Condo

Condo: (n) short for condominium, a multiple-unit complex

Over the years, I have lied to keep up with the Joneses, who, by the way, ended up being massive liars.

When I realized that people expected me to have a higher education, I attempted to make up a college career.

When it occurred to me that the number of songs I had written seemed small, I inflated the tally.

In my youthfulness, I promoted myself as a tree-top lover, when within a few moments, the true status of my report became obvious.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Many times in my life I have shared, insisted and informed people that I lived in a condo. Why? Because it sounds affluent.

On those occasions, what I was actually living in was one of the following: an efficiency, a duplex, a flat, an apartment or the back end of my van.

But no one was impressed with these locations. I was young. I felt the need to blow minds.

Before I started really touring, I made up a schedule which made me seem to be a combination of Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake.

I always worked on the simple premise that people are too lazy to actually check out your stats–but time and time again I was proven wrong. There are many individuals who live to disprove other people’s false reports–especially when you insist you have a condo, forgetting that you have invited this person over to dinner next Tuesday.

 

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College

College: (n) an educational institution or establishment

 

I never went to college.

I have used numerous excuses and lies to disguise this fact:

  1. “Well, the experience I’ve had is very similar to going to college.”
  2. “I took a few courses but never enough for graduation. Maybe I should check into that.”

Or the outright lie:

  1. “I am a graduate of Xavier University.”

(My thought? Most people would not know how to spell Xavier and would not pursue further.)

All through my twenties I felt like a dog without a collar. You know–a mutt rolling around the town, and everybody knows he doesn’t have a purpose or an owner
because he has no tags.

Yes, without college I felt a sense of self-discrimination. I was so convinced that people were looking down on me that I looked down on myself.

Then one day I simply asked my inner soul, do you wish you had gone to college?

I immediately realized that everything I had experienced would be gone in deference to the collegiate adventure.

That would include a wife, two kids, a music group, albums and writing a book. The case could be made that I would have eventually done these anyway–just with more book learning.

But one day–I guess I was about thirty-three years old–someone asked the question about college and I responded, “I never went.”

I really felt that the Earth moved beneath my feet–that the sky was falling in to trap me. But nothing actually happened. The person who inquired was a little surprised, since she felt I was very adept at what I was doing. But we were quickly on to talking about whether potato salad was better with mayonnaise or Miracle Whip.

You see, you don’t have to go to college for those kinds of discussions. Just have a heart, an idea you believe in and a willingness to be wrong.

I have found this to be the definition of higher education.

 

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Clergyman

Clergyman: (n) a male priest, minister, or religious leader, especially a Christian one

All the mistakes I’ve made in my life were caused by me thinking that what I had to offer was not enough.

Whenever I calmed down and realized that the stash in my duffel bag was the total subsistence of my life and journey, I was fine.

But when I allowed myself to be intimidated by forces around me which deemed my offering to be meager because it lacked some
certification, I always ended up either a fool or a liar.

I wanted to help people.

I wanted to use my art to do so.

I wanted to share a message that had humor, hope and heft.

But I also once was very young, and contended that I needed some title to punctuate my adequacy.

Since I did not go to college, I wasn’t allowed to be called “a Reverend.” Therefore I could not be a clergyman.

I don’t know why I wanted to pursue such a position–I guess I just wanted folks to be impressed when they heard the full extent of my resume spoken in a word: “minister.”

So I lied. I manufactured higher learning. And eventually I just called myself a “Reverend” even though I didn’t have any pedigree to bark out spirituality.

It took me many years to escape the foolishness of my insecurity. As soon as I did, I realized that being a clergyman was actually to my disadvantage, because my music, writing, dramatic pursuits and screenplays were much more effective tools for reaching my brothers and sisters than climbing into a pulpit and emoting.

I often think, what is it I’m doing today that’s equally as stupid as my pursuit of being a false cleric?

I don’t know. But I keep looking.

Because if I catch it early, maybe I can avoid some of the embarrassment that occurs when people finally find out the truth.

And…

They always do.

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Classroom

Classroom: (n) a room, typically in a school

I wish they would have told us the truth.

I suppose they were afraid if we knew the truth, we might get discouraged. Maybe we’d give up.

For some reason, our teachers and school administrators thought it was best to dangle the possibility of growing up to be adults someday
instead of letting us know that “who we are now” is pretty much who we would end up being.

We might have spent more time trying to do better instead of sitting in the back of the classroom hiding, hoping no one would call on us, refusing to emerge from our turtle shell to become lions and tigers, yet knowing that such a position would be impossible unless there were evolutionary stages in between.

