Friday, July 30, 2021

This Is America

"This is America..."

Never has reference to being physically situated in the land of the free and home of the brave been so fraught with negative connotation. 

And I know, as certain as night follows day, that whatever thoughts follow that opening volley, they will be filled to overflowing with sentiments I wish had never been spoken.

As the older gentleman stood at the reception desk, in animated disagreement with the requirement to complete an extensive questionnaire before being permitted to see the doctor, he added "they ask less questions at the border."

I did not witness this incident. It was merely reported to me, but my mind's eye saw it perfectly. Reference to this country being a window into a universe of prejudices and hatreds.

Like a house with far too many American flags dotting its landscape.

I am quite certain Francis Scott Key would be appalled at this distortion of who we were intended to be, at the desecration of the values he found so dear, at the hiding one's worst impulses inside a protective covering of "patriotic" fervor.

Maybe I overreact, take a leap too far to reach my conclusions. Maybe this gentleman was just having a bad morning, was just flustered in the moment, was not really the stereotype his three little words suggested. Maybe I should not judge a book by its first sentence.

And maybe Donald Trump is a moral, compassionate man.

This is America.


Wednesday, July 28, 2021

G.O.A.T. or goat


The sport was arguably the centerpiece of the Olympics, as least this year. And she was the centerpiece of the centerpiece. The bullseye.

She was omnipresent. She was omnipotent. She was the G.O.A.T. Maybe the G.O.A.T. of G.O.A.Ts. The one.

And as Simone Biles wobbled in the prelims, we understood she would dominate in the team finals. Until she didn't, the weight of expectations bringing her crashing back to earth, no longer soaring through the air, twisting and turning, but suddenly, incredibly human, a person exposed, filled with flaws and insecurities like you and me. Now merely twisting in the wind.
On the biggest stage, at the absolute apex of a uniquely remarkable career, there she stood and announced "no more". We did not believe. We did not understand. This did not compute.

The emotional strain greater than the physical capacity. The mind, not the body, failing.

This has been a year unlike any other, testing our collective mental fortitude in the face of relentless adversity. And these Olympics, the stands virtually empty, the support of a cheering crowd, of friends and family, nowhere to be found, athletes isolated and alone in ways none of us could ever have imagined, the toll unimaginable on many of those who toiled. None more so than Simone Biles.

Did she embellish her stature in defeat more than she could have in victory? To some, this seems an absurdity. For them, she merely cracked under the pressure. To others, Simone Biles exhibited a courage and grace unmatched on a field of sport.

Once and forever G.O.A.T or, at least in this moment, mere goat? 

The answer lies in the eye of the beholder.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Of Cats and Dogs

It may not have been coming down cats and dogs but it was way harder than kittens and puppies. When I raised my arm and the water dripped from stem to stern, I was officially soaked.

But, when in Rome, you know.

The golf course was, to my eyes, otherwise emptied of human activity. There was one group who had taken shelter nearby, their cart now housed in a space that was  intended merely for human protection. Otherwise, sanity had prevailed and the rain had washed away the thought of continued participation in this endeavor.

But my group included a Scot who found this weather as mother's milk. And our leader believed if you came to play this game, you stayed until your work was completed. At least that's what I imagine he would have said if I had asked him.

There was one member of our entourage who would not take yes for an answer. As the precipitation seemed ever crueler by the hole, our 90 year old companion finally waved the white flag of surrender on number 9. As he sped away to the waiting embrace of the clubhouse, the water poured off the bill of my fully waterlogged cap.

I thought I heard word of heading to the bar after 11 if the gods continued to mock our efforts with such intensity. I looked down at my fingertips and they appeared to be a I recalled them when I lingered too long in a bathtub as a child.. Trying to swing a golf club in this circumstance was like attempting to grasp a slithering snake. But somehow my efforts were rewarded, my scores reflective of far more welcoming environs. 

And then, by some minor miracle, as we headed to 10 green, the spigot was turned off and the strange sensation of relative calm prevailed. While my shorts now clung to me tighter than Mr. Trump's arms around the thought of being President and my shoes felt heavier than the weight of expectation for Simone Biles at the Olympics, I smiled internally for having persevered and at least registered a draw with Mother Nature.

Yet, she was not done with her tricks, the mosquitoes on the incoming holes appearing to me like a swarm of locusts, or at a minimum as Alfred Hitchcock presented those birds to Tippi Hedren..

When finally I staggered off 18, but one thought entered my mind. What time is tee off tomorrow?

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

SELF Storage

 ("You Can't Take It With You, But You Can Put It in Storage")

It is not self storage but SELF storage, retaining those items that are far more essential than necessary, far more a reminder of what has value than a statement of what is valuable, far more important for emotional comfort than physical well being.

These are pieces we retain or fear they are lost to us forever. The first drawing that looks like a drunken effort at making a circle, the first report card that forecast inevitable greatness, the first letter from summer camp and the next dozen for good measure.

If it were my decision, all of these items times a thousand would be carried with us in ever expanding volume until we traveled as Sisyphus from one venue to the next. But my wife is able to see that an item discarded is not a life thrown away, that the accumulation of stuff is not the same as the retention of memories, that creating clutter for clutter's sake leaves us no space for what lies ahead.

