Cobra

Cobra: (n) a highly venomous snake

Trying to maintain my status as a man of faith, I often find myself wading through some murky swamps of religious jargon.

This has tempted me, a time or two, to drain those swamps and start building my own condos. Yet I know deep in my soul that I have felt guidance, been inspired and in some strange sense, been redeemed.

Yet when I consider the cobra, I become baffled.

I don’t like snakes. I’m not ashamed of that. I don’t feel less manly by admitting it. I think they’re creepy. I think they know they’re creepy.

After all, if your only communication is hissing, your means of transportation is slithering and you choose to bite other people, you may have proven yourself to be unworthy for planet consideration.

Just my opinion.

And this becomes truly, astronomically intolerable when it comes to the cobra. No longer will the cobra stay on the ground, but decides to lift itself up into some sort of unholy erection. Then it flares its head in anger, and spits its venom at you.

Yes–there are spitting cobras.

So even if you feel you stood back far enough, you still could be splatted by the nasty varmint.

I do not know what the purpose of the cobra is. I’m sure it could be explained to me. Maybe they eat tons and tons of rats. But if it were my choice, I would rather find a different way to be rid of the rat population than by introducing a creature which insists on being addressed as “King Cobra.”

 

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Cobweb

Cobweb: a spider’s web, especially when old and covered with dust

I have watched with some nervous curiosity as a confident individual handles a snake.

They always seem to feel it is hilarious to offer the snake in my direction, waiting for me to step back in horror to ​provide​ them a hideous giggle. But everyone has small “somethings” that turn us into nutty little girls, running away in terror from a bee.

The other night I was sitting in the living room with my son, who is a large, burly man, when he suddenly winced and shimmied in his chair because a fly had come close to his ear. He was adequately embarrassed so I did not tease him, though greatly tempted.

​Yet ​I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone walk through cobwebs with​out​ getting an icky face and batting with their hands in all directions to rid themselves of the sticky strings.

I once owned a house near a lake. I built a beautiful porch. Every morning there was a spider web in one corner. I took a broom and swept it away, but the next day it would be back again. I asked a friend about it and he said, “Well, the only way to get rid of the cobweb is to kill the spider. Otherwise, ​it​ will just continue to do ​its job faithfully.”

After all, a spider web is just a home for a spider, which doubles as a trap for flies so he can get good eats. It’s a rather ingenious ​invention​.

If I could figure out how to turn my house into a trap for hamburgers, steaks and fried chicken, I’d do it, too.​

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Cobbler

Cobbler: (n) a person who mends shoes as a job

Some jobs by their nature are just flat-out annoying.

Honestly, I’d rather be a garbage collector than a politician. A politician has to interrupt the lives of people to get a vote–never thoroughly making them glad for the intrusion.

On the other hand, a garbage man arrives at your house and hauls away your stinky-poo without irritating the hell out of you.

That’s why I would like to be a cobbler. (I’m not actually thinking of changing employment–just aware that the occupation would certainly offer skill to produce blessing.)

I don’t think I would like to be a haberdasher–because even though you may make a beautiful hat for someone, once they put it on their head, unless they pass by a mirror, they soon forget the nobility of your efforts.

But a cobbler takes a pair of shoes that you really like–so much that you want to get them fixed instead of giving them away to Goodwill–and then restores them to a state of newness. You put them on your feet and they feel so good. You look down and you admire them, and you’re so proud of your choice to repair instead of repel.

So every time you see your cobbler, you say, “Thank you so much, and my toes add a double-amen.”

You may not even recognize your haberdasher–the cat who made the hat.

Your sight of your politician may generate a scowl on your face, which you are unable to remove until the next time you view ice cream.

But your garbage man…

Well, you would invite him over for lunch, to meet your cobbler.

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Cobalt

Cobalt: (n) the chemical element of atomic number 27, a hard silvery-white magnetic metal.

My dad decided to die when I was sixteen years old.

He had planned it for nearly thirty years.

As a cigarette smoker who actually bought tobacco in the can and “rolled his own,” he had pretty well determined the end of his story long before he’d lived out all the plot lines.

I was one of the plot lines.

Before I found out that he had terminal lung cancer which had spread to his brain, there was a brief, three-month period when he became warmer, more tender–wanting some closeness with me.

Unfortunately, by that time I had created so much distance there was no way for me to transport myself to his side–even when I discovered he was dying.

They sat down and explained it to me, pointing out that he would be going through radiation treatments, which involved cobalt. He did.

Yet he barely survived the only cure they had available. When he returned home, he could barely walk and had trouble breathing. His skin was red like he had a deep sunburn, and he smelled like the trash we burned in the back yard.

Being around him just scared the hell out of me.

Everyone wanted me to turn into the devoted son who held the hand of his ailing father up to death’s door.

I just couldn’t do it.

