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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Cruise

Cruise: (v) to sail about on a pleasure trip.

I stumbled upon a little piece of personal revelation, which after much thought, might just end up being worthy of universal application.

(Not everything I think falls into this category. Many things that I pursue pertain mostly to me, and would not be helpful or even interesting, to an outsider.)

For instance, my daily regimen in approaching healthy eating would certainly bore the most prideful listener.

But what I’ve discovered is that nothing in life has immediate appeal—nor is it dead-on-arrival.

Each one of us ends up talking ourselves into everything.

So it only stands to reason that we talk ourselves out of other things.

For me, one of those things is a cruise on a ship.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with such an adventure. There have even been television shows produced extolling the pleasures of food, fun and romance—even promising that the boat itself might just be “love.”

But somehow or another I have talked myself out of this.

I talked myself into being a musician. Honestly, there’s little that’s more tedious.

I convinced myself of the glories of fatherhood. Yet this did not happen until children were afoot.

But I’ve also talked myself out of… Let me see:

How about a daily run? I think a daily run would be possible for me if there were someone trailing me slowly in a jeep, firing a machine gun at my heels. Yes, I would need adequate motivation.

So as I think about a cruise, the following four things immediately annoy me:

  1. Walking up the plank to get on.

I don’t know why. It just seems like I’m lining up in a prison yard for daily gruel.

  1. Cramped quarters.

To make money, a cruise ship must have little cabins, and of course, the smaller they make them the more people they can put onto the ship, and therefore, the more profit.

I am a big man, constantly perturbed by living in a medium world.

  1. A constant barrage of food.

Perhaps I’m odd, but after I eat, the last thing I want to do is go dancing in the Mambo Room.

Doesn’t that sound horrible? Where is the time for digestion?

  1. And finally, the pool.

If the boat is for love, then people are peering extra carefully at one another for the potential of unexplainable romantic entanglements.

When I go swimming, I’m thinking more about cannonballs and floating. Probably not the mindset of Carnivale.

So you see, I have not given a cruise a chance—because I have convinced myself that it is not worthy of my consideration.

I probably should have done that with bologna and sausage years ago.

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Cruel

Cruel: (adj) willfully or knowingly causing pain or distress to others.

You do know that your clock doesn’t say, right?

I’m talking about when we casually cite, “The clock says…” and we note the time.

Since clocks can’t speak, they can’t say.

Some folks would say that’s being picky. (Actually, it’s a little trick you learn in writing to make sure you don’t have grumblers and complainers instantly mocking you because you claim to have a talking clock.)

But two nights ago, I caught my clock reading, “2:53 A.M.”

Suddenly I was wide awake.

It’s amazing that during some of these midnight stirrings, it feels like you could get up and build a bridge. And then, five hours later when you’re supposed to get up and bridge something, you can barely move.

We are strangely constructed, curiously functioning and unfathomable in our conclusion.

But since the clock read “2:53,” I decided to ask what the plot was. Yes—my brain always has some sort of idea it’s brewing, contrary to what I might think about during the day, and also frequently critical of my self-assured attitude.

The question on this particular awakening was, “How have I been cruel?”

When I’m better prepared—after the selection of my favorite shirt and a good breakfast—I would probably insist that I’m not cruel. But my brain was reading something else at 2:54 in the morning. So I stayed quiet and listened.

This is the lecture I received:

You are cruel when you withhold appreciation simply because you believe you’ve already expressed your favor.

You are cruel when you know someone requires a hug and you supply a handshake instead.

You are cruel when your friend has contacted you by text or email, and you arbitrarily decide to return it—the next day.

You are cruel when you hear an ignorant statement made in your presence and you let it go without comment, thinking it’s none of your damn business.

You are cruel when you turn into cement over an issue of spirituality, politics or morality because you think it makes you appear more righteous.

You are cruel when you comply to the mediocrity of a situation or the indifference of a room because there’s no need to be a boat-rocker.

You are cruel when you no longer believe you’re capable of being cruel.

I don’t like it when my clock reads.

I guess I’m just like everyone else:

I would be completely satisfied with an ignorant time piece.

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