Cafeteria

Cafeteria: (n) a dining establishment in which customers serve themselves

My mother wouldn’t let me. (There are innumerable possibilities to go along with that statement.)

But in this case, it was eating in the cafeteria at school. Growing up, we lived so close to all of my schools that she insisted I come home
for lunch. So as is often the case in childhood, what you are forbidden to have becomes the source of your lust.

As I prepared to walk home to my house to eat my meager sandwich and soup, I would see all my friends on their way to the cafeteria to enjoy a mutual feast–and I assumed, great frivolity.

I felt cheated. I felt like an alien. I felt I had been presented a privilege which offered no visible benefit.

Then, one week my mother was going to be away helping out her sister, who was ill. She didn’t think it was right for me to come home without her there, so she gave me 75 cents a day, to eat in the cafeteria.

My joy knew no bounds. I was bouncing off the walls in anticipation. My friends squinted at me, confused about why I was so enthralled with eating at the common trough. They tried to explain to me that it was really pretty bad, and that I would be greatly disappointed.

But as I shuffled through the line, watching how my friends conducted themselves while conversing with the old women in hair nets who were dipping out the provision, I immediately noticed two obvious problems. All the food looked a little bit gray, and there wasn’t much of it.

For the first couple of days I pretended to enjoy the cuisine, but by the time Day Three came around, I found myself yearning for my fried bologna sandwich and tomato soup (with a few crackers.)

I made it through the fifth day, and when my mother returned on the weekend, she asked me if I would like to continue to eat in the cafeteria. I think she thought it was a pretty good deal–especially since she wouldn’t have to play cook and waitress for me at lunch time.

Inexplicably, I broke out in tears and was very embarrassed, but sobbed, “No, I wanna come home…”

It was pathetic.

But it was better than eating over-cooked macaroni, processed cheese and room temperature fruit cocktail.

 

 

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Blueberry

Blueberry: (n) the small, sweet edible berry of the blueberry plant.

Dictionary B

If you ever wonder how important childhood is to our well-being as grown humans, just consider how many everyday items we view that we associate with some activity or some emotion.

For me, it’s an old metal bucket–and blueberries.

When I was a kid, my dad went fishing in Canada at least once a year, and he always came back with this huge metal pail, full of freshly picked blueberries. I don’t know how he picked so many or how he was able to keep them free from harm on the drive home.

But he would come walking into the house carrying this treasure, and to me it communicated one great potential: pies.

I think I was twenty years old before I realized that blueberries could be eaten without being sugared, jellied and stuffed in a crust. For about two weeks we would experience a glut of blueberry pies made by my mother, which promoted a gluttony which still threatens to infest me to this day.

I don’t know if there’s anything in life better than a blueberry pie.

Even though I am a grown male of our species and now eat blueberries separate from pies, when I get anywhere near them, I flash back to that huge tin container … filled to the brim with the little blue champions.

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Backyard

Backyard: (n) a yard behind a house or other building, typically surrounded by a fence.Dictionary B

One of the most startling events in one’s life is to return to your childhood home as an adult and discover the obvious shrinkage.

As a kid, I thought we lived on a property that was at least twenty acres. I used to roam our backyard, and would literally become exhausted by walking from one end to the other and back again, due to the fact that it had a slight downward slope, which insisted on being upward on the return.

But many years later I stood and stared at our house, which was more like a cottage, with a backyard that barely exceeded the definition of postage stamp.

By the way, it was now overgrown with trees which had been mere saplings, and seemed cramped, due to the fact that the new landowners had placed a swing-set in the yard, creating obvious clutter.

I tried to close my eyes and envision it as I saw it as a boy of ten, but the minute my peepers were open again, I was startled with disappointment.

It does grant hope.

For those parents who are concerned that their children do not have enough yard to play in, and move to the suburbs to accommodate the lacking, I will tell you: if you give a kid six square feet of grass, he will be convinced he’s on a football field.

 

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Angry

dictionary with letter A

Angry: (adj) having a strong feeling or showing annoyance, displeasure or hostility; full of anger.

I’m sure many books have been written on this subject, but for the life of me I can’t think of one right off the top of my head.

The subject of which I speak is fighting dirty.

We all do it.

We have all decided what aspects of human behavior are distasteful and we attribute them to the people we’re fighting with, in order to make them appear out of control or mean-spirited.

For instance, I’ve been in counseling sessions when one of the individuals accused the other of “being angry.” Honestly, I didn’t think the other party was angry at all–maybe a little intense as they made their point, or perhaps energetic in their honesty. But as soon as they were accused of being angry, the immediate response was to become angry.

Thus the other person achieved the goal of portraying them as irrational simply by accusing them ahead of time of being in that condition.

I like to believe that people are not angry with me unless they finally speak aloud: “I am angry.”

In the process of refusing to be offended simply because someone is bluntly sharing opinions, I have on occasion heard truths which ended up being a great input to my soul.

But if I think everybody in the world is angry simply because they’re displeased with me, I am warning the surrounding community of human beings that they should be careful not to say anything in my direction which is not sweet or affirming.

If you want to know when people are angry, look for this simple sign: angry people can’t stay on the subject, but revert to the past.

Anyone who does not bring up your past, but stays on the subject, is not angry. Actually, they are making sure their opinions can be heard instead of rejected. But the minute they bring up the past in an argument, they are angry.

So here’s my conclusion:

I will listen to anyone share feelings about what I am presently doing, as long as they don’t travel back to my childhood, my personal choices in the past or my heritage.

At that point they’re just angry, and as a human being I find it difficult to discover a place to push off toward repentance when all I’m hearing  … is hopeless chatter.

 

 

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