Sit Down Comedy … June 14th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4076)


I never planned on being a father

I just wanted to have sex

Sex was simple.

Sex was quick.

Sex was pleasurable.

Fatherhood, on the other hand, is neither simple, quick or necessarily pleasurable.

I was eighteen years old, attending my Junior-Senior Prom with my girlfriend, who had recently become my cohort in the exploration of the human body.

We were returning home from the festivities just before dawn, and arriving at her house, we pulled into her driveway. It was a long one. It ran alongside a pasture where her family boarded a horse.

Pulling inside the driveway and far enough from the road to not be seen but also far away enough from the house to be undetected, we got out of the car. I laid my rented tuxedo jacket on the grass. My girlfriend lay down on her back, disengaged herself from her gown and I from my pants, and we indulged in two-and-a-half minutes of sexual mischief, while the horse nearby observed.

After it was over, we restored our clothing, never realizing that the seed of our first son was planted while we were on that grass.

We had become travelers on a rocky journey.

From that night to the present, four sons have come into my life—one deceased. The three remaining boys that I fathered had to put up with a guy who really was more suited to be a vagabond gypsy musician than “Daddy reading books by the fireplace.”

I honestly don’t know whether I did a good job or not.

I know it could have been done better.

I know at times I was torn between my own desires and the needs of my family.

I know sometimes I over-disciplined and other times I slacked off and ignored situations because I was sleepy and wanted to go to bed.

When a friend of mine came out of a horrible marriage and divorce with three children of her own and was looking for a mission in her life, we joined efforts, including her three other children. Likewise, I don’t know if I was suited to be their godparent or not. It certainly seemed like I was better than their biological father, who was abusive.

But I cannot tell you, on this Father’s Day weekend, that I was well-suited for the job of nurturing children or being the guiding light to their galaxy of possibilities.

What I can tell you is that I did not run away.

I did not blame anyone else.

And I learned how to be wrong and apologize to them for messing up.

I know our Creator probably thought He was being very focused and concise by tying sexual intercourse to child conceiving.

Yet He was also intelligent enough to know that getting worked up over a woman’s sexuality has little to do with deciding to join her in a quest, as Mom and Dad, to rear young’uns.

I guess fatherhood demands three things:

1. Stay, don’t run.

2. Think, don’t assume.

3.  And be willing to be wrong without being angry that you are.


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Good News and Better News… December 11th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Pictured are my wife, my granddaughter and my son, standing in a bandshell, Weston Park, Florida.

Jerrod, my son, produced an outdoor concert with the cooperation of three churches and invited two of their praise bands, while putting together a dramatic reenactment of the Nativity tradition.

It was cold.

Usually in Florida, when it’s cold, people escape into their homes and pull out blankets they purchased twenty years ago, which are still in plastic wrappers. But for some reason, a respectable, decent and nearly surprising gathering braved the chill to come, sit in a park and listen to music that was jubilant, if not pitch-perfect.

They perched patiently as the story of Christmas unfolded before their eyes with deliberation, dodging a few technical gaffes. I was among them, along with my comrade-in-tunefulness, Janet Clazzy.

I was struck with the beauty of the evening.

It was not all drenched in serendipity. The audience was tribal, and much too linked to their own concerns to homogenize into a spiritual sweet butter, but setting that aside, it was proof positive that the Christmas story still has wheels.

Honestly, as they told the tale in front of me, I giggled a little bit. If I were hearing this fantabulous explanation for the first time, I wondered if I would shake my head in disbelief.

But you see, it’s not about what happened in a manger two thousand years ago. It’s about what transpired in a park last night in Weston, Florida.

If an idea that appeared two thousand years ago can put a chill down your spine, (and not just because the thermometer dipped) and still has real human emotion, then you’ve discovered magic.

Christians are not better people. We have our share of sinners, assholes, pedophiles and fruitcakes. But we have a great back-story.

Our Savior doesn’t kill people.

Our Savior doesn’t want to hurt women and children.

Our Savior is humble.

Our Savior sets people free instead of locking them up in bondage.

Our Savior isn’t religious.

Our Savior was one of us.

I left warmed. (Well, at least warm enough to get to my car and turn on the heater.)

Congratulations to my son, my daughter-in-law, my granddaughter and my wife for having the courage to test the message of the angels one more time.

The good news is, when “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful” get together, the better news is, it brings “Joy to the World.”

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … October 25th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3463)

Goodnight to You, My Dear

Time is my dear friend

Old friends slip away

Setting of the sun

The ending of this day

There is so much more I wish I could do

For many are called but chosen, few.

