Curtsy

Curtsy: (n) a respectful bow made by women and girls

I cannot officially report that the stigma ever went away.

I think it passed after a couple of years—but Glenn certainly carried the sniff of it all through his general education days in our small town.

It all happened quite innocently.

For some reason, our high school decided to have a square dance for homecoming.

One of the teachers, our Spanish instructor, was quite the proponent of square dancing, and apparently made a case to the other teachers—how “cute it would be” for a bunch of high school students to participate in the old form of hoofing.

I remember that learning the square dancing was particularly mind-numbing, partly because it was so abstract to my adolescent mind, and also because I thought it looked like some of the stupidest shit I’d ever seen.

But the worst part was when we took one whole day—yes, an entire school period—to learn how to bow and curtsy.

Because somewhere in the process of doing this ridiculous dance (that should have been killed off with the rest of Dixie) there is a lot of this bowing and curtsying nonsense.

So each one of us had to come forward and show off our best bow, if you were a boy, or best curtsy, if you were a girl.

At first, the reluctance in the room hung like moss from trees.

But when the threat of extending the lesson into yet another day was put forth, we all realized we needed to get through this quickly and efficiently, so we became filled with (fake) enthusiasm, which nearly brought our Spanish teacher/square dance aficionado to tears.

Because we were trying to be exuberant, and even a little madcap, when Glenn took his turn–because the girl in front of him had just curtsied–his brain apparently froze and he did a curtsy also.

The room grew still.

Our teacher/instructor was so offended that Glenn was “mocking” her that he ended up being sent to the principal’s office.

But that wasn’t the worst of it.

Being teenage boys, we made the assumption that unbeknownst to Glenn, his body was screaming from some homosexual prison to be free.

And in doing the curtsy, he was manifesting his real desire, which was to be a fag. (This was long before “gay.”)

Even as I write this, I realize how ridiculous it sounds. But so did everything else I thought when I was fifteen.

Glenn later went out for the football team–probably to prove he was a man.

I think he expressed disdain for girls (like the rest of the macho locker-room gang) just so nobody would think he was “overly sensitive.”

Glenn had to be careful when we showered after gym class—not to cast his eyes in the direction of any fellow. So normally he sat on the bench, quietly dressing and staring into his locker.

This is why I can tell you of a certainty, through this tragic story of Glenn, that the curtsy is mighty dangerous.

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Coulter

Coulter: (n) a surname

I have made it a practice to never insert someone’s real name into one of my essays or articles. Whatever that person and I chose to do in our adult moments of living shouldn’t be regaled for all the world to read. At least I owe them that.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

But I could not help myself when I rolled across the name Coulter, and realized that a very dear friend by that name once strolled into my life and took me from a status of nearly homeless to a position in which my music and art was given the chance to be considered as viable.

Coulter was my friend. He was part of a music group I joined, and in no time at all they had me singing his vocal parts. Rather than being angry or jealous, Coulter was appreciative and supportive.

He tried many things. Coulter’s problem was that he was good at everything he attempted.

For instance, he started working at a doughnut shop and within two months, they made him manager. (I benefited from that experience, because my wife and I were without an actual place to sleep at night, nor regular food.) Coulter always provided a big box of day-old doughnuts, which he set outside the back door of the establishment with his blessing)

He always believed that underneath my neediness—and sometimes grubbiness—there was someone worthy to be heard. Eventually, because of his love of the entertainment business, he started his own agency to book acts. Completely in line with his employment history, in no time at all he had a stable of artists and was scheduling them into everything from conventions to churches to county fairs.

He helped our fledgling group along, throwing us work every now and then, and when I wrote my first musical theater piece, he became so excited that he found ten investors, who gave a thousand dollars each to fund the effort.

He not only helped me put together the cast for the production, but also got on the phone and scheduled dates in twenty-five cities around the country, so we could go and perform it.

He was so enthralled with the music from the play that he wanted to promote to large publishing concerns. All he needed from me were lead sheets and chord charts. Unfortunately, my technical knowledge of music was limited, and I ended up handing him materials which were pitiful and comical at the same time.

But he never held it against me. He never became enraged or upset about anything.

Even when we were in the midst of promoting our musical play, and a minister who believed he possessed both the knowledge of God’s will and the right to judge others who didn’t understand, attacked Coulter because he heard rumors that my friend was a homosexual (that’s back when they were homosexuals instead of gay) Coulter refused to retaliate.

