’21 A To Z Challenge – C

(The un-named) They say that curiosity killed the cat, but I say that some curiosity, mixed with a healthy dose of skepticism, and cynicism, can prevent you from becoming a manipulator’s cat’s-paw.

I once worked as a Purchasing Agent for a Bernie Madoff-wannabe owner of a small business – a little metal stamping shop with 25 plant employees.  He apparently had dreams of more and larger automotive contracts, a bigger plant, and 250 employees – or 2500…. Or 25,000!  😯

He had loyalty and honesty only for himself and his company, and no commercial morality.  Management staff were told not to ever allow any barricades to his business – “over, under, through or around.  Don’t come to me with problems!  Come to me with solutions.  Rules are for fools.”

I hired a young man in his early 20s, as a Production Control Clerk.  He was getting married, and he asked the company President for a mere two days off, for an abbreviated honeymoon.  The boss gave him an extended lecture about how he should not even get married.  He should reserve his time and energy for the company.

The Boss was on his second wife.  I don’t know why they bothered to marry – social propriety??!  He put in 12-hour weekdays, often 8-hour Saturdays, and sometimes came in on Sunday.  I don’t know if they ever dined together.  She was a Middle Manager, putting in lots of hours herself, and had girlfriends and hobbies.  He had…. the company – and a disturbing habit of drinking in his office at the end of workday.  He often chivvied me and other staff to remain and keep him and his booze company.  😦

Back in 1982, debit cards didn’t exist, and credit cards weren’t common.  One day he asked me if I had a credit card.  I answered, yes.  “Well, you should get yourself another one.”  Why??!  “So that, when I tell you to buy something for the company, you can keep the charges separate.”

He was already paying 30-day invoices at 120 days.  He expected me to use a personal card to purchase company supplies??!  What assurance was there that I would ever be reimbursed?  I quietly declined to get sucked in.

One day, he wisely decided to computerize the entire office system. (Yes, there was a time when computers weren’t everywhere.)  He hired a tech-nerd who could do the job.  Coincidentally, the guy just happened to have experience in the Purchasing field.

He interrogated other office staff, but, for three weeks he spent a lot of time with me, finding how I had set up my process.  Finally, the boss came to me and said, “Business is slow right now.  You’ve got your paperwork well-organized.  If I give him some assistance, Roscoe and I can handle it.  I’m scheduling your hours to zero for now.  You don’t need to come in.

I never even got fired.  He just stopped paying me.  Losing any job and its income can be quite traumatic, but I was actually (eventually) happy not to be employed at this one, when the police, or the bankruptcy bailiffs, showed up.  Rules are for fools eventually killed him, when he violated flight regulations and splashed a rented 4-seater all over a friend’s pasture.

Things I Learned While Researching Other Things

I give all credit for the idea of this post to the late journalist Sydney J. Harris, who would occasionally include something he called “Things I Learned While Looking Up Other Things” in his syndicated column.

This is a post about words and phrases. These are my building blocks, so they’re something I’m always interested in.  You understand the sometimes frustrating task of trying to find the correct word or phrase.

Occasionally, I’ll read or type words that I may understand in the context in which I’m seeing or using them, but will suddenly realize that I’m not certain where the words or phrases originated.

In this amazing Computer Age, I can afford a few minutes of distraction to investigate them further.

Right off the bat — As expected, the phrase “right off the bat,” meaning “immediately; at once; without delay” is a sports metaphor that has been traced back to the late 1880s with that usage. I just made the assumption that the sport was baseball—and it probably is—but some suggest that it may have originated with cricket (as baseball did).

Nitpicker — The word nitpicker means someone who finds faults, however small or unimportant, everywhere they look. We all know someone like that. If we don’t, it’s probably us. The word itself is relatively new, from about 1950 or so. It comes from the idea of picking nits (or lice eggs) out of someone’s hair. A nitpicker is as meticulous about finding faults as a literal nitpicker should be at finding each louse egg. Yes, it’s kind of a disgusting word origin, which is why nitpicker has negative connotations.

Top-notch — We know that top-notch means “excellent” or “of the highest quality.” But, what are its origins? It seems that no one really knows. It first appeared suddenly in its current usage in the mid-19th century. It has been suggested that it originated from one of several tossing games imported from Scotland that required a player to throw a weighted object over a horizontal bar. The best score would be when the bar was in the “top notch,” naturally. This sounds reasonable, but it’s really just a guess. Other guesses have it relating to logging, with the best lumberjacks able to cut from the highest notches, or some such thing. Another had something to do with candles and courting, but that’s been mostly debunked. Bottom line: we don’t know.

