Saturday, December 26, 2009

Post of Christmas Past

Joyce and I went to Walmart this morning to restock on a few items we'd depleted over Christmas. As we drove home from the store, talking about what a wonderful Christmas we had with our sons (and their charming brides and our granddaughter, of course), I mentioned that I'd once had a very disappointing Christmas. Upon hearing my woeful tale, my darling told me, "You really ought to blog that story." And since I always do whatever my wife tells me ...

It's probably the Christmas of 1956 -- I'm on the brink of turning five. Mom has taken us to the Sears store at Five Points (you know -- where Piedras, Pershing and Elm converge) and we (my two big brothers and I) are anxiously waiting to sit on Santa's lap. Now understand, I've never been fooled by the velour duds and that ridiculous fake beard... (Well, perhaps I should say, "My oldest brother has never allowed me to be fooled by the velour duds and ridiculous fake beard" -- at least, not since he himself once broke a gift from Santa and Mom let slip, "I didn't buy that just for you to break it first chance you get!" So Joel (seeking to spare Roy and me the trauma of having to jut out our lower lips and tearfully answer Mom, "But Santa gave me that...") had taken upon himself that heavy cross of making sure other innocents were never suckered by those lying parents of ours. But I digress.

Mom has taken us to Sears to sit on the lap of this so-called "Santa" (a Santa who bears a striking resemblance in both voice and face to Red Brown, the host of Channel Four's local "Saturday Circus" children's program). We know Red isn't Santa, and Mom knows we know, but we all go along with the charade since we all get something useful out of this quid pro quo: Mom gets actionable intelligence and we get the opportunity to offer helpful pointers on the most desirable Christmas booty.

But as I was saying, Mom has taken us to Sears to talk to Santa, and after the most boring five minutes of my entire life, Red Brown (er ... Santa) hoists me up and plops me down on his left knee with the question, "And what's your name?"

As if the real Santa wouldn't know that! I think to myself. But to the guy in the flashy suit I mumble: "Bobby..."

"So tell me, Bobby, what do you want for Christmas?"

Without a moment's hesitation I shout: "A TRUCK!!!"

"Have you been a good boy?"

To myself I think: Gee, that's such an open-ended question. It just begs for clarification of terms. But to Santa I fib: "Uh hunh..."

Santa buys it. A second later I'm standing next to Mom while Roy proceeds to tell Santa that same whopper about his deportment. Mom inquires, "So what did you tell Santa you want for Christmas?"

Again, without the slightest hesitation, I shout: "A TRUCK!!!"

Mom doesn't flinch or make any of those "Well-I'm-not-sure-if-Santa-can..." noises, so I'm very encouraged.

Long story short, by the time the big day comes, I'm absolutely convinced Mom has bought me the truck I so desperately want. When the time comes to receive my big present, I'm surprised that Mom directs my attention to a rather small package under the tree.

In tearing off the wrappings I confirm the worst. Aw crap! Mom has completely misunderstood -- she's bought me a fricking TOY truck! Oh well, it'll do for now. Maybe I'll get what I want next year ... when I'm big enough to reach the pedals.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Bad Baby Sitters

As Jack Handy famously said: "The face of a child can say it all ... especially the mouth part."

On our snowy Christmas Eve, Joyce and I were given the most wonderful Christmas present, an afternoon with the granddaughter. Over and over and over and over, the young lady sang:
"Row-row-row your boat
Jenty doubt the stweam.
If you see Jonah,
Don't forget to scweam!"

The song, of course, ends with a blood-curdling (but gleeful) squeal, one that would certainly cause permanent hearing loss ... were it but at a frequency Joyce and I can still hear.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

T'was the Night Before Christmas

Joyce asked, "I wonder what we did for Christmas last year?" Then she answered her own question with, "Oh, I know -- I'll just check what I was blogging." It seems (from Joyce's recording of events) last year we celebrated the Lord's birth by trimming shrubbery and watching James dash off to see his new-found love every chance he got.

Despite my having never been one to doubt the completeness of Joyce's journal, I thought to myself, I wonder what I wrote this time last year? A couple of keystrokes later, and what to my wondering eyes should appear, but ... this post from last Christmas Eve:

'Tis the night before Christmas and up at the table,
Little Ben is a-scribbling as best as he's able,
The kids at the school have been dissin' the man,
So Ben's little mind is devising a plan.

