Cryogenics

Cryogenics: (n) the branch of physics that deals with very low temperatures

In any given winter in Central Ohio, I must have said it at least a hundred times:

“I’m gonna freeze my ass off.”

Why I thought it was significant to center in on my ass, or if my overall freezing would begin or end there, I do not know.

But with the arrival of cryogenics, you can now freeze your ass ON.

Yes, if you develop some sort of incurable disease or if you’re just sick of living in the twenty-first century, you can freeze your body—to later have it thawed out in such a time when the disease that inhabits you can be healed or the ugliness of age that is pursuing you can be receded.

In other words, you get younger.

I have to ask myself if this is something I would like to do.

Was I so impressed with my first go-around that I would like to go around later on with people, times and unknown quantities beyond my control?

Coming back from the dead in a much, much different generation is certainly waking up with no friends.

You might be a curiosity, but still, so old-fashioned and stuck in your time that the new-fangled world, which obviously must be accomplished, might be unsuitable for your occupation.

Even though no one likes it, death offers an obvious last chapter.

Otherwise, if you delay it, it’s like that annoying friend from your high school who started writing a novel twenty years ago and has not finished it yet, though every time you meet him he reminds you that he has a novel on ice, and that someday…ah, yes.

Someday…

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C



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Crouch

Crouch: (v) to stoop or bend low.

I’m going to do what I don’t normally do—but when I do it, I feel free to do it at will.

I’m going to abandon this definition and tell you a story about a man named Andre Crouch.

It’s spelled the same.

Many, many years ago, when the United States was recovering from a war and an egotistical President who was a tyrant, and crooked (pause)…

Hmm.

Anyway, it was a while back.

There was a young, black soul and Gospel singer named Andre Crouch who came on the scene for a season and did his part to open up the United States to racial harmony and integration—taking the land of Dixie and the world of Southern music, and twirling it on its head.

For these old church singers did not want to accept a black man into the inner circle (which could not be broken) but also could not deny that this gentleman was one helluva songwriter, and an even greater performer.

Arguably, it could be stated that he was the father, or at least uncle, of contemporary Christian music.

He was my friend.

I had a puny little group from Central Ohio. We were desperately seeking some attention from the marketplace when I met Andre Crouch. He did something he should never have done. He took us in—pale though we were—and allowed us to be the warmup group for his large concerts.

Even though he was gradually integrating, most of his audience was of a darker skin color. Why he thought he could get away with having a white warmup group when there were probably hundreds of black brothers and sisters in the audience who sang a “choir’s-full” better than us, is a mystery.

But it’s what Andre wanted to do—his way of integrating his race—by using us.

He was an unpredictable, never-on-time, kind, flakey and humorously fussy individual.

He helped me.

I got to see firsthand how an audience is to be gently handled—loved to life.

I got to climb onto his tour bus and drive around with him, seeking good barbecue in Toledo, Ohio. (We failed).

And I was shocked one Saturday morning when he arrived at a tiny gig I had—a breakfast for about forty people. Andre decided to drive up some 150 miles from Detroit, where he’d been in concert the night before, and surprise us.

Needless to say, that itsy-bitsy audience came alive once Mr. Crouch entered the room, and soon forgot I was even there once he walked over to my Wurlitzer electric piano and banged out some tunes.

Andre died several years ago.

But as is the case with all of us, he lives on because one of the people he loved and helped is here to tell a good story.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C


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Cowtown

Cowtown: (n) a small town, especially one in a cattle-raising district in the western U.S.

 As a boy growing up in Ohio, the pecking order was very obvious.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Cleveland was a city that was so metropolitan that it had pollution. Nobody talked much about Cleveland—it didn’t even really seem like it was part of Ohio. It was more like a piece of New York City, stuck up next to Lake Erie.

So for the people of Cleveland, coming down to Columbus was journeying to a Cowtown.

Now, to the folks in Columbus, there was a city just to the north, which was smaller and perceived itself to be intellectual. But for those who lived in the Capital, it was their Cowtown.

Westerville. Westerville looked ten miles to its north to find a village that was mostly farmers and a few people who commuted to the capital city for employment, called Sunbury, and considered it a Cowtown.

That was the Cowtown I lived in.

But Sunbury wasn’t going to put up with that, so we decided to pick on a little town called Centerburg, which we believed had barely emerged from the caves to discover fire.

Centerburg was our Cowtown.

Now, poor Centerburg had trouble. It needed some community to be its Cowtown, but most of the areas around them were the same size. So because a nearby burg, Johnstown, had an occasional murder, Centerburg decided to make it Cowtown.

Just outside Johnstown was a little spot in the road that had a couple of antique shops and a bait store.

Alexandria. It was the Cowtown of all Ohio Cowtowns.

The goal, I assume, was to make sure that even though you were going to be overwhelmed and disregarded by some larger metropolis, there had to be a less robust region that you could feel free to look down on due to their lack of sophistication.

Now, I thought it was something that just went on in Ohio, until many years later, I was sitting in a restaurant in Manhattan of New York City, and heard a waiter refer to Philadelphia as a Cowtown.


