Gently

When your delusions of grandeur and the fog of a false sense of hope have lifted and the clear and unmistakable reality that the rest of us have been negotiating while off on your fools errand settles you back on firm footing, free your guilt, senseless and harmful as it is so that It may drift off of your conscience. Gone are just a moments grains and fleeting are the grains to tumble in this moment where misdirected attention doesn’t slow the passing sands. Escaping to measure a memory or apology, count the times there is a smile or the grip of a weary hand. Bring into view the warmth of a gaze and the unspoken connection galvanized by the familiarity that is capture by seconds that seem infinite   and a stoic devotion unwavering in the midst of pain, doubt, and harsh treatments that have been sold to us cheap. Strength is no longer needed now, only compassion and righteousness are the remedy that needs to be sought. This is the hardest part of loving, and while there will be agony, those whose love shows truest, shall not shy away from it, or the aftermath it brings onto them.

Woooo! What Ric Flair and Wrestling Failed to Tell Me.

I used to have a membership at the local YMCA when I was in grade school. It was great, especially in the summer when I could use the pool during the hot 100+ degree days, there was a game room with a couple of foosball tables, and of course the indoor Gym for shooting hoops.

Being a latchkey kid I would get up early in the morning and ride my bike across town to the Y and shoot baskets for a few hours then jump in the pool to cool off, Though some days I would just hang out with other kids I would meet.

I must say this, I do have a guilty pleasure, and that is I do enjoy wrestling. My grandpa was a big fan of wrestling and would watch it with him often. Growing up on Gordon Solie and the NWA, and later WCW programs, and the WWF with Gorilla Monsoon in the 1980’s heavy gimmick hey day, I really appreciated the production, story lines, promo’s and athleticism that went along with the larger than life characters. Now I was certainly a mark for the white meat baby faces of the time like, The Von Erich’s, Dusty Rhodes, Magnum T.A., and of course Hulk Hogan. However, who doesn’t watch a western and think that the antagonist like Lee Marvin isn’t cool? So, there were a few heels that I loved to hate, but, thought were pretty darn cool too. Guys like the methodical and psychological Jake the Snake Roberts, Kevin Sullivan and Rowdy Roddy Piper. But the one the stands out the most is, “The stylin’, profilin’, limousine riding, jet flying, kiss-stealin’, wheelin’-n’, dealin’ son of a gun! Yes, Ric Flair.

On a lazy summer day while at the Y, I ran into a boy and we began talking wrestling, not too far into the conversation the boy, (I don’t recall his name) said, “Hey let me put you in a figure 4 leg lock?” Having seen Flair apply his finishing move many times I knew something that I thought this kid didn’t, You can reverse the hold! I had seen a match were someone, maybe Sting or Ricky Steamboat had turned onto his stomach while in the figure 4 by Flair and instantly after doing so, Flair was writhing in pain, essentially reversing the pressure onto Flair by turning over.

So with this knowledge, I agreed to be put in the figure 4, I mean, how bad can it hurt, right? Well…I’m here to tell you, it makes you think that you quad is going to burst through your skin. But I had an ace in the hole, I knew how to reverse it! This dummy wouldn’t know what hit him. I began to attempt my turn which didn’t work so I tried to trick him by trying to turn him one way than quickly switch to turn him the other way. After a few minutes of doing this I finally got him nearly over and with a little jerk of my body I had him! I was surprised to not hear my new friend holler out in excruciating pain, I was also more surprised that the pain that I had been feeling was not going away. Yeah…that turning over b.s. doesn’t work. Not long after, the kid released the hold. We talked a bit more about wrestling and then parted ways.

Now I new wrestling was pre-determined and staged, but that day revealed to me that there is some actual pain involved, and it solidified my suspicion that some of these holds and reversals are also b.s. to an extent.

I don’t watch wrestling and longer, busy parenting and school and work keep me from it, plus I don’t know half the roster any more. But I loved the time I spent watching matches with my Grandpa, and hold the sports entertainment industry close to my heart because of it. I still enjoy seeing old clips and listening to the great intro music with my 4-year-old son while we drive to preschool. So in a sense, the legacy of wrestling still continues in my family, though I my son every asks to put me in a figure 4 leg lock in the future…I will cut an incendiary promo on him then run away like a cowardly heel, because that pain is real.

Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed it.

