Things I Learned from R. B.


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Episode 2

There is definitely a reason that patrons of literature over the centuries have sincerely warned those who put pen to paper (or in our time, fingers to keys) that it is never wise to write something in the first person. Just too many I’s for the “eyes” which will read it.

Yes, it’s safer to let your tale be told by a he, a she, a they or even an it.

Then, if your character ends up being a scoundrel—even temporarily—you don’t have to personally wear the orange D on your chest—for Dumbass.

But when I talk to you about R. B., I must speak in the first person. These are lessons I had to learn which you perhaps already knew, or will decide to ignore.

I will simply have to own the good with the bad, the silly with the serious and the righteous with the sinister.

Let me begin by saying that I wrote a musical. Fifteen songs plus little interludes sprinkled among them which I referred to as “widgets.”

I was very proud.

Actually, most of the musical was written in less than three months—with a song or two trailing off to coincide with the calendar year.

I got my band together and we recorded the music on a reel-to-reel tape system, overdubbed through a cassette machine, until we had something that sounded like an entire cast performing the tunes.

I had no idea what I was going to do with this collection of lyrics, notes and melodies.

I played it for an old buddy of mine in Columbus, Ohio, who immediately fell in love with the whole idea surrounding the project—so much so that he decided to make it his pet purpose. Before I knew it, he went out and secured fifteen people to invest in this endeavor, giving us a whopping ten thousand dollars to do something with what we had.

I was young. I probably should have taken it slow. But honestly, those two words—“young and slow”—rarely appear together in Earth’s environment.

Therefore I went into a professional studio and hired musicians to record the soundtrack and decided to put together a cast of nine characters for a twenty-five-city tour of the United States of America. This would be a daunting task for someone who knew what he was doing, let alone for a sheep in the woods, unfamiliar with the ravenous wolves.

My first step was to hold auditions.

I thought people would flock to have an opportunity to travel for two months across the great American plain—to sing, dance and act in front of audiences in hometown theaters from Pennsylvania to Texas.

I was wrong.

About twenty-five people signed up for the audition, and they all came with three questions:

  1. What am I going to make?
  2. How much does it pay?
  3. What will be my remuneration?

On the night of the audition, they all came in having much less talent than ego. Also, they were more greedy than giving and critical than appreciative.

Chief among them was a fellow named R. B. He was a sweet enough guy, but his New England upbringing had led him to believe that he was one of the Sons of the American Revolution.

He had exacting demands:

He didn’t want to audition the way everyone else did. He wanted to set up his guitar amp and sing his own songs instead take a crack at mine.

Also, he was so nervous to audition in front of the rest of the contestants that he demanded a private room. He sang a hair off-key, breathless from nervous energy. Yet, he still had just enough of a voice to be considered.

I was young, too eager, and uncertain whether I would be able to fill all the positions from the handful of souls who came out for the trials.

I gave in too much to R. B.’s requests.

I just didn’t know if I would ever find other people to staff our show, so I was careful not to close a door to anyone. Through that experience, I learned that sometimes if you don’t close the door, all the flies come in.

Four days after the auditions, still having three spaces to fill, I hired R. B. to be in my musical and travel with the cast. I made the decision after about three hours of a back-and-forth conversation with myself that went like this:

“Sure, he doesn’t have…”

“But then again, maybe…”

I learned, from this first encounter with R. B., that when you base your future on maybe, you always end up with what will be—wishing for what could be.

Not Long Tales … November 19th, 2019

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15.

Shears

Ronald tiptoed along the narrow aisle of his thirteen-hundred-and-fifty-square-foot establishment, quietly making his way to the door, opening it slowly, slipping outside, and closing it, holding his breath.

Even though he was the owner and manager of his own location, he was trying to avoid his cashier, Michelle, seeing him leave, once again giving him her pesky sermon on the dangers of cigarette smoking.

Because that’s where he was headed.

