Thursday, February 24, 2011


Well, it seems that Uncle Skip has given me an award, for being a 'Versatile Blogger', or somesuch as that.

Well, gosh-all-fishhooks. Thank you, Skip! I am truly honored. And flattered. And whatever-elsed one is supposed to be when one is given an award by a fellow-blogger.

In pronouncing me worthy of the august award (that's small-'a' 'august'; I know it's February), Skip (who just became my favorite uncle) said:

". . . because he used to be Desmond and he's a Michigander and I have an affinity for them. . . mostly because two of my brothers-in-law are Michiganders."

OK, it's true - I did used-to be Desmond, complete with wife Molly and all those kids running in the yard (get it?) But - being a Michgander makes me 'versatile'? I mean, a guy can only live in one state at a time, am I right? But hey, if living in Michigan has taught me anything, it's that, when someone wants to give you something, you accept it. And gratefully! (But hey, while I'm thinking of it, kudos to Skip's sisters for marrying classy guys) (or are we talkin' about his wife's brothers? I'm so confused!)

(OK, when I pressed him on it, he mentioned something about the Ernie Harwell piece I posted last spring; and Ernie Harwell is one of the very best people ever to be associated with this Great State, so if Skip wants to link me up with Ernie Harwell, I'm triply honored; and flattered; and, you know, whatever-elsed.)


OK, so the 'Terms and Conditions' of the award are as follows, per my new favoritest uncle:

- Curse Suldog and whoever sent it to him, under your breath (this rule is optional but may be repeated as often as desired) (for those of you who don't know Suldog, he routinely curses roasts those who give him bloggity awards; and so, Uncle Skip detects the faintest hint of, um, irony in the fact that Suldog sent the award to him) (and, while I'm thinking of it: those of you who don't know Suldog - why the heck not? Hie your fanny over to his place posthaste, and make his acquaintance at your earliest opportunity!) (and, while I'm thinking of it: curse you, Suldog!) (check mark for one optional requirement fulfilled)

- Thank me (ie, Uncle Skip) and link back to this post (thanking me is optional) (See above re the 'thanking' part; you know I'm all about the optional requirements) (and, Oh, look! the link is done, too!)

- Tell us a little about yourself (make stuff up) (*sigh*; see below)

- Impose on six others to do the same thing to somebody else (heck, these days, I don't think I've even got six readers of this li'l ol' blog; how 'bout I take the cop-out route and say, if you really want to do this, feel free; just remember to mention my name)


So, OK - About Me (and those of you who know me, know how much I LOVE to talk about myself like this). . .

- I've been married to my wife Jen for just over 30 years.

- I love her, madly and passionately.

- We have eight children (which might possibly have something to do with the aforementioned).

- My favorite sports teams are the Detroit Tigers (hence the business over Ernie Harwell which seems to have gotten me into my present predicament), and anything from my Alma Mater, Michigan State University.

- I was at MSU at the same time as Magic Johnson (and I have always thought that the local sportswriter who initially gifted young Earvin with the nickname 'Magic', gave him one of the great pickup lines of all time - "Wanna find out why they call me 'Magic Johnson'?") (and, just for the sake of sayin' so - if you've read his autobiography, he seems to have taken it to heart; or, you know, whatever)

- I was adopted, and have met both my birth-parents (one of whom shares a state with Uncle Skip).

- I have a patent to my name. And possibly, a mathematical formula.

- And I won a prize at a chili cook-off, once.

- But I've never won an Oscar. Or a Nobel Prize.

- I have never been to Antarctica. Much as I would love to.

- Nor have I ever been to Mars. Much as I would love to (well, OK, that's not quite true - I've been to Mars, IL; but not, you know, the planet Mars)

- I have been to California, though. . .

- And OK, I'm curious (but NOT yellow) - if Skip is 'Uncle', how come his wife is 'Grandma'?

Well, that's about all the self-revelation I've got in me, for the time being (unless you want to go back here; but that was five years ago). If you want to know more, I guess you'll just have to come back around. Not that there's anything wrong with that. . .

Sunday, February 13, 2011

He Got Wore Out. . .

My friend Bijoux (the blogger formerly known as Cocotte) was recently talking about her high school honors English class, and it reminded me of a story from my own high school days. . .


