Lord of the Flies

Some people hate spiders. Some people hate snakes. I like both spiders and snakes. What I don’t like are flies. Flies bring out the worst in me. If one fly buzzes around me, I turn into a crazed stalking killer until it’s dead. If there are more flies, I seriously start considering gasoline and matches…

When I was a boy, I detested flies. I used to walk around the outside of the house killing every fly I could. My dad thought I was nuts until he noticed we didn’t have as many flies getting into the house. I was a fly killing machine and would try to kill as many as fifty every day during the warmer weather. I became so efficient, I could snag a fly out of the air, shake my fist, then throw it as hard as I could into a wall or the sidewalk. If it was still alive after that, I put it out of its misery with my foot.

In my early life, I witnessed hundreds of flies on dead animals or just around the garbage cans. Our neighbors probably thought it was the garbagemen who were denting their metal cans but often it was a killing crazed boy going to town on any fly he saw.

I’m not a natural killer. If there was a spider in the house, I would catch it and let it go outside. If a bird was injured, I would nurse it to health. If I saw kids throwing rocks at squirrels or any other animal, I would defend the animal. If an innocent kid was getting beat up, I would jump to the aid of the innocent kid. If there was a fly that was simply alive, my eyes would glaze over, my inner demon would surface, and I stalked that fly until he or she was dead. Then I would search for its family.

I had a natural alliance with frogs, toads, and lizards. We had the same mission other than they would eat the flies…I just destroyed them.

When I was in the Mideast, I was more concerned about killing flies than killing the enemy…to a degree. There were more flies in that God-forsaken desert than anywhere I have ever seen. They were everywhere! When we built our latrine, I put a spring on the door so we could keep the flies out. It sure beat screaming at soldiers to close the door when they exited.

Why am I writing about flies? I’ll tell you why. When I woke up today and went to my little office, there was a fly. It was fast. It was bothersome. I eventually killed it. Then I realized it hadn’t been very fast at all. It was part of a large group of flies that somehow found their way into the house. I went to the kitchen and there were several flies buzzing around. I killed them. Then as I went through the living room, there were several more. I killed them.

Every twenty minutes or so, another fly would buzz around my head while I tried to work. I realized I had a problem. At first, I thought someone left a door or window open. After I killed about thirty, I realized they must’ve hatched in the house. I spent my entire day killing flies.

I’m now writing this post at about eight o’clock at night and my count is at 51 flies. I haven’t seen another one in the last half hour or so. I’m dreading the walk upstairs where my wife said she killed a couple more. I just know one is going to visit me when I lay down to sleep, just to torment me.

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The Playground

I should never read the news before I write a blog post. It has a tendency to bring me down and it’s difficult to try to be funny or even tell a heart-warming story after reading some of the craziness we live in today. Sometimes, I feel like I’m back on the playground. All the tit for tat verbal fighting reminds me of third-graders calling each other names. I’m watching friendships disintegrate over differences of opinion in politics as if we are being forced to choose one side or the other. I guess I missed the memo that said we had to do this.

I have friends on the left and friends on the right. I believe in some of what both sides are saying and also disagree with some of what both sides are saying. I will not disown any of them because we all come from different backgrounds that have led us to these opinions. Instead, I choose to respect everybody’s opinion, even if I think they teeter into the realm of make-believe. I’ve seen people take a fake meme and run with it as if it were a fact. We have been so bombarded with false information, it’s hard to know what to believe any more and getting exceedingly difficult to prove or disprove half of what’s being said. Heck, some people still choose to believe something even after it’s been disproved. They will believe that the facts were distorted only to falsely disprove their opinion instead of considering whether the facts may have been distorted to give them that opinion to begin with.

Most of the media outlets seem to have bias in one direction or the other. Freedom of the press has turned into opinion pushing mechanisms based on loose interpretations of facts without the benefit of proof. We are beginning to live in a world where loyalty outweighs right and wrong. We will choose one media outlet over another because we believe only that one to be telling the truth while the others are making things up.

