It was eight years ago this month that the Rusty Goat came into being. I swear it was an accident, not premeditated nor a random item on my bucket list that I wished to fulfill. I was just a suddenly single, over the hill west Texas cowboy who had begun to venture out into the world of dating. I had set out to find the perfect woman, something I’d not managed to accomplish in the fifty something years I had been roaming this earth.
Being inexperienced with the dating game, I did the only thing I knew to do. I began searching for the perfect woman in, of all places, a bar. No, I never found her, but night after night I’d come home with a story to tell, not that there was anyone here to listen to it. So, at the suggestion of a friend or two, I began telling my weekly stories on the internet. And as they say, the rest was history.
It started out with a few hundred stopping by the Rusty Goat website every week, then as time passed, a few thousand became a few hundred thousand. I haven’t been keeping track, but I believe around .3.5 million folks stopped by my site last year to see what the fictitious Saturday night dancehall cowboy has been up to.
It’s true. I have held a thousand women or more out there on the dance floor, and I confess I enjoy sharing that with most anyone who will listen. But when the dust settled on the dance floor and the lights went out, I had not found the perfect woman, just lots of stories to tell. I gave it up…the boot scooting and the woman chasing, though not for the reason you would think. I enjoyed my freedom, much like a wild mustang on the open range. I cherished the adventures. I constantly made mental notes inside my little brain as yet another story took shape on another Saturday night. Perhaps I had long given up the idea of actually finding a woman. It was the search for another story that kept me going back.
The Good Lord had allowed me to flitter around all my life, living as I pleased, and I did without so much as a thought about where my life might eventually wind up. But there came a time right there in amongst the dancing that I began to feel a change working its way throughout my body and mind. My online following continued to grow and I began to realize that perhaps there was something more I should be sharing with the world besides my silly stories. Week after week as I typed one tale after another about one crazy woman or another, I felt I was sharing nothing more than empty words, yet I continued onward.
What happened next would take a book to tell in its entirety, but short and simple, stubbornly as I plunged forward, my Creator grew impatient with my reluctance to change my ways. So, He changed them for me.
I set out on a new adventure, walking in sunlight even on the cloudiest of days. I moved the radio dial from the country station to Christian contemporary. I started reading my Bible. I went to church every Sunday. And I prayed. It never occurred to me to pray for myself so I prayed for others who needed God’s attention the most. I didn’t know if my prayers were working or not, I didn’t ask the people I prayed for if they’d noticed a change in their lives…seemed an odd thing to do. Then one night I did something different. I prayed for myself, as selfish as it seemed at the time. And things started happening…good things.
I sit here eight years later and ponder the thought that I’d never imagined myself being where I’m at today. I never thought I’d write a book or four. I never thought I’d ever see a day that I wasn’t in debt, yet today I owe no man on this planet a dime. Well, I did get the electric bill in the mail today, but that’s about the extent of my obligations. I never imagined a time would come when I didn’t have to get out of bed and go to work. I still do, but it’s because I lack good sense. I never thought I’d live a day without stress or worry, but since I gave all that to the Lord, I don’t fret much. Unless I break my e-cigarette right at bedtime and have to suffer until the next day. Come to think of it, I never thought I’d ever give up smoking…or drinking. Never was much of a drinker though. Most of all, I never imagined that a day would come when I’d have the privilege of being a full-time single father. It is perhaps the biggest blessing I’ve received in my entire life. God put the perfect little woman in my life…my daughter. What more could possibly be just around the next bend in the road?
So, what are you waiting on? Say a prayer. Say it for yourself and see what happens in your life!
With author Rodney Strange
*Author's note: I wrote this last year during the 'Bathroom Bill' controversy in Georgia and with my home state of Texas tackling the issue in its current legislative session, I thought it was good for a rerun...enjoy.
I guessed it was probably around midnight as I pushed and shoved my way through the crowd toward the restrooms. The bar was packed beyond capacity, I was certain, filled not with the typical Saturday night wannabe cowboys and lonely women, but with rowdy football fans. Tension was high with a Texas Tech win over the Oklahoma Sooners and scores of fans sporting their teams' logos raised their voices over the blaring music, each determined to outdo the other. Me...I just wanted to pee.