One of my high school classmates, and a good friend besides, was a guy named Jon. Jon was bright and ambitious, and, since both of us were honor-student-types, we tended to have a lot of our classes together. Jon aspired to a certain type of suave sophistication (which wasn't always the most natural thing in the world, growing up as we did in the middle of the North Woods; and occasionally, his sophisticated aspirations came across as, how-shall-I-say. . . just a trifle pompous; but hey, a kid can dream). Rather than football, basketball and baseball, which were my favorite sports, Jon was on the swimming, tennis and golf teams (which might or might not give you a better picture of my friend Jon, but there it is).

Jon and I often ended up being engaged in a kind of friendly competitiveness - I tended to have a little higher 'academic ceiling' than he did, but he was more punctilious than I was about not allowing himself to get B's in classes he wasn't so interested in, so he actually graduated higher than I did. And, as I noted above, he was more, uh, 'socially motivated' than I was - more concerned about how his hair was cut, what kind of clothes he wore, how good-looking his girlfriend was, and stuff like that. Not that I was exactly UNconcerned about any of those things (altho, to be perfectly candid, my 'concern', such as it was, manifested itself more at the level of 'Gee, I wish I had a girlfriend'), but suffice it to say that I didn't assign them the priority that Jon did.

We met each other in about fifth or sixth grade, I think, and quickly became friends; our friendship was solid all the way through high school, although we haven't kept in real close touch since then.


Jon and I were in the same Honors English class pretty much all the way through high school. Our junior year, I think, we read, as virtually all high school students seem to, The Crucible, by Arthur Miller. Every day, our teacher would assign various students to read parts in class that day, and we just read our way through it in class like that, over the course of a couple weeks.

One of the days, Jon was assigned to read one of the parts; I don't recall the name of his character, but he was one of the men of Salem who was most earnest to see the young witches brought to a justly deserved end. One of Jon's lines was simply to shout, accusingly, "Whore! Whore!" at one of the accused women (I'm sure my more literarily-inclined readers will be able to cite Act and Scene, the name of the speaker, and the 'witch' to whom it was directed; to which I say, Good for You; c'mon over here, and I'll paste a Gold Star on your forehead). With his flair for the dramatic, and his sense of literary sophistication, Jon straightened his back, sat upright, and fairly yelled, according to character,


The class sat in stunned silence - did we hear that right? Did he really say 'wore'?

I knew instantly what had happened. Jon certainly knew the word, 'whore', but it was one of those that he'd often heard, but rarely seen in print (looking back, it seems almost touchingly quaint; but hey, we were WAY up in the North Woods, and printed sightings of the word 'whore' were not easy to come by). So when he saw it in print, he didn't recognize it. And he just 'sounded it out' according to 'standard rules of pronunciation' as best he could.

But to the class-as-a-whole, it looked for all the world that Jon - clever, bright, suave, sophisticated, occasionally-pompous honor-student Jon - didn't know the word 'whore'. The silence held for a second or two, then gales of uproarious laughter cascaded forth. Of course, it wasn't just the mistake; it was the hilarious irony that Jon was the one who made it.

The teacher was merciful, and silenced the laughter more quickly than he'd have had to. Jon, who still had no idea what was going on, just sat at his desk looking utterly bewildered.

Our teacher was a bit of an effete sort, and he just leaned against the wall, gazing at Jon with a bemused expression. Finally, he spoke. "I believe," he explained, "that that word is pronounced 'HWORE'," with particular emphasis on the leading 'h' sound.

Instantly, Jon's face went beet-red. The class resumed its laughter, as Jon became embarrassingly aware of his error (and of course, almost no-one else would have been quite as embarrassed as Jon was, which just amplified the effect), and the joke of which he'd unwittingly made himself the butt. As the laughter began to die down, Jon stood up at his seat, clenched his fists and fairly shrieked,


at the top of his lungs. And after that, we could all get back to the business of reading The Crucible. . .


Both yesterday and today have been beautifully warm and sunny days, with temperatures pushing 50F. We can even see the pavement on our street, which has been snow-covered for over a month by now. This morning, it was even above freezing as we walked to church. I took my warm hat with me, not least because Jen and I have been trading sicknesses for the past month, and I didn't want to needlessly set my recovery back. But even 32F felt warm enough that I soon removed my hat, the better to enjoy the unseasonable warmth and sunshine.

I suppose it's one of the benefits of living in Michigan that, by mid-February, even 32 degrees feels like summer. . .