Debbie: (n) a female given name.

As she skipped her way into a small frat house at Cincinnati Bible Seminary, to sit around in a tiny room with about fifteen other post-high-school strangers, to listen to imitation-hippie-music with a Christian twist, she illuminated the whole surroundings with her smile, which foretold of just a pinch of naughtiness.

She never made you work hard to feel appreciated.

I don’t think she ever met a man she didn’t like.

She wasn’t easy—just uncomplicated.

She loved to laugh.

She thrived on flirting.

And she sang like singing was second nature to her soul.

I had come to the gathering that night to find a vocalist for my up-and-coming band, and by the end of the evening I left with Debbie as my new cohort.

I traveled with her for almost three years. We threatened to become romantic, whispered promises—and we sang great music.

With my tunes, her voice and our buddy, we went all over the United States, appearing on national television, hitting the religious charts and getting to sing a song on the Grand Ole’ Opry.

She has remained my friend throughout the journey.

Even though we will never recapture those thirty-six months of music and magic, we maintain a deep-rooted friendship.

I doubt if she will ever read this.

But I know if she did, she would concur.

And oh—by the way—one of my fondest memories as a young man is the first day that she arrived poolside, wearing a bikini.

She had amazing lungs.


Banter: (n) the playful and friendly exchange of teasing remarks.Dictionary B

I do not know whether you’ve heard yet, or discovered it in the obituary columns, but banter has died.

The silly, challenging, comical, poking fun and sometimes nearly flirting with degrading conversations that friends once had with each other have been murdered because the movement of social media has deteriorated our interaction to, “please like me–or I hate you.”

Here is a startling statement: every piece of critique or even criticism is not necessarily meant to be confrontational.

I sometimes find myself joking with strangers in a grocery store, only to discover that they become alarmed if I even connote that they are anything short of divine.

Here’s what I know for sure–repentance is impossible if you already think you’re God.

If all your ways are righteous in your own eyes, then you will fail to realize that your emotional soul may be desperately in dissaray or on the verge of disintegration.

Introspection is what the human race requires to survive and to make sure that we don’t kill each other off.

And the best way to allow for introspection is to permit banter, which is a “safe zone,” where suggestions or ideas for discussion can be hatched without blatantly or viciously attacking another person.

Yes, long before I tell you that I think you’re an ass, I could have relieved some pressure by asserting that “even a monkey could learn how to change the toilet paper roll.”

We think we become more civilized by saying the right thing all the time, when all we’ve done is set up a situation for saying what we really feel–at the wrong time.

  • I would much rather you would joke with me than insult me.
  • I would prefer that you would poke fun at my foolishness instead of gossiping about me behind my back.

Banter is the gentle comedy we use to steer our friends in a different direction, so we don’t have to intervene … and constantly send them to rehab. 

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dictionary with letter A

Amex: (abbr) American Express

I was sitting here wondering if it’s possible to use “obnoxious” and “friend” in the same sentence without contradicting etiquette.

I finally decided that I’ve had many friends who have gone through bouts of “obnoxity” and would probably contend that they have patiently waited for me to recover from a similar affliction.

One of my friends (who will remain nameless) was particularly susceptible to this viral, emotional condition. But basically, it only happened whenever he was discussing money.

At the age of twenty-six, he walked around with his chest puffed like a marshmallow, bragging about how he had just gotten an American Express card. He explained to me in vivid detail that it was a symbol of solvency. proof that credit was well-established and that the holder of such a piece of plastic was deemed “salt of the earth.”

He also explained in lengthy sentences that because I did not have this endorsement from Amex, that I was devoid of adult worthiness.

It was absolutely horrible.

But s life will often do in its pursuit of ultimately becoming a full-time stand-up comedian, within a decade and a half, the tables shifted. I, for that season, had the money–and the American Express card–and he was unemployed, trying to find a job fixing computer monitors, which had become so reasonable to buy that nobody actually repaired them.

I think he was prepared for me to leap on the opportunity to rub some of that “salt of the earth” into his wounds, and make him feel terrible, not just for his present situation, but for how he acted so many years earlier.

I didn’t.

