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.

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Bandana

Bandana: (n) a large handkerchief, typically having a colorful pattern, worn tied around the head or neck.Dictionary B

Knowing your limitations is important…and annoying.

Importantly annoying. To a certain degree, that summarizes adult life.

When I was a much younger man, I became quite enamored with the hippie philosophy–but more or less the attire rather than the ideals.

Now, let me make it clear that I am a chubby fellow. (Chubby is the generous word I use today for “fat.”)

But I did love the flowered shirts and the bandanas which were often worn on the head, to look cool and maybe have some practical purpose which certainly escaped my perception.

So since they did not make these flowered shirts in my size, I had a girlfriend make one for me. Unfortunately, the material I chose was literally covered with flowers, and she made it a little too big and irregular around the collar, so it kind of draped me at the chest.

But I slid on a bandana and proudly donned my new shirt and went out into society to establish my uniqueness. Much to my chagrin, the first four people who saw me referred to me as “ma’am.”

You see, when you’re chubby and wear a blousy flowered shirt, it does appear to be a blouse. Add a bandana and you look a little like you’re heading off into the field to pick lettuce.

So I was greatly offended, but rather than abandoning my clothing choice, I decided to grow a mustache to enhance my masculine image. Unfortunately, most people just thought the circus had come to town and they had caught the Bearded Lady on “Shave Day.”

It was embarrassing.

It made me defensive.

So my life as a hippie was very brief, and eventually I found it safer to reject the bandana in favor of a baseball cap.

To my delight, almost immediatelyI was once again viewed as a dude.

 

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Arithmetic

dictionary with letter A

Arithmetic: (n) the branch of mathematics dealing with the manipulation and properties of numbers.

Arithmetic is definitely one of them.

It is one of the four basic skills required to maintain an adult life without constantly looking inept.

I wish I had known that when I was in high school. But fortunately, I did learn enough addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to handle my finance and everyday activities without always requiring a calculator in my hand, with numbers too tiny to punch.

Would you be curious about the other three?

Number 2. Reading.

Yes, often people ask us to read aloud–and if we stumble over words or are too slow, it is immediately surmised that we are mentally challenged.

3. Writing. Although grammar can be a naughty mistress or a nagging wife, there are certain qualifications necessary to be part of the human family. One should know that “you are,” as a contraction, is spelled y-o-u’r-e, not y-o-u-r.

If you are not familiar with several of these common mishaps-in-print, you will be laughed at by the snobs and bewilder the kinder folk.

4. Can you make a two-minute speech on your feet without spending 72 seconds of it explaining why you’re not good at it? We are a gregarious race, and demand that those around us have the ability to articulate their feelings without having too many a-a-h-s, umms, or … what was I saying?

Arithmetic is very important. Without it, things just don’t add up.

 

 

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