Sit Down Comedy … November 8th, 2019

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Sit Down Comedy

 I felt the need for some caution.

When the Mogelthorpe family invited us over for a discussion, I was bewildered. First, I did not know the Mogelthorpes—only that their teenage daughter was dating our teenage son. Additionally, I didn’t think I had ever participated in an event dubbed “a discussion” that remained discussing and didn’t deteriorate into some sort of verbal standoff.

But I went.

As it turned out, the Mogelthorpes were very concerned that their daughter was getting too serious about our son, and that their high school dating experience was progressing at a frightening pace.

I listened. But I must admit, I find folks who attempt to curtail sexual activity somewhat comical. They, themselves, historically did not “cur their tail,” and most of the time when we try to keep young humans from doing things, they just do it sooner and faster.

I tried to talk like a responsible, aging, overly anxious parent and take the whole thing seriously.

At length I failed.

After an hour-and-a-half of back-and-forth conversation, which was deteriorating into each set of parents beginning to blame the other set for raising either a “tart” or a “rascal,” I finally concluded, “Folks, this is really simple. Your daughter has a radioactive vagina and my son is toting a Geiger counter.”

They did not find this humorous or even enlightening.

We left on semi-cordial terms—but with no prospects of future interaction or fellowship. It was especially ridiculous when within two weeks the two lovers lost interest in each other.

At this point, you might think the parents would relax and laugh at the failed conference. But no, the whole time I lived in the community, they never spoke to me again. And I imitated them.

Now, I felt the same way yesterday afternoon as I watched the news.

Made-up people are putting together made-up discussions over made-up problems in a world that has been made up by all of us.

The result will not be good. For it has become much more important to score points than to make one.

We are determined to wrestle our opponents to the ground and stand over them, spitting bullets.

We need to understand one fact:

Where there’s an absence, there will be a presence.

And where there is a presence, to make room for such an introduction, something will have to be absent.

Although the Democrats are certain that all the problems in our country are caused by the Republicans, and the Republicans feel they’re on a holy mission to prevent the Democrats from gaining control of the steering wheel to our government, the tactics that have been conjured are now the only things we all share in common.

Republicans aren’t nastier than Democrats. The Donkey Party has pulled even.

The Democrats are not free from scandal. They are completely equivalent to their Republican nemesis.

We believe the best way to settle a Presidential campaign is to insult until we get the desired result.

So the absence of one thing becomes the presence of another. And if you’re not careful, you may not even notice that something beautiful is gone. It is quickly filled in with something ugly. Then people tell you that this ugliness has always been there.

For instance:

The absence of civility is the presence of aggression.

Civility began feeling too “goody-goody” for us, so we attempted to change it to “toleration.” In other words, “I agree to disagree with you.”

Little did we know that in order to maintain this neutrality, we would have to be aggressive to keep our opponent at bay.

Likewise, the absence of truth is the presence of lying.

We didn’t believe that. We thought some matters could be “private,” and an explanation would not be necessary. But with a 24-hour news cycle, the facts always come out—and then, lying must be used to cover up the secret.

The absence of understanding is the presence of confusion.

Parts of our country have attempted to isolate themselves from other parts, pleading ignorance of social, cultural and even spiritual differences. But ignorance is a hard idea to present as a virtue.

And the absence of understanding has become the presence of confusion.

In other words, “How can those people be so stupid?”

Countered with, “How can those people be so arrogant?”

It may be difficult to understand, but:

The absence of good becomes the presence of evil.

We would like to characterize this as free will—but when humans are given liberty, they normally use it for an occasion to gratify their flesh. It’s just in our DNA.

So as Abraham Lincoln suggested, if we are not in pursuit of our better angels, our worst demons start planning the picnic.

I do believe we have good intentions.

But once you want to dominate, you don’t take the time to ruminate.

Yes—to sit and ponder how often we’re wrong, and to allow that to soak in so we don’t have to act like we are always right.

For I can tell you:

The absence of love is the presence of hate.

For the past twenty years, we have tried to achieve a relaxed indifference toward one another.

We have more interest in our personal family than the family of man.

And we have changed our lives to an electoral-college map, which tells us how to act.

Love is more than affection and it is more than commitment.

Love is the certainty that we are wrong often enough that we need to talk a helluva lot less.

Without this admission, hate shows up early, and leaves late.

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … August 16th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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See me

See me stand

Just as I planned

Or should I sit

To display my wit

What shall I wear

Will anyone care

And what shall I speak

Aggressive or meek?

