Decaf

Decaf: (n) decaffeinated coffee or tea.

Having had a showdown with caffeine in my early years, when taking too much No-Doze in an attempt to stay awake, I have been reluctant to drink regular coffee.

Actually, it’s much sillier than that.

I don’t like coffee at all.

But I will occasionally hold a cup in my hand when I’m forced to be with grown-ups so that I can appear to be one of them.

When I do that, I request decaf.

No matter now long I live on this Earth, it will continue to astound me how there are some people who can take the simplest, little piece of information and turn it into a full diatribe, discussing their superiority and my inadequacy.

It never fails.

If I’m at a party and request decaf, there’s always someone—who has been practicing blowing hard—who explains to me that I am drinking “kid stuff,” “brown water” or “the nursing home special.”

They go on to explain that they only drink “the real stuff,” with just as much caffeine as it possibly can hold and still remain liquid.

I stay quiet, admitting my frailty and conceding that this may eliminate me from ever being considered studly.

I don’t know why we human beings turn everything into a competition.

I am not an expert on coffee in the first place.

So truthfully, I’m not in the mood to discuss brews, roasts and grinding.

But if you are, I wish you God speed.

God speed away from me.

 

Debilitate

Debilitate: (v) to make weak or feeble; enfeeble

To maintain the sanctity of your ego, it is essential to never leave your house.

In your own abode, where you have a favorite chair, a favorite book and a favored spot for almost everything, you can rule, reign and convince yourself that you are superior in many suspicious formats.

But once you step from the safety of your net, you will run across other members of the human race who can outdo you in everything that you once thought would win you the gold.

It’s true.

There are times I’m convinced I’m a really good singer.

Then I go and hear someone who really knows how to sing.

I might fancy myself to be a good speaker—until I am enthralled by the speech from an orator.

It doesn’t have to debilitate me.

I don’t need to be the best to participate.

That is, unless I’ve convinced myself that the presence of competition is an insult to the glory of my anointing.

Most debilitation happens somewhere between the eyes and ears on the way to the brain. It’s that short journey—where we take what we see, parse what we’ve heard and condemn ourselves—because we are made less because someone has more.

This has caused wars.

It perpetuates divorce.

And it has rendered politics and religion completely unacceptable to pursue or discuss—because all that is derived is strife.

Life does not debilitate me.

It just explains that I’m not alone and I very well may not be top dog.

 

Crush

Crush: (n) a brief but intense infatuation for someone

I have always wanted to sit down and rehearse the little speech.

I’m speaking of that gentle wording necessary to let someone down—someone who has a crush on you, who perhaps is too young, or it’s inappropriate in some other way, or maybe you just don’t share the infatuation.

I’ve considered my speech. What would I say?

Certain lines I would want to put in:

“Golly, if it was just another place, another time…”

“I love you too much as a person to just like you as a girl…”

“You’re the best, and someday you’re going to meet someone, and they’ll know you’re the best, just for them…”

Of course, if the person was persistent and found my speech adorable, then I have a whole different list:

“Because of a war wound, I cannot return your affection.”

“I snore—and not just when I sleep.”

“I am betrothed in marriage to a Bolivian coffee worker.”

I always thought it would be great for someone to have a crush on me. To have her think that everything I did was magnificent, and that my only competition is Jesus or God.

What a great blast of blarney.

I’ve had a crush or two and discovered very quickly why they call them crushes. When I tried to move on them and express my feelings, I ended up…

Well, crushed.

I think every one of us, once in our lives, needs to be the center of another person’s undying, wistful, overwhelming lust for us.

We may find this temporarily with our partner, husband or wife. Ah, but eventually it comes down to the point that we both know where the socks are supposed to go in the drawer.

Goddammit, I want someone to have a crush on me.

And I don’t want her to make it up now because she feels sorry for the loser.

I don’t want pity crushing. I can see it coming, so don’t fake.

Most of the people I had crushes on in my life have moved on, and probably don’t even remember who I am.

Because of that, I can tell my children and grandchildren that they counted as one of my girlfriends.

 

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Competition

Competition: (n) the activity or condition of competing.

“There is no competition between us,” she said with a smile.

And then we sat around the room trying to answer Jeopardy! questions. As the moments passed, the intensity of her responses increased, with evidence of a bit of froth at her mouth.

Of course–we’re all in competition.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

If we’re not competing for money, we’re competing for parking spaces.

As children we compete for the affection of our parents.

Sometimes we even stand in line at the grocery store and check to see if our tally is more impressive than the person before us.

Life may not be a competition, but in the process of living it, we develop a strong need to compete.

Some people call it greed or avarice.

Others deem it motivation.

I think it’s just quicker to call it human.

 

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Checkmate

Checkmate: (n) in chess, a check from which a king cannot escape.

Rudy was not rude–but he was very stubborn, especially when it came to chess.

He loved the game and had practiced it since he was a boy of five, and now, at sixteen years of age, he was anxious to take on all comers. He loved to obliterate the competition, bragging about how few moves it took him to conquer.

He was certainly obnoxious.

He was so bratty that everybody wanted to play chess with him just to pull him down a peg or two from his glory perch in the sky.

Everybody but me.

I had learned to play chess when I was very young, but never liked the game that much. Even though I realized stating that aloud made the smug and the pseudo-intellectuals believe that I was stupid, I still found chess to be slow and over-rated.

So I had no intention of playing the game with Rudy the Rude. (I changed my mind. He was rude.)

This frustrated him and caused him to put out vendetta after vendetta, and eventually he told me that if I could beat him, he would give me five dollars and if he won, I would owe him nothing.

I thought it was time to risk my ego for the possibility of remuneration.

