Crush

Crush: (n) a brief but intense infatuation for someone

I have always wanted to sit down and rehearse the little speech.

I’m speaking of that gentle wording necessary to let someone down—someone who has a crush on you, who perhaps is too young, or it’s inappropriate in some other way, or maybe you just don’t share the infatuation.

I’ve considered my speech. What would I say?

Certain lines I would want to put in:

“Golly, if it was just another place, another time…”

“I love you too much as a person to just like you as a girl…”

“You’re the best, and someday you’re going to meet someone, and they’ll know you’re the best, just for them…”

Of course, if the person was persistent and found my speech adorable, then I have a whole different list:

“Because of a war wound, I cannot return your affection.”

“I snore—and not just when I sleep.”

“I am betrothed in marriage to a Bolivian coffee worker.”

I always thought it would be great for someone to have a crush on me. To have her think that everything I did was magnificent, and that my only competition is Jesus or God.

What a great blast of blarney.

I’ve had a crush or two and discovered very quickly why they call them crushes. When I tried to move on them and express my feelings, I ended up…

Well, crushed.

I think every one of us, once in our lives, needs to be the center of another person’s undying, wistful, overwhelming lust for us.

We may find this temporarily with our partner, husband or wife. Ah, but eventually it comes down to the point that we both know where the socks are supposed to go in the drawer.

Goddammit, I want someone to have a crush on me.

And I don’t want her to make it up now because she feels sorry for the loser.

I don’t want pity crushing. I can see it coming, so don’t fake.

Most of the people I had crushes on in my life have moved on, and probably don’t even remember who I am.

Because of that, I can tell my children and grandchildren that they counted as one of my girlfriends.

 

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Crusade

Crusade: (n) any vigorous, aggressive movement for the defense or advancement of an idea or cause

During one December vacation from traveling on the road, I focused in on a seven-word slogan which I planned to use for the following year’s touring.

“No one is better than anyone else.”

I was so excited I could barely contain myself.

I couldn’t think of a better crusade to embark upon, to bring people together, point out our similarities and to hearken one and all to the commonality of humankind.

When it came time to go and do the production, to emphasize this beautiful seven-word crusade for human peace, I met resistance.

People didn’t like it as much as I thought they would.

To some, it seemed to be definitive and absent the possibility for discussion. (Yes—it is absolutely true. There are people on this Earth who feel the concept of love requires a debate.)

I was offended. I was defensive.

I found myself hoping that someone would question the beauty and integrity of “no one is better than anyone else,” so that I could argue with them—knowing, of course, that my stance was pure and holy and theirs most certainly had to be riddled with prejudice.

So rather than becoming a “repairer of the breach,” I succeeded in just making a more intelligent and merciful breach.

It upset people—to be common with others.

I was ready to do battle, like the knights of old—to climb onto my stallion and go into the Holy of Holies and establish the dominance of my particular edict.

Finally, one night I just sat down and came to two conclusions:

If you find yourself fighting, you’re not loving.

And whatever is written will eventually have to be rewritten.

 

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Crunk

Crunk: (n) a type of hip-hop originating in the southern U.S. and characterized by heavy bass and call-and-response vocals.

If there are social graces, then there most certainly must be social “clumsies.”

I’m speaking of those moments when we become so frightened that we’re going to appear ill-informed that we foolishly pretend we know something about a matter that we have absolutely no connection with whatsoever.

Somebody might mention a word and rather than us asking, “What in the hell is that?” we simply nod our head.

Then someone notices our vigorous head-wagging and challenges us by asking, for instance, what our favorite crunk song is.

At this point, beads of sweat break out on our brow–though we might be a bit relieved because we now know that crunk has something to do with music. (Our first guess was probably that crunk was the past tense of crank.)

Meanwhile, rather than quickly admit that we were caught—or that we don’t have any insight whatsoever on the subject, we try to come up with a generic answer in hopes that the subject will be changed, and the integrity of our all-knowing status will remain.

So in answer to the question about our favorite crunk song, we might say, “There are so many—but I am heartened by the fact that it’s gaining notoriety, and they seem to be including more women.”