Once or twice a day, he escaped, turned left, walked about twenty paces, just beyond the corner of Main and High, sat down on the curb and smoked some Chesterfields.

It was usually never more than one or two. Every once in a while, four or five—but had never exceeded a pack. It all depended on his mood.

And today Ronald was not very happy. He was thirty-nine years old and no one knew it was his birthday, so he had too much time on his hands. He was plagued by his own thoughts.

When he first moved to the little town of Cadbury, Ohio, a village about forty minutes from downtown Columbus, he had envisioned starting a bustling enterprise that would include shirts, some shoes, dresses, underwear, socks—everything a local citizen might need to quickly acquire when the long drive to Newton’s was not practical. Newton’s was the huge conglomerate that carried everything imaginable, which usually meant that his tiny facility was ignored if gasoline was available and scheduling permitted for the drive.

He originally named his location “The Cadbury Emporium,” but quickly realized that the people of the town didn’t care for their name—Cadbury—since most folks associated it with the chocolate-covered Easter Bunny. And also, no one seemed to know what an emporium was.

So after a year-and-a-half of trying to explain, he settled on “Shears Department Store”—Shears being his last name.

He was proud of what he had accomplished—happy for the two or three customers that came through his doors each and every day (mostly to eyeball the latest goods or chew the fat for a few minutes). Actually, the business barely earned enough money to sustain his rent, utilities, a wage for Michelle and his living expenses.

But it was a needful, occasionally pleasant, distraction.

He once had threatened to leave town, and more than a dozen folks came to protest outside his building, demanding that he stay. It was one of the best days of his life. After all, everybody wants to be wanted.

There were also great moments.

There was the time that one of the girls from the local high school needed a dress for homecoming, and everything at Newton’s was too expensive, so she and her mother came in, found what she needed—and Ronald even offered to tailor the dress to her liking and add a few more bows.

There was also a young fat boy who lived down the road who came in at least once a week to eyeball a pair of Beatle Boots that had been around for years—size twelve. Ronald felt bad for the chubby fellow, knowing that his bloated feet would never fit inside, but was still always willing to stop and chat with him—both about the shoes and favorite songs from the Fab Four.

Next door to him was the Village Eats—that’s what they called it—the local restaurant. Cater-cornered from him, going down High Street, was a little market that made delicious ham loaves, another little clothing store geared specifically to women over the age of seventy, a laundromat, an old-time drug store still making malts, the town bar and, on the far end, the local newspaper—The Cadbury News.

Ronald had memories in all the locations.

Now, on this day of his birth, Ronald sat on his curb, smoked and thought about where he was, who he was and what he wanted.

He wanted a woman. At least he thought so.

He had never really dated, but he liked women. At least he thought so.

But with a name like Ronald Shears, it was difficult to draw the immediate attention of any female. He had considered becoming “Ron,” but he just wasn’t the kind of guy you went and had a beer with. “Ronnie” was out of the question—there was nothing cute about him.

He turned his head and looked to the left, down High Street, to a small white-frame building—the office of Dr. Raswell.

Ronald envied the good doctor. The man was one of those fellows who was so handsome that other men admired him. Slender but not skinny. Not too tall but certainly closer to six than five feet. Brown, wavy hair with just a touch of gold near the crown. And he always looked like he had a tan. Even in the dead of winter, Dr. Raswell looked like he had just come from the beach.

And the women flocked from everywhere, saith the Lord.

It really was rather suspicious. There was no plague loose in the community, so it was doubtful that all the ladies were sick at one time. There were rumors aplenty about what happened in his examination rooms, but nothing had ever been confirmed and nobody was telling.

Ronald kind of hated him. Hate is just what envy does when it can’t find a way to compete.

Ronald breathed in a ragged breath. He still had his business and his Chesterfields. He liked smoking. He loved the way the first few puffs burned the inside of his mouth with a delightful, aching throb which gradually, as he smoked more and more, gave him a numb, kindly peacefulness, making his head spin.

