Untotaled: Stepping 22 (May 14th, 1965) Jack Smack … July 12, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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(Transcript)

School was nearly out. I cannot tell you the relief I felt to finish out the year.

Having survived my infatuation with Jennifer, I had disguised my feelings by using revenge or attempts at ridicule, to make it seem that I no longer cared about her.

We were two days prior to summer vacation, in the midst of a school-wide festival, which had loosened the reigns on the tight restrictions usually imposed on us by teachers and principals.

I was feeling so darned good that I felt like I could say “damn.”

I was in the hallway with my friend, Craig, when we both noticed that Jennifer was standing next to the boy’s locker room door, absent-mindedly staring out the window into the school parking lot.

I had an idea–another way to embarrass Jennifer and therefore appease my male ego from her rejection. I whispered my inclination to Craig and he giggled.

So we ran forward, grabbed Jennifer, opened the boy’s locker room door, and pushed her in. It seemed hilarious in the moment. We lodged our bodies against the door as she pounded and screamed to escape. Her pleas sounded a bit comical to us, so we were in no hurry to set her free.

Suddenly she stopped crying out and the pushing on the door ceased.

So both Craig and I ran back into the festivities, hoping to blend into the crowd so that our misdeed would go unnoticed. Little did we know that in the boy’s locker room was Coach Swartz–and that he had walked out of the shower to discover that Jennifer was there, peering at him, creating what could only be the personification of an awkward moment.

He quickly covered himself, ran around to the other door, to peek and see who was keeping her from escaping.

Now for a moment let me talk about Coach Swartz. He was a collision of cool, crazy and confusion. He was cool because he was very handsome and all the girls in the school thought he was dreamy. Crazy, because he taught health class, and thinking that he was a doctor, passed out some erroneous advice. And confusing because he once told us at football practice that black people couldn’t play quarterback because there was extra oil on their hands, and they couldn’t hold onto the ball.

We also knew his first name was Jack because he had a paddling board which he used to punish students, which he had surnamed “Jack Smack.”

Returning to my story, Coach Swartz, with his hair still wet from the shower, ran into the festivities, found Craig and me, took us into his office and explained his overexposure to dear Jennifer.

He wasn’t mad, but said we would have to be punished. He wasn’t even mad as he took the Jack Smack board from its perch on the wall and hammered us both on the ass, seven times apiece.

Matter of fact, from that moment on, I think he liked us more, winking at us in the hallway as he reflected back to his one-man Chippendale show for Jennifer.

Even Jennifer never complained about our prank.

So you see, even though I got my butt whipped, I didn’t learn anything about being a better person through this experience … whatsoever.

 

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Korny, Part II … March 24, 2012

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I wasn’t a dork.

I mean, I had survived ninth grade health class and perused numerous dictionaries and Bible commentaries seeking definitions and explanations. So I knew what “fornication” was. But in that moment, confronted by this pious parson, I experienced a temporary “icing over” of the cerebellum. Maybe it was because I was exhausted, hungry, confused, embarrassed–or just generally surprised that this stranger would ask me about my sex life. But I stalled long enough that the minister thought he’d better elaborate a bit on his original question.

“What I mean by ‘fornicating’ is, we just don’t want any hanky-panky.”

God forgive me, but my young thought waves immediately went to Tommy James and the Shondells, and I nearly burst out into a chorus of “My Baby Does the Hanky Panky.” Fortunately I resisted that impulse, took a deep breath and responded.

“You see, pastor, it’s not that we don’t know that they’re girls and I’m a guy. Matter of fact, when we first met we flirted a lot. But you can’t travel with someone, work closely together and even think about something resembling ministry and have in the back of your mind thoughts of ‘jumping their bones.’ Let me put it to you this way. It’s not very smart to steam up the shower because then it’s hard to see yourself in the mirror.”

I thought it was a pretty cool answer. He just gazed at me, a bit confused–similar to the look my dog gave me when I first purchased a frisbee and suggested we play.

“Okay,” he said. “Just be good.” He turned on his heel and left.

The girls gave a cheer. I silenced them because I knew there was a chance he might return in the next ten minutes, to try to catch us in the first fruits of “hanky” or the throes of “panky.” When he didn’t return, we immediately addressed our hunger. We were starved and all we had left were eight Zesta saltines and three-quarters of a can of Tab. We hunted through the basement for any provisions. At length we found a large can of pork and beans and half a loaf of Wonder bread with six slices not yet sprouting any “green.” We also found a single burner with a frayed cord, which we carefully plugged in the wall so we could heat our beans. We warmed the beans, found a spoon, spread them over our bread, crumbled up crackers on top and had beans-and-cracker sandwiches. They were delicious. (Sometimes I think it’s important to actually reach the point of starvation so you can remember how good food really tastes.)

Dinner was over, and even though we tried to talk and giggle, we quickly grew sleepy. I let the girls have the only couch available. They nestled up, foot to head on either end, and I threw some old coats on the floor and prepared for a night’s sleep.

I couldn’t. Sleep, that is.

The girls were gone in moments, so I quietly rose to my feet, kind of inched my way through the dark to the staircase leading to the sanctuary. It was so quiet. It’s kind of half-spooky and half-heavenly to be in a church late at night. Reaching the sanctuary, I went to the piano and sat down. It was a little chilly so I shivered, placed my hands on the keys and gently played. I felt inspired; I felt empowered. Here I was, sitting in Nebraska in the middle of the night at a piano, doing what I wanted to do, free as a bird, literally full of beans.

I continued to play until a particular series of chords stirred a melody in my mind. I just sang the word, “Jesus,” over and over again, as the chords changed beneath me and the melody submitted to the revisions. I don’t know how long it took me, but soon I had written a new song. I was a little embarrassed because this new composition really only had two words–“Jesus” and “everything.” But it was so pretty. I wondered if I just thought it was pretty because the night was so dark, lonely and peaceful.

So since my eyes had adjusted, I ran down the stairs and woke the girls up, telling them I had a new song. To their credit, they were such troupers for the cause that they were overjoyed, climbed the stairs with me, and we sat in the dark that night, learning a new song together, all of us overwhelmed by the tranquility of the moment and nearly in tears over the simplicity of the melody.

Amazingly, six months later, with many blessings and hard knocks along the way, we found ourselves in a recording session in Hendersonville, Tennessee, at the House of Cash. It was time to record that song that had been written a half a year ago in that small church in Nebraska.

I turned to the girls and said, “What do you say we do it the way it really happened?”

They were a little confused until I reached over and turned off the light in our booth, and with the soundtrack playing in our ears, we joined hands together in the dark and sang that song we had written that night: Jesus Everything. It was so simple; so free of pretense, so completely out of the box from the normal fare of the day. It went on to be one of the most popular songs on our album, receiving air play all across the country.

But to me it will always be that moment of freedom when I climbed the stairs in an old, clapboard country church in Nebraska and let the words and music pour from my heart. Jesus. Everything.

The pastor would be happy to know that there was no fornicating in his church that evening. But we did have a threesome around his piano at his altar that produced some equally exciting results. We were young, we were free, we were creative … and we believed we had the ear of God.

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Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

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