Dachshund

Dachshund: (n) one of a German breed of dogs having short legs, a long body and ears, and a usually tan or black-and-tan coat.

His name was Murphy.

Not his last name—his first name.

Murphy Baines.

I did not like Murphy. It wasn’t his name, although that was particularly annoying.

Murphy was the type of person who told really stupid jokes and laughed at his own material. And when you didn’t join in voraciously, he punched you in the arm and said, “Come on! Don’t you get it?”

I did get it.

I just didn’t think it was funny.

I told him that. I’ll bet you can even guess what he said back to me: “You just don’t have any sense of humor.”

Even though I did have a sense of humor, I didn’t want to argue any more with Murphy Baines. If I did, he would tell me five of his jokes in a row—and have me rate them by how funny I found them to be. (I fell for this once, but never allowed myself to enter that cul-de-sac of pain again.)

But what made it particularly painful was that when Murphy came to my house (as infrequently as I could arrange) he always pointed to my dachshund—the family dog—and exclaimed:

“Hey look! A wiener-dog!”

Even though he must have said it thousands of times over the years, he always found it hilarious, as if he had just come up with the idea for the first time.

I tried all sorts of angles.

Things like “That’s not funny.”

Or, “That’s an old joke.”

Once I even said, “Sh-h-h-h! Don’t say that. My mother gets offended.” (Of course, he pointed out that my mother was not home.)

I sought revenge.

It came about five months later, when Murphy was staying overnight at my house and my dog, the dachshund, just up and died.

It was sudden.

Murphy looked at me, wondering if I was going to react, cry or share some sort of eulogy over the deceased German breed.

But I already had the tickle of an idea in my brain. Even though it was the middle of the night, I walked over, picked up the telephone and pretended to dial a number. Murphy, confused, asked, “Who are you calling?”

“Hormel,” I replied.

He squinted at me, stunned.

I continued.  “You see, there’s a reason, Murphy, that they call them wiener dogs. It’s because when they die, they send them to the Hormel plant and grind them up to make wieners.”

Finishing the statement, I walked over and scooped my dog up into a box, closed the lid, took a magic marker and wrote on the top: “To Hormel.”

Murphy was speechless.

I carried the box out to the garage, telling him I was going to mail it. When I came back into the house, even though it was three o’clock in the morning, Murphy had packed up his gym bag, called his mother and asked to be taken home.

I didn’t see much of Murphy after that.

But I always made sure, if we were at a camp-out and Murphy was nearby, that if I was eating a hot dog, I would glance over at him and give him a big wink.

Briefcase

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Briefcase: (n) a flat, rectangular container, typically made of leather

Mine was an old, cheap, black variety, torn places all over the fake leather, with bent hinges.

It was my briefcase.Dictionary B

I carried it officiously, thinking it made me look…well, I guess, important.

When I began writing my first novel, I made sure that every time I stopped typing (yes, this was back in the day when we actually used typewriters) every page was placed meticulously, nestled into my briefcase of safe-keeping.

I was so proud.

I had actually written maybe a third of my first great American manuscript when one night, somebody broke into my van and for some inexplicable reason, stole the knobs off my radio–and lifted my briefcase.

I didn’t have anything in there except the first draft of this work and some pictures my kids had drawn of sunsets and oddly-shaped horses.

It was totally useless to the person who stole it, but to me it was gold. I felt like I had lost part of my life.

The idea of having to start over again to regain the energy and thoughts already spilled out onto paper seemed extraordinarily arduous, if not impossible.

Fortunately for me, a friend who had been retyping the material had kept her old copies. Therefore, all of the inspiration which had poured from my heart was salvaged.

Once I received that reprieve from the prison of my fears, I gained a little sense of humor about the whole affair.

I wondered what the thief thought when he pried open that briefcase, thinking he might find treasure, and discovered 102 pages … of poorly-typed novel.

 

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Bricklayer

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Bricklayer: a person whose job is to build structures with bricks

Conventional wisdom suggests that each of us should try everything once, to be able to say we did it.

Not only is this philosophy dangerous, but the only benefit from it is to develop a sense of humor about your own limitations.

Because most things I have tried in my life I’ve really sucked at.Dictionary B

For instance, a friend from high school was building a small enclosure for his mailbox using bricks. It looked like a really simple job–so much so that he felt confident to ask me to help him lay the bricks and mortar around this mailbox, to protect it from those teenagers who thought it was clever to take a baseball bat and destroy the receptacle.

I agreed.

After all, nothing ventured, no chance for humiliation.

He took about five minutes to explain to me how to lay the bricks so they were even, with just enough mortar to hold them in place, and how to situate them in a pattern.

It looked so obvious that I have to admit that I felt a bit offended when he went into such detail.

Then he walked away.

I was left with bricks, mortar, and my Swiss cheese memory of what to do. Honest to God–I did my best.

But sometimes I used too much mortar.

Sometimes I got the bricks on crooked.

