Tag Archives: fat

Doctor, Doctor!

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Had the yearly doctor’s visit today with my GP, Dr. Alberto Lopez, MD. He is the second of the grand total of two doctors who have taken care of my general physical well-being for my entire life, having taken over my care upon the death of Dr. James Monroe, who was the last of the great country doctors this part of the world will ever see.

Dr. Lopez was aggravated with me yet again. Just like Dr. Monroe and I always did,Dr. Lopez and I have a running argument going about my weight. I’m 5’9.5″ in my maroon Crocs, but I weigh in at 343 lbs. Apparently, that’s about 143 lbs too much for Dr. Lopez’ comfort. He’s given me blood test after blood test and sent me for stress tests and other lab work for years now.

That’s where the problem comes in . . . nothing’s wrong with me. Nothing. Nada. Zippo. Zed. Zero.

Other than more mental / emotional issues than Carters has liver pills, I am healthy as the proverbial equine. For several years, I had a touch of hypertension that lisinopril twice a day managed, but since I no longer have to deal with crazy school superintendents or bitchy assistant principals, my blood pressure has settled down quite nicely and I only have to take a fourth of the dosage of lisinopril that I was on. My cholesterol is 50 points below the desired threshold and my “good” cholesterol is through the roof. The only spot of concern is my A1C numbers. I’m in the “metabolic syndrome” area of that particular scale of diabeticness, but my numbers have been trending down the last few visits.

All of this drives poor Dr. Lopez barmy.

I’m morbidly obese, I am a sedentary as a boulder on the bottom of the Challenger Deep, and my four main food groups are fried, red meat, chocolate, and ice cream. The most exercise I get is feeding my two outside boys and tossing their ball to them for a bit each day. By any reasonable medical opinion and measure, I should have one foot firmly in the grave and one on a Teflon coated banana peel.

But I don’t.

My arteries are clean. My heart is strong — despite being broken so many times — and my numbers are good. Dr. Lopez says the only explanation he has is genetics. He thinks I must have good genes. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell him for 15 years. The men in my family — especially on Daddy’s side — are vigorously healthy right up to the point where they drop dead of a massive heart attack somewhere between 73 and 78. Up to that point though, they were all the picture of health.

Mama’s side of the family has a much similar story among the men. I have several great-great uncles who lived well into their ninth decades and dear Uncle Monroe was 102 when he died and the week before he passed away he was chasing nurses up and down the halls of his nursing home in his wheel chair. His brother, my great-grandfather Grandpa Bussler, was 90-something when he died — well, technically he was murdered, but that’s a really good story for another time.

The long and the short of it is I come from a long line of men built to last for an allotted amount of time before keeping an appointment with the Reaper and our bodies can handle a lot of whatever makes us happy until that day comes. Understand, PLEASE, that I’m not bragging. I’m very lucky and I know it. However, I also know the truth Hank Williams, Sr put down in song years before I was thought about — “I’ll never get out of this world alive!”

I know there’s a reckoning waiting for me out there in about thirty-five years, if the Lord should tarry and I avoid accidents and jealous husbands — unlike dear Grandpa Bussler — so I’d rather concentrate on living and let dying take care of itself. From what I hear, it doesn’t take a lot of practice. As Edmund Gwenn famously said to his friend George Seaton just before embarking on the journey into the great cloud of unknowing, “Dying? Dying’s easy; now comedy? THAT’S hard.”

Love y’all and keep those feet clean!

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Epiphany of a Vine Tester

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I was in Mr. Sublett’s AP US History class on a winter Friday, second period, junior year, halfway listening to The Sub expound on the role states’ rights played in the War Between the States and halfway to Daydream Believer Land when it hit me what a bunch of low-down, four-flushing, underhanded rat-finks my buddies were when we were in the late single digits and very early double-digit years of our lives. The epiphany was nothing short of shocking. I let half the class in on my astonishment by suddenly sitting up straight in my desk and muttering loudly, “What a bunch of sorry . . . ” Well, we won’t go into exactly what sort of sorry they were. This is mostly a family blog.

Just because you've got on a cape don't mean you can fly.

Anyway, this is what hit me. When we boys were young and rip-romping around the woods behind our houses, we had two favorite past-times: splashing in the creek looking for “spring lizards” and swinging on vines over the various ravines and gullies that pockmarked the tree choked hills. As I’ve mentioned many times here before, I am not now and never have been a lightweight. I’ve always been fat to the point of being big around as I have been tall. That made my rip-romping a little more difficult than my lithe and agile blood-brethren. As a result of the large disparity between my ability to cover ground and my lighter buddies’, I often lagged behind the gang . . . far behind at times. On good days, I could stay within earshot; on bad days — if I didn’t know the woods intimately — I’d get hopelessly lost.

