Concise

Concise: (adj) giving a lot of information clearly and in a few words

I occasionally have this hilarious, comedic scene pass through my mind of arriving at the Judgment Day and having a very well-dressed, astute and proper St. Peter ask me, “In twenty-five words or less, tell me why you think you should go to heaven. And by the way, don’t use ‘uh, well,’ funny wisdom on words that begin with a Cor ‘basically’ as any of the words.”

Be concise.

Find a way to say what you mean without cushioning it with your inhibition, your fear or your exaggerated need to focus on yourself.

I learned a long time ago, started believing it five years later, and now have begun to practice the shortened version of anything I say, opening the door for those who are interested to proffer questions if elongation is necessary.

You know what I have found? There are no questions.

People are pretty well satisfied with the bare-bones rendition of my situation.

We believe that we are terribly interesting. We contend that if people are fascinated with us.

But concise is what puts us on guest lists for parties.

Concise is what increases our possibility for sexual encounters–because we are not over-begging.

Concise is what gets the job done instead of trying to figure out why the job can’t be done.

And concise is why we yell “Fire!” instead of describing it, explaining combustion or theorizing on the correct tools to extinguish it.

 


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Collapse

Collapse: (v) to fall down or in; give way.

Some folks think it’s hilarious when a big man like me sits down in a chair and it collapses. It’s why I have to judge furniture much too harshly–“spaciously” profiling it.

Yet it has taught me a lesson–to pay careful attention to ideas that keep popping up, which certainly will not withstand the weight of
human involvement. After all, human interaction comes in three forms:

  • Support
  • Criticism
  • Attack

Every idea has to be able to survive all three things, or it will collapse.

I often feel that way about politics. It collapses under the pressure of being questioned and challenged–dare I say, attacked?

Entertainment and entertainers are certainly way too fragile, and hide behind their make-up.

And religion collapses like a cheap lawn chair the minute real human conflict comes sitting.

What makes me collapse?

What makes me give in?

Where are my weaknesses?

What warning should you receive about my possibility for folding up?

All things human have to survive support, criticism and attack.

And truthfully, whenever I can’t, I need to get the hell out of the way and make room for better ideas.

If we were raising a generation of young souls prepared to withstand such scrutiny, maybe our future would be brighter. Perhaps it’s where we should begin.

If we could take every child born on Earth under the age of twelve, and teach him or her how to support, withstand an attack, and keep perspective during criticism, we might secure another hundred generations of human beings.

 

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Clean

Clean: (adj) uncontaminated and pure; innocent.

I didn’t take my first shower until I was in junior high school.

Our house had a bathtub. I remember, as a boy, sitting in that tub until my skin started to prune up. This told me two things: first, I had been in the water too long. But secondly, there was a chance I was clean.

But the first time I stepped into that shower after junior high school football practice, I realized I had never gotten the back of my neck clean sitting in that tub.

Matter of fact, a friend standing nearby, who should have been minding his own business, saw that there were little streams of dirt flowing down my backside.

He thought this was hilarious.

Being one who liked to share his joy, he pointed it out to all the nearby fellows showering. I was embarrassed.

I tried to explain that I was a bather, not a “shower-er,” but that sounded even worse.

I scrubbed the back of my neck the very best I could, went out, changed clothes and left as quickly as possible.

I grew up a lot that one afternoon, because I realized that just because we think we’re clean doesn’t mean that every place on us–or in us–has been cleansed.

Sometimes it takes a shower hitting us at just the right place to expose hidden dirt.

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Chuckle

Chuckle: (n) a quiet or suppressed laugh

He drove me crazy (even though that would not require many miles of journey.)

He was a theater critic who came out to watch my show, and even though I settled my inner being by insisting that I would not glance his
way, my left eyeball seemed to deny the commitment and wander over to view his reaction.

I was hilarious–at least as hilarious as I ever get.

I was on–which is merely the opposite of off.

The audience was with me–though you’re never quite sure how much of it is sympathy.

He just sat there. He didn’t smirk. It was like someone had bet him that he could remain emotionless during the entire affair.

I had never met him before, but I hated him. Not with a ferocious anger, sprouting a rage of violence–just a normal, temporary, human hatred, which could be assuaged merely by the introduction of a simple compliment.

After the show he came backstage to see me. I was surprised. I thought the next thing I would receive from this fellow would be his review, in which he used as many synonyms for “mediocre” as possible.

But turns out he thought I was hilarious.

I had to ask him, “Did you ever laugh?”

He frowned at me as if concerned about how much I might have hurt myself falling off the turnip truck.

“You don’t have to laugh out loud to chuckle inside,” he explained. “I am an internal chuckler, who simultaneously admires the material that amuses me.”

