Clinic

Clinic: (n) a hospital department where outpatients are given medical treatment

Old Marion Webster always tends to leave out a detail or two in presenting definitions.

Clinics are not only places where people go to get medical assistance, but often find themselves frequenting due to poverty.

I’ve been to a clinic. It wasn’t because I doing research for one of my essays. No–I was busted.

Broke. Without bucks. Dollarless.

I found the experience to be humiliating–not because I thought I was better than all the other clientele. It was humiliating by design.

All the furniture was old, scarred, some pieces broken. The magazines were dated at least four years earlier, and had articles which had already proven to be incorrect. The candy machine was empty except for peanuts and Cheese-it crackers. The Coke machine was out of order and the coffee maker had a crack in it, so they could only make one cup at a time.

The nurses were volunteers who attempted to be cheery, but still conveyed a sense of yearning to get over their stint quickly and return to their normal lives.

The people around me were sick–some very sick. It made them look and act dreary.

I sat there and thought to myself, how easy it would be for people of substance and finance to just donate new magazines.

How about that church down the road which recently bought new furniture for their parlor–giving that old plush couch and chairs to this clinic so people would feel just a bit more comfortable as they sat for hours, waiting for a three-minute visit?

Would it kill the vendors to make sure that the candy machine was adequately stocked, and price it just a bit more reasonably for those who have to search longer for quarters?

How about giving them a new coffee pot, or taking up a donation to make the Cokes reappear?

I wasn’t angry over the indifference–just perplexed by the ignorance.

Now that prosperity has crept my way, I have a little extra money every once in a while that might seem like a gold mine for a clinic.

Maybe just buying flowers for the attendants to wear every day. Or if you worry that the patients might be allergic, purchase more colorful scrubs.

For some reason or another, rich people do not feel it’s enough to insult the less fortunate with mere poverty. They want to make sure the experience leaves a bitter taste in their mouths.

 

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Butterscotch

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Butterscotch: (n) a flavor created by combining melted butter with brown sugar.

I was greatly disappointed to discover that there were no butterscotch trees–not even a bush. A vine would have been nice. I enjoy the flavor, and would certainly have been willing to go to some farm and pick my own.

What a treat–stopping every few minutes from placing my butterscotch sprouts into my pail to eat a few. Did I mention that I like butterscotch?

And now I know why. It’s a combination of butter and brown sugar–similar to taking the winner of the male decathlon and the female winner of the broad jump in the Olympics and mating them to have a child. Pretty good chance it’s going to turn out okay.

But then I am swept away by the realization brought about by pure candor. Since butter is not good for me and brown sugar is not good for me, their baby will probably be a brat, too.

Nevertheless, every once in a while a piece of butterscotch in your mouth is an excellent way to get rid of the bad taste of bitterness.

 

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Bowl

Bowl: (n) a round, deep dish or basin used for food or liquid.

“Just give me a small bowl of ice cream.”Dictionary B

I’ve said that many times.

Or maybe it was a small bowl of spaghetti, popcorn, candy or some other notorious treat.

My friends understand what I mean by a small bowl. It isn’t one of those little three-finger types that you use for mints at a party, yet it’s not one of those huge Tupperware varieties occasionally employed for displaying fruit.

Even in the realm of cereal bowls, there’s quite a variety of renditions:

  • There’s the cereal bowl suited for a small child
  • The teenager
  • And then me

Yes–my bowl somewhat follows the Goldilocks Theory–it has to be “just right.”

Yet you have to be able to call it a “small bowl” even if it’s very large, so to those listening, you appear to be temperate of the highly caloric treat, so they can testify on your behalf later on when the scales of poundage groan their disagreement.

After all…you just had a small bowl.

 

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Ambrosia

dictionary with letter A

Ambrosia: (n) something very pleasing to taste or smell: e.g. the tea was ambrosia.

It was about 750 square feet from kitchen to front door and located directly across from the State Capitol in Columbus, Ohio.

It was a Chinese restaurant–the first of its kind in our area, and I was quite uncertain whether to go in and eat, because being raised provincially, I had some sensation that it might be un-American.

But it smelled good and I was a teenager–adventurous and rebellious to the notion that I should forbid my taste buds an opportunity, based upon politics.

I didn’t know what to order, so the dear young girl who waited on me suggested sweet and sour pork. I didn’t ask her to explain what it was, because I didn’t want to come across as if this was the first Chinese restaurant I had ever been in–but when it arrived it was beautiful: fried, golden-brown chunks of juicy pork, covered with a red sauce that was sticky like cake, sweet like candy and just a little bit sour, like lemon. On the side was fried rice, which still contained some of the grease left over from the pork tanned over the flames.

I put a bite in my mouth and I was transported to every religious expression of heaven known to the human thinking.

It was delicious: sweet, sour, some salty from the fried rice, juicy fat from the pork.

There is not and never will be any flavor to surpass it.

I have eaten other foods which I enjoy immensely and which do flirt with competing and jockey for position, but sweet and sour pork at that little store-front across from the Capitol in Columbus, Ohio, is still the ambrosia to my palate.