Luckily, and here’s where my epiphany kicked in, the boys always waited for me at every vine swing or log crossing. Now all my buddies were raised to be kind and mannerly — just like I was. All of our parents and grandparents had been friends and sometimes even kin. So for nearly ten years, I thought the guys were looking out for me. They knew that I was slow AND (I hate to admit this) they knew I was terrified of getting lost in the woods and eaten by a grizzly bear or worse. It didn’t matter to me that no wild grizzly bear had lived east of the Mississippi River — much less Upstate South Carolina — in over a century. I was just an easily scared little boy. (Who, incidentally, grew up into an easily scared man).

But I digress.

Without fail, I’d always find the group waiting for me at the aforementioned log crossing or vine swing and, without fail, they always let me go first. I figured it was their way of keeping me close enough to hear my death screams as Gentle Ben was having me for lunch. That day in Sub’s class though, the harsh ugly truth hit me. Altruism wasn’t anywhere in their equations.

I was the vine tester.

Quite simply, I was always the first to cross the logs over the creeks or gullies. I was always first to swing across the logless gullies on a vine — Tarzan style. What I had mistaken for kindness was cold, calculating self-preservation. I easily outweighed the next heaviest member of our circle by a good fifty pounds. At some point, they all got together and realized if they sent me across first, whatever material was in question would definitely hold them!

They used me and my fat to keep themselves from cuts, sprains, and wet jeans. I was so certain of their tender motives that I never questioned them. After all, I was a very poor vine-swinger so they would always give me a boost up and a good push to make sure I got across. Once or twice, I didn’t. I would have shoes full of muck and poison ivy all over my legs, but they would be safe.

Why sure, guys! I'll go first. Hold my drink will ya'?

I would have gone on to my grave in blissful innocence of my “friends'” duplicity had it not been for night hunting. That was what turned my mind to those halcyon days as I sat in that AP History class. Some of my friends from those bygone days had taken up the quintessential Southern “sport” of coon hunting.

Briefly, coon hunting consists of moving rapidly through woods, fields, and creek bottoms in pursuit of a pack of demented dogs — coon hounds — who are themselves in pursuit of a raccoon. To up the degree of difficulty into the stratosphere, this is all done at night. Usually WAY at night. Oh, yes, and the season is also in the dead of winter.

I had joined these acquaintances on a few of these moonlit excursions and, just as in days of yore, I was always invited to cross the fallen log first. Ten years on, I was still “the vine / log tester!”

Thanks to that second period awakening, however, my tenure as quality control for creek crossings was at an end. We had scheduled a hunt for that very night. I went along as I always did and, we came to a fallen log, as we always did. One of the guys called out, “Wham, you head on across so you don’t get so far behind”, just as they always did.

For the first time, however, I spoke up at the crossing.

“Fellas, it’s taken me a long time, but I’ve finally figured out this game. Y’all gonna send my fat . . . butt across that log so if it don’t break with me you’ll know it’s safe. Now don’t deny it, I’ve come to this conclusion, but I’ve got one thing to say. I’ve worked over this here shotgun of mine and she’s got a nice easy trigger pull. It’s gonna be a shame if a log breaks tonight or any other night from here on out because I’m pretty sure if I fall, this shotgun is going to go off. Furthermore, despite all our training with guns and such, I’m almost CERTAIN this shotgun will be fall out of my hand in such a way as to be pointed in all y’all’s directions. Just thought I’d let you know. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll cross this log.”

It was the last log I ever “tested”.

Now keep those feet clean and remember how much G.S. Feet loves y’all!

Food Fight

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This is a pretty long post, but stick with it, thanks!

Yesterday was Budge’s first day on her medically supervised six-week weight loss plan. This isn’t the first time she’s attempted to lose weight, but it is the first time she’s gone to this careful extent. My job is to fix the shakes and provide moral support and encouragement. I plan to eat a bigger lunch and forgo supper to avoid cooking and eating in front of her and hopefully that will make this easier on her. I don’t trust diets like this, but she is under an excellent doctor’s care AND — more importantly — she’s promised me this is for HER not ME or anyone else. She’s my Budge no matter what she weighs and that’s all that matters, but her mama fought the battle of the bulge her entire life before dying at 46 of complications from pancreatitis and a final stroke. With 46 looming large in life’s windshield, Budge told me she didn’t want to go out that way so I told her do what she had to do and I’d have her back.

Needless to say, I’m insanely, stupefyingly proud of her.

With Budge starting this diet, many people are pressuring on me to join her and want to know why I’m so resistant to adopting “the healthy lifestyle.” As I’ve mentioned before, I am not a small man. I am slightly south of six feet tall and slightly north of 350 pounds. I believe the medical term is “morbidly obese.” I prefer the much cuter sounding euphemism of “as big around as I am tall.”

Lately, my glib put-off has been “I’m going for the heart attack before the diabetes has a chance to get me.” That statement is anchored in a grain of truth. The men on Daddy’s side of the family die of massive coronaries. Granny Matt had ten children who lived and that included six sons. Of the six, five died at 78 or slightly before of the aforementioned coronary. Uncle Jack was the lone dissenter, but that’s another story for another time. Daddy had HIS first heart attack about nine or ten years ago. Many of Daddy’s male blood related first cousins have already had one or more heart attacks or have perished from the sudden squeezing of the chest.

