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Bodybuilding, Florida, life, and beyond


Category: Ramblings

I had twenty minutes for lunch, but I was still hungry, so I went back for seconds.

I did badly in Trigonometry because I was too poor to afford a tutor.

There was no way I could cosine alone.

Wanted to charge for parking in front of my store, but landlady said I had to leave SOME free spaces.
So I offered to meter half-way.

Looking for the evaporated milk.
I could swear it was here a minute ago.

A revision of an older piece…

A poet from north of Kentucky
Ran into a streak of bad luck. He
Tried to merge limerick
With haiku, a sad, grim trick
Now people hate him
© 2022 Michael’s Bad Poetry

When someone passes from our midst it’s appropriate for those who knew him to pass on what that person has taught them. I hope also to convey some part of his personality, to try to keep him around just a little bit longer.

I have to ask for your indulgence if the narrative is a bit disjointed as I put things together in the last day and a half. I have only had about two decades to prepare it, so I suppose the first thing to learn is: don’t procrastinate.

The second thing he taught was to enjoy words and logic. Growing up, if Deb or I would ask him “do we need to be home by seven, or eight?” he would reply, simply, “Yes”– because, logically, the statement evaluates “true”. And if we did not clarify, and guessed the wrong time, we were in trouble. Dad also did crosswords and puzzles right up the last few days; they helped keep his wits sharp.

He liked to tell a story about his elder brother, my uncle Warren. I’ll skip the details; Warren was taking over implementation of a complex development project for an investor—an agreement which, in today’s society, would likely have required several hundred pages from the legal department. In this instance, the two simply shook on the deal.

Warren was taken aback, and said, “Don’t you want me to sign something?” And the investor replied, “If your handshake’s no good, your paper’s not either.”

The lesson here is that people, and the relationships we build with them, are more important than the material goods of the world; and that your reputation is a valuable asset that you build when you treat people honestly and fairly.

After Dad retired, he worked part-time taking greens fees at a nearby golf course in South Florida. One of his favorite stories was about how, on a green near the clubhouse, a family of burrowing owls had moved in. This wasn’t a problem. The golfers left the owls alone, and the owls left the golfers alone.

One day, whoever is In Charge Of Such Things found out about the owls. The next day, a yellow chain was strung around the nest, and stakes were driven into the ground and fitted with large yellow signs stating, “WARNING: Protected Owl Habitat”.

Now, being one of the few owls that hunts in the daytime, the Burrowing Owl is somewhat skittish. The owls were scared off by the noise from the sign installation and were never seen again. Lesson four is a simple example of the Law of Unintended Consequences, and a message to always be slightly suspicious of authority.

Sometimes you know you’ve been given a lesson even if it’s not clear what it is. A few days ago, when Dad was still in the hospital, he told me that he loved me and that he was proud of me. I knew this; he has shown it in his actions ten thousand times or more. But I was unusually moved, and humbled, and grateful to hear it.

I’ve struggled to articulate the message in this. What if something had happened and he was never able to tell me? Shouldn’t we share this at every opportunity? Yet in some ways the message was so powerful because it was spoken aloud so rarely.

Finally I decided to let it be for now, and a sense of peace descended on me. At that point I realized that the fifth message was that, when you don’t know what to do, trust that a higher power will provide you with guidance and all will unfold as it should.

That was pretty heavy, and I won’t end on that, Pop wouldn’t like it. I’ll finish where I began, with his dry wit and love of wordplay, because that’s what I’ll remember most about him.

One afternoon about four years ago, Dad and I were having lunch at Sandy’s, a little Greek dive around the corner from his house. I had almost decided what I wanted, but the waitress was heading toward the table to take our order.

Now one thing you never want to do, when the waitress asks, “Do you need a little more time to look at the menu?” is say “Yes”, because if you do they are recalled to the Waitress Planet to await their next incarnation. So when she arrived and asked if we’re ready to order, I asked Dad if he was ready, and he said he was.

I told the waitress, “Start with him, and by the time he finishes, I’ll be ready. Dad: talk slow.” He nodded, looked up at the waitress, and slowly said, “B. L. T.” and looked back at me without a trace of guile in his eyes but also trying hard not to laugh.

Rest easy, Pop. You’ve earned it.

I was offered a job with Invisible Inc.
But I couldn’t see myself working there.