Damp

Damp: (adj) slightly wet; moist:

To avoid landing in uncomfortable situations, one must be willing to listen to counsel and follow it without trying it out for oneself.

Yet all of us—and I mean all of us—have some sort of ingrained streak that requires we touch the hot stove before we’re convinced it burns.

Otherwise, you arrive at age thirty-one, standing in front of your small child, saying, “Don’t touch the hot stove”—to which the child questions, “Why??”

And for a moment, you find yourself stalled, having no personal experience—just anecdotal evidence.

But mostly, though, we are just bratty and defiant.

When I was a younger fellow, just about ten years old, we went swimming at the lake. From the lake, we were going to go swimming at the local pool. I don’t know why both events were chosen for the same day, because I wasn’t in charge. After the pool swimming, we planned on going to Dairy Queen to have a good old-fashioned American dinner of grease, fat, sugar and unknown preservatives.

After the last swim, all the children were told by the counselors to go into the bathroom and change out of their swimming suits into their street clothes before we had our supper.

I decided not to.

I chose to wear my damp swimsuit during the entire encounter at Dairy Queen.

Here’s what I learned:

Although a swimming suit may not be uncomfortable as you sit on a bench, having just left the pool, after an hour or so of having it cling to your skin, you discover some shocking realities.

It stinks.

All during our little dining experience, people kept saying, “Can you still smell the pool? I can. That’s weird.”

I just kept praying no one would notice I was still in trunks.

The odor was a mixture of an elementary school’s nurse closet, blended with the budding body odor of a ten-year-old fat boy.

It wasn’t overwhelming—but there were moments it threatened to sting the eyes.

On top of that, the two blocks we had to walk to get to our car and the block-and-a-half we strolled from our car to Dairy Queen made me chafe due to the damp swimsuit.

It was kind of itchy, kind of sore and very unpleasant.

And finally—and most importantly—having something damp down near your pee-pee hole makes you think you should be pee-peeing all the time.

So I spent a lot of time wiggling, or excusing myself to go to the bathroom, only to discover that it was a false alarm induced by my damn damp suit.

I share this with you today because there are reasons that traditions have come to be—like not touching the stove and changing out of your wet swimwear.

There may be others.

It’s always a good idea to consider that some rules may actually be there to protect us against ourselves instead of punishing us for being free thinkers.

Country Club

Country club: (n) a club offering various social activities

I grew up in a town of fifteen hundred people, and that’s fourteen hundred and ninety-nine if you deduct me.

It was small.

Yet it yearned to gain the respectability of another town ten miles away, which had just become a city, and by the way, in becoming a city funny wisdom on words that begin with a Cwas desperately trying to keep up with the metropolis ten miles south of it.

For you see, it’s not so much that the “grass is greener on the other side of the fence.” It’s just that often we’re envious that our neighbor has a fence.

My little town wanted to have a golf course. We didn’t need a golf course. There actually was a greater demand for a teen pregnancy center. But I digress.

Yet some investors from the medium-sized city in between came together with the small-town folk surrounding me and built a golf course on the only land available at the time—which was a hilly piece of property that ran right alongside a major road.

I will not get into the fact that the golf course was not exactly ready to host the Masters. But shortly after it was constructed, those who were playing golf realized that they didn’t have a country club on the grounds.

Where were you to go after slogging your way through eighteen holes, lying about your score, to sit with some friends and enjoy a cocktail while discussing the finer points of your pointless activity?

I was convinced there would never be a country club.

Matter of fact, I was hoping it wouldn’t come to be.

There were two reasons. The first was that our small town did not require a golf course, let alone a nineteenth-hole watering-area for the few golfers who could actually climb up and down the hills.

But the main reason I didn’t want us to have a country club was that I knew we didn’t have much money and it would be really shitty.

But it was voted in and it was built. It was just a little bit bigger than a Dairy Queen, and only contained four booths. It looked like one of those small-town diners that stays open because twenty-five people go to church with the owner.

It was embarrassing.

Matter of fact, after a while, people stopped calling it a country club and referred to it as “the place.”

“After we get done playing golf let’s go to the place.”

The name was so ambiguous that it fit our small-town country club just jim-dandy.


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City

City: (n) a large town.

The fear of the unknown is the beginning of bigotry. (I just came up with that. What do you think??)

This was clearly expressed to me growing up as a boy. (I started out as a lad and decided to stick with it.)

I lived in a Village of 1,500 people. This is the crowd size for a medium-famous rock band.

It’s small enough that you can eyeball everybody, size them up and make ridiculously quick decisions on who they are and who they aren’t. It’s not so much that everybody knows everybody–it’s the fact that nobody really knows anybody, but because we’re so close together, we draw conclusions anyway.

You had to drive ten miles to get to the Town. We hated them. They were our arch-rivals–because they had about 25,000 people. They beat our high school teams in every sport, and we were convinced they were all brats, strutting around their houses smirking at each other and sneering at our little Village.

Sometimes the boys from our Village would go down to the Dairy Queen and pick fights with the Town guys. We always lost. But at least we tried, right?

Now–another twelve miles from the Town was the City. Even though the Village was only twenty miles away, the City was the “Dark Side of the Moon.”

There were only certain reasons to go there.

Movies. There was only one theater in the Town, and it usually just showed Disney flicks. If you wanted to see a movie, you had to go to the City, which meant you had to listen to a fifteen-minute lecture from your mom and dad about the dangers lurking in the metropolis, which had several hundred thousand folks.

They also had restaurants instead of “Mom and Pop food.” When I went to the City, I always thought I was going to be robbed, raped or killed–maybe all three.

As a youngster, it caused me to believe that the smaller things are, the more pure they stay–that it was impossible to live in the Town and do good works, and certainly beyond imagination to dwell in the City and find favor with God.

The fear of big things caused the young people of our Village to pick up on the vices of the City without ever receiving the benefits of culture, convenience and camaraderie.

It took me years to overcome the little box that lived in my head, which was supposed to contain everything I needed–yes, a long time to go into the City, bringing what I had learned in the Town, while maintaining the heart and soul of my Village.

 

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Before

Before: (prep) during the period of time preceding a particular event, date, or time.Dictionary B

It was a sentimental period in my life, which because of hindsight, I can now refer to as “silly.” I don’t know why it came upon me.

Maybe it was nostalgia.

Maybe it was listening to too much classic rock and roll music.

But for a few weeks, I had a yearning to return to my little hometown and walk the streets, to see if I still fit in.

It became an obsession.

Maybe it was because I was so dissatisfied with my “after” that I wanted to regain my “before.” I’m not sure.

But nothing fit.

When I returned to the place of my birth, I found that the location had evolved and become something quite different–without my permission.

Nobody knew who I was. Old places that once held deep significance to me were now abandoned or turned into a Dairy Queen.

I was lost.

All I wanted was to go back to where I was before, while simultaneously bringing the financial security and prowess of what I had become.

  • Before no longer existed.
  • The present was not friendly.
  • So the future held no hope.

My hometown was no longer my home, nor was it just a little town. It was a burgeoning bedroom community of a metroplex twenty miles to the south, which was gradually swallowing it whole.

I felt empty.

But I realized that emptiness was necessary… in order to rid my soul of all the childish ideas which needed to scamper away to make room for the man.

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