I’ve heard more than a few people say it, “You don’t know what you don’t know”. I’ll bet I’m not the only one who heard the adage and furrowed their brow and squinted their eyes and pondered the point of making such an obvious statement.

It does seem pretty clear that if a person doesn’t know something… then yeah, a person doesn’t know something.

I was on what Johnny Rivers referred to as “The Poor Side of Town”, which coincided with a stomach that was growling like an angry grizzly.

you don't know what you don't know

image courtesy of photo bucket.com

“Lemme take your order. I get off in seven minutes,” the slightly put off waitress told me. She was ready to hit the door when the long arm on the greasy filmed old clock on the wall struck twelve. I assumed her less than friendly demeanor was because she assumed the tip would be landing in someone else’s pocket.

The already mentally checked out mid-thirties girl snatched a napkin from the beat up and bent old dispenser, “Can I borrow your pen?” she demanded.

I reached toward her with the pen already in my hand. She grabbed it and froze. Her sense of urgency to get out of the old grease trap momentarily forgotten.

“Wow… that’s a really nice pen,” she was talking to herself more than she was me.

“It is,” I agreed.

She studied the writing utensil, twirling it in her hand. She was transfixed by polished chrome and contrasting shiny black onyx parallel inlays on the pen, a gift from my daughter.

The waitress, who did finally get around to taking my order, didn’t know my affinity to fine pens. She didn’t know pens like mine even existed, but neither did I when I was her age.

You don’t know what you don’t know, I guess. Which is a lot like, “Hindsight is twenty/twenty”. The quotes point to inexperience, innocence, and ignorance.

Back in the day, one of the more “in” ways of saying the same thing, or close, was, “You don’t know what you’re missing”, but “not everything that glitters is gold”.

I like pens, so does the waitress, but just because my pen looks good doesn’t mean the words the ink leaks from its tip are worthy or honorable. And just because I have the nice pen, doesn’t mean I’m smarter or better than the girl.

I’m certain that even though I’m much older, there are things the waitress knows that I don’t, and might not ever. Especially about the restaurant business.

What a person knows about the fine things in this world means nothing compared to knowing about the One who created it. In the end, the only thing that truly matters is that we know where we came from and where we’re going when our hearts take their last beat.

Nice things of this world will mean zero. And that’s not the time to contemplate hindsight. And the adage, “You don’t know what you don’t know”, won’t seem so clever.


He was ugly, and I mean instinctual eye squint and grimace ugly, but that was half the fun of it. He was tall and lanky with really bad posture, a sunken chest with narrow and drooping shoulders.

Come to think of it, he looked like the skinny guy in the “before” frames in the old Charles Atlas cartoon strips in the back of comic books. You know, the pathetic looking kid who gets sand kicked in his face by the beach bully – in front of the girls to add insult to injury. Kinda like that… minus the feet, face, ears, and skin.

His teeth were enormous, too big for his face, too wide and too long. He made Bugs Bunny look like Charlton Heston. The same could be said about his ears in relation to Bugs Bunny, not to mention his feet that were so long that he’d have to lift them half way to his chest to clear the ground when he walked.

It’s hard to make a truly ugly cartoon character, but we were determined. They gave us every possible shape and size of everything from heads to body types – noses, ears, and even their gait.

Along with the options to create our own custom looking cartoon animal for the Disney interactive computer game for kids called, “Toon Town”, they gave us a massive list of words and names to come up with a personalized name for our character.

cool biscuit feather tooth

a few years before Cool Biscuit Feather Tooth

My youngest’s computer cartoon character’s name was, “Cool Biscuit Feather Tooth”, the ugliest critter in Toon Town.

My daughter was around six when one ordinary weekend day we created something extraordinary. Not because Cool Biscuit Feather Tooth was exceptional, that’s the point, he wasn’t, but the time spent being fully engaged with others, family or otherwise, creates gratification and a life full of wonderful memories.

A few months back my wife asked, “Do you remember… what was his name?” she looked at me, then off into space, sifting through old files in her memory banks.