Civil debates are becoming rare because they often turn into personal attacks and name-calling…just like the playground. The playground mentality is something we are supposed to outgrow with maturity, but instead, we are returning to the playground as adults. Most alarming of all, we refuse to be proven wrong, even if the facts are lined up against us.

1ST KID: You have a fat head!

2ND KID: Well, you have a skinny head like it got shrunk or something!

Next scene has the kids tussling on the ground, swinging and hitting each other until they get broken up. Then they reach for their hats and put them on. Amazingly, they have the same size heads and it takes them a minute to realize they put on the wrong hat. This fact doesn’t matter.

1ST KID: Gimme my hat before you stretch it all out with your fat head!

2ND KID: Make me!

This is the playground mentality. Kids will duke it out until they get broken up or one gets beat. What I forgot to mention is all the other kids choosing sides and egging them on. They also don’t care about the facts and make their choice by loyalty to one friend or the other. By the time they get to high school, most of the playground mentality is gone…or at least it’s supposed to be. Apparently, we just miss the playground so much we choose to live on it for the rest of our lives…at least lately.

Now please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying we shouldn’t fight for what we think is right. All I’m saying is that if we’re going to fight, base it on actual facts. Refrain from the name-calling and personal attacks. All that does is create an atmosphere where eventually nobody can hear each other over the hurt.

I apologize to all of you for being so down with this blog post. I also hope nobody misconstrues this writing to be an endorsement of one party or another, it’s not. Instead, I am directing this writing to everybody who has chosen sides without considering why the other side might have a different point of view.

We are supposed to be one nation, one people, and one big hope for the world. We are supposed to be a country that espouses freedom to include freedom of speech. It seems now we have become a country where we only respect your freedom of speech if it agrees with “me.” Otherwise, we want you to just shut up and accept what we tell you.

But Mr. Dazeodrew? How are we going to fix this? I’m glad you asked.

Maybe we should all exchange hats. If we keep an open mind, we might just find that we are all basically the same…people who wear hats. If we bar fitted hats for this exercise, we will find that all our hats are adjustable to fit most heads, we just have to be willing to adjust them…kind of like our opinions. Also, instead of getting angry when somebody hands us a hat that’s too small, we can accept that they just have a smaller head and adjust the hat to fit our own head without calling them names. They didn’t choose their head size just as you didn’t choose your head size. It’s not their fault.

The Dealer

In America, we have a lot of addictions. I’m not just talking about drugs or alcohol, but rather some of those “unspoken” addictions. During a break at work last night, I witnessed a deal go down that left me very uncomfortable. I was sitting at a table in the breakroom when one of my co-workers sat next to me. He always seemed like a good guy…that is…until the deal went down. Just after he sat, the dealer came into the room. This dealer was also a co-worker, but I never suspected how deep this American addiction went, until now.

She came in quietly as if she was going on break herself. She sat unassumingly at our table and smiled nervously. Up until now, I always viewed her as a very pleasant co-worker who always said “hello” and had a wonderful friendly attitude about work. My other co-worker was dressed smartly in a suit and looked very unassuming as well. They seemed like perfectly wonderful people without a problem in the world…that is, until the deal went down.

DEALER: Hi Laramie.

CO-WORKER: Hi Speedy.

Then they both looked at me as if I was an intrusion. I could suddenly feel the shift in the earth as I went from co-worker to suspicious person in seconds.

DEALER: Is he cool?

CO-WORKER: I’m not sure…Dazeodrew? Are you cool?

ME: Um, I guess so.

The truth is, I was getting scared. After they stared at me for a few seconds, the dealer pulled out a plain brown box and looked at me one final time. The look was intense. Gone was the pleasant smile, only to be replaced by a threatening look that I interpreted to be, “If you say anything, you’ll be swimming with the fish.” I knew I was in it now.

DEALER: Are you sure?

My co-worker took one last look at me before nodding at the dealer.

CO-WORKER: I’ll vouch for him.

Then the deal began. She reached into the box and began to pull out some small colorful boxes. I recognized them. This was much worse than I thought.

DEALER: Here’s your order.

CO-WORKER: Mmmm. I love the new Lemonade ones.

DEALER: Yeah, they’re really good, huh?

