Clean-shaven

Clean-shaven: (adj) description of a man without a beard or mustache.

I must be careful.

As I share my thoughts today, I must remind myself that there’s a danger of offering sour grapes–or souring the grapes that are available.

Yet I don’t like beards.

I have to admit that I am incapable of growing one. Underneath my chin hair will sprout, making me appear to be a Jewish rabbi, but on my cheeks I appear to have chihuahua skin. Yes, maybe you could call me the “German Hairless.”

When I was younger this created some despair in my soul because I was very concerned about my level of masculinity. For a time I even pretended to grow a beard. Every day, as I tried to groom it into some sort of creature of respect, it mocked me from the mirror.

My sons have beards, and there seems to be a rebirth of interest in them at this present time.

But I feel the beard is representative of too much macho, rugged, “frontiersman energy” in a time when we need to be gaining mutual humanity between the genders.

And truthfully, I think women like to look at beards, but feel much different when they’re up close and personal.

So I am ill-suited to write this essay. There should be some whiskered, wizened soul sharing the beauty of his manly landscape instead of clean-shaven me, sitting here, trying to present an argument for smoothness.

But you’re stuck.

I am clean-shaven but I am still a man. Just wanted to make that clear, in case there was any doubt.

And for those who choose to grow beards and flaunt their hair mass, I must tell you with all honesty that if it’s close-cropped to the face it looks decent, but if you let it grow out too much, it begins to look like pubic hair suspiciously sprouting out of your head.

 

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Ciao

Ciao: (exclam) used as a greeting at meeting or parting.

I really don’t want to say anything. I’m sure it’s not my right to intervene, but something must be done.

An insanity is penetrating every facet of our daily life and putrefying our communication. It must be highlighted and deleted from the
motherboard of our efforts.

There are several examples:

If you’re around someone from Israel or the Middle East, please don’t say “shalom.” It is not only predictable, it is insidious because it lets everyone know that this is the extent of your knowledge of Hebrew or Aramaic, yet you still flaunt it as if you’re bilingual.

Also, don’t say “Buenos Dias” to someone who is Hispanic. People who actually speak the language say that phrase much differently, so when you insert it, to them it sounds like you think they are deaf and you’re trying to speak slowly.

“G-o-o-o-d m-o-o-r-n-i-n-g…”

Also knowing that “oiu” is the French word for “yes,” and “nein” is the German word for “no” does not mean you can “parlez -vous francais” or “sprechen sie deutsche.”

I conclude this little rant by bringing out in cuffs the chief suspect of them all. You are not Paris Hilton. You are not Italian.

So please, for the love of God, stop saying “ciao.”

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Belong

Belong: (v) to fit in a specified place or environment.

Dictionary B

Shortly after my arrival, I was told that I belonged to a family.

I was also informed that this collection of people was supposed to be supreme in my mind, and I should defer to them in all cases.

It didn’t take long before I was required to belong to a school.

  • We had a mascot.
  • We had teams.
  • We had jerseys.
  • Our school was better than your school. At least, purported.

I also belonged to a church. It was not the only church in town, but in many ways, I was instructed that it was the only church in town. To belong to this institution, I had to believe in their ideas, doctrines which granted them a sense of importance, uniqueness and preference.

My genealogy told me that I was of German descent. So apparently, I belonged in the white race, the offspring of Germanic tribes. That seemed to carry some significance which I never totally fathomed.

I met a woman. Actually, I met several women. But I had to pick one so we could belong together. Picking more than one was considered scandalous.

I graduated from school and was told I needed to belong to a corporation and have a job. I found that limiting and tried to launch out on my own, only to be scolded for failing to belong to the good working folk of America.

It did not take long to realize that other people belonged to different things than I belonged to, and because of that, it would be impossible for us to achieve high levels of interaction or fellowship.

It seemed to me that belonging was just a well-organized way of clumping–and once clumped, a certain amount of defensiveness was necessary in order to maintain the integrity of our particular heap.

I grew weary of such foolishness.

I belong to the human race.

That’s it.

I am not in the mood to join any other faction. 

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Au revoir

Au revoir: (Fr. exclam.) good-bye until we meet again.

Even though I purposely avoid many of the stumps that come my way from which I could prophesy, today I shall indulge myself by sharing one of my few, but fervent pet peeves.

dictionary with letter A

I hate subtitles.

There are two reasons.

First of all, I think it’s pretentious to have American actors memorize some foreign words, contending that they are pronouncing them correctly.

Secondly, I’ve reached an age when I find myself squinting a bit to try to read the translation placed on the screen, which is often done in an obtuse font, blurry color and flashed so briefly that you’re trying to figure out the predicate from the acquired subject.

I don’t like pretense.

I don’t think you lose anything in a story if your German soldiers speak English.

After all, it’s about the story, right? Not how they pronounce the dialect from the Rhineland.

But I realize I’m in the minority and that the purists out there shake their heads, bemused by my objection.

