Clause

Clause: (n) a stipulation

Recently, I had a new grandson born. Everyone was so excited. After all, it’s a new life.

The proclamation was, “Welcome to Earth, little Julius!”

But Julius, my dear little friend, you need to read the accompanying clause. The actuary tables tell us the average person lives about seventy-seven years. Let’s
break that down:

The first eighteen of those seventy years are spent living in a house under rules and regulations, taking orders from everyone over twenty-one years of age, dabbling with all sorts of shit you shouldn’t, and confused because the front part of your brain literally has not grown in.

The next twelve years leading up to the age of thirty, you find yourself on the hunt for education, occupation and romantic elevation. There is too much experimentation, frustration and degradation involved in that process. You will often be bewildered because your original elation over obtaining your freedom has been deflated by reality.

Then you reach your thirtieth birthday–a whirlwind of messy nastiness, some of which you’re already trying to pay off in installments.

Now it’s time to have some kids of your own. You decide on two, and end up with three because someone forgot something. These three children begin the life process, impudently resenting all authority figures over the age of twenty-one, primarily you and your mate. They possess more opinions than intelligence.

You feel love but also occasionally diminished–because what you planned to do with your life has been hijacked by others telling you that you’re already old, decrepit and dead, and it’s their turn.

This takes you to about age fifty. At this point, you are greeted by doctors. They tell you that everything you’ve done in the first five decades has created some unhealthy results in your body. Probes, operations and sometimes diseases kick in to remind you of your mortality.

You suddenly find yourself carrying a pill case. You try to make it unobtrusive or even decorative, but you are now hooked on meds for the rest of your life.

This takes you to seventy. Of course, in the meantime you’ve become a full-fledged grandpa or grandma–with more little children who have found even meaner, egregious ways to ignore you. They are instructed to hug you, kiss you and send you thank-you notes including unidentifiable pictures which they’ve drawn. You learn to acquiesce and call three lines scrawled on a piece of paper “great art.”

This leaves you seven years.

You can’t walk as well anymore. You have to stop to recall your password for your Facebook account. And when you look in the mirror there seems to be the face of a troll emerging from your countenance.

The purpose of this essay is to remind us all that life comes with a clause. It’s a simple one. It’s not even in fine print.

Welcome to Earth (where you better make sure you enjoy what you do, or else what you do will take away all your joy–and that’s for sure).

 

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Bonsai

Bonsai: (n) an ornamental tree or shrub grown in a pot

Once upon a time, in a kingdom where bank accounts were not depleted, I had some extra money burning a hole deep in my right pocket of selfishness.Dictionary B

It was scary.

I went over the bills three or four times just to make sure I hadn’t missed something, but at the end of my calculation, I discovered that I was temporarily endowed with abundance.

I wanted to do something lavishly weird–and not just lavish, like buying several cans of whipped cream, but weird. Something that would give others pause, but then they would feel foolish for questioning the wealthy fellow and his eccentric choices.

I hunted, I searched and I found a gentleman who sold bonsai trees.

I knew nothing about them. But I felt like owning one was a symbol of prosperity. So I bought two. Double the potency.

The fellow tried to explain to me the care of these plants and I listened with the attention span of a three-year-old who has to pee but also wants to ride the roller coaster.

When I got home with my bonsai trees, I realized that I had completely forgotten everything he said, and had left the literature behind, trusting my memory.

Then came that great, ridiculous American assertion: how hard can it be?

  • So I watered them
  • I trimmed their little branches (having remembered this being part of the process)
  • And every day when I returned, they looked a little worse

It was like watching your Grandma die of old age. I was concerned but totally helpless.

Then inexplicably, they developed tiny insects which started eating away at the bark.

It took about five weeks, while I heroically tried to give CPR to these dying new friends, but eventually they turned brown–and for some reason, started to stink.

I threw them both into a big garbage bag, took them out to the curb and said good-bye.

I can’t swear to it, but I thought I heard one of them, from within the bag, gasp, “Murderer.”

 

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Austere

Austere: (adj) severe or strict in manner, attitude, or appearance.

