Crab Apple

Crab apple: (n) a small, sour, wild apple

His name was Page McClain.

It really was.

I will further strain your belief by telling you that his middle name was Unus, which you may not know is the Latin word for “one.”funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Page One McClain.

As you can imagine, his parents were quite colorful. They were hippies living in a town which didn’t believe in hippies.

Page was unique. He was the most intellectual ten-year-old boy I’ve ever met. I think he liked me because I was the only person in the school who liked him. Everyone else thought he was too small, too odd or that his parents were probably Communists, which made him too dangerous.

My parents were reluctant to have me play with him, and it took me a solid two weeks to convince them to permit me a sleepover at his house. But one night I caught them in a good mood, asked them in just the right tone of voice, and had just finished mowing the lawn (which was such a rare occurrence that it always brought tears to their eyes).

They agreed to let me go.

Page did not have much to play with at his house. His parents were poor (which may surprise you since they were hippies and all). When it was time for lunch, he opened up a can of kidney beans and handed me a spoon. (I had often complained about kidney beans in a bowl of chili. Now, coming face-to-face with their point of origin, I was shell-shocked and nearly immobile. But since Page ate them, I ate them, too.)

The only thing Page had available at his house was an apple tree with crab apples on it. They were tiny, red and just perfect for throwing. Many of them had fallen to the ground and were fairly soft. So we picked them up and started aiming them at tree-trunks and, to my embarrassment, passing cats and dogs.

We soon grew tired of this and began throwing them at each other. It turned into a full-fledged crab apple battle. Soon the ones on the ground were used up as ammunition, so we started pulling them off the tree. These were harder. When they hit you in the face, it not only smarted, but also left a red residue from the crab apple itself.

Later that day, when my mother picked me up, she was convinced that my face had been attacked by a chain saw. She actually drove me to the doctor. He was our family doctor—old, sometimes grumpy, but often a bit whimsical. After carefully examining me, he turned to my mother and said, “I think your son has been hit by an apple pie, but somebody forgot to peel the apples.”

The doctor thought this was hilarious. My mother was baffled.

And I was busy in thought…wondering if I had been the winner at the great crab apple war.


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Akron

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Akron: (n) a city in northeastern Ohio; population 217,074. Noted as a center for the rubber industry, the first rubber factory was established there in 1870 by B. F. Goodrich.

It was a process called “vulcanization,” which had absolutely nothing to do with Mr. Spock or mind melding. I know very little about it–except that tires for cars are the blessed by-product.

But for me, Akron has a very different association.

On a Tuesday night, I drove the 116 miles from my home to a little coffeehouse in Akron called The Avalon. I was young, foolish, energetic and very viable, which was cancelled out by my penchant for stupid decisions.

I had just started a music group and we were looking for anywhere to perform, where people would listen for a few moments and hopefully praise us for our efforts instead of giving us the benefit of needful critique.

The Avalon coffeehouse agreed to let us come and sing a couple of songs, so we were ecstatic. I knew nothing about this venue. As it turned out, it was one of those spiritual youth hostels, where people under the age of thirty gathered to teeter in an existence in spirituality would not totally disrupt their carnal pursuits.

On the other hand, my little group consisted of small-town-America high school graduates who had all the travel sensibilities of Christopher Columbus heading for the West Indies but settling for the Caribbean.

So the first thing we did was dress up for the occasion. All I owned was a fancy dress coat with a shirt and tie. The two girls traveling with me had their prom dresses from the previous year, and felt they shouldn’t go to waste, so why not wear them to the Avalon?We also traveled with a young hobbit-looking oboe player, who wore glasses which resembled goggles from a steel mill.

So you can imagine the surprise of the young hippies at The Avalon, dressed in blue jeans and hemp blouses and shirts, with bare feet, when the prom king and his two queens showed up.

Even though there was a pending snicker in the air, to their credit, the patrons set aside their bigotry and gave an ear to “Goober and the two Gooberettes.”