On the other side of my family tree lurk diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. More of Mama’s kin than I can count have fallen victim to “The Sugar” and the lucky ones died quickly. The unlucky ones left the world a piece at a time. Many dodged diabetes only to succumb to Alzheimer’s and left the world not knowing themselves or their closest loved ones. I have no intention of going out like that if at all possible. Given the choice between slow piecemeal death and quick heart exploding death, my decision is clear.

As I said, that is my somewhat humorous glib smart-ass answer. The pure and simple truth is, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, not so pure and definitely not simple. Fact is, obesity and I are old and bitter foes and after many bloody engagements fraught with pain, sadness, and disappointment, I have bowed to the stronger will and chosen not to fight my weight anymore.

See the oh-so-pinchable legs?

I was BORN fat. I weighed 10 lbs and 5 ozs the day I came into the world and I was born hungry. The story is I slurped down an 8 oz bottle in two minutes and started crying for more. After 8 more ounces, I was still hungry so the nurse asked Mama what she wanted done and Mama, probably glimpsing the future, told her to go ahead and get me full. I was over 14 lbs by the time I came home from the hospital with rolls of fat on my thighs that my beloved great-Aunt Pearl delighted in lovingly pinching and patting.

I never looked back.

I think I topped 100 pounds by fifth grade. I may be off a year, but I do know that all my clothes came with the “HUSKY” label. I suppose that was the clothier’s way of trying to salvage the self-esteem of  a fat pre-teen. From almost the start, the family was worried about my weight. I was placed on a few diets by Dr. Monroe, our long-time family physician, but they all required keeping track of calories and such. I wasn’t clear on the concept of “serving size” or “portion control” so I figured a bowl of cereal was “one serving” of “180 calories” when a true serving size was 3/4 of a cup of cereal meaning my punch bowl of Cocoa Crisps with whole milk actually contained about SIX servings.

One of the greatest ironies of my saga with obesity lies in how Granny Wham tried to help me lose weight. She was THE most concerned of all my family, Mama included, when it came to my being — in her words — “a little too heavy.” She would constantly admonish me about eating too much at supper or cutting myself too big a slice of pound cake (Granny Wham made the greatest pound cake this side of paradise), but at the same time, SHE was the one asking me if I’d had enough to eat and did I want more chicken or rice with gravy or roast beef or whatever delicious dish she or Papa had prepared that night. It was like living in rehab with a drug pusher!

God bless her precious heart, it was confusing as all get out when I was a child, but looking back, I understand a little better. Granny couldn’t stand to see me fat but she couldn’t stand to see me sad either and not getting enough of that wonderful food would always make me sad so the doting grandmother in her usually won out over the concerned for my health responsible adult and I’d get another piece of pound cake . . . with ice cream on top . . . and Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup . . . and Cool Whip. You get the idea.

All through elementary school and junior high, I just got bigger. Of course I got picked on and bullied because of being

Mama LOVED to dress me in horizontal stripes. Michelin Man anyone?

fat. I was called “fatty,” “lard-butt,” “two-ton,” and — my all time favorite — “The Great White Marshmallow.” I tried to shrug off the barbs as much as I could. I was dealing with other stuff. Unfortunately, one of my earliest and most cherished coping mechanisms was “escapism eating.” I’d get to Granny and Papa’s after a day at school enduring the shark tank of junior high, grab a book and a bag of Oreo cookies and go hide in the yard until supper. That kind of emotional eating did wonders for my waistline.

That’s the way things rocked on pretty much until my first year of high school. I was a nonathletic 225 pound blob when I went out for wrestling to try to get a date with Kim Robertson. The date never materialized, but I fell in love with wrestling, even if I was getting creamed twice a week at heavyweight. Funny thing is, the more I wrestled, the smaller I got. Who knew?

Then, right after wrestling season, I got braces to fix my crazy teeth. Now, I didn’t get the cute little “invisible brackets” glued to my teeth. I got the full monty of railroad track bands all over my mouth. My head, jaws, and mouth hurt so much that I couldn’t eat. I did good if I could sip some Cream of Chicken soup through a straw. I endured that pain for two months and when summer came and my teeth had finally moved enough for the agony to ease up some a funny thing happened. I looked in the mirror and a skinny kid was staring out at me.

Junior year of HS. This was the best it ever got. Skinny AND hair.

For 24 blessed months — a brief, shining moment — I was svelte. I dropped from 225 to 160. I could shop in the regular men’s section for the first time in my life. My inseam was actually longer than my waistline was round. My acne cleared about the same time and another odd thing happened. Without all the lard in the way, girls began to notice my crystal blue eyes and thick strong blond hair. Oh, and the straight white teeth — shout out to what made it all possible! It seemed like overnight I was being favorably compared to guys like Rick Mathews, our class’s resident Adonis, who played football and wrestled the weight class right above me. I was actually kind of a big deal.