He sat, continuing his thinking and smoking, when suddenly, unexpectedly, his feelings switched to guilt. It often happened to him.

Living in a small town, there was so much shit that had to be ignored that if you took too much time smoking too many cigarettes on the curb, you started recalling all the vicious things going on around you.

For instance, right above the Village Eats was an apartment. Matter of fact, the staircase that walked up to the location was right next to Shears’ back wall, where he kept his limited inventory. So when tenants bound up the stairs, it always sounded like he was right next to a bowling alley. It often felt that way, because all of the people who rented that apartment were young couples just out of high school or just beginning their lives together after college.

It had always been that way and would always be that way—because Ronald knew why these young people were selected to live in the apartment, even though their credit history and work records were often questionable.

The apartment was co-owned by Officer Dunworth, one of the two policemen who served the town, and Mack Jones, who advertised himself as a real estate agent, though nobody had actually ever seen him sell a property.

About a month earlier, Ronald decided to toddle down to the community tavern and see if he could blend in and consume a couple of mixed drinks. While he was standing there, Officer Dunworth, who was off-duty, and Mack Jones were perched not more than five feet from him. They were chattering away, laughing. It was just the three of them—the bartender had slipped away to use the facilities.

Ronald listened to them talking. When they realized he was eavesdropping, they invited him into the conversation. Well inebriated, their lips were loose.

Mack put his arm around Ronald, which surprisingly, gave the store owner quite a thrill. It was exciting to be appreciated. It was nourishing to be included. With a slurred lip, Mack explained what he and Dunworth had been talking about.

“You see, what we do,” he said slowly, “we take that apartment up above the restaurant, and we find young couples who are so grateful for a chance to start out, that they don’t have any questions. Then we have them sign a contract. You know—a lease. But there’s nothing standard about it. We charge them a decent rent, but we ask them for first and last month, and a $250 non-refundable cleaning deposit. Written into the lease—of course, at the very bottom…”

Mack turned and punched Officer Dunworth in the arm, and the two burst into laughter. The officer was so close to Ronald’s face that he sniffed the Jack Daniels. Dunworth added, “At the way, way, way, way bottom.”

More laughter. Mack took a breath to let the laughter die down and then continued. “Well, as I said, at the bottom of the lease we have a stipulation. If they decide to leave the apartment—for whatever reason—before their one-year lease is up, they will owe us for the entire three hundred and sixty-five days—twice over.”

Ronald didn’t understand. It seemed quite unfair. But still, not worthy of all the giddy reflection the two fellows were mustering.

Officer Dunworth, seeing that Ronald didn’t get it, said, “Aw. He forgot to mention. After they’ve been there about a month and a half, we sneak in and release cockroaches and mice.”

“Well,” said Mack. “This scares the hell out of the kids.”

More hilarity. Mack took a deep breath and a long drink of his whiskey, and punctuated, “So scared that they want to leave. Especially the little wife is ready to jump out of her skin. But meanwhile, when they start complaining about these roaches and rats, we once again go in to inspect, and kill the little mothers. But the wifey is so frightened she sees them in her head and is convinced they are still there. The punks demand to be let off their lease…”

Officer Dunworth jumped in. “And you know what, Ronald? We refuse.”

Mack interrupted. “So they cry and cry and cry. And we just keep pointing at that lease. And finally, when they’re just about ready to take us to court, we step in and tell ’em that they don’t have to pay twice the amount on the rent. Just one year’s worth of money will settle their debt.”

Dunworth sneaked in with an additional thought. “And they are so grateful for our courtesy…”

Mack, suddenly tired of his own tale, slapped the bar and finished up. “And we walk out with a couple thousand dollars. If we do it three times a year, in no time at all, we’re pretty damn rich.”

Officer Dunworth gave his conclusion. “For Cadbury, Ohio we are.”

The two men laughed, staring at Ronald and wondering why he wasn’t joining into the chuckling. Ronald, fearing the two men might hurt him, managed a smile and the wiggle of a giggle.