Since Hector was a pup* — Meaning “for a long time.” I can’t say this is exactly a regional colloquialism, although I heard it the first (and only) time from some guy in South Carolina. He said that it was something his dad always said, and, in the context it was used, the meaning was obvious.  Best guess, according to Internet sources, is that it is referring to the Trojan War hero Hector, since the phrase originated during a time when people were more well-versed in the classics. And that was, indeed, a long time ago.

Hemming and hawing — The phrase means to hesitate to give a definite answer. It dates back to the 1400s and is echoic in nature. A more modern interpretation would be “um-ing and er-ing” probably, with “um” and “er” being common filler sounds in hesitant speech. I always assumed it had something to do with either sewing or sailing. I was mistaken.

Gamut — I used the word “gamut,” knowing that its definition meant the complete range or scope of something. My actual sentence began “our entertainment choices run the gamut from …” But, where did the word “gamut” come from? It turns out that gamut originally meant “lowest note in the medieval musical scale” and it was a contraction of Medieval Latin gamma ut, from gamma, the Greek letter indicating a note below A, plus ut (later called do (as in “do re mi”), the low note on the six-note musical scale. So the word gamut was originally all about music, but later morphed into meaning “the whole musical scale,” or, figuratively, “the entire range or scale” of anything. Its first usage in this manner can be traced to the 1620s.

Honeymoon — The word and concept of the honeymoon owes more than a little to alcohol (as do some weddings: but, I digress—). The medieval tradition of drinking honeyed wine for a full moon cycle after a wedding was supposed to ensure a fruitful union between the new bride and groom. I guess Champagne is a modern-day analogue to honey wine.

Throwback — It means a person or thing that is similar to something of an earlier type or time. It was already in use with more or less the current definition in the mid-19th century. It is a combination of the verb “throw” and the adverb “back.” I can’t find a more pithy origin story for the word, even apocryphal stories that have been debunked. I was sure it would have its origin in the sport of fishing.

Venting your spleen — This particular idiom means “to express your anger.” From medieval times until the 19th century, the spleen—an organ in the body near the stomach—was thought to be the source of the “humors” that caused the emotion of anger. This is a colorful and archaic phrase. I contracted hepatitis as a 12-year-old.  (My mother called it jaundice, because I turned a lovely yellow/orange color from all the excess bile in my system.  I couldn’t keep food or drink down for two weeks, and lost 20 pounds – not a good thing on a skinny, stick-thin kid.)  But, I digress— anyway, my spleen was swollen while I had jaundice. I don’t recall being angry, but I did throw up a lot.

One to grow on — I thought an origin for this idiom would be easy to find, but it remains mostly a mystery.  When you had a birthday, it was a tradition to receive your birthday spanking by your friends or family, with the flat of the hand or with a paddle or belt. One person on-line said the birthday person would be “lightly paddled.” They didn’t live anywhere near me. Anyway, you’d get one swat for each year of your age, and then one extra swat, called the “one to grow on.” It’s like the baker’s dozen of birthday-themed beatings. I still don’t know the origins. Here’s one guess: you say something “grows on” you to mean that you become accustomed to it. Is the birthday punishment tradition meant for you to get used to pain because that’s all adulthood has to offer you in the future? That’s a little bleak, but it will serve as a placeholder until someone can offer me a better explanation.

* * * * *

Things I Learned While Researching Other Things = TILWROT
Remember that!  
As a lover of words, I know I’ll keep collecting these. Plus, I’ll keep posting them, I’m sure.

*Actually…. My Mother used to say, “Since ‘Towser’ was a pup.”  Now I’m off to research ‘Towser.’  Lord knows what I’ll find.

 

I Say Old Bean

Old Bean!  New Bean!  Young Bean!  Eventually String-bean.  We have welcomed our precious, hopefully precocious Wee Bean great-grand-son into our lives.  He popped into our reality at 6:48 PM, on April 27th, weighing 5 Lb. – 6 Oz, 19 inches long.  Grand-daughter-in-law says that popped was hardly the word for it.  She worked hard for almost 24 hours to deliver this perfect bundle of joy.

He may always be Wee Bean to Grandma Ladybug, but his Dad and Mom seem to be leaning towards naming him Garion Archon-Scottish IV (Although Rowan hasn’t been ruled out yet) – forever to be known as Gary – second name to follow.  They have 30 days to complete necessary paperwork.

