Saturday, April 19, 2014


“On egg patrol

There is a lot of controversy among fellow Christians about Easter as a holiday. I really don’t care to get into that, ‘cause it’s near impossible to pacify Christians when we’re in the state of controversy. 

Being a Christian myself, I’ve gotta tell you, it doesn’t take a whole lot to get us upset. Scripture warns us against that very thing, but we do it anyway. I think it’s ‘cause we’re all human. That’s what I’m thinking.

Regardless whether you consider Easter as a date with any religious significance or not, I gotta tell you that a lot of believers have been trying to nail down the exact date that Jesus died. One outfit has placed the date at Apr 3, 33. 

One big problem with that is the fact that some believe the first B.C./A.D. calendar to be in error, and that Christ was actually born somewhere between 7 to 4 B.C. and died somewhere between 26 and 29 A.D. (It has to do with Herod the Great dying in 4 B.C. Just go with it.)

In researching this stuff I got lost. The one thing I can tell you with reasonable confidence is that Easter falls on the First Sunday after the first full moon following the first day of Spring. It has to do with the Biblical tie between the Jewish Passover and the death of Christ. I’d tell you more, but I know just enough to confuse the daylights outta me.

Since the days of my youth, our family celebrated Easter without applying any spiritual significance to the day. Our church considered Easter something pagans came up with. I had no idea what that meant, but I wasn’t paid to think.

Mom let us have boiled eggs, an Easter basket and stuff like that, but we couldn’t tie ‘em to Jesus… which wasn’t a big problem for me, ‘cause it made no sense. Adults could explain away the physical aspect of anything as ridiculous as a large bunny rabbit hiding eggs, but explanation of “The Spiritual” just got people upset.

Obviously, many people say there was no Son of God that ever visited the earth, so the date means nothing to them one way or the other. A lot of people fought and died for all of us to believe whichever way we wish. My faith tells me that God could make us do anything He wanted, but allowed us to have freedom of choice. Our Constitution is based on such a belief, and that’s nothing short of grand.

That being said, one thing Kay and I are going to be doing on the Saturday before Easter is helping out with Eggapalooza. It’s something our church (Grace Crossing Church of Christ) started doing on the Saturday afternoon before Easter from 2:30 to 4:30. I’m telling you about it in case you wish to bring your kids to the festivities. (By the way, there are similar gatherings all around the county. Kids are so much more fortunate than in my youth.)

Eggapalooza happens over at the park at Harper’s Landing, located on the east side of I-45, and north of highway 242. Enter the Harper’s Landing entrance, and you should find it. There will be bounce houses, cotton candy, snowcones, face painting, egg hunting and other stuff. It’s free, too. I can hardly believe it myself.

Last year Kay and I were part of the Eggapalooza cleanup crew. It wasn’t all that much fun. It needed doing, but it wasn’t a blast. I didn’t even get to go down the big inflatable slide or go inside the bounce house. I love bounce houses.

This year, I’m involved in hiding the eggs and being on egg patrol. Hiding the eggs is easy as pie. Easier than pie, even. We don’t hide anything. We rope off a soccer field and scatter out a bunch of plastic eggs filled with candy. I think it’s an insult to the children. They don’t have to do anything but walk and bend over. Even if we blindfolded them, they’d still end up with a basketful of stuff.

The hard part of my job is the part where I have to nonchalantly check baskets for overage. We don’t know how many kids to expect, so there’s a chance we could run out of eggs. We’ve got tons of ‘em, but maybe the baskets will be bigger this year. Who can tell?

Anyway, I’m supposed to make sure no one carries out more than 20 eggs. Can you believe that? – “Mommy, that mean man over there, stole this many of my eggs!” -- She’s holding up five fingers. -- “I hate the mean man!” 

I can’t see me doing that. I might have Kay distract a kid for a minute and then steal some eggs outta his or her basket. While I doubt Jesus would condone the practices of the egg patrol, somebody’s got to do it so that others may have eggs.

And that may well open up a proverbial can of worms among some of us believers. It doesn’t take much. 