As I approached the restrooms, my mouth fell open as I caught sight of a line of women stretching from the far side of the bar to the door of the women's' room. Women stood squirming in a never ending line waiting their turn. I forcefully pushed my way through the line after several polite attempts to pass failed, the frantic, fairly intoxicated females apparently fearing I would try to cut in. Once I had cleared that obstacle, I was relieved to find a somewhat shorter line leading to the men's' room. After a fifteen minute wait, I finally found myself inside the tiny room where at least thirty people were crowded against each other, impatiently waiting their turn. In the din of agitated voices, my ears caught several shrill, screechy voices above the rest. Women! A dozen or more drunken chicklets had taken their stand inside our restroom, giving up hope of ever making it into the women's' room. It would be a new experience for me, but I needed to pee, having reached my limit of two beers.
Another fifteen minutes later, I found myself face to face with a urinal. With a sigh of relief, I assumed my position. A huge Sooner fan at the urinal beside me squirmed his way back and a cute little blonde suddenly appeared in my peripheral vision, quickly squeezing her little hiney into the urinal, her stare stoically focused on the floor beneath her. I froze. I mean, literally froze.
'I can't do this!' I thought to myself, 'try...you need to pee!'
I glanced over my shoulder as a petite brunette began goading my rear with a half empty beer bottle.
Sweat formed on my forehead. Relax, I told myself. Still nothing.
"Why aren't you peeing?"
It was the blonde beside me, intently staring.
"You're watching me?"
That's about as far as I should go with that story. Restrooms are a sore subject right now and I don't want to get into any trouble. Folks are losing their jobs over restroom talk. It may come to beheadings and crucifixions and I'm really not ready to lose my head over potty talk. I'm just a storyteller and this particular story is the one that comes to mind in light of all the hoopla in recent weeks. But the point I want to make with this tale is...even though this event took place at least five years ago, it is still fresh on my mind. Out of all the times I peed in that particular restroom in that particular bar...it is this memory that comes to mind. I am a full grown man. A smoking hot twenty-something-year-old intoxicated chick dropped her britches and peed not more than twelve inches from me. And I'll never forget it. Perhaps I'm scarred for life.
But we can't talk about that. So, let's go this route. I personally don't believe that collectively we have the kahunas to stand up and protest this current fiasco. I don't think that we in mass unison, will refuse to shop at Target or use Paypal or terminate our business ventures with any of the other businesses who have risked everything for a man's right to pee where he deems appropriate. I believe Springsteen concerts will still sell out and I think millions will still tune in Nashville every week even thought Connie doesn't feel comfortable filming in Tennessee anymore because they're not 'potty friendly.' It saddens me to say this, but America has been steamrolled by dudes in skirts and tights.
Now, bear with me. If I sneak down to the lake and cast a line, knowing I don't have a fishing license, I know what my penalty is if I get caught...a fine. If the city cops ever catch me doing sixty out by the cemetery where the speed limit is fifty, I know the penalty...a fine. There's nothing wrong with fishing or driving sixty miles an hour. It's just that somewhere along the way, the 'powers that be' determined that if they said there was something wrong with it...we should all just go along. We all still go fishing and we still speed, and we know we'll pay the fine if we get caught.
If voicing our opinions about men using women's restrooms is wrong, then fine us! Don't destroy a man's career because he spoke his mind, a right afforded us under the constitution. Pass your damn laws! Make it a crime to speak out! Then punish us under the full extent of the law. Until then...shut up and let us be!
In the meantime, I firmly believe that any person who voices their opinion concerning restrooms, who is harassed, bullied, terminated from employment, and ultimately destroyed...is the subject of discrimination, every bit as much so as those some of you spend so much time fretting over about where they should get to pee. We cannot allow discrimination to be indiscriminate. If we don't stand on this...there will be no stopping point...none! It is absolutely ludicrous for anyone to think that something that has been deemed morally wrong by society since the beginning of civilization as we know it will suddenly be accepted with open arms, no questions asked...just because someone tells us it is now okay. Are we as a society really that freakin' stupid? Lord, I hope not!
