Monthly Archives: April 2014

Of All the Impertinences

Clarice had serious moral reservations about having fun based on her genetic inability to smile or laugh. The best she could muster were slightly upturned corners of her mouth which her church friends interpreted as sweet and gentle. Those relatives who were required to observe the traditional Sunday dinner and afternoon gossip session knew that expression was neither sweet nor gentle.
On one particular Sunday, an attendee squirmed in the silence which had lasted five minutes or more had the audacity to speak up.
“Did anyone see the story on television last night about the little boy who sneaked into a balloon which his father launched over Los Angeles? It seemed the whole thing was a hoax. He hid under the bed while his father pretended to be horrified that his son would be killed in the accident. The plan was to land the family its own reality television show based on the adventures of the real-life Dennis the Menace son.”
Clarice arched an eyebrow. “I watch the Christian station from Pensacola. It has such nice music, and the pastor is a Bible scholar.”
Properly chastised, the relative lowered her head and remained silent the rest of the afternoon along with the other monastics seated around the room, one daughter, her husband, two children, an aunt, uncle and a couple of cousins.
“I don’t understand why my grandchildren don’t want to sit next to me. After all, they don’t know how long they will have their grandmother with them.”
The mother elbowed her son and daughter and nodded toward the dining room where the most elegant and uncomfortable chairs waited to be carried into the living room and placed around Clarice’s lounger. When the children finally managed to squeeze the chairs around the oversized recliner and sit, Clarice sighed.
“You didn’t have to go to all that trouble. The children could have just sat on the floor.”
Another hour of silence passed before Clarice announced it was time for her nap. The cousins were the first to escape through the front door. Aunt and uncle were next. Before her daughter’s family could make it out, Clarice sighed again.
“You could nap in the spare bedrooms and then we could have leftovers for supper.”
“The children have homework, Dan is expecting a call from his parents, I have laundry to do, you really need your rest.”
“If you really don’t want to stay I won’t force you. But I did buy those games I keep in the spare closet for the children to play, and they’ve never played with them.”
The following Sunday, upon instruction from their mother, the son and daughter pulled out the games and tried to engage their grandmother in a rousing afternoon of Monopoly.
“Do we really need to use all these pieces?”
A couple of years later, when the relatives arrived for Sunday dinner, they found Clarice dead in her bed from an apparent heart attack. The aunt and uncle cried, the cousins comforted them and the mother was the one who sighed. All of the relatives and church friends attended the lovely funeral and spoke incessantly of Clarice’s sweet smile and how they would miss it. By the time the last car pulled away from the cemetery, Clarice’s ghost returned to her home where she was appalled to see that her daughter had already begun packing up her heirlooms and marking each one, “Salvation Army”.
This was not the last indignity Clarice was to suffer. After a year of rambling through her empty house, Clarice observed her daughter finally selling it to a nice couple with children. The very first act of impudence by the family was painting each room a different bright color. Clarice was astonished that they didn’t realize that white made a house look more spacious. As the family members talked among themselves Clarice was further confounded that this was the very same family that had pretended that its son was on the balloon floating over Los Angeles. They had moved to Florida and now resided in her house which had always been a monument to silence and grace.
The son was now a teen-ager with shoulder length hair. The father converted the garage into a rock and roll studio and coached his son on how to twist his head around so his hair would fly in all directions.
“My dear Lord,” Clarice whispered, “why did you allow this family to move into my home?”
Immediately she heard a voice.
“Because, unlike you, I have a sense of humor.”

Whowuddathunkit Day!

