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Spread A Little Love

9 Feb

by Roger White

Seeing as how it’s Valentine’s season, let’s talk about love.

Love’s a funny thing, isn’t it? No matter how much of it you give away, love remains full and strong, always. If you chop love in half, each half will grow again to full measure, into whole complete love—because true love survives. Take my wife, for example. You thought I was going to say, “Take my wife, please.” Nah, that’s Henny Youngman’s line. The love I hold for my lovely wife, Sue, has matured and shaped itself into this wondrous, long-lasting deep and mellow love that will burn on like a mammoth firelog. Ya know, those giant firelog pits that you gather ’round at Zilker Park during Christmas season? It burns like that. The love I share with Sue is battle-hardened, scarred, weathered – and true. I never thought love could look so beat up and still be so amazingly beautiful. Our love looks like it’s been through a Hoboken subway tunnel, but it’s still there.

We’ve been through a lot, my wife and I, but we know that our love is a firelog love, always burning, keeping us safe and warm. I will love Sue always, and she knows that in her heart. We’re a firelog.

Now, my love for my daughters is a whole other can of love. Yes, it’s still love, but it’s the brand of love that makes me catch my breath with pride, clench my fists in stark fear, and weep quietly in the night over broken hearts. When I watch my daughter Lindsey play guitar or my daughter Jamie run like the wind, I want to jump and shout and tell the world about their talents, but I’m Dad so I just smile and say “all right!” To your kids, there’s nothing worse than embarrassing them in front of their friends, so you have to play it cool. But, man, I love those girls. Did I tell you that Lindsey makes her own jewelry and that Jamie can play volleyball like a manic octopus? Oh, I did already. Sorry. I have some pictures! Oh, you’ve seen those, too. OK.

Anyway, it’s funny how we bandy the word “love” about, when it is such a powerful and elusive thing. Love can curl itself into a ball and hide from you, run long and hard down the road with you chasing after it, or it can gob you right in the face like a melted marshmallow. You don’t have the controls. It does. But you must treat love with great respect and care, for if you lose it, your world will be corrupt and bitter and cold.

It sounds cliché, I know, but you must be careful with love. It’s the best thing we’ve got. Love is the power of the universe, but you have to use it wisely. You must nurture it, and stay faithful. It’s like a basketball filled with truffles. Bounce it lightly, or you’ll have a big mess. You can say you love your car or your job or your new tie, but that’s the Cliff’s Notes rendition of love. No, when we’re talking about real love, we’re talking about the engine that runs your very soul. If you are really in love with something or someone, it becomes a better part of you.

 So. Spread some love with a gentle butter knife. Wield it skillfully. I think that’s what we’re here for. That, and to render good music. Love, friends, music, and a little wine. That should be all you need. Yah?

…a basketball filled with truffles? whooo.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

I’ve Seen the Future, and It’s Full of Zebra/Ostriches and Couchmallows

5 Oct

by Roger White 

If you’re like me, you have these nebulous questions in your head about what you might call life’s little givens. And, if you’re even more like me, you ponder on whether these questions are substantial enough to bring up in public or simply leave unanswered for fear that said public will back away slowly from you and call for psychiatric assistance on your behalf.

Here’s an example of one of life’s little givens that I’ve been contemplating for many years—well, mainly since I was a little kid and personally watched Bobby Hayes run down a football field faster than anything I’d ever seen before. Is it a given that humans will continue to become faster, stronger, and more athletically refined indefinitely on into the endless future, or at least until our sun goes supernova and we all die a horrible, fiery death and cockroaches rule the planet? And even then, will cockroaches evolve into ever swifter, hairier, and more repugnant strains of roaches than their forefathers?

I mean, when I was a tyke, Hayes was earth’s fastest human, and at the time I thought there was no way anyone anywhere, with the possible exception of the dolphin people of the Andromeda Galaxy, would ever cover 100 meters faster than Bullet Bob. His world-record time of 10.06 at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 was topped only by his come-from-behind anchor leg in the 4 x 100 relay in those games, during which he ran so fast that several timers’ watches liquefied and Hayes’ track shoes actually disintegrated into smoke and dust. Surely, I reasoned, Bob Hayes epitomized the zenith of man’s quest for footspeed. Of course, I was wrong. Not only has that record been lowered time and again over the years, today (at least as of this writing) Usain Bolt of Jamaica currently holds the world record in the 100 meters at a genuinely insane time of 9.58 seconds. A two-ton station wagon dropped from the Empire State Building can’t fall that fast.

I guess my burning question is when do we reach a point of critical mass, or do we ever reach such a point? Will there be a moment in history when scientist types say, “Okay, 5.3 seconds is the fastest any human will ever run the 100 meters, ever. So stop trying, people. It’s over.” Or—and this is the scary part—will we humanoids keep stubbornly developing until some mutant guy built like a two-legged zebra/ostrich runs the 100 meters in 0.25 seconds in the year 2107?

Same goes for other sports. Do you remember the classic old tennis matches from the days of yore? Say, for example, those terrific Borg versus McEnroe battles. I recall being glued to the set during those epic bouts: Borg the automatic baseliner against McEnroe the tempestuous serve-and-volley master. Such exquisite tennis. Such creative expletives. Such objectionable hair.

Have you tuned into those old matches lately? Yesterday’s heroes, the very best in the world for their time, now look like juniors playing on a court of molasses. The ball moves so s-s-l-o-o-o-w-w-w-l-l-y. After years of exposure to today’s ever-cyborg-like game of one-shot points and 150-miles-per-hour serves, it’s difficult to watch the tennis of even a decade or two ago and not think, heck, I could beat those guys. (Well, not me personally, but  . . . ) Today’s top players are fashioned like Kareem Abdul Jabbar with Schwarzenegger arms, and they play with rackets designed by Lockheed Martin. In a few years, we may not have to actually play any matches at all. Each player in a tournament will simply e-mail his or her top service speed into a central computer, and winners will be determined scientifically. Headlines will read something like “McEnborger to Win Wimbledon Next Week.”