With a new baby on the horizon, the wife, the daughter, her BFF, and his mother all went into nesting mode, and transitioned from merely dedicated knitters, to OCD knitters.  There are piles of knit booties and blankets and moccasins and sweaters and socks and hats and play sets.  The wife knit the hospital hat in the above photo.   He may not realize that clothing comes in fabric until he leaves home.

Even before COVID, it was decided that, like his Father, he would be born at home, in a sterilized bathtub, under the watchful eye and careful care of two registered Midwives and a birth Doula.

HOLD ON A SECOND!

STOP THE PRESSES!

The best-laid plans of mice and men gang aft aglee.

Being their first child, he was in a hurry to be cuter than any kitten video you’ve ever seen.  Instead of waiting till his scheduled due-date of May 18th to be born, he insisted on arriving almost three weeks ahead of schedule, necessitating a quick taxi trip to the hospital, with the midwives in hot pursuit.  Just in time too.  At that the wee bairn was almost a third the body weight of his tiny mother.  Soon enough, he’ll be tossing telephone poles…. uh, cabers, around.

I’m sure that you join us in happily embracing the arrival of the next link in the chain of my immortality.  You’d better, if you know what’s good for me.

I hope that he grows up to be tall and strong.  He may need to be…. to push me around in my wheelchair.  I’m sure that he’ll get the occasional mention in my posts.  He’s already capturing women’s hearts and wearing plaid diapers.  I’ll publish a notice and provide a link, when he starts a blog of his own.  😎

Edison On Religion


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thomas Alva Edison:

…What I have denied and what my reason compels me to deny, is the existence of a Being throned above us as a god, directing our mundane affairs in detail, regarding us as individuals, punishing us, rewarding us as human judges might.  When the churches learn to take this rational view of things, when they become true schools of ethics and stop teaching fables, they will be more effective than they are to-day… If they would turn all that ability to teaching this one thing – the fact that honesty is best, that selfishness and lies of any sort must surely fail to produce happiness – they would accomplish actual things.

Religious faiths and creeds have greatly hampered our development. They have absorbed and wasted some fine intellects. That creeds are getting to be less and less important to the average mind with every passing year is a good sign, I think, although I do not wish to talk about what is commonly called theology.

The criticisms which have been hurled at me have not worried me. A man cannot control his beliefs. If he is honest in his frank expression of them, that is all that can in justice be required of him. Professor Thomson and a thousand others do not in the least agree with me. His criticism of me, as I read it, charged that because I doubted the soul’s immortality, or ‘personality,’ as he called it, my mind must be abnormal, ‘pathological,’ in other, words, diseased…

I try to say exactly what I honestly believe to be the truth, and more than that no man can do. I honestly believe that creedists have built up a mighty structure of inaccuracy, based, curiously, on those fundamental truths which I, with every honest man, must not alone admit but earnestly acclaim.

I have been working on the same lines for many years. I have tried to go as far as possible toward the bottom of each subject I have studied. I have not reached my conclusions through study of traditions; I have reached them through the study of hard fact. I cannot see that unproved theories or sentiment should be permitted to have influence in the building of conviction upon matters so important. Science proves its theories or it rejects them. I have never seen the slightest scientific proof of the religious theories of heaven and hell, of future life for individuals, or of a personal God.

I earnestly believe that I am right; I cannot help believing as I do… I cannot accept as final any theory which is not provable. The theories of the theologians cannot be proved. Proof, proof! That is what I always have been after; that is what my mind requires before it can accept a theory as fact. Some things are provable, some things disprovable, some things are doubtful. All the problems which perplex us, now, will, soon or late, be solved, and solved beyond a question through scientific investigation.

The thing which most impresses me about theology is that it does not seem to be investigating. It seems to be asserting, merely, without actual study….Moral teaching is the thing we need most in this world, and many of these men could be great moral teachers if they would but give their whole time to it, and to scientific search for the rock-bottom truth, instead of wasting it upon expounding theories of theology which are not in the first place firmly based. What we need is search for fundamentals, not reiteration of traditions born in days when men knew even less than we do now.

’21 A To Z Challenge – B

Back in the old days, you young whippersnappers, I occasionally published ‘Remember When’ posts, to pump up my older readers’ nostalgia, and show the younger ones what they may be fortunate to have missed.

This year, for the letter B, I’ve decided to rant and rave about the

BANDERSNATCH

an imaginary wild animal of fierce disposition.

a person of uncouth or unconventional habits, attitudes, etc., especially one considered a menace, nuisance, or the like.

