With author Rodney Strange
Thanksgiving. Quick, name what first comes to mind when you hear the word. Food...lots of it. Football, Black Friday, a day off from work, kinfolk that you may or may not be particularly fond of, all are fairly common events that most of us associate with Thanksgiving. I'm not overly fond of turkey but the bird was a freebie this year so I suppose I'll choke it down. I'm as fond of football as I am of turkey but I will turn on the game after the feast. A Dallas Cowboy game is always good for a group nap in the living room after gorging ourselves on more food than most people in third world countries eat all year long. Black Friday, which officially kicks off the Christmas season, threatening to preempt Thanksgiving every year, is an event I choose not to participate in. And that revered holiday time your employer is so gracious to extend out of the goodness of their hearts...well, I'm retired so every day is a holiday for me. So, what's the point of Thanksgiving? I'm here to inform you that it's none of the above.
Today's America tends to see Thanksgiving as well...what I said in the last paragraph. We have become an ungrateful society that takes things for granted and are generally unwilling to be thankful. There is an alarming trend throughout our country to be discontent and in a loud way. There are those who have become grumblers, whiners, and complainers. These folks voice their displeasures on social media constantly, making the rest of us weary. Is there nothing in these peoples' lives to be thankful for? Thankfulness is the attitude that replaces our tendency to complain. Some of us need a lot of thankfulness.
Thanksgiving is a day for giving thanks, though truthfully shouldn't every day be? Leave it to us to designate one sole day out of the year to pause and give thanks. And now we don't even give thanks on the day we set aside to do so.
I'm thankful for the little things. Thankful for dunking sticks and Folgers Columbian coffee. I'm thankful for chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes and gravy. I'm thankful that I am able to have these things any time I wish. I'm thankful for my own tiny piece of planet earth, rightfully mine lock, stock, and barrel bought outright with years of blood, sweat, and tears...and pecans. I'm thankful for pecans. I like pecan pie and that pecan orchard that sits on my tiny piece of planet earth makes pecan pie possible any time I desire it. Those pecans also paid for this piece of dirt I call home.
I'm thankful for the medications that allow me to live a normal life. Afflicted with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Glaucoma, without these medications, my life would be meaningless. Instead, I run with the best of them and am blessed to be able to watch a west Texas sunset anytime I wish. I am thankful for life. Some don't make it this far alive. I'm thankful I have my right mind although sometimes in this world I live in I wonder if I'd e better off crazy. And I'm thankful for Netflix.
There are three levels of thankfulness. One is surface gratitude. If someone holds a door open for you and you respond with a 'thank you,' likely you really didn't mean that. It was just lip service, like the cashier at the supermarket who hands you a receipt and says, 'Thank you' for the five hundredth time during her shift. The second level of thankfulness is sincere gratitude. Some particular occurrence spawns a genuine feeling of thankfulness, whether it be a raise at work or you received that leather jacket you've been wanting at Christmas. Sincere gratitude is a spontaneous feeling of thankfulness that likely comes unexpectedly and catches us off guard. The third level of thankfulness is the one we tend to overlook, that is steadfast thankfulness, an ongoing gratitude for our daily life. I'm thankful for my modest little home and my three vehicles, all bought and paid for. I'm thankful I could pay off what little debt I have today if I choose to. I'm thankful I was able to retire from a thankless job at the age of fifty-nine, allowing me to pursue my dreams. I'm thankful for my daughter, my biggest blessing and my pride and joy. And I'm thankful I have Someone to be thankful to.
There are people who think they have nothing in their life to be thankful for. But ponder this...if you can't be grateful for what you have, you can be thankful for what you've escaped. If you're reading this, you're probably not homeless. You are still alive which means you have something to eat. Yes, you should be thankful that you managed to escape what could have been. Think about it, you could have been a turkey.
There are people who are thankful to no one in particular. Me, I'm thankful to God. He sends me blessings both big and small. Thankfulness is humility and that is something many of us are not good at. Thanksgiving is a time to humble ourselves and become aware of all the blessings the Good Lord has bestowed on us both individually and collectively. With humanity what it is today, it's no wonder that our creator doesn't just hit the reset button and start all over on the universe. But He doesn't because He loves us and has faith in those He created in HIs own image. And that, folks, is something in itself to be thankful for. And that's no little thing.
