Cream of the Crop

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Cream of the crop: (n) the fatty part of milk, which rises to the surface

Audacity can be richly comical if you don’t take yourself too seriously and believe that any one of your proclamations or dreams is sacred.

I’ve always been a music man with a poet’s heart, and the body of a lumberjack. (An overweight lumberjack.)

I’ve wanted to play songs, and I reached an age when the music part of my show was just not bringing in enough dough.

What I had available to me was a wife and two sons. So I decided to form them into a music group. We were not exactly the Partridge Family, the Jacksons nor the Osmonds. We were more like the…

Well, like the Smiths.

There was talent there—but the nine-year-old had just started playing drums, the fourteen-year-old was faithfully practicing on a bass guitar that was mostly broken, and my wife… My wife sang like a wife.

I was an old war horse who had done music for so long that I convinced myself, and quite a few other people, that I was proficient enough at doing it that I should not quit. So I decided to tour with my family.

I am not going to try to rationalize my decision nor disparage it. It was what was available, it was what we could do, we would be together, and no animals would be harmed in the process.

I taught them five songs. That’s right—five. It took a while. The sound was not great, but it would have evoked a smile of approval from the grouchiest member of an audience.

We needed to make a tape we could offer for purchase after our little shows. This way, people would have the music and we could have a few dollars for bologna.

We rented a studio and went in with our five songs—plus one, which I added the day of the recording session. Over the next five hours, we recorded them, mixed them down and ran off a master copy for duplication. Considering that I was working with a nine-year-old, a fourteen-year-old, my wife and my own nervous energy, the production quality hovered just north of bad.

The engineer turned to me and said, “What would you like to name the tape? Because I have to write something down on the label.”

I paused. I thought about the fact that these were the only six songs we knew, and there were no prospects in the near future of adding to the roster.

I thought about naming the tape, “The Best So Far.”

I mused the title, “Our Greatest Hits.”

I lamented that the title, “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo” was already taken.

Finally it came to me.

Since it’s what we had, and we did our best, and it seemed we were at the top of our game at this station in our musical journey, I told the recording engineer to name it, “Cream of the Crop.”

He winced—but obeyed.

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Couch

Couch: (n) a piece of furniture for seating

Although I am just as guilty as the next man or woman of what we shall call “greedy” prayers—those wishes and supplications we make to God and the universe to improve our bank accounts—I am also fully aware that some of the best times of my life transpired when I was funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
unencumbered with the desire for finance, and found great joy in simply trying to survive.

There were many aspects of that process. Let me boil them down to three categories:

  • Eat
  • Sleep
  • Escape

When you’re poor, every day there is the need to find something to eat and also a safe place to sleep and something that is more comfortable than a cardboard box to rest your bones upon, and then, to have the intuition to escape creditors, family members, critics and anybody else who would try to “guilt” you into a lifestyle that mirrors their own.

Now right there, friends, is a full-time job.

If you do not have money, finding enough to eat, a place to sleep, and a way to escape the scrutiny of your adversaries will keep every child of God busy until morning’s light.

I learned the simplicity of finding change and turning it into a couple of dollars which would buy enough bologna and bread to make a meal—if I slipped out into the woods and picked myself some wild blackberries.

And I certainly knew how to circle a neighborhood and find a discarded couch which was heading for the dumpster and had nothing wrong with it except some dirt and recent rain that fell while it sat awaiting its execution.

That couch was fair game. It was rejected, left alone and on a public sidewalk. If I could jump out of my beat-up van, lift it in, and take it back to my location of rest, I could have a place to sit and sleep. There were times I broke out in tears over discovering a particular sofa that was so comfortable that it literally “couched” my aching muscles for many weeks.

I was amazed at what people will give away, throw away or discard because in their opinion, it got old too fast.

I was also astounded at how many doughnut places took their mistakes and day-old product and dumped them out every morning at 8:16 A. M.

And I was careful to swoop in at just the right moment, taking as little time as possible to procure a couch or a beat-up box of rejected doughnuts.

Poverty is an adventure in exhaustion which receives no applause for ingenuity.


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Cherry

Cherry: (n) a small, round stone fruit that is typically bright or dark red.

Rhonda wanted to impress me.

Traveling on the road, feeling young, my hair down to my shoulders, in a beat-up van, with a few songs I had written and dreams of
greatness, Rhonda had bought into my whole delusion and was along for the ride.

Our relationship was an interesting mingling of respect, lust, spirituality and availability.

One day Rhonda went to the store.

It was rather ironic that she was there because we didn’t really have any money. I had given her just two dollars–one to buy some bologna and one to buy some bread and mustard. (This was back when you could buy bread, mustard and bologna with two dollars.)

About forty minutes later she was back with the entrees, but also with a huge bag of cherries. It seems that she had arrived in the produce section just about the time that the manager was ready to throw away a whole bunch of cherries which he had over-ordered for the appetite of the community.

She saw him heading for the dumpster and she asked if she could have the sweet treats. I guess he must have looked at her bell-bottom jeans, hemp blouse and long, stringy hair and felt sorry for her.

He gave her the whole bag.

There were probably three hundred and twenty-eight cherries in there (not that I counted.)

We ate bologna sandwiches and cherries until we could eat no more. Some of the cherries were old and grumpy and others were soft and too mushy, but most of them were deliciously ripe and ready for consumption.

About an hour later, after eating all these cherries, a volcanic rumble began low in my belly, and crept its way up to my chest. Rhonda too.

We both were in horrific pain from a cherry juice hangover.

We needed to go to the bathroom, but there was no real indication that anything would happen.

So we rolled on our bellies all afternoon with a mixture of pain and gratitude over such a cherry experience.

 

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Baloney

Baloney: (n) foolish or deceptive talk; nonsense.Dictionary B

Bologna is a luncheon meat that is derived from unknown sources. The origin of this delicacy is so frighteningly unknown that some individuals refuse to eat it.

On the other hand, most Americans consider it to be a staple of life, and in the throes hunger, one of the tastier ways to soothe the gut.

But the reason we refer to stupid conclusions and ridiculous notions as “baloney” is because our society is very good at taking crap and throwing it in the blender, and then using the “press” to produce a conclusion which has questionable origins.

Matter of fact, there are things we just accept today which twenty years ago, we would have ridiculed.

The reason we accept them is because we are afraid to deal with the issues that might come up if a real conversation was held on the subject.

It’s why the old adage, “never discuss politics and religion” has been ignored in favor of believing that further debate will somehow or another bring about revelation or harmony.

Let’s be frank. Politics and religion are useless if they don’t make our lives better. Matter of fact, almost everything is useless if it doesn’t make our lives better.

Case in point: I was sitting in a gathering of mournful souls who were lamenting the loss of a loved one. It wasn’t even ten seconds before someone intoned the platitude, “He’s in a better place.”

Obviously, that’s baloney. We don’t know where he is. We are mortals, held on this Earthly plane without any awareness of the universe.

But “better place” is an idea that can quickly be pressed together to form a product which is palatable.

It’s like in politics, when we say, “We’re looking for the best person for the job.”

Of course we’re not. The best person to be the President of the United States could never be elected President because that person’s background would be too colorful and could never survive the vetting process.

Baloney is what is served up to the public without revealing how it was actually processed and ground up to form a thought.

And like its counterpart, bologna, it is normally stuck between two pieces of white bread and adorned with something cheesy.

 

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Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix

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