Clap: (v) to applaud

I have spent much of my human journey with two little toes in heaven and the rest of my footage on Earth.

Those two little toes did not go to market. They went to church.

It’s where I sang my first song.

It’s where I met my first girlfriend.

And it’s still one of my favorite spots for spontaneous dozing.

One of the things I discovered about the experience of “church attendance ” is that there is a wide range of opinions on many subjects.

Clapping would be one.

Some churches believe it’s sacrilegious to express appreciation, worship or excitement by striking palms. They find it Biblically and spiritually unsound.

Other churches clap so much that you can’t hear anything else going on. They clap for everything. It’s kind of a “clapping without ceasing.”

As a person who shares his talent in a church, I have to admit to myself that I am also a performer and an artist. (Although I think the word “artist” is overused–even by me.)

As a performer, I do have an ego. Ego is not a bad thing–it’s that little “Nancy-cheerleader” who keeps us from jumping off a cliff just because we had a bad day. (“It might get better tomorrow. Yea, team!”)

When you perform a song, come to the end, and receive silence, it is not golden.

It’s rather moldy.



I’m told I’m supposed to sing to the glory of God. But it was God who said, “Clap your hands, all ye people.”

If you’re afraid I’ll get the big-head if you applaud my efforts, then you should pray for me. Don’t snub me.

Until we understand that the Universe pushes energy one direction and there is supposed to be a push coming back from the other way, or else something is afoul, we may just continue to believe that God is so insecure that He is frustrated with anyone else receiving adequate appreciation for his efforts.

Since I wouldn’t even have lunch with someone who’s cantankerous, I choose to believe that when I perform, God applauds, the angels screech…and the congregation should follow suit.

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Cheer: (n) a shout of encouragement, praise, or joy.

She was so pretty I couldn’t look at her.

Looking at her would mean that I saw her.

Seeing her would connote that I was worthy to drink in her attractiveness.

And there was always the danger that she might see me looking, and be stuck peering at my plainness.

Her name was Deborah Lee. She was a cheerleader.

She was a cheerleader for all the right reasons–not because of school politics or because the advisor decided to grant her the position to fulfill some sort of ethnic or body-type quota.

She was pretty, personable, perky, present, plentiful and … well, perfect.

I don’t think she ever knew I lived or breathed until one day she was sitting in a corner by herself on a chilly morning. It seems that every time she was around the cold, her legs would get red and blotchy. I never noticed. But for some reason, she felt vulnerable and when I asked her what was wrong, she told me she was embarrassed about her funky limbs.

I didn’t know what to say, so as was my custom, I said something stupid. “Deborah Lee, you’re so pretty that no one would ever notice your ugly legs.”

I don’t know whether she just felt generous, but she laughed and she laughed and she laughed.

From that day forward, she actually smiled at me in the hallway and would occasionally make eye contact across the width of the cafeteria.

At least I thought she did.

I was playing on the basketball team. I wasn’t the best player. I wasn’t even friends with the best player. But I started because I was big and they thought I would scare the opposing team and get rebounds.

One day I actually got the courage to shoot at the basket instead of retrieving it and handing it off to Billy, our star player. After I made my second basket, I heard Deborah Lee’s voice, chorusing with the other cheerleaders, “That’s okay, that’s alright. Come on, Big Jon–fight, fight, fight!”

I didn’t know whether to cry or wet my pants, but water was definitely going to come out somewhere.

I was so distracted by this cheer of approval that I didn’t score another point and dribbled the ball off my foot three times.

I never went on a date with Deborah Lee. We just remained friends. She never got to cheer for me again because I never achieved that level of excellence.

I concluded that there are people who do better if their work is not cheered on and applauded.

The appreciation is too much to handle and becomes a distraction.


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Beacon: (n) a fire or light set up in a high or prominent position as a warning, signal, or celebration.Dictionary B

Flashing lights.

No one likes them.

I suppose they’re okay on a Christmas tree. But if you’re in a room for a long time and the decorations are too garish, it can become annoying.

We were taught that flashing lights warn us of danger or at least, pending inconvenience. So I guess we need them.

Yet by the same token, a world without flashing lights is a sudden discovery of disaster without any way to prepare or avoid it.

Therefore a beacon can be one of the more unappreciated necessities in the world. They appear in our lives at a very early age.

For instance, you’re five years old. The first snow has fallen and you want to run outside and play–throw it in the air and maybe make a snow man.

You are stopped.

A beacon–your mother or your father–steps in and feels the need to take at least ten minutes of your precious snow time to don you in garbs which inhibit your free movement, all because they want you to be warm and not get sick.

Who knows if they’re right?