 

Goodnight to you, my dear

Sleep on without a fear

For the eve is when the angels speak

And the night brings what wise men seek

A moment to rest our weary head

And remember the words and what we said

And pray for a chance to try again

So goodnight to you, my friend.

 

Friends take so much time

And then just stroll away

Dreams are hard to find

So doubt can rule the day

Yet I live my life for the chance there will be

A moment on Earth that’s Heavenly

 

Goodbye to fear, my dear

Embrace the love so near

Yes, the treasure of my heart, you see

Spills its gold and shares of all that’s free

To sense the breath of God deep inside

And inhale the power of hope to never hide

And laugh at your lack ’til the end

Good life to you, my friend.

 

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … October 18th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3463)

Only Once

The doctor wants my skin

The devil craves my soul

The gossips find my sin

The tension takes its toll

The town needs a son

The school gives a grade

I want some fun

Willing to make a trade

Touching girly flesh

Blessed are the meek

Need to have it fresh

Sick of being weak

Pieces of the Word

Spoken piously

Often seem absurd

Meaningless to me

I’m pissed hearing bells

Like a rat in a maze

Please let me tell

It’s not just a phase

I’m stuck in a place

Where they won’t preach

Haunted by a space

A lesson you can’t teach

A whisper in the dark

I flee from the light

It’s time to make my mark

Pleasure is in sight

Searing raw

Lost obscene

Only once

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … July 30th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Dear Man Dear Woman

Dear Man: You didn’t ask me my opinions about the political conventions.

 

Dear Woman: Well, no, because I know you really don’t like politics.

 

Dear Man: That’s true, but there is one incident that grabbed my attention.

 

Dear Woman: What was that?

 

Dear Man: Thursday night, when the Muslim father who lost his son in the war in Afghanistan, Mr. Kahn, spoke to the gathering.

 

Dear Woman: Yeah, I saw that. Very moving.

 

Dear Man: I know that’s the popular view, but it bothered me.

 

Dear Woman: What troubled you?

 

Dear Man: He came on the stage with his wife. She did not speak for the whole duration of the event. She remained turned toward him in submission, wearing a hijab.

 

Dear Woman: You mean that head covering?

 

Dear Man: Yes, exactly.

 

Dear Woman: It’s just a Muslim thing.

 

Dear Man: I disagree. It’s not a Muslim thing. She stood in submission, did not speak, with her head covered, as he railed against Donald Trump, in support of Hillary Clinton for President. It was a massive contradiction.

 

Dear Woman: I disagree. You just need to be more tolerant. We need to give religious freedom to people–to have their traditions and honor their culture, otherwise our country becomes bigoted and self-centered.

 

Dear Man: I know the spiel. But when a man, who, by the way, was extremely intense, with angry gestures, stands beside a woman who is not speaking, who is looking on adoringly with her head covered…well, I get nervous. I feel it’s good to give spiritual leniency to people, to worship as they deem appropriate, but our country should not allow oppression to exist in the name of God. For instance, we certainly didn’t honor the traditions of the South and give them cultural “roominess” when slavery was at stake. I’m sure they could have made the point that no slaves were rebelling and that everything was working fine, but we still fought the Civil War to relieve the stupidity of a bad culture.

 

Dear Woman: I see what you mean, but I don’t think it applies in this situation. This is part of their religion

 

Dear Man: No. It’s not. It’s part of their tradition. Tradition is the way that people decide to conduct their religion. It has nothing to do with faith. It has nothing to do with a God who created all men equal, and that includes women. What happened on that stage was wrong. If we want to condone it because we’re afraid of speaking up to a religion’s tradition, and demanding equality, then let us call ourselves cowards. But if every Christian church in America suddenly decided that women should not be allowed to speak and had to wear head coverings, we would remove their tax exempt status. We can’t have two different standards. If he wants to support Hillary Clinton for President, he needs to let his wife be his equal.

 

Dear Woman: Maybe he does. Maybe it was just a decision on their part to have him talk because she was nervous.

 

Dear Man: Then in my opinion she shouldn’t come on stage. Standing next to him, turned in his direction, staring at him with her head covered, communicates subservience. Doesn’t the Democratic Party want equality? Or are they just looking for a bump in the polls from an angry Muslim man speaking against Donald Trump?

 

Dear Woman: You realize, nobody agrees with you. Everybody thinks that Mr. Kahn was one of the highlights of the convention. They think that allowing her to appear on stage in the head covering showed tolerance.

 

Dear Man: Tolerance becomes cowardice when everyone is not included. There were many people during the Civil Rights movement who were angry at Dr. King because he came into a situation that seemed to be peaceful, and stirred up trouble. But had he not pointed out the inequity of Jim Crow, the South more than likely would still be arguing about “colored restrooms” instead of transgender ones.