It’s not because I’m a great guy. It’s because money comes, money goes and has a notorious reputation for flirting with the cutest person in the room.

So even though I had an American Express card for many years and paid it faithfully, when they discerned that I was no longer worthy of the club, I was ousted without explanation or any chance for objection.

So my basic situation is simple. I not only am not part of the American Express family any more, but must take the drastic and dangerous risk of actually leaving my home without it.


Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter AAdultery: n) voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not his or her spouse.

Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

Yeah. That should handle it–similar to attempting to conserve oxygen by asking people to hold their breath.

Sex is not optional. It is essential to the human being–not because of the physical release, nor merely because of the intimacy. It is the blending of playfulness with a demand to confirm that we are attractive.

Thus, the reason why the practice becomes common and often distasteful in elongated relationships. Very simply, we remove the danger. We take away the lust and replace it with undying love. And true enough, maybe the love doesn’t die, but all the parts around it do.

Adultery will continue to be popular because people will flirt, and in the process of doing so, will discover they are attractive and instinctively follow up on that, even though later on they may feel guilty or find themselves in divorce court.

What we should be doing is holding seminars on how men and women can get along, be playful, flirt, and even agree to withhold sexual intercourse in order to enhance the spiciness of it instead of continually promoting the idea that the sexes are destructive to one another, suffering from irreconcilable differences.

I get tired of the word “unfaithful.” If we really think that faith is something we can possess without the evidence of works to follow, we are in “dreamy land” and are expressing an erroneous psychology instead of truly understanding human beings.

We lose interest because we’ve stopped being playful, removed the danger, ceased flirting and have passed on the impression that we’re “not quite as hot for each other.”

After all, there’s no such thing as having sex. It’s an awkward, stumbling, childish, foolish, clumsy, delightful, adolescent, jubilant, silly explosion–an accidental decision leading us to roll over on our backs, thinking: “I wonder if I should have done that.”

There’s no reason you can’t keep those elements in a marriage, as long as both parties understand that remaining appealing to one another is not just primping the outer features, but also constantly evolving the inner self.

I think using the term “adultery” is Old Testament. It’s really a fling. Sometimes we try to justify it; most of the time we avoid it.

But no one will be honest enough to say that adultery is inevitable if we allow the communication between each other to come only in one flavor … vanilla.


Words from Dic(tionary)

Admirable (adj.): arousing or deserving respect or approval: e.g. he has one admirable quality.


It’s an acronym I came up with in the 1980s. I put together a little traveling show, along with my oldest son, who was sixteen at the time and flirting with insanity. I thought it would be a great way for us to connect and maybe enrich the lives of some other folks along the way.

It stood for: Be the Person You Admire.

It’s a rather simple principle, asking a very powerful question: what is the purpose of admiring–granting admiration to someone or some cause–if you’re not prepared to mimic the virtue which you acclaim?

For instance, many people have great admiration for Abraham Lincoln but still find themselves enslaving certain portions of humanity in the prison of their own minds.

There are billions of folks who adhere, with great reverence, to the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth, who nevertheless do not agree that the most important thing in life is to treat those who are considered “the least” as valuable.

There are so many things we admire, but we do it from afar. Matter of fact, we even have a phrase to handle that: “I admired her from afar.”

Now, I personally have had an unrequited crush on a woman in my life AND I have had a requited sensation which led to romantic bliss. I can truthfully tell you–the second one is better.

I do not think we can continue to express admiration without emulating that which we proclaim to be beautiful, significant or holy.

Case in point: I am not a Christian because I like church. I tolerate church because I’m a Christian. Church, to me, is one of those institutions which has become weak and sometimes pointless and needs my mercy, generosity and support. I do not abandon the church because she sometimes embarrasses me.

But in the style of Jesus, who I admire, I continue to love the unlovely, lift up the downtrodden and energize the grave.

B.T.P.Y.A.–if we would just follow through on the things that generate admiration in our spirits, and give ourselves a chance to “Xerox goodness,” doing our best to replicate some of the value, we would improve our lives by leaps and bounds.

Admiration is often a way to escape the responsibility of doing something ourselves.

OR … it is a roadmap which will take us to a destination where we can create our own admirable deeds.