Things I Learned from R. B.


Jonathots Daily Blog

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Episode 6

Opening night for the musical arrived about thirteen days before the cast was suitable for public viewing.

Yes, another fortnight and we might have achieved “adequate” with the possibility of “passable.” But as the maniac once said, “The show must go on.”

The music was learned and the pitches, generally pleasing. But the vignettes that separated the numbers were filled with so much wooden acting that we could have built a fort.

As to the choreography, we should have put a disclaimer in the show’s program, warning parents to cover the eyes of their small children.

There was one saving grace:

Our homosexual producer had gathered all of his flair and had designed and purchased stunning costumes. They were accessible and colorful—and as we found out later, easy to clean. They gave the show the appearance of legitimacy.

During the final rehearsal, which blended chaos with over-optimism, R. B. appointed himself cheerleader for the troupe. Whenever a note was missed or a cue ignored, he stepped in and said, “Don’t worry, guys. We’re going to do great.”

I probably should have stopped him, but before I could, one of his fellow-cast members snarled, “Hey, R. B., just because they’re dance slippers doesn’t mean you need to slip up.”

R. B. laughed, completely oblivious to the fact that he was being critiqued.

During the time of preparation for the evening’s fiasco, I made two requests: don’t drink too much water or you’ll sweat like a pig; and under no circumstances were any of the cast members to go into the lobby in costume—so we could keep the surprise of the quality costumes from the audience until stage time.

R. B. ignored both.

Feeling the need to use the bathroom because of over-watering his hole and not wanting to stand in line with his cast members at the facility backstage, he drifted his way through the halls to the lobby, where he not only used the bathroom donned in his costume, but stopped off to talk to the audience members in the foyer, who were complimenting him for his appearance.

Then, under the influence of the fumes of appreciation, he walked down through the auditorium and jumped onto the stage, where we were all waiting behind the curtain.

I don’t know if I’ve ever been any more infuriated—yet it was hardly the time for a teaching moment.

I took a deep breath, channeling my Knute Rockne, and tried to deliver a pregame speech.

I think I did pretty well, but all the cast members knew there were so many gaps in the training for the show that it was literally impossible for anything to happen short of the Hindenburg.

I still held out hope that maybe the god of dance would send angels to join us. He did not. Instead, arriving on opening night were the devils of dunce.

And I didn’t even take into consideration that the lack of preparation would be further complicated by nerves—great stage fright. There were at least five times when the musical came to a complete halt while the cast members stared at one another, wondering whose turn it was, and the audience giggled uncontrollably at the mishap unfolding before them.

I wanted to run.

The advertising had been so good that the theater was packed. There were two nights scheduled for Columbus before we hit the road—and both performances were headed toward standing room only.

Of course, I realized that once the word was passed about opening night’s bedevilment that few people would show up for the second go-round.

The little boy in me arrived. I wanted to disappear, go back to the rehearsal camp and wait for the cast to join me later. The last thing in the world I wanted to do was stand out in the lobby with my fumbling thespians. For of course, I knew it ultimately would be viewed as my fault. But I came and stood among them.

Back at the rehearsal camp, discussing what to do the next night—how to quickly simplify the choreography so as to not look quite so inept—and which songs to go over, R. B. spoke up, interrupting my instructions.

“Excuse me,” he said sprightly. “Guys, I think we did pretty good for our first try.”

Now, I’ve never been in a room with a lynch mob. I can’t imagine what it’s like for people to become so enraged that they grab someone and rush him into the forest, throw a rope over a tree bough and hang him on the spot. But I would venture to say that the cast came close to putting R. B. in a “neck-tie” that night.

I stepped in to protect him, but also rebuked him.  “Listen,” I said, “there’s nothing wrong with stinking and doing a shitty job, as long as you don’t pretend it doesn’t stink and that it’s not shitty. It was my job to get you guys ready. I didn’t do it. But it was your job tonight to give your best performance. As you go to your beds, you can ask yourselves if you did just that.”

R. B. was offended.

Matter of fact, I found out the next day that he stayed up crying to one of the girls about my “attack.”

I worked with the cast all the next day, and by the time we arrived for the second performance, we were miles further down the road than we were the night before.

Of course the problem was, the audience had decided to stay miles away.

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.

 

 

The B. S. M. G. Report


Jonathots Daily Blog

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Another week has passed away

Here is what I have to say.

BAD

For some reason or another, the LGBTQ community decided to levy heavy objections against Miley Cyrus because she suggested that homosexuality might be a choice.

Apparently, this is a no-no.

Obviously, for those who are liberal, granting free will and choice at Planned Parenthood is fine, but not in the significant personal decisions of our lives.

SAD

Kurdish soldiers and members of the populace pelted American soldiers with rotten vegetables and rocks because they felt deserted and abandoned by our retreat.

Aren’t we supposed to be the good guys?

MAD

Although I was a little dubious when I heard about the term “witch hunt,” this week Secretary Hillary Clinton launched her own conspiracy theories about Russian assets, casting aspersion on Tulsi Gabbard, a veteran, who in turn, attacked Secretary Clinton for being a warmonger.

We no longer need to hunt.

We have found the witches.

GLAD

Overjoyed I am with the young humans from age ten to twenty-five years who are refusing to sit back and watch their planet, their home, being destroyed. They also refuse to accept a homeland where gun violence has become commonplace.

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The M Word … April 30th, 2019

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THE

Related image

WORD


The word that should never be spoken—too dangerous because of its possibility of misunderstanding:

THE M WORD IS MOST

Most of the time

Most everybody

Most of them

Most of us

Most High God

Most popular

Most intelligent

Most ignorant

Most beautiful

Most spiritual

Most valuable

Most agree

Most disagree

MOST OF THE PEOPLE…

We believe in strength with numbers.