I spent last weekend in Paris. Would you ever believe an old country boy like myself would ever venture that far from home? I had a wonderful time. The food was great, the people were even greater, and yes, I did see the Eiffel tower, since you asked. I really enjoyed my visit, but it sure was a long drive to get there!
Paris...Texas. Rest assured this old goat will never see the Eiffel tower in Paris, France. No need to now, I've seen it in Texas. I also was wowed at the sight of the Campbell's soup factory, but time constraints prevented me from actually taking the tour. I don't know if they offer tours, anyway. But I must tell you, the most impressive sight of my entire visit was the Red River Valley Veteran's Memorial, which sat next to the Eiffel tower. When my daughter and I left our motel that Sunday morning, which happened to be Veteran's Day, we were on one sole mission, to see Paris, Texas' very own Eiffel tower, adorned by what may be the world's biggest cowboy hat perched atop it. We were caught completely off guard to discover the most inspiring veteran's memorial that either of us has ever seen. The community of Paris has honored each and every one of its veterans from every war since the Texas Revolution. What are the odds, I asked myself, that we would stumble on such a touching tribute to America's veterans on, and I checked the time imprinted on the photos, precisely 11:00 on November 11. As I wandered through the massive display, I fought back tears as a lump formed in my throat. From this Veteran's Day forward, I will always remember this place on every Veteran's Day to come.
We didn't pick Paris, Texas out of a hat on some spontaneous urge to take a road trip. My daughter, a young college student with no fear and a quest for adventure, had received a wedding invitation from some acquaintance who had briefly passed through her life at some point or another. Well sure, she announced at the supper table one evening, she would just set out on a seven-hour drive across Texas to attend this thirty-minute affair. I rolled my eyes and uttered a deep sigh. Here we sat, at the western edge of west Texas, a mere thirty-minute drive from New Mexico, and Paris Texas according to Siri, was located just shy of the Arkansas border and within spitting distance of Oklahoma. No, I protested, that was simply too far for a young woman to drive alone. And that's how I ended up on this adventure.
Those of you familiar with Texas understand it's vastness. For those who don't, allow me to give you some examples. The ski slopes of Colorado are closer to my house than Paris, Texas. I could probably fly to Paris, France in less time that it takes to drive to Paris, Texas. So, you get the picture. I must confess, as an individual who balks at the thought of a twenty-minute drive to the nearest Walmart, the notion of such a trip across the entire state of Texas was daunting. But it had been quite a while since I had ventured any further from home than Walmart, so I reluctantly forced myself to pack for a whirlwind adventure.
Paris, Texas is located in regular Texas which is comprised of cities such as Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston. We live in west Texas, made up of bustling cities like Amarillo, Lubbock, Midland-Odessa, and San Angelo. Between west Texas and regular Texas lays...nothing. A no man's land separates the two and anyone who dares venture into this vast void is taking their lives into their own hands. When I asked Siri to plot a course from here to Paris, she hesitated and then replied, "Are you sure you want to chance that?"
According to Siri, the fastest way to regular Texas was by route of a trail used by the wagon trains of the old west. Little had been done to improve the roads since those days. Between here and regular Texas, many dangers were lurking behind the millions of mesquite trees. Coyotes and wild hogs blocked the primitive roadways while buzzards hovered overhead. If God forbid, your vehicle broke down on this foreboding trail, you were nothing more than buzzard meat, for no sane man would travel this path. You'd never be discovered, your bones glistening in the sun as a warning to future foolish travelers.
I questioned Siri about a route via Interstate-20 which lay two hours to the south of us. No, she told me, we were heading north. The old west trail was our only way. So, early Saturday morning, I took the reins of my daughter's Ford Focus and we headed into the wilderness. Gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles, I dodged tumbleweeds the size of John Deere tractors and road kill that would fill a man's freezer. I held my breath and prayed constantly for three hours, seeing not another living soul along the way. Finally, we arrived in Wichita Falls an hour behind schedule. I relinquished the wheel to my daughter and took my place in the passenger seat, assuming the fetal position, whimpering and fighting to regain my sanity.
