Thursday, December 11, 2014

A White, Michael-Jackson Elvis

So there I was on Tuesday evening, minding my own business (I always mind my own business—that’s probably why I don’t have many friends), and in walks this guy who sits down next to me.

“Hi,” he says.

“Hey,” says I.

“I’m Chester, the NOLA sketch artist. Would you like me to draw a picture of you?”

“Um, sure,” I say. “Why not? How much?”

“Only a dollar.”

Sounds reasonable, I think to myself.

“Go ahead,” I say.

So he does.

While doing the sketch, he decided I put him in mind of a “white, Michael-Jackson Elvis.”

I can see that.

I tipped him nine bucks.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

From One Half-Brain to Another

Now, you two need to learn to play nice.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Delayed Gratitude

Were you thankful yesterday? When you fell into a deep slumber during the football game because of the overwhelming amount of food you had just consumed, were you appropriately grateful that you had had the good fortune to be born into this greatest of all nations on the face of the earth?

Yeah, that’s how they’d like you to feel. Hallmarkedly content and appreciative for the bounty bestowed on us by Big Daddy and Big Mama, aka Big Business and Mainstream Media.

But I don’t want to talk about that today. That’s a topic for another time.

Instead, I want to talk about those things I am struggling to feel grateful for.

Here is what happened to me this week to make me think this way today.

Wednesday afternoon, I stepped into Small Mart, the little convenience grocery store, down the street from me toward Esplanade Avenue to pick up a couple of yogurts.

Giorgio happened to be working that day. He was picking up some extra shifts by subbing for some of the other kids who wanted time off during the holiday season. Extra money a month before Christmas never hurts.

Now, Giorgio is this young guy, early-twenties-going-on-ten, friendly, eager to please. He asked what plans I had for Thanksgiving Day.

Without thinking, I said, “Well, Giorgio, at my age, on the holidays, you just sit in the house and look out the window.”

I thought he was going to cry.

I quickly assured him I was only teasing, that I had plans for meeting friends and celebrating the day in style. But, of course, I fully intended to sit in the house and look out the window.

And that is what I did.

And while I did that, I also thought.

I thought about those things for which we are taught never to be thankful. Those things that are supposed to be bad for us, that bring us down, that get in the way of our having a good time.

Like loneliness, for instance.

Loneliness isn’t supposed to be good for us. We have to fight it, beat it down whenever it begins to sneak up on us. Why?

Whenever I find myself feeling particularly lonesome, it is because I am recalling things—people, really—I no longer have.  My loneliness teaches me that we are all alone, no matter how many people we may crowd into our lives. Their raucous company distracts us and hides the truth from us: that what we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch are, each one of them, perceptions that belong to each of us alone; that when we sleep,we sleep alone; and when we die, we each shall die alone.

That’s life.

Regret is another bad thing we have to turn away from.

While Edith Piaf may have had none, and Sinatra a few, the rest of us are sure totin’ dat barge. I have found that the recollection of my past regrets encourages me to say yes more often than no to new possibilities as I grow older. There is less for me to fear with less time left to pay the price.

That’s life, too.

What about bitterness? Anger? So many negatives we have to banish from our lives! I’m not so sure such exorcisms are good for us. Babies build immunities by catching common illnesses. We will all be wounded one way or another in our lives. We need to accept that fact.

We should embrace it. Blood doesn’t flow from a carcass.

So in this holiday season, when we murmur the prayer, “For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful,” let us expand our expectations and gratitude to include more of what Life has in mind to give to us so that she might more easily mold us and enlarge us.

We’ll all be better for it.

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