Those of you who've followed my stories all these years already know this, but for some of the folks who have recently begun following along, you may not know who I used to be. Well no, I figure you really don't care and no, I never was somebody famous. But up until a couple of years ago, I was the one your husband always wished he could be...secretly, of course. I was a legend around these parts, a Saturday night cowboy who lit up the faces of thousands of single women over the course of several years worth of Saturday nights. I'm not embellishing one bit when I tell you I've held thousands of women in my arms out there on the dance floor. Quite a number of them fell in love with me and I fell in love with them all. That was my problem...I never could bring myself to let go of all those women to love just one. Looking back, I figure it was mainly because out of all those women, I hadn't met the right one. I suppose I'd still be out there searching for the perfect woman at this moment if things hadn't turned out the way they did.
It was the prophet princess who warned me of a change in my life. She was by far prettier than all the women I'd met along the way, and in the course of a conversation one night, I mentioned that I couldn't understand how, out of all the women I'd met, I'd not found one who was a keeper. That's when she took my hand and stared at me with her sky blue eyes and said,
"God has something He needs you to do first."
I spent a full two years wondering and waiting on God to tell me what I needed to do, and in the process I found myself letting go of the life I had been living. I started venturing into the church building on Sunday morning, something I'd not done in all my adult life. I gave up the bar on Saturday night, didn't even have a single beer in the fridge, and I quit smoking. I curtailed my cussing and read my Bible. As time passed, I began to realize I was not the man I used to be...and still, I waited.
And one day the wait was over. The Good Lord gave me my biggest assignment. There never has nor ever will be another of this magnitude...the biggest blessing of my lifetime. It was that day the winds of fate changed me from an ex-Saturday night woman chasing cowboy into a full-time single parent. That same fate brought a fifteen-year-old girl, who had only known her daddy on a part-time basis, into his home to live. And life has not been the same since that day!
I hear these comments all the time, "She's a single mother...I just don't know how she does it!" Well, I have the answer...A) She's a mother and B) She's a woman! I would never make light of any single mother's challenges, but dammit...try doing all this when you're a man! I'll be the first to confess we aren't built for this! No longer can I just nuke a chunk of smoked sausage in the microwave and call it supper. I have to cook! Laundry is no longer two small loads on a Saturday morning...it's two hefty loads every night! Things constantly disappear, like nail clippers and tweezers...and my money. I have to be social, no not at the bar...at volleyball games with all the other moms, married I must add. I fold clothes that I can't identify, scrub mascara out of the sink, and dump unknown items from the bathroom trash. I receive phone calls and texts from teachers and school nurses. I bake brownies and host sleepovers. I wash pots and pans then wash them again because they don't look clean enough...I never used to do that.
But the hardest part of this full-time dad thing is...I do it all alone. There is no one to turn to for advice, to discuss my child's best interests. I find myself afraid sometimes, afraid I will fail her. And this I know...what's hard for me is even harder for her. A girl needs a mom and as hard as I try to be, I can't be a mom.
So I have this great idea and I just may make millions on it. Rent-A-Mom! Without even stressing my brain I can think of at least four other men who are raising their kids alone. I'm sure there are thousands more. I think I will pop an ad on Craigslist and see what turns up. Just fold the laundry, cook some supper, wash the dishes, and braid my little girl's hair...then go home! Unless she's really cute. No, scratch that. But if the Rent-A-Mom works out, I'm going to franchise!
I don't know who came up with the idea back in ancient times, but this rule giving parents the sole responsibility of naming their children really needs to be re-evaluated. Don't you agree? If you were going to name yourself, would you have picked THAT name? I asked my dad once why he named me Rodney. He replied that there was a guy at church with that name. That's all he had to say about the matter. I eyed him suspiciously. Was there more to the story, I wondered as I stared at him through squinty eyes. Finally sensing that I needed to know more, he continued,
"He seemed like a nice guy and I sort of liked the name."
"You named me after some random dude who sat behind you at church because you kinda liked the name?"
Naming your first born son should be way up there on your to-do list! Thankfully the man's name wasn't Captain Crunch or Mr. Clean. I'd really be stuck like Chuck! See, Chuck is an okay name. Most any name would beat my name, in my opinion.
I think parents should only be allowed to name their children temporarily. When the child reaches a certain age, they should be able to name themselves. We'd have to set a limit on that or there would be lots of youngsters calling themselves Play-doh and Lego. I dunno, maybe by the age of fifteen they could make a sound decision on what they'd like to be called for eternity. Beibers and Mileys everywhere you turn.