The word was coined, with the first meaning, about 1855 by the Anglican Deacon, the Reverend Charles Dodgson, hiding his identity as the author Lewis Carroll.  Hide he should!  He wrote about fantastical, imaginary creatures, and strange words that didn’t exist.  In his Alice in Wonderland books, he has poor Alice eating magic mushrooms, and drinking absinth-like liquids which distort her perceptions and cause hallucinations, making her to seem to shrink and grow.  The good pastor was a drug fiend.

From the original meaning has come the more recent value, and much of it may be due to recreational drug use.  Nostalgiac and déjà vu terms for these people might include miscreant, or ruffian.  Today’s paper printed three Op-Ed letters, and they were all about people who litter, especially the community trails.

One woman says that she and her husband go out (properly masked) for walks together.  Each of them takes a store-issued plastic bag.  They don’t get a block away, before both are stuffed full of picked-up trash.  There are garbage pails each block, where the trail crosses a street, yet these lazy swine can’t wait even that long.  Some clean up after their dogs…. and then toss the compostable bags into the undergrowth.  Some of them hang up on bushes, making them look like Bizarro Christmas trees.

Forty years ago, one of the city’s mottos was, Kitchener – Klean As A Kitchen.  More recently, one of the local newspaper wags has suggested, Kitchener – Klean As A Kow-shed.  Spanking unruly children is no longer allowed, but I’d like to take a few of these Bandersnatches out behind the woodpile, and introduce their posteriors to a good length of flat maple.  Would you like to watch the YouTube video?  👿

He’s Come Undun

I’m coming unravelled, although I was never too tightly wrapped in the first place. 

A man encounters another fellow at a DC cocktail party.  “What do you do for a living?”
“I’m a naval surgeon.”
“Wow, you guys really specialize, don’t you??!

My Father’s family kindly passed down a gene which causes weak abdominal wall.  Excess weight is not the only reason that my tummy protrudes.  At 2019’s annual doctor visit, I had two small hernias, one in the left groin, and one on my navel.  The groin one was quick and easy to fix – day-surgery at the hospital – someone jabbed a hole in it with a sharp pencil, poked some window-screen in, under the skin, and super-glued me back together.

The belly-button is a little more complex.  They don’t like to work on it unless absolutely necessary.  She told me to keep an eye on it, and report if it increased in size.  After the fiasco of last year’s visit, which I chronicled in I Have Never Felt So Alive, I let her have another look.  Last year, it was the size of the last segment of my baby finger.  This year, it’s as big as the end of my thumb!  😯

They will not act unless the opening is more than 2.5 cm (1 real inch).  She gave me a requisition for an ultrasound scan just as COVID19 arrived.  It took me three months to schedule a clinic appointment.  I find that I am six months pregnant with twins.  😉

She has, properly, been chastising me about my weight.  Something like this has finally opened my eyes.  I don’t want to explode like that obese wight in the Monty Python sketch.  I asked about liposuction, to relieve the immediate pressure.  She refused, because, without a basic change in my lifestyle, the weight would just pack back on.

A maintenance man at a plant where I worked, took more than a year to lose over a hundred pounds.  Then he spent another year, gradually putting it all back on.  😦  Slowly we forge the chains of our obesity so, slowly we must cast them off.  In the three months that I waited for the scan, I managed to lose 15 pounds, with lots more to go. 

No more snacking from boredom, as I stay up all night.  It’s as simple – and as complex – as that.  I was appalled at the number and variety of goodies I had available – regular chips, salt and vinegar chips, corn chips, cheese twists, mini chocolate bars…. Three kinds of peanuts, one Honey-Roasted, one Caramel-Coated, for extra calories – and cut back on the sugar-laden soft drinks.

No more 4 or 5 snacks per night!!  Now I must choose – and limit myself to – one snack per evening.  Carefully rationed, I have eliminated several of them, and vowed not to replace them.

COVID19 further delayed already slow medical specialists’ appointments.  Something must have shown in the ultrasound.  On August 1, I received an email appointment notice with a Surgical Oncologist, on Oct 22 – Wow, only another three months!  I only hope that he can ‘knit up the ravelled sleave of my care,’ before I come completely Undun.  Click here, if you’d like to hear the Canadian band The Guess Who, tell you about a girl that it happened to.

I’ll tell you what transpires.  (EW! EW!)  I’ll still be as big an opinionated asshole as ever.  It’s just that, hopefully, there’ll be a lot less of me doing it.