Well, I'm home now and all that is just a foggy, surreal memory. I had a blast and now ponder the idea of perhaps another road trip in the nearby future. Maybe I should go west to the mountains of Ruidoso, New Mexico. Wait a minute...that hundred and fifty miles of desert between here and Ruidoso makes the road to regular Texas look like an interstate. Obviously, I need to work on my courage. After all, I yearn to become a man of adventure! Perhaps I shall fly to the moon, which is probably closer than Paris, Texas. To infinity and beyond! Siri says she doesn't know where Infinity, Texas is...
I don't write much lately. Doubt that anyone's noticed. Since I've retired, I don't have much time to write. I know, I can't figure that out, either. I have nuts to tend to, well, trees with nuts, pecans to be exact. And I've been doing a lot of work to the house. I'm painting the laundry room today. You know you're just about finished when you get to the laundry room. Really, I've just been trying to keep myself busy until the pecans fall off the trees. When they do, I'll have to pick all those little suckers up off the ground. (SMH)
The real reason I don't write lately is...a person can get themselves in a whole lot of trouble saying what's on their mind. Take Megyn Kelly for example. Granted, even I would not have said what she said about painting your face black. I will tell you that I got into a playful paintbrush fight yesterday while painting the bathroom with...well, I can't tell you about her, but I ended up with my face painted green. Not sure I can say that. Anyway, back to Megyn. BOOM, a slip of the tongue and kiss that eighteen million dollar a year job goodbye. You simply cannot talk about certain folks at all...unless you are named Hillery, who did not hesitate to say, and I quote to avoid persecution, "They all look alike..." during an interview recently. Yes, we know who she was referring to, but she can get away with saying things like that. And I'll leave that right there for fear I may wind up with four bullets in the back of my head.
If you think Megyn Kelly paid a steep penalty for her moment of 'blondeness,' wait until you hear this story. PBS editor Hugh Heckman was terminated from his job for a comment about Meghan Markle, referring to her as "not bad." I suppose he meant in a visual way, as in, as I would put it, "smokin' hot." Boom, hit the unemployment line, Hugh! Then there was a school principal, who caught up in a social media thread, expressed his opinion on the caravan of migrants marching toward our border. I don't recall exactly what he said, but I didn't take it as racial, but BOOM! Suspended! Expelled from school. Pay attention! These are things you cannot say. Just thinking about these topics is risky in itself.
Sometimes you don't even have to speak to face persecution. A white woman dressed up as Beyonce for Halloween...BOOM! No job! Halloween is an optimal holiday to rattle some folks. One must choose their costume carefully these days. One should not dress up as anyone outside their own ethnicity or gender identity. One should not dress up as a fictional character. One should not dress up as an animal if they wish to avoid the wrath of PETA. One should avoid dressing up as a witch, ghost, or the devil if they wish to appease Satanists, or perhaps Baptists for that matter. Really, hasn't Halloween passed it's prime anyway?
Have we not entered the age of utter ridiculousness? I personally am right on schedule to leave all this behind in the next twenty years at the most. By then I'll likely be ecstatic when they put me in a wooden box and lower me in the ground. Until that day comes, I am forced into hermitization, exiled to the foreboding wastelands of west Texas. I'm good with that, actually. I can speak my mind freely out here with not a single soul to chastise me except an old dog who spends it's every waking moment sleeping. I can wander aimlessly beneath my pecan trees as I allow my mind to free itself of the uncertainties of the world I live in. I can call a blackbird a blackbird out here without fear of repercussion. I am free to paint my face green or red for I am already unemployed, one of those awesome perks of retirement. I will be able to sit on my porch and watch the caravan of illegal immigrants march by, which by the time they get this far will have likely grown in numbers equivalent to the population of Dallas. And I will be able to freely greet them with what Spanish I know, which, trust me, shouldn't be spoken in the presence of preachers or your mama.
Yes, until the day I leave this world, I can live as I choose in complete solitude, speak my mind as long as nobody is within hearing range, and dress as I wish as long as I pull the shades down. I can play with my little black-faced dog and spend my evenings playing Mexican dominoes with...well, I can't tell you about her. Yep, I am truly blessed to be an introverted hermit, spending my golden years beneath the shade of my pecan trees waiting for my nuts to fall. Can I say that? Somebody's surely offended...