We use the most to cower the least.

We tout predominance.

After all, most people in Dixie in 1859 supported slavery.

Most people in Tennessee in 1956 were in favor of Jim Crow.

Most folks, in 1965, considered divorce to be an unforgivable sin.

For many decades, most of the American people insisted that homosexuality was a perversion.

Most of the most is an attempt to intimidate, deny difference and reject the possibility that simplicity can come from a minority perspective.

Most is a social manipulation, a spiritual intimidation and absolutely, cultural bullying.


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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … February 21st, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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As Mad As God

Hear the rant

From the rave

Grab the flag

Watch it wave

Is she right

Because she’s white

Are they wrong

Ain’t been here long

Got my book

Take a look

God kicks ass

Earth gets shook

Mixin’ race

In this place

‘Tis the face

Of our disgrace

You goddamn stupid fool

Put Jesus back in the school

Christmas is for the King

Not what Santa will bring

Men are men

Women are women

Sin is sin

You’re not forgiven

I scream for the Holy One

Jesus Christ, God’s only Son

He hates the way you live your life

A man can’t be another man’s wife

There’s trouble ahead

Just wait, you see

God raises the dead

And then raptures me

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G-Poppers … August 25th, 2017

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Jon close up

 

 

 

They were called “Tories”–colonists who remained loyal to King George III during the American Revolution. They were honorable folks. They wanted to respect authority. They saw no reason to change the status quo. They were following what seemed to be common sense.

They were unfortunately mistaken.

There were other folks known as the “Moral Majority.” The moniker certainly tells of their assumptions. They were convinced that homosexuality was a blight on the American scenery–even that HIV and AIDs were punishments on the homosexual community–the “gay plague.”

Their ranks were filled with Bible-loving, dear-hearted people who were completely misinformed.

It was called “separate but equal”–later to be tagged “Jim Crow.” It was the notion that since color separated human beings, and culture seemed to follow along, it was in line to complete the separation in public restrooms and schools. Great people adhered to the philosophy. Dynamic human beings were involved in promoting it.

It was flawed.

It’s very important to know the difference between ignorance and stupidity. Ignorance is when actions are taken without the benefit of adequate knowledge. Stupidity is when knowledge has arrived and we choose to remain ignorant.

No matter how honorable, self-sacrificing or righteous the Antebellum South felt it was on the issues of states’ rights, tarriffs and slavery, time has marched on and brought us an infantry of reasons to conclude that the assertions were faulty.

Just as the Tories are not allowed to build statues to Benedict Arnold, the Moral Majority isn’t in a position to extol Jerry Falwell, and Jim Crow is not recognized in the public square of Birmingham, for its historic quality, we can no longer accept the “good intentions” of the Confederacy.

They, like the Tories, the Moral Majority and the Jim Crow crowd, must find their absolution with the words of Jesus from the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

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Jesonian: Content or Context … September 7, 2014

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Osteen

Once again, the religious community has blown up over the wording shared by a lady in Houston, Texas, as she attempted to explain how she believed that God “wants us to be happy.”

Was it simplistic? Perhaps.

Was it completely unbiblical? Of course not.

Was it unbalanced? Indeed.

The thing we have to remember about the Bible is that it offers us six thousand years of spiritual evolution, as human beings have come to grips with the heart of our Creator.

We start out in the book unwilling to speak His name, and by the time the volume is finished, we’re calling Him “Daddy.”

So it’s important that we learn the difference between content and context. Fortunately, if we’re willing to accept scriptural inclination, that direction is provided by giving special emphasis and recognition to the words of Jesus.

When we do this, we have an arbiter who literally does fulfill the law and the prophets, as he also teaches us to “render unto Caesar.”

But if you happen to be of a denomination which favors a specific doctrine and searches the Good Book to confirm that contention, then you probably will find yourself at odds with others on occasion and a bit zealous about proving your point.

So in my awkward way, allow me to take a series of the social issues of our day, and rather than addressing them by content, offer you the context I have found based on the inklings, words, personality and mission of Jesus.

1. Abortion.

“Don’t send them away.” Children are the closest thing to heaven that we have on earth.

2. The Internet.

“The light of the body is the eye.” Therefore if you fill your eyes with darkness, you will dicover darkness within.

3. Conflict between men and women.

“In the kingdom of God there is neither male nor female.”

4. Marijuana.

I think Jesus would say he wished we could get high on our own light.

5. Capital punishment.

“Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

6. Poor people.

They aren’t going away. “Do what you can for them.”

7. Culture clash.

God doesn’t have favorites.

8. Facebook.

“Don’t do your deeds to be seen of men.”

9. Homosexuality.

Why are you leading with your sexuality?

10. Guns.

“They that live by them shall die by them.”

11. Pornography.

Lust is emotional adultery.

12. Racism.

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

13. Family.

“If you only love those who love you, you’re no better than the heathen.”

There’s my offering.

And when it comes to the issue of happiness, Jesus made it clear that it is primal in God’s mind. The Sermon on the Mount begins with “blessed,” and then it takes the rest of the time to explain our responsibility to ourselves, others and God in a quest to maintain that bliss.

So if we are going to live in a society filled with confusion, we must stop contributing to the baffling conflict and begin to simplify things down to a context which will clarify situations instead of further complicating them with more stipulation, legalism or “popcorn philosophy.”

This is why I use the word “Jesonian.”

It’s an attempt to find abundant life … through discovering the heart of Jesus. 

 

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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