Decompose

Decompose: (v) to rot; putrefy

My dad died of lung cancer.

It was not a surprise—though death itself offers a certain array of misunderstandings.

He smoked all his life.

Matter of fact, he rolled his own. No filters.

So by the time cancer got to his lungs, the disease already had a climate suited for its purposes.

I was never close to my dad. The last few months of his life, he made a feeble, but noble, attempt to connect with me—but I was sixteen and in no mood for sentimental drivel.

The summer following his demise, I was old enough that I needed money of my own so I could pay for gasoline, dates and some clothes.

I joined a summer jobs campaign offered by the federal government, which paid $1.10 an hour. I ended up working at the community cemetery, mowing the grass around the graves.

I guess I was a little freaked out about it. But it was quiet, and the man in charge of the grounds didn’t hang around, supervising me, which meant I could do things at a pace that honored my laziness.

This was also the location of my father’s grave.

His site was so new that grass had not yet grown up over the pile of dirt. So every time I took my mower by his plot, I said something to him. Since we had not talked much during my growing up years, I thought I would make up for it by chatting to him in his reclining position.

It felt weird at first.

But then I struck up a conversation that prompted me to work more efficiently, actually relishing the time I had, mowing down the departed.

I will never forget, one very, very hot day, there was a smell in the air. It was a combination of rotten tomatoes, vitamins—if you put your nose right up to the jar—with a slight bit of the hay fields that surrounded our town.

It was not an unpleasant odor. After a while, I breathed it deeply into my lungs.

It was the scent of human beings simmering in their graves. It was very natural.

The job only lasted that one summer.

It’s probably good that it didn’t continue.

I was young and didn’t need to be ruminating over the sniff of those who decompose.

Curtsy

Curtsy: (n) a respectful bow made by women and girls

I cannot officially report that the stigma ever went away.

I think it passed after a couple of years—but Glenn certainly carried the sniff of it all through his general education days in our small town.

It all happened quite innocently.

For some reason, our high school decided to have a square dance for homecoming.

One of the teachers, our Spanish instructor, was quite the proponent of square dancing, and apparently made a case to the other teachers—how “cute it would be” for a bunch of high school students to participate in the old form of hoofing.

I remember that learning the square dancing was particularly mind-numbing, partly because it was so abstract to my adolescent mind, and also because I thought it looked like some of the stupidest shit I’d ever seen.

But the worst part was when we took one whole day—yes, an entire school period—to learn how to bow and curtsy.

Because somewhere in the process of doing this ridiculous dance (that should have been killed off with the rest of Dixie) there is a lot of this bowing and curtsying nonsense.

So each one of us had to come forward and show off our best bow, if you were a boy, or best curtsy, if you were a girl.

At first, the reluctance in the room hung like moss from trees.

But when the threat of extending the lesson into yet another day was put forth, we all realized we needed to get through this quickly and efficiently, so we became filled with (fake) enthusiasm, which nearly brought our Spanish teacher/square dance aficionado to tears.

Because we were trying to be exuberant, and even a little madcap, when Glenn took his turn–because the girl in front of him had just curtsied–his brain apparently froze and he did a curtsy also.

The room grew still.

Our teacher/instructor was so offended that Glenn was “mocking” her that he ended up being sent to the principal’s office.

But that wasn’t the worst of it.

Being teenage boys, we made the assumption that unbeknownst to Glenn, his body was screaming from some homosexual prison to be free.

And in doing the curtsy, he was manifesting his real desire, which was to be a fag. (This was long before “gay.”)

Even as I write this, I realize how ridiculous it sounds. But so did everything else I thought when I was fifteen.

Glenn later went out for the football team–probably to prove he was a man.

I think he expressed disdain for girls (like the rest of the macho locker-room gang) just so nobody would think he was “overly sensitive.”

Glenn had to be careful when we showered after gym class—not to cast his eyes in the direction of any fellow. So normally he sat on the bench, quietly dressing and staring into his locker.

This is why I can tell you of a certainty, through this tragic story of Glenn, that the curtsy is mighty dangerous.

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Compare

Compare: (v) to estimate, measure, or note the similarity or dissimilarity between.

During a very brief stint of working in the motelier industry, I ran across a gentleman who owned an establishment, and took me on a journey of his array of available rooms.

Every time he entered one of the bathrooms, he took a deep, long, sniffing breath. I decided to ask him what he was trying to smell.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

He turned to me sternly, peering into my eyes, and said, “The beginnings of mold.”

Yes, this fellow was completely convinced that long before the mold showed up in the bathroom tile, it could be sniffed out, tracked down and destroyed.

I had no reason to argue with the man–even if he was wrong, a good dousing of the tiles in bleach every once in a while is a capital idea.

