Curtain

Curtain: (n) a hanging piece of fabric

I can’t think of an occasion when the word “addicted” can be used in a positive way.

Yet I will tell you, there are certain things to which I am addicted.

One of those revolves around a curtain.

I couldn’t have been more than twelve years old the first time I stood backstage at a theater, right next to the beautiful velvet curtain that swept its way across the stage to close the production or open up to new story possibilities, encouraging the audience to use its imagination.

No matter where you are, there’s always that small space where the dressing rooms and the gathering areas empty out onto holy ground, where the actors, singers and musicians stand and wait to enter the stage and share their best.

I remember at age twelve, putting together a song with three other guys to sing at the school talent show. We had searched all over Columbus, Ohio for just the right ties. We all went to the same barber shop to get our hair cut two days earlier. My singing buddies had come to my house to dress and prepare for the evening. We had rehearsed our song over and over again, trying to fine-tune the musical excellence to the greatest extent of our pre-adolescent acuity.

There we were.

The small-town audience sat waiting, as we stood nervously backstage.

I remember being so close to that beautiful red velvet curtain that I laid my head over, resting it on the soft fabric. It was comforting.

Yes, it was at that point I knew I was addicted.

I wanted to spend the rest of my life backstage somewhere, waiting for the curtain to open so I could come and share the better parts of myself, hoping that the audience could find the better parts of their hearts.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Culpable

Culpable: (adj) deserving blame or censure; blameworthy.

I was born in a hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Honestly, the single incident didn’t do a whole lot for me except provide me life.

I was born again in a little church and got baptized.

It felt good for a while, but then I discovered that I had to keep going and scrounge out some purpose.

When I was eighteen years of age, I wrote my first musical number.

It felt mighty good to be creative. It was rewarding on that first composition and continues to be so. But it’s not the highlight of my life.

I saw sons born into my household and sons who came through my front door.

They were all amazing, but they didn’t provide the backbone and meaning for my journey.

I really became a human being the day I allowed myself to be culpable for my actions and I was not afraid to admit the wrongs I engineered.

Before that day, I avoided confrontations—even lied, cheated and rewrote history to prove I was not at fault.

This dodging of responsibility occasionally made me the “Bad Dad,” a mediocre workman, an insufficient artist, an unpredictable lover and a horrible Christian.

My life began when I was prepared to admit where I screwed up.

Any human who is not willing to be culpable for his or her own actions is not only obnoxious but dangerous to the whole tribe.

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Crêpe

Crêpe: (n) a thin, light delicate pancake

 Sitting here, pausing, mulling the idea and the essence of the crepe, it occurred to me that many of the transitions and outstanding moments in my life have been marked by the discovery and pursuit of some new food.

Maybe that’s why I’m overweight.

I’ve lived such a full life at the banquet table of experience.

I remember when I was about six years old and I ate pickle-pimento lunchmeat for the first time. It was so good. I liked it when it was sliced thin. I liked it when the butcher made it chunkier.

I liked pickle-pimento loaf so much that I asked for it on my twelfth birthday.

On that day, and throughout that night, I personally ate an entire pound of the stuff.

I never developed a dislike for it—just allowed it to graduate on to my next epiphany of treats.

There was a season when I discovered Chinese food. Having graduated from high school, I found myself driving my old car to downtown Columbus—that being the one in the state of Ohio—and walking around, taking in some theater, and visiting (and eventually frequenting) a little Chinese walk-in restaurant called La Toy.

I had never eaten such fare during my growing up years. I quickly developed a favorite. It was listed as Number 3 on the menu: Fried rice, Egg Foo Yung and Chicken Chow Mein.

So whether I was shopping, looking for a chance to play in a rock and roll band, trying to figure out how to flirt with a girl or going to the state theater to see the Broadway cast of Godspell, I always ended up afterwards at La Toy, munching my jaws on my favored three.

Then a few years later, when I was traveling on the road trying to scratch out a living (but actually not caring one way or the other if the electric company got their payment) I stopped in with a couple of friends at the International House of Pancakes, and posed the question:

What is a crêpe?

It was explained to me, and on a whim, I ordered some, with strawberries on top.

Crêpes are the best of pancakes. They aren’t so heavy and flour-filled. They also are the best of eggs because you don’t have to decide if you like the yolks or not. I became fond of crêpes and frequented I-Hop so often that I nearly went bankrupt from my less-than-wealthy purse.

But to this day, if I come upon a crêpe, I will order it.

Matter of fact, some day in the future, arriving in heaven, sitting before me at the Banquet Table of Life, will be pickle-pimento loaf, Number 3 from La Toy and a platter of crêpes.

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

 

 

Cornhusker

Cornhusker: (n) a Nebraskan

It would be much easier to claim that you’re a cow if you’re able to chew your cud and moo. Producing milk would also be a positive.

When I graduated from high school and opted not to go to college because my wife and I were pregnant with possibilities, I realized that I did funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
not want to be the kind of guy who didn’t go to college and worked at the kind of job this kind of guy is forced to take.

I liked music. I thought I had some talent.

No one ever actually sat down with me and made suggestions on how to use my ability or guided me in a direction of turning my existing efforts into some sort of cash flow.

I was told that I was not allowed to do anything but get a job and take care of my family.

I didn’t want to do that.

Now, I’m not asking you to side with me on this issue, nor am I desiring your cultural rebuke. I’m just explaining that if I were claiming to be a singer and a musician, I needed to go “music” somewhere.

