Things I Learned from R. B. (April 19th, 2020)


Jonathots Daily Blog

(4385)

Episode 11

The dust never settled.

Although our family spent three inspirational and life-changing years in Shreveport, Louisiana, we were never able to make it the home of our hearts.

It is no disrespect to the town itself. The problem was a combination of inadequacies. The community had pretty well determined by mutual decree to remain the same, and I was out to change the world.

So we bought an old, green van and took off to see America. (That particular journey I will relate at another time, when I am not placing my soul’s attention on R. B.)

The initial stop was Dallas, Texas. Actually, it was the first large city west of Shreveport. While Dollie and the kids worked on our plans for the week, I set out to find the telephone number of an old friend—or at least, I believed he was still an old friend.

This was well before the days of the Internet, so procuring the personal information or location of another human being was not so easy. But after four or five calls, I finally reached Maddie, who had been in the cast of our musical which had traveled across the country.

She told me she had run into R. B. in Dallas and had even shared a dinner with him. She generously gave me his number. When I asked her what he was like now, she offered a one-word pronouncement: “Different.”

So I dialed up the number and immediately the phone was answered by a voice I still recognized.

I told R. B. who I was. He acted as if he was trying to recall and place my name. I was offended—but said nothing.

After a few moments he warmed up and asked to take me out to dinner at a supper club the following evening. Just me—not the entire family, since the establishment served liquor and had scantily clothed female dancers.

I agreed. I showed up the next night in my green van, dressed casually but passable for a Sunday morning church service.

R. B. was late, and when he came in, seemed flustered. He was wearing a navy-blue polyester suit and a checked shirt, with his huge hairdo trimmed about two inches into the fairway.

We procured a table and sat down.

(At this point I wish to change over to a theatrical format so as to make it easier for the reader to follow the story without too many cumbersome clauses. I will add author’s clarifications when necessary.)

R. B.: Have any trouble finding the place?

Me: No. The directions were good.

R. B.: Do you want a cocktail?

Me: No, thanks.

R. B.: Oh, that’s right—you’re against drinking.

Me: No, I’m not against it. I’m just basically a kid and don’t like the taste.

R. B.: Not me. I love a screwdriver. You should try a screwdriver.

Me: What’s it have in it?

R. B.: (looking up to the ceiling as if searching for the answer, then back down) Hell if I know. I never asked. My boss always orders them. I thought it would look good to order what he ordered. Eventually I decided I liked them.

(I nodded my head with little desire to continue this particular conversation.)

R. B.: I know you don’t smoke, either, do you? We just might not have anything to do or talk about. (laughs)

Me: Oh, I think we can come up with something.

R. B.: Let me order for us—I know the menu.

Me: Cool.

(R. B. ordered off the menu, making specific requests which the waiter did not understand, leaving them both confused and in disarray. I eventually determined it was going to be some sort of red meat with potatoes and vegetables.)

R. B.: It’s been a long time.

Me: Well, you know—not really. You’ve been gone from Shreveport about eight months.

R. B.: Well, what brings you to Dallas?

(I proceeded to explain that I had decided to take the family on the road, going from town-to-town, holding meetings and concerts at churches as we journeyed. I also shared that we did not have anything already scheduled but were planning to do it spontaneously when we arrived in each town. The more I talked the more he rolled his eyes, even giggling a couple of times. At length, he interrupted to share his opinion.)

R. B.: Well, if you ask me, it sounds irresponsible. Of course, you’ve never had a problem with that, have you?r

(R. B. looked me squarely in the eyes, and when I stared back, he averted his gaze. At that point, I understood the nature of our evening and the purpose of his invitation. He was determined to establish his success, and my ongoing neediness.)

R. B.: Well, if you’re looking for donations, I’m sorry. I don’t have any money for that. Honestly, I don’t consider it a good investment. Sounds foolhardy.

(I remained silent. If there was going to be an argument, he would have to handle both sides of the conflict. His screwdriver arrived and he drank it down in less than a minute and ordered another. He watched me carefully to see if I would comment on his alcohol consumption. I didn’t. I think he might have been disappointed. Feeling the need to change the subject, I brought up Maddie.)