Yes, somewhere along the line, in that classroom, we needed to transition from single-cell organisms into a more complex species.

They didn’t tell us.

Maybe they were hoping that high school, church, tests, our first sexual encounters or even college would stir us to new awakenings.

But since we carried the same personality and fears into each opportunity, we came out almost every time with identical conclusions.

So the fourteen-year-old kid who’s insecure becomes the eighty-four-year-old woman who still wonders if she’s pretty.

It is a bucket of shit.

I know that sounds gross, but it is the only description I can give for thinking that you can “leave well enough alone,” and well enough will give you anything…but being alone.

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Botany

Botany: (n) the scientific study of plants

“Old Lady Martinson.”Dictionary B

That’s what we called her because we were young, cruel and indifferent to the feelings of anyone who wouldn’t giggle at our silly jokes.

I knew her because she occasionally hired young boys to do chores, offering a quarter for what we deemed was worth a dollar.

She had lots of cats. You didn’t need to see the cats to know this. It just required you being “nosy.”

The smell was horrible.

She was also rather odd (which, as I look back at it, I am not so sure is true, considering that when you’re in your early teens, “odd” is anything that doesn’t fit into your two-square-inch box of understanding).

But I do have one solid memory–she loved to lecture about botany.

She told me she used to teach it in college. To prove her point, she constantly talked to the plant life in her large, unkempt, stale-smelling house.

One day she took me on a tour of her various vines, plants and ferns. As she pointed out each one, she offered a greeting, uttered a name and mustered a bit of encouragement.

She spoke to them.

I was spooked–I thought she was going to have a spasm or attack me with a butcher knife like I had seen in one old movie.

She didn’t.

But it was when she introduced me to her African violets and began to sing to them in mumbo-jumbo that I realized it was time to go.

I think plants are wonderful.

I think we should study them.

I think they are essential to life on Planet Earth.

But I also think we should not “chat them up.”

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Bedraggled

Bedraggled: (adj) dirty and disheveled.Dictionary B

I know it may sound weird, but I was thinking about the word “ministry.”

It led me to the word “minister.”

In every facet of our society, we have prerequisites–demands for people who are allowed to cross through the front door and be included.

In politics, you have to be political, personable and part of a party.

In entertainment, you should arrive with good looks and talent.

In business, you need a plan, financing and an approach.

In college, it’s a good idea to arrive with a history of good grades and a scholarship.

Even when you’re cashing a check, you need proof that you exist and that you are who you say you are.

But sometimes, in each and every one of our lives, those pillars of proof and attributes of acceptability disappear. We hit bottom, and for some inexplicable reason, grab a shovel and start digging ourselves deeper.

  • We are not passable.
  • We don’t fit in.
  • We are at our worst.
  • We are not pleasing.
  • We are bedraggled.

We have ceased to register on the scope of reasonable human appearance and behavior.

That’s when we need a minister.

That’s when we need ministry.

So if those who are called to serve others and minister have a laundry list of requirements for the bedraggled souls who come their way, then we generate a Bowery of lost souls who have no place to go.

If dirty people have to get clean to be pure enough to remove the specks of grime that cling, then there is no hope for our race.

Somewhere there has to be a place, a person, an idea or a gospel which takes those who have sullied their opportunities, treats them as the human beings they were intended to be, and patiently guides them to a personal discovery and cleansing.

Is there such a place?

Is there a ministry?

Is there anyone who really still believes “whosoever will may come?”

 

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Basketball

Basketball: (n) a game played between two teams of five players in which goals are scored by throwing a ball through a netted hoopDictionary B

I was the fattest kid in my class.

It is a distinction without appreciation.

But I liked basketball.

I started playing it when I was seven years old with another kid who ended up being a champion at hoops. So I was fairly good–especially for a fat boy.

But I did not look like a basketball player. This was troublesome to folks–because talent needs more than ability. It requires a “look.”

Basketball players are meant to be tall and skinny.

I was 5 foot 11in every direction.

So when I joined the team there was a chuckle and a cynical ripple among my peers. When I competed, there was some amusement.

And when I made the first string, there were those who were astounded that there was nobody to beat me out, and grown-ups who thought I might run up and down the court and have a heart attack.

It’s been this way for me in everything in my life:

  • I am not an attractive man, so some of my friends thought I would never procure a woman.
  • I have short, stubby fingers, so most people thought it would be impossible for me to play piano.
  • I never went to college, so how do I have the audacity to compose and write?

More often than not, we require the “look” of basketball along with the skill.

And as fans, we often are not satisfied unless all the visuals are present … to accompany the slam dunk.

 

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