The Best Of 'Strange Thinking' With Author Rodney Strange
It's Saturday night as I sit down to write this and, well...I'm all alone. The house is eerily quiet and empty and I sense it deep within my very being. Aw...no, this isn't a pity trip. Not an 'I'm so lonely I could cry' story, some country 'cry in your beer' ballad. My daughter has reached the age of freedom, has her own wheels, and is frequently absent. I've grown accustomed to spending time alone most every evening as she spreads her wings in search of her very own life apart from boring ol' Dad. Heck, I would worry about her if she never left the house...it's just not natural for a teen to stay home, especially on a Saturday night. So. I'm good with all that...except for this one fact: she took the dog!
I hate to admit this, but after spending five years together, I've grown fond of that damn dog. It's always here, granted asleep most of the time, but tonight the dog is gone! And doggone it, I miss it! Never thought I'd reach this point. In fact, I recall the first week my daughter and her little dog came to live with me. Me, not accustomed to having another living thing to watch over, managed to lose that dog just days after it showed up in my life. I'll tell you the story...pull up a chair...
She stepped through the kitchen door, me following behind, my arms laden with clothes on hangers, a suitcase, and her backpack. This was not an every other weekend visit nor the customary summer vacation with dad. This time it was different…it was for good. A change in her life had brought this little city girl to the country, to a new life…a new adventure.
She brought along baggage. Yes, the typical baggage that follows a teenage girl, but then there was the dog. I’d not had one of those underfoot in years and had not had one who resided in my house in even more. I eyed the bug-eyed Boston terrier and she eyed me. As we sized each other up, it appeared we both came to the conclusion at the same time. It was the girl who had brought us together and as she was the most important person in either of our lives, we would just have to tolerate each other.
And after ten days, with the girl and her dog and me, my life had not been the same. When the weekend rolled around, she entrusted her loyal pet to my care as she headed off to a friend’s house for a sleepover. I could handle watching over this city dog, I promised. How much trouble could a canine standing a mere fourteen inches tall get into? Yes, run along and enjoy yourself, I told her. Me and…what’s its name again? …we’d be just fine.
It was a beautiful Friday evening and I decided to take full advantage of it. I cooked myself a steak on the grill and a weenie for….um….the dog, whatever her name is. Then, with the sun sinking into the western horizon, I settled into a chair on the patio and sipped on a glass of sweet tea. With a magnificent sunset, a cool breeze, and a puppy dog frolicking around the yard, what more could a man ask for, I asked myself. Before I had finished that thought, my cell phone rang. Ah, that’s what would make the evening better…a good conversation with a good friend…a good, smoking hot friend.
Dusk settled upon us as the conversation carried on. The talk turned to the dog. Yes, I was dog sitting on a Friday night. No, the little critter was no trouble at all, in fact…
The dog! Where was the dog? My eyes scoured the backyard of my country home, which consisted of around ten acres.
“Hey! Dog? Here Dog! Where are you?”
OMG, I’ve lost the dog!
“I’ll call you back!” I thrust the phone in my hip pocket and stepped off the patio. What was that dog’s name?
“Here puppy! Damn you dog! I can’t lose you…not on my watch!”
I frantically circled the house then expanded my search area. With just moments left of dim light, I began to panic. I leaped into the pickup and backed out of the drive, heading through the pasture. When I found no sign of the black dog in the blackness of the night, I turned into the pecan orchard, driving slowly as I called for the nameless dog.
Precious moments had passed when I turned onto the highway in front of my place, headlights illuminating the road. Fear swept through me as I prepared myself to find the Boston terrier splattered on the asphalt. With no sign of the pooch, I turned onto a side road, driving through a cotton field where I prayed I’d not find my daughter’s pet slaughtered by a pack of wild coyotes. My mind raced, visuals of every dog I’d ever had passing through my mind…and their demise, some on the highway, some at the jaws of the coyotes, and two from buckshot fired from a shotgun when they had ventured too close to the edge of that cotton field where a double-wide trailer sat.