The Great Bet Wetting Incident of 6th Grade

Who doesn’t love a good field trip? Every year in elementary school, toward the end of the school year the grades would venture out into the world by going to the zoo, the state capitol, or in this instance an overnight stay at a coastal campground. It was in the sixth grade year and I was staying in old bunk beds with my two best friends, another boy who was more of an acquaintance in the way relationships can be in a grammar school environment. This would be my first overnight stay without a family member of any kind with me. I didn’t even own a sleeping bag so one was borrowed from my aunt and uncle. It was blue on the outside and yellow within. We left school early in the morning and while taking the long bus ride we sang songs from some of the popular T.V. shows at the time, Cheers, Golden Girls, Facts of Life, and Growing Pains and others. I recall one friend who did not sing along enjoying his Walkman with Eddie Rabbits greatest hits playing in it. When we arrived with went on a hike to up a hill just off of the coastline, documenting things like bobcat scat and paw prints. On the trek back down we came to the shear drop off of what I would imagine to be roughly 40 to 50 feet. The bottom was cluttered with boulders, jagged rocks and many pebbles, I worried to myself as I stood no more than a foot from the edge of how it would feel if a classmate had come from behind me and pushed me forward, I would surely lose my balance and my body would crash awkwardly on the various rocks below. If I felt the nudge I could try to push-off harder, trying to propel myself farther away from the cliff and into deeper water but the depth would still be so shallow I was positive I’d still be killed from the impact and if not, more than likely knocked unconscience or hurt so bad that I could swim and ultimately end up drowning in at the Pacific’s edge. My thoughts caught up to me and wondered”what the hell am I doing there?” I’d always thought I was misunderstood by my classmates of being weak and scared, cowardly I guess. Only I few ventured out to the cliffs edge on that hike and the longest anyone had stayed near it was in fact me. As I turned to walk back I  realized most of my class was walking back to the main trail, none watching me as usual, only my assistant principal who was making sure he wouldn’t have to call my parents and report their son was hurt or died because he wanted to prove something to everyone or only one. We took a paddle boat ride into the bay and got to visit a Heron sanctuary.

After dinner in was time to visit the cabins. my three cabin mates would have our principal as our cabin chaperone. I had my bunk to myself and slept on top, across the room was two more bunks one friend picked the top bunk also while the other choose to sleep closer to the floor, the other slept in a single cot near my feet while by my head was where my principal would bed done for the night.

Someone had found a tennis ball and we bounced it back and forth in the dank and stale smelling cabin, more at each other than to each other in the dark until in was lost to the darkness of the night and the laziness of four adolescent boys. Before bed I made it a point to use the restroom a few times leading up to bedtime.  The restrooms were about 50 yards away from our cabin and walking in the middle of the night in an unfamiliar place wasn’t worried me. My greatest concern on this trip was hoping that I could stay dry while I slept. I was a bed wetter. Though I had a lot less accidents and this time I still averaged a few a week. I would later discover that I had an underdeveloped bladder during my childhood. The evening was late and that was in my favor, less time for an accident while I would be asleep, plus I had used the restroom right before I went to bed, also, I had little to drink all day too. I got comfortable in my cot, we spoke about silly things 11-year-old boys find funny, our voices churning the stillness of the night air turbulent until we all gave in to our weary bodies and haggard minds.

When I woke up I just painfully quiet, not movement could be heard. Moonlight shown in from the left, I sensed it knew that I would need help, I’d need enough light to see in the dark yet, not so much as to expose my secret.

I shivered for the first time that day. I was lying on my back which was unusual as I hardly ever sleep in that position.   Adjusting my eyes to the sleeping bag I could define a difference in the reflection on the satin outer layer in one area the size of a basketball perhaps. Slowly I lowered my hand from my chest to below my waist and discovered what I feared the most, more than any of my secrets that I kept from my school mates. I signed wanting to be alone, away, somewhere else, in another body. By the cool feel of my sweat pants I knew it had been like this for a while. I began to dismount off the top bunk which in hindsight was a bad decision. The creaky cot gave up my position almost instantly but only to my principal who asked sleepily, “what are you doing?” I told him I was going to use the restroom which we were told required the buddy system which I was desperately trying to understandably avoid. To my relief he exclaimed, “Oh go ahead.” I grabbed my extra pair of undies and sweats the I strategically placed on the top of my bag for this very type of incident and made my way to the bathroom where I figured no one would be. To my despair three boys were in the restroom so I pretended to urinate until they all left, then hurriedly washed my body and soiled clothes, walked back to my cabin, place the clothes at the bottom of my bag and slept on the edge of the sleeping bag until it was time for breakfast. I was the first up so I could roll my sleeping bag up without anyone seeing it.

Problem averted somewhat. On the trip to the coast our sleeping bags were stored in the compartments accessible from the outside of the bus, but for some reason on the trip home the bags would go directly under the seats. Great! my bag was about 8 to 10 rows behind me, no name on it so that was good. Warm day, hot bus with no air conditioning, yup, things are going to get a little ripe on our return voyage. Needless to say, I was the last student to retrieve my sleeping bag, and never got any flak from it at school, though my bag was kicked around and unrolled as if a group were kicking it back and forth yelling, “Get that stinking thing away from me!” In any event, I would not have to be dubbed the Piss Boy or Stinky for the rest of the year. I think about the trip and try to compare my two fears of the day and why death from a fall took a distant second to being exposed as someone who wets his bed. Still wondering.

So if you are a parent who has a child suffering with bed wetting, please be understanding and supportive, they do not mean to do it. Also, have them checked by a doctor, It could mean the world to them to see that you care, and it is freeing when someone asks them for a sleep over to not have to have worry.