We sang a song called Jesus Generation,” which was about the corniest thing I’ve ever written, and a rendition of the Beatitudes calledBlessed,” which had a prelude played on the oboe suitable for chamber orchestras in the Mozart era.

We survived.

Matter of fact, there was a level of appreciation–perhaps mainly for our courage in showing up–which warmed my heart.

And to top the evening off, for the first time in my life, the hat was passed and we left that small gathering with $33.25, believing we were successful prospectors from Sutter’s Mill.

I don’t know what they said about us after we left. It doesn’t matter. But for one night, cultures clashed without the need for violence, ridicule or debate.

It is how I will always remember Akron.

It is the blessing I received at The Avalon.

 

Agenda

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter AAgenda: (n) 1. a list of items or subjects to be considered at a meeting 2. determination of a program of action

  • Republicans want less government.
  • Democrats want more government.
  • Conservatives want to conserve.
  • Liberals want to be more liberal in their choices.
  • Baptists want to baptize.
  • Catholics want to take care of their religious obligation.
  • Buddhists want to meditate.
  • Bankers want to make money.
  • Wall Street wants to make money and also take it away from others.
  • Women want equal rights.
  • Men want sex rights.
  • Children want to play.
  • Drug dealers want to sell their product.
  • Politicians want your vote.
  • Actors want a job and praise.
  • Singers want applause and to sing.
  • Old people want more health care.
  • Young people want more fun.
  • Sailors want a boat.
  • Pilots want a plane.
  • Soldiers want action and their pay.
  • Hippies want peace.
  • Jews want Jerusalem.
  • Muslims want Jerusalem–without Jews.
  • Terrorists want their demands.
  • Dogs want a bone.
  • Cats want to do whatever they want to do.
  • Football players want a touchdown.
  • Baseball players want a homer.
  • A hockey player wants his teeth.

In a world where everybody has an agenda, we must understand that we are at the mercy of the ploys of society–UNLESS we are aware of the aspirations of others and try our best to arrive on the scene without too many pre-conceived ideas.

Is it possible to have an agenda to not have an agenda?

Doesn’t that just make you a contradiction in terms?

Afraid

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

 

Afraid: (adj.) feeling fear or anxiety; frightened.

 It was my favorite shirt.

I was nineteen years old and it was during the era of the counter-culture—hippies, rock and roll … well, you know the groove.

It was gray and had embroidered white velvet flowers on it.

I loved it.

It was almost too small for me, so depending on whether I was in one of my puffy weeks or thinning days, I could sit down wearing it with spreading buttons or with more comfort.

I didn’t care. I worshipped it.

I wore it at least five times a week. My criterion for deciding whether to don it in the morning was sniffing under the armpits to ascertain the intensity of its lethal nature.

One day I noticed that some of the threads on the bottom of the shirt had come loose. I didn’t think much about it. I just pulled on them and tore them off. After about two weeks of doing this, I realized that my shirt was no longer shedding threads, but had actually torn and was practically ruined.

At that juncture, somebody pointed out that if I had sewn up the bottom of the shirt instead of pulling on the threads, the problem would have been solved and I would still have my garment. (I continued to wear it in its dilapidated condition until one day I was walking down the street and a guy handed me two dollars, thinking I was homeless…)

The reason I share this story is that being afraid is a lot like being a-frayed.

Our threads come loose and we yank on them, pull at them, deny our feelings and pretend everything is all right until we have no opportunities left and we stand, clothed in unrighteousness.

Yes, afraid is when we refuse to sow up our fears and tie up our worries and instead, allow them to destroy everything we like. And even when we use noble words like “responsibility,” “concern,” “involvement,” “anxious,” or in some cases, even “wondering”—we’re just masking the monster.

I lost the shirt off my back because it was “a-frayed.”

If I become too afraid—well … I can lose my own soul.