Chiller

Chiller: (n) short for spine-chiller.

My parents tried.

As I get older, I vaguely understand that my mother and father attempted to comprehend what was in the mind of a thirteen-year-old boy.

They didn’t do well–that’s why I used the word “tried.” Maybe I should have added “and failed.”

But once a month they would let me have some friends over to spend the night on Friday evening, and after my parents went to bed, we would gather in front of the only television in the house, which happened to be in the living room, and watch “Chiller Theater.”

The movies weren’t really scary–they were 1930′ or 1940’s ilk, chocked-full of silly props and plagued with over-acting.

But with seven or eight young boys in a dark house, poking each other and wrestling, the experience soon turned into a scream fest.

My father would appear from the bedroom, which was adjacent to the living room in our tiny bungalow, and mutter something to the effect of, “You boys need to keep it down.” But my recollection of how it sounded in my ears was: “Youwse keep the clown.”

So since the order was vague, we would quiet ourselves for a small period of time, and soon be right back to the decibels necessary to make us feel like we were really partying.

I think my parents hated “Chiller Theater” night. This was proven by the fact that they always insisted, when the fourth Friday came around, that I had added incorrectly, and it wouldn’t be until next week. Unfortunately for them, I carried a calendar with me and pointed out their mistake.

So when I hear the word “chiller,” I think of six or seven pubescent and pre-pubescent boys gathered in a tiny living room, wrestling, trying desperately not to knock over furniture, while screaming just enough to prove that we were the true “Monsters of Might” instead of those displayed on the screen before us.

 

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Children

Children: (n) plural form of child.

Four sons were brought into this world by my sexual cooperation. In other words, I’m their dad.

Three other young gentlemen arrived on my doorstep because they were no longer safe and sound in their home environment.

As I look back on it, I must be truthful–because I’m a writer, a vagabond, a searcher and a proclaimer, I may not have been the best choice of a man to have
children. Fortunately for me, my offspring generally disagree.

My approach with children was really simple: I have a life. It is my time to have a life. You are welcome to come along if you don’t complain too much.

They quickly became convinced that their dad was cool, because he wasn’t like other dads. Of course, when they came into their teen years, they became critical of me not being like other dads. The charm of my uniqueness had worn off.

Children exist for two reasons:

  1. To remind us how bratty human beings really are.
  2. To give us a chance through instruction, love and tenderness to make a better generation.

I cuddled with my children but I never coddled them.

I loved them but I avoided getting lovey-dovey.

I gave to them, but never gave into their demands.

I respected them as long as they respected themselves.

I laughed with them as long as they realized there was a season to weep.

And when it was time for them to move on, I granted them the autonomy to be themselves without feeling loaded down with ancient family history.

The Good Book says we are the children of God. It’s very true–because after all, we are a bratty group which needs discipline, but still possesses the potential of bringing new hope for a new generation.

 

 

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Cheap

Cheap: (adv) at or for a low price.

It is time, once and for all, to resolve the conflict between what is being cheap and what is being thrifty.

Since there were no smart people available, I have decided to take on the task.

You know you’re cheap when you really want it done for free.

You know you’re thrifty when you know it should cost money, but you’re just looking for the best deal among several pricings.

The problem with our nation is that we’re a bunch of cheap bastards. We’re not really happy unless somebody gives us something. If we have to open our wallet at all, we’re prepared to complain, no matter how reasonable the price may be.

Capitalism is a system that works on the basis of a free market, with businesses competing with one another to gain customers. If you insert cheap people in there–who want something for free–then you’ll get fakes, shams, hooligans, grifters and thieves who come in to hoodwink the selfish masses.

If somebody does something for me, they deserve something back.

I know it sounds ridiculous, but we do live in a time when the anticipation of “free stuff” has driven us to the point that the poor in our country are just as greedy as the rich.

If I go to a restaurant and a server brings me food and drink and asks me if I like the way my hamburger was prepared, that person deserves money from me. Not just from the boss. From me. He or she is serving me.

We need to stop saying, “They’re just doing their job.”

And if the server ends up not being very likable or helpful, he or she should get nothing from me.

Everybody knows that money talks. It’s what we communicate with.

So when you walk around hoping something will be free, then be prepared to be cheated.

Because even though the bar offers free snacks, they just charge more for the watered-down beer.

 

 

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Blown

Blown: (adj) past participle of blow

Dictionary BYou can’t make a duck bark. It’s a simple statement.

Therefore, it’s virtually impossible to get your dog to quack.

Patterns of behavior are established through choice and genetics, and maintained by stubborn tradition.

So as I listen to people complain about leaders who are causing turmoil and steering the American public into bad decisions, I look on, perplexed.

  • Nobody can make me prejudiced.
  • Nobody can turn me into a bigot.
  • Nobody can suddenly convince me that black people are evil or that people from China are out to get me.

I am the one who is ready to hear the nonsense.

So therefore, it is the responsibility of our citizens to own up to the fact that the transitions which have occurred in our lifetime, which have promoted truth or at least tolerance, have been avoided by many, who have sat by, pretending to be part of the parade, only to whisper complaints to each other as the floats go by.

There is a disgruntled spirit in our country which is blown by every ill wind.

It is unconfronted.

It is denied–as we pretend that everything is alright.