Now, sitting out on the curb smoking his seventh Chesterfield, he felt ill. The young couple presently in the apartment were a pair of lovers who had been condemned by the community because they’d had a baby out of wedlock. You weren’t allowed to do that in Cadbury, Ohio.

Ronald thought it was fascinating that the grown-ups planned proms, homecomings and dances but didn’t expect any of the kids to ever screw.

But screw they do, he thought.

His name was Michael and she was Josephine, but they went by Mick and Jo. It frustrated him that these two young people were going to be ravaged by the pernicious plot. Of course, they would have to go to family for the money, and there would be so many strings attached that it could end up being ropes to hang them.

Smoking away, Ronald turned his head one more time toward the doctor’s office as the young medical Don Juan stepped out the door to welcome another woman for her checkup.

Not fair.

Ronald was thirty-nine years old and a virgin. He could barely say it to himself. He lit up another Chesterfield, realizing the time had passed and he had finished the pack. He didn’t care.

He probably should go up and see Mick and Jo and warn them about the scam.

He probably should try to start a life for himself, so that he wouldn’t feel emotionally flattened from just breathing.

He probably should sell his business, go out and try something else. But then he would lose the dozen supporters who begged him to stay.

He probably shouldn’t have smoked a whole pack of Chesterfields, because now he had a headache and was sick to his stomach.

Maybe some of Maryanne’s home-made chicken soup from the Village Eats would settle him.

He stood to his feet and walked slowly toward Shears Department Store.

What should he do? If he stood up to Officer Dunworth and Mack Jones, they certainly would get even. Maybe they’d spread more rumors about him.

He couldn’t handle the rumors. Last year, when people were talking about him being a queer, he made a scene at the post office, screaming at some ladies, insisting that he was “right in the head, and favored women.”

It was so ugly. As horrible as gossip was, trying to defend yourself against it was a monster.

He didn’t know what to do.

And that was the summation of his thirty-nine years.

There was the answer: not knowing what to do, he had continued to do what he felt was expected to be done.

As he neared the door of the department store which bore his name, Michelle stepped out and called, “Ronald, Margaret Jenner just called, and her husband needs a really good-looking black suit because his brother just died and they’re heading for the funeral.”

Ronald nodded his head.

Just what he needed. A wonderfully timed distraction.

His eyes brightened a bit and he told Michelle, “Tell Margaret to come on in, and I’ll fit Bob in one of our black suits.”

Michelle ran to make the call.

Ronald was just about to step into the store when he saw Mic and Jo arriving in their beat-up van. They got out, carrying groceries, and headed toward the stairs to their apartment. Seeing Ronald, they waved and shouted, “Nice to have you as a neighbor.”

Ronald waved back sadly.

Jo followed up with, “You should come up and see our place sometime. Anytime. You don’t even have to warn us.”

With this, the two disappeared up the stairs to their temporary home.

It was 1971.

Ronald was a businessman, thirty-nine years of age, living in Cadbury, Ohio.

The world was racing toward Sesame Street

And his little town was stuck in Howdy Doody.

 

 

Catchy (Sitting 6) The Boat Ashore … July 16th, 2017

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Michael always hated the process of trying to get his ducks in a row. Unfortunately, if you follow a duck, it will eventually end up at the pond–but too often makes far too many detours.

Michael resorted to his logical nature. He decided to resign his position on the school board, and three months after Rachel’s departure, he sat down with young Alisa and Bernice and told them of their mother’s preference. Much to his surprise, the girls were infuriated with Mum, repulsed by the notion of the homosexuality and sympathetic to him for being treated so poorly.

Michael mused. What was he waiting for? It was time to share the story in the community, or at least leak it to the people who would do the gossiping for him. Let his conservative community draw their own conclusions, which certainly would be anti-lesbian and therefore, anti-Rachel. This would set him up for his next political adventure—senator in the state assembly in Columbus.