My favorite holiday of the entire year is here. Just what exactly are you planning for Whowuddathunkit Day?
Okay, you may not have known about it, because I made it up, but with a little effort Whowuddathunkit Day could go national. Today, April 21, celebrates the wonder and magic of the improbable becoming reality. On this date three events happened that makes you scratch your head, smile and ask, “Whowuddathunkit?”
This is the anniversary of San Jacinto Day. That’s the battle which secured Texas independence from Mexico, almost entirely because of the efforts of Sam Houston. Sam was a good old boy from Tennessee who drank too much and who was thrown out of the Tennessee governor’s office after just three months when he left his wife and ran off with a Cherokee woman. That’s nothing much to admire, but as the years went by Sam straightened up, especially after the Cherokee woman threw him out.
Sam led his Texas army in a long retreat against the larger contingent of Mexican soldiers until he finally decided to attack during the traditional siesta hour. Again, not the most honorable thing to do. What made Sam a pillar of Whowuddathunkit Day was in 1861 when he was governor of Texas and refused to lead his state out of the union. It was the second time he lost the title of governor, but Sam had stood up for his principles and loyalty to the United States.
The next important event on April 21 was the birth of my father in 1909. Grady Cowling didn’t drink, fool around with women or have an idle day in his life. He provided food and a roof over his family and always kept the door open for one of the boys to come home after messing up. This was not to say he was an affectionate man. I don’t think he ever kissed, hugged or said “I love you” to my brothers or me. Most of the time when I visited after he retired, he stared off in the distance and only had monosyllabic replies to my questions.
I had accepted the fact he was a man of his generation who did not show affection or show much interest in anything. Then one day when he was 83 years old and living in a nursing home I came to visit. We were in the day room sitting next to each other watching a rerun of Gunsmoke.Without a word he put his hand on my knee for about 30 second and then removed it. This was my last visit before he died. But whowuddathunkit? My daddy really did love me.
The third April 21 event was the birth of my son. He was nine and a half pounds and 21 inches long. But, but by the time he was a week old, he underwent surgery to close a cleft trachea, a hole in his windpipe, to keep the milk from seeping over into his lungs instead of going to his stomach. For three months we fed him through a tube in his abdomen.
The rest of his infancy was normal, but when he entered school another problem developed. He had attention deficit disorder, which meant a lot of trips to the principal’s office and lectures. The doctor put him on Ritalin but that just turned him into a zombie. We sat him down and told him the situation. He had a physical condition which he had to overcome on his own. We could not keep reminding him to do homework or go to bat for him when he got in trouble. He would have to work twice as hard as the other students to get Bs and Cs when they would get As. It wasn’t fair. Life wasn’t fair. Get over it.
And he did. He graduated from college with a criminal justice degree and has worked for several years as a corrections officer for the state of Florida. On top of that, he’s become my best friend.

The Year the Easter Bunny Slept In

A few years ago children around the world almost didn’t get their eggs to hunt on Easter.
You see, the Easter Bunny worked hard and was proud of the fact he could color all those eggs and distribute them by himself. This was quite a task since each year more and more children expected the Easter bunny to visit them. His wife, commonly known as Mommy Bunny, often offered to help but he was quick to say he didn’t need anyone’s help. Besides, his son, commonly known as Baby Bunny, was so proud of him he didn’t want to share the glory with his wife. The burden, however, wore heavy on him, as was the case with many males who craved to be the sole provider for their family. What Daddy didn’t realized, however, was as he grew older the more tired he became finishing all the Easter eggs. That year the Easter Bunny cracked, so to speak, after painting the last of the eggs and immediately fell asleep from exhaustion. By dawn of Easter morning, he sat slumped against the family tree, snoring loudly with his long floppy ears flapping against his face.
“Daddy Bunny! Wake up! You’ve got to deliver the Easter eggs!” Mommy Bunny frantically jostled his shoulders to no avail.
“Mommy, why is Daddy Bunny sleeping against the tree like that?” Baby Bunny asked as he hopped from the hole under the tree roots which led to their cozy little home.
“He just worked too hard last night getting the Easter eggs ready, darling.” Mommy Bunny smiled nervously at her son before shaking Daddy Bunny one more time. Daddy Bunny! Wake up!”
All Daddy Bunny did was continue to snore, his ears flapping across his face.
“Oh, great,” she muttered. “Now all the children are going to be disappointed. What am I going to do?”
Babby Bunny hopped off a few yards to another hole in the ground. “Oh boy, is this where another rabbit family lives? I want to play with their children!”
Mommy Bunny grabbed him by his tail and pulled him away. “That’s not a rabbit hole, dear.”
“What is it?”
“A snake hole.”
“What are snakes?”
“Dangerous creatures,” she said as she pulled him back to their tree.
“What does dangerous mean?” Baby Bunny asked.
“It means they’re not very nice, and you’re never to go there again. Do you understand me?”
“Uh huh.” Baby Bunny held his head low and avoided looking at his mother.
She knew what that meant. He was going to hop right back to that snake hole the first chance he got. Mommy Bunny couldn’t very well deliver the Easter eggs herself and leave Baby Bunny alone with Daddy Bunny asleep under the tree. When she returned Daddy Bunny would still be snoring while Baby Bunny would be done the snake hole, never to be seen again.
“What am I going to do?”
Just at that moment, a dog loped along the path that came near the tree.
“Mr. Dog! Could you please help me?” Mommy Bunny called out.
“Sure, what can I do for you?” The dog looked at the Easter Bunny snoring under the tree. “Boy, he must be tired after painting all those eggs.”
“The children have to have their Easter eggs, and I can’t leave Baby Bunny here alone with Daddy Bunny. Could you deliver the eggs?” Mommy Bunny asked.
“Sure, why not? It sounds like fun,” the dog replied.
“Hurray!” Mommy Bunny cried out.
“Hurray!” Baby Bunny echoed.
“Hey, why don’t we make it more fun by digging holes in all the yards and burying the eggs? Then the kids could have fun digging them up?”