CO-WORKER: Did you remember the Samoas and Thin Mints?

DEALER: Of course.

CO-WORKER: Tagalongs?

DEALER (looking annoyed): Do you think I’m some kind of rookie at this? Yes, of course!

Then they both looked at me with those suspicious eyes.

DEALER: Do you want some?

ME: Um, no thanks…I’m good.

CO-WORKER: You need to get some…otherwise, how do we know you’re not a narc?

I almost folded under the pressure, but luckily was able to think fast.

ME: Um, I have granddaughters.

It was over. They nodded their understanding. I was safe from swimming with the fish.

If there is an American addiction, it’s Girl Scout cookies. I personally don’t know anybody who’s immune.

Care Kitty

I’ve written about my cat before. I’ve written how she acts more like a dog than an actual cat because she follows me nearly wherever I go ( sometimes to the point of annoyance) and comes running to me when I call her. She showed up the day after I had been diagnosed with cancer and stuck with me when I was declared all clear. Nearly every blog post I have written has been with her on my lap.

When I had cancer, the cat slept exclusively on my stomach, as if she were a healing bandaid that needed to be applied nightly. When I hurt my foot, she slept on my foot. When I have headaches…well, I draw the line there. Who can sleep with a cat on their head?

This cat answers when you talk to her…everytime. She vocally lets us know when she needs water, food, or to go outside to take care of her business. When outside, she’s either too kind, too lazy, too bored, or too scared to chase after other creatures. A bird could hop up to her nose and she would just look at it.

I know some of you are saying, “Yeah, yeah, Mr. Dazeodrew, we’ve heard all this before.” That may be true, but what she did last night made me look at her in even a newer light, a light that showed intelligence and compassion. She is entirely much smarter than even I realized after all of her previous actions.

I pulled up the final episode of “Criminal Minds.” I had been binging this show on both Netflix and On Demand for the past couple of months and surprised myself by becoming invested into the characters lives. Anyway, the final episode brought out some emotion in me…ok, I cried a little. As soon as I did, the cat’s head shot up from her napping position on my lap, she meowed in what seemed like alarm, and she crawled up my chest until her nose was inches from mine. She meowed softly and began to lick my cheeks where a couple tears had fallen. After she took care of them, she rubbed her nose on mine, then rubbed her cheeks on mine as if to dry them from both the tears and her licking. After this, she meowed again softly and returned to her rightful place on my lap.

The fact that this cat portrayed an almost motherly instinct with my emotions kind of blew me away. She obviously could care less what caused me to cry, but only knew I was crying and that she needed to comfort me. She showed the intelligence to figure out something wasn’t right and showed compassion when she figured I was sad. She acted more humanely than a large number of humans could even fathom in this world.

It’s obvious that this cat is a wonderful furry ball of love. Yes, I believe she loves me and in turn, I most definitely love her. So much for thinking I was a dog person…

International Hospitality

In the past couple weeks, my blog has grown extensively. Part of this growth has been readers from many different countries. Prior to this growth, I had some long time followers from Ireland, the Philipines, Canada, and occasional other countries, but now the list has expanded expansively!

I’d like to offer a warm welcome to my new readers from 59 other countries! I am truly blessed, humbled, and amazed that you would choose to read something I wrote! When I started this blog last summer, I told myself that I should be happy if I have at least a dozen readers daily. As the blog got around, I watched in amazement how it grew! I remember being so excited the first time I got 100 likes on a post. It really wasn’t that long ago.

In the past 7 days, I have had over 30,000 readers. Yes, that’s correct, 30,000 readers! Each post is generating over 1000 likes, loves, tears, and other expressions for the past couple weeks, with one post even going over 2000 reactions! To be totally honest, I am blown away!

To all of you who have read my blog, liked my posts, shared my posts, and generally just responded in any sort of way…THANK YOU!!! To those of you from countries other than my own who have taken the time to see a view of the world from this American, THANK YOU!!! And lastly, to those of you who have just clicked on the posts to make me happy, THANK YOU!!! Granted, it would be nice if you read a post or two, but I’m still grateful for your support. I’m beginning to think I might be on to something with my writing for a change. Anyway, THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU!!! I love you all and am eternally grateful!

