Cycling

Cycling: (n) the act or sport of riding or traveling by bicycle

 I got my first bicycle when I was ten years old.

Although no one actually weighed me, from my memories and careful guesstimation, I would say I probably weighed two hundred pounds.

My parents were not wealthy and could not afford a heavy-duty bicycle for me, so I ended up with a lovely Schwinn.

It was suited for a boy less than half my size.

First of all, may I say that riding a bicycle when you’re obese is like perching a frog on the head of a pin.

It was not comfortable.

And I was surprised at how much energy it took for my chubby legs to pedal my weight along the road.

But I was thrilled when a friend asked me to take over his paper route for two weeks during his vacation.

It was very nice of him, and he guaranteed me five dollars a week to perform the task.

Thirty-six daily deliveries—and going door-to-door on Saturdays to collect the subscription money.

Now, the whole thing sounded completely plausible and nearly fun. But on the first day, when I had trouble getting all the newspapers onto the back of my bicycle and struggled with pedaling both my weight and the additional girth of the news, I almost lost heart and nearly gave up around delivery seventeen.

I decided to gut it out for the day and planned to telephone my friend at his vacation spot and let him know I would not be able to fulfill my promise.

But a fit of “Sunday School” possessed my soul and I concluded it was unfair to leave him hanging.

I chose to endure.

During my normal cycling, I didn’t have to stand up on the bicycle to pedal—because I avoided hills. But the paper route had three large hills, and unfortunately, on the fourth day, second hill, when I stood, the pedal broke off due to my weight.

I was not terribly embarrassed about it until I went to the hardware store, showed what had happened, and the old man behind the counter rubbed his chin and declared, “Boy, how in the hell did you break off a pedal? I’ve never seen such a thing. Maybe you oughta lose some weight.”

As I tell you this story, it’s astounding to me that his statement upset me so badly—but it did. I cried all the way home and all during the time it took me to reinstall a new pedal.

After that, every time I came to a big hill, I had to get off the bike and walk up, pushing it, because I was afraid of breaking another one and the humiliation of dealing with Gramps down at the store.

Mostly I enjoyed cycling.

But the thought of pedaling still puts a chill down my spine.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Cycle

Cycle: (n) any long period of years; age. 

I am not sure if I am offering an observation or a musing.

Just so you’ll know the difference—at least in my mind—an observation is something that has occurred enough times that it causes me to believe there is a trend.

A musing is an action which may have only happened once but foretells a cycle of change.

All that being said (and offering way too much information) I want to put forth the observation (or the musing) that even though we contend that “everything old is new again,” I have begun to notice that fads and tendencies may return, but seem to possess less vigorous authenticity.

In this way, I think the human race is threatening its own demise.

It is not because we fall into repetition, but rather, because each generation loses a degree of passion in chasing the possibility.

I see people wearing bell-bottoms and tie-dye shirts much like the apparel of my friends from my comin’-up years. But rather than holding up signs against war or speaking up for love and peace, they are staring at their phones, perusing a fresh vein of distraction.

When I was a young human, we recycled jazz and blues into rock and roll—but the steaminess, pain and earthy quality of the Bayou and the Delta were translated into “Hang On, Sloopy.”

I think, in our pursuit of originality without duplication of our parents, we must keep a pulse on our hearts, to ensure that we are a purposed people instead of mud-puddles reflecting a murky past.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Cyberbully

Cyberbully: (v) to bully online by sending or posting mean or intimidating messages, usually anonymously

 Vices are depleted of all virtue.

If we don’t believe this, we tend to make excuses for errant behavior—even contending that such actions have a time or place.

This is why bratty, snotty, cynical and ignorant continue to live on, although they were exposed as useless long ago.

Bullying has also proven to be both unpleasant and ineffective.

It is unpleasant because the one doing the bullying is left with a sour, stale taste in his or her mouth, and ineffective because after a brief sense of victory, every bully is eventually identified and eliminated.

But now we have the Internet.

It’s the perfect platform for those who wish to be bullies but fear being punched in the nose by a superior force. They can now hide out behind what is usually a not-so-clever tag or handle.

I am convinced that most human beings prefer to be considered nice but have found the upkeep on such a profile daunting, or perhaps boring.

I, myself, will occasionally get in the presence of those who twist my last nerve and try to stomp on the weakness of my good grace.

I immediately realize I have a choice.

I can become offended, infuriated or disgusted, using my language tools to devastate them with some unrighteous retort.

Or (now, please listen) I can walk away and realize that within thirty feet of my departure, they are barely on my mind.

Sometimes occupying the same space is the best way to turn yourself into an asshole—if you’re occupying that space with someone who brings out the bully in you.

The purpose of the Internet is to create communication, not destroy it—to connect us to one another instead of rubbing each other the wrong way, producing friction and pain.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Cyanide

Cyanide: (n) a salt of hydrocyanic acid, as potassium cyanide, KCN.

 If, in your job description, there are instructions describing the circumstances, conditions or situations in which you are required to drop cyanide tablets in your mouth to commit suicide, then, in my opinion, you’ve chosen a poor profession.

I don’t care for any philosophy, religion or nationalism that promotes the idea that ultimate devotion requires the loss of life.

For instance, I would be very happy to assist my country in diplomacy, giving food to the hungry or even trying to find a way to motivate myself to dig a ditch.

