Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years After

For the past week or so, numerous TV programs and newspaper articles have taken us back to that horrific day—September 11, 2001. Everyone has his or her personal memories of the event; where you were, what you were doing. Mine is of little difference from the majority of Americans on that fateful day nor is it particularly interesting, but I wanted to write about it anyway.

Harley, my black lab, and I had just turned from the driveway for our routine morning walk, when I heard a radio from somewhere, the volume on high. Turns out it was coming from the pickup of a bricklayer involved in new construction of a house across the street from mine. The announcer was saying something about a fire at the Pentagon.

Hmm, I think. Wonder what that’s about? Probably a faulty electrical system or sparks from a careless welder.

The dog and I covered the usual distance and as we returned from our loop, the radio voice, still blaring, said one of the towers of the World Trade Center had just collapsed.

What? What was that? Surely I didn’t hear it right. The World Trade Center? No way!

Inside, I click the TV and tune it to CNN. The screen is filled with an image of New York City enveloped in smoke and dust, gigantic dirty clouds billowing up and eastward, obscuring most of the buildings.

My mind seems unable to comprehend what my eyes are seeing.

That can’t be New York City. Can it? How can that be? This is the United States of America. We don’t lose entire cities. What the hell is going on?

The phone rang. My son asked, “Are you watching TV?”

I was, but it looked more like a horror movie or some video game than live television.

Soon, the replays began; the planes and the horrible collisions, the people jumping to their deaths to escape the flames, the gut wrenching collapse of the towers, Tom Brokaw explaining what I was seeing but didn’t want to believe.

When I began to hear of the panic that was sweeping across the country and the growing lines at gas stations, I called the Missus—who happened to be in Missouri at the time—to discuss the options. Knowing she could make the return trip to Tulsa on one tank of gas, she would fill up at the local pump before starting out. Running out of gas on the highway on this day could be a major problem.

Later, she called to say that the first station she tried did indeed have a long line of cars and people were already getting ugly, some jumping the line with shoving and shouting. A second station had only four cars in queue and she was able to fill the tank without incident.

Like most everyone else, I stayed glued to the TV for the next three days or so going from sad to angry to compassionate, unable to comprehend that someone or some group could do such a horrendous act.

Ten years later, I have the same feelings.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Losing It

One minute you have it in your hand and the next, it’s gone. Ever happen to you? No? Get ready. It’s coming.

It starts with the little things, a newspaper, a screwdriver, maybe a soft drink. You look at it, use it, drink it, set it down—just for a second—and it disappears. You didn’t lose it. Someone moved it, or worse, stole it. There’s no other explanation. How can a solid object vanish into thin air? It defies logic.

As you get older, the condition escalates. Instead of misplacing something simple like a pen, or the card with your doctor’s appointment, or God help you, the TV remote, now it’s the car keys and you’re running late and WHO THE HELL USED MY KEYS LAST?

Lately, I’ve been having a problem keeping track of my cell phone. Not so much misplacing it but actually losing the damn thing,  like it was on my belt and now it isn’t thing. Okay, so a couple of those times I did leave it in the car, but one day, I couldn’t find the phone anywhere. Yes, I tried calling it from a landline, running from room to room, checking the wife’s car, the pickup, over and over until the battery apparently went dead with nary a single ding-a-ling within earshot.

It showed up, eventually, where I’d dropped it on the floorboard of a relative’s car. But then, last week, same story. I retraced my previous day’s route and found it at the local Walgreen’s where some kind soul had left it at the counter.

Losing a cell is serious enough but consider this sad tale: It was the grand opening of a new Tractor Supply store right here in Sand Springs. Tractor Supply is a lot like an Atwood’s with all manner of things for ranch and farm, salt blocks, horse meds, fencing, things like that. The ad in the paper offered $10 off any purchase including bird seed, an item in which I was of dire need. Have to keep my feathered friends happy you know.

At the checkout, I open my wallet for my well-worn blue Visa card and…it’s not there. Surely I’ve misplaced it and not lost it. It has to be in there somewhere, behind something, in the wrong slot maybe. I’m digging and poking and the clerk is giving me one of those not another one of you people looks and I’m panicking. People are stacking up behind me with their own $10 off coupon and things are getting ugly. Luckily, I find enough one-dollar bills and pocket change to cover the charges and the management allows me to leave without a call to the Sand Springs Police Department. The credit card however, was gone.

All manner of scenarios are playing through my head on the drive home. Where did I use it last? Did it fall out on the floor somewhere and right this minute some dude is charging High Def TV’s, Play Station 3’s, and .357 magnums to my account? Got to call the bank, that’s the first thing. Cancel that baby out. But what if I get some guy from India named Ahmad and I can’t understand him and he gets mad and tells me in his little sing-song accent, “Mr. Williams, you are screwed”? Where does that leave me?

Back at the abode, drenched in sweat, and nervous as Mike Tyson reading a book, I lay all my cards on the kitchen table and go through them one by one. There’s my driver’s license, my AAA card, my medical card, my fishing license, my red Visa card, my Sear’s ca…wait a minute, RED Visa card? RED? It was one of those moments, senior moments we like to call them, but what we really mean is that dementia has us by the throat and the light is fading.

My blue Visa card you see, had expired, replaced by a shiny red one. Yes, I swapped it out but I hadn’t used it since, hence the mental lapse.

 However, I’m not ruling out an alien force, a mysterious laser-like beam from outer space, and able to cloud men’s minds. Don’t laugh. They’re gunning for you as well, and one of these days….

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Butt Honey, I Didn't Mean It!

It was a typical early evening here at the humble abode, sitting around, sipping a spooker, watching Brian Williams on the NBC Evening News, when I hear a call from the bathroom.

“There’s something wrong with my butt. Come take a look.”

Now I’ve been married to that particular butt for over fifty years and have seen it in a variety of conditions; clothed, nude, wet, dry, pale, shining, sun burnt, and chigger bit. I have seen it young, wrinkle free, and ahem…otherwise. At this stage in life, nothing about that butt could surprise me, or so I thought.

“Check out my right cheek,” says the Missus twisting for a better angle in the mirror. “It’s deformed.”

She was absolutely right. There was a notable difference between the left and right mound. The right, I hated to admit was, and how can I put this delicately, sagging. The left, admittedly but a shadow of its former 19-year-old self—first observed on a memorable wedding night in Kansas City—remained relatively perky. The right, however, was that of a much older woman, one in bad health and possibly suffering from malnutrition, seemingly belonging to some poor Jewish woman in a Nazi concentration camp.

But after thinking it through, a theory came to light. Since her accident with the broken right foot, that side of her body, from the waist down, had been without a lick of exercise, grown soft, and yes, saggy. The left, on the other hand was muscled up, toned up, and growing stronger by the day, probably due to that peculiar one-footed bunny hop up that she does going up and down the hallway. So strong in fact, that I have fears about her kicking my ass with her new Super Foot.

It was in that light, that I made my carefully measured response.

“Oh love of my life (or something to that effect) fear not. What you see is a perfectly natural condition due to your unfortunate accident, and with the proper care lovingly bestowed by your faithful husband, a little bit of professional therapy, and a reasonable amount of time from Mother Nature, your butt shall return to its natural beauty before you know it.”

Her reply? It was a direct quote from Joe Wilson, R-South Carolina, to President Barack Obama in the middle of his speech to congress.

“You lie,” she said.

She had me there.