I call it the “Granble Face.”dictionary with letter A

It’s that look blending the countenance of Grandma or Grandpa with the attitude to grumble.

Somewhere along the line, we gave up on the idea of giggling, smirking, laughing and running around looking for ways to be mischievous.

Maybe it’s because it finally registered in our brain that our parents wanted us to be as miserable as they were, and we feel the responsibility to honor our father and mother so that our days might be long and filled with anguish on the Earth.

I don’t know.

But I do know this–the austere facial expression that greets me daily as I look at my peers and fellow-humans leaves me caught between despair and hilarity.

They look so funny trying to be so grownup, and they tend to get so angry with me because I maintain my childish chortle.

  • What is the power of being austere?
  • Why are we supposed to be quiet when we enter a church or a funeral home? Is it really going to bother the dead?
  • Why is it necessary to sit in traffic, roll down your window to save on air conditioning, and sweat and curse at the holdup? Why not just turn up the radio and rock out to Queen?

Austere is the profile that proves we’ve had enough birthdays to be defeated.

It is the universal complexion of those of any color who have reached a certain status, where despondency is a badge of honor.

It is often accompanied by words like mature, holy, focused and adult.

Even though we were told for our spiritual journey it’s best for us to “become as little children,” we would rather develop the “Granble Face” …Grandpa grumbling about the price hike on his medication.

 

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Aptitude

dictionary with letter A

Aptitude (n): 1. an ability to do something 2. suitability or fitness

For a myriad of reasons, I barely made it through the 1980s with my being intact, primarily because of my complete disdain and obvious aversion to personality tests and aptitude quizzes.

It was all the rage in that era and still persists today in pockets promoting superficial psycho-babble.

The notion of taking responsibility for one’s life or learning a craft seems so arduous to the average person that they would like to believe they were born with certain abilities, rarities and anointings so as to take all of the mystery and work out of their personal journey.

Parents, aunts, uncles and grandma and grandpa all encourage this by noting everything from the timber of our early babble, to the length, height or breadth of body parts, to place a mission upon us before we’ve even learned how to stop messing our pants.

Certainly everyone wants us to fall into a personality type, where we can hide behind the pluses and minuses of that particular idea to explain our behavior.

But even though these testers will insist that you can be docile, quiet, introverted and silent, they sometimes fail to remind you that it is the world around us that requires we step out of our shadow and into the light.

Yes, perhaps intimidated folks can be given a name, but it is the gregarious ones who will be given the position. One would think it’s a plot, to keep part of the population oppressed in order to supply fodder for the more menial tasks, if one was of a nind to believe in conspiracy theories.

What I think is that we are too grounded in a Calvinistic, pre-destined American thinking that wants the whole plan laid out in front of us by the time we’re three years old, to ever instruct the general populace in matters of manners, intensity, perseverance and expansion.

I can tell you of a certainty that I had no aptitude for anything but eating. Yet there isn’t a doctor alive who will let me believe “I was born” with the aptitude to be fat. Isn’t that interesting?

Apparently some characteristics are inserted at birth and others become bad habits.

So what I choose to believe is that I have nothing but an aptitude for laziness and if I pursue that, I will end up poor and alone. Therefore I choose to overcome my aptitude … and study the present pursuit that rings my bell.

 

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Aloha

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Aloha: (exclam.) a Hawaiian word used when greeting or parting from someone.

I made a decision to tour in Hawaii. I picked up a really good deal for tickets, complete with car rental, motel and the works when I was traveling through Las Vegas. I spent ten days in Honolulu.

One of the more embarrassing parts of my trip was when I deplaned and there were girls in hula skirts putting plastic leis over the heads of arriving passengers, welcoming them, saying “Aloha.”

I looked at the girls. They were about eighteen to twenty-one years of age, and certainly had aspirations beyond being greeters in an airport. Worse, some of the guys getting off the plane ahead of me were goofy, and tried to flirt with them, which made me nervous and not certain about how to respond. After all, they were young enough to be my daughters.

So in a moment of awkwardness, when they placed the lei around my neck and said “Aloha,” I replied, “Aloha. I hope you get a better job soon.”

