Not Long Tales … August 20th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4142)

Underneath

Lance sat quietly staring at his hands.

They didn’t seem small—at least, he didn’t think so. But the bully who lived seven houses down on the right-hand side had made fun of them yesterday, in front of four or five guys, and worse, two girls.

It wasn’t easy being eleven years old, anyway you looked at it. But being ridiculed for your little hands in front of friends was more than humiliating. It was debilitating and left no recourse. After all, you couldn’t scream, “My hands are big!”

But Lance had anyway. And when he objected, everyone laughed at him. Because tears that were lurking in his eyes suddenly avalanched down his cheeks.

Lance hated summer vacation. As bad as school was—and it certainly had some really stinky things about it—at least your day was filled, and you didn’t have to try and figure out a reason for getting up in the first place.

It was especially difficult because Lance had a mother who insisted he “go out and play with the other kids.” She didn’t understand that he had just been targeted for having tiny paws.

Yes—he felt like a puppy being mocked by the big hound. He was afraid to leave his doorstep.

There was one friend who never deserted him—what you might call the saving face. His name was Jallus. Lance’s mother always referred to him as “the black boy” and Jallus’ mother called Lance “the white boy.” Sometimes the two buddies joked with each other, calling each other “black boy and white boy,” just to get the giggling going. Of course, it was ridiculous. Lance was the color of dirty sand and Jallus looked like chocolate milk diluted by water.

But the two boys needed each other, because the bully also told Jallus that his hands were puny. They found comfort in each other’s company.

But during this particular summer, Lance had discovered an escape. He hadn’t told anyone, not even his buddy, Jallus. In the back of the house, just underneath the steps, there was a piece of white lattice covering up the crawl space. There were a couple of screws missing from the top—just enough that Lance could pull it back, squeeze through and climb in beneath the house.

When he first discovered it, he was scared. His mind went crazy thinking about what might be in that crawl space, lurking to harm him. A rat, a snake—and most certainly, any variety of bugs made their homes in the sludge.

Yet it was so peaceful in there—especially on hot days, it was just a little cooler, and on rainy days it stayed dry, but gave Lance a front row seat on the beauty of the pelting rain. He adored the place.

He cleared it out a little bit. There was some trash—discarded bags of cement and rocks getting in the way of affording him total space. He sat in there for hours at a time thinking about life, small hands and his daddy. Lance had never actually met the fellow. He had departed before Lance had a full brain for knowing. His mother told him that his daddy probably loved him, but lived far, far away, in Mississippi. It made it nearly impossible to come and visit.

One day when he was snooping through his mother’s closet, he found a picture stuck in a box—a fellow sitting on a motorcycle, wearing a cowboy hat. He assumed it was his daddy. Sitting behind him on the bike was probably his mother, back when she was a girl.

Seeing that motorcycle reminded Lance of the time his mother said that his father had sent a birthday present of a bicycle. It came in a big, huge cardboard box, but it wasn’t put together. Mama had tried really hard to get all the bolts in the right places, but it was never right. So it just sat in the garage in a heap. Every once in a while, Lance would pull out a piece or two and play with the back wheel for a while. The bicycle was so much like the rest of his life—everything seemed to be there, but nothing came together.

But when Lance went underneath the house into his chamber of privacy, it was a whole different situation. He took a flashlight with him so he could keep an eye on the surroundings, in case he was invaded by one of nature’s uglies. He also found an old canteen in the garage, which he cleaned and filled with Kool-Aid, to sip on as time passed by. The Kool-Aid was so refreshing that the next time he brought a plastic bag of Gummi-bears. Goldfish crackers and M & M’s. It was so peaceful and satisfying.

Lance never thought he’d ever want peace. Being a boy, he was rather fond of chaos. But occasionally, he needed to feel like feeling was okay and nobody was staring, wondering what he was doing.

Sometimes he would lie on his back and listen to the floorboards creak—Mama preparing dinner in the kitchen. Sometimes she would sing. It made him feel so good when he heard her sing. Other times, she just talked to herself. He couldn’t hear what she said but could tell from the tone that it came from an unhappy place.