Even when his breathing became so heavy that I could hear it through the walls while sitting on our porch stoop, I couldn’t bring myself to tell him that I loved him or even be present when the last gasp escaped his being.

This is my memory of cobalt.

It was used in the early years of radiation treatment, and left the patient nearly vacant of the resources to think and move.

As I sit here today, I can wish that I had been a better son and he a better father.

But that is because I have an older mind, and sometimes find it difficult to regain the fury involved in being sixteen.

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Cob

Cob: (n) the center of the ear of corn

What do you do when the job you were given, which grants you purpose and function, is no longer needed?

It is a sobering thought.

But that is the yearly reality of the cob.

Once the corn is removed, the cob remaining seems to have no purpose. Yet without the corncob, how would we ever have figured out corn?

Was corn supposed to grow, kernel by kernel, on plants?

No, you can store a hundred or more kernels of corn on a single cob and carry it right out the door. But once you dislodge the corn from the cob, the holder no longer has value.

People used to use cobs for biofuel, to heat homes and such, but they burned so quickly that it was fairly impractical. In other words, nobody could eat enough corn to stay warm.

Every once in a while, it’s ground up, placed inside mattresses, or added to furniture polish to give some roughness to the mixture.

But basically, if you’re a cob, your job is done when the corn is eaten.

How would that feel? (Of course, the point could be made that corn cobs don’t actually have sensation.)

The design is so perfect–two little points at each end, where you place your fingers so you don’t burn them on the hot kernels as you chomp away.

I don’t know. Maybe we’re all corn cobs. Just skeletons, holding our parts together for a season, until our corny lives are done. And then we’re looking for some place to discard the cob.

God. This is dismal.

I think I shall stop writing now.

But it did make me hungry for corn…

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Coax

Coax: (v) to persuade

I finally had enough children that I became a fairly decent father. Therefore I’m not responsible for the initial flops.

All kidding aside, one of the mistakes of all parents is investing too much time into the well-being and involvement of the child.

For me, this realization happened at the swimming pool. My first son, two years of age, came down in his cute little swim trunks. I could hardly wait to get him into the water and see him splash around–a vision I had perceived in a dream the night before.

But instead of jumping into the water or into my arms, he stood at a distance, critically, like an old maid viewing a Playboy magazine for the first time.

I begged.

I pleaded.

I made promises. (I’m talking about Baskin Robbins promises. In other words, the big scoops.)

He was unimpressed.

Matter of fact, he was quite enamored that he had gained my full attention over such a small thing. So in his toddler mind, he was dangling me over the abyss of an emotional cliff, giggling over my slipping grasp.

I hated myself.

He never did get into the pool. I must have asked him a thousand times, and I’m not exaggerating for the purpose of literature.

But by the time I got to the second, third and fourth kid, I realized that the key to engaging your children in good things is to always act like you just don’t give a damn.

I did not invite them into the pool. Matter of fact, I passed along the impression that they were “too small to swim.”

I jumped, threw balls in the air, and in no time at all, each of them came over to the edge, bouncing up and down, waving arms and saying, “Daddy, let me come in!”

I elongated the process (so there wouldn’t be any bitching about the temperature of the water). So when they got in, it was an honor.

Children are manipulative. They are not angels from heaven, unless you’re talking about the fallen variety, hanging out with Lucifer at the clubhouse.

Children were meant to come along with us, not us with them.

I have stopped all coaxing. I don’t coax anyone.

You can watch what I do, listen to what I believe or follow me around to see how hypocritical I am. Then decide for yourself.

I, for one, do not have time to talk people into pursuing good crap.

 

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Coated

Coated: (n) a layer of covering

I, for one, appreciate and enjoy the candy coating on my aspirin.

I know it’s just a brief whiz-by of sweetness, but it keeps me from tasting any of that aspirin flavor that sticks in the back of your throat and makes you cough.

It’s just damned considerate.

This crossed my mind about twenty years ago, but I didn’t really do anything about it until last year. (Sometimes it takes nineteen years to work up the gumption to follow through on one of your own pieces of brilliance.)

But twenty years ago, I thought to myself, the problem with human relationships is that they aren’t candy-coated.

We walk around with some adult, grown-up notion that things should be nasty, and the more bitter they are the better it is–because we’ll end up with such a great, complaining story.

It wasn’t until last year that I realized that this applied to me. I was waiting for somebody else to put it into practice. But then I sat down one afternoon and realized that I am sometimes hard to swallow:

I can be bitter

I can be nasty

I can be sour.

And the truth of the matter is, my responsibilities require that I use candor and truthfulness to get the job done. After all, can there be anything worse than a writer who’s a liar–which may force him to write more lies later?

Yet there are human ingredients of sweetness that can be added to truth, so that we can feel love as we embrace reality.

May we never lose kindness.

May we never forget the power of being gentle.

May we always take into consideration a sense of humor.

And certainly, may our daily lives be blessed by the power of apology and the simplicity of a thank you.

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