We internally smile, thinking that mentioning the addition of new female crunkers was particularly ingenious.

Then we look into the eyes of our questioner.

He knows we’re full of shit.

Now what do we do?

We try to revise the topic. But with our limited musical knowledge, it’s a bit difficult to make the jump from crunk to James Taylor.

We wish to disappear and think it might be a good idea to hasten our exit, even though we just arrived at the party and it might appear suspicious.

Then it happens.

One of those snide, beautiful, skinny women standing nearby snarls, “You don’t know what crunk is, do you?”

For some reason the whole room goes silent. Everyone’s attention is suddenly focused in our direction—people waiting for an answer.

Here are the options:

Come clean and admit that we misrepresented our knowledge on the subject.

Or faint.

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Crunchy

Crunchy: (adj) crisp or brittle.

Here I go again, bathing in the acid of honesty.

I don’t know why I do this. I could lie to you. You’d never know. It isn’t like you’re trying to vet me for government service.

I could deceive you like crazy.

But for some reason, I’ve settled in on this “schtick” of candor.

Truthfulness.

Honest, even if it makes me look a little dumb. Because I will tell you right now, looking a little dumb is better than lying and looking a lot dumb.

I don’t like crunchy things.

I just don’t.

People like their cereal crunchy.

Not me. I let mine sit around until it drowns, and the coroner arrives to confirm that it’s fully floppy and dead. As a kid, I often ate other children’s cereal they had rejected—“because it wasn’t crunchy anymore.”

Maybe that’s the root cause of my obesity. At least it would be fun to blame it on that.

I don’t like crunchy chicken.

You know—what they call “extra crispy?”

My French fries can be a little crispy—but if they’re a lot crispy, doesn’t that just mean they’re burned?

And I never got the idea of a crunchy candy bar. Has anyone ever tasted a Milky Way? No crunch anywhere. Just ecstasy.

I don’t like crunchy.

I will eat peanut brittle—only because I know that on the thirteenth chewing in my mouth, it turns into that delicious peanut butter paste I love so much.

Crunchy crunches.

And crunching is not a positive word. (Just consider your car.)

I don’t like to put my teeth into a reluctant apple. I know it sounds silly, but when an apple insists on being crisp and crunchy, I feel it’s just resistant to being eaten. Sometimes it even adds a sour disposition to match the crunch.

I have no criticism for people who like crunchy things, but my philosophy is, if you find yourself in the middle of the crunch…

Just pour on more milk and wait awhile.

 

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Crumple

Crumple: (v) to give way suddenly; collapse

I love living.

I am downright silly about my enjoyment of breathing.

I am not looking forward to dying.

I am not one of those noble souls who believes I am going to a better place, but instead, have cast my lot in constructing my own “better place” here.

Along with this devotion to inhaling and exhaling comes a certain amount of hypochondria.

It’s true.

I’m not crazy. Nor do I become a nervous wreck about every sneeze or discoloration of a wart.

But I have been known, as a young father, to scream at my children because they caught colds or the stomach flu and were dangerously threatening me with them. On occasion, this reaction has flirted with irrational.

Of late, I have had some good, long talks with myself about refusing to crumple over every little symptom that might temporarily invade my body space.

I am perfectly aware that not every headache is a brain tumor.

Indigestion crops up without foretelling of a heart attack.

And having an occasional bout with bleary eyes due to fatigue does not forewarn of blindness.

You see, I know all these things.

But trying to get my “knower” to make the short journey to my “feeler” is often implausible.

So I am aware that I’m healthy, but I still often try to mimic sick.

On these occasions, I crumple—getting a few tears in my eyes while considering my demise and how sad it will be to those I love, and even mankind as a whole.

It is foolish.

It is childish.

But when I get into one of these crumple fests, it doesn’t help me to know that I’m foolish and childish.

I just need to roll over in the morning, take a deep breath, realize that my lungs are clear, my heart is beating, and God bless America:

“I gots me another day.”