Call it what you will–an alignment of the stars, a lucky few moves, Rudy losing concentration, or maybe me just being better at the game than I thought I was–well, I beat him.

Checkmate.

He went ballistic. He was so angry that he nearly accused me of cheating–except that our little match had gained an audience of about twelve people, so there were witnesses.

He reached into his wallet, handed me five dollars, and screamed, “Double or nothing!”

Now, let me tell you that I possess many vices. For instance, I’m obese. I’m kind of lazy. I need to work on my consideration, like every son of Adam. But I am not bone-dead stupid.

Possessing the Golden Ring, it is not a good idea to go to a pawn shop and hock it. I wasn’t about to give Rudy another opportunity.

I think it nearly drove him crazy–because every time he began to discuss his God-given ability with knights, kings and rooks–there was always somebody who had been at the great match, and was prepared to remind him of his Waterloo.

Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix 

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Brother

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Brother: (n) a man or boy in relation to other sons and daughters of his parents.

I had four brothers who shared a common uterus with me. Not at the same time; we had different leasing arrangements.Dictionary B

I will tell you that those four individuals have importance in my life because we lived in a common household. But they are not closer to me than other folks who have stumbled across my path.

I believe we could have been great kinfolk–more intimate. But it is really the mother and father who decide how tight the bond will be among the children.

For instance, it is possible to accidentally pit your offspring against each other. Too much competition in a house creates enemies instead of fellow-laborers. And of course, favoritism makes one child work too hard and another one skate on thin ice.

Two of my brothers have already passed on. The oldest one never totally understood me and we never came to peace with each other. The second ghost and I had a violent relationship, which simmered into a warm broth, which we were able to enjoy.

And my other two brothers–well, we bounce between contact and alienation.

Now, it was my joy to be the father of three sons and three other young men that I “godfathered” to adulthood.

I must have done something right, because they don’t hate each other. Or maybe they just decided to ignore my attempts to generate boundaries and chasms, and worked on finding common ground.

I don’t know which one it is–but I will give you the definition for brother:

It is not someone of your own household who shares a mom with you.

It is not a male Christian counterpart who communes with you at an altar.

A brother is, and always will be, someone who refuses to believe the gossip he hears about you, but instead, comes to you directly…to get the real story.

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Bronze Medal

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Bronze medal: (n) a medal made of bronze, customarily awarded for third place in a race or competition

It is easy to be cynical if you’ve never done anything. You can make an assumption that you would be great.

But I have a question–what is the value of third place?Dictionary B

Look at it logically:

  • You decide to go to the Olympics.
  • You get funding.
  • You get up every morning at 5:30 and do your workout.
  • You win at some local competitions.
  • You decide you’re ready to go international.
  • You bolster your confidence.
  • You keep a positive attitude.

The day of the race arrives in the foreign land and you’re suddenly standing side by side with some of the greatest athletes in the world. They do not resemble your local competitors.

They are strong, sleek and more confident than you could even have imagined possible.

More importantly, they’re relaxed.

You aren’t.

You’ve just realized you’re out of your league.

Further complicating your situation is that your nerves are scrunching your bowels and nausea has landed in the pit of your stomach. You throw up, depleting your fluids.

It’s time to race.

You are not going to win.

You try to remember how to be positive, but it’s been scared away.

They sound the gun and you’re off.

At this point, you have given up on gold, mocking the concept of silver, and you’re wondering if you can beat the scrawny fellow to your left, to get bronze.

You are suddenly struggling for the worst medal.

And then, on top of all that, your legs fail you and you come in fourth.

So your story from the Olympics is that you almost got a bronze medal.

See?

The power of the bronze medal is that it complements your ability if you’ve already won gold. In other words, “Bobby won two gold medals, a silver and two bronze.”

Then you have those people who will tell you that second place is just the first loser.

So I guess that means that third place–the bronze medal–is the punchline for the first loser.

 

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Break-dancing

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Break-dancing: (n) an energetic and acrobatic style of street dancing, developed by American blacks

When my son was nine years old, he was controlled and swallowed by an obsession with Michael Jackson.Dictionary B

It included the need to wear a single glove, and to have both the black leather and red leather coats that Mr. Jackson wore during his videos for the “Thriller” album.

It also came with a sudden desire to dance. Not only was my son completely possessed by the spirit of the “moonwalk,” but he also became infatuated with break-dancing.

Now, this particular form of entertainment did not get its name because things are broken–even though, when you watch it performed, you might assume that was the reason. No, it got its name because in the midst of a routine, the dancer will occasionaly go into free-style improvisation, called “breaking out.”

So not only was my white boy mysteriously overtaken by the spirit of a black pop icon, but he also believed himself to be a street performer who lived near the projects.

One day, in Dallas, Texas, he found out there was a contest being held at a local club, to discover who the best break dancer was in a 25-mile radius (or whoever could afford the five dollar entry fee).

My son cajoled, begged and made promises to do chores–pleading with me to take him to participate in the contest.

I relented.

So he donned his single glove, white pants and vest he had purchased, and a head band, and we headed off for him to compete with his peers.

This probably will not surprise you, but my “Caucasian cutie” had absolutely no chance among those who were more geographically originated to the entertainment source.

He tried.

He spun on his head, fell over two or three times, slipped, slid and danced his way–in a charming sort of manner–producing great glee amongst the audience, which was a bit discriminating in its appreciation level.

Here’s the beautiful thing: he thought he did great.

I did not have to comfort him.

He did not care that he didn’t win.

He was so thrilled that he competed, that to this day, I have never heard him say a negative thing about the experience.

It is so wonderful when people suck … and they’re so oblivious that you don’t have to tell them.

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