Decal

Decal: (n) a specially prepared paper bearing a design for transfer to wood, metal, glass, etc.

 The extra-large was not quite big enough.

It was the story of my adolescent life.

I was always just a little bigger than the size chart proposed, and the clothes-makers made available.

But the guys in the group had their hearts set on these bright yellow-gold, open-front sweaters that we could wear onstage whenever we actually found ourselves onstage, playing our music.

Like most high school bands, we talked and planned more than we set up and performed.

We practiced twice a week—for no gigs.

And every once in a while, we got the itch to buy a stage outfit—for no stages.

I had to admit that the sweater was absolutely one of the coolest things I’d ever seen in my life. It looked great on everybody else—whose bodies aligned in the righteous station of normal.

But it was small on me.

I didn’t care.

I decided to buy it along with the rest of my friends.

And suddenly we were the possessors of the coolest outfit to wear if a stage were ever made available.

Black pants. Black banlon turtlenecks. Gold sweaters.

A mother of one of the guys suggested that we needed some sort of decal on the sweater to set it apart as unique to us.

We didn’t know exactly what she meant, but we nodded in respect. Sensing our confusion, she gathered up the sweaters and said, “Give me a week and I’ll give you a surprise.”

We had no capacity to object.

Two weeks later, she handed us back our golden sweaters—except on the top left panel, near the shoulder, there was a B and a Q decal, which she had embroidered into the cloth.

Since we were called “The Blessings Quartet” it was pretty cool.

Actually, we were all shocked at how neat it looked and how groovy it was, considering it had been made by an adult.

It did not make my sweater fit better.

But to this day I believe that we started getting opportunities to perform because word of our gorgeous sweaters, with the decal, quickly spread throughout the surrounding masses.

 

Dago

Dago (n): a contemptuous term used for a person of Italian or Spanish descent

I was seven years old and not about to lose the blessings of my youth by questioning grown-ups on what they did.

There was fifty cents worth of allowance at stake and the occasional affectionate pat on the head—plus a half pound of pickle pimento loaf, purchased once every two weeks just for me at White’s Market.

I had much to lose.

So when I heard grown-ups say “Spic,” I thought it was short for “spicy.” After all, Mexicans do like their hot peppers.

When they said “Chink” I thought it was a tribute to Chinese armor, or that protective gear worn by the Samurai.

“Negro” sounded to me like “Negro,” which I believed to be an appropriate term for a race of people I rarely saw.

“Injun?” I had convinced myself it was the Iroquois word for “American Indian.”

And of course, “Dago,” for Italian folks, seemed logical to me because it sounded like pizza dough, and I sure did like pizza.

I was a full blown-out adult when I realized that these terms were not only derogatory but disabling.

I repented quickly of my foolishness and tried to find a way to understand the ignorance that brought this nasty language my way.

Burnout

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Burnout: (n) physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.

One of the most interesting little stories in the Good Book, whether you hold to its authenticity or not, is the tale of Moses and the burning bush.

Although I’m sure most folks are greatly impressed by the fact that God spoke to Moses from the flames, the thing that strikes me is that according to the story, the bush was burning, but not consumed.

In other words, God wanted to talk to Moses, but being a great caretaker of His creation, He decided it was not necessary to kill a bush to do it.

Isn’t that amazing?

Yet there is a deep, abiding, adult attitude–that we prove our prowess by stressing out and warning people how “burned out” we are with our circumstances.

Can we teach ourselves that it is possible to produce light without fire? Because it is completely plausible to emit an incandescence from the soul, which pours out of our eyeballs with a sense of enlightened contentment.

I have a simple rule: if it gets hard, stop.

If it seems difficult, take five. And if I’m convinced I am being punished, quickly climb down from the cross.

The only light that is truly powerful is the one that’s generated from my own heart, as I comfortably, joyfully and simply live out who I am, realizing that I possess illumination.

 

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Brew

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Brew: (v) to make beer

The truth of the matter is, whatever I choose not to do becomes suspect.

I don’t like that. Matter of fact, I try very intensely to counteract that through my actions.Dictionary B

But if internally I have made a choice, generally speaking I think it’s a right one, and therefore have a tendency to flirt with intolerance.

Yet maturity is the process of realizing that our thoughts are not supreme.

This has always been my problem with alcohol. I just never jumped on the “rum run.”

I’ve never had more than a few sips of beer.

I’ve choked down a few glasses of wine.

And maybe once or twice I had a mixed drink simply because I thought the inserted umbrellas looked really pretty.

I found all of those experiences to be unfulfilling.

So the prevalence of alcohol in our society–especially since it’s tied to being an adult–leaves me baffled.

Many years ago I did a tour of Lutheran churches in Wisconsin, and discovered that most of the parishioners brewed their own beer.

Please don’t misinterpret my sentiments. I’m not saying that drinking or not drinking makes you a good or bad person.

Or maybe, in some silly, immature way, I am.

I’m not sure.

But I am grateful that I have never carried through to completion a judgment on someone based on whether they partook of the brew.

Over the years, I have tried to adjust my thinking … without actually drinking.

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Applicant

dictionary with letter A

Ap·pli·cant (n): a person who makes a formal application for something, typically a job.

Filling out a form often has no reason.

I have done my share, as I’m sure you have.

Matter of fact, in the business world, being handed a form to fill out is often considered to be a formal greeting. Sometimes there’s a clipboard so you can sit and write on your knee, using the pen attached by some sort of wire.

They are certainly attempting to communicate that this is part of their process, and demanded if you plan to be included in their little cult of the organized.

Each application has its own personality. It also has its own level of nosiness.

At a doctor’s office, an application can include questions that go back into the lifestyles of your ancient ancestors.

Did my great-grandfather have rheumatic fever? (Honestly, I don’t know, so I make up an answer.)

If you’re applying for a loan at a bank, they want to know lots of things about your lots of things–even lots of things about your little things. And especially little things about lots of things.

Probably the most grating experience in the human panorama is watching someone peruse your application while you sit, wiggling and squirming in silence.

  • Did I answer right?
  • How was my penmanship? (Mrs. Bosley always said I made really ugly “n’s.” Of course, I was in the first grade…)

Yes, there’s nothing quite as frustrating–dare I say aggravating–as being condemned over answers scrawled on a piece of paper.

And I have made the mistake of trying to be humorous on such applications, only to have the interviewer, who obviously has no mirth anywhere within his or her soul, question me as to the meaning of my answer. At that point, it hardly seems to be appropriate to say, “I was kidding,” and saying I misunderstood the question is even more embarrassing.

No, being an applicant and filling out an application is serious business.

It demands an adult mind–one which is still childish enough to believe that such filling in the blanks is actually a microcosm of one’s life.

 

 

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