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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Chalk

Chalk: (n) a soft white limestone used for blackboards

His first name was Page and his second was Unus. His parents apparently thought this was funny, because once Unus is translated from the
Latin, his name became “Page One.”

I liked Page. He was odd.

Most kids in school knew he was odd, which disqualified him from consideration. He was highly intelligent, which is the booby prize often given to odd people. Page had quirks.

Page loved to eat cold kidney beans out of a can.

He loved to have crab apple fights in his backyard.

But he hated the sound of squeaky chalk on a blackboard. It made him crazy–not fake, “pretending to be upset” crazy. No, his blood pressure went up, his face turned red, and he gripped the sides of his wooden schoolroom desk as if he were going to tear it apart.

We had one teacher who always had squeaky chalk. I don’t know if it was the cheap stuff or the expensive–but every time he wrote on the blackboard, there was an accompanying atonal melody of squeaking which most of the class ignored.

Except for Page and me–and only me because I was concerned about Page.

One day in the midst of a particularly elongated session of trying to solve a problem on the board with the squeaking chalk, Page got up from his seat, quietly walked to the front of the room, took the chalk from the teacher’s hand and threw it against the wall, breaking it into several pieces. He turned to the class and said, “Doesn’t that sound drive you crazy?”

He was met with a roomful of blank faces.

The teacher took him to the principal’s office, where he received a lecture on self-control and was given in-school suspension for five days. During his stretch for the crime, I saw him one day on his way to the cafeteria. He was smiling.

I was confused. Why would Page be so happy about his punishment? Then I realized.

No squeaky chalk.

 

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Allegro

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Allegro: 1. (n) the name of a passage or movement of music in a fast tempo 2. (adj.) at a brisk tempo

I used to believe with all my heart, soul, mind and strength that appearing to be smart, intellectual, well-versed and verbal was essential in order to maintain the integrity of the self-deception of my general superiority. I did stupid stuff:

  • I lied about my qualifications.
  • I embellished on my abilities.
  • I touted my sexual prowess.
  • And I exaggerated the depth of my understanding.

I was afraid that the package of human ability provided for me was insufficient to my personal indebtedness.

One day I just woke up and got sick of being a fool. I stopped wearing the jester’s hat and dancing for the kings. I realized that the greatest gift I could give myself was to stop faking it.

The greatest gift I could give to God was to find a way to get along with human beings.

And the greatest way to get along with other human beings was to simplify what I shared with them.

You see, when I read the word “allegro,” I think of all the pretentious musicians I have ever met, who think they are extraordinarily sophisticated by expressing musical notations in Latin or Italian, which, when translated, still mean “fast, slow, loud and soft.” You see, the Italians were not trying to be “poofy”–it was just their language.

If you find yourself searching for a word to express a simple idea so that you can impress those around you, then you are probably suffering from a severe case of viral “jerkitis.” Especially if you need to say the words with a foreign accent or a bit of flourish in your pronunciation.

So when I’m discussing music in a recording studio and find myself surrounded by the “hierarchy” of the craft, I don’t use the word “allegro.” I merely say, “This is faster.”

Yes, often they correct me, using the proper term for such a maneuver.

But I just smile, knowing in my soul that the art of simplicity is the true definition of intelligence.