Even God had some issues with those dreaded names parents picked for their kids. He just couldn't deal with the name Abram, there was just something missing. Throw in an 'H' and add another 'A' and walla...Abraham became known as the father of Isreal. In foresight, the Lord was even known to instruct folks what to name their kids. Name him John the Baptist...not Rodney the Baptist, he said. My daddy, the most dedicated Christian man I ever knew, chose not to name me Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. Not Abe or Moses or Noah but Rodney. Go figure!
We all are entitled to a misstep now and then. An author like I claim to be tends to claim their novels as their children. Seriously. I have spent more time pondering what to name my next book than I ever did with my kids. Took after my dad, I guess. I picked easy to spell names for my offspring...three and four letter names just in case they turned out to be on the slow side. I named a dog 'Dog' once. Three letters...can't mess that up. But naming a book...wow! Endless sleepless nights.
I gave the best book I ever wrote the wrong name. People told me not to name it that but did I listen? Did it sell? Noooo... It really is a great read. My mom and my ex-wife said so. They may be the only people who read it because names matter. Would you buy a book named 'Rodney?' Of course not. Neither would you buy a book named 'The Chimera Parables' because A) you have no clue what a Chimera is and don't even know how to pronounce it and B) "Parable" you mumble as you wrinkle up your nose and C) you just accidently followed the link to this post from Twitter and stopped reading this after 140 characters including spaces and punctuation.
But can you really rename a book? You can't rename your kid after you've sobered up and realized what you've done. Amazon.com seems to have no problem with it and while they are certainly not God, they're pretty powerful when you're a writer. If Saul can become Paul, then 'The Chimera Parables' can become...are you ready for it?
'Imperceptible: The Parables of Steele' and it didn't just come to me and yes, maybe y'all won't buy the book anyway. But I spent nearly a year writing this novel and dammit, someone needs to read it. Permit me to cue up a random blurb:
When his young son is kidnapped, Russell Steele sets out to find him, guided by nothing more than an obscure, twisted dream...
This vision, this dream, this supernatural experience driven by an imperceptible force from deep within his very being had led him to this very place, to this very woman who stood before him. The power from within that had directed him to this exact moment in time, overwhelmed him. The revelation of its now confirmed existence made his knees weak. What he had failed to understand throughout his life was now crystal clear. Beyond the logic, the knowledge, the common sense…there was more. Supernatural? Perhaps so, yet much more…a force from beyond, somewhere where one cannot reach guided him to this precise location on a planet so vast...
This suspenseful, edge-of-your-seat, novel is near impossible to categorize into one specific genre. A romance filled, action packed adventure, 'Imperceptible - The Parables of Steele' takes the reader on a spiritual journey full of twists and turns of one man who discovers if he is to find the most important person in his life, he must first find himself.
For fans of inspirational romance and suspense.
Now get this...not only do I have to choose names for all my books, I also have to name the characters in the books. That's no easy chore! Russell Steele? Let's call him Rusty. I think if I had been given the option to chose my own name, I'd have picked Rusty. Bet you never saw that coming!
'Imperceptible - The Parables of Steele' takes the reader on a spiritual journey full of twists and turns of one man who discovers if he is to find the most important person in his life, he must first find himself.
It's been a whole month since the Walmart shut its doors in my podunk little town. I wasn't sure how we'd all survive without a Walmart. As I assess how my life has changed in those thirty days, I realize that there is indeed life after Walmart! Over the years I have grown accustomed to using many of the Walmart brand items and found myself dreading the thought of trying new brands of items I deem necessary in my daily survival. I've used the Walmart brand Rogaine for years...no, it really doesn't work...or does it? There are those close to me who say I've wasted lots of money on it. I have found those little blue Walmart brand sleeping pills to be very effective and I rely on a Walmart brand pill to help with my acid reflux. And I could buy a couple hundred Walmart brand ibuprofen for four bucks back when we had a Walmart. And now there is no Walmart.