“I don’t think the parents would find that fun at all,” Mommy Bunny said, wrinkling her brow.
“Then I don’t want to do it. The old way is too boring.” The dog trotted off down the path.
Mommy Bunny hopped back to Daddy Bunny and shook him again. “Wake up! Wake up!”
She heard a clippity clop coming down the path and looked to see a donkey.
“Mr. Donkey! Mr. Donkey! Will you please help me?”
The donkey ambled over to the tree. “Sure. What do you want?”
“Will you please deliver the Easter eggs? Daddy Bunny is,” she hesitated as she looked down to see the long ears rhythmically flap over his face, “tired, way too tired.”
“He painted Easter eggs all night long,” Baby Bunny explained.
“Sure, I’ll help,” the donkey replied.
“Hurray!” Mommy Bunny shouted.
“Hurray!” Baby Bunny repeated.
“What are Easter eggs?” the donkey asked.
“What?” Mommy Bunny asked in return.
“Easter eggs. What are they?”
“You know, the eggs the Easter Bunny delivers to all the boys and girls.”
“What are boys and girls?” the donkey asked.
Mommy Bunny looked deeply into the donkey’s eyes and clearly saw that nobody was home. “Never mind.”
“Okay,” the donkey replied cheerfully and continued to clippity clop down the path.
Mommy and Baby bunny went back to the tree and tickled Daddy Bunny’s feet. He began to giggle, giving Mommy Bunny hope that he might actually wake up, then he settled into his snoring pattern and the ears continued to flap over his face.
“Boy, Daddy Bunny really is tired,” Baby Bunny said.
“I’ll give him something to be tired about.” Mommy Bunny was losing her patience.
She felt a tap on her shoulder.
“Excuse me, madam, may I be of service?”
Mommy Bunny looked up to see a United States Postal Service employee, dressed in his blue uniform, peering over at Daddy Bunny.
“Do I need to call for an ambulance?” He reached for his cell phone.
“No,” Baby Bunny said. “He’s just tired.”
“Mr. Postman, could you please help us by delivering the Easter eggs?” Mommy Bunny asked.
“Of course, I will.”
“Hurray!” Mommy Bunny cried for joy.
“Hurray!” Baby Bunny hopped up and down.
“Will that be first class or parcel post?”
“All the eggs have addresses clearly printed on them?”
“Why no.” Mommy Bunny shook her head.
“And we must have your return address. And you want them stamped fragile, don’t you?”
“We don’t have addresses. They go to all the boys and girls everywhere.”
“How about insurance?”