Sincerely,

A Former Bet Wetter

Seconds

I was woken up earlier than usual that morning. The sound of full bellied laughter bounced off the walls. I could tell by voices that it wasn’t just my parents who were home. From my bed I could look out and see through the crack in my door the end table lamp on and some movement. I could tell my mother was coming toward my room, her laugh is a dead giveaway. She slowly crept into my room, she took on the shade of blue being given off from the early dawn hue in the sky. Whispering my name, she tells me “look at what happened to me” as she lifted her arm to show me that she had a soft cast on it. I asked her what had happened? In an instant she began telling me of her usually boring motorcycle ride home from working a night shift. Except on this night, as mom was traveling on a rural road outside of Fresno, headed home from her graveyard shift, she happened to encounter two farm dogs running across the road. Mom said she was about half way home when she saw the first dog appear from the dark into her headlight. Swerving to miss the pooch she cut the bike abruptly and squarely into the path of a trailing dog that was not so lucky. The little Honda 250 tore through the animal killing it instantly while mom laid the bike down and came to a skidding halt after a ride on her side in which from mom’s account, she could see the sparks coming from her helmet as it was sliding across the road. A leather jacket and a Shoei helmet kept her injuries to a moderate level. The worst of which was a fractured wrist, some bruises and scrapes were also present but superficial. But many times in life isn’t that the way? We as humans prepare ourselves as best we can to minimize the trauma that we can see and account for, or if not that then at least we can accept something in order to feel in control and important. I began to think of myself as a person without the ability to sympathize with others in times of distress, and also the philosophy of not the first subject getting the best of you but rather the second one….the one which you do not see that really wrecks the rest of your day or longer for that matter.

The first dog made his present felt front and center? However. the second dog which acted on his or her own judgement has to be taken in to account. Who knows, I’m sure the dog was just as surprised as mom was at that point of time. But his/her death is contradictory to this idea….because if it’s the second that does you in and mom was the first motorcycle rider, that dog saw that night…then the hypothesis does not work…unless someone is out there riding the back roads of the rural central valley searching for mischief and opportunity.

More Than Fishing

The conversations crackle and squelch along with the percolating coffee. Snapping grease from the frying bacon hisses and gurgles as it barely penetrates my eardrums over the humming of the generator.

The chill of the wind and the dew now caked on the inner walls of the tent drop after each cuss word flies from the mouths of adolescent minded youths donning senior citizens garb.

They move with pain and caution and without waste of motion, all taking part, rhythmically negotiating past cots, the wood burning stove, and one another with the tightest of clearances as if in a salt and pepper haired orchestra.

Melodically playing their individual instruments in harmony. The days forecast not only calls detailed accounts of lighthearted excursions in beautiful countrysides but the reminiscence of previous trips where friends whom are no longer able to make the annual trips because of a bad heart or knee or death are spoken about in caring regard and with the orator grinning as he holds court during his makeshift eulogy.

Some fishing will take place along the reservoir and off the banks of a lake known to produce beautiful trout. Mainly though, the picture will be a handful of salt of the earth retirees each sitting quietly yards from one another in each his own comfortable peace knowing the men he has surrounded himself with have kept no secrets nor would hesitate to protect him from what may come.

With their minds as still as the water on a the lake void of a breeze, they rest, and wait with the a patience that only a man who has seen a thing or two throughout his many chapters can genuinely appreciate. Hoping for a bite, and the thrill of the catch and the tale of the time when they all shared and remembered what it had been like then.

Trickle to Flood

She reminded him of his grandmother, stoic and unwavering, if he didn’t know any better he’d have thought her to be a statue, motionless and cold with not much as a glint of life to be detected. As she perched herself in a worn dining room chair with the plastic that covered the padding beaten and oozing from years of poor treatment and being taken for granted, her chin near to the point of touching her seasoned upper chest in a gesture fit for a royal introduction to follow proper etiquette and respect to the dignified.

Her kingdom would be nothing more than the edge of her driveway next to a busy city thoroughfare. The staff made of rubber, green in color, 50 feet worth of green dictatorial control. He brazenly stared at the woman, studying, concentrating, curious and vulnerable. He had an overwhelming need to embrace her warmly with his arms and his lean body. He kept his distance though as this is what he always did in times such as these where he his mentality placed in check and overruled any emotional outreach no matter the amount of yearning that stems from deep in his conscience.

The patch of grass sprang out of the soil like an oasis in the middle of the Serengeti. Dry and foreboding, the dirt had anger and envy in its abruptly shifting breathe. Aside from the occasionally errant spray, the arid environment stays void of moisture. For the plush foliage which had thrived with all of the attention and care, it rose unkept and organic into the smothering sky. Only a square foot by a square foot, the grass blades conquered their surroundings from their ritualistic watering by the matriarchal statuesque maiden.

Still with a drooping head and an even lower sense of self-worth, she raised her head high and shifted in her seat. It was a man who appeared to be her husband. He was similar in age and race and walked with a heavy gate. They interacted, a few nods and then she went back to her grass patch and slinking posture. He would have to leave, but he knew he would be back soon.