Dartboard

Dartboard: (n) the target used in the game of darts.

Ann Arbor, Michigan

After I shared at a coffeehouse and sang my songs, some of the nice folks who attended invited me out to a restaurant called “Lums.”

Now, if you don’t know anything about “Lums,” I’m not going to try to articulate a great deal. Just think about delicious sandwiches and soups, with the addition of local delicacies like bratwurst and a very tiny deep-fried fish called smelt. (That is the extent of my tour journey through the essence of “Lums.”)

But what I remember is that this particular gathering of souls loved to play darts. The restaurant had a small bar with a dart board hanging on the wall.

I had never played darts in my life.

I had never regretted not playing darts.

But I wanted to be hospitable—especially since they were treating me to a “Super Weiner Dog.”

So they handed me a dart and said, “Go ahead. Take a shot.”

I was so indifferent to the prospect and so certain I would fail horribly that I just took it in my hand and threw it quickly.

It stuck right in the center.

I was shocked.

The friends who brought me to the restaurant thought I was some sort of dartboard hustler—so they pushed, encouraged and dared me to finish the game—against their best dartboard champion.

It was horrible.

You see, the reason I did well with that first dart—why I was so lucky—is that I didn’t think about it at all.

I just tossed it off.

For you see, when you play darts, standing there with one in your hand, if you start aiming for the center, the shakiness caused by your nerves and the lack of knowing how hard or soft to throw it, makes the dart go nowhere you envisioned.

Honest to God—after that first throw that landed in the center, I not only didn’t score points, but I never hit the board again.

After about ten attempts, my friends realized that I was hanging in mid-air of humiliation, so they cut off the punishment and we went back to enjoy our dinner.

As we sat down, one of the young girls who was there for the feasting said, “Here’s the problem. Darts don’t involve your brain. If you think about it, you’ll screw up. You just have to toss it and hope for the best.”

I overthought her statement.

Maybe it was the remnant of the failure still taunting my soul, but I will tell you—she’s right.

After you’ve tried something, practiced it, studied it and learned it…

Just go ahead and toss the goddamn dart.

Dare

Dare: (v) to have the boldness to try; venture; hazard

I dare you to love an asshole.

Big talker you are.  Bet’cha can’t pull it off.

You’ll peer around the room at everyone, desperately looking for confirmation that no one could get along with the asshole that is plaguing your space.

I dare you to buy a canvas and some paints and let your mind go crazy and spill something out.

Are you more scared of humiliation or stagnancy? Which one terrifies you?

I dare you to admit your faults to other people.

Do you really think they’ll move in for the kill shot? And what if they do? Will you lose something by dying honest?

I dare you to change one thing tomorrow and see if it doesn’t have at least five consecutive results.

I dare you to start using your email to encourage people instead of complaining about your circumstance to a plethora of pitiful types who only desire to complain back to you.

I dare you to demand of God that He do something rather than just seek worship.

I dare you to stop being political, and instead, become so human that you actually join the race.

I dare you to change your mind.

I dare you to listen for ten minutes to someone who disagrees with you, without interrupting.

I dare you to learn the beauty of getting alone without feeling lonely.

I dare you to find that balance between loving yourself and needing to improve something inside you.

I dare you to find a legitimate difference between men and women that hasn’t been manufactured in Congress, the pulpit or the movies.

I dare you to let people be who they are, and if you find it uncomfortable, make them comfortable by finding yourself elsewhere.

I dare you to take a week believing in God, and then I dare you to take a week denying there is one. (Then I dare you to be fair in your conclusions after the two weeks are over.)

I dare you to have an experience other than a Biblical verse.

I dare you to give a helping hand to people who are ignorant instead of stepping on their face with your new Gucci boots.

I dare you to be dared.

Yes—I dare you to be dared until your daring adventure takes you to a double dare.

Cyclone

Cyclone: (n) another word for a tornado.

Do we need another name for tornado?

I think tornado is doing very well for itself.

Its letters are formed perfectly to allow meteorologists to refer to “tornadic activity.” Would “cyclonic activity” be just as powerful?

I think the first time I heard the word “cyclone” was in ancient America—watching Bugs Bunny cartoons. Yosemite Sam referred to a big dust bowl of wind as a cyclone. I didn’t like Yosemite Sam—he was mean to Bugs Bunny. So I developed a prejudice against the word based on just that experience.

Also, how old would you have to be to call it a cyclone? I have a vision of an ancient being in the Oklahoma territory, looking in the dusty distance and speaking some words in Navajo tongue, and then translating them:

“Methinks cyclone is coming.”