But when you refer to the ultimate sacrifice—that being, giving your life in a war for freedom—I must tell you, I find this hideous.

Likewise, in Christianity, when they discuss the disciples becoming martyrs for the faith, I have a tendency to mull over the possibility that there might have been a way to skip out of the pagan land that was so pissed with their preaching and just go to more receptive audiences.

I know this might make me sound shallow.

But death, suicide and popping cyanide in the last moments to make sure you are not captured and interrogated is not only unappealing, but anti-human and anti-common sense.

I will not dwell with those who revere death as the supreme statement of consecration without objecting to such futility in favor of using our hands, our minds and our spirits to enhance the world.

Certainly this eliminates me from being a spy.

I probably will never work for the CIA.

Even the FBI might pass me over in favor of a more death-willing applicant.

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Cuyahoga Falls

Cuyahoga Falls: (n) a city in Northeast Ohio, near Akron

 The reason essays are often long is because the author feels compelled to place the reader in the exact moment and space of a given time.

Suffice it to say, today I am talking about a season in our history when boys were dying in Vietnam, hippies were walking the streets and young lads and lasses from the Midwest were desperately trying to be neither.

I grew up in Ohio.

Ohio insists it’s a single state, but anyone who lives there knows differently.

If you lived in Columbus, you might as well be from Iowa, or any other Midwest hold-out to social progress.

If you lived in Cincinnati, you were more like Dixie, with grits in your teeth.

And to the far north was Cleveland, which desperately tried to imitate New York City, complete with crime and a filthy Lake Erie to mirror the polluted Hudson.

I lived right in the center.

No, it’s true. My hometown was exactly ten miles from the geographical center of Ohio. That in itself should have afforded me great honor, but I was stuck, like everyone else, trying to prove myself and do the best with the talent shoveled in my direction.

Mine was music.

But my music was not quite suited to the genre that was rattling and reeling in the time capsule of hippies and soldiers.

So one day, I wiggled my way into scheduling a coffee house in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio—very near Akron. I didn’t know much about the place and they didn’t know much about me.

So my little band, excited about actually going somewhere to play a road gig, dressed up.

For the guys, that was pants and a long-sleeved shirt with a tie.

And for the ladies—well, they basically wore their prom dresses.

We arrived at the coffee house, which was called Avalon, and everybody there was in bell-bottom blue jeans, t-shirts, with long hair and sneers.

It was a long night.

Every song we tried was met with chuckles and everything we said was ignored, as they turned to one another and carried on conversations.

I became angry, mainly because I was young, foolish and felt it was my right to be offended.

I told them they were a bunch of snobs. I also told them they didn’t have the wardrobe for it.

This was my first and only laugh of the night.

The proprietor of the coffeehouse stood to his feet and said, “Be cool, fool. You just don’t fit in here.”

He was right—while simultaneously being wrong.

Because if we’re waiting for everyone to mature or expand to be welcomed into our little utopia, we’ve missed the whole point of having one.

A utopia is meant to be a place where anyone is welcome without fear.

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Cutup

Cutup: (n) a prankster or show-off.

 This simple, humble author lands somewhere between a prankster and a showoff.

My brain has just always thought with a twist of funny.

Usually, this is just fine—unless I’m at a funeral or around people who think the measure of the human race is in the quality of the frown.

But I do know there is a great danger with humor.

Having spoken to many audiences over the years, I have learned that the worst thing you can promote is that you are a comedian.

Matter of fact, I have insisted that the sponsors who have brought me in to perform never, ever place the words “funny, humorous” or especially “side-splitting laughter” in my promo.

Once people are aware that you’re trying to make them laugh—attempting to be tonight’s official cutup—they will do everything in their power to analyze what you’re saying and convince themselves that you’re not clever at all. For I will tell you:

Humor must surprise.

It must come from the least-expected place and land in a region of dullness.

That’s when it’s at its best.

I have offered eulogies and recited an embarrassing incident the deceased performed in my presence, and the room was enlightened with hilarity and a deep sense of gratitude at escaping the doldrums.

No, you can’t advertise yourself as a cutup.

If you do, your hearers will unconsciously cut you up–and put your words, expressions and punchlines under a microscope.

We laugh best when we laugh astonished.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Cutting Edge

Cutting Edge: (n) at the forefront or lead

I am guilty of taking my brain on field trips to boring conversations with people who try to turn very old ideas into new concepts.

Or worse, they take something proven to be ineffective and merely rename it.

My brain gets very upset.

My emotions threaten to abandon in protest.

And during the process, my spirit slithers over into a corner and goes to sleep.

I don’t want to hear the phrase “cutting edge” until we’re actually willing to do something that cuts away the unnecessary, the unrighteous and the unworthy from our human paradox.

After all, you can’t have a cutting edge without some severing.

So what should we cut ourselves off from?

Here’s one:

The more highly we think of ourselves, the more elevated our consciousness will become. (Actually, we just become lofty assholes.)

I must give you a second:

Loving people is often impossible. (We adore this assertion—because then we can determine how quickly “impossible” arrives on the scene.)

And finally, a third:

Discovering our cultural differences helps us appreciate our diversity. (Actually, the more we talk about things being different for one another, the less unity we create.)

There is only one cutting edge: Love your neighbor as yourself.

So let us stop making so many goddamn excuses for why it won’t work.

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C