“Huh?” I asked with zero clue about where she was going with the line of questioning, which is pretty common.

“Cool Biscuit Feather Tooth”, she smiled.

“Oh yeah,” I laughed, “I’ll never forget that goofy name.”

Our youngest had more fun making that goofy Toon Town character and us naming him that she ever did playing the interactive game.

Cool Biscuit Feather Tooth disappeared shortly thereafter along with the computer crash of 2004. What didn’t disappear is the memory of the gangly cartoon rabbit as well as a chapter in life that can’t be relived but can be cherished.

I know it’s easy to spend time with loved ones. Like Christ said, that’s the easiest thing for us to do, but I think it helps to serve as a reminder, that time invested in others, including family, friends, and others, returns dividends that last for an eternity… just like Cool Biscuit Feather Tooth.


He was emotionally charged – moved in his soul. He told me about two ladies and this guy, his breaking heart was spilling into his eye sockets. I nodded with compassion and understanding. Been there, done that… Hiding in private what most people wouldn’t understand.

He’s my friend and we share much in common, including, an artistic side, the love of rigorous exercise, and more than a slight dose of harsh sarcasm.

“I get it,” I told him, “but most people would think you’re dancing on the ragged edge of crazy,” I chuckled.

“I know,” he admitted, reining in his emotions. “That’s a great saying,” he said.

dancing on the ragged edge of crazy

image courtesy of photo bucket.com

The guy and two ladies my friend was telling me about are in what they call in literature a “love triangle”… I guess they call it that in real life too, but this wasn’t real life… those three people don’t actually exist. They only exist in my friend’s mind and now in an incomplete screenplay.

That’s the thing about fiction – it’s fueled by non-fiction events in people’s real lives that give them experiences to draw from. Broken bones and hearts aren’t easily forgotten.

From a left brain perspective, a person that makes up a story in great detail, to the point that the story and characters bring real emotion, seems a bit on the off side… maybe even dancing on the ragged edge of crazy.

But from a right brain perspective, it doesn’t seem so crazy. If someone is going to write a story that resurrects emotions in other people, it makes sense that the first person it should touch is the one telling the story. If they aren’t moved, good chance no on else will be either.

I believe that being made in the image of God means, in part, that we’re designed, some more than others, to create.

We can’t speak life into existence, but we can create. That includes creating stories that tell about other people’s lives, some real, some pretend, that inspire, encourage, and remind other people, as well as ourselves, to live their lives to bring truth and honor to our Maker, families, and ourselves.

In the long haul, the Biblical principle expounded upon by English author Edward Lytton, “The pen is mightier than the sword”, is true – God’s word has proved it throughout the history of this world.

God only knows where the fine line is between sanity and crazy is in each of us. I’m certain, like most lines, many of us cross over the line more than we know… or want to.

But if dancing on the ragged edge of crazy inside our minds to tell stories that inspire and encourage others? I say dance, my friend.


“The Time Mom Met Hitler, Frost Came to Dinner, and I Heard the Greatest Story Ever Told: A Memoir,” I mumbled to myself as I reached for the front copy of the book on the shelf in the frigid airport in Austin Texas.

That’s the beauty of this life, we never know when ours is going to be enhanced. We don’t always know when we’re going to learn a lesson or be reminded in a different way of The Greatest Story Ever Told.

Dikkon Eberhart tells the sometimes fun, sometimes painful, but always fascinating story of his famous family, their lives, and the crushing weight that comes with trying to measure up in this flesh.

The time mom met hitler, frost came to dinner, and I heard the greatest story ever told

Courtesy of Dikkon Eberhart

Dikkon is the son of Pulitzer Prize-winning and former United States Poet Laureate, Richard Eberhart. His grandparents on the other side were pioneers in the floor wax industry.

As the title of Dikkon’s book suggests, his mom did really meet Adolf Hilter. Robert Frost did come to his house for dinner and helped him with his homework for English class. But the most important part of this memoir, how Dikkon came to know the truth of God.