***

So, my Oct. 22 appointment has come and gone.  The specialist took one quick look at it and told me to get out.  At least I now have a direct line to him if it grows any larger. I told him that my weight loss was up to 20 pounds, but he only speaks Metric (9 Kg.)  Very good….keep at it.  It can be caused be something as simple as a sneeze.  With my allergies – do you know how many times I sneeze per day – and how strongly??!

I picked up some meds after the doctor visit.  The pharmacy tech asked me how the visit went.  I told her the doctor was busy, and had just put a strip of Scotch Tape© over it – and got out while she was still reaching for the phone.  If the wife doesn’t have me committed, she might.   😉   😳

WOW #70

I was recently reading an historical novel.  In it, a commoner performed an uncommon act of intelligence and bravery.  As a reward for this selfless act, the Grand Panjandrum – or Grand Poobah – they both indicate a pretentious or self-important official, like a High Muckedy-Muck, bestowed upon him the reward of a

Carucate
[keyr-oo-kate, (yoo)]

Because I was reading a dead-tree book, I couldn’t just tap the Kindle screen to find out what a carucate was.  I had to play Twenty Questions until I got upstairs to the computer.  Was it a gem – a jewel, like the Blue Carbuncle in the Sherlock Holmes novel?  Was it a lavish dinner in his honor?  Was it a warm, if not willing, bed-companion?  Was it a mani-pedi down at Omar’s Tent and Sail Shop, and Spa?  Don’t ask – don’t tell.   😉 

It turns out that it’s another archaic measurement quantity, equal to 40 acres of land, or a quarter-section – one quarter of a square mile.  It was the amount of land that a team of oxen could plow, and the amount of tilled land that it took to produce enough food for a farm family.

While the measurement is described as square, especially those with water frontage, were a mile long, and a quarter-mile wide, farming spaghetti, or rhubarb.  It was hard to turn an ox-team and unwieldy plow around. It was easier to let the team catch their breath, and just start another furrow in a straight line, for eight furlongs, and this gave more tenants shipping/travel access . Quebec’s Eastern Townships, in Canada are like this, only larger, all fronting on the St. Lawrence River, and looking like a bowling alley on a map. 

Was it possible that this Grand Vizier – Why do all these $3 potentates describe their titles as Grand??! – wanted this potter…. or leather-worker…. to leave the city, and become just another subsistence farmer??  He could sell it, or lease it to a share-cropper.  At least he took his dictionary along, and I learned a new old word.  😀

What’s It Worth?

I was just lounging in a big tub of nostalgia.  (Do I still have any on me?
When I was a kid, a dollar meant something, and there weren’t very many millionaires.

First, the farthing (quarter-penny) disappeared – then the half-pence – now, Canada’s penny is no more.  As inflation lops off the bottom, it piles more on top that we soon get used to.

I recently had the chance to re-watch the old movie, The Girl, The Gold Watch, And Everything.  The hero is accused of absconding with$27,000,000.  At first, I couldn’t understand the fuss that was being made.  Now, twenty-seven million is a nice piece of pocket-change.  As the embezzling Congressman said, “A million here – a million there – pretty soon it starts to add up.”  Pretty soon, mere millionaires are a dime-a-dozen.

The son dug out and lent me the John D. MacDonald book that the movie was based on.  He had the 1980, movie-novelization copy, but the book was originally written in 1962.  An online conversion site showed me that One 1962 Dollar – is worth $9.83 today.  The missing 27 million would be worth over a quarter of a $BILLION in 2021 – now that’s worth getting upset about.

This all reminded me of a television show that aired from 1955 to 1960, titled The Millionaire.  Each week, multi-millionaire John Beresford Tipton, had an agent GIVE a cashier’s cheque for $1,000,000 to someone he had chosen.  Tipton’s socio-psychological curiosity was the reason that the show then followed each recipient, to see what they did with the money.

One man who had lost his wife, was despondent, and convinced that he would never find such a love again.  He took a round-the-world cruise, met a sweet, young, available thing onboard, and it all worked out with soap-opera predictability.  One million, back then, would be the equivalent of $10/12 Million today.  The interest alone would accumulate so fast that they never need get off the ship, except to purchase a Rolls-Royce for each port.

The running gag in this show was that, like Charlie, in Charlie’s Angels, except for a hand passing off the cheque at the beginning of each show…. We never saw Tipton, and yet, when I went to research the show, there was a listing for Peter Frees – as Tipton

I had forgotten that voice actors get credits also.  Peter Frees is the most famous person that you’ve never seen.  He actually did three unseen voices during this series.  He has lent his dulcet tones to dozens of video games and dozens of animated movies.  His list of voice credits is longer than the late, great Mel Blanc – Ehhhhh, what’s up with that, Doc?

