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…

Donate Button

Advertisements

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.

 

Donate Button

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.

Donate Button

Coat

Coat: (n) an outer garment worn for warmth

Is it possible I was allergic? No–that’s not the word.

I certainly couldn’t stand to have a coat on until… well, very recently.

All through my teen years, my mother insisted I wear one to school, and I always removed it within ten feet from the door of our home, convinced, I think, that I would break out in a rash if I continued to wear it.

I don’t know whether it was a case of macho, or whether there was a part of me that believed that only wimps and Mama’s boys wore such outer protection.

In the winter months in Ohio, I went with short sleeves.

I once found a sweater I liked for a while–but then my older brother claimed it as his own and I never saw it again.

There was something powerful about remaining chilly. Even as a man, in the wintertime I would find a sunshiny day and play tennis in shorts and a tank top.

I always loved the question, “Aren’t you cold?”

Hell, no. I’m hot, Mama.

I guess that was the thing. I suppose I was trying to communicate to the females around me that I was a furnace. A blazing fire of love.

Or maybe it wasn’t that at all.

Maybe I hated the confinement. Because I was chubby, coats always fit me like a straight jacket–especially if I zipped them up. They were so tight I felt the garment was holding my organs in.

But of late I have changed my mind. The feeling of warmth coming on your skin, suddenly protecting it from chill and frost–it’s very comforting.

I enjoy it.

But, while wearing a coat, I still feel like Wimpy Boy Billy.

 

Donate Button

Coaster

Coaster: (n) a small mat placed under a glass to protect the table underneath.

It’s one of those factors that determines whether you are a bungler or a baron.

There are many.

But when you find yourself with a glass of drink and there is a table in front of you, do you procure a coaster so your condensation does not leave a ring on the table, or do you just put your glass down and later act completely bewildered because your hostess or host was offended by your choice?

It’s where we teeter–all human beings teeter between understanding and arrogance.

Often we understand the purpose for matters, yet in our arrogance, we resist performing the courteous function simply because it seems tedious and makes us appear too subservient.

A long time ago I had to decide whether to be a bungler or become a baron. Would I be willing to learn the things that are important to my brothers and sisters, and simply avoid conflict with their tender conscience by doing them? Or would I stubbornly going to insist that it’s a “goddamn free country,” and proceed to take my pet bull off the leash for the latest visit to the china shop?

Coasters are not effeminate.

Coasters are not irrational.

Coasters may not be necessary–but you won’t know until you don’t use one. So why take the risk, especially on the chance that you might unnecessarily offend a friend?

But stubborn we are–all children of Adam and Eve.

Yet, if you want to get back into the Garden, you need to swallow your pride and discover the location of the forbidden apples.

 

Donate Button

Coast

Coast: (n) the part of the land near the sea; the edge of the land.

It was a Thursday afternoon. (Actually it probably wasn’t a Thursday afternoon, but I needed someplace to start this essay.)

I was twenty years old, had a music group and was gradually starving my way to success. The definition of that process, by the way, is that there may be visible signs of progress in your career, but you’re also about ready to be evicted.

I had spent all of my youth and the beginnings of my adult life living in the midwest and visiting the mid-south. I had no complaints about the region–just felt deprived of the opportunity to go to the coast and see the ocean. Any coast would have been fine, although I did not favor Northern Canada and the Arctic Ocean.

No opportunity came my way to go and view the glorious blue. So finally I just decided to make an opportunity. I scheduled a little coffee-house gig for us in Sarasota, Florida. Matter of fact, I ended up being able to procure three such opportunities on our way down there. This trifecta of bookings was certainly not going to be enough to cover expenses. I didn’t care. I was going to the coast to see the ocean.

Our vehicle was in terrible shape, so on the way there we broke down–once mechanically and twice from bald tires, which finally exhaled all air.

Yet we finally arrived in Sarasota. Breathlessly, with my hand shaking on the steering wheel, I headed off to see the beauty of the ocean, the waves crashing onto the shore.

It was mind-altering, as all new experiences should be. I just sat there with the members of my group, and we stared at it for two hours. I was so excited that I went to a nearby cafe to order some lunch, which considering our budget, consisted of sharing a muffin, a hot dog and a cup of coffee among three people.

All of us were bubbling over with enthusiasm, as we shared with our waitress that we had come all the way from Ohio to Sarasota to see the ocean. Each one of us had a brief testimonial of how much the experience had impacted our life.

The waitress stood and listened patiently, and when we finally fell silent, having completed all of our praise, she quietly deadpanned, “That’s not the ocean. That’s the Gulf of Mexico.”

She walked away, confident of her geography.

I looked at my two comrades. They were just as distressed as I.

Staring out in the distance at the waves, it suddenly seemed meaningless.

Me wept.

Donate Button

Coarse

Coarse: (adj) rude, crude, or vulgar.

Fortunately for the human race, if for some reason they do not want to deal with your message or the impact of your words, they can either critique your style or claim that your language is coarse and profane.

I have spent the major part of my professional career trying to determine the words that best describe what I’m trying to communicate, and then attempting to slide those cherished words into the body of my work, without being shunned for foul usage.

Honestly, when describing an atrocity and the need for change, the word “darn” does not replace “damn.”

For many years I was critiqued for saying “crap”–but “bullcrap” is not as energetic as “bullshit.”

The purpose of speech is to communicate. The goal of the written word is to impact. And the mission of the visual is to enlighten.

They must be permitted to do their jobs without being censored, or even-tempered.

I happen to agree that the word f-u-c-k is rarely necessary to communicate and certainly should not be overused as an adjective or an adverb.

But even that stipulation carries a bit of fuddy-duddy, which is not necessarily applicable in the pursuit of waking up the sleepy masses.

Having survived a lifetime which has included living in a society where the word “pregnant” could not be uttered on television, to now living in an Internet generation, where temperance is disdained, I am more than happy to put guidelines on my own soul–using an economy of words to justify the heart of the story, without coarsely tainting it with unnecessary emotions which threaten to condemn it.

Donate Button