Ben should be nestled all snug in his bed,
But questions of truthfulness buzz in his head;
He scrawls on his card stock; I bring the ink pad.
He's cleverly testing if he has been had.

The milk and the cookies have always been downed,
But now he needs proof a little more sound.
His marker, it moves with a flair and a flash,
"Lev your tum print Santa---" he ends with a dash.

Our little wise guy, so cunning so slick,
Has baited his trap for alleged Saint Nick.
Then carefully sets out the ink pad and note,
So Santa will use it (like Iraqi's all vote).

"Ben's dashing, now dancing, now prancing, and fixin'
to check if old Santa rides a sleigh that he sits in!
I say, "To bed with ya now!" [down the end of the hall]
"Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
So Ben mounts to the bunk, his bed way up high.
Then Mom and I wait for the whispers to quiet,
We've got us a ploy, but not sure if he'll buy it.

Next morning Ben's thrilled by the handsome ink blot,
But checks out each hand, looking for spots.
With nary a stain on the parenting mitts,
He exultantly cries, "There is a Saint Nick!"

Mom and I stifle our dance in the zone,
(lest high-fives now possibly make our sin known:
With a wink of my eye and a nod of her head,
Without overt lying, we've once more misled).

A year then has past and (kids getting pubescent)
I figure it's high time that I get confessant.
I lay out the truth as plain as you come,
Answers Ben back: "How 'bout the print of the thumb?"

"Didn't check my toes, didja?" I humbly admit.
Ben looks at me hard, then utters, "Aw ... shux!"
But he heard me exclaim, ere he walked out of sight,
"Merry Christmas to y'all, and to y'all a good-night."

This little stab at poetic parody would be complete ... if that were all there is to the story. But alas (as you may note) the poem makes a one-year leap. Amid that year betwixt my deception and my confession, I had a conversation with Ben's oldest sibling, who at that time was a strapping sixteen-year-old.

Dad: Andy, I'm really proud of you for playing along with the Santa thing for the sake of your little brothers.

Andy: But Dad, I still believe in Santa, too.

Dad: Really?

Andy: Yup!

Dad: But don't kids at school make fun of you for believing in Santa?

Andy: Sure ... but I still get presents from Santa and they don't.

Dad: Ahhhh! So it's a mercenary thing?

Andy: Of course.

Dad: In that case: Andy, I'm really proud of you for playing along with the Santa thing for the sake of money.

Monday, December 21, 2009


We've lent the Alaskan contingent of the family Joyce's car while they're here in Texas visiting with friends and family, so Joyce is using my car and has been dropping me off at the train. This morning we pulled up to the station and, as we were sitting there, Joyce asked, "Are we waiting for your train?"

I answered, "Of course, why would we wait for a train I'm not taking?"

Joyce: Okay, so how would you answer if I asked, "Are the people on the platform the same people you ride with?"

Bob: Some are, some aren't. I recognize a few folks from my train.

Joyce: Okay, so how should I word it?

Bob: I'm not sure. Are you trying to ask if my train is the next one?

Joyce: Yes.

Bob: Okay, then why don't you say, "Is your train the next one?"

Joyce: Is your train the next one?

Bob: No, the next train is west-bound for Fort Worth. It should be here in a minute or two. My train comes as soon as that one leaves, about three minutes later.

Joyce: Does it have to be this difficult?

Bob: It's easy. The west-bound train comes by first, then ...

Joyce: No, do you have to be so irritating?

Bob: Sorry, I'm just trying to figure out what you want to know, and your questions aren't helping.

Joyce: {{big sigh}}

So here I sit, wondering to myself: Where did I go wrong?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Geriatric Foreplay

I felt humiliated, but Joyce asked ...

Joyce: So d'ya wanna go again?

Bob: I'd love to, but you don't have to do it just to please me.

Joyce: Poor thing. Did I wear you out?

Bob: No, but are you sure you're up to it?

Joyce: Do I hear some performance anxiety?

Bob: Oh Baby, trust me, you can never wear me out.

Joyce: Big talker! So let's get it on.

I shouldn't brag, but candor compels me to tell you: I nailed that woman of mine -- left her gasping, I did.