Sure enough, the good Buckeyes repudiated the actions of Rachel and Connie and sent messages of encouragement to the budding political Adonis.

Exactly three hundred and sixty-seven days after Rachel’s departure, Michael began to date a woman three years his senior. She was a handsome lady of means. She fell in love with his two young daughters, an affection they returned gratefully. Her name was Barbara–politically correct.

Two days before Michael and Barbara became the new Hinstons, he announced his campaign for state senator. Freshly married to a woman who showed little interest in her sexual similars, with two lovely daughters blooming with promise (on record with abstinence pledges), he was the H-E-R-O of O-H-I-O.

Toting his family and his Bible across central Ohio, he trumpeted his slogan: “Everyone Needs a Second Chance. Isn’t It Time for Yours?”

Michael was elected with a fourteen-point margin. He fulfilled two terms as a state senator, waiting for his dream job to open.

Then the oldest Congressman from the state of Ohio decided to retire for health reasons. Well, that’s one story. There was a rumor that he struck a deal with the District Attorney to step down instead of facing indictments for soliciting illegal donations for political favors. This was the reputation within the twelfth district–there were many industrial concerns in the borders–enterprises always trying to dodge federal regulations and desiring a champion in Washington to protect them.

So Michael Hinston ran for the Congressional seat and, in a very close race, lost. He was devastated in the grumpiest of ways. He threatened to quit politics until Coach Mack came along and reminded him of how many elections Old Abe Lincoln lost before gaining success. Michael liked being compared to Abraham Lincoln.

Meanwhile, the Hinstons started to have some marital problems. Barbara was like a 1974 Chevy Malibu that was just fine as long as you ran it, but when you kept it parked in a barn somewhere, it tended to wear out more quickly. Barbara felt that Michael had parked her in such a barn.

She felt abandoned. Michael had no interest in any other women, but had an ongoing love affair with his own aspirations. It had been months since they were sexually entwined and weeks since they had even touched. Barbara contended it had been a fortnight since he had even looked her way. She requested that they see a marriage counselor. Michael was terrified over the possible bad publicity.

He shared his dilemma with Mack, who said, “Go ahead and do it. Therapy and counseling are really ‘in things’ now. You know–uptown. People don’t look down on it anymore. It’s kind of hip and contemporary. Shows you give a damn. Just make sure you go to two different counselors—one a psychologist. And don’t be so stupid as to go to a psychiatrist. They’ll think you’re on medication. And you should also see your minister. Go through the motions, work it out, come to a resolution. It’s only gonna make points for you.”

Michael never advertised the conflict he was having with Barbara, but it was the state of Ohio and people do talk. Mack was right. The electorate expressed great admiration over the unfolding counseling sessions. Michael even found the interaction a bit more interesting than he had expected, and Barbara was greatly appeased.

Michael was grateful. Wife two was satisfied by some comforting words and book reading instead of lesbian love.

Then a tragedy.

Not really tragic for Michael, though propriety forced him to feign deep concern. The newly elected Congressman from the state of Ohio had a fatal heart attack on his way to Capitol Hill. A temporary replacement was put in the position. And at the next election, Michael ran for the office, and this time, on the strength of his previous campaign and his recent marital mending, won the seat handily.

He was a Congressman in Washington, D.C., from the state of Ohio, with a wife and two lovely daughters.

Two weeks later, while sitting at his desk, Michael opened an envelope from Caine Industrial, a prosperous concern from his district. The package was hand-delivered by courier, and contained a check for $50,000. Michael was breathless, bug-eyed and baffled.

The phone rang. Michael picked it up, still gazing at the huge amount printed on the face of the check.

“Mikey! This is God-guy!”

Michael paused for a moment, trying to reconnoiter the voice. It didn’t take him long. There was only one person who had ever called him Mikey. He hated the name. But he loved the man, so he tolerated it.

It was Matthew Ransley.