There are four Walmarts up in the city, a forty minute drive from here. I must confess I have made the drive once since our Walmart dollar store closed, just to buy the necessities like that Walmart Rogaine. As I paid the sixty-five bucks for it and whatever else fit onto one tiny plastic bag, I pondered just how much I was probably saving by not shopping at a Walmart every week. As I ventured out of the enormous Super-Walmart onto a parking lot that spanned, I dunno, twenty acres, I came to the realization that our community was actually fortunate not to have a Walmart to take our hard earned money. Perhaps our quality of life might have improved over the past month. Perhaps no Walmart was a good thing, I decided as I meandered amongst hundreds of parked cars searching for my own.
I am not alone. Yes, Walmart made the first move by leaving our community, but it has opened my eyes to other avenues. I found an off-brand hair growth product on Amazon.com that is probably the exact same stuff I've been using and I can buy three bottles for what I was paying for one. I have some acid reflux pills in route as we speak and again, at a substantial savings. They will arrive at my door in just days and I didn't have to drive forty miles to get them. I didn't have to walk over ten acres inside a humongous store in search for them and I didn't have to frantically search for my car in a parking lot bigger than Texas. And this, folks, is the future.
Warren Buffett, according to Kiplinger (3 Reasons Warren Buffett Is Dumping Walmart Stock) dumped around twelve million shares of Walmart stock last year. We all know Mr. Buffett is a pretty shrewd businessman and I personally respect his insight into the economics of America. So why did he bail on Walmart?
Buffett has made no secret of his admiration for Amazon's CEO, Jeff Bezos. "We haven't seen many businessmen like him,” Buffett says of Bezos. “Overwhelmingly, he's taken things you and I've been buying, and he's figured out a way to make us happier buying those products, either by fast delivery or prices or whatever it may be, and that's remarkable."
Remarkable indeed! What Amazon has accomplished is beyond remarkable.
I remember the early days of Amazon, their gaudy ads cluttering up numerous websites. I personally never thought they would make it this far...I admit it. I was wrong. Way wrong. Even after making themselves the ultimate American success story, I had doubts about their staying power. Then came Amazon Prime. A hundred bucks a year! Hells bells, Costco doesn't even charge such an exorbitant fee! No, I don't have a Costco membership and I let my Sam's card expire years ago. I confess I am not an Amazon Prime member...but deep down, I know there will come a day when I pony up that hundred dollar annual fee. Because I really like to shop at Amazon!
Brick and mortar retailers are gasping for air. Ecomm retailers such as Amazon meanwhile have seen a 14.5% annual increase. Online purchasing is here to stay and I venture to predict that even with their frantic efforts to join the elite online club, retailers like Walmart will fall short.
Those retail giants failed to concentrate on what's important. They grew their businesses on what they envisioned....enormous stores on gigantic parking lots. They thought they could dupe their customers into believing the fallacy of 'Everyday Low Prices' even to the point of actually willingly standing in extraordinarily long checkout lines. They expanded their businesses relentlessly, shutting down local mom and pop operations, gobbling up every dollar they could get their hands on...and literally destroying entire communities with their greed. That's what they wanted...to get rich. Stinking, filthy rich.
We...just wanted to buy stuff. We didn't want to walk across hot, sweltering, crowded parking lots. We didn't want to trudge the length of Cowboy Stadium for a gallon of milk. We didn't want to haplessly wander up and down endless aisles searching for toothpicks. And we didn't want to stand in long lines like cattle at the slaughter house. We just wanted to buy our stuff.
I can pick up my laptop and buy almost anything I want on Amazon.com. I can do it anytime I wish, wearing anything I wish, right from my recliner. I likely can buy it at a better price than anywhere else. Why would I not want this in my life? It's just that easy!
I randomly searched through Amazon's site the other night and would you believe...you can buy goat feed, pecan trees, and even dentures if you're looking for that sort of thing. But there is something that Amazon lacks that Walmart has...real live people. It's true, I am the first to turn my head as scores of cute little housewives scurry past me in any given Walmart. I cannot deny I've noticed on occasion all those soccer moms in their tight yoga pants loitering on the detergent aisle on a Saturday afternoon, and then there's the infamous 'people of Walmart' you see on your Facebook page. As entertaining as all that is to a seasoned bachelor like me, those folks aren't who I speak of. Walmart and retailers like them have a secret weapon to fight back against the online giants like Amazon and those who will come next..people! Customer service, friendly employees, and lots of smiles. Amazon can't compete with that and never will. That, Walmart...and all the rest of you who wring your hands in desperation, is the answer you seek. It's just that easy...