Well, what began as an intent to write just a couple sentences of thanks has now just about become a blog post in itself since my average post length is around 600 words and I used 300 words expressing my undying thanks to all of you. I guess I might as well keep going now.

To commemorate the new group of international readers, I will attempt to say “thank you” in as many other languages as I can. I apologize in advance if I miss one, but we can just blame that on my translator app. Here we go!

Dankie! Faleminderit! Shukraan Lakum! Shnorhakalut’yun! Eskerrik asko! Dziakuj! Dhan’yabada!

Hvala ti! Blagodarya ti! Gracies! Salamat! Zikomo! Xiexie! Grazie! Hvala vam! Dekuji! Tak skal du have!

Dank je! Dankon! Aitah! Salamat! Kiitos! Merci! Dankewol! Grazas! Gmadlobt! Danke! Sas efcharisto!

Abhara! Mesi! Na gode! Mahalo! Dhanyavaad! Ua tsaug! Koszonom! Daalu! Terima kasih!

Go raibh maith agat! Arigatogozaimashita! Matur nuwun! Dhan’yavadagalu! Raqmet sizge!

Saum arkoun! Gamsahabnida! Spas dikim! Rahmat saga! Khob chai! Gratias tibi! Paldies! Aciu!

Vi blagodaram! Misaotra anao! Terima kasih! Nandi! Grazzi! Kia mihi! Dhan’yavada! Bayarlalaa!

Kyaayyjuutainpartaal! Takk skal du ha! Dziekuje Ci! Obrigado! Tuhada dhanavada! Multumesc! Spasibo!

Faafetai! Tapadh leat! Hvala vam! Kea leboha! Waita hako! Obata stutiyi! Dakujem! Mahadsanid!

Gracias! Hatur nuhun! Asante! Tack! Sipos! Nanri! Dhan’yavadalu! Khx khxbkhun! Tesekkur ederim!

Dyakuyu! Rahmat! Cam on ban! Diolch! Enkosi! Adank! E dupe! Ngiyabonga!

Wow! That’s a lot of language right there! God really did a number on us when we tried to build that “Tower of Babel,” huh?

I apologize to everybody where I did an awful job with the translation and grammar. I know a lot of the letters are way off, but to do it right, I would’ve had to change my keyboard settings over and over…and over…and over…and yet over and over. I also know that if your device, computer, tablet, cell phone, etc. has some kind of spellcheck, you’re looking at a lot of red underlines right now. Sorry.

Even though I did a hatchet job on your language, my sentiment of thank you is real. THANK YOU SO SO SO MUCH!!!

Snopek

I’ve written before how music influenced my early life. When I was just a teenager, it wasn’t just famous bands that colored my early world, but some local bands as well. One of these bands was called “Snopek,” named for the genius musician Sigmund Snopek.

While his music isn’t just confined to this one band, it was this band that I went to see at least a dozen times in my youth. Some of the songs that remain in my mind to this day are “Hamburger Holocaust” and “First Band to Play on the Moon,” as well as “Kathleen.” There was a twist of humor in many of the songs that led me to look into this musician further at the time.

I remember my excitement when I scored an album called “Virginia Woolf” that was composed by Sigmund Snopek. It remains one of my favorite albums to this day. The intelligent intertwining of the instruments created an eerie sound that appealed to me so much. It was obvious that this musician had great talent beyond a local garage band. This was proved when I learned he wrote entire classical compositions that were performed by symphonies. In a nutshell, God gave this man a talent that went beyond Milwaukee. He definitely became one of my favorites.

Unfortunately, I left Milwaukee at a young age and never saw him perform again. Lately, now that my years have advanced some, I have searched for him on YouTube and found a wealth of music with him involved. I was pleasantly surprised to find he performed with another favorite Milwaukee band “Violent Femmes.” I have spent hours combing the internet for his music and have not been disappointed.

Along with his serious works, this man has found a way to spin his humor into many compositions. I love his humor. I know if I ever had the chance to see him perform again, I would do it. Since I now live in the Pacific Northwest, those chances are slim if even possible at all.