It isn’t.

We are still one of the most bigoted countries in the world, intolerant of the behavior of each other, and willing to become violent if someone takes our parking space.

I don’t think we will change these attitudes by hatching meanness to address the meanness.

But as long as people are blown by every wind of doctrine and every carnival barker, we will suffer under a cloud of uncertainty.

 

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Berry

Berry: (n) a small roundish juicy fruit without a stone.

Dictionary B

I find it mentally erotic to allow each of the words that I write about every day to leap into my memory and drag out the stories.

The word “berry” has two significant meanings to me.

First of all, I love berries. They are something I can eat without guilt, even though they tell me it is possible to consume too many.

I don’t know if I’ve ever eaten a berry I did not like. Some berries do grumble my stomach a bit, but that doesn’t keep me from enduring the growl.

But I also have a memory of berries which is less satisfying–maybe just a little bit frustrating.

When I first got married, my wife and I were very poor. To complicate our poverty, we were also lazy. The two don’t work well together, for when they arrive at the same time, they can leave you really hungering and thirsting.

My parents had a small parcel of land outside of town–a farm which had some blackberry bushes. (I think they’re called bushes. Maybe they’re vines, but I’m too lazy to look it up.)

My wife and I had the brilliant idea of going out, picking blackberries, and selling them door to door. It was not going to guarantee us a lot of money, but it would definitely succeed in buying a loaf of bread, some bologna or even the more coveted peanut butter and jelly.

It was an arduous task.

The berries are small, so it takes a lot of them to fill up a container. We got hot, stung by bugs and poked by thorns. It was not what I would call pleasant, even though we rejoiced in the opportunity and turned it into a lark.

We picked for about three hours and got seven little baskets, which we sold for fifty cents apiece. It was a long time ago, but that still was a good deal.

We were so overjoyed over the process that we decided to do it again two or three days later, but when we went back to the houses to sell our berries, the customers began to complain about twigs in the baskets, and the fact that some of the berries weren’t quite ripe.

Suddenly we had become a $3.50 corporation, which apparently needed a customer relations department. It took a lot of joy out of the experience. One lady even demanded that we return a quarter as a refund.

So as I sit and enjoy my berries topped with a little Cool Whip, I am grateful for those souls who have to pick them … being careful never to complain if I discover a twig.

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Basket

Basket: (n) a container used to hold or carry thingsDictionary B

I have never been particularly fond of work.

I do prefer work that I make up instead of chores that are made up for me. But like every other God-fearing American, I enjoy money.

So when I was a kid–about twelve–my dad, for a very brief time, grew strawberries on our little farm, with the intent of picking them, selling them and procuring an extra income.

Nobody in our family knew how difficult it was to pick strawberries. The plants do not have the decency to grow tall enough to reach up to you. No, you have to go down to get them on the ground.

My dad wanted to sell a pint of strawberries for a quarter. He offered me a nickel for every pint of strawberries I picked.

So I picked and I picked and I picked–and every time I brought him a pint to examine, he said it was not quite full.

At the end of the first day, I had only picked two pints, earning a dime. So overnight, practically in my dreams, I came up with a plan.

Unknown to my father, I carried a roll of toilet paper with me into the strawberry patch, and filled the bottom of my basket halfway with toilet paper, making sure that when I picked the strawberries, they covered the toilet paper so that it would take half as much to achieve a pint.

That night I not only received great praise for picking more baskets–eight in all–but proudly walked away with 40 cents.

I pulled this off for two days until people who were purchasing the strawberries began to complain to my parent about being cheated out of product by being given bathroom issue.

My father was furious.

I don’t know whether he was more unhappy because of the complaints of the people or because I was such a cheat.

But I learned that day that a basket is a basket and never will cease to be a basket.

If you find the basket is too small, then you need to get a larger basket.

And, as in the case of my strawberry picking, if you find the basket is too big, rather than cheating, you must acquire a smaller basket.

 

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Anguish

dictionary with letter A

Anguish: (n) severe mental or physical pain or suffering.

One man’s severe is another woman’s menstrual cramp.

Therefore, when is it permissible to share your feelings concerning the load you carry? When are we allowed to admit that we hurt?

Because honestly, I have grown up in a world where complaining is permitted and hated at the same time.

Of course, I personally don’t complain. I merely cite examples, while others around me drone on incessantly about their often irrelevant needs.

How do you develop a sympathy for what one person considers to be severe anguish while secretly wondering if they’re just wimping out?

Is there a time to tell people that they’re wimps? Or is that just, in our modern-day society, considered to be another form of verbal bullying?

Over the years, I have learned that there are small windows–tiny little openings that are available when we can share our heart and be candid about our misgivings and pain. It is brief, it is personal and to exceed the time limit or guess wrong and ram your head into a brick wall instead of sticking it through a window is extraordinarily socially embarrassing.

So I have developed the idea that I will listen to almost anyone for about two minutes if they feel the need to flush out their anguish, and will only excuse myself when people either start to repeat themselves or insist that there’s no hope for solution.

We all have different thresholds of pain.

To ask individuals to adapt to my style is just as aggravating as if I were to demand they change the color of their skin.

But intelligent folks learn when to share, when to pray and even, to some degree … when to suffer in silence.

 

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