adjacent to the mall and sometimes has some suspicious looking characters hanging around. You know, people with holes in their clothes and the like…

With one hour to kill, I stepped through the parking garage to the mall. I can count on one hand the times I’ve been to the mall by myself in the last two decades. I can count, on the other hand, the times I’ve been with my wife in that same time period.

To my surprise, I was the only one walking through the mall with a sweatshirt on that had noticeable sweat discoloration and holes. Doesn’t anyone else wear their old favorites that should have been thrown away years ago except me?

While discovering a $9.99 baggy shorts sale rack, I got a text from my daughter.

“It’s getting ready to start, I think it’s going to be really good! I don’t need you to come in.”

I texted back, “Good job, girl. I knew you could do it!”

Off in the distance, in my minds eye, I see and taste that bitter-sweet day of my little girls independence…

This worn out sweatshirt soaks up the tears quite well.

I think I’ll keep it for a while…..

CRAZY STEVE

crazy Steve

image courtesy of photobucket.com

Repost and edit from January 2012

I don’t think about him as much as I used to. I’ve never given him any credit for my writing desire either. The truth is I have no idea if he had anything to do with resurrecting my writing desire, but he was doing it in real life, pursuing his dream long before I was.

I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever see his screenplay developed into a movie. The screenplay was based on his real life experiences while serving our country as a member of what now has become even more popularly known as Special Forces.

Interesting that a man with as much physical prowess as Steve has would have a hankering to write. It was easy to read his style and personality in his hopeful movie, Chained To The Oars.

It was a dark, real life, open your eyes type of war movie that I believe would be a huge seller. It also revealed the heart of a troubled man, a man in search of something more to his life.

Steve was like everyone else in this world, he was in search of something. Also, like the majority of others, he didn’t know it was God he was looking for… While I don’t know much in this life, I did know that.

The Lord doth work in mysterious ways… This calling was mysterious to say the least. The clear and concise writer was a warrior, the physical side of Steve’s life was equaled by his passion to put pen to paper. From my perspective now, I’m not sure which one he had more passion for; the pen to paper, or fighting.

I met Crazy Steve in the gym. He was hired to sell memberships, but mostly to clear the gym of trouble makers. While Steve cut an imposing silhouette, he was substantially less imposing as some of the thugs he was to shape up or ship out.

When he confronted one of the all out monsters who was throwing weights around the gym, I couldn’t spot an ounce of fear. Something in the eyes of Crazy Steve told the cartoon character of the man in the gym he wasn’t lying when he told the big fella he’d be more than willing to take him outside and, “Start Breakin’ Bones.”

After training with Steve, it would be a year of intimate friendship before I’d see all the bullet wounds on his body that should have taken his life. Things began to make more sense. It doesn’t take a valedictorian to be able to understand God had His hand and eye on Crazy Steve his entire life.

God was calling Steve and it was a rare time for this writer to be involved in that process. To be honest, it could be I was just the sparring partner while God used my wife to speak and show the love of God to this earthly warrior.

Did I mention God works in mysterious ways? Indeed, He does… Crazy Steve and I had all out wars… A week after I knocked Steve’s front tooth out, I ended up with a broken toe and a severed ACL.

Funny how a bond among men with mutual respect sharing truths with one another can lead to miraculous things. Not funny to God. After all, He does work in ways that are beyond our comprehension. Too bad for me the damage and pain have been as lasting as the memories.

Crazy Steve wasn’t so crazy after all, he asked Christ into his life.

My wife and I sometimes recall the night after we prayed with Steve. We were about to have dinner where I usually pray when Steve asked,

“Can I pray?”

“Absolutely,” I said.

In his booming bass voice Steve began,

“Hey God?” … “Thanks.”

That said enough for all of us…

THE DAMAGE IS DONE

No one ever heard of sun screen when we were kids. To screen yourself from the sun you had to find a rare piece of shade, which is no small achievement in the Arizona desert. It was that or park your behind in the house. And that wasn’t about to happen when we were grabbing the world by its horns.

It was so hot that we figured the less clothes the better. It was kinda cool to see how dark our skin could get. Some of the girls would even slather themselves up with baby oil to get even darker.

As a young man framing houses I dressed similar to the way I did when I was a kid. By then I’d spent so much time in the sun my back was the color of Coca Cola. My poor nose peeled more times than it should have…

About ten years ago I began to pay the fiddler… I get regular skin checkups and the doctor freezes, which is so blasted cold that it burns, the pre-cancer spots off my tired skin. I have a small hole in the end of my nose where the pre-cancer was burned off six or seven years ago.

I always hold out hope for my annual skin check up. I think that this could be the year that he checks me, always a young female nurse with him and me stripped down to my underwear…🤨, and says, “It all looks good. See you next year.” But it’s yet to happen…

Sure enough, the trigger happy freezing fiend didn’t take long to find spots to burn, but this check up took a new twist. “Did you know you have a mole on the bottom of your foot?”

“No,” I said with dread.

He went on to tell me that he would have to cut it out and get it biopsied. Then he explained that moles on the bottom of your feet or on the palms of your hands are often melanoma.

By the time the young nurse was shooting the bottom of my foot with an unpleasant needle to prepare me to have a hole dug in my foot I didn’t care so much about being in my underwear. Those kinds of things fade to grey when faced with real issues, like possible cancer.

image courtesy of memecenters.com

It’s hard to walk around with a chunk of meat dug out of the bottom of your foot. It’s also a couple of sobering days waiting to hear the results of the test.