Summer persisted, as the summer sun often does.

Then one night, right before bedtime, sirens went off from the nearby town. Mama was frightened. She explained to Lance that the sirens meant there was a tornado coming. It didn’t take very long before great winds began to sweep by their house, rattling the windows and striking terror into their souls.

The two of them lived in a very simple house. There was no upstairs, no basement. Just the one floor—and Mama had no idea what to do. She was looking for a safe place for them to hide from the danger, but she couldn’t move. Her head turned, her eyes peering in all directions, as if waiting for someone to give her instructions.

All of a sudden, she prayed—no, nearly screeched, “Oh, Jesus! Help us!” Just about that time, a tree blew over in the front yard and landed on the top of the house, mashing in the roof.

Lance looked at his mother. He knew two things—she wasn’t going to move, and Jesus wasn’t going to stop the storm.

He took his Mama by the hand and started to walk toward the back door. She wouldn’t come. He pulled a little harder, but she resisted. Then, as if inspired by forces far beyond his understanding, Lance decided to run out the back door, figuring that Mama just might follow, terrified that Lance would be swallowed by the big twister.

As he ran toward the door and opened it, the screen flew back, broke off and landed on the ground. He hurried down the steps and when he reached the landing, he looked back. Sure enough, there was his mama, faithful lady that she was, chasing him.

He slid around the steps and over to the lattice, pulling back as hard as he could, to make room for him and also his mother to get in. He climbed into his precious space. She trailed, peeking inside. “What are you doing?” she asked.

Lance realized there was no time to explain, so he whispered. “Trust me, Mama. Trust me.”

She stared at him for a moment, trying to make out his image in the darkened space, and then wiggled forward as he grabbed her hands and pulled her down to sit next to him. As soon as she was seated, they heard a cracking—breaking glass and horrible thumps coming from all directions. They sat in the dark, holding each other and breathing heavily, hoping…hoping there would be a life left for them, since they would still be living.

Then, as quickly as it began, it was over. There was just the sound of rain splashing against the broken lattice. Mama shivered. Both of them were afraid to move.

Lance thought his mom would eventually release her grip, but she stayed where she was, squeezing him. He could hear her heart pounding. Finally, after a few moments, she relaxed. Her arms came free, and she wrapped them around her knees. She took four, maybe five, deep breaths.

He watched her. Either there was more light or his eyes had adjusted, because he could see her face clearly. She looked like a little girl. After all, that’s what bad storms do—they turn us all into children.

He leaned over and stroked her hair. “Mama,” he said, “what do you think about my place? I call it ‘Underneath.’”

Her eyes filled with tears as she looked around with her limited view and managed, “I like what you’ve done with it.”

She started to move, as if she was going to head out of the protection. Lance grabbed her arm. “Let’s not,” he said. “There’s no need for us to find out anything right now. You see, if we don’t know, then we don’t know.”

He offered her a drink from the canteen and some Gummi-bears. She accepted, putting a Gummi in her mouth and then taking a swig from the canteen. She emitted a tiny giggle.

Lance reached over and grabbed her hand. “Mama, this is where I come to get away from all my storms.”

Her face brightened, with a glint of understanding. She scooted across on her bottom, pulled him close to her and hugged like she had never hugged before.

The two just stayed there, hugging, crying and breathing in unison…

Underneath.

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1 Thing That Makes for a Good Father

 

SLOW TO ANGER

This remedy could be misinterpreted.

Someone reading “slow to anger” may think that fatherhood is being kind and nice.

Being a good father has little to do with being nice. Being a good father demands you be precise.

Make clear to your children how life works

Give them their options, and then hold them to their decisions without adding the angry heat of you feeling betrayed.

To achieve this, a father must keep in mind three important procedures:

1. Don’t show up to discipline your children already pissed about something else.

2. Let them explain and trap them in their own inconsistencies.

3. Let the punishment fit the crime.

Taking away a phone is not the correct judgment for being a bully. Any child who’s a bully needs to understand what it feels like to be bullied.