 

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Crumb

Crumb: (n) a small particle of bread, cake, etc., that has broken off.

Mrs. Venetti was old.

This is the nicest thing I can say about her.

She was sure of herself.

Having become so assured of her own perfection, she launched out, attempting to perfect the world around her.

I knew her because, for some reason or another, my parents insisted I call her “Aunt,” even though we were not related. (I later discovered that she had money and my parents were intrigued by it.)

So this woman, who had the answer for every problem and an extra problem or two available if you were lacking, quickly made the decision that she did not like me.

She had an organ in her home that I enjoyed playing–until she heard my rocking and rolling. She explained that the German technician who maintained it told her that my fingers were too fat and heavy and might damage it.

Organ-less.

Her house was perfect.

(What other kind of house would a perfect woman have?)

Only one time when I visited her (at the behest of my parents) did she offer me something to eat. It was a single cheese slice, wrapped in cellophane. Unfortunately, I peered at it too long before dismantling and eating it and she accused me of being ungrateful.

Cheese-less.

But she had a favorite word for me.

She loved to call me “crumb.”

She even had derivations.

Sometimes it was crumb.

Other times crummy.

When she was particularly perturbed, I was referred to as crumbum.

Along with the insult came a snarling at the lips, a look of superiority mingled with loveless pity. She always asked me to walk slowly through her house so as not to knock over knick-knacks with my heavy steps.

She was an unpleasant woman who had to be viewed as tolerable because she had money.

Although it’s been proclaimed that money can’t buy everything, the few things it doesn’t purchase don’t appear to be very popular.

She never liked me—and when I was young, it ate at the left corner of my soul, threatening to create a hole from which all my hope was prepared to drain.

Then one day, God—in his infinite wisdom and grace—gave this fat boy with chubby fingers and heavy feet a gift. Sitting in her living room, entertaining some friends, barely tolerating my presence, Mrs. Venetti suddenly farted.

And not only farted—she pooped her pants.

Everybody quickly rose to assist her, which increased her embarrassment, causing her to become livid, threatening everyone in sight.

I sat very still.

I knew I was going to need to laugh about this—but now was not the time. Yet I did not want to lose the reservoir of humor building up inside me.

So I remained motionless.

After everyone carefully lifted “Auntie” from her chair, which she had sullied, and taken her into the bathroom, I ran out the front door, down the street, around the corner…and laughed.

I did not do it very long because after a few moments, it seemed cruel.

But the first fifteen or sixteen cackles healed that left corner of my soul.

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Cruller

Cruller: (n) a rich, light cake cut from a rolled dough and deep-fried

Now I understand.

It’s taken me a while.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been in fits of denial, or even rebellion.

Perhaps I was temporarily stuck in the foolishness of, “It’s not fair.”

But I’ve been worn down. I have survived frazzled and become limp in my comprehension.

To live long, you must hate things.

It’s true. Don’t try to disagree with me.

I remember the first time I put a piece of fried bologna in my mouth.

I thought to myself:

“Yes. This is what God is like.”

But before I could even get it down my throat to land in my gullet, somebody nearby asked the two deadly questions:

“Do you know how many calories are in that?”

“Did you know they make it out of pig snouts?”

Either though neither question would truly deter me from eating fried bologna again, I realized that if I wanted to live on Planet Sensitive, Earth Mother Eat Your Vegetables, or the Third Planet from the Fun, I would have to learn to hate things that were certainly did not deserve my disdain.

Unfortunately the list just keeps growing.

Today, when the word “cruller” came up, I realized it has been many years since I’ve had one.

And they have them just down the street. But I have succeeded in avoiding them—believing them to be tasty, quick death.

But just hearing the word tore down all my defenses, shattered my prejudice and made me want to get in my car and go buy one.

What harm could one do?

Well, one atomic bomb can kill a hundred thousand people.

One bullet in your brain will leave you thoughtless.

And I’m told that one cruller can rob days, maybe weeks, from my journey.

Are we really lengthening our lives for a joyful purpose–or just adding days, focusing our souls to hate things that really, really deserve our love?

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