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Oh, my back!

Moving story

    I got my first mustard plaster last week. Don’t believe Kay put enough mustard on it. The girl has no concept of a plaster. She treated me more like a baloney sandwich.

    Our supply of gauze is gone and our ace bandage smells like a Sonic #1 combo. That smell is fine for some situations, but not all that pleasing for others. The next person who uses that thing will want some tater tots to go with it.

    I decided on the mustard plaster after realizing that my muscle-relaxer pills were gone.  I got the pills back in ’06 for… I have no idea. Just needed something relaxed. Unfortunately, Kay must’ve chunked ‘em back during the 2010 Pill Chunk. It was a sad day, my friend.

    I needed muscle relaxers because I didn’t want to have to take Amber’s suggestion and do a mustard plaster. The cleanup alone would send me into shock. But, my friend Amber is big into health. She teaches yoga, preaches natural remedies, pushes minerals and vitamins and – most importantly – makes me wanna slap her. I have a low tolerance for healthful hints. It’s not that I don’t appreciate ‘em—Well, yes, it’s that I don’t appreciate ‘em.

    The reason I needed some relief was related to helping someone move an immovable object. There are some things that can’t be moved. You just build around ‘em. The Rock of Gibraltar comes to mind. One thing that is nearly as ominous is one of those newfangled reclining couches.

    If you want a reclining couch for your second story apartment, you need to change your “want.” There were five of us that moving day. Four strong guys and me. The stairwell was narrow, barely enough room for two guys standing shoulder to shoulder.

    There was no plastic wrap. If you layer a weird object into a plastic wrap blob, it can be rolled, shoved, dragged, pushed… You get the picture? An unwrapped reclining couch is going to abuse you. That's why they were made. They can be purchased at any furniture store, but each of them is assembled at a CHAB (Chinese Hurt American Back) factory.

    When you’re coming up a narrow stairway with a wanting-to-recline couch recliner there will be several instances where one person will be sustaining all the weight. It’s one of those Isaac Newton things. In our case there was one instance where one person was sustaining all the weight of the couch plus me. It was crawl over or die time for me.

    The couch did make it upstairs. The walls suffered no gouges nor the floor any scrapes. I was happy as an elephant stomping a poacher. My back didn’t even hurt… until a day or two later.

    Spasms are what I’d call ‘em. I’d try to look over my shoulder and schphenz! That was the sound of the pain. Schuphenz, with a touch of “zap.” If I could stand or sit sans motion I was okay. But moving was a bear.

    Virginia said she had something for that, so she sent Freeman in the backroom for it. I hoped against hope that it was a pill. Anti-back-spasm knocker-outer pill. Thirty minutes later Freeman appeared with a giant black seating cushion thing that you chunk on a recliner. It had a 20 pound plug-in cube with an attached remote control.

    The thing was meant to heat and vibrate your aches away. Virginia said that it normally costs in the hundreds of dollars, but she bought it at a garage sale for five. I asked if it came with a pill.

    Truth is I’ve never had an ache relieved through vibration. I understand the concept. If you shake something enough it will eventually… I take that back. I don’t understand the concept. As I soon discovered, this particular five-dollar device would shake and heat or shake and not heat. But, it would not heat without shaking. Vibration to most parts of my body gives me a headache. Don’t know if you were aware of that.

    Virginia’s back massager has one other feature that I thought interesting. It has a round knot of something right in the middle of your sitting down place. The knot doesn’t vibrate or anything, it just sits there. I don’t know what it’s supposed to do. I just want it to move. Hit the square of my back, or my left thigh. Just stay away from my sit-down part. That’s just sick.

    I really couldn’t tell you, what actually eased my pain. I’m pretty sure it was “time” and the two orders of tater tots. The twinge can still hit me now and again, but I can handle the occasional sphuphenz more than the constant sphuhenzing.

    And, if the spasm picks up again, I’ve still got the vibrating heater thing with the knotted rear end gizmo. And, there’s still plenty of mustard in the fridge. Kay barely touched the jar. It was more of a mustard spread than a plaster. The girl has no concept.


