Untotaled: Stepping 33 (March 12th, 1967) Charley … September 27, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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(Transcript)

Charley loved to run.

Not me.

I had chubby legs that seemed to be made out of cotton candy, generating the gait of a circus elephant.

In one of the brief fits of verbosity that possessed his soul, Charley once shared with me that running faster and faster made him feel that his feet were leaving the ground and he was soaring into the heavens to dance with the angels.

Pretty articulate for a Midwest kid.

I decided to go out for track and field more or less because I didn’t have anything else to do. Since I could not run or jump, they asked me to try out on the shot put. I did.

I was unimpressed, so I fell back into my acquired nature of quitting. But even though I departed the team, I found myself during study hall sitting at the table with these athletes, and when the monitor left the room, Randy spoke up and gave us a juicy piece of gossip. (Randy was also a runner but never quite as fast as Charley.)

Randy explained that Charley was a “gypsy type.” Now, I do not know what the origin of that phrase was in our community, but I knew that “gypsy type” meant that Charley was–well, dangerous. The adults had other terms for Charley’s problem when they were alone and away from the children.

  • “Effeminate.”
  • “Queer.”
  • “Sodomite.”

Although I had no personal experience with Charley demonstrating such bizarre behavior, in 1967 just the mention of the situation caused your skin to crawl, making you want to avoid any contact with such perverted beings.

Randy knew this. In other words, it didn’t have to be true–just spoken. The gossip mill and bigotry would do the rest.

No one drew close to Charley after that.

He ate alone, he ran alone, he walked alone, he talked alone.

When he asked me why I was not sharing with him anymore, I clumsily replied, “I’ve been busy.”

One day we came to school and he was gone. No one even asked where he was or if he was coming back. Charley was soon forgotten, and the quest for other “gypsy types” was set in motion with renewed scrutiny.

It was many years later that Randy, the accuser of his running friend, came out of the closet, admitting that he was gay. (“Gypsy type” was no longer acceptable terminology.) Randy was lauded for his courage. He was embraced by his friends. Matter of fact, he was set apart as an example of someone who had endured a silent persecution and now was set free.

Mustering some boldness, I asked Randy about Charley. He said he didn’t remember much about Charley.

He paused and then added, “Oh, wasn’t Charley that good-looking kid that was really fast?”

I just smiled, and said, “Yeah. That’s him.”

I walked away from that encounter realizing that there is no such thing as a “righteous” judgment.

It’s all just crapping on people.

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Iffers … July 10, 2012

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What if Mary and Russell Cring hadn’t had an argument sixty-one years ago about his numerous trips to Canada, which transferred itself into make-up sex, and culminated in a pregnancy?

What if I had decided to stay on the football team instead of pursuing the arts? Would I have ended up tackling running backs rather than blocking scenes for screenplays?

If I hadn’t asked Elizabeth Ristine out on a date, would all of my circumstances be uniquely changed–or even reversed?

If I hadn’t flown to Arizona to steal her away from college, against the wishes of her parents, would there be anything in my life that remotely resembles what it is today?

If I hadn’t boldly taken those first two songs I wrote when I was nineteen years old and gone to the recording studio in Columbus, Ohio, to press them on a 45 RPM record, would I ever have gotten the courage to do it later in my life?

If I hadn’t received the confirmation of winning the Midwest Regional Talent Exposition, would I have had the gumption to go to Nashville and think I was worthy to be heard?

What if I had skipped that Rambos concert, where I plugged one of my songs?

What if I had failed to go on the Teddy Bart Show in Nashville and never received that phone call that hooked me up with my producer, Marijohn Wilkin?

If I had skipped that brief excursion into Mobile, Alabama, would my son, Joshua, still be alive?

If a twist of fate and blind luck hadn’t produced the pregnancy of my last son, would I have been able to endure the death of Joshua and push on?

If I hadn’t moved to Sacramento, would my son, Jerrod, have ever met his wife, Angy?

If I hadn’t made the trek up to Tacoma, Washington, would my friend, Kathy, be free of her abusive relationship and my friend Richard, have followed me back to Nashville, where he ended up dying with friends–instead of alone, with strangers?

If I hadn’t decided to leave the road in 1991 in order to give my children back their own lives instead of lives entwined with mine, would they have the opportunities they enjoy today?

If I had listened to the nun at the convent in Birmingham, Alabama, who told me I had no right to pen a novel on the life of Jesus, would I be sitting here holding I’M … the legend of the son of man?

If I hadn’t done 1,123 five-minute radio broadcasts in Nashville, Tennessee, during the 1990’s, might the spark of my zeal for art and God have gradually slipped away?

If my friend, Janet, hadn’t been running away from a husband who abused her, would I ever have had the opportunity to be a friend to her ingenious sons?

And if Janet hadn’t come into my life, would there ever have been the Sumner County Symphony–with all of its delicacies, intricacies and beautiful twists and turns?

And if the housing crisis of 2008 hadn’t come along, would I have gone on the road, traveling to thousands of people to share my message, living out of a suitcase, enthralled with every moment?

And if I hadn’t come back to Nashville to take care of the house and close up shop, would Deahna have ever come into our lives and joined our family and brought me to today, where I now sit, waiting for the birth of my new grandson, Johann?

If I hadn’t awakened this morning with the idea to write this jonathots about “iffers,” would some person in South America or Germany have missed an insight on his own life that propelled him them in a fresh direction?

God gave me a life. I gave back to God my choices.

God stayed with me. I stayed with God.

The end result?

We both worked with my choices, God adding His grace–to collaborate for a wonderful life.

   

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