“I’m Glad I’m There, Too!”

Morning light dusts away the darkness. Young students make their way to the school crossing post.  It’s tranquil but for the quiet conversations among friends and the humming of local traffic that announces the start of a new work day.  Some still have sleepy eyes, others are hurriedly finishing an abbreviated breakfast.  The calm is about to change.

“Good morning!”

My long distance call even catches the attention of drivers.

Eyes pop with a mild show of enthusiasm and attention.  Some eagerly anticipate what’s next, a few roll their eyes, no doubt.  They know it’s another morning of quizzes, fun facts, brain teasers or historical notes.  Maybe a quick grammar question, or an observation about the beautiful sunrise greeting us in the east.  Yes, knowing directions is a topic for discussion.  All this before they even step into their buildings.

I’m a school crossing guard, one of a dozen in my town.  And my post is an impromptu ‘curbside classroom’, across the street from the middle and high schools.

A million seconds is 12 days, how much is a billion seconds? *  (you’ll be surprised at the difference)

The eye movement shows they’re thinking and a few figure it out quickly.

I have only a minute, or so, to engage these preteens and teens as we await our traffic signal.  By the time they’ve crossed, most are fully awake, a bit more energized and generally, smiling, a result of our encounter, I’d like to think.

Who is Jeff Bezos?**  Who was Ferdinand Magellan?***

These kids are whizzes, they know the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ names. Few questions go unanswered and there’s a sense of eager enthusiasm, from the youngest to oldest.

Generally, our topics are light, sometimes humorous or serious, but often poignant. There’s an objective to my ‘drills’.

We’ve discussed STEM****, and NASA science, as in what is LEO***** and how is a young woman, Amber Yang******, tying them together?

These young people are much busier than I was at their ages: school, homework, clubs, sports and, for some, jobs.  Starting the day with a greeting, a smile, a ‘challenge’, puts them in a good frame of mind.  It gets them thinking, maybe relaxes them.  And, it’s a two way street, we energize each other.

A survey question draws curious looks: do you eat your apple around the circumference, or stem to bottom*******, something simple to awaken their senses and promote a dialogue between us.  Some are excellent communicators, others are learning, while a small number prefer to remain quiet.   It’s rewarding to see their growth in this area over a school year’s time.

November was the anniversary of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address********.  What did Lincoln mean by his words, ‘all men’?  The thinking caps were humming for this one.

How do you pronounce humus and hummus, and what are they?********* 

Yes, there were some humorous replies, there always are, these are kids.  Nevertheless, with only a minute of ‘class time’, we answered both parts.

I’ve learned this about kids, they like being challenged and enjoy showing what they know.  A high schooler paid a compliment, “we’re glad you’re here with your facts, stories and questions”.  Nice feedback…

I’m glad I’m there, too…

Steve B

Steveb.com

To ‘teachers’ everywhere who stimulate the minds of young people, we’re glad you’re there, too.

* 32+ years; ** founder of Amazon Worldwide Services, world’s wealthiest person; *** Portuguese explorer who led  first (Spanish) circumnavigation of the world, killed in the process; **** Science, Technology, Engineering, Math; ***** Low Earth Orbit; ****** 19 year old Stanford student who developed a program to track space debris that NASA uses to protect spacecraft and astronauts; ******* around the circumference, overwhelmingly; ******** November 19, 1863; ********* organic matter versus food matter

The Bar Chronicles: #20, It’s Nice To Be Driven…(and some Jeff Bezos)

“Dad, may I borrow the car tonight?  I’m picking up some friends and we’re going for a beer, or two, at Caverly’s Irish Pub. No, we won’t be late, nine-thirty, maybe ten.”

Okay, so I’ve conflated two phases of my life into one fantasy.

It was another night of ‘howling at the moon’ for our cadre at Caverly’s. Do ‘old dogs’ howl?  Regardless, this iconic corner bar with all its pub accoutrements wins our support, again, for its neighborhood ambiance…and cheap beer prices.

As we unfolded ourselves from the car, one rider commented, ‘it’s nice to be driven’. That line made me recall my teen years when I was fortunate to have a dad who let me take the family car, almost whenever I asked: high school dances, Sunday night youth group at church, movie dates or a late night snack with friends.  He trusted me with the keys, and I loved to drive.

Nowadays, multiples of teen years later, I still enjoy being the driver. And picking up my friends is the same now, as then, but today’s destination is quite different. Yet, the activity is somewhat similar, sitting around a table with friends and gabbing, with a drink in hand, beer today but a soda, or ‘tonic’*, then.

Caverly’s was irritatingly noisy this night. It was Thursday Night Football on the cursed TV, every bar has them, and one overbearing fan was in his full fan mode. Seemingly, every play required a bellow of approval or disapproval, making our conversation challenging.