Bingoed three times (INCITER, MALINGER and EYELASH) and came out on top of a 390-299 score. She'll think twice before she challenges me to a Scrabble game again.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Elmo Juice

A little while ago I opened the fridge ... and behold, I found a couple of new juice selections...

Bob: "Joy-eeeece!"

Joyce: "Yay-ess?"

Bob: "We have Elmo Juice in the fridge ... and Belle from 'Beauty and the Beast' is trapped inside a plastic wrap, and she seems to be staring at me rather accusingly."

Joyce: "That's Cinderella."

Bob: "My bad. Uhhh --- does this have anything to do with the granddaughter flying in from Alaska on Tuesday?"

Joyce: "Why yes, as a matter of fact, it does."

Bob: "That's okay then. I'm just glad to know you aren't buying the Elmo Juice for me."

Joyce: "Now that raises an interesting question: What do you suppose is in Elmo Juice?"

Bob: "Isn't that obvious? You take a quart pitcher of water and stir in a half cup of ground Elmo..."

Joyce: "Dear, that's obvious only to you."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sorry About That

I do apologize for the inconvenience, but I've been forced to enable comment verification. Henceforth (or at least until I decide the spam threat has passed), if you want to comment, you'll have to type those funky nonsense words that Blogger challenges you with.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Getting Cold Feet

Joyce: You know, if you raised the foot rest on the recliner, your feet would be in the sun.

Bob: Right.

Joyce: So, aren't you going to put your feet in the sun?

Bob: No.

Joyce: But it would keep your feet warm.

Bob: True, but my feet aren't cold.

Joyce: They must be.

Bob: Are your feet cold?

Joyce: Yeah ...

Bob: So if I put my feet in the sun, do you think that would make your feet feel warmer?

Joyce: It wouldn't hurt.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin

I blog because I enjoy my own writing a little more than I should. But today I'm sharing something I'd rather not even think about much less write about. Over at Gateway Pundit there's a two-part post that exposes the reading list that President Obama's Safe Schools Czar Kevin Jennings recommends. The list is divided into three main categories: books recommended for grades K-6; books recommended for grades 7-12; and books for teachers. The books on the list span all genres: fiction, nonfiction, memoirs, even poetry.

If the Lord doesn't utterly wipe America off the map for our complacency and complicity in this, He owes a huge apology to Sodom and Gomorrah.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ya Gotta Have Heart

Yesterday Joyce and I drove to Fort Sill to attend a promotion ceremony for James and six of his fellow second lieutenants (er, his now fellow first lieutenants). Among the attendees was James's brigade commander who shared some thoughts, which I paraphrase here.

"There's a trite saying, 'The NCO corps is the backbone of the Army.' That's trite, but it's also true. But we shouldn't take it as a slight of the officer corps. The Army has different ranks for different purposes. Commanding officers are the head; enlisted personnel, the bone and muscle. But lieutenants (the part of the command structure in direct contact with the troops) are the heart of the Army."

I thought the colonel's words were inspirational. It's true. The effectiveness of a unit does depending greatly on the ability of lowly lieutenants to inspire their soldiers to carry out the mission.

But the colonel's analogy brought to mind another one, a four-decade-old metaphor that a lowly lieutenant once conceived. My oldest brother Joel had been asked to speak on the subject of what he, as an AG (Adjutant General) officer, did. (For those of you who may not be familiar with the AG, the Adjutant General Corps is the branch of the Army that handles personnel actions: promotions, changes of station, deployments, discharges, etc.)

Joel (speaking to a group of battle-hardened Vietnam veterans) put it something like this.

"The Army can be likened to the human body, with every part performing a different function. There's the leg Infantry. There are the powerful combat arms of Artillery and Armor. Military Intelligence is the eyes and ears of the Army; Signal Corps its voice.

"And then you have the Adjutant General Corps ...

"Oh sure, I know what part of the Army you think we desk jockeys are, but you're wrong -- we aren't the asshole.

"We," stammered Joel's quavering voice, as his hand shook as if with fear, "we are ... the nerves!"

"You see, for the body to function, it must be under the command of the brain (the Pentagon). And the brain must have a way to convey its orders to the rest of the body. And there's where we in AG come in. Just as the nervous system carries messages from the brain, we convey orders from the Pentagon all the way to the lowest soldier. So you see ... if it weren't for us, you'd never get the orders that send you to Vietnam."

With that, Joel beat a hasty retreat from the podium and left the room.