Of course it went straight to my head and turned me into the exact kind of insufferable douche I’d always hated. Not to worry though. As Pony Boy is fond of reciting, “Nothing gold can stay.” Senior year came. My foibles and mistakes caught up with me. My head started filling up with thoughts and voices I couldn’t fight back. I was entering the worst depression I’d ever encountered and starting what was to become a desperate lifelong battle with my mind and emotions — but I didn’t know it. I had no idea what the hell was going on.

The final straw came when wrestling season started and the weight classes had changed. The 167 class was gone. I was now in Adonis’ weight class and Adonis was a better wrestler than I had a prayer of being.  When our 154 pounder went down early in the season with a blown out knee, everyone looked at me to cut the 15 pounds, take that spot, and make us an even greater team. I took a shot at it. God knows I tried, but the more water I drank and the harder I exercised, the bigger I got. It seemed I gained instead of losing. So I became a senior riding the bench when I should have been a captain. I gave up the fight.

I went into a headlong spiral and started drinking whenever I could, but mostly, I started eating whatever I wanted to again. It’s not like I had to keep my weight down anymore anyway. I was a three-year letter-man in wrestling. The only year I didn’t letter was my senior year.

But I’m not still bitter or anything. I’m just saying.

In college, I skipped the freshman fifteen and traded it for the freshman 50. I went from a 34 waist as a high school sophomore to a 40 waist as a college sophomore. I’d look in the mirror in disgust and I’d go on the fat wagon for a week. I’d work out every day down in Fike Hall gym. I took up tae-kwan-do. It helped a little, but in the end, the weight always won.

I was to be skinny and handsome one final time in my life. It would come after college and brought about a similar “senior year type” downward spiral with nearly identically disastrous personal results. A sordid, sad tale — for another time.

I’d started gaining back my weight from that episode when I met Budge. She married me fluffy and has stayed with me fat. I can’t thank her enough for that. These days, from time to time, I’ll contemplate hitting the fat wagon again and trying to get healthier. I don’t keep chips and dip or things of that nature in the house — fleeing temptation and all — but I watch too much Paula Deen and cook like her too much as well.

I gave up pill popping, driving fast cars, hanging out with my Five Favorite Uncles, and chasing crazy women. I started taking meds to try to quiet the cacophony in my head. All of that draws heavily from my well of willpower. For Budge and Mama’s sake, I have to concentrate my energy on what’s going to make me the most endurable. Losing weight, no matter how important I know it is, would take reserves I don’t have.

Fairly recent picture with a good view of the booth-busting belly.

Don’t get me wrong — it’s not like I revel in being fat. I haven’t bought clothes in over two years because I can’t stand the disappointment of the fitting room. I’m reminded of what, to quote from Full Metal Jacket, “a disgusting, flabtastic piece of fatbody filth” I am every time I try to sit in a restaurant booth and have to ask for a table because of my size. It isn’t like this is a high-ho bunch of fun because it ain’t. I just have to pick my battles and this is one I know the outcome of all too well.

Dr. Lopez — my primary care physician — stays on me about losing. He WANTS me to lose down to 200 lbs. I haven’t seen 200 lbs since my junior year of high school. That’s a little over 150 lbs. THAT IS A PERSON! THE MAN WANTS ME TO LOSE A PERSON. He can’t understand how a former wrestler and wrestling coach who knows so much about nutrition and exercise can be so blase’ about dropping the 10% body fat that produces measurable health benefits. Unfortunately, he also doesn’t understand something else — nothing good has ever come of me being skinny.

Sorry for the book length post.   Keep those feet clean, okay?

Love y’all.

A Pirate GETS to 40

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My First Baby Picture, I think. I was there, but I don't seem to remember.

Aaaaannnnndddd . . . BOOM!

This is set to post at 6:19 in the Eastern USA time zone. That’s Greenwich -5 for the international set out there and for my military friends, Zulu -5.

Either way, if it works like it’s supposed to, I’m now 40 years old.

How did it come to this? Well, one day at a time, I suppose. Keep getting up in the mornings and sooner or later, you get here. It’s just seriously hard to believe. I haven’t DONE enough to be forty. When Daddy turned 40, he’d already been to Vietnam, then Germany. He’d married, divorced, and remarried. I was 20 and Nick was 8. He’d been at Laurens Glass Plant for 20 years, bought 3 homes, and put in a pool.

I haven’t done anything like that.

When Mama turned 40, I was a junior at Clemson. We’d long since completed our “Years of Wandering” and were back where we started. She’d raised me and just as she was done taking care of me she had to start taking care of Papa John, who had just had his most debilitating stroke. I don’t have anywhere near that kind of courage and strength of will. I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m not half the person at forty that either one of my parents were. They have me whipped in every category. They always have.

My Senior picture. Lord, if I just knew then, etc, etc. Really, I'd settle for the hair.