Me: I got hold of you by talking to Maddie. She said she had dinner with you several months back.

R. B.: I did. And it was pleasant. It’s always nice to see an old-time acquaintance. She’s just so…you know. So small-town. I think she might have been interested in seeing me again while she was in Dallas, but I was all tied up in business.

(I knew he wanted me to ask him about his business, but I also knew that if I did, he would act annoyed over me interfering in his affairs. So I waited.)

R. B.: Business is good. I have finally put my mind to the power of making a dollar. You know, we always sit around and talk about our dreams, but we sometimes fail to understand that wishing for them only makes them run away. All they need is funding. Do the work, make the money and then, address the dreams.

Me: I suppose that’s true.

R. B.: Don’t suppose. It is true. I used to sit around and pray for success. Can I tell you something? Success is not religious. Matter of fact, it makes fun of religious people. I don’t mean any insult to you…

Me: I don’t feel insulted. I don’t feel religious.

R. B.: But you are. You hang around with those people who count how many screwdrivers someone drinks, and probably would not approve of my lifestyle in any way.

Me: Are you making friends?

R. B.: I have a woman. Well, had.

Me: Tell me more.

R. B.: You wouldn’t approve.

Me: Listen, I’m not going to disapprove of anything you say for two reasons. Number one, I have no room to judge, and secondly, when I leave this restaurant, I may never see you again.

(R. B. was a little surprised, and thought about being insulted, but realized there was no intent of being harmful on my part. He lowered his voice to a whisper.)

R. B.: I hired an escort.

Me: An escort?

R. B.: Well, that’s one name for them. A call girl. A prostitute. Do you get the picture?

(I nodded my head, careful not to allow any part of my facial features to flinch with reaction. He continued.)

R. B.: Let me tell you, I just got tired of being a virgin. I had never been with a woman. I kissed for kind of a long period of time when I was in high school—one night on a hayride. But that was it. I don’t like masturbating. It feels nasty to me. I suppose that’s the last part of my Bible training. I got tired of waiting. I got tired of wondering. So I hired an escort.

Me: Do you want to tell me about it?

R. B.: (laughing) It was fucking great! And speaking of that, she—by the way, her name was Krystall. Isn’t that beautiful? She’s from Florence, in Italy. Anyway, she said I was good. I took that as a compliment, since she’s been with a few other men.

(I sat very still. This was R. B.’s story. This was R. B.’s night. He had paid for it. He had probably planned it out in his mind. It was my job to sit, watch and listen, like a ten-year-old the first time he sees an R-rated film. R. B. wanted me shocked—but he did not want me to offer advice.)

R. B.: I was surprised at how quick it was. Krystall told me that was normal. When I watched in movies, it seemed to go on for a while, but…well, anyway. It was so good that I paid to see her again. It’s pretty expensive. After the second time we were together, she explained that she was short on cash and needed some financial assistance. I felt, what the hell? So I gave her an extra five hundred dollars.

Me: That was generous of you.

R. B.: (shaking his head) It felt so good. Not just the sex, but she allowed me to kiss her. She said she doesn’t normally do that. And she lay next to me in the bed for an extra fifteen minutes, even though she was late for an appointment. Dammit, if I didn’t feel like a husband. Or maybe that’s not the word. I’ll tell you one thing—I felt like a man. More like a man than I had ever felt before.

(R. B. paused to order his third screwdriver. I wasn’t counting, but the waiter was reminding him, since the supper club had a policy of limiting the alcohol and prompting the patrons. After a long pause, R. B. spoke again.)

R. B.: I don’t hate God. But I sure the hell hate what He represents. When I was with Krystall, I felt more spiritual than I ever did sitting in church. I know that probably shocks you…

(I decided to change the subject.)

Me: Do you ever think about us?

R. B.: (surprised) Us? What do you mean?

Me: What we’ve been through together. The nights we prayed so we wouldn’t feel like we were the only person screwed up. The songs. The music. The sense of wonder whenever something worked out that shouldn’t have. The silences that left a chill down the spine. Just knowing that something you said or something you gave made someone’s life a little more sensible.