“Mikey, listen. I got this problem. I got a billionaire who wants to give me two hundred fifty million dollars if I can find a way to make Jesus popular. I need your help, buddy. Here’s what I want you to do. . .”Donate ButtonThe producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Good News and Better News … November 2nd, 2015

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Good news Better news Columbus

I drove to Columbus, Ohio, to assist one soul. 483 miles round trip.

It was a decision:

  • If I go, then I’ll know I went.
  • If I don’t, I leave all circumstances to time and chance.
  • If I come up with a good excuse to stay and not go, then I will need evidence I tried–some extraordinary measure that expresses my concern. More than “I’m praying for you.”
  • If I make the journey, I risk expense and exhaustion.

“If, then.”

It got me thinking.

If there is a God, then there is a heaven.

Cool. Covered. Taken care of.

If there is no God, we really still need a heaven.

What is heavenly?

That which promotes life instead of death.

That which allows for my happiness and the happiness of others.

“Love your neighbor” jumps out as an essential ingredient.

How about being “the salt of the earth and the light of the world?”

And let us not forget, “don’t judge people”–or become your neighborhood ass.

Makes sense.

If there is no government to help the poor, then my two dollars, given to the guy on the street, becomes the safety net.

If there is a safety net, I can use my two dollars to help someone who can’t find it.

If there is no solution, then we will need really good diversions to keep us happy.

If there are solutions, then perhaps our task is to make big, easy-to-read signs so people can find the possibilities more easily.

I am not a destination; I am a GPS.

“Where do you want to go?”

That’s what I ask.

“Let’s find a good route.”

If there is no eternity, then it is all happening now.

So perhaps we should just “enjoy the heaven” out of it.

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Untotaled: Stepping 65 (February 10th, 1971) Jon Russell…May 2nd, 2015

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(Transcript)

Dollie woke me from a nap and told me that her water broke.

Still sleepy and also very ignorant, I patted her on the shoulder and said, “Don’t worry. We’ll get you some more.”

She hurriedly explained what she meant.

In no time at all, we found ourselves at Riverside Hospital in Columbus, Ohio and she was wheeled in on a gurney to a back room. I was told to wait in a small enclosure with two other fellows who were quickly informed of the arrival of their children and departed, leaving me all alone.

Hours passed.

I was completely unacquainted with hospitals and was afraid to ask many questions, so I just watched television.

At about 11:15 that night, a doctor came in and told me that I had a new son and asked me if I would like to see him.

Of course I did.

So I walked around the corner and there was a nurse with a mask, holding a bruised, bloody and misshapen mass of tissue which I could only guess was supposed to be my human son.

The doctor noted my shock, and explained that because my wife was under anesthetic, that they had to use forceps to get the baby out, and there had been some bruising–which would quickly heal.

As soon as he made this explanation he left the room, saying that in an hour or so I could see my wife. So I went back and sat down, trying to get my nineteen-year-old mind to understand that I was a father of some gelatin mass.

Johnny Carson was on TV with The Tonight Show. His guests were the Edwin Hawkins Singers, performing O Happy Day. As I listened to the music and the inspiration of the thought, I realized that I was very happy, in a deep, forlorn, frightened and devastated sort of way.

Sitting there that night I had no idea where the rest of my journey would take me:

Three more children of my own and three additional children I brought into my home and adopted as my sons.

I could never have envisioned the struggles, the thousands of miles, the victories and the defeats.

I was glad I was alone, because I cried.

I wept over the little boy who was dying–and also for the man who was trying to emerge and make his place.

 

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Untotaled: Stepping 59 (September 9th, 1970) Welcome Home–NOT… March 21, 2015

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(Transcript)

Troubled souls require a soft pillow on which to fall when their great plans bring them crashing to the earth.

There was no such cushion awaiting my girlfriend and myself when we landed in Columbus, Ohio, having hatched a plan to be together–to the chagrin or disapproval of all outsiders.