But I must be honest with you–even though I can’t tell mold from gold, I do have a nose for the beginnings of bigotry.

And long before it becomes prejudice which has lost control, it pops its little head up with the word “compare.”

As human beings, once we allow ourselves to compare what we do to what other people do, it is safe to say that we will rarely consider their approach to be better than ours.

So in attempting to establish our refinement–or should the word be “superiority?”–we somehow or another have to sully or taint other renditions.

As people sit on panels and compare one race to another, one country to another, one gender to another or one religion to another, they feel so goddamn intelligent–never realizing they often have the sniff of social mold.

 

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Cologne

Cologne: (n) scented toilet water or aftershave.

Just for the record (and if my vote counts) I firmly believe that all toilet water should be scented. I don’t know what other purpose the water
would have if it was out of its bowl, if it was not scented.

And I, for one, believe human beings are better if they smell good.

That may be because I’ve always been a portly fellow and greatly feared the stereotype of “all fat people stink.”

In other words, I don’t want some cloud of “p.u.” to descend on me in a moment when my deodorant is in retreat, my soap sniff has disappeared and my cologne is totally exhausted.

Without being too graphic, I put cologne everywhere. I don’t know why. There are places it seems unnecessary. In other words, not a normally high-traffic area. However, those regions are notorious for sprouting aromas which are generally deemed unpleasant.

So part of my morning ritual is to “smell up”–so that later on I don’t have to “smell down.”

I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve developed a reputation for nose approval.

I’m sure I’ve overdone it. For instance, folks should not be able to “smell you coming,” yet I have had people identify me from another room, knowing I was present long before they eyeballed me.

Oops.

I also mix fragrances of cologne–once again, depending on the different parts of the body, a splash may work somewhere and more expensive stuff to don the face.

I must acknowledge at this point that I have already overworked this subject. Possibly I lost your attention a couple of paragraphs ago.

You may think I am paranoid about any type of normal human body odor. You would be correct.

I am not trying to evangelize my obsession with cologne. I have met people who hate it, and some who even insist they are allergic.

But until future notice, I will be an island of fragrance instead of a land of “stinky poo.”

 

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Badger

Badger: (n) a native of WisconsinDictionary B

How fortuitous for me to actually find myself in Wisconsin, sharing with you about the badger.

The word actually has three definitions. Primarily it refers to a weasel-like creature which can be extraordinarily aggressive if cornered. Also, along with “a resident of Wisconsin,” it means to be so pesky that people find you annoying.

Honestly, I don’t find the people of Wisconsin to be anything like the badger. Actually they are much more like the other representation tied to the state–cheese.

Not cheesy, as in pretentious, but just a solid block of cheese–aged well, mellow and ready for you to take a slice if you so desire.

It’s not so much that different areas of the country are devoid of emotion, because on any given Sunday, you can go to Lambeau Field in Green Bay and the cheeseheads scream and holler for their team with amazing manic energy. They also do it down in Madison, for the college Wisconsin Badgers.

But when you spend at least seven months a year living in an ice box, it takes a while to thaw out. I have learned to be patient with Badgers–to never corner them and accuse them of being dormant.

Instead, I just take my time, give them their space, and allow them a chance to crawl out of their surroundings and to quietly sniff me.

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Alloy

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Alloy: (n) a metal made by combining two or more metallic elements, usually to give greater strength or resistance to corrosion

Since I don’t know anything about metal, I will refrain from trying to come off as someone who just read a short Wikipedia explanation in order to espouse expertise.

Let me instead use the word “alloy” to suggest the melding of two great ideas–which, when smelted, create a bond which is difficult to break.

The first idea is “No one is better than anyone else.”

Every culture which has ignored this principle, or set it aside to temporarily gain the approval of the majority, has found itself flailing, devoid of purpose and alienating the very citizens who could have brought about progress.

The second idea we would like to bind into this mixture is, “Be fruitful and multiply; replenish the earth.”

Can you imagine what would happen if we set these two ideas into motion–to collide in a unity of purpose to become the backbone of our culture?

No one is better than anyone else–and because we hold that truth to be self-evident, we encourage you to be fruitful, expansive, creative and bring about the multiplication of new energy, instead of dividing us into little sects and groups, so that we can replenish the earth instead of robbing it of all of its resources.

The day we understand that equality and creativity are not conservative and liberal concepts, but rather, issues of survival, will be when we wake up and become intelligent enough to be worthy of the brain space we have been granted.

What a great alloy.

Even though each one is individually a strong concept, when united, they give us the sniff of humanity and the power of our convictions instead of rendering us … hapless, over-evolved gorillas.