Being grounded is not sufficient for refusing to do the chores. Having the garbage set on top of their bed if they don’t take it out is more apt.

If you have creative solutions to dealing with your children instead of feeling disappointed and therefore angry, your results will be much more enlightening and lasting.


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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … October 23rd, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3102)

Dear Man Dear Woman

Man: I was thinking about Donald Trump.

 

Woman: What a coincidence. Because I was thinking about Hillary. What brought Donald to your mind?

 

Man: There’s such an uproar about him and the things he says. I was just wondering…well, I guess, wishing I would have had the chance to know him when he was young.

 

Woman: That’s so weird. I was thinking the same about Hillary. Yes, I would love to have had a chance to know her before there was a Bill Clinton, or all this political barbed wire that tries to cage her up as a villain.

 

Man: What I was thinking about is that when we’re young, there are three things that happen to all of us, in some form, that shape us. Three things that expose us to everyone around us, and we develop our sense of security or frustration.

 

Woman: That’s interesting. What are the three things?

 

Man: Well, you can probably think of your own, but I find the three things to be the locker room, camp and dating. That’s when we are suddenly taken out of the comfort of our zone, and we fall under the scrutiny of other people’s judgment.

 

Woman: Wow. That’s heavy. So I guess what I’m saying is that I would like to have met Hillary in the locker room.

 

Man: Now, that does sound a little bit odd.

 

Woman: No more odd than you wanting to meet Donald in the locker room.

 

Man: So what would you have said to Hillary?

 

Woman: “Relax. Some people look more endowed, more blessed, more athletic, but in the long run, it all comes to the surface and they are less advantaged in other areas. Don’t try to be the prettiest and the best or feel cheated because you aren’t.”

 

Man: Exactly. “Donald, stop worrying about your hands, or anything else that protrudes from your body. Just realize that you have gifts and they will come to the forefront when it’s time.”

 

Woman: Do you think he learned to be a bully in the locker room?

 

Man: Do you think she acquired some of her insecurity there?

 

Woman: Camp–the first time the lights are turned off in the cabin, and you’re with a group of girls and you can talk about what scares you, why you think your hips are too big and who you really like…

 

Man: Yes, I wonder if Donald ever actually sat in a log cabin somewhere in the woods with a bunch of guys who were at ease, and truth started slipping out because the room was just dark enough that you’re not afraid about how you sound.

 

Woman: You can tell by the fact that these two people choose lying lying that they were horribly misinformed about life.

 

Man: It is the truth that makes us free. But to allow for that freedom, we need to at least be around someone who allows the truth to come forth without criticizing us.

 

Woman: And then there’s dating. Isn’t that the third thing you mentioned?

 

Man: Absolutely. It’s terrifying.

 

Woman: Why do you think it’s so terrifying? Let me answer my own question. For me, it brought every fear and inadequacy to the forefront–like I was certain the person I was going out with was completely aware of all the stubble hair in my armpits.

 

Man: Could you ever eat enough Tic-Tacs to be confident about your breath? So what would you tell Hillary about that?

 

Woman: I would say, “Hillary, you’re going to meet a lot of men you’re going to love and who would be willing to love you. But you won’t meet many who give you a love that you can trust in.”

 

Man: I would say to Donald, “Even though you grew up in a neighborhood with a family which felt that bullying, being forceful and mean was viable, the best way to prove your strength is to not use it all the time. It’s all right to lose as long as you learn from it, and it’s certainly necessary to apologize if you want to be forgiven.”

 

Woman: I would love to have known Hillary when she was young. I would love to have caught her before she ended up with a cheater, believing it was the best she could get.

 

Man: And I would love to have known Donald when he still had a chance to believe in the power of kindness mingled with ingenuity instead of trying to control through domination.

 

Woman: Too bad we weren’t there.

 

Man: Actually, I’m grateful there was someone there for me so I don’t have to constantly prove my masculinity by pushing my way through.

 

Woman: And I’m glad that I feel confident in myself, and just include others for the joy of it instead of the need.

 

Man: Do you think we really could have made a difference?

 

Woman: Probably not. We were just learning the stuff ourselves.