When I share

Will others stare

Should I wear a dress

My hair is a tossled mess

Explaining my plea

Please listen to me

For the tale I tell

Must go well

I’ve invested my feelings

Jeopardized my dealings

To gain your ear

Then escape my fear

I’m more than a daughter

Or a human container of water

Not just a wife

Please notice my life

Being a mother

Sons I bore

But look at me

I’m so much more

A sinner saved by grace, tis true

A friend, acquaintance, to many of you

A queen who awakens from foolish dreams

To rule her kingdom without schemes

My heart is thumping

My soul is screaming

This brain is jumping

As my face is gleaming

See me

See clear

See clean

Then I can help you

To be seen

 

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 16) Matrisse … August 14th, 2016

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Reverend Meningsbee

The Garsonville church congregation came ricocheting out of the sanctuary, bouncing off the walls like a red rubber ball tossed by a naughty toddler.

They were so pleased with themselves.

Those who had participated in the “Group Sermonette” reprised their roles to the delight of listeners, as the individuals who were passed over by the lottery of numbers sat with a blending of jealousy over being left out and excitement over when they, too, would be asked to be leaders in the Reverend’s Round Robin.

Meningsbee had barely made his way out the door when he was greeted by Matrisse. She asked to see him for a moment, so the good reverend followed her over to a secluded alcove and sat down on a bench.

Now…Matrisse had not been one of the early encouragers to Reverend Meningsbee. She did not criticize him, nor did she leave and join the “Express” congregation. She just watched–carefully.

Although only fifty years old, she had a depth of soul and a rigidity of countenance which reminded him of a giant eagle perched on a high mountain, peering down at the flightless mortals below.

One day she just called and asked if she could come over and see the preacher. She brought chicory and sticky buns, and for three hours the two souls enjoined.

Meningsbee learned much.

Matrisse was the only human of color in the Garsonville community. Her father was a Cherokee chief–retired–and her mother was a Creole dame from New Orleans who dabbled in the “dark arts.” So Matrisse grew up learning the smoking end of a peace pipe and on rainy evenings, found herself digging in the muddy soil to retrieve night crawlers and crickets for her mother to use in favored potions.

Matrisse was a delicious milky-brown color, which in a normal city would render her nearly invisible, but in Garsonville made her appear like she was fresh off the boat from Africa. In her lifetime she had gone from being called “nigger” to more recently being referred to as a “treasure of our community with a colorful personality.”

Meningsbee knew one thing about Matrisse–she was the kind of woman to listen to because she had spent much of her life hearing nonsense, and was able to pull out nuggets of gold from the rubble.

Once they sat down in the alcove, she wasted no time. “Who is this woman you have brought to our church?”

Meningsbee replied, “Kitty? She’s just a girl.”

Matrisse fired back, “Girls do not have boobies and babies.”

The pastor had no reply. He knew it was time to listen.

Matrisse colored in the picture. “I will not take much of your time. I know because you’re a man who has a generous heart, but often a clumsy understanding of pioneer people, that you probably plan to lodge the girl and her baby in your home as an act of Christian charity.”

Actually, Meningsbee didn’t know what his intentions were, but had no reason to argue with the assertion.

Matrisse marched on. “You cannot do this. You are a man, even though you think you are of God. I mean, you know you’re of God, but you’re also a man. What I’m saying is, a man of God is still more man than God. Even if you would never lay a hand on this young girl, everybody would have visions of you fondling her, making wild passionate love to her, and never give you the benefit of the doubt, even if you were remaining pure and chaste.”

Meningsbee hadn’t even thought about it. Any of it. He started to object, but Matrisse interrupted.

“I’m not asking your opinion on this. I am telling you that I will take this woman into my home for two weeks and treat her as my daughter. And her little child will become my pappoose. That’s fourteen days. In that fourteen days, you should talk to her, find out what she wants to do–but make sure that she does not accidentally turn into a Jezebel who comes and destroys this work of God. Do you understand me?”

Meningsbee did.

Matrisse disappeared, and he sat for a moment, thinking about her words. Perhaps they were crude, but they were true to the understanding she possessed of the locals based upon the abundance of experience she had with their tongue-wagging.

At length, he emerged from the alcove and saw her with Kitty and Hapsy, heading toward the door, with Kitty turning helplessly to wave as the juggernaut of activity known as Matrisse pushed them toward home.

Meningsbee smiled.

Sometimes every human being needs to have saints who come along to help make dreams lose their cloudiness…and offer clearer skies.