But we did manage to discuss Jeff Bezos and his choice of Amazon as a name for his empire. Here’s an interesting speech by Bezos when Amazon was only six and he had hair:  https://youtu.be/YlgkfOr_GLY.

This is the twentieth night of ‘Bar Night’ and ‘The Bar Chronicles’ stories. Looking ahead, I suggested we do something special for the twenty-fifth gathering, sometime next Spring. My idea of a celebratory calendar, ‘The Men of The Bar Chronicles’, was poo-poohed. I was ready to rock ‘n roll with some camera shoots but the reluctance was obvious.

Any suggestions from readers?  Maybe we should just go for some burgers and beer. It would be like the teen years when a coke-a-cola and sandwich satisfied appetites at the local HoJo’s, or Friendly’s.

Times change, years go by, but some things are steadfast.  It’s nice to recall that my dad trusted my driving, and it’s a good feeling to know my adult friends do, now.  I still love to drive…

…and the Amazon River is still the biggest!

*New England speak for soda, pop, etc.

To all who remember the fun of driving the old man’s car

‘Sweet Sapphires’ and Senior Moments

There they were, in tightly arranged rows of open plastic bags, next to the buck ninety-nine a pound red grapes.  With a deep blue color and elongated shape that reminded me of ‘Good & Plenty’ candy I enjoyed as a kid, and a name that rolled off my tongue, ‘Sweet Sapphires’, there they were.  I was mesmerized.

However, at ‘two bucks ninety-nine’, these little jewels were going cost me a bit more than I normally would pay for grapes this time of year.  Nevertheless, if they tasted as good as they looked, and they looked good (the picture doesn’t do justice) the decision would be easy.

I like ‘observing’ people, not staring but just noticing their behavior, idiosyncrasies and habits.  Aren’t you repulsed by folks who stand over the grapes, pinch a few from open bags to sample, then walk away or buy a different bag?  How uncouth! And the ‘perps’ generally are Seniors, older people who should know better.

Yet, I must admit these ‘Sweet Sapphires’ were tantalizingly attractive.  I sensed they were teasing me. Then, I reminded myself, ‘Hey, I’m a Senior’ and there was my ‘in’, my excuse, the justification for what I sensed was about to happen.

In a moment of personal weakness, I was overcome with the same sense of entitlement these Seniors seem to have when fiddling with the fruit. My values became compromised, my judgement clouded and like Sandburg’s fog, I was surrounded by silence, guilt free, or so it seemed, as I stood fixated on those ‘Sweet Sapphires’.

My mouth was awash with the swill of free flowing saliva.  Discipline, be damned, I cast caution aside and succumbed. Delicious! No one grabbed, scolded or even glared contemptuously at me. Ahhh, entitlement, Senior style, it could be addictive.

I didn’t stop with grapes, I moved on to bananas and separated my number from the bunches. I peeled back the corn husks to check for worms and even squeezed the plums for firmness, putting each one back and moving on.

This freedom to pick and choose exhilarated me as I made my way to the check out with a bounce in my step, albeit slowly and with a gimp. For here was the final payoff of my newly awakened older self, the Senior Citizen discount.

What? Not available on groceries?  I knew that but I’m asking anyway. The new me, the entitled Senior, will ask every time. I will tell corny jokes, drive at slower speed and use subpar hearing to my advantage. The wrinkles, baldness, sore joints and rounded shoulders tell the world that I’ve earned this status. It’s an entitlement world for me now, and I’ve got the ‘scars’ to prove it.

Now, if I can only remember where I parked my car…

“Excuse me, young fella!”

“Whosis, Whatsis and Whatchamacallit”

ALERT: this story isn’t for everyone, just those in long term relationships, say 30, 40 or 50 years. However, you’re still welcome to read it…

“Honey, I’m home from, ah, whatchamacallits. Whosis was there, she’ll see us at, you know, whatsis place Saturday.”

“Okay!”

And with that exchange, we affirm our relationship is stronger than ever…again!

Do you recognize it? Sound familiar? I expect those of you in long term relationships are nodding in the affirmative.  You know each other so well that substitute words suffice in place of real words, the ones that escape us momentarily. Gibberish fills the void and, strangely enough, we understand each other. How does that work?

This behavior confirms my belief that as we grow older with our life partner, our spirits, habits and language meld, allowing us to behave almost as one. There must be a term for it?

With a certain bravado, I proffered this theory to my whosis, a nonbeliever of most of my ‘proffers’. Almost had her convinced until the suggestion that we’re even starting to look alike, the longer we’re together. With a stare that would stop a charging ‘whatchamacallit’ in its tracks, that notion destroyed whatever credibility I may have had with her.

You may disagree but think of your own situation. Do you finish each other’s sentences? Do you say something like, “honey, I know what you’re thinking”? Do you both start to express the same thought on cue? See, you’re coming around, right?