Even though I was a stupid kid with a gnat’s worth of sense, I defended him and stood up against the Pharisee. It’s one of the better things I ever did in my life.

I don’t know where Coulter is today—or even if he is today.

But wherever he may be, I want him to know that his good buddy turned out okay—due in large part to a friend who arrived in the early days with a box of doughnut—just at the right time.


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Chartreuse

Chartreuse: (n) a color between yellow and green

Tolerance is a good thing.

Acceptance–admirable.

Inclusion, divine.

There’s no doubt about it.

But by the same token, if you happen to be heterosexual, you don’t want to be gay. And I would assume those who are gay might be slightly offended at the notion
of being heterosexual.

Maybe it’s the remnants of prejudice–the ignorance of the masses being played out–but certain actions, choices, mannerisms and even speech patterns hint toward effeminacy.

We are still sensitive. Oh, we may march in the Gay Pride Parade, openly spouting that we don’t care if anyone thinks we’re part of the gang. But then–if someone actually does assume that we are of that persuasion, we are quick to whisper, “I’m just here to be supportive.”

With that in mind, I have been tempted from time to time to refer to something as “chartreuse.” The word nearly fell from my lips in a room filled with blue jeans, t-shirts and five o’clock shadows. Just in the nick of time, I pulled back and said, in my deepest basal tone, “You know. Kind of between yellow and green.”

In doing so, I removed any suspicion from the testosterone-driven gathering that I might be … well, gay.

You see, I don’t want to be gay. Honestly, I don’t like to think about being gay. I think it is possible to be tolerant without possessing total understanding of a situation.

So even though it may not be politically correct, I will tell you that I occasionally catch my hands on my hips and quickly remove them, am very careful at how I glance down at my fingernails, and certainly would not call a football jersey “chartreuse.”

 

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Blouse

Blouse: (n) a woman’s loose upper garment resembling a shirt

Dictionary B

“Change the language and you can change the world.”

With a few exceptions, I totally believe this.

I’ve tried to put this into practice in my life by being equally complimentary to both men and women. It might sound strange, but normally, our species does not do that.

Two guys meeting to go out to a ballgame don’t usually comment on each other’s outfits. Even if we think a friend is wearing a great-looking jersey, we button our lips for fear of coming across gay.

But if they run across a woman they think is fairly attractive, they just might compliment her on what she’s wearing so as to communicate that they think she is sexually viable and place themselves for consideration.

This is perhaps one of the greatest proofs of chauvinism–“just part of the jungle game.”

Do I think it’s dangerous?

Do I think it’s hypocritical?

What I think is that I choose not to participate.

If my buddy has a nice haircut and doesn’t smell like crap, I will probably go ahead and tell him. If he thinks I’m a homosexual for doing so, I just figure the problem is not mine, but his.

And if I see a woman dressed in a stunning blouse, I will tell her how attractive I think it is, without staring at her breasts while doing so. I also will not stand around and wait for her to compliment me in turn.

A blouse is a blouse is a blouse.

It is a female shirt.

As a shirt, it carries no sexuality and truthfully, is androgynous–open to commentary.

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Barber

Barber: (n) a person who cuts hairDictionary B

They called it a “regular.”

When I was eleven years old, my mother made me repeat the word “regular” back to her, so I would know what kind of haircut to ask for when I went to our barber, Mr. Smythe.

I hated to go.

Mr. Smythe was a nice man–small, soft-spoken and now, as I look back on it, probably gay. In our town, it was illegal to be gay, to think about being gay, or even to mention the word “homosexual.” So Mr. Smythe was more than likely hiding out behind his scissors and clippers.

And I now realize that he was probably just as terrified when I arrived at his barbershop as I was to climb up in his big chair and have him snip at my locks.

We struggled through fifteen minutes of conversation, which deteriorated with each of his questions, which I finalized with a “yes” or “no.”

I was always glad when we got to the end of the experience and he began to brush my hair to dispel all the dislodged members.

But then he would ask the most embarrassing question of all: “Would you like me to put some smell-good on you, for the ladies?”

I was only eleven years old, and the only ladies I knew were still forcing their way into my life to wipe my nose with Kleenex.