Do dogs go to heaven when they die? I asked that question as I searched the darkness. It was the very same question I had asked as I buried so many of my loyal companions throughout the years. The Bible leaves it a mystery, but could heaven really be heavenly without dogs? Well, maybe just a few dogs. We wouldn’t want heaven to be overrun with packs of dogs that had met their fate in the middle of a highway while munching on roadkill. What would I tell my daughter? She was a bit too old to be pacified with, ‘But honey, your pet is now in heaven. It crossed over the magic rainbow…”
I winced as I imagined the fury of my child when I told her I had let her dog escape.
“Dad! Dad, you let my dog die! How could you? You had one job, just one!”
She would be devastated! Heartbroken! Tears would flow for days! She would be pissed! Our relationship would be forever changed.
After an hour of futile searching, I turned onto the dirt road leading back to the house. As the headlights of my pickup lit up the patio, my eyes lit up even brighter than the high beams. There sitting on the step with tongue hanging sat the little Boston terrier. I leaped from the truck and dashed toward the critter, swooping it in my arms and hugging it, tears of joy running down my face.
The dog licked my face then paused and looked into my eyes and…I swear I could read its mind…”So why did you run off and leave me here all alone? It’s spooky out here in the dark!”
I gave the pup an extra helping of Old Roy and a bowl of fresh water, then stood and just watched it. A text came in from my daughter:
“Dad, how is my dog? Are you taking good care of her?”
“Oh yes, sweetie! It’s been quite an adventure! We’re just…bonding.”
At that very moment, a putrid odor filtered through the kitchen making me force back a gag.
“BTW…your dog’s farts really stink!”
Jim Bonnett and I had lived in the same town all our lives. We had graduated high school together, started our families right here in our hometown, and attended the same church for decades. While we were never best friends, we were alright with each other, having occasionally run into each other at football games or the grocery store. We'd often give each other a nod at church even though we sat at opposite side of the sanctuary. On this particular fall morning, we had bumped into each other at the coffee shop and found ourselves sitting at the same table catching up on a whole lot of nothing. Old men our age really don't have that much to tell generally. The conversation paused and Jim leaned forward, a nervous look on his face.
"Do you remember that girl from high school, Susan Mills?"
I nodded, "A skinny little thing. Sort of a big nose. Always wore daisy dukes and short blouses with her belly button showing. Yep, I remember her."
Jim took a sip of his coffee and continued, "I've had this memory, just a junk drawer memory that never seemed to have a purpose, of her all these years. I remember her coming over to my house one summer afternoon. I had mowed the yard and was asleep on the couch when she knocked on the door. I was so shocked to see her standing on the porch dressed, well like you remember. I couldn't imagine why she was there but invited her inside. I remember I was only wearing a pair of cut-off shorts and felt a bit embarrassed about her seeing me with no shirt. She sat on the couch beside me and within minutes was really putting the moves on me, touching my leg, running her hand down my back. I had no interest in her. She was sixteen, a sophomore in high school. I was nineteen and through a whole year of college. I found her annoying and immature and was really put off with her making moves on me. Finally, after a half-hour or so, I basically told her to leave. You could tell it really pissed her off."
He shook his head and stared at the coffee cup in front of him, "The last thing she said as I shut the door was, 'you'll never know what you missed out on."
I raised an eyebrow and listened intently.
"I never could figure out why that memory stuck with me all these years until the other day. I was plowing one of my fields. I really like to plow. My mind just wanders when I'm out on the tractor. Just never know where my mind is going to go, sort of like meditation. Anyway, it came to me, as clear as if I were watching a movie on Netflix. A memory from way back then hit me like a bag of rocks!"
My eyes grew wide as I noticed a bead of sweat run down his forehead.
"Do you remember the old gym out west of town? The school had burned years ago but the gym was saved. Someone had taken it and opened it up as a skating rink?"
I nodded and replied, "Oh yeah. It opened the first Saturday night of each month during the summer. Kids from all over would come out to skate. They had pool tables, foosball, and pinball machines. Yep, had some good times there."