If I ever had a chance to express my feelings to him, I would tell him how his music played such a big role in my young life and the joy he brought me and my friends when we needed joy the most. I only wish I could’ve seen more of his musical genius live when I had the chance.

In closing, I’d like to talk about how his band closed with a song he didn’t write but made his own in his own way. Almost every performance back when I was younger was finished with a Beatles song “I Am The Walrus.” It’s easy to get into this song while listening to it on an album, cd, cassette, internet, or whatever, but to see it performed live and performed very well was priceless. I knew I would never see the Beatles live because I was too young for that, but Snopek always granted my wish by making it a highlight of their concert. I think one of the best parts was when we, as the audience, would chant “everybody smoke pot, smoke pot, smoke pot” during the chorus. Good times.

Mr. Snopek, thank you for being a part of my life that I remember so fondly. Even though you are not internationally known by everybody, except people who know talent when they hear it, you should’ve been. Thank you for sharing the genius you were given.

Greater Love

Do you ever read or watch the news and just shake your head? Have you ever felt embarrassed by how another person in your orbit acts? Do you ever say anything light-hearted and the person you said it to gets all offended? Do you ever wonder why somebody with a higher profile gets away with murder when you know if you tried what they tried you would get locked up because you’re not as “special” as they are? Have you ever wondered why it’s ok to lie in public nowadays when it used to be wrong and people called you out on it? I do.

Today, a bunch of high profile criminals were pardoned by the president. No, this is not a political piece. It’s just an example of privilege. If you or I had done what they did, it wouldn’t matter. We would still be rotting away in prison. Pardons are for the rich and powerful. Yes, there are examples of pardons for people who turned out to be innocent or when a prison sentence far exceeds the crime, but those are few and far between. I wouldn’t bet a nickel that I would get a pardon in a case like that.

In a country that promotes that all of us are equal, we sure have a lot of inequality. Just ask most any minority. Just ask that single parent working two jobs so they can feed their children. Just ask most women. I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. Most of us are deemed unimportant until voting time and even then we really don’t count as much as we think we might. Land of the free only seems to apply to some.

Please don’t get me wrong…I love my country. I served in the military and during a war. I believe in my constitution and I believe in what our forefathers tried to build. Seriously though, do you really think our society now is what they dreamed of? Do you really think our elected leaders truly listen and represent us? Or perhaps, do they prefer to listen to the privileged donor that gave them six figures towards their election campaign in the hope that they’ll donate again? I don’t think my $10 contribution really impresses them much.

It is not my intention to start an argument with this. It’s more my intention to express my own personal feelings and ask other’s the same questions.

The other day, I was reading the news and the top story was about what’s going on in Washington DC. The next story was about the coronavirus. Then it was followed by some very very important news about the Kardashians. Guess which story had more views?

It’s been said that when we do and say nothing, we’re as guilty as those who do and say something wrong or unethical. I fully agree with this. Just look what happened during World War II. Don’t be fooled into thinking we truly learned anything from that. There will always be unethical and evil people…there always have been. There are a lot more sociopathic and psychopathic people than we realize. Some of them are in positions of power over us. We are always in danger of being sheep led to slaughter.

I apologize for the lack of humor in this post. Sometimes it’s difficult to be funny when you worry for your children and grandchildren in a world that’s moving in the wrong direction.

Not too long ago, one of my veteran brothers took his own life. He obviously didn’t see this world as a place he wanted to live in anymore. This is a man who as a boy decided to sacrifice his youth by risking his life for his country. He served all of us well. I wonder how many of our “leaders” are or were willing to offer their lives for what they believed in? They talk about serving, but when it comes down to it, would they offer their life? I wonder about this.

It says in the Bible that “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13). It doesn’t say dedicate…it says “lay down.”

Maybe if more of our leaders felt this way, we might finally be truly equal.

Who's watching? (Criminal Minds)

About 4 months ago I took a job for fun. I’ve been enjoying it so far and I plan to stay for a while. I never mentioned it on any social media platform but it seems that social media figured it out all by itself. That’s scary.

