Crooked

Crooked: (adj) dishonest, not straightforward

 

There are certain things you remember:

The first time you rode a rollercoaster.

Your initial encounter with peanut butter.

How about the premiere kiss?

An award given in front of an applauding audience.

An orgasm.

An amount of money that crosses your hands that’s more than y you can imagine.

But I also clearly remember the first time somebody called me “crooked.”

I was so pissed. I didn’t consider myself crooked. I thought I was being thrifty. I viewed my efforts as ingenious.

For you see, I checked into a motel room with three other friends. We could only afford the single rate, so I purchased it for me alone. Then the other three arrived, scurrying around the back of the establishment to my front door, laughing that we had pulled off our little decoy.

Matter of fact, I think we were still giggling, high-fiving each other, when there was a knock at the door. I quickly silenced everyone in the room and motioned for them to go into the bathroom. I would handle whatever the intrusion happened to be.

When I opened the door, there was the front desk clerk. He demanded entrance. I acted offended. “What do you want?” I asked.

In broken English, he clearly exclaimed, “You bring more people in room! You lie! You cheat!”

Not sure what else to do, I invited him in, thinking he would walk around the beds, and see nobody else in the space—never believing he would actually open up the bathroom. So when he headed in that direction, I had to decide whether to deter him or just let it play out.

He was too fast for me. He was already opening the door. The bathroom was empty. But he was a persistent young man. He quickly pulled back the shower curtain. There were my three friends, standing in the tub, trying desperately to imitate invisibility. Finally one of my buddies burst out laughing—frightened nerves.

The young desk clerk exclaimed, “You must leave room now!”

I reached for my wallet to offer him the extra funds that would cover the four of us, but he would have none of it.

“No money,” he said, pushing my wallet away. “You lie. You cheat. You go.”

He headed toward the door, and I spoke, hoping to rationalize my actions. “Listen, man,” I said, “we were just trying to save money. We’re just kids. We’re broke. You know?”

He turned, looked me right in the eyes and said:

“You not kids. You not broke. You crooked.”

He immediately stepped out of the room and disappeared, coming back five minutes later to stand next to our van, to make sure we loaded up and left.

As is often the case with a quartet of individuals, there were four different takes on the event: one scared, one acting like he wasn’t part of it from the start, one indignant—wanting to go buy a dozen eggs and pelt the place.

And then there was me.

I was quiet, chilled to my soul.

I was bruised by being called “crooked.”

I didn’t view myself as deceitful, just clever.

But I learned that night that clever is crooked if it’s not honest.

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C


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Crib Notes

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Crib note: (n) a translation, list of correct answers, or other illicit aid used by students while reciting, taking exams, or the like

Perhaps two of the more frightening words in the English language are “spontaneous” and “improvisation.”

Working in the theatrical community over the years, I have discovered that certain actors, directors and even writers extol the value of being spontaneous or applaud the introduction of improvisation into the set. Let me explain that the only people who think that spontaneous thought or improvisational input is clever are those who are doing it.

Most of us realize that if we’re listening to someone and we know they are going “off the cuff” or using crib notes they’ve written on their shirt sleeve, or they’re referring to an index card palmed in their hand, it’s just goddam nerve-wracking.

You have to start rooting for them, hoping they don’t implode into meaningless babbling or nonsense.

The truth is, if you have something that you want to come off with a flair of impromptu, you should memorize it.


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Cove

Cove: (n) a small indentation or recess in the shoreline of a sea, lake, or river

 Clever will only take you so far.

This is true in any occupation, but certainly must be observed faithfully by the writer.

For you see, I am going to tell a story today about when I was sixteen. The temptation is to preface this story with an introductory sentence funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
which sounds cool, or what they might refer to as “off-the-top-of-the-head-ish.”

For instance:

  • when I young
  • back when pimples were my major problem
  • long before anybody called me Dad
  • in an era when I languished in my teens

You see what I mean?

Although at times these little scribbled affrontations are passable, they can get old very quickly, even if you’re talking about being young.

So suffice it to say, at one time in my life I decided to start a coffeehouse for the fellow-students at my high school. This was back when such an idea seemed expansive and other-worldly rather than old-timey and really out of it.

I found a small house—so tiny it was difficult to believe anybody had ever lived in it. But you could stuff about thirty-five people in, on the ground floor, if everybody agreed to inhale and exhale in unison.

It was perfect.

I covered the windows so no external lighting could come in, installed black lights and put colored bulbs around to give it a spooky effect.

We could not decide what to call the place, but one night, as we pulled up, we noticed it looked like an old fisherman’s cabin. So someone suggested we call it, “The Cove.” Actually, the suggestion was “The Fisherman’s Cove,” but as the weeks went by, the adjective was dropped, and it became known as “The Cove.”

All the students at the school jockeyed for the right to be one of the holy thirty-five to come to The Cove on a Saturday night, to sit around and eat bologna sandwiches and listen to the rock music our parents were sure would lead us to hell.

As it turned out, the rock and roll music did not take us to hell, but unfortunately, the bologna sandwiches gave us cholesterol problems.

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Contraction

Contraction: (n) a shortened form of a word or group of words

I have been considered a writer by entities other than my personal ego.