Yeah. That works for me. (Add some buckskins to your word picture.)

I’m just trying to imagine any of my friends using the word “cyclone” as I squint my face in confusion and disapproval, and having them pipe back, “Be cool, fool. It’s just the new millennial way of saying tornado.”

Maybe the reason this doesn’t work is because…

Who actually wants to clone a sigh?

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Cycling

Cycling: (n) the act or sport of riding or traveling by bicycle

 I got my first bicycle when I was ten years old.

Although no one actually weighed me, from my memories and careful guesstimation, I would say I probably weighed two hundred pounds.

My parents were not wealthy and could not afford a heavy-duty bicycle for me, so I ended up with a lovely Schwinn.

It was suited for a boy less than half my size.

First of all, may I say that riding a bicycle when you’re obese is like perching a frog on the head of a pin.

It was not comfortable.

And I was surprised at how much energy it took for my chubby legs to pedal my weight along the road.

But I was thrilled when a friend asked me to take over his paper route for two weeks during his vacation.

It was very nice of him, and he guaranteed me five dollars a week to perform the task.

Thirty-six daily deliveries—and going door-to-door on Saturdays to collect the subscription money.

Now, the whole thing sounded completely plausible and nearly fun. But on the first day, when I had trouble getting all the newspapers onto the back of my bicycle and struggled with pedaling both my weight and the additional girth of the news, I almost lost heart and nearly gave up around delivery seventeen.

I decided to gut it out for the day and planned to telephone my friend at his vacation spot and let him know I would not be able to fulfill my promise.

But a fit of “Sunday School” possessed my soul and I concluded it was unfair to leave him hanging.

I chose to endure.

During my normal cycling, I didn’t have to stand up on the bicycle to pedal—because I avoided hills. But the paper route had three large hills, and unfortunately, on the fourth day, second hill, when I stood, the pedal broke off due to my weight.

I was not terribly embarrassed about it until I went to the hardware store, showed what had happened, and the old man behind the counter rubbed his chin and declared, “Boy, how in the hell did you break off a pedal? I’ve never seen such a thing. Maybe you oughta lose some weight.”

As I tell you this story, it’s astounding to me that his statement upset me so badly—but it did. I cried all the way home and all during the time it took me to reinstall a new pedal.

After that, every time I came to a big hill, I had to get off the bike and walk up, pushing it, because I was afraid of breaking another one and the humiliation of dealing with Gramps down at the store.

Mostly I enjoyed cycling.

But the thought of pedaling still puts a chill down my spine.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Cucumber

Cucumber: (n) a long, green-skinned fruit with watery flesh, usually eaten raw in salads

There are times I feel that the only thing I have available to show off is my ignorance. It is rather annoying.

Because sometimes I don’t know I’m ignorant.

The world is filled with so much information that it is completely impossible to be up to date on everything, leaving one and all with a spotty perspective.

One day I was at a luncheon with four dear women, and the waiter asked the ladies if they wanted cucumber on their salads.

On cue, they all giggled vigorously.

I joined them, not knowing what I was laughing about. (I hate it when I do that, because then people assume I’m in on the joke, and for the next terrifying minutes I have to listen carefully for context clues in the conversation, to try and figure out what has brought about the hilarity.)

These women were very tricky. They actually began to carry on a conversation about cucumbers that was so mystical and laced with code that I was unable to ascertain any true insight.

They started to discuss the smell. This brought on more comic relief. (At least I had the sense to stop laughing and just listen.)

One girl said she enjoyed the texture, which made everybody burst into rolls of levity.

One of the young ladies asked if anybody else had a preference with the size. Did they like their cucumbers short and round, or long and lean? There was not much discussion or disagreement on this one. Short and round won the day.

It became really frustrating to me when the salads arrived and as they nipped and chewed at their cucumbers, they looked at one another and moaned.

I realized they must be playing with me, but there was no hint of deception from any of them. They seemed to be lost in their world of cucumbers, without me knowing how to get to their location.

Wanting to join in, and chomping on my salad, I remarked, “I like cucumbers, too.”

My comment won the laughter fest of the day—although I felt it was directed more in the realm of humiliation than appreciation.

 

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

 

Crevasse

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Crevasse: (n) a deep, open crack

“It’s just about eight feet.”

God, I hated those words.

Growing up, I was the chubby, endearing, intelligent and funny friend. If you put me in a room watching Chiller Theater or listening to music or eating pizza, I was the star of the show.

But every once in a while, I got myself trapped into doing activities that blubber-boys should never participate in whatsoever.

I was thirteen years old and was asked to go on a hike.