’21 A To Z Challenge – A

April’s First Challenge Post – And So It Begins.

Here’s a word that dictionaries insist doesn’t exist – but really should.

ASSHOLERY

There’s something about the X-Y chromosome that fouls many males up.  They don’t know whether they’re coming or going, so it applies mostly to boys (of all ages), although some of the fairer sex qualify.

A nearby 19-year-old was caught doing 221 Kmh in a 100 Kmh zone.  He was late for a Darwin Awards presentation.  Daddy’s Lexus was impounded for a week, and the repair bill for an overstressed engine might be as much as the hefty fines and impound fees.

A local man went downtown, to deal with a department in City Hall.  When he came back out, he could not find his white Mercedes…. with his 4-year-old son in it.  😯  He called the police.  Within minutes – and a short walk – they located…. his wife’s red Jeep, and the child safe.  He has been charged, public intoxication, care and control of a vehicle while impaired, driving over .08 (local alcohol limit), and endangering a child.  His wife is gonna be thrilled!

A man in Toronto duplexed his house.  His upstairs tenant called 9-1-1 because a carbon monoxide detector kept squealing.  Three-tiered response – police, fire and EMT – discovered 100 pounds of carfentanil, 31 pistols and two “rifles”, although one of them was a Tech-9, like the one above.  More an overgrown handgun, than a real rifle.

If guys like this had any real brains, they’d have a real job.  If you’re gonna do something that creates carbon monoxide – stop doing it – ventilate the area – disconnect the detector!  Duh!!  🙄

Donald Trump still insists that he won the 2020 election.  Of course, he also insists that he has more Grammys than Beyoncé.  Women have to own some of this assholery, because far too many of them voted for Trump, and also for Canada’s wunderkind pretty-boy Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.  They’re the answer to Kojak’s question, “Who loves ya, baby?”

Rave On

A Flash Fiction about a rave in a park, brought questions from ‘Old Fogeys’ about WHY.  I responded that I once worked with a young fellow who said that, after work, he was going to the big bar down the street, to party with 300 strangers. He was strange enough to fit right in. I didn’t see the attraction.

The answer may lie in the ability to make a drunken (and/or drugged-out) fool of yourself in anonymity.  A second layer to that answer may relate to ‘Good Christians’, who want to engage in (to them) SINFUL behavior, without friends, relatives, or neighbors finding out.  It’s how my Father and Mother met and got married.

During the 1940s and ‘50s, in my area, it was not considered wise to go drinking (and perhaps, pursuing the company of young females) in a local establishment.  I heard the axioms, ‘Don’t Shit Where You Eat,’ and, ‘Don’t Mess Your Own Nest.’   During the war years, young men of Armed Service age, who were  drinking in a bar, might be loudly and forcefully accosted.

My Mother’s younger brother and a pal, used to drive 30 miles north, to my Father’s home town, to do their drinking and Hoo-Rahing.  My Mother returned from Detroit, sans husband.  When my Father returned from Naval Service, her brother was quick to point out that she was single and available.  Introductions were made, and soon, a marriage was performed.  Don’t start counting on your fingers.  I was born 14 months after the wedding date.

Even after he was married, the local undertaker/furniture store owner used to drive 30 miles south every Saturday night to go anonymously drinking.  The town was a mile off the north/south highway, and the access road used to come out to a T-intersection.  Drinking and driving must have been an Olympic sport.  So many cars wound up through the fence, and into a farmer’s field, that the Department of Highways added a 90 degree curve merge ramp.

One Saturday night – actually Sunday morning – he went screaming around the merge ramp at highway speed.  Normally, at that time, the highway would be empty, but this night there was a young family returning from a visit to his parents.  If he even noticed them, he still slammed into the side of their car, spinning it out of control, first into a tree, and then a deep drainage culvert.

The mother and young boy were killed instantly.  The father survived, but was so badly smashed up that he could never work.  The dark joke around town was that the undertaker was just making more business for himself.

You want to party?  You want to get drunk?  You want to do drugs?  You want to do it –not at Cheers – where nobody knows your name?  You have the right to be stupid.  Just carry ID, so the cops know who to notify – either for a funeral, medical treatment, or bail.

Click to hear Buddy Holly going to a rave, back in 1958.