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Chlorinate

Chlorinate: (v) to impregnate or treat with chlorine.

Sometimes I don’t know if things have improved since I was a boy–or if I was just a little wimp-ass. In other words, I have memories of
some activities being very difficult, odd or unusual, which in my life today, are common.

One of those would be a swimming pool.

When I was a boy of ten years, I went to the local pool in my Central Ohio area, and when I got near the water, I couldn’t breathe. The odor, the chlorine, the mixture of too many people–I don’t know what it was. But my head spun and I thought I was going to faint. (For God’s sakes, you can’t faint when you’re ten years old–unless you plan on being the kicking post in your school for the rest of your life.)

Stupidly, I reached out, thinking it was my brother’s arm, and grabbed onto a thirteen-year-old girl, who immediately screamed. When the lifeguard came running up, she explained that I had accosted her, and with my head still spinning, I was unable to contradict her story.

I looked loopy.

The lifeguard came close to my mouth and insisted he could smell cigarettes, so it was assumed I had become dopey and out-of-control by smoking, and had attacked this young girl at the pool.

The worst part was, as my punishment, the lifeguard made me sit on a chair next to the pool for a full hour, as I breathed in the fumes and became weaker and weaker.

But eventually I got used to the atmosphere and it no longer felt like I was sniffing the air on Venus.

Chlorination seems to have improved over the years.

Or I have just stopped being a flag girl for the marching band.

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Chilly

Chilly: (adj) uncomfortably cool or cold.

Three-and-a-half minutes.

Sometimes I pity those in South Florida who are unfamiliar with this precious expanse.

It’s the length of time it takes to step out into a frigid night, tiptoe across the ice, climb in your car, start it up–and for the heater to gradually
surround you with toasted air.

Watching the ice melt on your windshield as you sense you are safe, sound, warmed and relaxed, staring out your window at the glorious winterscape.

You can put your car in reverse, back out of the driveway, and carefully slip-slide your way down the road, feeling that you’re encompassed by a fire of contentment, permitted, from your cuddled position, to look at the arctic surroundings.

It is amazing.

Sometimes the three-and-a-half minutes feels like three-and-a-half hours because it’s so cold–but when the heat finally arrives, it is so comforting, so tender and so forgiving of the icy world around you that you could just sit in there for the rest of your life.

As we enter the winter season, this scene comes to my mind, as I am a native of Central Ohio.

Heated air in a car on a winter’s night is a confirmation that if we’re patient and start up the engine, a little warmth will come our way.

 

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Chalice

Chalice: (n) a large cup or goblet

Every once in a while, I fancy myself a flitting twit of noble extraction who was accidentally birthed in Central Ohio due to a curse of a witch
with an axe to grind.

This doesn’t happen very often or my communiques would be coming from a sanitarium.

But there is a nasty part of my soul that wants to be superior.

I want to be a king instead of a serf.

I want to drink out of a chalice instead of a cup.

I want to have whole cooked birds placed in front of me so I can peruse where to dive in to the crunchy brown skin and begin to gorge myself.

I want to have the fanciest car in the parking lot.

I want to have an outfit that someone recognizes as an “original” from Italy.

I want to be viewed as a “cut above”–the rib-eye, soft and moist, near the heart of the beast.

I desire that the focus be placed upon me and all spotlights trained in my direction.

I find myself in a twist of obnoxious pretense, grabbing my chalice, bedecked with jewels, and sipping wine that was pressed only by the feet of virgin maidens.

I want to be special.

I want to be revered.

I want my glorious chalice of appreciation.

And then…

My friend walks in the door and tells me I have my shirt on backwards.

I realize God has placed me where I need be.

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Butcher

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Butcher: (adj.) a person whose trade is cutting up and selling meat in a shop

Growing up in Central Ohio, it never occurred to me that I was surrounded by German immigrants. The last names of my friends should have been tell-tale–Steinmetz, Moodesbaugh, Ristine–but I took it in stride, as normal.

So when our local butcher was named O’Dell (which was his first name) it didn’t even register on my young mind that this was unusual.

First of all the whole idea of having a butcher is relatively uncommon–except I guess some large grocery stores have sections where somebody dons a white cap and does a good imitation.

But O’Dell was a character. He hawked his meat to everyone who came into the little shop with great aplomb and grace. He was famous for his ham loaves. The ingredients were, of course, a secret. (I don’t know whether that’s because there were mysterious spices or perhaps unknown meats.)

But what he was most famous for was grinding his own hamburger–and then to prove it was really fresh, he would reach in, grab a small pinch, roll it into a ball, throw it in the air and let it land in his mouth, consuming it raw.

I don’t know how many times a day O’Dell did this. But certainly enough that he got a gut full of raw cow.

Unfortunately, about twenty years later, O’Dell got stomach cancer and died. Now I’m not saying this happened because he ate raw hamburger.

But it does give me pause … and has prevented me from ever indulging in uncooked meat of any type.

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