R. B.: Nope. I don’t think about that. Because I don’t know how it happened, and I don’t know why. I’ve just reached a point in my life where I want to earn, and I want to possess. I’m not selfish. I’m just tired of being ignorant in the name of God.

(The meal arrived. It gave us the chance to chew on something other than our feelings. There were passing thoughts—brief memories of times on the road. Then R. B. finally continued.)

R. B.: I almost decided not to come tonight. I thought you might try to talk me out of my choices or criticize my relationships. I don’t want to go without having a woman. I can’t find one who wants to be my wife. Hell, I haven’t met any who wanted to go further than “how do you do?” I don’t want to screw every night, but when I want it, I want it. Just for a while, I’d like to make the decisions instead of trying to find them in a big, black book. Do you condemn me for that?

Me: I wouldn’t even if I could.

(Things went slower after that. Both of us knew we had exhausted what each of us came to do. It was concise, eventually became awkward, and soon was over. After dinner, we went to the lobby, through the door and out into the parking lot. There was a moment when we both knew we should have hugged, but instead, exchanged a clumsy handshake.)

R. B.: Listen, good luck. Don’t bother with my joking about what you’re doing. I hope you’ll be safe.

Me: And to you, too. I wish you well with Krystall.

R. B.: (interrupting) She’s moved away. But it’s a big world.

(I nodded my head. Something we could agree on.)

It is a big world.

Things I Learned from R. B. (April 12th, 2020)


Jonathots Daily Blog

(4378)

Episode 11

She was well-known for beauty pageants, plugging orange juice, singing sad songs and heading up a campaign against the homosexuals from her home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Her name was Anita Bryant, and her favorite phrase: “I love the sinners but hate the sin.”

We were still living in Shreveport, Louisiana, when Anita was the hottest thing on the news, stirring up hornets that seemed to have no nest.  Into this environment stepped R. B., right in the midst of the redneck, righteous South.

R. B. was skinny, almost frail—except for the small pouch of a belly which he had begun to accumulate through drinking his beer. His skin was ashen and pock-marked, giving him a face with the appearance of crushed gravel. He sported a huge head of hair growing from a widow’s peak and combed straight back into an Elvis pompadour—circa 1955.

He walked a little funny, leaning forward as he moved, dressed very conservatively and wore his clothes too long, avoiding a needful donation to Goodwill.

His voice was thin and wispy, with a tenor tone.

So in the heightened climate of bigotry sweeping the country, he was occasionally accused of being a “homo,” or having people quietly make the assumption.

Complicating the problem was his lack of interaction with females. Because his ego was very large and his listening skills very small, most women spent about thirty minutes with him before moving on to a better choice.

One night he confessed to me that he’d never been with a woman, explaining that only a year earlier he had discovered masturbation, but felt guilty every time he touched “his own.”

His lack of companionship with women, a daintiness in his demeanor, and an overwrought assessment of his viability made him a target for all the “Anitas” looking to victimize the gay community.

It all came to a head one night after we held our weekly meeting, at a local restaurant our gang favored. The manager was a friend of mine and always gave us a lovely banquet room in the back, where we could stay for a couple of hours, eating, drinking and enjoying our loud conversations.

One night there was a tussle. R. B. was talking to one of the fellows from our group. He explained that he wasn’t dating anyone and had no prospects in his near future.

The chap, lacking grace or style, jokingly asked R. B., “Well, if it’s not working out with the ladies, did you ever think about trying guys?”

It was barely audible to the rest of the table, but R. B. immediately stood up, grabbed the crass fellow by his shirt and threw him to the ground.

This led to a small, brief brawl. A table was knocked over and some chairs flew against the wall. It raised enough ruckus that the manager appeared, wide-eyed with horror. Some folks stepped between the feuding brothers, and I turned to the manager and explained that we had the situation in hand. He kindly chose not to call the police.

