Of Flies and Men

I read an article recently about how men (not mankind so as to include women, but men) love war. They love the thrill of pitting their manliness against each other, just to see who’s the toughest. Each wants a turn to prove that in a real life and death situation, he would pull out on top… or at least alive.

My first thought was that the whole idea was bologna. I’ve never been a guy who likes the much physical “pitting.” Take wrestling, for example; who wants to wrap their arms around a greasy sweaty guy in spandex – I mean really?! I’d rather pin a bald goat. And as for the grunting manliness of the all American football game? Let’s throw a ball at someone and then pile as many people as we can on top of them – while wearing a helmet, shoulder pads… and yes, spandex. And this is a national pastime?

So when it comes to the real deal, with guns, utility belts, and assault weapons, I’m not big on the idea. (At least they wear real pants, but still…).

I realize that part of my issue may have something to do with the fact that I’ve always been something of a wimp. I was the fastest runner in my class – the only thing in grade-school that earned me bragging rights, but only a useful skill when faced with school bullies. I outran the best of them.

But today I realized that there might still be a hint of that manly bloodthirst in me when I was suddenly faced with an obstacle of nature that was bent on my misery. And not only one such creature, but many, which came at me in random intervals throughout the day.

When they come, I go on a sort of rampage, a complete man vs. beast episode.

And what is the object of my man-fury? That freak of nature; that billion-eyed, filth-seeking, speed-demon, parasitic creature, the housefly. I can be sitting in compete comfort at my work desk, listening to soft music, and calmly pressing on with the task at hand, but when I hear that little drone behind my head, I grab the swatter and become Chuck Norris meets the Hulk. All my man-rampage instincts fly into hyperdrive and I become an instrument of terror – well… to the fly, anyway.

My first approach is stealth, sneaking up with my weapon drawn for the ambush. When that fails, I go for strategy, switching off all the lights in the room and opening the door of the well-lit bathroom. When my little friend finds his way in, I slam the door and go into Jackie Chan mode, crashing and banging around until one of us dies. Gratefully, so far it’s always been the fly.

Okay, so I’m no Old-Spice guy. But when it comes to buzzers, I get my fair share of blood, sweat, and guts. Ah! Just saw another one… Mwa, ha, haaaaa!!!!

Minute Memories: My Grandpa

talltabI don’t know if playing music by ear is a gift that can be inherited, but if it is, I can’t take full credit for what I have learned.  I have a long ancestral line of musicians, including trumpeters, harmonica players, singers, band leaders, songwriters, whistlers, and of course, piano players.
talltabMy Grandpa Hathaway played the piano by ear.  I never asked him what kind of technique he used to learn what he played, but I have vivid memories of watching his fingers dance across the keys as the sounds of Beautiful Dreamer and Memories filled my grandparents’ living room.  Their house always had a classic, well-cared for style, with curio-cabinets and intricate mementos of their lives and era.  The piano was situated in the tightest corner of their beautiful living room, with only enough room for the piano and a player, but the music carried throughout the whole house.
talltabNot only did Grandpa teach himself to play that piano, he essentially put the thing together himself – at least after taking it completely apart.  When he and Grandma bought it, they wanted to put it in the downstairs living room, but their stairway was too narrow for a full-size piano.  So Grandpa disassembled the whole thing – with every key removed, and took it down into the living room in pieces.
talltabGrandma hassled him that he would never be able to get the thing back together, but he did, and it is still there today.  I suppose that piano will stay with the house forever.
talltabWe had a piano in our living room, too, though we didn’t have to take it apart to get it there.  I was fourteen when I decided I was going to really learn to play the piano, and that year Grandma and Grandpa Hathaway came for Thanksgiving Dinner.
talltabDuring those contented hours between the feast and the serving of pie, I found myself Continue reading Minute Memories: My Grandpa

Childrens Story: Mr. Johnson

I’ve mentioned my aspirations to write a Childrens book or two – well, here’s another go at it.  This one would portray a small child talking with a very old man named Mr. Johnson.  Thanks to Ezioman on flickr for the borrowed photo!

Old Man and Child

Mr. Johnson

“Mr. Johnson, I declare, haven’t you got any hair?”

“I’ve thought hard, my little scout, thought till all my hair fell out!”

“Why then are your eye’s so crinkly, why is your whole face all wrinkly?”

“Skin can slowly fold in half, each time I smile or start to laugh!”

