Coshocton

Coshocton: (n) a city in E central Ohio.

My body was twenty years old, my heart, fifteen, my soul, sixty-five, and my mind, ten.

Yeah. That’s about right.

I had started a music group and was convinced it was just a matter of time until we would have a record contract, dazzling the airwaves, and in the process also impress my family members who thought I should get a job at a local department store called Buckeye Mart.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Gigs were hard to come by. We were performing contemporary music with a rock edge, but it had a Christian message. In that season, those elements were not allowed to combine.

So I was absolutely thrilled when there was a Bible college in Coshocton, Ohio, which contacted us and said they wanted us to come and play for their morning chapel.

I had long hair, and our group dressed like hippies who had put together their wardrobe with an Ohio mindset. We headed off to the college—which was rather conservative, and upon arriving, immediately ran into trouble.

The dean of students did not think it was appropriate to place us on a “platform of importance” when they had a dress code at the school which included that all men must wear their hair off their ears.

I kept my cool. This was the “old soul” part of me. I explained to them, in a comical way, that I was going to use part of the twenty-five-dollar honorarium check to get a haircut, because up to this point, I had not been able to afford one.

They looked at me with sympathetic eyes and actually bought the story—so much so that I was embarrassed that I lied to them.

Nevertheless, the Dean of Students included that part of our interchange in the introduction before we came up to sing our two songs.

I should say “prepared to sing our two songs,” because when we began, the bass guitar and drums were so foreign that the teaching staff came forward, objected and stopped the program.

The students were alarmed and perhaps offended that we were not able to continue but had drunk enough of the Kool-Aid to remain silent.

The ten-year-old mind and the fifteen-year-old emotions got together—and I threw a shit fit right there in front of everyone. I quoted Bible, Bill of Rights, Constitution and even something I had read in their school charter about “allowing the Spirit to move.”

It didn’t make any difference.

But apparently, I was eloquent enough that they decided to give us the twenty-five dollar check anyway, so it wouldn’t look like they were welchers and had cheated us.

So having only sung a half of a chorus on one song, we packed up our equipment and headed down the road.

By the way—I never got the haircut.


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Charcoal

Charcoal: (v) to cook over charcoal.

My dad tried hard.

I didn’t know it at the time–I was a teenager and I thought he was an old man. He was pretty old–older than most of the dads.

Sometimes he would imitate joy over having me as a son. I was usually watching television at the time, and unaffected by his attempts at
conversation. Then, when I needed five dollars to take a girl on a date, he distanced himself from me–protecting his pocketbook.

We never connected. But to his credit, he never stopped trying.

He even decided to go out and buy a really cheap grill from Buckeye Mart, complete with charcoal briquettes and lighting fluid. He was determined to grill hamburgers in our back yard.

He had no experience.

The first half hour was spent trying to figure out how to ignite the charcoal. Then he ended up wasting about two pounds of hamburger because he didn’t know you were supposed to wait until the fire went down. I faithfully stood by his side watching as he told me I would be taking over the grill in just a few moments.

I never did take over the grill.

The charcoal he bought was so cheap it wouldn’t stay lit and the lighter fluid was bargain brand and not very effective.

So at the end of the excursion, my father presented a platter of hamburgers that looked like charcoal briquettes, and some that were still raw.

It was a fiasco.

It would have been fine if he had laughed at himself or admitted his lack of foreknowledge. But he didn’t. He blamed Buckeye Mart for having inferior products and me for not being adequately motivated.

It is not a good memory.

But it does remind me that a sad man–who happened to be my dad–kept trying to please a very bratty son.

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Antenna

dictionary with letter A

Antenna: (n) 1. a rod or wire used to transmit or receive radio or television signals 2. a pair of thin sensory appendages on the heads of insects

A thirteen-inch black and white portable television purchased for $29.95 at a store called Buckeye Mart.

It’s all we could afford.

I was recently married, had a child, and poverty was our constant friend.

So we took the little TV set to our home, hooked it up, and attached this circular antenna, which looked like a huge paper clip, turned on the set, and got basically a snow-covered screen with a faint picture in the background.

So I fiddled with the antenna.

What I discovered was that every time I put my hand on the antenna, the picture would get better. If I removed my hand from the antenna, we went back to the snowstorm.

It was annoying.

So then I tried to dangle a coat hanger from a nearby table, lying it delicately on top of the previous antenna, hoping it would simulate the same effect as my hand.

It didn’t.

Now, my son was nearly two years old. At that age, they are still intent on pleasing their daddy. Please understand, I’m not proud of what I did–perhaps even a little reluctant to share it with you. But there was a football game I wanted to see, so I convinced my little son that he could build up muscle and prove what a man he was if he would hold up the antenna for Daddy.

Even though it did make the picture better, his constant whining and need for approval greatly deterred from my enjoyment of the game.

Finally, with his arm aching and a tear running down his cheek from obvious strain and pain, I became convicted of my selfishness and allowed him to go off in the other room and play.

Antennas are wonderful things. They allow us to connect with the outside world. But sometimes, when they don’t work, they are an aggravating reminder of the realization that things are not always what they’re advertised to be. 

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