About an hour later, he came back and found that I had laid about twenty-two bricks. They were all wrong.

As I was suggesting to him that my efforts may have been flawed, and that he might want to correct them, he took a nearby sledgehammer and brought it down on my work, smashing it to smithereens.

He turned, looked at me without malice, and said, “It would take me longer to fix it than to start over again.”

As I have often done in my life pursuing various adventures, I was alerted that day to the fact… that I was not a bricklayer.

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Bikini

Bikini: (n) a very brief two-piece swimsuit for women.

Dictionary B

I grew up in a time when seeing a woman in a bikini at the swimming pool was like looking at pornography.

Since we didn’t have dirty pictures on the Internet, the only time there was an opportunity to view partially exposed breasts and the majority of a female torso was at the local pool.

When bikinis became popular, girls immediately started wearing them because they thought they were “cute.”

I think deep in their consciousness, these young ladies were aware that they were torturing the boys by displaying the fruits of the flesh without offering them a chance to take a bite.

I vividly recall the first time I saw a girl in a bikini. I spontaneously had an orgasm. It wasn’t planned. It’s probably not something I should even share. But I do so because it always reminds me of the sense of humor our Creator had in constructing human beings–and also our timetable.

At the moment in life when we have the most sexual prowess, we also have the least control. And later on, when viewing a bikini is still pleasurable but no longer eruptive, our plumbing seems to be a bit clogged.

I am sure the heavens find this to be hilarious. I know God must be a gentle trickster–because He does fool us into believing that we are much more powerful than we actually are.

And then, when we scatter our efforts and end up with futility, He is there as a kindly Father, to retrieve our egos and allow us to live another day.

I will always like bikinis, but there is nothing at all as powerful and poignant as the first one I viewed at the local swimming hole…when I practically lost my head.

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Biddy

Biddy: (n) a woman, usually an elderly one regarded as annoying or interfering.

Dictionary BIn the midst of a haze of delusion about my own intelligence, this morning, I once again discovered that a word that I have spelled “b-i-t-t-y” is actually “b-i-d-d-y.”

And believe you me, I have used the word.

Growing up in a small town, I was surrounded by biddies.

Even though I thought they were spelled with “t’s,” the definition held true.

There is some sickness in aging human beings that causes them to forget the total awkwardness involved in learning how things work.

  • No one is born with manners.
  • No one comes out of the womb with an understanding of how to balance a checkbook.
  • No citizen of Earth is hatched with any idea on how to handle his or her genitalia.

Mistakes are needful, obvious and prevalent.

It doesn’t take you long to silence a biddy. All you have to do is look into her past and find the times when she was irresponsible, irreverent or promiscuous.

(It’s not like any human being actually follows the Ten Commandments. We often view them, at best, as suggestions, and more often than not, as annoyances.)

So the best thing you can do as you get older is to develop a great sense of humor and realize there is no short cut to maturity.

It is a painful and clumsy walk through the thorny bramble bushes of confusion.

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Bemoan

Bemoan: (v) to express discontent or sorrow over something.

Dictionary B

“Tell me how you feel.”

I hear these words spoken to me from time to time by individuals who think they are trying to tap into my inner soul to garner the essence of my honest emotions.

I don’t have honest emotions–I have temporary emotions.

Things cross my mind or fester in my heart and for the time being seem to be very important, yet dissipate quickly, like a springtime sprinkle of rain on a car windshield.

Yet if I opened up to you about these sensations, you might become convinced that they really had great significance.

They don’t.

Then I’m stuck with you considering me weak, turmoiled or limited in my ability to problem-solve.

So how can I be a candid human being and also adequately cautious that I’m not casting the pearls of my passing bemoaning in front of pig-headed evaluators?

For everything that scratches my itch or itches my scratch is not really important enough to share for the public purview.

Therefore, every time we run across a difficulty that temporarily sidelines our ability to reason, it is not necessary to put out a press release.

I call it the “two-hour rule.” If two hours of passing time, careful consideration, prayer, sense of humor and intelligent thinking it over don’t alleviate the situation, then maybe I should take a moment and air it out.

But the last thing in the world I want to become known for is being a soul who bemoans every time I lose 75 cents in the snack machine. 

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Bellyache

Bellyache: (v) to complain noisily or persistently.

Dictionary B

When does comparing become complaining?

When does musing over better ideas turn into lamentation over our lack?

When do we find ourselves bellyaching concerning the tenuous nature of the human race instead of uplifting our species to find the Kingdom of God within us?

I think it all depends on whether we lose our sense of humor.

The minute we feel it is our mission to discuss humanity and the failing conditions of our race in serious terms or with statistics and facts, we are in danger of turning into the kind of intellectual snobs which we normally disdain.

  • With every suggestion must come a hope.
  • Every criticism requires a door of escape.
  • And when we address the creation of Eden–man and woman–we need to afford them the respect given by their Creator, who looked down on them in their total nakedness … and thought it was all good.

 

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