 

Man: Maybe we can just help the young Donalds and Hillarys around us, who have not yet decided to give up and use deceit instead of talent.

 

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Jonathan’s Latest Book Release!

PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant

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PoHymn cover jon

 

Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 23) A Full House … October 2nd, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3082)

Reverend Meningsbee

The church was full–invaded by human beings of all ages. Two of the older deacons had to remember where the ancient folding chairs had been stocked to be retrieved for sitting possibilities.

The Bachman family had requested that Reverend Meningsbee offer the closing thoughts.

The memorial service began with Alex’s father offering some memories about his son. It was painful. Over and over again, Mr. Bachman had to stop and fight back tears before he could continue sharing about a fishing trip, a crazy journey to Disney World and popcorn-and-movie night with Alex.

The Girls’ Ensemble from the high school sang, “Let There Be Peace On Earth,” careful to change the lyrics when God was mentioned.

There were a couple of poems and a projection on a screen–a collage of visual memories of the young fellow.

Then, when the audience exhausted itself of possibilities, the service was left in the hands of the local parson, to culminate the event and terminate the misery with some sort of inspiration–minus divine content.

Reverend Meningsbee rose to his feet just as a gentleman on the back row suddenly launched into a coughing fit. It was so severe that people had to turn around to make sure he was all right. After his well-being was assured, Meningsbee strolled to the middle of the room, turned and began:

I didn’t know Alex. I wish I had–not just because I can always use another friend, but because I would have something to say about him today. So because I was at a loss for words, two days ago I decided to drive to the school and go down into the furnace room where Alex completed his journey.

I was surprised. First, I was surprised that there were two very long flights of stairs. I thought it was a little odd that they were made of metal. But that’s neither here nor there.

When I finally got into the furnace room, or what I guess you might call the area, I noticed how warm it was. Not hot. Just toasty–makes you want to sit down in the corner with a pillow and go to sleep.

I looked around for a few minutes. You know what I was looking for? I was looking for that pipe where he took his rope, threw it over, put it in a noose, tied it off and ended his life.

It was so peaceful down there. I suppose I could tell you that I felt Alex’s presence in the room, but I didn’t. I didn’t feel anything but machinery at work. It made me think about the note our friend left behind.

“They said it would get better.”

Who’s “they?” Alex didn’t write, “YOU said it would get better.” He wasn’t blaming friends and family. He was talking about “they–them.” Those individuals over there. People who sometimes fail to realize that what may seem to be temporary pain to one person is unbearable agony to another.

“They said things would get better.”

What is better? Gee whiz, I wish we could ask Alex that. Let me do that.

“Alex! What would you consider better? Would better be pressure taken off of you? Bullies leaving you alone? A sense of hope? Maybe just a girl smiling at you. Or maybe girls weren’t the problem. I don’t know.

But better never showed up. How do I know? Alex told me. He said, “They promised it would get better. BUT IT DIDN’T.”

I guess I have to ask myself–and ask you–if Alex was going to be in this room today, sharing a piano piece he had written (by the way, that’s one of the things I learned. He loved to play the piano.) Yes, if he had invited us all to a private concert, would we have packed the joint? Who would have showed up?

Apparently, to get our attention, Alex felt he had to die. That makes me sad. That makes me want to go out and break something. That makes me…well, that makes me want to make sure it never happens again.

I know I was instructed not to mention anything about religion, God or heaven. So I won’t.

But I will close with this thought–it’s a sensation.

Alex might concur.

Because as I climbed back up those metal stairs from the tomb of our loss, I thought to myself, “If there is no God, then we sure as hell need one.”

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … September 28th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3078)

string

A Sort Meant

Today is sufficiently constructed to handle the problems provided.

Worry is the drain on time that steals the energy to try.

Childish people lure you to their playground, where they can bully you with ease.

If we refrain from judging one another we might uncover our common core,

You will never find God if you’ve lost your humanity.

Out of the abundance of God’s heart, He speaks.

But religion is using God’s name in vain.

Love is the correct pronunciation.

Caving into pressure forces you to dig your way to freedom.