 

Dear Woman: I see your point, and I guess by your standards I’m a coward, but I think that sometimes you just have to leave well enough alone.

 

Dear Man: You see, my point is that “well enough” is never achieved by leaving women out of the equation.

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Confessing … October 17th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2725)

XXIV.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

I could.

I should have.

I would … next time?

Guilt is often just acceptable self-pity.

It is a decision to appear responsible without ever really taking responsibility.

I shall refrain.

The night my son was hit and run by a car, I kept waiting for the hero in me to show up. I expected “Super Dad” or the cunning of Spirit to steer me in the right direction. I was waiting for my paternal instincts to engulf me in an adrenalin which would bark out commands, take control and become the victor.

Instead, I found myself embarrassingly self-conscious.

I felt as if everybody was watching my actions, like a movie, and they were curious about how I would escape the tragedy.

I felt insufficient and was completely convinced that everybody knew it.

So I blabbered on, bouncing between conjuring memories of better days with my wounded child, or pronouncing epithets of faith, which now fell off my lips insipid and meaningless in the darkness of my surroundings.

When they finally finished operating on my boy and told me the severe state of his injuries, and moved him to a room in Intensive Care, I noticed that there was a chair right next to the hospital bed.

It was empty.

Even though I was confused and frustrated, I knew in my heart it was supposed to be my chair. It was intended to be my place of residence for the next few days or weeks, while I waited for my son to come out of his coma.

Yet I was frightened.

Or maybe I was lazy.

But mostly, I think I was just unsure that I was suited to fill the chair.

So when the doctors and nurses told me there was nothing else I could do that night, and I should go home and get rest, I put up some passive resistance, and then left the hospital, greatly relieved.

When I arrived the next day, the morning nurse told me that Joshua had cried out in pain all during the night, and she wondered where I was. I explained to her that I was instructed to leave.

She just looked at me like she knew it was a lame excuse, given the situation.

I walked into his room, and there was the chair.

I occupied it during the day, but at night I left him.

I wasn’t up to the challenge.

And because I wasn’t, some very bad things happened to him that ended up robbing him of the possibility of new life.

I was afraid of the empty chair.

For you see, there’s always an empty chair. It is rarely filled because it demands such a level of commitment that it frightens away all sitters.

My son needed me and I was not prepared to be the man I needed to be.

I am very sorry.

But I have spent the rest of my life … looking for the empty chair.

 

confessing chair

  

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Untotaled: Stepping 47 (April 20th, 1969) Demise… December 27, 2014

  Jonathots Daily Blog

(2456)

(Transcript)

Even though I only lived a few blocks from the high school, I drove my car there–because I could.

I also went home for lunch even though it was basically against policy. Once again, because I could.

On April 20th, I decided to drive to my abode to raid the refrigerator, avoiding the cafeteria surprises. On my way I stopped off at my mom and dad’s little loan company and there was a note on the door. It read:

Closed. Family Emergency.

I knew what that meant.

My dad was in failing health. More accurately stated, he was dying. Forty-five years of cigarette smoking had caught up with him, riddling his body with cancer. So desperate was his situation that there was a quiet celebration among the family when it was discovered that the disease had spread to his brain and in doing so, had closed off the pain centers, making him less of the suffering soul.

I didn’t want to go to the house but I knew it was expected. I pulled up in the driveway and was climbing the steps to the porch when I first heard it: from the upstairs, through the walls, was the hideous volume of my dad gasping for air.

It was a death rattle.

I could not bring myself to go in. I turned around, headed back to school and was so angry–at my dad and at myself–that I skipped the next two classes.

I was furious at myself for being so cowardly, and a rotten person because I didn’t want to be near my father in his last moments.

And I was infuriated with him for destroying his body with smoke instead of dealing with his inadequacies.

I arrived back at school for the last hour of classes. After the session was over for the day I headed to a friend’s house and hung out for the rest of the evening.

Nobody knew where I was. I liked it that way.

I arrived home at ten o’clock. My older brother was waiting for me. He told me that our dad had passed away a couple of hours earlier.

I didn’t feel much, barely even noticing how pissed off my brother was that I hadn’t been there for the death-bed.

He was my dad–but I never knew him. And in like manner, he didn’t know that much about me.

Now he was dead. His ashes of ashes would turn to dust.

I cried.

Honestly, it was not for my lost parent. I cried, feeling sorry for myself.

He deserved a better son. But he should have been wise enough to realize that teenage sons don’t get better.

That is the duty and the mission … of a father.

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