How did all this ‘oneness’ happen? Where did our habits, idiosyncrasies and brains not just intersect, but converge and become of one mind on the graph of Life? When did I start letting her pick out my clothes? And when did she trust me with grocery shopping?

Whenever and however, the fact remains that it happens. And it’s a good thing it does. Think of the waste of time trying to remember the real words when gibberish will do. So,  when the time comes that you can’t think of each other’s names, just throw in some ‘gib’, keep the conversation going, enjoy yourself, no matter who your with, or think you’re with!

“The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time.”
Friedrich Nietzsche*  

To all my friends and their whatchamallits…

Steve
Srbottch.Com
October 2018

*(Goodreads.com)

The Bar Chronicles: #19, “But, Your Honor, It Was Only Manure”…The Story Tellers

Bar Night 2

We sat among the boisterous patrons of Cavalry’s Irish Pub, enjoying a break from another long hot summer day. With cold beers in hand, the mood brought out the best in our diverse table-talk, as we prattled on about Leonardo DaVinci, mathematics, world population, and ‘stealing’ manure.  If that doesn’t run the gamut from haughty to hillbilly, nothing does.

Caverly’s was unusually noisy this warm September weeknight, even the normally sedate ‘bar dogs’ were feisty whenever a friendly face sauntered in from the street. Nevertheless, frayed by the season long struggle against heat and humidity of this oppressive summer weather, patrons were enjoying a relaxing evening of camaraderie. a typical bar scene, strangers talking with strangers as though they were long time friends.

It was difficult to hear the sordid details of the one among our small group describing his appearance before the local magistrate on crap caper charges, years ago, of course. A good story was developing and our Senior group leaned in with hand-cuffed ears, straining to hear the narrative and guffawing, as Seniors do, when a funny story is finished.

Seniors are good story-tellers.  With longevity comes a trove of life experiences, good fodder for comedic routines around a drinking table. We are wonderful receptors of these stories, too, because we’ve experienced a potpourri of crazy stuff and can identify with much of it, even when the details are embellished by the story teller.

What we did hear tonight was funny, the misadventures of a young man innocently trespassing onto a farmer’s field for a trunk load of bovine excrement to use as fertilizer, and the resulting incarceration in the back of a police squad car and subsequent court appearance to answer charges. How does one explain a charge of ‘stealing manure” to a judge? We laugh now, years later, but at the time, there was genuine concern for the potential damage to a good reputation.   

Some stories are best told in a bar scene when the collected few are mellow and easily moved to believe, and laugh.  And the teller, himself, is likely more animated by the attentive audience he knew, and the few strangers he didn’t, leaners-in from adjacent tables and stools, hanging on for the verdict.

These stories are the essence of our ‘bar nights’, friends gathering to enlighten each other with opinions, observations and anecdotes. The beer is secondary. We can’t drink that much, anyway. One or two and we’re on our way home, richer for the experience and ready to drift asleep with good thoughts and smiles of another ‘bar night’ with good friends 

Do you have a story waiting to be told?  Tell it to friends and have a good laugh! Maybe have a beer with it.

Steve
September 2018
srbottch.com

Reflections………………………………..Ethics

Great perspective on parenting…

dgcoker

 

I watched as the young men came into the gymnasium for the beginning of a new athletic season. They were healthy, full of energy with an attitude of excitement. Each of these men were given a notebook which they fondly referred to as the “bible.” Within the content of this notebook was the offense and defense the team would be playing for the coming year. It was filled with every conceivable behavior that could occur on a football field.

During the next three weeks, the players met with coaches executing the plays listed in the playbook. Coaches were quick to make corrections when a play was not performed in the manner listed. In addition to meeting twice a day on the athletic field, there were numerous ‘skull’ seasons where the mental aspects of the game were discussed and discussed.

The first game was between two strong teams, and…

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Reflections…………………………………Aging

I encourage you to read/follow posts by Dr. Coker on Life, Spirituality and Common Sense in today’s world of ‘confusing messages’. This one on ‘growing older’ and maybe ‘growing up’ is poignant for us Seniors.

dgcoker

 

I stood on the advanced tees at the golf tournament saying to myself, “I don’t believe I am supposed to be hitting from these tees. They are for ‘old’ people. You had to be 70 years old to hit from the forward tees. You were classified as a ‘super senior.’ I was 73 at the time and for three years I had pushed to the back of my mine the fact I was not a ‘super’ senior. Turning 70 was rifted with emotional landmines. All this hullabaloo about aging gracefully was ‘for the birds.’ “I’ll show them!” Off to the gym on a regular regime, eating all that healthy food and oh! yes, a little aging cream to make my eyes look normal. I didn’t have an aging problem. I had an attitude problem. I had to accept the inevitable changes of aging rather than seeing them as a…

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