Coach

Coach: (n) a person who teaches and trains the members of a sports team

The same tenacity and grit which is necessary to make one successful can just as easily be used to commence a life of crime.

This is the difficulty the adults in our lives face when they train us, and of course, coach us.

They certainly know that initiative, spunk and creativity are essential for forming the building blocks of a prosperous lifestyle. Yet in the moment, these particular attributes, especially when spoken from the nasally nastiness of adolescence, can be obnoxious.

So our instructors often have to find out whether our conduct, being sweet and kind, is a foretelling of goodness or brain death–and if our unwanted opinions prophesy greatness or the possibility of time spent “upstate.”

Let me give you an example.

During a football game, when we were losing 48 to nothing, I ran to the sideline and said the following to my coach: “Come on, coach! This defense you put together for us is just not working!”

I was fourteen at the time, and he was probably in his mid-twenties, trying desperately to survive the humiliation of being drummed by his rival on this field of debauchery.

I noticed that my coach’s face began to twitch. His eyes expanded. The veins in his head popped out, and his countenance became crimson as he slowly said, “Please sit down. Our defense is fine.”

I noticed that he avoided me for the rest of the game, as I avoided many tackles.

Fortunately, he did not personally address my inadequacies and focus on them because of my snippy, snarky comment. He restrained himself, and therefore, I believe I grew up using my precocious nature for good instead of joining forces with the villains to destroy Batman.

It’s not easy being a coach. You don’t always win, but end up stuck with your team, no matter what the score. You can’t blame them or you look like an idiot. You can’t accuse the referees or you appear to be a sore loser.

All you can do is teach what you know, and hope, by the grace of God, it’s enough.

 

 

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Cloak-and-Dagger

Cloak-and-dagger: (adj) characteristic of mystery

I suppose if I saw someone walking toward me wearing a cloak, I might be curious enough about their fashion choice to wonder what they were hiding beneath the bulky garment. I’m not so sure I would assume it was a dagger–more likely twenty unwanted pounds.

But maybe it’s the same thing. Since we don’t live in a time when people are stabbing one another with stilettos over grievances, a redefining of “cloak-and-dagger” for our period might be in order.

I contend that the cloak-and-dagger of our generation is the hiding the real truth of our abilities behind self-promotion. And the dagger which follows is an inadequate performance, leaving our fellow-travelers unimpressed.

Then too often violence ensues.

Because we should never have claimed to be more than who we are, we are inevitably going to fail, which will make us defensive and therefore volatile.

What would happen if we stopped lying about our abilities?

What if we decided not to chase big dreams?

What if we judged our talent on the response to our performance rather than what we think the response should be “if people weren’t stupid?”

Our society is still menaced with the “cloak-and-dagger,” because unless we praise the misguided claims of those around us, they just might turn on us and stab us with whatever is available.

So let me be the first one to take my cloak off and cast aside my dagger. I will do my best to tell you of the gifts I have, mingled with my weaknesses. If you find additional flaws, I thank you for saving me from the embarrassment of humiliating over-assessment.

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Clamber

Clamber: (v) to climb, move, or get in or out of something in an awkward and laborious way, typically using both hands and feet

It’s difficult to know whether we are judged by what we’re able to achieve, or how well we overcame the obstacles that attempt to forbid
achievement.

Yes, you could discuss that one for hours.

It reminds me of the time I took my children to an amusement park. I was still a very young man, but very fat. This created an immediate perplexity. Because I was young, I envisioned things I could do, often not taking into consideration the extra baggage I was bringing along.

Another example:

We went out on a boat trip. They had a little, thin gangplank to get on the boat, which I was grateful to have negotiated. So I assumed that when we returned there would be some sort of similar passageway from the front of the boat onto the dock again.

There wasn’t.

They eased the boat toward the landing, leaving a gap of about three feet between the boat and the safety of the dock. Well, other folks gave it a little bit of a running start, leaped into the air and came down safely onto the pier.

I kept inching my way behind people, letting them go first. I guess I was hoping that I would have a few minutes at the end, to figure out what to do, but failed to realize that all the people stayed on the dock and were going to watch my grand leap.

I tried to make that running start, to clamber with my entire obese body, legs and arms in the air, and land safely.

Just when I got to the end of the boat, my brain said, “Are you crazy?”

An immediate order was given at Mind Central: STOP!!

I nearly tumbled into the water but was able to step back. Then I tried to reach one leg across, and was able to get my foot onto the surface, but I was spread too far to get any pressure on the leg to push me over.

By this time I had secured an audience.

People began to make suggestions. My children were trying to hide and my wife was already being comforted by strangers.

At this point, I decided it was impossible. The ordeal went for ten minutes. The combination of fear, practicality and my limitations was turning me into a sea-lovin’ man.

Finally the captain took a rope and hooked it around some sort of turret and pulled the whole boat a bit closer–with just his sheer brute force. This received applause from those standing by. Even more humiliation.

I still was not able to find a “clambering” approach to leaving the boat. So three guys reached down, grabbed me under my arms and on the count of three, hoisted me up on the dock.