Everything in life is so intertwined right now. If you go to a store and buy a vacuum cleaner, suddenly the ads on your social media show vacuum cleaners. If you buy socks, the ads are about socks. If you comb the internet looking for a cure to an itch on your arm, suddenly you’re deluged with ads for skin products. Nothing is private. Companies sell your information to other companies and in this age of technology, it’s almost instantaneous.

Even people with very little social media imprint are affected. I believe one term for this is “information farming.” Somewhere in the deep dark places of cyberspace, there is access to everything you like, don’t like, what you’re like, and who you like. Sounds like some of the conspiracy theorists have been right all along. We’re being watched.

If you don’t believe me, go shopping. Go to Target or Walmart and buy something with your credit or debit card. It won’t be long before an ad pops up touting the very thing you bought. Seriously, I’m not kidding about this. Go to a car dealership and check out new cars. After this, just go home and review them online. Oh, you won’t have to search…the ads will come up all by themselves.

This is scary. Something out there knows more about us than we know about ourselves.

On the flip side, it’s hard to be a bomber. If you do any kind of search about bombmaking, something out there is recording everything you search. Imagine an episode of Criminal Minds…

PENELOPE GARCIA: Ok, my loved ones, I found the bombmaker.

PRENTISS: Good work, Garcia. Send us the info.

PENELOPE GARCIA: Oh, yuck yuck yuck! He also has a penchant for looking at women’s underwear!

SPENCER: Statistics show that 95% of bombers look at women’s underwear.

ROSSI: I was once married to a woman who wore women’s underwear.

HOTCH: Wheel’s up in thirty!

JJ: Hotch? What’re you doing here? You’re not part of the team anymore!

DEREK MORGAN: All of us who used to be on the show have banded together to become your arch-nemesis’s.

SPENCER: Statistics show that 95% of former actors from a successful show secretly seek revenge on the current show’s actors.

MATTHEW & LUKE (in unison): We’ll fight all of you!

DEREK MORGAN: I don’t think so. Besides, they had to bring in two of you hunks to replace me, the original hunk.

PENELOPE GARCIA: Oh oh oh! Now we have three delicious hunks! That’s literally too much hunkiness! Garcia out!

ROSSI: I was once married to a woman who had three delicious hunks on the side.

STEPHEN WALKER: I know…I was one of them.

PRENTISS: SSA Walker! But…you’re dead!

STEPHEN WALKER: Like you should talk about dying and coming back to the show!

SPENCER: Statistics show that 95% of formerly dead…

HOTCH: SHUT UP! Why did I think coming back was a good idea?

SPENCER: I think it’s time for one of my frequent sabbaticals.

SPENCER’S MOM: Spencer! I remember you! Let me hug you…mmmmm!

SPENCER: Mom! That’s Derek Morgan!

SPENCERS MOM (in a sultry voice): I know…I mean, um…

DEREK MORGAN: Get off me!

Suddenly Penelope Garcia comes flying into the room and delivers a forearm to Spencer’s mom.

PENELOPE GARCIA: That’s my dark chocolate, you psycho…

SPENCER: Statistics show that…

EVERYBODY: SHUT UP!!!

BOMBMAKER: Hey? What about me?  Will I still get paid for being the bad guy in this episode?

TARA: Only if you make it your special mission to destroy the BAU and appear in future episodes.

ROSSI: I was once married to a woman who appeared in multiple episodes.

BOMBMAKER: Forget it…

Anyway, in many ways, we are all being watched and our interests, buying habits, search results, living patterns, and generally any imprint we make in life is being recorded somewhere in the deep dark recesses of the internet. Good luck.

Sister Christian

If you read some of my other blog posts, you would know that the 1970s were a party for me. The party didn’t end until I joined the army in the early 1980s. For my wife, however, the 1970s and early 1980s were a different kind of time. It was the time for the Jesus Movement, Keith Green, Amy Grant, and an awakening in this country for many Christians.

My wife was not born into a Christian family. She found God on her own when she was a girl and realized the only way to break out of her dysfunctional family was to find some function elsewhere. She found it with the Jesus loving hippie movement. They became her new family.

