Dame

Dame: (n) a term used to reference a woman

They build corrals so horses won’t escape.

In doing so, they are admitting that the horses don’t really want to be there. Apparently, the beasts aren’t impressed with a barn and three meals of hay a day.

They want outta there.

To a horse, a stable is a prison. (Or what you might consider unstable.)

Corralling seems to be one of the favored activities of our current world. I don’t think there’s a sentence I could write that someone could not ardently peruse to discover offensive material within.

Why? Because we’re not interested in cleverness and inspiration. We’re only determined to establish our entity by critiquing the thoughts of others.

I can’t keep it straight.

I thought calling a woman a “chick” was extraordinarily out of whack, until some teenagers explained to me that it was “cool, cute and even kind of sexy.”

I guess it’s still incorrect to refer to a lady as a “broad,” unless you’re doing it as a bold compliment, like: “That Senator from California is one tough broad.”

Of course, there are words that are offensive.

The use of the “c word” for a woman is incomprehensible.

I don’t like “bitch”—but women will turn around and call themselves bitches. (I suppose that’s the same thing as when a black person wants to call himself the “n word.”)

I just don’t know.

I’m lost in the desert here without a canteen.

So the word “dame” is not only nasty, but it’s also so old-time that it makes you look like you fell off the turnip truck on your way to market—not only prohibited, but Grandpa-like.

Now, normally we extol things that are traditional as having lasting merit, but in this case, “dame” sounds like the language of the Bowery Boys (and of course, nobody knows who the Bowery Boys are anymore.)

Don’t get me wrong. This is not a lamentation.

I find it intriguing to keep up with words that have flow, character and veracity.

But every once in a while, I’m like that stallion that finds out where the corral begins and has a hankerin’ to take a leap over it.

Czechoslovakia

Czechoslovakia (Prop Noun): a former republic in central Europe formed after World War I

It was usually right before lunch in our fifth-grade class that the teacher asked us to open up our geography books.

I grew up in a small town.

In our tiny burg, the state capital, which was only twenty miles away, seemed a world apart from us in culture, problems and of course, interaction.

So when my teacher talked about places like Mississippi, Switzerland, Utah and Czechoslovakia, the names began to mingle. The relevance gradually disappeared.

I didn’t know anything about the countries.

Sometimes I confused the states of the Union with places far, far away—in Europe and Asia.

(It was a different time, filled with much prejudice—so we rarely talked about Africa. I knew there were jungles there. There were whisperings about cannibals, and my understanding of the lion was that it was man-eating.)

I didn’t feel ignorant.

I just didn’t think all of these nations and names and locales were of any value to me.

I didn’t see anybody from England coming over to try to understand me—so why was I sitting, opening a book, looking at flat maps representing a round world?

Then I grew up and took my first trip to Mississippi. Although some of its landscape was different from my home, most trees carry a family resemblance, no matter where you go. What opened up Mississippi to me was meeting someone and putting a face to a place.

As I traveled more, learned more, wrote more and created, I met more faces. They were tied to places.

One day I received an email from a young man from Czechoslovakia. He had read one of my books. I was astounded. How did it get there? Apparently, my books were not nearly as timid as I. They felt free to journey and be handled; they welcomed the inspection by people from all cultures.

By the way, his note to me was so nice.

He was so intelligent.

He was so appreciative.

It made me like Czechoslovakia.

It could be a short-sighted way of looking at life, but if I can put a face to a place, then the place begins to mean so much more to me.

For instance, I no longer think that Africa is filled with cannibals or that the lions wish to munch on human flesh.

I don’t think all people from California are “fruits and nuts,” like my Uncle Raymond claimed.

And I no longer believe that all French folk wear berets and do nothing but eat croissants and kiss with their tongues.

I guess the best way to learn geography is to first travel the width and breadth of your own heart, and make sure that you’re prepared to receive what you will discover.

The world is only twenty-six thousand miles—all the way around. Not very much. And within that twenty-six thousand miles are nearly eight billion people.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful for us all to believe that we would really like most of them?

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Contiguous

Contiguous: (adj) touching; in contact.

 There are forty-eight contiguous states.

This means they’re hooked together on a continent with imaginary, man-made borders affixed between.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

So, in this season of discussing whether we require a wall to protect us from another country, we simultaneously have a problem regarding the social, emotional, prejudicial and cultural walls that have been constructed between our contiguous, allegedly “United” States.

The reason it’s difficult for the members of Congress to get along is not just because of a warring two-party system. It is also because representatives from California are convinced that Congressmen and women from Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama are ignorant. And those who deem themselves from the “Right Coast” are convinced that their brothers and sisters dwelling on the “Left Coast” want to drive the country into a socially distorted and morally ambiguous hell.

Therefore, even though focus seems to be on aliens with questionable activities invading our country, it is actually the friction among the contiguous states that is really generating the atmosphere of hateful tension.


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Brake

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Brake: (n) a device for slowing or stopping a moving vehicle

Oblivion is the condition we find ourselves in just prior to the tragedy we refer to as “an accident.”

This was my situation many years ago when I was driving through the Sierra Mountains in California, completely enraptured in the scenery and infatuated with a gorgeous waterfall.Dictionary B

I had a car with a trailer attached to it. There’s nothing particularly unusual about that. But when you pull such a trailer, you require additional brakes placed on the rear, so that when you want to stop, it helps you instead of mocking you.