“You don’t walk, you only hobble, when you try you start to wobble!”

“You can see all things are holy, when you try to walk more slowly.”

“Why then do your poor ears ring, so you can hardly hear a thing?”

“Greater voices that I hear, speak from the heart, not through the ear.”

“Even when you look at me, your eyes are much too dim to see.”

“The greatest things will always be, the things we do not hear or see!”

“Mr. Johnson, please reply, are you so old that you will die?”

“My child, my child, I think I might,
but everything will be alright.
Little one, come close and hear,
for death is not a thing to fear.
There came one once who made a way
so all will live again someday.
‘Follow me, and live’ He said,
and He Himself rose from the dead.
He taught us how to love and give,
he showed a better way to live.
And if we do the things we ought,
and live to follow as he taught,
then when our death comes beckoning,
our death will be a joyful thing!”

“Mr. Johnson, I don’t know, I will miss you if you go!”

“Yes, my child, I’ll miss you too, but I will still watch over you,
and when you come to join me then, we’ll be together once again!”

– Chas

The Clockmaker

While Jenni was pregnant with Lunch Bucket, I decided to write a collection of childrens stories to read to our kids.  This was one of the stories I wrote.  It’s a little long – but it was intended as a childrens book.  I just thought it would be fun to share here:

theclockmaker

The Clockmaker

Once upon a time there was a clockmaker. He could make large clocks, small clocks, blue clocks, green clocks, and just about any kind of clock you could think of. Whenever someone wanted a clock, they would come to the clockmaker’s shop, knock on the door, and say,

“Clockmaker, clockmaker! Where could you be?

I need a clock that is made just for me!”

And the clockmaker would come to the door and respond,

“I am the clockmaker, for heaven’s sake!

What kind of clock would you like me to make?”

Then the person would describe a special clock, such as one that chirped like a bird, or crowed like a rooster. Some would ask him to make a clock that grew out of the ground from a seed. Others would ask him to make a clock that sang, or danced, or laughed, and the clockmaker could always fulfill the request.

One day a man came to the clockmaker’s shop, pounded on the door, and said, Continue reading The Clockmaker

First Dance

First Dance

My first dance was in the fifth grade, but I made sure not to dance with anyone. Me and another guy came up with a strategy to avoid dancing on the girls-choice dances, since we never would have asked anyone ourselves! It quickly became clear that wall-flowers usually ended up dancing with someone at some point, so as soon as the music started, we would walk around the middle of the dance floor as if headed somewhere.


Sometimes I’d dance in place for a moment if a teacher was near. Teachers were good at setting people up to get them to dance with someone. When the snowball dance started, we made sure to go get a drink and use the bathroom, taking a considerable amount of time getting back. Using these methods, I was able to make it through the dance without ever having to dance with a girl.

When I turned twelve, one of my first church youth activities was a youth dance. Using my sneaky method, I was able to avoid dancing with a girl for a while – until Sister Johnson, one of the young-women leaders caught on to what I was doing. While strolling about in the middle of the dance floor, weaving in and out of dancing couples, I suddenly walked right into Sister Johnson (obviously she had aligned her position). With a big smile, she said, “Chas, have you danced with anyone yet?”

I knew I was doomed, and gave in, saying, “Uh… no… not really.”

Then she grabbed the first laurel to walk by and said, “Dawn, would you like to dance with Chas?”

Of course, being a mature 16 year-old, she took pity on this poor little deacon. “I’d love to!”

Feeling like a mouse caught in a trap, I stood there as she put her hands on my shoulders. I was shocked. What was I supposed to do now? I stood there stupidly.

“Put your hands on my waist,” she instructed. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I was supposed to actually dance with this girl! I’d seen the others dancing, so I guess I knew I was supposed to put my hands on her waist, but I couldn’t work up the courage to do it before the invitation came. I put my hands on her waist and we rocked back and forth slightly, turning gradually in circles. The song was already half over by the time we started dancing, but that second half of a song felt like the length of twenty songs.

When the song finally ended, she thanked me for the dance and I bolted. For the rest of the evening, I kept clear of that girl.

At home after the dance, mom told me how Dawn had come up to her and Dad after our dance and said, “Your son is so cute! I had to tell him to put his hands on my hips!”

Turning purple at the thought that Mom and Dad knew that I had danced with a girl, I wormed off to my room. Maybe next time I would slough the dance entirely.