I stared at him, but decided not to pursue the conversation, since at this point, the outcome was in my favor.

But as I considered his insight, I realized that I often watched things on television or at the movies, and would tell people how funny they were–yet I wasn’t really sure my face exuded anything other than a death growl.

All I can say is, you can feel free to chuckle, even if it’s done inside your closet of appreciation.

But thank God–oh, thank God–for those who spill and spew their laughter.

 

 

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Ceramic

Ceramic: (adj) made of clay and hardened by heat.

Having someone talk you into something.

I was guilty of it many times when I was younger. Someone would come in the room with a hard sell on a new idea, and I would feel like an
idiot if I refused to participate.

One of my friends got interested in doing ceramics. Matter of fact, she bought a kiln. I would try to explain to you what a kiln is, but let me just sum it up by saying that it’s a very, very hot oven.

My dear friend decided to coerce me into making a pot.

I did not want to. Yet I felt that my reluctance was a sign of insecurity, so I agreed. She repeatedly explained how simple everything was, as I continued to make it complicated. I finally succeeded in forming my clay into what somewhat resembled a pot, and we put it into the kiln to bake.

After that, things become blurry. There was something about letting it cool, painting it, decorating it…

Let me just say that I did everything she asked me to–ineptly.

At the end of the experience, I had a pot-shaped object which was extremely ugly and looked like it was made by a five-year-old.

She disagreed.

She said it was beautiful. She used the word “unique.” She said she would be proud to have it in her house.

She told me to pick it up next week, after it had the chance to fully… I forget the word. Mature?

I was heading to my car when I realized I had left my hat behind. As I approached the doorway, I heard laughter. I stopped, leaned against the wall and listened.

My friend was explaining to her other pot-makers the experience she had with me, while displaying my work. If the goal of pot-making is to create hilarious laughter, I was superb.

I waited a few minutes until the laughter died down and I went inside to get my hat.

I never returned to get my pot. She called me once, asking me to come pick it up. I told her to use it as an example of what someone does when they reluctantly follow the wishes of a friend.

 

 

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Bunk Bed

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Bunk bed: (n) a piece of furniture consisting of two beds, one above the other, that form a unit.

Ralph had a good job and therefore had some money.

This was rare in our hometown area, where the local gospel singers who aspired to be superstars in the cavalcade of heavenly tunes were normally poor, with dreams the only stuffing in their heads.

I was one of those poor ones.

But Ralph had some money. So his quartet went out and bought a bus, and Ralphie Boy signed for it. It was a 4104 Greyhound, which I’m sure will mean nothing to you unless you can conjure the image of the transportation of that era. If you can muster a picture of a Greyhound, it more than likely is a 4104.

Did I mention that Ralph was also a carpenter? So he ripped the seats out and built the insides to look like a little home, complete with four bunk beds for traveling nights, which might require some sleeping.

Everybody who had a pitch pipe and desired to sing four-part harmony bounced between admiring Ralph and his bus and being envious that they were not in his quartet.

But he was generous and let people come along on little trips so they could say they had been in the magic chariot.

I went on one such trip. It was an “overnighter,” so I got to sleep in the bunk.

It was at that precise moment in that particular location, with my chubby frame wedged into a tiny bunk, that I realized I was claustrophobic. What started out as a night of dreams and new opportunities left me terrorized that the bunk just above me was going to suddenly give way, come crashing down and suffocate me, probably to death.

When we finished the trip, Ralph asked me how I enjoyed it, and being a polite Midwestern boy, I said it was absolutely amazing–but that I was a little scared of the bunk beds.

Ralph thought that was hilarious–so funny that he decided to share it with everybody he ever came in contact with.

So from that point on, no matter what the activity, people would walk up, pat me on the shoulder and say, “By the way, you can relax. There won’t be any bunks.”

 

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Blue

Blue: (v) to make or become blue.

Dictionary B

Often life arrives in a very pale shade, threatening despair, and I too quickly grab the “blues” to darken it.

Yes, I have a fear that things are not going to go well. I will admit it.

To me, optimism always seems to be a trap–similar to being informed that you have a great amount of cash waiting for you in a Nigerian bank.

After a while, you stop believing in miracles, but unfortunately also lose your ability to accept reality but instead, interpret all your life through a prism of “blue.”

I know there are depressions which are caused by deficiencies in the human body, but there are also depressions we permit to settle in because the contortions of greater effort or hilarious hope are just too painful.

How much light does it take to change blue to faith?

I don’t know. And I certainly cannot convince myself that pursuing such virtue is always plausible.

Maybe I could just stop using my blue crayon to color in the pictures quite so often.

 

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