I attempted to land with some authority, stomping my feet a couple of times so the people around me would be aware that I had muscular ability, then quickly grabbed my family and disappeared into the crowd, heading for the refreshment stand.

After all, I was hungry from all the exertion.

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Chick

Chick: (n) a young woman.

The battlefield of my human journey is riddled with foxholes where I’ve made stands, only to find myself retreating–often in humiliation.

It makes me wonder if there’s any purpose at all for being obstinate.

Ten or fifteen years ago, I raised an objection over the word “chick.” I was offended on behalf of all women. Matter of fact, I opened up the
discussion several times in a roomful of people of all generations.

After a lengthy discussion, I found that I was the only person who objected. The much older women remembered when girls were called “chicks” and it was a kind of a hip, Beach Boys thing. The younger girls felt it was a kindly, gentle alternative to “bitch.”

The case I made about the word being chauvinistic or degrading was met with a sympathetic nod but not much approval.

Here’s what I learned from the exercise:

If people aren’t upset about something they experience every day, I will do them no benefit by stirring them up and making them upset.

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Cellophane

Cellophane: (n) a thin transparent wrapping material made from viscose.

I love cellophane. Not intimately, but certainly personally.

You can see through it. It’s great for wrapping sandwiches. They call that “Saran-Wrap.”

I have two complaints. (It is very American of me to lead with the fact that I love something and then quickly explain why it also annoys the hell out of me.)

So doing my duty for God and country, I will tell you that cellophane sometimes gets too attached. You try to remove it from a package or unwrap something and it clings to your hand.

The first instinct is to reach over and remove it with your other hand–but then it clings to that hand. So you end up shaking your paw in the air to dislodge yourself from the sticky situation, resembling an exercise one might do to alleviate stress.

Clingy.

“Don’t cling to me, baby. I’m no good for you.”

It won’t listen.

Secondly, there are times it refuses to cling. I have lined up a whole series of sandwiches, preparing to wrap them up, only to discover when I finished, and it was time to put the last fold down, it would not stick to itself–popping up in the air to mock my efforts. So then that side of the sandwich has to be carefully placed on the bottom of the cooler, to make it look like the sandwiches are well-wrapped (when you know in your heart they aren’t.)

And then when you arrive at the family picnic, someone always says, “Who wrapped this sandwich?”

They are fully aware of which cooler they took the sandwich from–it’s just a way of humiliating you.

So even though I do love cellophane, I certainly have my beefs against it.

Maybe someday we will work out our differences. And then I will be happy.

And it will be a Glad Wrap.

 

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Bully

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Bully: (n) a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.

Shakespeare was convinced that all the world’s a stage, and each one of us are actors performing a part.

It’s an interesting theory–but actually, all the world is an improvisational troupe with seven members–but only four usually show up. So rather than having a role, you end up making up what’s going to happen next, and also filling in for those who fail to appear.

That’s more accurate.

So the truth of the matter is, sometimes we may accidentally, or even purposely, find ourselves in the position of being a bully.

Was the United States a bully when it went into Vietnam? By the definition afforded us by Webster, we were certainly trying to take over a weaker people. Yes, control a debilitated nation.

Is it bullying when we ask people to motivate folks to do their best?

Does a football coach bully a player who’s not playing up to his ability by temporarily humiliating him in front of the team?

If you’re going to make a practice of finding the faults of others and pointing them out to produce ridicule, then I think you’re officially a bully.

But if you occasionally find yourself needing to motivate a friend by challenging him or her by pointing out laziness and lack of will, then you’re probably not a bully. You may be doing the work of the angels.

Over half of the things I’ve learned about life and how to treat other people were acquired in school as a child by interacting on the playground.

  • I suppose it could be said I was bullied to catch a ball.
  • I was bullied into playing two-square, even though I was told it was a girl’s game.
  • I was bullied into running faster so the hit I made during baseball could be a double instead of just a single.

It doesn’t mean there weren’t bullies on the playground, who did nothing but find the weaker brothers and sisters and humiliate them for no reason at all.

But if I had the ability to do better and was challenged to do it, that’s not bullying. That’s friendship.

If it’s out of my control–like having a fat belly or stubby legs–then that’s downright mean.

 

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Brothel

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Brothel: (n) a house where men can visit prostitutes.

Aside from the fact that no little girl aspires to be a prostitute and that the environment surrounding “the oldest business” is usually permeated with drugs and crime, the whole adventure has a nasty quality that accentuates many of the more degrading aspects of human nature.Dictionary B

For some reason, we have begun to justify this particular activity by saying it “empowers women” since they are receiving money for what they would usually give away.

But dare I say, any average human being sitting on a chair in the middle of a room, observing the transaction between a prostitute and his or her customer, and then viewing the experience, would probably not walk away saying, “That is one damn lucky whore.”

We can speak nobly and liberally about such things because we don’t ever actually visit brothels.

The crime, the evil, the subjugation, the stench and the humiliation involved in the operation of a brothel takes it out of the realm of the business world–being able to join the Chamber of Commerce and network with the local doughnut shop.

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