She attended church, joined the youth group, and generally broke away from her family by moving in with a Christian family when she was still a teenager. It was also another way to finally attend a single school during a school year instead of moving around and attending up to three. She needed some stability in her life and this seemed to be the answer.

As in the case of many youth groups, whether Christian or not, things seemed to be somewhat exaggerated or taken beyond a literal sense. Her group was fully convinced they were living in the end times and that Armageddon was right around the corner. This also prompted them to live life the best they could so they could be ready. There were some drawbacks, however…

YOUTH PASTOR: The end times are near, are you ready?

YOUTH: How near?

YOUTH PASTOR: Um, very near. The signs are all over the place…

YOUTH: Signs? You mean like a billboard or something? I didn’t see that sign…(then turning to the other youth) did anybody else see the sign? (A bunch of shaking heads). Nobody saw the sign…where is it?

YOUTH PASTOR: Not that kind of sign! Signs, like in fulfilled prophecies and such…

YOUTH: Is there, like, a timeline or something? Can I skip my homework?

YOUTH PASTOR: No, there isn’t. Nobody knows what hour it will happen…

ANOTHER YOUTH: But you said it was near?

YOUTH PASTOR: Yes, it is.

ANOTHER YOUTH: But you don’t know how near? Like, will it happen before the next Star Wars comes out? (This caused some deep concern and murmuring amongst the others).

YOUTH PASTOR: Like I said, nobody knows…

YET ANOTHER YOUTH: God wouldn’t stop us from the next Star Wars, would He?

YET AGAIN, ANOTHER YOUTH: What about Rocky? I heard they were coming out with a sequel!

YOUTH PASTOR: I think you’re all putting your priorities in the…

VARIOUS YOUTHS: Really? Star Wars? Rocky? What kind of God would do this? Could it happen tonight? What do we need to pack? Should I get my hair re-feathered?

Well, all of you readers can relax. I know you were on the edge of your seats wondering if these poor kids ever got to see Star Wars again! Like I said, relax. The Youth Pastor was right about one thing…nobody knows when it will happen…including him, obviously.

Now, these kids weren’t being weak in their faith, they were just being kids. When you’re young and not worn out by life yet, it’s easy to get excited by multiple things. When you get to be my age, it needs to be a singular thing and fully in the moment…like, “I’m so excited I remembered why I came into this room!” Of course, this is usually followed with, “Um, now what?”

Something similar happened with Y2K. So many people were convinced that the world was going to end and Armageddon would begin. Computers were supposed to crash, missiles were supposed to launch out of control, nuclear plants were going to meltdown, and electrical grids were going to go haywire, leaving us all in the dark. Preppers were now sought out by previous skeptics and food and water supplies were fortified in many homes…to include my wife’s.

When I first started dating my wife, it was a couple weeks after Y2K. One of her pastor’s was convinced the entire country was going to fall apart and that people needed to be prepared. The way I see it, it was good advice to be prepared for the worst. Stocking up on food and water is always a good thing. Of course, you should stock up on things you’ll actually eat…

ME (looking in my soon-to-be wife’s kitchen cupboard): Wow…that’s a lot of spam…

SOON-TO-BE WIFE: Yeah, that was for Y2K.

ME: Well, I guess there’ll be a lot of spam delicacies on the menu.

SOON-TO-BE WIFE: No, there won’t be. I won’t eat spam.

Well, it turns out my kids and I would, so we cleaned out the spam cupboard in a matter of months. You’d be amazed at the many variations you can come up with to eat spam! The only mistake I made was singing the Monty Python Spam song to my kids as a joke…isn’t it amazing how they’ll forget you told them to clean their rooms, but they will NEVER FORGET A STUPID SPAM SONG!?! The song got more tiresome than the actual spam did.

Be Prepared

When I was very young, I wanted to join the Cub Scouts. My parents said no because of the costs (we were very poor) and because my mom somehow heard that she would have to host kids at our house on occasion. Being a deaf mother, this would be stressful for her. So I waited.

When I turned 11 years old, I wanted to join the Boy Scouts. Unfortunately, we were still poor and my mom still couldn’t get the hosting thing out of her mind. So I waited.