When we sold our house after spending nearly a quarter of a century acquiring and keeping, it was my wife who was able to separate wheat from chaff, to limit my attachment, to distinguish inconsequential from irreplaceable. You would be surprised to learn that your heart only breaks for the tiniest of moments when the third grade report on yesterday's trash becomes exactly that. 

Ultimately, bigger fit into smaller and, though many things were gone, nothing was really lost. 

In the final analysis, SELF storage comes from within, not from with out. For what we carry with us from place to place is located not in a basement, an attic, or a storage shed, but only in our heart.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Hide and Seek

My baby brother is playing hide and seek with me. 

He is hiding inside my mommy's belly.

He is good at hiding.

Sometimes I can see him moving inside Mommy's belly. He must be trying to find a new hiding place.

I think my brother is going to stop hiding soon.

I think one day soon he will be coming out to meet me.

And when that day comes I will give my baby brother a big hug.

And I will show him lots of other good places to hide.

Like in a closet. Or under a blanket. Or even behind the couch.

I think one day my baby brother and I will be able to play all kinds of games together. And take walks together. And eat ice cream together.

And maybe even hide together. 

Thursday, July 8, 2021



One year in school we were introduced to a lot of new words. Many of these have traveled with me through the years, popping into my head at odd moments. Some making it appear I am more learned than the reality of who and what I turned out to be.

Peripatetic arrived in the front of my cranium late last evening. As I lay on a mattress on the floor of the home of my daughter and son in law. In the last four nights I found myself in overnight residence at an old friend's home, at my sister's and now here.

No, nothing is wrong. I have not been given the boot by my bride of nearly 44 years (at least as of this writing. Though given my 'idiot'syncracies, that does remain a distinct daily possibility).

Rather, circumstance has temporarily found us dislocated from our bedroom. No need to shed a tear, for soon enough this issue shall be fully remedied and we shall rest our heads easy in old familiar environs.

But for today, as I awake from nocturnal slumber (although slumber is hardly an appropriate term for my Jack in the box up and down nights) I must first recall in what room I reside and where the nearest bathroom can be found.

I graduated from high school more than half a century past. Mr. Glidden, the teacher in charge of making certain I crammed as much new language into my brain as my feeble mind had capacity, has surely long ago shucked off his mortal coil. And with each passing day I realize that more pieces of what was tenuously planted in my head  escapes, never to be heard from again.

But many of the words I carry with me from that year are still on our collective journey. And they have served me well in those rare moments when I call upon a term to fully describe my thoughts on topics as diverse as my once and forever Yankees, or the 45th President (I still can't wrap my head around that one) of the United States.

So while my ruminations are truly more "peripathetic" than profound, a well used word inserted here and there can turn the ordinary into something a cut above.

And, voila, I can create an entire piece centered around a single term that entered my lexicon as a young boy.

Words that hop with me from place to place.


Saturday, July 3, 2021

Crime and Punishment

 ("Why We Hold Olympic Athletes to Such Ridiculous and Cruel Standards")

There is such evident pain in these competitions. Years of obsessive attention, of endless deprivations, of relentless pressure, all exploding in the slightest hiccup on a balance beam, in a twinge as a hamstring revolts down a final straightaway, in a million different ways that, in a blink of an eye, turn dreams into disaster.

And then there are the drug failures.

A career suddenly swallowed up by a burrito, an antidepressant, a missed test after an abortion, a hit of weed after a parent's death. If there is honesty to any of these defenses, the emotional agony these athletes endure must be overwhelming. If indeed they have not sought competitive advantage, and worse, if in fact their transgression has not produced an unintended edge, then their hearts must be broken, their anguish almost undescribable.

And when this happens to the best we have to offer, on the biggest stage, when the light will finally shine the brightest, when all the hard work will be on glorious display, then we mourn for their loss.

We do not know where the truth ends and the excuse begins for Sha'Carri Richardson and other athletes who endure these most public humiliations. But if their tales have even the possibility of reality, then we are left saddened and angered by the insanity of a system where the severity of the punishment bears no relation to the significance of the crime.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

You're Damn Right I Ordered the Code Red

 ("Trump organization CFO expected in court after indictment")

"Tell me this is not all you've got."

While I might be butchering the Nicholson to Cruise line in "A Few Good Men", the sneering Nicholson's cynical quizzing of the young prosecutor trying to take him down seems sadly appropriate at this moment.

My God, can we do no better than beating up a Trump accountant for his personal tax indiscretions? 

Let us hope there is method to this madness. That this is but tightening the screws on a Mafia underling as they move ever closer to taking down the Don. Let us hope this is not but the beginning of a decades long odyssey that ends with a nonagenerian Trump still standing, still defiant, still avoiding his day of reckoning for a lifetime of unbridled wrongdoing.

Why is it so hard to find criminal activity by this man? 

Please tell me one day soon he will crack open like a pinata. That he will scream, wild eyed and ever belligerent, "You're damn right I ordered the Code Red."

If only life imitated art.