Cut-offs

Cut-offs: (n) blue jeans cut off and turned into shorts.

There is certainly the possibility that if you’re willing to speak your fears out loud, you can save a lot of money on therapy.

So I will tell you bluntly that for the first twenty-one years of my life, I was frightened to death to go without a shirt or even think about wearing shorts.

When I was a teenager, I went to the swimming pool and waited until it was either empty or everyone had gone over to the snack bar before I would feverishly remove my shirt and jump in the water, hoping nobody noticed the recently submerged whale.

It was worse with my legs. They were bare.

For some reason, my genetics gave me absolutely no hair.

When I was sixteen, I took a magnifying glass, examined them, and found that there were follicles, but for some reason the little hairs became discouraged upon reaching the top of my skin—too frightened to make a public appearance.

So I was fat.

Very white because I got no sun.

And had no hair on my legs.

Not a great teenage turn-on.

So it was the summer of my twenty-first year that I found myself traveling, landing with my music group in Miami, Florida—still scared shitless to go shirtless, and completely unwilling to drop my pants.

Then, one beautiful hot day when the ladies in the group were anxious to go to the beach—tired of magnanimously staying behind with me—I grabbed an old pair of jeans, took scissors and snipped them off the best I could. I slid them on and walked outside with my two comrades.

At first, I held onto their arms, hiding and hoping nobody noticed me.

Apparently, I got my wish. Nobody noticed me.

It was Miami. There were oddly shaped people of every color, everywhere.

For the rest of that two-week trip, I did nothing but walk around shirtless, wearing my ugly cut-off jeans, walking the beach.

By the time I flew back to Nashville, Tennessee, to meet up with my producer, I was gloriously toasted brown and my confidence was at an all-time high.

I have never and will never feel the relaxation to walk into a room believing that everyone will accept my obesity or my hairless legs.

But I’m happy to report that the comfort of being comfortable in cut-offs finally comforted me.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Bronze

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Bronze: (v) to make a person or part of the body suntanned.

I’ve often missed out on conventional wisdom because I could not afford to go to the convention.

So I frequently found myself going against the common thread of understanding and sewing up my own solutions.Dictionary B

On one such occasion, I scheduled our music group to perform in Miami, Florida, in the month of July.

Nobody does that.

Miami becomes a glowing hot rock, to be avoided by any living creature which does not wish to swelter. But our group wasn’t that popular–we were certainly never going to be able to be in Miami in January.

So we went in July.

It was very reasonably priced (since nobody was there) and really no hotter than the rest of the country, which was also experiencing summer.

But my achievement during those two weeks was something I had never experienced before and haven’t since. For you see, I worked up the courage to put on a pair of shorts, go shirtless, and walk around the beach until my skin turned bronze.

God, I loved it.

At night, I stood in front of the mirror and stared at my brown hide, realizing that I had never before enjoyed my body–because it was the color of pewter.

I was bronzed.

I wasn’t intimidated to step along the sidewalks near the ocean in my cutoff blue jeans and just act like I was one of the locals.

In the midst of those two weeks, a friend of mine debuted her new book and invited me to come to Nashville, Tennessee, for the signing. When I arrived I was the talk of the town.

“Where’d you get that tan?”

“Must be nice to lay on the beach all day long…”

Never in my life had I felt physically valuable to the world around me.

  • Spiritually–yes.
  • Emotionally–certainly.
  • Creatively–I hope so.

But for the first time, my “bronze” covered up some of my obesity, puffiness and, shall we say, “whitey-white-white.”

Now, I know you’re not supposed to get too much sun. I know there’s a danger of cancer.

But I am so grateful that on at least one occasion in my life, I got to walk around, for a little while… as a bronze Greek god.

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Behave

Behave: (v) to act or conduct oneself in a specified way, especially toward others.

Dictionary B

  • Read the rules.
  • Study the room.

Over the years, I’ve learned the power of these two profiles. Every situation you find yourself in has rules and also has a climate for activity.

If you enter the situation and decide to be ignorant of the rules and the climate, you will quickly break one of their commandments, and end up looking like a fool–especially if you try to defend yourself.

I have never been a great fan of rules, nor do I find trying to maintain a specific atmosphere to be fulfilling. But even more, I hate being on the outside looking in because it has been proven that I broke the rules. If I don’t like the rules, more than likely I will not be able to change the game.

I have to smile when I see idealistic younger folk who contend that they can enter the world of politics and transform it. Politics enjoys being ambiguously evil.

Likewise, the notion that you can go to a church, a corporation, a club or even a family reunion and insert your notions and have meaningful input is extraordinarily naive.

Make sure wherever you go–so that you will behave well–that you learn the rules and understand the climate.

If you’re going to vacation in Miami, Florida, in the middle of July, understand that there will be a lot of ethnic food and tons of heat, humidity and surprise rain storms. If you are prepared for that, you will not break the rules by complaining to the locals about the situation, which makes you come off as a tourist instead of a participant.

I do not participate without knowing the rules, and I do not leap into any activity without comprehending the climate in which business is conducted.

That way I behave myself and am considered a solid citizen … instead of an intruding jerk.

 

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