The days are gone when I thought I could outlast the sun. I never considered mortality back then. And I cheated death almost daily. These days I step off curbs carefully… a far cry from jumping off roofs to be the first in line to the catering truck. And you’d be hard pressed to find me outside without a cotton long sleeved T-shirt on, but the damage is done…

I reminded myself that I don’t know the number of my days, but I know Who does. I’m called to make the most of the days I’m given so that each one brings Him honor. I still fail at that…

I was relieved to get the phone call to let me know the test came back negative. But our days are like musical chairs and one day we all have no place to sit when the music stops.

Those words of wisdom we memorize early in life come back to us; “Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.” Learning the words is different than living the days.

I was disappointed, but not shocked when I discovered the site wound was infected. Another massive needle in the butt and ten days of antibiotics four times a day. And all because of a freckle on my foot… Maybe I’ll laugh about it someday… that would be a gift in and of itself.

THE END

Kids grow up and mature at different rates and in vastly different ways. You can’t hide the truth and reality from children. Growing up in the late sixties in Southern California with the violent race riots was one of those scenarios that brought a harsh reality to my young world, but it wasn’t all bad… the music was sensational.

It was in 1970 that I promoted myself from little kid to bigger kid, even though I hadn’t grown a lick in the split second it seemed to take for my taste in music to change.

I had a couple of 45 records, one of them was a Winnie the Pooh song. The other 45 was a song about a boy on a train and a lovely lady who sat on his hat. I played that record so much that all my older siblings know it by heart too, against their will. That’s as close to them actually killing me as I ever got.

But being the youngest means that you’re low man on the totem pole in more than just physical stature. So I was subject to their music too; Creedence, Hendrix, The Supremes, The Guess Who, Steppenwolf, the list went on and on.

I’m not sure where I got the money, which was more scarce than peace in 1970, but there I was on a Saturday, downtown, sifting through 45’s. The first rock song I ever bought was the Beatles “Let it Be”. Paul McCartney wrote and sang the song.

beatles.com

It was a short time later, after the Beatles broke up, that one of my older brothers ended up with McCartney’s second album Ram. After a million plays “Uncle Albert” wore on me, but “The Long and Winding Road” never did, still doesn’t.

I was a teenager when my oldest brother got me a gift certificate from the local music store. One of the albums I got was Sweet “Desolation Boulevard”. For those of you squares that aren’t familiar with Sweet, think, “Love is Like Oxygen” and “Ballroom Blitz”. The other was Paul McCartney’s Greatest Hits after having already worn out a McCartney “Band on the Run” album.

By the time 1984 rolled around the world had changed and so had I. I had my own house and the only channel I’d ever bother to watch, ’cause I was busy burning my candle at both ends, was MTV.

While the critics bye and large threw metaphorical rotten tomatoes at McCartney for both the movie Give My Regards to Broad Street and his soundtrack, I liked it. I still appreciate the single “No More Lonely Nights”.

I got a crash course in business after I’d started my own business in ’89. I worked all over western half of the States trying to pay off debt. McCartney’s “Off the Ground” cd helped get me through the lonely winter of ’93 in Denver.

I’m not big on crowds and I’m never star struck. I didn’t say a word to Denzel Washington as we stood next to each other waiting for the valet to bring us our vehicles on Coronado Island in San Diego. And it was Alice Cooper that struck up a conversation with me standing in line at the local Ace hardware store.

But after a lifetime of enjoying Paul McCartney’s music, I thought it might be time to see him live while it’s still possible. He’s seventy seven now. He rocked the house and I knew pretty much all the words to all the songs, Beatles and his solo stuff.

McCartney closed the encore with a fitting song that caught me off guard. A song I’ve known well almost my whole life. The song is aptly titled “The End”. “And in the end… the love you take – is equal to the love… you make.”

Man I love that song… But for all Paul McCartney has, including endless talent… he doesn’t know the first thing about real Love… Hope he learns before The End.

BY DESIGN

My memory of childhood and youth are fading like gazing into the rearview mirror of that V-8 powered ’70 Mercury Cyclone with me pushing that pedal so hard I was bending the floorboard. Maybe that’s what happens when you’re in too much of a hurry to grow up, a problem I hear isn’t uncommon to us babies of the family.

There’s something about summer that makes me reminisce. I think about the season of watermelons and seed spitting contests. The season of summer that was more magical than Disneyland itself. The Boy’s of Summer time, the ping of the aluminum bat. And me trying to steal home base in the championship game, but getting thrown out at home plate by a kid named Franky McGill who threw as hard as Don Drysdale that ended the game…

But it was summer, so that made it okay, besides, we were having fun, me for darn sure. That was back when playing was more important than winning, before winning meant everything. Those were the days of summer before girls and women tied us up and twisted us in knots.

Time is different for children. God designed it that way. He doles out time to kids like a cool glass of lemonade that pours like honey. And we savored the time… but that time is passed.

So I remember the long days of sunshine, the jumping off cliffs and roofs into shallow pools, hitchhiking to the lake, racing buddies through the hot sand high stepping the water as it got deeper until it was time to dive into the coolness of the dammed up Colorado River water. I recall to remind myself that it’s not as it once was.

Lake Havasu City AZ
image courtesy of halo.com

Time has now yanked me to the other side of the equation. It seems like we just had Christmas… but the year is almost half way over. The watermelons are mostly seedless now… and hand cranked ice cream makers are antiques.

I think of times gone by to remind myself to yearn to “… teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” The days of youth weren’t filled with wisdom, mostly the exact opposite. So I also think of the grace that comes from God above that still finds me lacking wisdom, but granting forgiveness.

I know this summer will be gone in a blink. The summers are stacking up like old newspapers.

Slip and Slides are fancier now, but still pretty much the same. My aged eyes watch my grandsons try to run on the Slip and Slide… I knew it was just a matter of time before both of them ended up on their butts. Slip and Slides are still only as soft as the ground underneath them. They laugh it off and keep going. This summer is going to be an eternity for them, but it won’t last. Time outlasts all of us, by design…