Stage shock

“Good ol' Bobby Ezell"

Bob after receiving one of his million educational awards!

I manage to embarrass myself on average of twice a day. I might make it through 24 hours without messing up too badly, but I’ll double up the next day.

    My earliest memory of embarrassment was when Dad made me sing Big John in front of all the kinfolk on Grandma’s porch in Bristow, Oklahoma. I don’t know how many times I sang that song on the trip up to Oklahoma, but it was a bunch. On the first night of the massive family’s get-together, Daddy said, “Hey, Mark, sing ‘Big John’ for us.”

    I’ve told the story before, so you may know that it didn’t go well. I begged Dad not to make me sing, but it did no good. “You’ve been singing that stupid song for 500 miles, and you’re gonna sing it now.”  It was the fastest singing of lyrics since the “Modern Major General” from “Pirates of Penzance.”

    When I finished, I ran into the house and bawled. No idea why. Kids are just weird. Anyway, my Aunt Edna came in after a couple of minutes and gave me a big hug and 50 cents. She said it was for the good job I did on the song. From that day on, I became a professional singer. It was a short career The first and last time anyone ever paid me for singing.

    Few are living who witnessed that moment on Grandma’s porch. Even though it was my first memory of embarrassment, I’d sure like going back in time and revisiting it. I would ham it up big time. I’d act out “Big John.” I think Dad might even give me a hug.

    I told you all that to set the stage for my more recent embarrassing moment. It was during the play “Inherit the Wind” when I flubbed a line. Might’ve been a few people catch it because they had no script. They may have thought it part of the dialog for my character to ask another actor, “What am I trying to say, here?”

The important thing is, I lived through the experience and no one yelled at me. I did enough of that myself. I’ve dreamed of stuff like that happening, only I never recover. In my dreams, I’m on stage with no idea what any of my lines are. I don’t remember rehearsals or even agreeing to do the play. Dreams can really mess you up.

Fortunately, the one lapse at the Owens Theatre was the worst of it. It scared the willies out of me and made me feel terrible, but, like I said, I survived. After the curtain call, the cast formed a line to go out the side door to greet our audience. Before I made it to the exit, up stepped Aunt Edna. Only it wasn’t her, ‘cause she’s dead. Taking Aunt Edna’s role this night was my dear teaching buddy, Bobby Ezell. I hadn’t seen him in ages, but out of the blue he chose that particular night to show up.

And, why is that important? I’ve been blessed in knowing two people with calming spirits. Kay’s Dad, whom I called Uncle Ray, and my ol’ friend Bobby Ezell. Just being in Bob’s presence will put you at ease. If I’m near the guy I just instantly sense that everything is as it should be. He doesn’t even have to say anything. There’s just something about him that directs me to peace and calm. Just like Uncle Ray.

I remember at Oak Ridge High School when I had a bad experience at a parent conference. It was one of two times I ever told a parent what I actually thought was wrong with their child. I was an idiot. The counselor and principal were not pleased with my attitude, so I left the office feeling really upset about people, life and teaching.

As I made my way back to my classroom, I passed Bobby Ezell’s room and saw a poster that read “Don’t take yourself so serious.” As tense and angry as I was, I instantly took an exaggerated emotional leap the other way.

The sense of calm was due partly to the words on the poster, but mostly to the fact that Bobby Ezell had posted it. It’s like the peacemaker himself was saying the words.

And, on that night at the Owens Theatre in Conroe, there was Bobby hugging me and congratulating me. “But, I really messed up with—“ He completely ignored everything I tried to tell him. I was once again in the presence of peace. Sure I was still embarrassed, but things are better now. ‘

The fact that friends and those with caring hearts end up in certain places at particular times is not by chance. That’s my belief. Uncle Ray always seemed to be around when I needed him most. Aunt Edna had the face of love that evening in Bristow.

And, Bobby Ezell? Well, he showed up as if summoned to help an old friend. And, it wasn’t his first time… hopefully not his last.