It isn’t like you can look back and say, “Yeah, because I wore my ear muffs and toboggan, I avoided a cold.”

No, it’s just an annoying flashing.

And then, when you become a parent and find the need to “beacon out” some piece of wisdom or counsel, you suddenly realize that you are the annoying, flicking going on in the life of a child who loved you moments earlier, until you interrupted the flow.

Case in point: I just finished seeing family for Christmas. One of my jobs is to be a beacon.

That means if I see something that could be ridiculous, dangerous or lead to unhappy conclusions, it falls my lot to flash out a warning.

God, it’s horrible.

For you see, everybody wants to be a cheerleader and not the director of the cheerleaders, who has to decide whether the skirts are too short.

Yet a world without beacons would probably end up being one big explosion of light, producing destruction instead of intermittent blinking.


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Balloon: (n) a brightly colored rubber sac inflated with air and then sealed at the neck, used as a children’s toy or a decoration.Dictionary B

Merrilee was one of our high school cheerleaders.

If you’ve forgotten, holding that position is similar to being a goddess. So an invitation from Merrilee to come to her home and participate in any activity whatsoever was a shortcut to social Nirvana.

Merrilee was having a birthday party for her friend, Judy. She contacted me to come over and help her blow up balloons. It crossed my mind to tell Merrilee that I had never blown up a balloon before, but fortunately I caught myself before committing high school cultural suicide.

So I went out, bought a small package of balloons from the local five-and-dime, sat in my room and practiced. I actually reached a point where I was able to get to the first stage of balloon-blowing-up–what one might call “the initial plumping.” Reaching that plateau, it gets a little easier.

But you see, here’s the problem: I practiced too much.

It was a hot day and by the time I got to Merrilee’s house, I was already light-headed from balloon inflation.

She smiled at me and said, “I know you’re going to be the best at blowing these up.”

My chest puffed out so much that I was sure she saw it, so I grabbed balloons and started blowing.

I wasn’t even ten minutes into the process when I became so dizzy that I thought I was going to pass out. I broke out in a cold sweat. I knew this for a fact–whatever happened, I needed to make sure that I remained conscious.

Apparently, I was beginning to turn “shades of ill” because Merrilee asked me, “Are you alright?”

I wasn’t, but reassured her that all was well. I started gulping big, deep breaths, which seemed to help my lightheadedness.

I thought I was about to escape the moment, when suddenly, uncontrollably, I threw up.

It was an unplanned vomiting, which I certainly would have stifled if I could. Fortunately we were outside and I ended up merely decorating the grass.

A pall fell over the gathering. At length, Merrilee said, “O-o-o-0-h.”

That was it.

Everyone jumped away, and it was agreed by a consensus of the conclave that I needed to go home.

I did.

It took a solid month for people to stop kidding me about the balloon escapade, and truthfully, to this day … I don’t know if it totally has been scoured from their minds.


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dictionary with letter A

Aphrodisiac : (n.) a food, drink or drug that arouses sexual desire.

Her name was Carol Ann. She was a cheerleader.

I was sixteen years old and always got a stirring in my Southern Hemisphere every time she walked by. Embarrassing as it may sound, it occasionally led to an eruption.

I was a teenager. I required no aphrodisiac. (Matter of fact, every year when the Sears catalogue arrived in our mailbox, I stole it, took it into my room and stared at the pictures of the models in their bras until pleasure had its way.)

That’s why, when I read our word today, I had to smile. An aphrodisiac is an additive which is necessary for those who have already lost the urge to participate in the game of love but still want to believe they are playing at mid-season strength.

It’s astounding to me the amount of sexual energy that overwhelms the human body between the ages of fourteen and twenty-five, when, for some societal determination, we are supposed to be more interested in taking chemistry instead of making chemistry.

By the time you are allowed to participate in the carnal cravings, the interest has already begun to wane a bit–thus the introduction of aphrodisiacs.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t know what stimulates true sexual passion. It really isn’t pornography, nor is it celibacy, just as being drowned doesn’t teach you to enjoy swimming and living in the desert doesn’t provide the correct environment for learning the back stroke.

There are three great aphrodisiacs in the human experience once you pass the age of thinking that every pencil looks like a penis and every marshmallow, a boob.

1. Great, intelligent conversation. There is something that makes us all horny–when we believe that we’re being heard and we become very proud of how well we listen.

2. Food that is prepared by other hands which you were able to pay for while summoning a waitress. Isn’t that a gas?

3. Admiration. Is there anything sexier than having a deep, abiding and lustful appreciation of the person you are about to ravage?

So by the time you need an aphrodisiac instead of just a cheerleader walking by, you must realize that magic potions rarely produce magic. That takes a delicious blending of the concoction of generosity and humor.



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