I suppose I have a modest list of accomplishments. I graduated close to the top of my high school class. I made it through Tiger Town in just four years. I got my Masters of Library Science degree. I taught for nearly ten wonderful years (didn’t realize it at the time) at Woodmont High School back when it was still a small country school. I sent eight classes of seniors across the stage at the Palmetto Expo Center towards a new life.

I must have made an impact of some kind on at least a few of them because I married three sets of them and several still track me down from time to time. One happens to be one of the better friends I’ve had in a long time.

I taught a year at my high school alma mater and before the year was up, I remembered vividly why I’d sworn the night I graduated that I’d never set foot in the place again.

I lived one of my greatest dreams for four magnificent years as a librarian at a middle school in a tiny Southern town.

Every place I ever went to teach or educate, I always told myself “This is where I’m going to grow old and retire. They’ll name a building after me!” Unfortunately, my mouth eventually would write a check my rear end couldn’t cash and it’d be time to move on.

Now, I’m unemployed. I’m not sure where to move on to from here.

One lucky man; one insane young woman. August 3, 1996

I gave six diamond rings to six (well, four — you other two know who you are) very nice, kind, and pretty ladies. I made a wonderful mess of five of those six relationships and the sixth one paid me back — with compound interest — on behalf of the other five. Karma really sucks sometimes.

I must have burned off all the bad relationship karma, though, because I ended up marrying WAY above myself. Tomorrow will be sixteen years since Budge and I went on a Hummer ride through the woods at Camp Awanita in northern Greenville County. By the end of that weekend, we loved each other. The rest is history. Why that girl stays with me, I’ll never know, but the Lord above knows my heart that I’m mighty glad she does stay.

I have no children . . . at least none who have come knocking on my door yet. A handful of nights in my undergraduate years are a mite hazy, but so far, so good.

Budge and I tried for awhile, were unsuccessful and eventually resigned ourselves to childlessness. I don’t really want to pass on my crazy gene to some innocent baby anyway. As long as I have my Budge, it’s enough.

I would like to state for the record that I know for certain that I didn’t get to 40 on my own. Much as I like to act the part of the rugged, needs-no-one individualist, I know I’d never made it without a lot of really special people. Budge and Mama have taken the lion’s share of my issues. I was blessed and I DO mean blessed, with four AMAZING grandparents. Three of them have gone to a well deserved reward and one doesn’t remember she’s a grandmother anymore, but I still love her. No child / teen / young man was EVER loved as much as I was. I’ve had a lot of problems, but being loved wasn’t one of them.

Of all my friends down the years, Robby T, Duane C, and Brian C got me through some of the roughest patches  They faced shotguns, knives, bottles, razor blades, drunken rages and more and managed to keep me going when I didn’t know what was wrong with me but I was lashing out at everything — including myself. I’ll write a post soon about each of them. They each deserve it.

I had more wonderful teachers and professors in my life than I could ever list. I’d leave someone out because my memory isn’t as good as it once was and I wouldn’t hurt any feelings for the world. I do know, however, that had it not been for the DIRECT intervention of Mr. Mills and Mr. Linville at LDHS 55 in 1989 during my senior year, I’d have been expelled and probably had my life ruined.

Forty years old and I can honestly say I'm twice the man I once was. Of course that's in girth, but why quibble?

If I could go back, I’m just like everyone else — I’d do a lot of things differently. I’d have been a real big brother to Nick instead of some stranger who showed up at odd times for odd lengths of stay. I think of all I missed out on when he was growing up, and I could go out and hang myself. In a similar vein, I’d have forged a better relationship with Daddy if it killed both of us (which it likely would have). I’d have tried harder in school — all my schools. I wouldn’t have bought six rings and made five messes with them. I wouldn’t have worried Mama so much. I’d have tried to get help for my Issues sooner. I’d have built bridges towards people instead of putting up walls and fake facades to keep them out. I’d have tried harder to help my beloved niece by marriage have a stable life and if it pissed people off, oh well.

Yessir, I’d have done A LOT of things differently. All the computer screens in all the world don’t have enough pixels to list all the changes I’d make.

But I can’t. We only get ONE shot at this life, Shirley Maclaine’s beliefs notwithstanding.

So if you’re reading this and you’ve been the victim of one of my rages or idiotic faux pas, please accept my apology and know that I probably beat myself up over it more than you could possibly imagine. On the other hand, if you’re one of the multitude of people who’ve given me a hand or a smile or a kind word over the years, thank you. You may not know it, but more than once a smile from a stranger or unexpected call from a friend was the only thing that kept my head on my shoulders instead of being sprayed all over a wall somewhere from a gunshot. You helped, even if you didn’t know it.

So, I’m forty. I’m going to eat chick pea chicken tonight and go out celebrating my birthday AND Budge’s Saturday birthday tomorrow night. I’m going to take it easy for a few days and see if I can make some kind of plan for the next half of my life. We’ll just have to see what happens.

