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

Coat

Coat: (n) an outer garment worn for warmth

Is it possible I was allergic? No–that’s not the word.

I certainly couldn’t stand to have a coat on until… well, very recently.

All through my teen years, my mother insisted I wear one to school, and I always removed it within ten feet from the door of our home, convinced, I think, that I would break out in a rash if I continued to wear it.

I don’t know whether it was a case of macho, or whether there was a part of me that believed that only wimps and Mama’s boys wore such outer protection.

In the winter months in Ohio, I went with short sleeves.

I once found a sweater I liked for a while–but then my older brother claimed it as his own and I never saw it again.

There was something powerful about remaining chilly. Even as a man, in the wintertime I would find a sunshiny day and play tennis in shorts and a tank top.

I always loved the question, “Aren’t you cold?”

Hell, no. I’m hot, Mama.

I guess that was the thing. I suppose I was trying to communicate to the females around me that I was a furnace. A blazing fire of love.

Or maybe it wasn’t that at all.

Maybe I hated the confinement. Because I was chubby, coats always fit me like a straight jacket–especially if I zipped them up. They were so tight I felt the garment was holding my organs in.

But of late I have changed my mind. The feeling of warmth coming on your skin, suddenly protecting it from chill and frost–it’s very comforting.

I enjoy it.

But, while wearing a coat, I still feel like Wimpy Boy Billy.

 

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Chest of Drawers

Chest of drawers: (n) a piece of furniture with drawers set into a frame

The reason that ignorance is often bliss is that information does not always enlighten–sometimes it just frightens.

I was twenty years old before I had my own chest of drawers–this being defined as a wooden structure that was all mine and only contained
my clothing.

When I finally had such a gift, while realizing how special it was, I was still not particularly overwhelmed with enthusiasm.

I was raised in a 900-square-foot home with two bedrooms, two parents and four brothers. I did not know we were cramped. I occasionally would nearly pee my pants waiting for the single bathroom, but I assumed that was just part of the game we call life.

There was not enough space in the tiny bungalow to have multiple chests of drawers. So we shared.

It was up to my mother, who did the laundry, to remember which drawer belonged to which kid, and to place the clothes carefully. Some drawers were even divided in half. That meant my underwear often sat side-by-side with Bill’s and Danny’s.

I didn’t give this much thought. It was the advantage I had by being plump–no one was going to accidentally grab a pair of my drawers from my drawer.

Actually, everybody seemed completely satisfied that since the system worked, it was no social catastrophe that we did not possess our own unique chest of drawers.

Matter of fact, to this day, when I’m traveling on the road and find my motel room to have limited storage, I don’t give it much of a thought. For after all, it’s just clothes.

And I never met a pair of shorts that got fussy with my pants.

 

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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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Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix 

 

 

Bounce

Bounce: (v) to move quickly up, back, or away from a surface after hitting it; to rebound

Junior high football had just finished. I was trying to figure out if I should try out for the basketball team.Dictionary B

I looked horrible stuffed into shorts.

But I loved basketball–at least, I thought I did.

Being very accomplished at playing the classic games, PIG and HORSE, I was pretty sure I could be stunning on the court and score many points, granting my team victory and acquiring the attention of all the cheerleaders.

So I took the leap (although I have to tell you that leaping has little to do with it.)

I found that basketball has a lot to do with bouncing.

  • First, bouncing the ball, which is referred to as dribbling–because it really doesn’t matter how well you shoot at the basket if you can’t bounce the ball to the location where shooting is practical.
  • Then there’s the running–back and forth, with little rest in between.
  • The shooting, now being accomplished with lungs only half-full of air.
  • Then there’s jumping to get the ball back and rebound it on those numerous occasions when the goal is missed.
  • Finally, running again–or is it bouncing?

Well, in basketball you can’t do one without the other.

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