Normally in this type of predicament—after two feuding parties have their moment of physical struggle—they calm down, catch their breath and make peace. But oddly, as R. B. sat there, he became more angry—seething, breathing heavily, staring at his assaulter, ready to explode again at any moment.

I suggested we break off the evening and made sure R. B. got into his car as the other party quickly slipped away.

It was so odd—because R. B. never stopped fretting. Right before he started his vehicle, he rolled down his window and quipped to me, “I’m not coming back. I hate him.”

I did not know what to respond. I didn’t feel there was any future in trying to get him to mellow his mood, so I just said, “Go home—and don’t drive angry.”

He didn’t come to our fellowship for one month, two months, a third month. I heard little snippets about what he was doing through the grapevine—finally hearing that he lost his job and was moving to Dallas.

Figuring it was time for me to connect again, I dropped by his house. He came to the door shirtless, unkempt, with a bottle of beer in his hand.

He offered me one. I passed and sat down.

Concisely and briefly, he explained that he hadn’t shown up because he was too embarrassed and wasn’t sure anymore if he believed in “the God stuff” because he hadn’t gotten much out of it.

I chose not to evangelize. I just listened.

Deep in my heart, I believed he was just distressed and would change his mind. But three weeks later when I tried to visit again, his apartment had been rented to someone else, and he was long gone, leaving no forwarding address.

He didn’t contact me.

All I knew was that the last time we were together, he was going to Dallas.

Perhaps to my shame, I was relieved.

R. B. always turned me into a referee. He ruffled the feathers of those around him with his ego and his insecurity, and I was always cast in the role of his defender.

I was tired of being noble. I welcomed the distance between us.

Maybe we were never meant to be close. Perhaps it was just a friendship of convenience.

But I settled into a life—one which apparently was going to be conducted without R. B.

Addled Essence… March 29, 2012

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All teenagers are drug addicts, induced into a life of dependency by their very own mother. Yes—Mother Nature comes along and takes these boys and girls who are enjoying the equality of chilled-hood and injects them with drugs to completely change their environment. The girls get estrogen and the boys get testosterone–and the human race gets really screwed up. So for the boys it becomes a hair-raising experience and the girls scurry along, trying to keep abreast of the situation.

Seriously, we refer to this as “adolescence,” but in my opinion, it’s more addled essence. The essence of oneness the boys and girls had is suddenly addled, shaken to the foundations by the introduction of puberty minus explanation. Yes, there seems to be a dearth of information. What we tend to do is hand the young ladies a tampon and a Midol and the young men a sports drink and a football–and hope they find a way to work it out.

Unfortunately, they don’t.  It begins an adversarial relationship which is never quite overcome, even as adulthood sets in and the later years of graying are achieved.

Boys are taught to be macho. “I want what you have.” Girls are permitted to be prissy. “I have what you want.”

So rather than being a playground–a joint experience of discovery or a class project resulting in understanding–we have a free-for-all of misinterpretation and domination. Society does little to relieve it, promoting the idea of the war between the sexes in its entertainment and its news articles. Politics continues to promote a glass ceiling, where women are supposedly encouraged to rise in business, but are greatly praised for remaining homebound. And religion—well, religion teaches abstinence without any sense of those who are abstaining understanding the depth, beauty and complications of their appetites.

So of the three choices available for these burgeoning, blooming, bountiful beings—those being abstinence, promiscuity and masturbation—we tend, in the religious community, to blatantly favor abstinence while secretly acknowledging that our children “might not follow the letter of the law.” In the secular community, we quietly allow for promiscuity, while insisting that we have instructed in abstinence.

God gave testosterone and estrogen for a reason. They are inside every one of us to teach us our individual importance and our corporate responsibility. So we end up with an addled essence in our teenagers, which causes the average parent to throw his hands up in the air in desperation, hoping that his precious offspring will outgrow the stupor. They don’t. They carry the adversarial attitude into adulthood unless someone stops them from being so brain-dead from the experience that they can see the necessary coalition between men and women.

