Crutch

Crutch: (n) a staff to assist a lame person in walking

Granted sexual energy, stamina and maybe the best physical appearance one ever sports…

The age of sixteen might seem to be the highlight of one’s life.

That is, if it were not accompanied by such stupidity.

I liked Kevin. I think Kevin liked me. We had been friends since elementary school.

But when he was sixteen years old, he broke his leg.

He was out with a bunch of friends, sledding on a snowy day, and failed to notice that his sleigh was going particularly fast and he was unable to stop from crashing into a wall.

It was a clean break.

Matter of fact, he went right to the doctor and had a cast put on (back in the day when such contraptions were humongous, resembling modern art).

Kevin was not part of the very popular crowd–but on any Friday night when a party was being planned, he was also not on the “don’t invite at any cost” list.

Then something strange happened.

His accident occurred on a Saturday, so he showed up at school on Monday, his leg in a cast, on crutches.

At first there was an outpouring of sympathy.

But then, a strange anthropology sprouted in our herd. All the other sixteen-year-old kids began acting aloof to Kevin. Maybe it was because he was always trailing us, hopping along on his crutches. (Or because we grew up in a small, provincial community and the kids thought the broken leg might be contagious.)

Whatever the cause, by the time Kevin completed his seven-week rehabilitation and returned to us wearing two shoes, he had become an outcast.

He tried desperately to return to his normal acceptable position, but invitations to parties went away.

I tried to befriend him–but suffering in the throes of adolescent insanity myself, I also retreated.

It didn’t get better when he was seventeen and it didn’t get better when he was eighteen.

That seven-week period when our comrade had a broken leg, giving us a visual of himself on crutches, sealed his image for the balance of high school.

It was so bizarre.

Kevin tried everything possible to re-establish himself. He tried out for the football team, chorus and the school play. It didn’t make any difference.

Yet I thought it was a phenomenon of being a shortsighted teenager until I grew up and realized that expressing weakness or needing a crutch of any type in the presence of your fellow-humans traps you in a box that is very difficult to escape.

So what is the best advice?

Stay away from a crutch.

Which probably means you should stop breaking your legs.

 

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Crust

Crust: (v) to form something into a crust.

If all the weird revelations about ourselves would come to the forefront in a single day, we would be so shocked that we might literally roll up in a ball and die.

(Well, it could happen.)

Not so long ago, poolside at a motel, I finished going for a swim.

The sun was shining perfectly—enough to give me a little bit of glow on my face. I was self-satisfied with the little workout I had done in the pool, where I had moved around just short of becoming out of breath.

I also had been recently dieting, so I was very enamored with myself—because I could cross my legs—legs which previously had refused all notions of intertwining.

So sitting there in a pool chair with my legs crossed, I reached down with my hand and rubbed my heel.

To my astonishment, three or four fingers-full of white, dry, dead skin fell off.

It apparently had been there for some time—crusty, like an old miner from the California gold rush.

Loosened by the swim, it was now prepared to identify itself as dead, leave my body, and return to the Earth from whence it came.

I was simultaneously grossed out and intrigued by my skin-rubbing and droppage.

I kept doing it over and over again and more and more skin kept falling off. It wasn’t ugly—it was pure white. But it just kept coming. Or better phrased, going.

I moved up my leg a little more, to my calf, and sure enough—there was more discard.

I became so engrossed in this gross activity that I failed to notice there were three or four people poolside who had turned into an uninvited (and by the looks on their faces) unappreciative audience.

So much dead, crusty skin fell off my feet through this exercise that there was a little pile.

Once I realized I was being observed by the masses, I quickly uncrossed my legs and shuffled my feet around, trying to distribute my skin flakes throughout the grass.

For some reason, my audience found this even sicker.

One lady got up and moved, shaking her head. She had finally found the worst thing she had ever seen in her life. And she was so young and innocent…

But even though I realized what I was doing was not pleasant to those around me, since I was staying at a motel in a strange town and nobody knew me, I persisted.

Aye—the rub.

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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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