Love y’all and, as always, wash those feet!

A Pirate Looks at 40 – part deux

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Anyone doing any self-reflection must eventually follow Bunyan’s hearty Christian into the Slough of Despond and face his regrets in life. For my personal regrets, I am in the same class with Ol’ Blue Eyes and The King who sang, “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again too few to mention.” Well, that’s half right I suppose. I’ve got a few more than a few, but only a few are still keeping me up at night. Most are the garden variety “woulda, shoulda, couldas” that I think everyone faces at sometime or another unless he’s very lucky or just doesn’t care about his legacy at all.

 

For me, though, one of the biggest of my regrets is having never enlisted in any branch of the military. My love affair with the military began with Top Gun. Remember back in ’86? Back when Tom Cruise was normal and Val Kilmer was thin?

THIS is what happens when you leave your wingman.

I walked out of the movie theater after watching it twice back to back and walked straight to the recruitment office and told the sergeant behind the desk I wanted to enlist and fly jets. He smiled at me and said, “Just saw Top Gun, son?” I nodded vigorously. Then he pointed out I needed to finish college to be a pilot and it would be a lot easier to finish college if I started, then graduated, high school.

That was one jacked up piece of Ronnie Ray-gun era propaganda and I sopped it up with a biscuit! To this day, I maintain that men may weep at only three movie scenes: 1) when Ol’ Yeller dies in his movie, 2) when Old Dan and Little Anne die in the equally brutal tearjerker Where the Red Fern Grows, and 3) when Goose dies after the crash in Top Gun. If a man doesn’t tear up at those three scenes, he has no emotions at all and no woman should consider him as a suitable match!

Then, when I was a junior in high school, I fell in love with the US Naval Academy and I went balls to the wall trying to get in. I had the grades, and I’m pretty sure I could’ve passed the physical (that was a LONG time ago). Unfortunately, I didn’t have an appointment. For those who don’t know, unless you have a parent win the Medal of Honor, a member of your Congressional delegation has to appoint you to the Academy. Other than Strom the Undying, I didn’t even know a member of my delegation. So that was a dream that went by the wayside. Looking back, I think that huge disappointment was what set the stage for my Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Senior Year. It sure didn’t help matters any.

After the Academy fell through, I was going to enlist in the US Marine Corp and be one of “The Few and the Proud”.

I think I'd have looked devastatingly handsome in a set of dress blues.

A car wreck took care of that. I have a mushy puckered divot in the outside of my left thigh from where a Jeep bumper took out a chunk of me. When I went to Fort Jackson for my military physical, the first thing the examining doctor did was shove his fingers right into the middle of that divot. I had just enough presence of mind not to take a swing at him as I crumpled to the floor. It’s not pain so much as it’s a weird creepy reaction but I can’t deal with having it touched. I get violently nauseous. Capt. Doc dismissed me right then by saying, “Assuming you pass Basic, you won’t pass the POW training. When you get ‘captured,’ that’ll be the point they start on. Sorry, kid, I’m just saving you a lot of trouble.”

So that’s how I ended up watching some deadly fireworks through night vision on CNN from a musty old couch in my dorm room the night GW’s daddy, GHW, started bombing Saddam the first time in ’91. Something has never felt complete about me because of that. Papa Wham was a soldier in The Big Red One. The First Infantry Division. His DD-214 reads like an atlas of the European Theater of WWII: Tunisia, Anzio, Sicily, Rome, Normandy, the Rhineland. My great-grandfather was a member of the American Expeditionary Force in WWI. I had relatives on both sides of the War Between the States. The men in my family have always been soldiers.

Daddy, as I’ve said before, went to Vietnam, and that’s the main reason I wanted to be in the military, and not just to sit around. I wanted to go to a combat zone and fight hard. I guess part of me hoped I’d either get killed in some gallant action and Daddy would be insanely proud of his medal winning son, or the experience of having people try to kill you

Every one of those flags covers someone who DID SOMETHING with his or her life.

just because of your uniform would’ve put me on level footing with him. I just have a feeling he’d think I was more of a man if I’d been shot at on the battlefield like so many of my forefathers.

Even today, if I thought I could manage it, I’d take my 12 gauge Winchester pump shotgun and head for Afghanistan tohunt Bin-Laden. It might seem a little crazy, but then again, I AM a little crazy. I don’t know if I’d find the old boy, but never underestimate the ability of a crazy, wild-eyed Southern boy. Oh my, and if I did find him . . . I haven’t ever killed anyone, but they tell me there’s a first time for everything.

It sure would make hitting 40 a lot easier to take. I’d at least feel like I accomplished something with my four decades!

More on regrets tomorrow. Man, it’s getting close.

Love y’all. Keep those feet clean and take care of each other.