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 10) “Ketching-Up” … July 3rd, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

“Maybe it’s your job to go talk to them.”

These were the words of Kitty Carlson, as she sat on the patio at the Four Heads Motel, talking to a bewildered and bleary-eyed Richard Meningsbee.

The previous day he had driven two hours when he passed Chadron and decided to keep going, ending up in South Dakota, very near Mt. Rushmore. He found an outdated Mom and Pop motel and decided to spend the night instead of braving the drive back to Garsonville. He was in no hurry to go to a home that no longer felt homey.

Shortly after arrival there was a knock on his door. He opened it to a young girl in her twenties–blue-jean shorts, t-shirt, long brown hair pointing to the ground, barefoot. She held out a styrofoam cup and said, “I was wondering if you might have some ketchup I could use.”

Sensing Meningsbee’s oblivion, she continued. “My little daughter…well, I microwaved her some french fries for dinner and she’s desiring some ketchup for dipping.”

Since Meningsbee didn’t have any ketchup and still had shoes on, he offered to drive to a convenience store he had passed on his way to the motel, to see if some of the good stuff could be acquired.

Sure enough, the folks at the Jiffy Thrifty Mart were happy to sell him a small bottle of ketchup, at $5.63.

Upon returning, he handed the bottle to her and she started to walk back toward her room.

Meningsbee was nervous. After all, he was a stranger.

So he called after her. “Maybe I’ll see you at breakfast in the morning. Do they have breakfast here?”

Kitty turned around, walking backwards, and replied, “If you like stale Danish. By the way, my name is Kitty Carlson. I’m not from around here. I grew up in Crosstown, Kentucky.”

She continued her backward walking. “My daughter’s name is Hapsy. It’s a blending of Happy and Sassy. I liked it.”

Then she turned facing forward and headed off.

Meningsbee called after her. “Richard. That’s my name.”

Over her shoulder she replied, “Good night, Rick.” (Meningsbee hated being called Rick but chose not to be fussy.)

The next morning he went down to try one of those infamous Danish with some lukewarm coffee and sat down next to Kitty and her daughter. The little lass was frightened in that Southern-child way, connoting that all strangers need to run away or learn the customs more quickly.

Kitty told her story. She was married at seventeen, divorced at nineteen due to domestic violence, and couldn’t seem to get away from her oppressor. So she had moved to this little village, where she works at a diner during the day and does a desk shift at the motel in the early evenings, which covers her room. The managers were gracious enough to allow her to bring Hapsy along, who, by the way, appeared completely thrilled with stale pastry.

“No, really. You haven’t given these people a chance to get used to you, but instead, you came into their town like an unwelcome tornado.”

Meningsbee–or Rick, as she knew him–had shared his dilemma with her, careful not to mention too much “God stuff,” to scare her away.

“No one wants to hear from me,” he droned in self-pity.

“Well, if that’s the case, then they probably don’t want to hear you preach either.”

The statement stung Meningsbee. She of course was right. Since preaching was the last thing most people wanted to hear, it might be good to learn how to chat them up.

She rose to her feet, determined to leave. She stuck out her hand, with a piece of Danish dangling from her teeth, and mumbled, “Nice to have met you, Rick.”

He shook her hand and then reached in his pocket to retrieve the twenty-dollar bill he had set aside as a gift for Kitty and Hapsy. She shook her head.

“No, thanks. We’ve got enough. If I start taking twenty-dollar bills, it just makes me think about what else I don’t have.”

She smiled, waved, took Hapsy’s hand and walked away.

Meningsbee watched them as they headed back to their room. How much had he taken–and still wanted more?

He turned in his key, grabbed a cup of coffee for the road and headed for his car. He pulled out onto the highway and began his drive back to the source of his struggle.

He had a lot to do.

This time, the drive seemed longer.

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Cracked 5 … June 21st, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Some Clumsy and Tense Exchanges Between Massa and Slave the Morning After the Civil War Ended

A. Massa: “Well, uh…if you ever need a recommendation…”

 

B. Slave: “Every time you asked for lemon in your tea, I peed in the glass.”

 

C. Massa: “Hey, listen–no hard feelings about your wife and all, right?”

 

D. Slave: “I wuz wonderin’ if you might just let me and Toby here have a crack at your whip. We wuz always curious to try it.”

 

E. Slave: “No hard feelings about your daughter Missy Sue, right?”

Cracked 5 He's Free

 

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Ask Jonathots … May 12th, 2016

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My daughter is in the first grade. She’s always been very shy and insecure, which her father and I have been trying to address with encouragement. But the school psychologist tells me she’s developing a neurosis and I should take her to a psychiatrist. What is a neurosis?