I don’t remember what I ever mumbled back, but sometimes he smeared me with aftershave, and on other occasions we would forego the ordeal.

I had my dollar and a quarter all ready for him, and as I left, he pretended we had made an amazing connection, and told me to “stop in any time.”

I didn’t. I only went when my mother decided I needed to display more ears.

I think about him from time to time.

  • What was his story?
  • Where did he end up?
  • Was he ever able to come out of the barber’s closet?

Perhaps he just a real sweet guy who liked women and was kind to little boys like me … who had not yet learned how to correctly answer questions.

 

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Ballerina

Ballerina: (n) a female ballet dancer.Dictionary B

It is amazing to me, the things that pop to my mind when I hear the daily word that comes up through the luck of the draw of the dictionary–and suddenly an image is literally dancing across my consciousness, and no matter how hard I try to consider some other interpretation, it remains predominant.

I remember a very obscure song I knew as a young boy, which referred to a ballerina. (I could probably look up who did the song on the Internet, but I would lose the spontaneity by trying to impress you with my knowledge instead of impacting you with my experience.)

I think the song had a harpsichord in it and sounded a little old-fashioned, but it was a rock song that began with the haunting musical phrase, “I had a date with a pretty ballerina.”

And then, something about “her hair of gold was so bright it hurt my eyes.”

But what really struck me about the song was the lyric, “Was I surprised? No. Was I surprised? No, not at all.”

It was sung really high–in a falsetto.

As a kid, I loved that song, though I wouldn’t admit it to my friends, who thought it was really sissy.

The singer was one of those cast-offs from the British Invasion, who sounded very English, and therefore, to my Midwest ears, like he possibly was homosexual. (It was a different time…)

But this didn’t prevent me from having great emotion and affection for the song. It awakened me–that music, by itself, has a particular anointing, whether you understand the lyrics or comprehend the message or not.

So when I think of a ballerina, that song comes to my mind, and even though I don’t know who sang it or what the hell it was all about, it still conjures images of a dainty lady graced with great ability, pirouetting into my mundane life.

 

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Anti-retroviral

dictionary with letter AAnti-retroviral (adj) working against retroviruses, especially HIV.

The advantage of living your life and seeing the decades pass is realizing the blessing of coming across moments in time in which great transitions of spiritual awareness and social consciousness are transpiring, and knowing that you have an opportunity to acquire a better path of understanding instead of marching in the “asshole parade” down to spit in the river.

This happened to me in 1983.

Most people may forget that particular era, and I concur that much of it is worthy of a mental lapse. We were in a self-indulgent, pious, uncertain, semi-prospering, silly and trivial era.

While we were all prancing around admiring each other’s hairdos and duds, a virus arrived on the scene. The preliminary investigation of this deadly disease seemed to indicate that it was targeting the homosexual community. (Yes, back then, they were homosexuals, We were certainly not prepared for them to be “gay.”)

This played right into the hands of many opponents of the lifestyle, and there was word on the street that it was a “gay plague,” sent by God to express His displeasure and anger over “huggy-kissy” with brothers and brothers and sisters with sisters.

Matter of fact, I found myself in the middle of several such discussions, as people shook their heads, displaying a bit of awe and wonder over the power of God in expressing His judgment.

It would have been very easy to keep my mouth shut–and I suppose, more profitable for the sale of my books and such.

But there are two things I knew to be true:

God is love.

I refuse to believe that love has to kill anything to make its point.

And secondly, if God is so uncreative that the only way He can express Himself is by cursing those who disagree with Him, I find Him extraordinarily boring.

So since I knew that God was love and I did have an interest in Him, I surmised that a terrible sickness had come into our midst which would eventually affect everybody, so the sooner we found medication or perhaps a vaccine for this horror, the better off we would be.

Knowing that the most intelligent practice in fighting any evil is to engage your wallet, I donated to study and conquer this virus, which eventually became known as AIDS.

Cooler heads prevailed, and once they were cooled down, they began to think again. Isn’t that amazing?

And soon a drastic cocktail of concoctions was mixed together, and even though it was extraordinarily vicious in its side-effects, it addressed an aching need and saved thousands of lives.

So what is my conclusion?

People who believe in a God who is still stuck somewhere on Mt. Sinai, afraid to climb down, are soon forgotten.

And those who believe in a God who walks on water to help His children … live to praise Him and help others.

 

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