So having ascended a high peak, it was time to come down the other side. I remember thinking to myself, how fun this will be–just placing the car in neutral and coasting down the side of the cliff.

The immediate problem was that the trailer I was hauling was actually heavier than the car I was driving. As I was coasting down the mountain, I noticed I was picking up a little too much speed.

I tried to slow down by hitting the brakes. I quickly discovered that my brakes were no longer willing to brake.There was too much weight from the rear.

Faster and faster I careened, descending the precipice.

To my left were rock formations and to my right was the end of the road and a really big fall. Straight ahead were twisty roads which promised to send me into the rocks or over the edge.

I kept pumping the brakes, hoping they would at least consider a bit of grace to cover my stupidity.

To this day, short of divine intervention, I do not know how I finally got that trailer to slow down so I could pull off and stop.

There was a horrible smell of burnt rubber–and pee-pee in my pants.

Ever since then I have been a great believer in brakes, especially when they’re well taken care of … and you don’t ask them to move mountains.

 

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Blonde

Blonde: (adj) fair or pale yellow hair.

Dictionary B

I’ve always insisted on being a blonde.

Blonde is a word that is usually associated with feminine mystique. For instance, “gentlemen prefer blondes.”

It does not say, “gentlemen prefer being blonde.”

I once was very proud of my hair. I grew it long, nearly to my shoulders, washed it and spent a lot of time in the sun, hoping to bleach it out to that glorious, Beach Boys, bushy hairdo. I especially enjoyed the tug of the hairbrush as it labored through the luscious locks.

It wasn’t that I believed that women liked blonde-haired men. After all, the classic line is “tall, dark and handsome.” I was kind of medium, chubby and blonde.

I liked it, though. I liked the way it looked, I liked the way it felt, and I sensed it translated me from being an Ohio-born, rural ruffian to a transplanted California cavalier.

I nurtured it, I flipped it, I let it blow in the wind. It became my friend. Although blonde hair does not offer much conversation, my hope was that it would solicit some.

I kept it blonde, I insisted on blonde.

Until one day I woke up and it changed colors.

Scalp.

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Bartender

Bartender: (n) a person who mixes and serves drinks at a bar.Dictionary B

Most of the spirits that have come into me have entered through my soul instead of my mouth.

I am not a drinker. I am not self-righteous about it–it’s just not a part of my practice.

I do overeat.

I under-exercise.

It’s not as if I don’t participate in human activities that are capable of pleasure but also can quickly become foibles.

For me, it has always been an inability to get over the taste. Recently recovering from a throat condition, I was astounded at how horrible cough syrup is to ingest. To purposefully pour such intense fluid down my gullet on an ongoing basis is beyond my comprehension.

It started when I was eighteen years old and went on a trip to Nashville, Tennessee, with my soon-to-be wife. We decided to go out to a bar to catch some lively “Music City” entertainment. This particular establishment had a two-drink minimum. That meant you had to order two alcoholic beverages to be able to sit and listen to the music. I probably could have ordered a soft drink, but at age eighteen, such ineffective communication of maturity was unacceptable. I was allowed to order a drink, so a drink would be ordered.

I asked for a Michelob. When it came to the table, I took a huge gulp, which nearly regurgitated back in my direction.

It was so terrible.

I saw other people sitting around drinking it freely, as if it were some sort of pleasurable experience. Years later, working with a group of artists in Louisiana, we thought it was extraordinarily Continental to order wine with our dinner. After a couple of weeks of this practice, I had to turn to my companions and tell them that I was ruining my hamburger by having to survive my vino.

I say all this to admit to you that talking about a mixologist–or a bartender, in this case–is really beyond my scope. The only bartender I actually knew was a fellow I met in California. He was a minister who tended bar part-time in order to counsel and help folks who were drowning some of their sorrows in liquid refreshment.

I doubt if he’s a typical purveyor of the intoxicants. I’ve often admired bartenders in movies, mixing their blends together with such style and speed.

But I am the worst person in the world to write an article on bartending.

So I think I will stop.

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Ballot

Ballot: (n) a process of voting, in writing and typically in secret.Dictionary B

It’s not important unless it’s honored.

Simply believing something is valuable does not grant it worth unless it has proven itself to have integrity and brings progress to humanity.

So even though many people consider the ballot to be the symbol of our freedom, the true symbol of our individuality is the liberty to speak out.

Until we reach a time when everybody in America over the age of eighteen is able to vote in whatever framework is comfortable to them, the elections can be manipulated and twisted to the advantage of the most devious candidate.

We also cannot insist that the ballot has great power when electing a President comes down to the electoral votes of a half-dozen states. When a vote in Rhode Island has the same weight as a vote in California, then we will truly have unleashed the power of the ballot.

Until then, we’re allowing pernicious, well-educated pundits to find evil ways to limit the authority of one group while promoting the predominance of another.

I think voting is a beautiful idea–if it is allowed to be purely a head count.

But when we divide it into districts, states, and then place restrictions on citizens, we are lying to ourselves and the world around us.

Let the ballot be the ballot.

Then count the votes, and from that tally … derive a leader.

 

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