I cannot lie—I went on the hike because at the end of the hike we were supposed to have a cookout over an open fire with marshmallows. They did not explain that there would be a five-hour death march preceding it.

I was panting within fifteen minutes, melting with sweat within a half hour—my legs so weak at the end of fifty minutes that I could barely stand.

This in itself was problematic.

But then we came to the Brave Man Crevasse.

The grown-up in charge of the expedition had mentioned it the night before with starry eyes, nearly breathless over the joy each of us would have in taking what he called “The Great Leap.” Struck by stupidity and still dreaming of marshmallows, I had failed to consider the impact of his statement.

About three hours into the hike, with me praying for death or the second coming of Christ, we arrived at The Crevasse.

Very simply stated, it was where the path ended and then resumed eight to ten feet over on the other side, with a drop of about fifty or sixty feet in the middle

The major problem was that before I could even consider what we were doing or how I personally was going to achieve it, many of my friends boldly took the jump and landed safely on the other side. Applause followed.

Pretty soon it was down to Lance and me. Lance was considered to be the coward of our troop—afraid of every type of bug, and really somewhat terrified of dirt. Lo and behold, Lance decided to choose this day for his epiphany of courage. He jumped up in the air and landed, his foot slipping at the last moment, nearly falling, but grabbed by some nearby buddies, who then alternated with pounding him on the back for his courage and clapping wildly.

So there it was—that universal turn of nine heads in my direction.

Their faces were full of encouragement, nodding as if to send good vibrations in my direction.

I thought about following Lance’s example, then realized I was not born stupid. So instead I stepped to the edge and looked over at the craggy hillside, filled with rocks and bushes beneath. My first thought was, “I wonder if I could survive a fall and get the hell out of here in an ambulance?”

But it seemed unlikely and certainly painful.

The delay was apparently unnerving to my cohorts, because they began to express verbal exhortations, which gradually became more ferocious and even challenging. That’s when the dastardly statement came to be.

“Come on! It’s just about eight feet!”

You see, they were wrong. It was a crevasse. There was no place for feet at all. If it had been just eight feet, I could just walk across. But it was eight huge spaces of nothing but air.

Spurred on by a combination of humiliation, edification and (still) the prospect of dinner, I leaped.

But I did not do it feet first. Instead I leaped with the top of my body toward the ledge, barely catching it with my hands, my feet dangling and kicking, and me ready to fall.

Blessedly, all of my friends who had made it safely to the other side grabbed me by whatever they could reach and pulled me up to safety.

My heart was pounding. It didn’t stop its thumping for a solid twenty minutes.

Every single one of the people who leaped across chose not to talk about it.

I think they were terrified that they nearly lost me in the Great Crevasse on the overly lengthy hike in pursuit of toasting a marshmallow.

 


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Creep

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Creep: (n) an obnoxious deviant

I have been called many things. Fortunately for my soul and psyche, most of them have been positive or relatively neutral.

Yet I certainly have had my share of profane labels attached to my doings.

But nothing—I repeat, absolutely nothing—came close to the day that beautiful Merrilee called me a creep.

It was many, many years ago, but I can still relive the moment, taste the adrenalin in my mouth, and feel my face flush with humiliation.

I was in one of those moods—trying to be clever with everything I said. Although dear Merrilee was extremely attractive, she did have some sort of cardiovascular situation—or maybe it was just a skin disorder—which caused her face and arms to turn red, leaving patches of white skin beneath.

On this particular day, apparently my candid and joking spirit had made her nervous, and she sprouted the symptoms, in ruby red. At that point, feeling I was on a role and drunk on my own wit, I said:

“Dear Merrilee, you look like a thermometer.”

Of course, it wasn’t terribly funny, but because she was a little strained and nervous, she burst into tears.

This caused everyone in the room to gyrate to her cause and move to her side, comforting her. If we’d been on a ship, it would have tipped in my disfavor.

Defensive, I began to explain that I was “just kidding,” and it was the first thing that came to my mind.

Amazingly, this did absolutely no good and just increased the welling of the tears.

One of the girls who was holding Merrilee very close spat at me, “You are such a creep!”

Before I could stop myself, I responded, “I’m not a creep! You’re a creep!”

Well, since I was the one who made little Merrilee cry, it was pretty obvious to everyone that I had won the “creep award.” At that point I finally got the sense to quickly apologize and leave.

I cried like a baby on the way home.

I felt so stupid.

But I have to tell you this—the chance that you will one day be a creep is pretty high. Whether you are an actual creep depends on whether you stay defiant—or if it sinks in, even many years later, what a creep you really were.

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