“The Easter Bunny never bothered with things like that before. He just delivered them on Easter Sunday morning.”
“Easter Sunday? You mean today?” the postman asked.
“Yes, of course.”
“Well, then no can do. I’d need at least eight to ten business days.” He tipped his hat and walked away. “Have a nice day.”
“What am I going to do?” Mommy Bunny was on the verge of tears. “I can’t leave you here alone while I deliver the Easter eggs.”
“Why don’t you take me with you?” Baby Bunny suggested.
And that’s what she did. She got their biggest wheelbarrow and placed Baby Bunny right in the middle. She surrounded him with all the eggs Daddy Bunny had painted the night before. Looking at the sun on the horizon, she figured she had just enough time to deliver the eggs so the boys and girls wouldn’t be disappointed.
“Hurray!” Baby Bunny shouted.
Before lifted the wheelbarrow, Mommy Bunny looked back at Daddy Bunny who was still snoring under the tree, his ears flapping over his face. “He’s not getting away with this.”
“What?” Baby Bunny asked.
“Never mind,” she replied. “Stay right there. I’ll be back.” Mommy Bunny hopped angrily over to the tree and yanked Daddy Bunny’s ears so hard his eyes flew open.
“Ouch! What’s going on?” Daddy Bunny said.
“It’s Easter morning, and I’m not going to deliver these eggs by myself. So get and help.”
Daddy Bunny blinked his eyes and hopped up. “Uh, sure, right.”
“Now wave at Baby Bunny and say, happy Easter,” she ordered.
“Happy Easter!” Daddy Bunny said with a quaver in his voice.
“Tell him we’re started a new tradition. We’re all going to make eggs together and deliver them together!”
“You’re going to help me make Easter eggs from now on, son!” Daddy Bunny called out.
“Hurray!” Baby Bunny cheered.
And that’s how Easter eggs truly became a family tradition.

Plane Nightmare

His dream started out innocently enough. He was flying. Above the clouds. Not a care in the world. Then the world went black. As he gasped for air, he realized that what he gulped down into his lungs was tepid and stale. Was he still flying? He could not see anything. No clouds, no sun, nothing. He tried to scream for help, but the words stayed in his throat.
Tom Wagoner realized he was dreaming. If only he could make himself wake up everything would be fine. A nagging voice in the back of his brain told him to continue sleeping. Tom would just have to put up with the inconvenience of a nightmare until his brain’s caboose felt rested.
To hell with that, the frontal lobe shouted and forced Tom to open his eyes.
Yelling, Tom jumped as he returned to consciousness and found himself in darkness. He squinted to adjust his eyes. He was still on the airplane. His memory came forward to remind him he was returning home to Houston from a business trip to New York.
“Hello? Anybody there?”
His muffled echo informed him that no one was still on the airplane. Tom did not know for sure if he were in Houston or still at the layover airport in Atlanta. No, he remembered the plane landing and taking off at Atlanta. He had to be in Houston. Tom pulled out his cell phone and called his girlfriend Debbie.
“Where the hell are you?” she demanded. “You were supposed to take me out to dinner tonight!”
“Honey, I’m still on the plane.”
Debbie paused before asking, “Did you get stuck in Atlanta?”
“No, I’m in Houston, I think. It’s dark, and nobody else is here.”
“Are you shacking up with that blonde broad in New York again?” Debbie said in a challenging voice. “If you’re pulling that trick again, we’re through. I warned you the last time!”
“No, no, I’m telling the truth. I guess the flight attendants didn’t see me,” he explained, his words tumbling over each other. “I was really tired and I fell asleep right after the layover in Atlanta—“
“Atlanta!” Debbie screamed into the phone, “You promised me you’d never have a layover in Atlanta after that incident last spring!”
“It was the only flight I could get. Listen, please call United Airlines. I’m on ExpressJet flight 641.”
“Maybe you’ve finally flipped out. I told you not to watch those Twilight Zone reruns.”
“Debbie, I’m locked on the plane. I’m telling you the truth. You better go somewhere and get me off this plane!”
“Oh yeah, sure, make me be the one to call the airport. I’m the one that’s going to look nuts,” she replied in exasperation.
“Just call the damn airline, okay?”
Debbie sighed. “Okay, but you better be in that plane or else just don’t bother to come home!”


