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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Bale

Bale (n): a bundle of hayDictionary B

I think she liked me.

I know I liked her.

I don’t know how much I liked her. When you’re a teenager you’re so anxious to have romantic encounters that you’re willing to consider many obtuse options. It is amazing who looks good to you by Thursday afternoon at school when you really want to go out on a date for the weekend.

All summer long, I had been driving around town with this girl as we tried to conjure various adventures, while experimenting with conversation, learning how to communicate with someone of the opposite sex.

One day I told her I wanted to go out to a nearby farm and see my friend, Jack, who was working there baling hay. He chose this occupation in order to get in shape for the upcoming football season.

I knew she had a small crush on Jack, but I was not aware of the full extent of her hidden affections. When we arrived at the barn and Jack appeared in the doorway of the upper loft, shirtless, holding a pitchfork, with perspiration streaming down his pectorals, she lost it.

He looked like an image from a John Steinbeck novel, perfectly framed, with a sweaty, well-chiseled body. I peered down at my own well-nourished middle as she practically drooled, staring at the sight before her.

I thought to myself, this was not a good move, to come and see Jack.

We spent the rest of the day driving around, talking about how handsome Jack was and discussing how I should help her make connection with him.

I felt completely left out.

Rather than being the pursuer of budding romance, I was cast into the role of matchmaker.

I explained that I had planned to work on the farm this year, but discovered that I had hay fever.

She squinted, concern in her eyes, and said, “Hay fever?”

“Yes,” I replied. “Whenever I think about working in the hay fields, I break out into a sweat of great anxiety and fear.”

I thought it was particularly funny.

She didn’t even fathom my joke, but instead stared out the window … obviously conjuring images of a topless Jack. 

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