On Outdoor Nuptuals

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Yesterday, my exquisitely multi-talented wife reached back for one of her former professions and created two beautiful bouquets for one of her fellow teachers who was getting married. Budge attended the wedding; I did not. I have told Budge — and anyone else who would listen — that it was all I could do to endure my OWN wedding, 35 minute marathon that it was, much less sit through someone else’s ceremony. Don’t misunderstand me, my wife planned a gorgeous wedding for us in a very short time on a even shorter budget, but the fact remains that am not a wedding fan. Of course, that is one of the few areas I am like many other males. I’m not certain I’ve ever heard anyone in possession of  an unsullied Y-chromosome say, “Oh wow! My buddy Glenlivet is getting married!! I’m not in it, but PLEASE let’s go!!”

That is not to say we of The Brotherhood of Men will not, on occasion, be dragged kicking and screaming from our spot on the sofa in front of The Game to be shoehorned into our most uncomfortable set of clothes, forcibly shod with shoes designed as medieval torture devices first and footwear second, then marched, nearly at bayonet point, to some relative or friend’s wedding.

But we don’t have to like it!

Yesterday, though, I was excused from the ceremony. I will say, however, that for someone having an outside wedding as this couple was, yesterday’s weather was hard to beat. The sky was a radiant azure with nary a cloud to mar the canvas of heaven and the temperature was quite mild, even if the ladies were obliged to leave off the shawls originally planned for the occasion. It was verily the perfect day for an intimate backyard hitching up.

This meteorological perfection stands in rank contrast to the only OTHER outdoor wedding I attended, and that against my will. That marriage ceremony, early in Budge and mine’s own tenure of wedded bliss, provided the single, solitary time in — to date — fourteen years of marriage when the two of us very nearly had “words.” It is also the only one of a veritable plethora of  incidents of my being an ass for which I have steadfastly refused to apologize ONLY because I STILL maintain that I was in the right.

Allow me to present my case and ye may judge.

First of all, I barely knew the bride as one of Budge’s college classmates and I had nary a clue as to the groom’s identity. Next, the wedding was scheduled for 3:00 PM on a Saturday. The hours of 2:00 to 4:00 PM on Saturdays have been marked out on my calendar as dedicated time for studying the backs of my eyelids for structural imperfections at least since I was in college. I was being dragged to a wedding when I was supposed to be sleeping.

Then was the matter of the time of YEAR for this debacle. Yesterday’s wedding was in the relatively mild weather of an Upstate October. The wedding to which I refer was in AUGUST. For those of you who may live in other parts of the world than the Blessed Land of Dixie, allow me to explain — AUGUST in South Carolina has two temperatures: blast furnace and Hellish. Sane people do not leave the safety of air conditioned houses in “The Burning Month” except to go to an air conditioned car and drive to another air conditioned location.

Which brings me to my next point. This wedding was not only outside on an August afternoon that would have melted car tires on green grass, it was in the middle of a church lawn. NO SHADE. NONE. NOUGHT. NADA. NO TREES. Not even a canopy. The heat was only broken by the breeze generated when one of the BLACK TUXEDO clad groomsmen fell out from sunstroke and made the air move by his descent. Finally, the wedding lasted nearly AN HOUR and these people were NOT Catholic. No Mass or other sermon was involved.

So, allow me to sum up. For over an hour, I was standing in slip-on toe-pincers with WOOL socks under a pair of navy pants topped by a royal blue polo in the middle of a forty acre pasture on the hottest day since the Earth cooled from it’s fiery formation watching someone I didn’t particularly know or like get married. For those who don’t know, I am NOT a small man. I am large. I am fat, nay I AM OBESE! Fat men were never meant to endure those types of conditions. Within five minutes of leaving the comfort of the car’s excellent A/C, I had an Amazon Rivulet of perspiration running from my bald spot, through my hair, down my back, cascading in a cataract of sweat around my nether regions thence to trickle down into my toe-pincers and form two puddles of lukewarm misery.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I was HOT as the HINGES of HADES and my body was literally rendering into lard as I stood there watching this slip of a girl in her WHITE, SLEEVELESS, BACKLESS wedding dress get married.

Then we had the reception, which, thanks be to God the Father of All Things, was indoors. Of course, the A/C was having all it could do to pull down the temperature from somewhere near boiling since, as I think I’ve mentioned before, it was the HOTTEST FRICKING DAY OF THE YEAR and 400+ people were packed into the space somewhat smaller than the Apollo command capsule. Didn’t matter to me, though. A stroll through the depths of Mauna Kea in Hawaii at full eruption would have been cooler than outside.

It was at that point that the final straw was applied to this dromedary’s spine. A caterer waitress set a plate of GRILLED EGGPLANT down in front of me. Turns out the bride was a VEGAN.

I am not a vegan.

I was hot, I was hungry, and I had missed my nap. This was not going to end well.

It was at that point that I looked — just looked — at my lovely wife and something on my face made her run to the ladies’ room, friends in tow, to cry about how mean I was and folks, at that point and for the only time in our marriage, I really DIDN’T CARE!!

We laugh about that day now, as much for the reactions of our friends who were with us as anything else, BUT that also remains the LAST outdoor wedding I ever went to with Budge.