Sir Thomas More had come to terms with his future. In the morning he would be executed for not acknowledging the legality of Henry VIII’s marriage to Anne Boleyn and the dissolution of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. For many years he reaped the benefits of being the friend of the King of England, and now faced the consequences of adhering to his principles of faith.
As he prayed to thank God for his blessings of a good wife and a loyal daughter, More heard the clanking of the key in his cell in the Tower of London. As he turned to see who was visiting him at this late hour, his jaw dropped opened. Before him stood his sovereign lord Henry.
“I am interrupting your prayers,” Henry said. “You must forgive me.”
“You are forgiven.” More tried to hide the irony which flitted across his face.
“Actually, I have spent the day in prayer myself.” He approached More. “Please let me help you to your feet.”
The king gently put his large hands on the prisoner’s elbows, and they settled on the small bed in the corner. At this point Henry embraced his friend and whispered into his ear.
“The Lord has revealed to me the truth. I don’t know why I did not see it myself months ago. We are both sinners, Thomas, and as your king and as the Defender of the Faith, the responsibility lies with me.”
More had never heard Henry speak with such humility before. He tried to calm his heart which was about to explode. Was the king about to release him and allow him to return to the life he loved with his wife and daughter? Such were the essence of miracles.
“My Lord, you are not obligated to say one word more,” he whispered. “You are shaming me with your penance.”
Henry stood and walked to the far wall, bowed his head for a moment before turning to face More. Tears stained his cheeks.
“God explained to me why you could not sign the declaration. I cannot hold your feelings against you. Arise. You are a free man.”
Smiling, More stood and went to his friend, extending his hand. Within the hour he would embrace his wife.
“Yes, Thomas, I now realize the real reason you opposed my marriage to Queen Anne. You are jealous. You cannot accept the fact that I do not love you the way you love me.”
More came to an abrupt stop. “What?”
“You must realize I cannot commit another sin against God. I was wrong to marry my dead brother’s wife, and it would be equally wrong to love another man. It is an abomination.”
“What?” More had not slept well while residing in the Tower of London. His appetite had vanished. Surely he had misunderstood what the king said.
“I cannot blame you. Who does not love me?” Henry spread his arms to put his large frame on display. They all lust after me. The king of France. The princes of Germany. Even the bishop of Rome. I have to admit it. Now if you were a woman I could take you as my mistress.”
“Don’t worry. No one will ever know. I want to protect you against any acts of jealousy from the lords and earls.” Henry nodded. “Oh yes, they covet me too.”
“Oh dear. I have upset you. I suppose you might have preferred going to your death with the impossible dream intact that one day you might worship at this altar.”
“You must never touch the royal scepter. You must never hold the crown jewels. You must never experience the divine right of kings.”
“You must be crazy.” More had his own revelation from God.
“Is it madness to save this temple of God only for the queen?”
“I cannot stand to see your disappointment.” Henry began to remove his ermine robe. “Quickly take off your clothing. I will mount you tonight, but only once.”
More clenched his thin coat around him. “Oh hell no.”
“Very well. Once a month. But no more than that. I do have my principles.”
“I don’t think you understand. I love my wife very much. She just left here a few hours ago. She was very upset. I had to comfort her, and I’m the one dying in the morning.”
“Hurry. Anne is expecting me back in her bed by midnight.”
“My daughter really has her heart set on receiving my head and carrying it around with her for the rest of her life. She would be extremely disappointment if she didn’t have it in her purse by tomorrow night.”
“But you belong to me.” Henry began to undo his waistcoat.
“Of course, my heart belongs to you. As the hearts of all good Englishmen belong to their king. But my head belongs to my daughter.”
Henry stopped to observe Henry closely. “I’m beginning to suspect you don’t really want all this.” His hands roamed across his body.
“I think you’ve bedded one too many women who don’t exactly have the cleanest bodies in the kingdom. You got knocked upside the head in one too many jousting matches. You’ve chugalugged one too many bottles of wine.”
“I think you’re the crazy one,” Henry huffed as he quickly retrieved his robe. “Every man and woman in England wants me. Everybody knows it.”
“Everybody knows you’re crazy as a loon, but they’re afraid to say it to your face.”
“That is treason! I will have your head for insulting the king!”
“Just make sure my daughter ends up with it by the end of the day. Thank you.”