When I was 15 years old, my best friend was part of the Boy Scouts and my mom liked my best friend so I got the go-ahead to join, so I did. It turned out to be nothing like I expected.

I mentioned in an earlier blog post that alcohol was a large part of the culture when I was young. As teenagers, we were always trying to get some beer or any other kind of liquor. Even in the Boy Scouts, we were always looking for something to alter our senses, especially us older kids.

On my second weekend campout with my troop, we headed down to Illinois for the Grant Pilgrimage in Galena. We had a beautiful campground, but we were distracted with the fact that the town was only 15 miles away. None of us had a car and a hike at night was out of the question. What we did have, however, was a lethal bottle of Plum Brandy…

The first night, we each tried a sip of the brandy and it was some of the worst garbage we had ever drunk! It was just awful and we like brandy in Wisconsin. One of the kids had stolen it from his parents and said they wouldn’t miss it because it had been sitting there for years. We now knew why.

The next day, we drove into town and walked around a bit. A couple of us met some girls and they invited us to a party that night in town. Of course, we acted cool and said we’d be there. When we got back to the campsite, we made our plan.

Dinner that night was hot dogs, baked beans, and chips. We had a lot of baked beans. It was one of our Scoutmaster’s favorites. He would have 3 or 4 helpings every time we camped. Then all of us would regret it the rest of the night, but that’s not the story. It’s what we did with the Plum Brandy that makes the story. Yup, the whole bottle went into the baked beans. We were too young and inexperienced with alcohol to realize we could get caught. Fortunately, our Scoutmaster didn’t notice the liquor, but he sure liked the baked beans!

SCOUTMASTER (on his third serving): Who made the baked beans?

ME: Oh, we all kind of helped.

SCOUTMASTER: These are the best I’ve ever had!

ME: Have some more then!

He didn’t notice that the rest of us were avoiding the baked beans (we all agreed to take very tiny portions and throw it out at the end). He ate 5 servings before patting his stomach and sitting back with a look of contentment. Now, all we had to do was wait. We didn’t have to wait long. About an hour after the beans, he began to yawn. This part was normal because he liked to take naps or if he didn’t get one, he went to bed early. What we were trying to avoid was him getting up at any loud sound. We needed him to sleep.

Sure enough, he announced he was going to bed early and that we needed to behave and put the fire out when we went to bed. He was one of those relaxed Scoutmasters. He crawled into his tent and we waited for the sounds we knew would come. The first ripping snore seemed to move the flaps of his tent and we knew it was time. We sent our smallest boy into the tent and after a minute or two, he emerged victoriously with the car keys. He also had a foul look on his face.

LITTLE SCOUT: Man, those beans are really working!

ME: He’s down for the count?

LITTLE SCOUT: Yeah, and he’s counting out his butt!

We all laughed, reminding each other to laugh quietly. It was time for the rest of the plan. We picked the tallest of us to drive and we took his car into town without any problem. We found the party and had fun for about an hour before the fight happened. Apparently, we were not as welcome as those girls led us to believe. We left before we could get in worse trouble and drove back to the campsite. I did the driving back because it was obvious our designated tall guy couldn’t handle his beer. I don’t think I was in too much better shape, but I got us back. Then we slipped the keys back into the reeking tent and sat around the campfire rejoicing in our cleverness. It was about midnight when our Scoutmaster woke up and emerged from the tent.

SCOUTMASTER: Hey, can you guys keep it down? I haven’t been able to sleep at all with all your noise, so I know you’re bothering the other campers.

ME: Um, yes sir.

SCOUTMASTER: Hey! Are there any more of those baked beans left?

Yeah, we were delinquents. Yeah, we got away with it that time. Yeah, it makes for a funny story now. I do, however, still feel guilt over what we did to that poor man. He obviously loved us and devoted so much time to us (he couldn’t have kids of his own) so it was a shame we took advantage of him, but that’s what kids do. They pull the rope as far and as tight as they can pull it before getting caught. We just happened to pull our rope with a car and made it stretch 15 minutes away!