Now, as you go to wash your feet I ask you, “WAS I WRONG OR NOT!!!???”

Love y’all!

I Hate Summer Passionately

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I Hate Summer!!

I don’t know how long it’s been since I mentioned this fact, but I hate summer with all my heart; I have two perfectly excellent reasons for despising this godawful season that everyone else apparently loves so dearly.

First of all, I am not a small man — not by a long shot. To be quite honest, I’m fat, large, obese, and several other words of varying denotation and connotation all pointing to the fact that I was born 10 pounds and 5 ounces and I haven’t looked backed or missed a meal since.

Summertime was not meant for fat people. We sweat. Now some of  you more proper individuals may “perspire” and some ladies may even develop a “delicate sheen.” Well, honey, I sweat buckets and right now, I’ve got the Zambezi River flowing from my hairline down my back to eventually puddle in and around my nether regions. That’s with the A/C “givin’ ye all she can Cap’n”. Any more strain on the venerable Trane and the dilithium crystals will probably blow and we’ll have to eject the warp core. If I go outside for long in this 100+ heat, you could render lard off my backside.

I hate to sweat. The only time I’ve ever CHOSEN to sweat is when I wrestled four years in high school. Then, sweating seemed to serve a purpose. Any other time, it just makes me miserable. Fat people were built for Arctic conditions. If you don’t believe me, when’s the last time you saw a skinny Inuit? (Nota Bene: Eskimo is a derogatory term, which I didn’t know until an exceptionally large Inuit man told me) Inuits live in the Arctic. Ever seen a svelte whale? Know why? It’s freaking cold in the ocean depths where they swim! Nature has selected against fat mixing with heat. Fat goes with cold; skinny goes with heat.

My second reason to despise summer is I am known as “The Man The Sun Forgot.” I don’t want to say I’m pale or anything, but people afflicted with albinism stand next to me to feel good about their tan. The few times I’ve gone cave exploring, my glowing body was the third emergency light source. Folks are always asking me why don’t I take off my shirt when I’m outside. The simple answer is when I did that last summer, I got a call from Houston Space Center asking me to please cover myself because I was blinding the crew of the International Space Station and they couldn’t conduct their experiments.

You think I’m joking, but I’m not. I am WHITE and I am FAT. I went to the beach several years and pants sizes ago and when I took off my shirt just for kicks, a big guy in a frock coat started chasing me down the beach waving a harpoon and screaming, “I’ve found ye at last! Thar she blows! A hump like a snow hill!” If the beach patrol hadn’t grabbed him I hate to think what might have happened.

So, lay out a little and tan, right? Um, did you even read the first section about heat? An ex of mine once asked me to lay out in the sun with her. I told her if she wanted to break up with me, just say so. Even if I didn’t mind roasting myself like a suckling pig with pineapple rings and a Macintosh in my mouth, there’s the little matter of blistering sunburn.  When I was a child and into my early teens, the strongest SPF sunscreen was 15. I would get COOKED right through 15. If I want a decent chance at remaining non-boiled-lobster color, I have to wear Bullfrog 55 SPF and, no lie, I get pinkish through that after a couple of hours. Oh, and when I do burn, it doesn’t turn tan. Nope, most people are burn, tan, burn, tan darker. I am burn, peel, burn worse, get sun poisoning, peel some more, risk drowning in an oatmeal bath.

I’ve got a ton of sunburn stories, but I’ll tell one and let it go at that. When I was six, we had the first above ground pool I’d ever seen. Of course, Daddy didn’t bother to hook up the filter, so we had to drain it once a month to get the slime molds out of the bottom and refill it . . . but I digress. Two friend of mine and I happily splashed around in said pool from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM. I hadn’t put ANY sunscreen on, but that was okay because I had my FAVORITE shirt of the moment on just like Mama had told me to do. (Well, she did tell me to wear a shirt.)

This shirt was a real, live reproduction football JERSEY complete with HOLES all in it! Now, I have a genius IQ, but as one of my best friends used to point out, I lack the common sense to get out of a shower of rain. I figured that moving around would cover my whole body with the fabric at some point in time and it would keep me safe from the ravages of the sun.

It didn’t.

When Mama came home from shopping, she called us in the house (trailer, whatever). She took one look at me and burst into tears. I couldn’t see my back so I had no idea what was wrong. This was one time ignorance was not bliss. I had developed a water blister through each one of the hundreds of holes in the shirt. The shirt was literally fastened to my back and shoulders by water blisters poking through the holes. I went and stood in the shower under straight cold water for thirty minutes trying to get the blisters to go down.

They didn’t. Mama finally had to take off that shirt and every one of those blisters broke open. If you’re wondering, yes, I cried. I cried like a baby. My back looked like steak tartare.

And THAT, gentle readers, is why I don’t go outside OR get into a pool unless it is DARK O’CLOCK!

Keep cool and wash those feet!

Love y’all! 🙂