So discovering in a very obscure newspaper a notice that there was a coffeehouse opening up in Kearney, Nebraska, I contacted the fellow beginning it on the phone, told him about my little group, and said that we would love to come and share at his new venue. He was thrilled (since we were from Ohio and he was all the way in Nebraska.)

It didn’t even cross my mind to look at a map. Before I knew it, the gentleman invited us to come and sing at the coffeehouse with the promise that he would “help out with gas.”

At that point in my life I had a van which creaked and squeaked just driving around town, threatening to break down at a moment’s notice. I didn’t care. Nor did my three other comrades.

We set out for Kearney, Nebraska. Matter of fact, when I began this essay today, I had to look up how far it was from Columbus, Ohio, to Kearney, Nebraska. I am so glad I didn’t have the Internet back then, because the distance one way is 968.4 miles.

We packed in some soft drinks, made some sandwiches, gathered as much money as we could borrow and pull out of couch cushions, and took off. We joked about “touring to the Cornhusker State,” never realizing that it would be many, many hours—twelve to be exact—before we would be anywhere near those who were traditionally proclaimed “huskers of corn.”

I’m happy to report that we actually made it there.

As is often the case, the opportunity was even smaller than I could have imagined. But the fourteen people who showed up said they were really impressed with our songs and happy we had made the trip. They gave us thirty dollars for our gasoline, a bushel of sweet corn and a peck of apples.

It was my first payday.

The round trip, as you can imagine, ended up being nearly two thousand miles.

But I was young, looking for an adventure, and especially trying to find a way to escape—for one week—from hearing all the town cronies telling me what a deadbeat I was.


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Chord

Chord: (n) a group of three or more notes sounded together, as a basis of harmony.

Mrs. Bosley never told me.

She was my piano teacher when I was a boy. I took lessons from her for two years–and she never mentioned that music is very mathematical.

For instance, making a chord. You have a root note–like a C. You go up two steps to get your third and another step-and-a-half to get your fifth. There. You’ve got a chord. And it works with any key.

Once I discovered this magic, I realized any song could be played in any key as long as the chords could be attained by using my mathematical little formula.

My theories were put to the test when the music group I put together lost our piano player because her father thought it wasn’t good for her to be hanging out with a bunch of boys. He was also pissed at us because he insisted our hair was too long. So he told us that she was no longer allowed to play piano for us.

He thought that would be the end of our little group.

But instead, I grabbed the kid brother of our tenor singer, sat down with the mathematical formulas aforementioned–and in six weeks, taught this kid how to “chord out” five songs.

You cannot imagine how surprised people were when this boy walked to the piano and started playing.

Honestly, we kind of did this on a lark–but it ended up being a transforming experience for him. He went from being human wallpaper to decorating rooms with his talent. Within five years, he was in demand from every group in Columbus, Ohio.

All because he learned his chords.

We do a disservice when we try to complicate the good things of life, and make them seem inaccessible. Music especially needs to be available for all of us.

If it is, maybe we can all live in one a-chord.

 

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Chandler

Chandler: (n) a dealer in supplies and equipment for ships and boats.

Looking back, I realize my oldest brother was a chandler. He was only in his twenties when he decided to open a marina. He sold boats, fixed boats, tied boats, and also sold boating equipment.

I remember as a young man, being very impressed, surprised and intimidated by his success. (My greatest success at that time was getting two A’s in a row in
chemistry–neither of which I deserved.)

My oldest brother was a chandler. I do not know if he loved boats or not. I don’t recall him talking incessantly about watercraft. He did like to fish.

But what prompted him to take the big leap of faith in his youthful years, to establish such a business for the folks who wanted to sail the waters of Hoover Lake, near Columbus, Ohio? (We called it a lake–actually, it was a reservoir.)

My brother ran his business for several years, and then a bigshot came to town with more boats, more equipment, more floor space, more advertising, and more of whatever more will buy. My brother could not keep up. He lost his business.

He was a determined man of discipline and taut feelings. If he was truly devastated, he never let anyone know–at least, not me.

But he never quite found anything to replace his marina. Perhaps it was a chandler he was intended to be–and by intended, I mean desired. Once that was gone, he found himself selecting from Column B.

Yes, perhaps that’s where we all lose our zest for life–wearily thumbing through Column B to try to find something that comes anywhere close to what we once had in Column A.

Yet it feels good, now that my brother has passed on, to write this small article and tout him as the chandler he was.

I think he would like that.

 

 

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Champagne

Champagne: (n) a white sparkling wine associated with celebration

I’ve never convinced myself to spend more than a dollar-fifty on a bottle of drink, so imagine my shock the first time somebody gave me champagne and explained to me how expensive it was. That, along with the taste (and my inability to figure out popping the cork) has kept
me away from what most people consider to be a magical elixir.

When I hear the word “champagne,” I think of the town in Illinois where the university is housed. I know it’s not spelled the same–but that’s where my brain goes.

Being an Ohio State Buckeye fan since birth, I have always feared the word because it meant the Ohio State University team would have to play the Illini.

Illinois just always seemed to have the number of my favorite team, and even in off seasons when it seemed they couldn’t beat anyone else, they always at least threatened to “de-nut” the Buckeyes.

Matter of fact, we are not sure (because my mother was living in a retirement home at the time) but it was shortly after Illinois defeated Ohio State one Saturday afternoon, that my mum had a coronary and died. I am not giving you solid evidence that the game was the cause, but I have taken the precaution to make sure that whenever I watch any game, but especially that Illinois one, that I have fully meditated and calmed my innards.

 

 

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