Ditto for football. Dipping into my childhood personal reference bag once again, when I was 12 I met Dallas Cowboys legend Bob Lilly at a savings and loan grand opening in my tiny hometown. It was 1972; the Pokes had just won Super Bowl VI a few months earlier. Here was big Bob, the All-Pro defensive tackle, six foot five and 260 pounds of gridiron god. To me, he was a human mountain. Today, you have high school and even junior high players weighing in at more than 350 pounds. Some pro teams charter a team plane just for the linemen and another plane for everybody else. Lilly might qualify as a running back these days, or maybe even a trainer. No offense, Mr. Lilly, please don’t hurt me.

Same applies to basketball. The real reason the NBA went on strike this year was to give basketball arenas around the country time to refit the goals to 18 feet high. This just might make dunking a trifle harder, but they’re not sure. They are also contemplating redesigning the hoop to be one inch smaller than the physical dimensions of the ball, just for fun.

Now for you astute readers with long memories and grudge-type personalities, this column does not contradict what I opined some time back about us all morphing into atrophied mushbrains due to our chronic over-exposure to computers and acute lack of physical movement. This is a two-pronged evolution. Just as there will be no middle class by the year 2107, there will also be no “normal, average humans.” You will be either a mutantly gifted zebra/ostrich or a mushbrained couchmallow. There will be no middle ground. Kind of like today’s political scene.

Fortunately for me personally, my best predictions show me not quite making it to 2107, so I don’t have to choose. But you whippersnappers out there best be thinking: zebra/ostrich or couchmallow? Either way, you’re probably going to need a new wardrobe.

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

It’s Not Just Me, Is It? It’s Too D@%* HOT!

19 Jun

by Roger White

I made the painful mistake of walking to the mailbox at mid-afternoon the other day. It was only about fifty feet, but it was June, it was Texas, and I was barefoot. What was I thinking?

At approximately ten feet from the mailbox, the soles of my feet on the sidewalk’s glowing surface began to feel like warm, spongy marshmallows, left in the Kraft bag in the sun during an ill-conceived summer campout. I might mention that my feet are as white and delicate as warm, spongy marshmallows left in the Kraft bag in the sun, also, but that’s beside the point.

By the time I opened the mailbox (only to find the usual, of course: a couple of bills; an obnoxious flier peppered with exclamation points informing me that I, yes, I, Mrs. Whites, had been selected as a guaranteed winner of either a Mediterranean vacation cruise, a 52-inch high-definition TV, or a back-scratcher provided I booked a weekend “get acquainted” stay at Lake Yerdozegawn Casino of Shreveport, Louisiana; and an official-looking letter from a Nigerian prince), my precious tootsies had gone from melting marshmallows to outright blackened s’mores. I tried to persevere—neighbors were about—but two steps from the mailbox and I started hightailing it back into the house, alternating between a dead run and a crab-stepping gait that would surely qualify for a grant from the Ministry of Silly Walks.

Sitting on the kitchen counter with my smoking dogs under the faucet, I pondered my predicament. This surely couldn’t be just a matter of advancing age and retreating tolerance, could it? Although I well remember running and biking and doing just about everything barefoot all summer long when I was a kid—and never really feeling that hot at all (jeez, did we even sweat then?)—I conclude that my burning bunions of late involve more than simple wrinkles-induced wimpiness.

It’s hot. Way. Too. Hot. I’m talking another planet hot. Though I noted at the beginning of this diatribe that it’s practically summer and I’m practically in Mexico, it’s never been this bad. When I look out my window and see the squirrels fighting the blue jays for bird bath privileges, I know something’s amiss. I never knew squirrels were such dead aims with acorns. I was also unaware that squirrels wore bathing suits. It’s just the cutest thing when they leave them to dry on the bird bath. And you should see their tiny little flip-flops.

Anyway, despite what noted scientists Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Ted Nugent (and their well-funded pals at Exxon and R.J. Reynolds) say, you can’t tell me our little globe is not heating up. As I write this, it’s still officially spring, but the thermometer on our back deck already passed away from heat exhaustion. Our front yard looks like beige shag from a ’70s bachelor pad, and our long-haired dachshund, Ralph, looks woefully at me and shakes his head when I tell him it’s time to go out and do his business. You ever try to make a dachshund wear a catheter? My wife gave him a serious summer haircut as incentive, but Ralph’s no dummy. He’s seen the squirrels.

Can’t you just envision the “deniers” in a few years, when the summer’s average daily high is 139 degrees? “Global warming’s a fraud. It’s been hot before. It’s been dry. I remember in 1977 during the ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ Tour, when mmmph…mlllmm” “Sorry, folks, that’s going to wrap up this press conference. Mr. Nugent’s microphone just melted.”

It’s bad, I’m telling ya. Unless there’s a swimming pool or slip ’n’ slide within arm’s reach, even the kids aren’t out. That right there should prove my theorem. If the kids aren’t playing, something’s really wrong. That’s the litmus test. Call it the kidmus test. It’s a deserted landscape out there. It looks like the Sahara Desert, or Mars, or even Cleveland.

Heck, if it weren’t for the invention of air-conditioned vehicles, we would all be stuck inside our homes and offices all day long, staring at computer screens and writing silly columns abou—. Never mind.

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.