With author Rodney Strange
"Um-hum, it's Arthur. He's always searching for some poor soul to torment."
I winced as the country doctor raised my arm above my head. I shook my head in confusion.
"Who is Arthur?"
"Arthur Itis. He creeps up on folks your age. You say you were painting the trim on your house?"
I nodded as he ran his fingers across my knuckles.
"I'm not old enough to have arthritis," I protested.
"Well, you're payin' for your sins and you aren't a young buck anymore. I can give you a shot of cortisone if you want. It'll hurt but that's the quickest fix."
My eyes widened, "How long's the needle?"
After a short discussion I opted for a prescription for some little green pills that the doctor assured me would relieve my pain but, he had cautioned, would likely 'set my belly afire if I forgot to eat something with them. He proved to be right on both counts.
That's been over a decade ago and the arthritis has nagged me ever since. Motrin managed it fairly well at first and the arthritis only cropped up occasionally, generally right before a change in the weather. But in recent years the pesky pain and stiffness have persisted and I began to notice buttoning my shirt becoming more of a challenge. The knuckles on my hands became seemingly permanently knotted and I couldn't make a fist or open a bottle of Dr Pepper without pulling out the pliers. I started dodging the pastor at church for fear he'd shake my hand. I began having nightmares regularly...me in a faded pair of coveralls just like my daddy and all the other old men used to wear. Now I understood why. They couldn't button anything but they could handle a zipper.
There were days in recent weeks that I had to lay down on the bed to button my blue jeans, like those chubby girls before heading out to the club. (Might have pissed someone off...sorry) I began to fret. Who would button my shirt in a year or two? Who would open all those cellophane wrappers for me? I had visions of myself in a nursing home, some smoking hot nurses aide holding my sippy cup for me as she stuck the straw in my mouth. Oh, woe is me, I despaired. I will be sitting around naked starving to death in just months! Something had to be done!
Well no, I didn't go to the doctor. He'd just want to shoot me up with cortisone and give me those dreaded green pills. But I was almost that desperate, in fact so desperate that I reached for my phone the other day to make an appointment. But just seconds before making that fateful call...
As I sit here writing this, a blue norther howls outside my window. For the first time in quite some time, it snuck up on me. My fingers are working just fine and I can even make a clenched fist. If I had a bottle of Dr Pepper, I'm pretty sure I could open it without the pliers. There is absolutely no pain or stiffness in my hands. So, pray tell? Would you like to know? Did I discover the cure for arthritis?
I don't believe in taking any more medications than absolutely necessary and I don't particularly care to go to the doctor. I also firmly believe that the Good Lord put everything we need right here on this planet for us that we'll ever need. When I began researching arthritis remedies, I ran across an article describing how arthritis isn't so prevalent in southeast Asia due mainly to what researchers believe can be attributed to the customary diet of Asian dwellers. It was worth a try, I decided. No, I didn't cook Asian food...it comes in a neat little capsule!
Tumeric, or more specifically, a chemical called curcumin that is found in the spice, has been used for centuries in southeast Asia to relieve inflammation. It is also used for headaches, bronchitis, colds, lung infections, fibromyalgia, leprosy, fever, menstrual problems, itchy skin, recovery after surgery, and cancers. Other uses include depression, Alzheimer's disease, swelling in the middle layer of the eye (anterior uveitis), diabetes, water retention, worms, an autoimmune disease called systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), tuberculosis, urinary bladder inflammation, and kidney problems.
So, there you go...it fixes most everything! I can't vouch for its effectiveness in fighting leprosy or menstrual issues, but I can say...it has helped me tremendously with my arthritis. I feel like a new man and I no longer worry about not getting my britches zipped up when I step out of a restroom at the coffee shop. I beat Arthur! Now, there's a few other minor things I need to check on...like making those wrinkles disappear and um, maybe regrowing some of that hair on my head. If it's out there, I'll find it. I'll let you know!
Psst...you can get it on Amazon.com: Turmeric Curcumin with Bioperine 1500mg.
Highest Potency Available. Premium Pain Relief & Joint Support with
95% Standardized Curcuminoids.