Dikkon’s colorful memoir is also a history lesson about the social consciousness of this country and how it evolved. And how at least a portion of that evolution took place in Eberhart’s humble living room with him feigning sleep upstairs.

There are countless colorful characters recollected in Dikkon’s book that dropped into the Eberhart’s living room and lives. One of my personal favorites is the times Dylan Thomas read Dikkon bedtime stories with booze on his breath. Another favorite is Margaret Hamilton, the actress that played the Wicked Witch of the West in Wizard of Oz.

The Time Mom Met Hitler, Frost Came to Dinner, and the Greatest Story Ever Told doesn’t just tell the glamorous side of a well-known family. Dikkon is forthright about his mistakes and shares intimately and honestly with his struggles, the very thing we all have in common… and why this memoir is so relatable.

Dikkon doesn’t tell this story in a prideful manner. His story feels like he’s sitting beside you and sharing his life story with you, inviting you in to learn what he’s learned along the way.

I contacted Mr. Eberhart and asked for his permission to write this post about his book. In the course of our correspondence, I found Dikkon to be the same gentle and humble person who penned this masterful memoir.

“The Time My Mom Met Hitler, Frost Came to Dinner, and the Greatest Story Ever Told: A Memoir” has found a special place in the short stack of books that I consider my favorites. I hope you’ll take the time to sit down with Dikkon and be reminded that we all have struggles, but we know The Author of the Greatest Story Ever Told.

You can pick up Dikkon’s book at the bookstore, Amazon, Dikkon’s site, or at the airport in Austin. Stop by and say hi to a brother and friend you didn’t know you had.


Kids are taught the proper way to conduct themselves in all kinds of scenarios, learning the ropes so to speak. We’re educated on the insider secrets about what, from the exterior, looks like just another chore or responsibility, but the truly great ones make the tricks, secrets, dealing with people and not getting fleeced exceptional.

I recall my mom showing my sister just how big a splash of leftover coffee to use in a brown sauce. Not so different than my wife reminding the girls how many hot yellow peppers to add to the pot of red sauce that’s big enough to bathe the dog. (not kidding… but Larry is a Shih Tzu)

The little things can make all the difference.

While there was a myriad of things to learn as a boy on the bumpy road to manhood, one of them, though now obsolete and just a memory, was even better than a first trip to Disneyland; shopping for cars.

Sure you could use the same formula for work trucks or basic family transportation, but using the car shopping technique for cool cars, muscle cars, turned a chore into a labor of love.

In those days it started with a newspaper, but not just any newspaper. The real experienced folks knew to start with the Sunday paper. That’s how a boy learns he’s fast becoming a man; when you tore apart a newspaper and discarded everything, including the funny papers, to begin searching the classifieds.

Then there was the local Auto Trader, worth every cent of the fifty it cost. The veteran car shopper knew the publication came out on Tuesdays, ’cause in the used car business, it’s “first come first serve”.

I was taught to “dog ear” the pages and circle the potential motored treasure, sit by the landline getting addresses and directions, then plot a course around the city with approximate meeting times.

I learned fast that the best used car shopper does more than just kick a few tires, he crawls on his back and belly to look for things underneath the V-8 sporting muscle that the outside alone could hide.

One of the standards was pulling the dipstick to look for traces of water or gasoline in the oil. Another was checking the color of the exhaust to let you know if the engine was tired and burning oil, and on and on.

Time spins by like the obsolete spinning top and we’ve gotten more sophisticated. We’re less and less subject to the whim of some fella maybe trying to off a lemon.

I’m reminded that avoiding interactions with others can keep us from getting burned, but that’s not the point of our lives. It is a fallen world, but that doesn’t mean we have to become cynical. That was the Truth behind learning the ropes…

There’s value in interactions with people. In the end, that’s what it’s going to be mostly about, I think.

Which sorta makes it my duty to look for that perfect Plymouth Barracuda. Or maybe I wasn’t paying close enough attention when I was learning the ropes of justification…!