We have to decide what we’re going to do. These young humans, who are under the influence of testosterone and estrogen, must be monitored for their better health. We cannot leave it to chance and hope that a few Bible scriptures will inspire them to abstain, or a couple of well-written teen comedies will cause them to wait until they “fall in love” to become sexually active. I think there are four steps to help us deal with the addled essence phase of humanity, to keep it from spilling over into the adult life and making us all believe that men and women were never meant to get along:

1. Talk. I know what you’re thinking. “Tennagers don’t want to talk.” Exactly. I also don’t want to lose weight. It doesn’t change the fact that I’m fat. Create environments, possibilities, interludes, dynamics and opportunities for conversation. Talk about sex. Talk about the opposite sex. Talk about their bodies. Don’t criticize them for pursuing masturbation out of curiosity when the alternatives you offer them are cold showers and the Gospel of John. Talk.

I raised six boys. We talked about sex more than anything else. Why? Because testosterone dictated the subject matter. Talk. Don’t be rebuffed; don’t lose the faith. Find a closet, tell them you’re going to clean it out, shut the door, lock it, turn on the light—and talk.

2. Remove the dominance of the physical. For the love of God, can we stop teaching that men are the aggressors and women are the prize? Anyone who knows anything about sex is fully aware that if a woman is not in touch with her own sexuality and able to have an orgasm, that the sexual act settles into an action of futility. Stop acting like “sex is for men and having babies is for women.” We are not all fundamentalist Christians and Muslims. If women do not enjoy sex as much as men do, the process breaks down. Remove all indications that physical domination has anything to do with romance.

3. Establish commonality. Every high school male should have to go through six weeks of home economics and every female should have to spend an equal amount of time understanding weight lifting and being involved in some form of team sport. We fail in our society by misunderstanding the cultures around us–including the culture of gender. Because I have spent time in a kitchen, I no longer believe that cooking is a female task. Because the women in my life know how to lift a box, sweat a little bit and carry their own load, they no longer contend that men are beasts of burden. Commonality produces cross-reference, which leads us to understanding and culminates in compatibility. Separating boys and girls to make sure they don’t do nasty things just makes them more ingenious on finding better locations for nastiness.

4. And finally, we should use the addled essence—from age thirteen through twenty-four—to inform these discoverers that the trio in our life is essential to make us a quartet. What I mean is when we’re emotionally clean and able to be honest with ourselves and others—even of the opposite sex—it allows for spiritual awareness instead of trying to follow rules line by line. And when we are spiritually aware, we have a great thirst for knowledge which makes us mentally informed. Then our physical–our bodies–are prepared to be honest, aware and informed in making choices. Without this process at work, human sexuality becomes a “shame and blame game” instead of a “same and tame” one. We try to shame people into being pure and then blame the ones who fail, instead of teaching that even though estrogen and testosterone have created different urges in us, we are still 98%  the same. And the more we understand our similarities, the greater our ability to tame our appetites–to more fruitful delights.

We must learn how to deal with our addled essence population. We hide our heads in the sand, hoping they will work it out on their own, when they are under the influence of drugs beyond their control. So you can worry about marijuana, cocaine and meth if you want. These are dangerous. But until we address the difficulties brought on by estrogen and testosterone, we will thrust our chilled-hood  into addled essence, and therefore cripple them for the adult walk–limping instead of sprinting.

Because unfortunately, if you have gone through the twelve years of addled essence, you arrive at age twenty-five feeling the responsibility to pay your bills and get married, which leads to the next condition, which I, tongue-in-cheek, have named … You’re Kidding.

 

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Listen to Jonathan sing his gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, accompanied by Janet Clazzy on the WX-5 Wind Machine

 

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Below is the first chapter of Jonathan Richard Cring’s stunning novel entitled Preparing a Place for Myself—the story of a journey after death. It is a delicious blend of theology and science fiction that will inspire and entertain. I thought you might enjoy reading it. After you do, if you would like to read the book in its entirety, please click on the link below and go to our tour store. The book is being offered at the special price of $4.99 plus $3.99 shipping–a total of $8.98. Enjoy.

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

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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