Being neurotic is having a fear of the edge of a cliff which is in front of you.

Psychotic is thinking that the edge of the cliff is chasing you.

But there is a situation where we become so afraid of the edge of the cliff that we keep backing away from it while increasing our trepidation and limiting our possibilities.

Although I am sure there are psychological and physiological reasons for people to be afraid, normally in the case of a child, these insecurities are caused by hesitation, which is accepted by parents who don’t want to “push” their children.

There is a certain amount of jeopardy necessary if we want to grow instead of falling back into intimidation.

What do I mean?

Let’s say your little daughter takes piano lessons. She comes home at the end of the first lesson and says, “I don’t like piano.”

So you ask her to go a second week, but she has even less passion–so when she returns from the lesson and is nearly in tears over being pressured into doing this adventure, you give in and let her quit.

She’s relieved.

You feel you’ve done a good thing because she’s no longer terrified. But terrified is not a position of life–rather, it’s a reaction to it. And if you don’t live enough, you gradually become horrified by things that used to be enjoyable. This is where we develop a neurosis.

You’re catching this at the right time.

We’re not trying to turn all of our children into concert pianists, Broadway dancers or professional athletes. But we are trying to teach them to begin something, muddle through the middle and finish it the best they can.

Success does not go to the world’s most talented people. Success is achieved by those who are still around when the awards are handed out.

So let me make three quick suggestions:

1. Sign a contract.

In other words, if your daughter wants to take piano lessons, make her sign a contract that says she will stay with it for two months. Hold her to it.

2. Encourage what is encourageable.

Children are not stupid. They know when we’re insincere and when we really think they might have done something good. Point out what seems to be growing without criticizing what is lacking.

3. Learn to ask why.

If your child says she’s afraid, have her verbalize the source of her fear and explain why she thinks that is acceptable or why she believes it needs to change.

Fears are not alleviated by conquering them, but rather, by talking about them so we’re in the right mindset to begin to address the problem.

If you do these three things while she’s still young, she won’t become convinced that she’s just not “a particular type of person.”

I can always recognize someone who’s poorly trained. They will begin a discussion by telling you what they aren’t instead of stepping forward with what they are.

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Confessing … September 26th, 2015

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XXI.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

  • He was 69 years old and I was counting down the days to my 18th birthday.
  • He was slender and I was fat.
  • He was a veteran of World War II and I was trying to figure out how to get out from under the Vietnam draft.
  • He was an agnostic and I was “Little Charlie Church Chum.”
  • He was a psychiatrist and I, on the other hand, was impatient.
  • He loved his daughter and I was having a high school affair with her.

This man and myself shared absolutely nothing in common, which became obvious whenever we were left in a room alone together.

But despite all these differences and the fact that he did have a reputation for being a curmudgeon, he allowed the two of us to take his Corvette convertible to the prom. He gave me about three minutes of instruction, and with that exhaustive training, I went out in the middle of the night on the 3-C Highway to see how fast the car would go. When it hit 105 miles per hour, I chickened out, slowed down and went home.

I think he felt fairly confident in being supportive of his daughter’s present romantic choice because he knew that in a couple of months, he was retiring to Mexico to live by the ocean, taking his little family with him.

What he didn’t know was that his daughter was pregnant.

I wish I had been man enough to sit down with him and own up to the situation, but I was frightened over my actions and also feared that he would send her away to New York to get an abortion.

So instead, we plotted against him. And just a month and a half later, when my girlfriend was supposedly safe at the University of Arizona, learning how to be a freshman, I flew out, grabbed her and we took off to start a life together.

He was furious.

He was so upset that he called the Tucson, Arizona, police department to stop us, but of course, there was nothing they could do.

He disowned her.

Being a young foolish boy, I cast him into the role of the villain, easily fitting him with the required black hat.

I wish I could tell you that things worked out.

They didn’t.

Seven years later, he died of cancer in Mexico, having never reestablished contact with my wife nor having ever seen his three grandchildren.

I suppose I could tell you the reasons for my action or convince you of her father’s more sinister side.

But you see, that’s not what Confessing is about. It is not being apologetic while simultaneously trying to explain away your motivations.

I was young, dumb, careless and unappreciative to a man who could have used the image of a responsible Christian fellow.

I failed him.

Whatever he’s doing, wherever he is, I want him to know today that I’m very sorry that I interrupted his plans.

 

Confessing Leonard

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