I am grateful for that nod—humbled by the notion that someone would actually like to read a few words that I have put into sentences as long as they funny wisdom on words that begin with a Cdon’t extend beyond three paragraphs.

I have often stopped and wondered if I should use the contraction “it’s” instead of “it is” or “I’m” instead of “I am.”

Here’s an easy one—“let’s” instead of “let us.” (No one says “let us” unless they’re doing medieval theater.)

When is it valuable to shorten something and when does the extension produce greater impact?

It’s a decision I make nearly every day. There are actually times when “do not” is more effective than “don’t.” Don’t you agree?

There are occasions when “we’ll” does not appear as the word “well” and may be an on-point insertion rather than the words “we will.”

But in my limited and less-than-touted-in-fame journey, I have found that when emphasis is needed, remove the contraction. For at that point, it more resembles a contraption.

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Compelling

Compelling: (adj) evoking interest, attention, or admiration in a powerfully irresistible way.

Before I begin my writing session every morning I like to have a granola bar and a cup of coffee.

I use that as an opening sentence, not because it was valuable to your well-being, but rather, I wanted some clever way to start this essay.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

What I’m about to share is not particularly enlightening nor clever. Turning on the television set for background distraction, I was confronted–no, presented–with four stories. These were the leads for the news on this particular morning’s broadcast:

There was a girl, slightly inebriated, dancing on a boat

A man handed a woman a piece of candy at a funeral

A preacher carelessly brushed his hand up against a famous singer’s breast

And a little boy comically took a mouthful of bitter chocolate powder, and then spit it out

I am not trying to be critical. After all, I watched the stories, and remembered enough to reiterate them to you.

But there was nothing compelling here.

Any attempt on my part to be compelled by these passing fancies would be bizarre.

Do I need compelling challenges in my life?

Considering the fact that I am a human being who thinks returning a shopping cart is an act of charity, I should be looking for possibilities to be motivated to escape my lower monkey, and spend at least a minute or two with my higher angel.

 

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Combo

Combo: (n) a small jazz, rock, or pop band.

Being clever is similar to setting a bear trap down in a room full of balloons. It is so easy to spring the trap and bust all your balloons of hope.

In my early years I had a music group and was desperately trying to promote us–at least to the point that I could make enough “jack” to pay for “Jill.”

Money was rare.

Now, opportunities and gigs seemed to pop up everywhere–but when the subject of remuneration was suggested, there were offers of free coffee, “help yourself
to the day-old pastry,” or “we have a garage where you can sleep overnight.”

I knew I needed to do something drastic to set our group apart from the rest of the marauding musicians trying to fend for the single crust of bread, so I put together a damn good press release.

Now, wait.

Understand–this was an era when bands did not advertise themselves via printed material, but rather, through audition tapes or live performances.

I got a great picture of us, looking our cutest (and surliest) and attached our release. One of the things I discovered in writing the piece was that if you’re constructing a great article, it should not repeat words.

I kept landing on the word “group.” “Group?” “GROUP!”

So thinking myself extremely clever, I went to the Thesaurus and looked for different words to communicate the idea “group.”

One of those was “combo.”

I was ecstatic. The word sounded good to me, so I stuck it in the press release a couple of times and sent it off.

I noticed when I started calling places back to see if they wanted to schedule us based on our fine piece of promotional material, the proprietors would grumble, “We’re not interested in a jazz thing.”

I tried to explain that we weren’t jazz, but by that time they had hung up the phone and I was left standing, listening to the dial tone of the day.

Finally, one of the gentlemen I called suggested a nightclub down the street that specialized in jazz.

I squeezed in my question. “We’re not a jazz group. Where did you get the idea we played jazz?”

“Really?” he said. “Your article said you were a combo, and I never heard of any band calling themselves a combo unless they were jazz.”

I wanted to tell him about my journey through the “prehistoric thesaurus,” but instead, I went back to my creation and removed the word “combo.”

Needing to replace it, I inserted “adventurers.”

 

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Cliché

Cliché : (n) a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.

Because I write an essay or two or more every day, I’ve learned to avoid clichés. fiancé

I can say “a penny saved is a penny burned.” That’s making fun of a cliché. But to insist that it’s “earned” makes my penning arcane. (similar to using the word “arcane.”)

Yet there are things that have been proclaimed to be clichés which have recently been abandoned by our culture, and need to be returned quickly–before we come apart at the seams.

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Just because it’s been presented for centuries does not mean it has lost the gold in its rule. Simply spoken, the absence of such a cliché is the presence of Earthly mayhem.

How about another one?

“You get more flies with honey than vinegar.”

Have we begun to believe that how we react, think and speak is insignificant? Are we asking the human race that surrounds us to tolerate our mood swings under the guise that if they don’t, they are intolerant? I think there’s a power to being kind. Do you?

“To he who much is given, much is expected.”

Might seem like a cliché–especially since it’s become popular to insist that each of us pull our own load, simulating some sort of unnatural evenness. There are two reasons people don’t have money:

  1. They are poor.
  2. They use money poorly.

It is ludicrous to think they will rise to the occasion and suddenly become prudent with finance. These poor will be with us always and we should do for them what we can–especially if we find that we have a knack of drawing in the bucks.

Yes, there are many clichés that should not be ignored or set aside simply because of their birth date.

They are just old and wizened–not dead and in need of burial.

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