  • Her parents disowned her.
  • Our high school friends stopped calling.
  • And our church stood at an adequate, Biblical distance, careful not to pass along any semblance of support, while also insisting they were not “negative.”

We had obviously failed. We had broken the protocol.

For some, it was an issue of right and wrong. For others, it fell into the realm of proper or improper. But really, in the long run, the greatest fear of any small town is that actions are not “normal,” forcing them to be declared “weird.”

Once we received such a cool reception from our community, we found it impossible to share that a baby was on the way, especially since such a revelation, in 1970, was just short of abomination and well within the realm of unforgivable sin.

We were scared. We were two people desperately in need of counsel. We found no consolation, only affixed stares.

So we decided to drive down to Nashville, Tennessee, using some of my girlfriend’s college money, to see what life was like outside our burg. Because we were gone for the entire weekend, people assumed we got married, and when we returned unhitched, the persecution increased.

I was informed that I was no longer welcome to be in charge of the coffee house, which had been my great affection all through my high school years.

I don’t want you to misunderstand me–I am not saying that the path we chose was conventional or even worthy of any type of praise.

We were just young.

We needed consideration instead of condemnation–and it was just easier for them to set us to the side than to take us aside and set us straight.

So because of all of this scrutiny, we decided that we needed to go somewhere in the deep South and find a state where we could get married as quickly as possible.

We were thrilled.

Everyone else pretended they didn’t notice.

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Untotaled: Stepping 54 (May 7th, 1970) Prom Motion…February 14, 2015

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(Transcript)

It was early afternoon on Wednesday, May 4th, 1970, before the word spread through our high school that four students had been killed at Kent State.

The response was odd.

For you see, half of our teachers were nearly in tears over the unnecessary loss of human life, and the other half basically had the attitude that “the kids got what they deserved” for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

So the school was split.

What made things even more difficult was that there had been riots all over the nation for weeks, and our senior prom was coming up on Saturday.

Having a myopic view of life at eighteen years of age, the shooting of the students at Kent State barely created a blip on my radar. I was thinking about the prom, romance, finally getting out of school and a big gospel concert I planned to attend with my date in the middle of the prom experience. Yes, we intended on leaving the prom for a few hours and going to the fairgrounds in Columbus to catch a musical show.

I was also excited because my girlfriend’s father told us we could use his Corvette for the prom. I would not say that her parents were in favor of our relationship–I think they were convinced it was merely a high school affair, and she would soon be in college and forget the hometown boy.

Prom night arrived. We went to the dinner, and then slipped off to the gospel concert, where we were confronted with a most bizarre situation.

Stationed at the fairgrounds were National Guard troops who were trying to keep order at Ohio State University. So as we walked around in our formal wear, there were soldiers not much older than us, carrying guns–dancing to the music with their rifles overhead.

After the concert we decided not to rejoin the prom activities but instead, went out, talked, made out, and ended up, just before dawn, on the long driveway leading to my girlfriend’s house.

We wanted it to be a memorable night so I took off my dress coat, placed it on the grass, and she laid down. I lifted her dress and she unbuckled my pants. We commenced to do things that we knew would be frowned on by anyone older than us.

Two weird things happened in the midst of this intimacy.

A horse my girlfriend owned came up to the nearby fence and stared at us. I couldn’t help thinking that he was critiquing my technique, And then, even more strange was that a nearby neighbor–a friend of my girlfriend’s father–pulled into the driveway with his pickup truck, sat for a minute and then backed out to depart.

We finished our fling and realized that it was unlikely that this intruding neighbor would keep his mouth shut. We were pretty confident that we had the horse’s silence.

So we drove the rest of the way up to the house and had breakfast–both of us realizing this was probably the last time there would be civility in her household over our relationship.

Not much happened after that.

Two weeks later, on graduation day, we both picked up our diplomas without much pomp and circumstance, with only one thing on our minds.

A time of the month had been missed–and we were afraid we were prematurely on our way to a grown-up world.

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Published in: on February 14, 2015 at 1:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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