Dealership

Dealership: (n) a sales agency or distributor

I was a full-grown man, but when our family car blew up, I was feeling a great need to do something powerful. I needed to restore my position of respect with my children.

I had three thousand dollars. It was enough to buy another car if I had shopped well and hadn’t been in a huge hurry to convey a message to my offspring that I was in control.

I wasn’t in control.

I was still reeling a bit from my all-time favorite car giving up—and also way to eager to replace it without missing a beat.

I located the place in our town where car dealerships congregated to practice their “religion on wheels.” Driving among them, I immediately saw a Grand Marquis that was just stunning.

So I stopped in and talked to Bob. I don’t know whether his name actually was Bob, but it seemed reassuring displayed on his nametag. Bob told me the Grand Marquis was thirty-five hundred dollars.

My two oldest sons were with me on the trip.

They still thought I hung the moon after God displayed the stars.

I wanted to appear omnipotent. I needed to negotiate Bob down to the mat and pin him with a price of my choosing instead of his.

So I told Bob all I had was twenty-nine hundred dollars. He rolled his eyes. He said it was “impossible.” He even walked away to talk to a boss to see if something could be done.

In the process of all this negotiating, I actually cracked through Bob’s sales pitch to a real person. I didn’t know it. I thought I was dominating and was gradually getting what I wanted.

When he finally and reluctantly agreed to sell me the car for twenty-nine hundred flat and we were in the last stages of the paperwork, Bob looked up at me and smiled.

I don’t know why. Maybe it was seeing a father with his sons, or maybe he was tired of overstating the quality of the vehicles he sold just to make a buck.

Then he did something I believe he probably had never done before.

He tried to talk me out of it.

Not aggressively. He just said, “Now, you do know the odometer reads 162,000 miles. Right?”

I was drunk on my own cleverness. I just nodded my head.

Now, Bob wasn’t a saint. He wasn’t going to push it further. He wasn’t going to be totally forthcoming. Matter of fact, it probably gave him an aching pain in the head to offer the odometer number.

But I was determined.

My sons were smiling at me. They thought the car was cool. So I drove it off the lot, pridefully believing I had struck the best deal of my life.

We had immediate problems with it.

I called Bob back. He had forgotten how wonderful our interaction had been and was back to being “Bob the Car Dealer” at his dealership.

I took the car in to have it checked out and found out the vehicle had been in a flood, and therefore the electrical system was contorted, and the engine had water in the oil.

I drove that car for exactly three months. It was a classic case of being beautiful on the outside and ugly on the inside.

One night, coming home on the freeway, it caught fire and burned up a goodly portion of the engine.

My complete stupidity and arrogance had played out.

But I always gave Bob from the dealership, grace points because some creeping spider of conscience forced him to offer a kind, but unheeded, warning.

Clench

Clench: (n) a contraction or tightening of part of the body.

Most of the time, things work the way they’re supposed to. Just stop for a second and think about that.

Even though we might want to portray that life is bumpy, it’s really more like a pothole every hundred miles.

In our everyday existence, food goes into the mouth, is enjoyed, digested and gradually finds a normal exit. Yet every once in a while, the system is disrupted. A
little bit of chicken is left out too long. A jar of mayonnaise welcomes in unfriendly microbes.

For whatever reason, our stomachs suddenly become very upset. (Huh. I guess that’s why they call it an “upset stomach.”) At that point the human gut is single-minded: “Whatever is in me needs to get the hell out as quickly as possible.”

As you well know, there is a northern route for this process and a southern route. Sometimes it’s better to go north. Yes, regurgitation is very unnatural but very quick, and produces some immediate relief. If not, you will wait a little longer for the bowels to become completely possessed.

Now, as a typical person, I have found myself driving a car, sitting among friends or nowhere near a bathroom when one of these fits and contortions decides to invade.

At that point, I clench my buttocks.

In more merciful moments, the body sends a notice that “there is a flood coming to Johnstown, Pennsylvania,” but relents to the clenching, disappearing for a few minutes, hopefully providing enough time for me to get to an appropriate disposal.