Of course, over the years I have learned that it’s also an overnight delivery system for death. There isn’t anything in it that’s good for you and everything is a greasy slide to Valhalla (I used the Viking heaven in respect to the pork).

So the truth of the matter is, when we actually find our ambrosia, we must be willing, as mature and healthy adults, to walk away from it and pretend that other foods which are not nearly as lethal are actually as flavorful.

Even though I’m convinced that neither Meryl Streep nor Tom Hanks could pull off such a performance, I will learn my lines and deliver them on cue in the great play … acting the part of a more balanced eater.

Advise

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Advise: (v) to offer suggestions about the best course of action to someone

You can spend your time lamenting why things are the way they are, or you can learn how they are and make clever adjustments to try to restore them to normalcy.

That’s the truth.

So with that in mind, let me tell you that giving advice is similar to playing tennis with a third leg protruding from the middle of your back. At first you might think it’s a good idea, but when you get out there, hittin’ the ball, you pretty much want to reach back there and yank the thing off.

Let me say it loud and risk the critique of those around me: Americans don’t take advice. So don’t advise them. They feign interest. They pretend to be intrigued if they think you have enough clout to be worthy of their ears, but they will just as quickly leave the room and go do things exactly the way they envisioned.

So here is my idea of what to do when the instinct to advise begins to tickle at the corners of your conscience:

  1. Find out what people really want to do and understand it thoroughly.
  2. Discover what parts of their aspiration are dangerous, illegal or stupid.
  3. Don’t share these discoveries with them directly.
  4. Take the balance of what is not self-destructive in the plan and encourage it heavily.

There you go.

Even though there is conventional wisdom which says there is great benefit in a multitude of counselors, this is only true if you listen to them. Since listening is not only a lost art, but more like a Nazi book burning–totally rejected by most people as they dance around the fire–it’s a good idea to establish a pattern of encouragement for smart while ignoring stupid.

  • If we did this in politics, for example, we could soon eliminate bad ideas by giving them no air play.
  • If we did it in religion, the better parts of God which benefit humankind, could be thrust to the forefront, while ignoring abstract traditions.
  • And if we did it in our personal lives, we would soon find that the weird things we’re pursuing are actually rather boring in the long run, and we could turn vegetables into candy. (Well, I went too far there. But at least we could find things to pour over vegetables which would make them edible.)

So you can feel free to ask for advice, but you must understand that folks expect you to heed it.

The best thing to do is to pay close attention to what works, what blesses, what enhances and what uplifts … and try to do that again tomorrow.

 

Advent

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Advent: (n) the first season of the church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four prior Sundays.

Even with the introduction of an Easter bunny bringing candy, we are not able to market the crucifixion and resurrection nearly as easily as the birth of the Prince of Peace.

I suppose that makes some people fussy. They would be the same people who insist that “Christmas is too commercial” or that manger scenes should be mandatory everywhere in spite of civil liberties.

Actually, I take this little piece of information as a harkening. Isn’t that a great word? “Harkening.” A harkening is a quiet shout, informing us of something truly important.

Much as we may need salvation, we are still doing our time on earth before we’re paroled to heaven. Like some people in prison, we can use that sentence to become worse criminals, mean and even turn into killers–OR we can go to the library, study and get more education, find new life and emerge from the experience overjoyed because we have redeemed the time.

I think that’s what happens at Advent.

For about thirty-two days, we allow ourselves to wonder if it might be possible that a baby changed the world–and more importantly, caused us to loosen our purse strings, buy a present for someone else and think about abstract ideas like “peace on earth” and “goodwill toward men.”

If heaven is better than earth, then earth is a place where we’re supposed to learn how to become heavenly, don’t you think?

So merely saving people from their sin does not cause them to learn to win.

  • That takes the Advent.
  • This demands Christmas.

It is a season when we actually believe that a child born of peasants can stir the heavens, beckoning both shepherds and kings.

Adult

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Words from Dic(tionary)

Adult: (n) a person who is fully grown or developed

There aren’t any. Adults, that is.

Well, there are people who are fully grown. It’s the development part I question.

Actually, since there’s no requirement in America for passing an emotional IQ test, we allow individuals who are extremely distraught and immature to hold positions ranging from government to religion to entertainment to air traffic controller.

In our country, it boils down to two categories:

  • those who still have an adolescent reaction to life’s difficulties–unashamedly
  • those who have an adolescent reaction to life’s difficulties with a little bit of shame

What is the difference? What makes an adult?

1. Stop taking things personally. Life is a game of “hot potato.” It WILL come your way.

2. Stop waiting for someone else to solve your problems. Actually, the fun of being grown-up is the freedom of making your own mistakes and correcting personal flaws.

3. Don’t measure yourself by those you see around you. Find someone, be it God, Gandhi, Jesus, Steven Spielberg or Mary Magdalene, whose character supersedes yours, and use him or her as your yardstick.

4. Be content but never satisfied. There’s a certain regality in celebrating cautiously.

5. And finally, don’t get pissed off so often. Save it. Believe you me, a good pissed-off possibility is just around the corner.

Until we have adults, we will have childish solutions offered in a grown-up world. It’s why at times our society feels like a Halloween party, where everybody comes dressed up, wanting candy, but the whole thing ends up kind of spooky and scary.