"Well, out there on that tractor the other day, it came to me as clear as if it had happened yesterday. I was in my car, that Dodge Charger, parked across the road from the gym under a big elm tree. Susan Mills was there with me and we had drunk a whole bottle of Wild Turkey. We were making out, I mean heavy, sweating and panting. She unbuttoned my shirt and was grabbing me places she shouldn't. I was all over her. I can still smell the whiskey on her right now. She was wearing a pair of short blue jean cutoffs and a little white blouse with flowers on it, and yeah, that belly button exposed. A streetlight in front of the gym cast a blue eerie light into the car and I could see the wildness in ner eyes as she took my hand and shoved it beneath her blouse. Suddenly, she peeled off her shirt and before I could blink, she had kicked her shorts into the floorboard."
Jim paused and wiped his sweaty palms together, "I sat there on that tractor and had a full blown panic attack! I freaked out! I looked down at her lying naked in the seat of my car and realized she had the body of a twelve or thirteen-year-old girl. She was sixteen! She was jailbait! What was going on in my mind that night?"
He stopped and stared at me.
"So what happened next?" I asked.
"I don't know! That's the end of my memory of that night. I have to tell you, this has me all torn up. With this news of some woman accusing that Supreme Court Justice nominee of something that happened over thirty years ago! What would something like this do to me? My life could be ruined! I honestly don't know what I did with that girl that night!"
"And that's all you can remember?'' Our eyes met for an uncomfortable period of time and then a smile spread across my face, "Well, let me tell you the rest of the story."
He cocked his head and stared in wonderment.
"You and I went out to the gym together that night. I remember The Who's 'Behind Blue Eyes" was playing over the speakers when we walked in. We stood around with other guys and watched the girls skate in their little short shorts for a bit, then you went to play pool with someone. I ended up at the foosball table with a bunch of little high school girls. You eventually came over and whispered in my ear that Susan Mills had a bottle of Wild Turkey stashed outside and you were going out for a drink with her. I didn't see you the rest of the night. When the gym closed down at midnight I went outside and stood around with those high school girls, them mooching cigarettes off me. We were standing right under that street light when Susan Mills got out of your car, literally pulling her shirt over her head as she came toward us. She walked by in a huff, raising her arms and shouting, 'Can you believe he passed out! He passed out drunk! He'll never know what he missed out on!"
"Really?" he responded as that sank in, "So, she came over to my house a few days later to give me a second chance and I turned her down."
He nodded his head as a look of relief came over his face.
"You know, Jim, there isn't a soul on this earth, especially of our age, that doesn't have a few things they'd rather not share with their mama or their wife or their preacher. Not one. The Good Book says, 'Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.' I think that's something to carry in your back pocket at all times. Live your life in the present. That memory...belongs in your junk drawer."
We rose from the table and headed toward the cash register.
"Say, Jim, remember when I loaned you fifty bucks back in '78 for a battery for your car?"
My friend paused and thought for a moment. "You never loaned me fifty bucks! I'd remember that!"
I grinned and slapped him on the back, "I thought it was worth a try seeing how your memory is on the outs lately! Good talking to you, Jim. See you around..."
The Best of 'Strange Thinking' with author Rodney Strange
This week I want to take a break from all the current happenings throughout our nation and just tell you about the day I got lost. I know the first thing that passed through the minds of my female readers when they read that last sentence was,
"And you're a man and wouldn't ask for directions."
You are wrong, Chicklets! I did ask...and that is the story I wish to tell.
It was a beautiful fall-like Saturday morning that I sat out on my adventure to the city. My daughter's volleyball team had a game scheduled at LCHS in Lubbock, Texas. I had glanced at the schedule hanging on the fridge several times throughout the week, and in my mind, which is not always the right mind, I knew exactly where she was playing...LCHS, a private Christian school in the center of Lubbock, right over by the K-mart. I had judged that it would take me forty minutes to get from here to there, and right on schedule that Saturday morning, I stepped out of the house at nine-fifteen. The clock on the dash of my pickup read nine-fifty five as I pulled into the parking lot. I switched the key off and stepped out onto the asphalt. That's when the eerie feeling swept over me. As I glanced around the empty parking lot, a wave of fear rushed through my body as I came to the realization I might not be at the right school. I glanced at a sign looming before me, 'Trinity Christian School' which obviously would not be LCHS. I whipped my not-so-smart ten-year-old phone from its holster and stared at the time. I had three minutes to find the right school.