But every once in a great while, the body has absolutely no willingness to be clenched. I guess it would be accurate to say that the bowels suddenly have a mind of their own. The brain sends an urgent message: “The dam is about to break–protect all women and children!”

If you are willing to heed the warning, you might make it to the toilet of your choice.

But if you don’t listen and you think one more clench should do it, you more than likely will find yourself religiously sitting in your own “pugh.”

 

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Aware

Aware: (n) having knowledge or perception of a situation or fact.dictionary with letter A

The reason most folks don’t get along with each other is that they expect other people to be nicer than they are.

We allow ourselves to be angry, frustrated, distant, preoccupied and nasty because we’re fully aware of our storyline.

Yet simultaneously, if someone else would dare to sample from the trough of our drivel, we would be highly critical–if not offended.

I became a much better person when I started allowing myself to be aware that human beings were never meant to be good.

This is why we give awards, medals of honor and trophies to those who occasionallly achieve such status. The rest of the time, the reaction we have to our fellow-travelers ranges from indifference to rolling our eyes in disgust.

Being aware is powerful. Sometimes we are…well, aware of it:

For instance, we will warn any sixteen-year-old child that the best way to be a good driver of a car is to be defensive.

When people stroll through a pasture, we tell them to “look where they walk.”

And when viewing a collection of reptiles, we heed the warnings of the caretakers who tell us to remain alert and keep our distance.

But inside every human being is a sense of self, tied up in knots of worry. To be aware of that knotting is to make you a friend of humankind instead of an enemy.

So unfortunately, the human tribe rarely thinks about God unless we need an answered prayer or confirmation of our righteous superiority.

We don’t think too much about helping out our neighbors unless we see their house floating down the street, propelled by the recent flood.

And we usually fail to let them enter the flow of traffic in front of us, for fear that the next light might turn red before we can pass through.

True spirituality is letting human beings be human, being aware of how that plays out … and still finding reasons to enjoy the good company.

 

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Ark

dictionary with letter A

Ark: (n) in the Bible, the ship built by Noah to save his family and two of every kind of animal from the Flood; Noah’s Ark.

He kept repeating the question to me over and over again with additional ferocity and challenge with each inquiry.

“Do you believe that Noah and the Ark is true?”

There’s nothing more annoying than an evangelistic atheist or an ardent fundamentalist. In both cases, they want you to commit to stuff you don’t know anything about.

Since I did not live in the time of Noah, I’m not quite sure what the Ark was. And though the measurements are quite large for a boat, it is not possible for it to contain two of all the animals of the world, even at that time.

So does that negate the story and make it a complete lie?

I am also fully aware that almost every culture in the world has its own Noah and the Ark story in some fashion. And does that give it less validity–if it might have been “Omar and the Big Canoe?”

When it comes to matters of spirituality, I have a very simple rule I apply to all stories, theories, doctrines and even axioms: how does it apply to me?

I know that sounds rather selfish, but I seriously doubt if God wants me to study yarns from the past that have little to do with the woven fabric of my doings.

What do I get out of Noah?

Sometimes what is right is hard to do because it doesn’t make sense to the mob around you, and the only way you’re going to prove that it is right is by finishing what you set out to do … and letting the rain fall.

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Abel

by J. R. Practixdictionary with letter A

Abel: (in the Bible) the second son of Adam and Eve, murdered by his brother, Cain

Abel raised goats or sheep–livestock of some sort.  It’s interesting that we call them livestock when we fully intend on killing them. That’s what Abel did. He killed one of his pet barnyard animals and presented it to God as some sort of sacrifice and evidence of his devotion.

The lesson we can learn from Abel is that you are eventually judged by the company you keep, even when it’s your own brother. For you see, his brother, Cain, was a farmer.

I mean no disrespect when I say that farming can make you crazy. Even though I admire those who till the soil, I am extraordinarily sympathetic of a livelihood where you can do everything absolutely right–pick your seed, plow, plant, fertilize–and then the sun can come and bake it too soon or the floods can drown it.  Like, you can’t do a whole lot about it, right?

Abel should have known better than to piss off his brother. After all, Cain was a farmer. Farming can make you crazy.

Sometimes you get tired of hoeing the ground, hoping for results–and in a fit of rage, you take a hoe to your brother.