Still, as far as I’m’ concerned, I would like to say to all those young filmmakers who feel they achieve great authenticity by offering intrusive foreign language into an American film … “Au revoir.”

 

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Aquiline

dictionary with letter A

Aquiline: (adj) like an eagle, esp. referring to the nose. EX: “hooked like an eagle’s beak.”

It arrives at about age twelve, and hopefully, by the grace of God, disappears on one’s eighteenth birthday. Honestly, it will not disappear if we allow its friends to come and shack up.

“It” is insecurity.

When I was twelve years old, I was convinced of the following:

I believed my nose was aquiline because my dad was German and had a hooked nose. I failed to realize that my mother’s genes were also in there, so my hook was not as pronounced. (I once referred to my nose as a “hooker” until my Aunt Minnie explained that the term was inappropriate.)

I also believed that my lips were very large and that I possibly was the love child of my mother with a black man. (There was no basis for this since there were no black people within thirty miles of our community. But I chose to believe my mother had made some sort of journey.)

I also thought my eyes were crooked, and began to tilt my head to the left to compensate for the poor horizon of my peepers.

Keeping up this craziness was the notion that my B were “pinned to my head,” which I assumed was the sign of some sort of mental retardation.

Moving along, I totally was possessed with the frustration that I had horribly chubby cheeks, so I tried to elongate my face by holding my mouth in the shape of a small “O” all the time.

This insecurity is present in all adolescents, and is only dangerous if it’s allowed to link up with intensity, culminating in a bit of insanity, which in adulthood can lead to plastic surgery, therapy sessions and late-night heart-wrenching honesty with your mate, drenched in tears.

I know we think the answer to this question is to convince people that “we are all beautiful just the way we are.”

But since none of us really believe that deep in our hearts, wouldn’t it be more logical for us to come to the conclusion that we’re all ugly in our own way?

 

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Androgynous

dictionary with letter A

Androgynous: (adj) Partly male and partly female in appearance; of indeterminate sex.

It’s just one of those issues.

Yes–a contentious idea that causes the liberals and conservatives to hide in the weeds, giggling, waiting to see what stance you might take, so they can proclaim you either friend or enemy.

Such is the term androgynous.

Will I appease the conservatives by acting like I have a semi-sympathetic heart about those who “choose” to have such an appearance, while secretly I’m laughing at them with my friends behind their backs?

Or will I make the liberals rejoice by making a blanket statement of acceptance, while going off with friends and desperately trying not to bring it up again for fear of being judgmental?

Sometimes I grow weary of the battle between clown philosophies–“clown” in the sense that you feel the need to don a costume and exaggerate your features so as to prove your allegiance to the cause.

Concerning this word, I need look no further than myself:

I am a fat, white man of German descent. For some inexplicable reason, I have no hair on my legs or chest. Being overweight, I have pectorals that occasionally could pass for girly, sixteen-year-old breasts. My skin is not rough and I’m not a tumbling sort. Yet I fathered five children and still prefer women instead of men.

If I were walking around a locker room with a bunch of macho individuals, I might appear, in some ways, to be a bit more “ladylike” than they are. Yet some of them would be more comfortable, welcome and visually acceptable in a gorilla cage.

What does it all mean? I don’t know.

But I am certain of one immutable fact: the more we try to identify each other visually, by outward appearance, the less we have the eyesight of God.

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Andersonville

dictionary with letter A

Andersonville: (n) a village in southwestern Georgia that was the site of a large and infamous Confederate prison camp during the Civil War.

The Civil War was our holocaust.

Actually, little will be achieved in this country until we universally accept this statement as true.

The Civil War is when we took a race of people, segregated them, mistreated them and then ended up fighting a war which included in its pursuits the decision to continue that same practice indiscriminately.

We murdered, created new weapons to increase the casualties and took brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers and placed them at odds with each other, continually making a “Sophie’s Choice” within the boundaries of households.

  • It was horrific.
  • It was unnecessary.
  • It was short-sighted.

And when you add in the treatment given to fellow-Americans as prisoners of war–on both sides–you have almost an identical parallel to many of the atrocities that were perpetuated in Nazi Germany.

It is our humiliation.

It is a war we should study because we need to make sure that in our present dealings, that none of the ignorance that brought about the massacre and slaughter can be welcomed again.

We need to put away all the trumpets, banners and paraphernalia from that conflict into a trunk and bury it in the ground with a ceremony of repentance.

There is nothing from that period of time that is worthy of our praise, let alone our consideration.

I admire the German people because they look on the horror of their own recent history and refuse to repeat it–by making sure the only reference to it is an apology.

To live in a country that still refers to “Yankees and “Rebs,” “North and South,” “Union and Confederate” with a sense of regional pride is an abomination to our belief in all men being created equal.

The Andersonville prison was a location where the anger, frustration and evil that had been perpetuated for three centuries was brought to bear and turned into a living hell.

But the Civil War was not noble.

It was not good.

It was not brave.

It is our holocaust–and because it is, we should reverence those who suffered and pledge to never repeat such foolish iniquity again.

 

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