I meant it as a compliment, but as often happens with me, it was as awkward as Grandma falling down the stairs.

 

Adventure

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Adventure: (n) an unusual, exciting and possibly hazardous experience or activity.

Make up your mind.

Is it unusual? Or exciting?

Is it exciting? Or is it hazardous?

Sometimes the dictionary sounds like my grandma. One of her favorite sayings, when she occupied grumpy human space, was, “I know it sounds like fun, but it also sounds dangerous.”

First of all, that’s not a great deterrent to a teenager who thinks that “fun” and “dangerous” should be the same. I think we greatly inhibit our progress as human beings–and also rob ourselves of opportunities–by trying to evaluate everything based upon whether it’s unusual. I also believe that connoting that the definition of “adventure” fits into one of those three categories is probably the most efficient way to keep people efficient–and boring.

I disagree with Webster. Adventure is just the way it sounds–it’s adding a venture.

It’s taking on something new, seeing how it flies, and making sure you don’t get TOO far off the ground–so if it crashes, there will be no loss of life or limb. Otherwise, you start believing you’ve got to do something truly weird to express yourself, or worse, totally expensive.

I have friends who can’t have fun unless they spend money. To a certain degree isn’t that the antithesis of fun? Because even as you’re enjoying the surroundings, you’re lamenting the loss of income.

No, I think “adventure” should be adding a venture to your life every week, different from the previous week, which does not involve much capital, much time or much loss of anything. For instance:

  • Once in your life you should volunteer at a soup kitchen.
  • You should probably go hiking.
  • Get on a lonely stretch of road and drive your car real fast.
  • Surprise a stranger on the street with a five-dollar bill.
  • Be in a good mood when people think you probably shouldn’t.

Just find things that are already built into nature which are intriguing and take them on, so when the subjects are brought up, you can have a story.

There you go. That’s what life is all about. Granting yourself enough ventures that you can always come up with a story … often describing how much you despised the addition.

 

Abrazos

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Abrazo: (n.): an embrace.

Yeah, but what KIND of embrace?

In all my years of traveling on the road, I have discovered that there are basically four types of hugs. (Well, five if you want to count the one you do in bed with the person you love to generate romance.)

But let us say four types of hugs that are permitted fully clothed in public:

The first one is the quick embrace, placing hands around the neck, careful that torsos don’t meet. This is normally  practiced in Hollywood, church circles and at family reunions where adolescents are accosted by grandmas.

Then there is the show of affection where someone comes up from the rear and hugs your back–usually fairly quickly as a means of encouragement when you’re heading into the dentist’s office, getting ready to take a test, or are on your way to get your income taxes done.

The third hug is when someone holds their arms out like a great Russian, Jewish mother and welcomes you in for a full body encounter. Of course, the difficulty with this one is that once interlocked,  one has to figure out how long to hold it–just short of ridiculous, but beyond nervous. After all, the first one to release is the wimp.

And finally, the other hug that I became familiar with by participating in sports is what you might refer to as the manly chest bump. It is the acceptable form of masculine communication of affection without communicating ANY notion of homosexual tendencies. It’s more like “pecs meeting pecs,” with some pounding on the back by hands quickly releasing, ending in some sort of ridiculous high-five.

So of the particular ways of connecting that are available, obviously, the bedroom intertwining is the most pleasant.

I guess when you get a word like abrazos–with the ambiguous definition of “an embrace”–you have to establish the quality of the embrace and the style–by how much you would elongate the vowels in the word.

For instance, it could be an “abrazos.” Short, brief antiseptic.

Or it could be an “abra-z-o-o-s.” We’re gettin’ warmer.

Or finally, it could be an “a-bra-a-a-z-o-o-os.” Boom. Touchdown.

I like hugs. I don’t particularly like it, however,  when people inform me BEFORE they hug me that they are a “hugging person.” It takes away some of the spontaneity and specialness of being hugged. Yeah, it’s kind of a Baskin Robbins embracing philosophy: “Now serving #84.”

But as analytical and critical as you may want to get about two people joining their bodies in closeness, any embrace is a lot better than standing at a distance … and judging each other.