Every time you kill a jesus, you get a christ

And every moment you respect the Christ, you resurrect some Jesus.

The profit margin of gaining the world ignores the deduction of losing your soul.

For when words are organized into ideas, and ideas are granted heart, then the human race can breathe again.

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Jonathan’s Latest Book Release!

PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … June 8th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2958)

PoHymn June 8th

The I’s Keep Coming

I was raped

I am a rapist

I killed a gorilla

I aborted a fetus

I laughed at a vicious joke

I told the joke

I preached a sermon

I am a sinner

I am a virgin

I am promiscuous

I am a liberal

I am a conservative

I cheated on my taxes

I pay too much tax

I am saved

I am lost

I am Muslim

I am Hindu

I hate Jews

I despise Palestinians

I am a Christian

I am an atheist

I love animals

I butcher cows

I bully weaker folks

I pee in the pool

I am an American

I want to kill all Americans

I am a terrorist

I am terrified

I am a racist

I am considered inferior

I am a man

I am a woman

I want to die

I am dying

All God’s children

No respecter of persons

Papa’s love

Mystifying

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G-Poppers … September 11th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2689)

Jon close up

 

G-Pop watched the news with great interest.

One political candidate accused another candidate of not being attractive, and therefore, unable to get votes.

It made G-Pop wonder if his children knew how to handle a bully. There has been a great confluence of opinions on the subject of “bullying,” which boil down to three assertions:

A. Bullying is bad

B. Kids need to know how to speak up for themselves

C. Bullies make victims

What if all of these assertions are wrong?

Because when we have grown people who are supposed to be our leaders, who are still resorting to bullying, attempting to victimize others, we can’t isolate the problem as an adolescent situation.

Bullies don’t go away just because they have more birthdays.

So G-Pop wanted to explain to his children exactly how this situation works. For after all, everyone gets bullied. There are even “bulliers” who bully the bullies.

It begins with an action, an accusation or an insult. Here’s what G-Pop thinks you should do:

1. After the insult, you have the stage.

People will turn to see how you’re going to react to this indignity. The spotlight is on you. What you do next will determine whether the public views the bully as the victor or realizes that you have handled yourself with great power and have overcome the onslaught.

Obviously, with the amount of bullying that goes on in America, most of our countrymen think the bully has the advantage.

After the bullying is presented, you have the stage. Everyone is awaiting your response.

2. It is a principle in wrestling that the best way to defeat your opponent is to use his weight against him.

That’s right. When your adversary is in the attack position, he becomes off-balance. He is lunging and his weight is on the front of his feet. He does not have equilibrium anymore unless you catch him, hold him up and begin to fight.

If you move out of the way, pushing your attacker to the side, he will likely fall down.

When Donald Trump suggested that Carly Fiorina was not attractive enough to be President, he thrust forward, placing himself in a position to be thrown to the ground by someone who would use the wieght of his stupid comment against him.

So what should she have said back to his insult? How about this?

“Well, I understand that Mr. Trump is accustomed to judging beauty contests, but since being President doesn’t come with any crown–even a tiara–I’m not terribly concerned about how he views my comeliness.”

She would not only have been applauded for her calm and intelligent answer, but would have used the absurdity of his attack against him.

3. Breathe and control the subject.

Once people have decided how they want to bully you, they play out their hand. If you can dodge the force of their ambush, you then are granted, by the surrounding listeners, permission to change the subject and turn things in a different direction.

So how does this apply on the playground with children?

G-Pop thinks the best way to overcome bullying is to stay in teams. Bullies don’t like to attack more than one person at a time.

Then, when the bully attacks, use the force of his attack against him, with comrades standing nearby to support.

Then breathe and go find help by changing the subject to solution instead of conflict.

G-Pop knows that some people are not satisfied with mere resolution, but instead, would love to heap revenge. Honestly, life takes care of that also.

If you take the stage and use the bully’s weight against him and control the subject, you will embarrass your attacker, giving permission to the masses around you to mop up the mess.

Yes, people will aid you and take care of the bully if you have the intelligence to know what to do when he or she comes.

 

 

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