Frantically I pulled out of the parking lot, and in a panic, swerved into the next parking lot I saw...a convenience store! Someone in that store would surely know where LCHS was! As I leaped from my vehicle, a postal worker exited the store. As hurried as I was at the moment, I immediately noticed she was unlike any postal worker I had ever seen. A long and lean little filly, her blonde hair in a french braid, her official USPS issued shirt unbuttoned one button too many, and shorts far too short to be officially licensed by the Post Office...she took my breath away just watching her saunter across the pavement toward her little square postal jeep.
"Excuse me, miss...um, Postal Officer!"
She paused and a broad smile spread across her face as I approached. I explained that I was lost and now sort of late to a volleyball game and could she tell me where in Lubbock, Texas LCHS was? She whipped her enormous iPhone X out from where I did not know, as her shorts could not possibly have pockets big enough to hold that thing.
"Let's just google it!" she exclaimed, drawing her body closer to mine to share her screen with me. My heartbeat picked up a notch just watching her slender fingers type on the screen.
"Um, I think it would have to be Lubbock Cooper High School. It's about fifteen minutes from here."
I protested that I really was under the impression that I was looking for a Christian school...didn't she know of one with those same initials? Yes, she replied, there was a Lubbock Christain High School, but she had no clue where it might be. I hesitantly thanked her for her help, and with one more glance of over my shoulder to eye those long, tan legs, I bounced back into my truck, briefly pondering how it could be possible a mail carrier would not know where anything was.
Thirty minutes later, I again began my fruitless search for the illusive LCHS, having wasted precious time and gas driving out to the Cooper High School only to discover that, alas, it was not the right LCHS. Perhaps it was Lubbock Coronado High School, a woman standing outside of Cooper High School had suggested. Frustrated, I had driven back to where I had begun my search. I ventured down the street a bit farther...ten miles, eventually passing a sign that read, 'Lubbock Christain University.' I held my hand to my forehead and sighed. The initials did not match up! LCU was not LCHS. Nevertheless, I pulled into the campus, all but abandoned on this fall-ish Saturday morning. I spotted a jogger on the sidewalk and rolled my window down and gave her a shout. She continued, oblivious to me, her headphones drowning out my voice. I desperately tapped my horn...and she stopped.
As she came toward my vehicle, I could see she was young, attractive, athletic, and bra-less. She stooped and stuck her head through the passenger window, her arms crossed, resting on the door. My eyes unavoidably focused on what could have been two very distinctly protruding marbles beneath her thin tank top. OMG, don't stare at those, I told myself silently, averting my eyes to...OMG, hairy armpits! Don't stare at those either! I forced my line of sight upward toward her face where I saw the most beautiful smile and the greenest green eyes staring back at me.
"Sorry to bother you, but I'm looking for LCHS?"
"Oh, it's right over there," she pointed her finger toward what appeared to be a stadium, "Just head toward those lights at the football field!"
"I did mention it was volleyball, not football?"
She giggled and spread her arms wide, armpit hairs blowing in the breeze, "Yes silly! The school sits right beside the football field."
Then she was gone. I watched her jog away, admiring her lime green Nike shorts, then turned the truck toward the lights.
Minutes later I scurried into the gym, making my way toward the rest of the parents of our volleyball team.
"Well it's about time!" several of the mothers chastised me.
"I liked to have never found this place. How much have I missed?" I questioned as I stared at my not-so-smart smartphone, which told me it was just past eleven.
"About fifteen minutes. You know these games never start on time." One of the mothers responded, "You want some advice? Ask for directions! Ask a woman! We'll never steer you wrong."
I nodded in faux agreement, my eyes focusing on my daughter on the court below. She glanced up into the stands, spotting her dad, and the faintest smile crossed her face. A huge sigh escaped from within me...I had made her game. Beyond the walls of that gymnasium, far from the city limits of Lubbock, past the boundaries of where I call home...the world may be crumbling beneath our feet. But at that exact moment, there was nothing more important than watching my daughter play volleyball.