life is funny, part 363

he’s wearing an incredibly cool pair of vintage asics racers. i’m smitten.

i have just finished 2 miles on the dirt track at cole, seeing if the softer surface would help my ailing knee. it did not. maybe i’m finished? it would be pretty funny if my knee called it quits just as i transitioned to full-time runner. payback for covering black sabbath in the southern baptist youth center in my younger days? oh, well. worth it.

i am waiting to pay for my slush monkey. as i was pouring it (a laborious task given the need to mix coke, cherry and mountain dew flavors in the correct portion and layer of the drink) i was eavesdropping on three police officers standing nearby. conversation on race relations? how to stay safe in a deteriorating landscape? that jig bush was doing at the memorial service? none of the above. they were talking kale.

it was a discussion on smoothies. kelp and kale and spinach and the proper way to combine them for smoothies, which made me feel bad about pretending to be an athlete while dishing up a drink whose main ingredients are sugar and, ummm, well, i guess just sugar.

but then as i get in line, the cop in front of me has a dr pepper and a bag of peanut m&ms. this seems like a better choice. if you’re going to go out and risk your life on a daily basis, do it with a dr pepper and m&ms in your belly. as he waits in line, the guy with the yellow asics motions to him. i’m buying those, he says.

he’s maybe 30, t-shirt and baggy shorts, and the world’s greatest pair of vintage asics. i might have mentioned them already. seems like a nice guy. the cop resists, but the guy is adamant. a small gesture after an awful week. the cop finally agrees (dr pepper is getting warm.) the cashier checks them out. they shake hands and the cop says thanks. the guy tells him thank YOU. and that was that.

it made me think. about how little gestures can mean a lot. about how we take people for granted too often. about how three bucks is a small price for someone who could be taking a bullet for you later in the day. about how maybe the world will be ok after all.

but mostly it made me think:

where the hell did he get those shoes?

life is funny …

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hope gallery, part 1

mo found out too late you’re supposed to wear a mask. and gloves. and sunscreen.

but we had sandy’s custard and migas afterward, so at least she’ll die happy.

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recycling is important

but not papa smurf. seriously. 

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cousin joe



photo swiped from san angelo standard-times. sorry.

that’s joe in the photo above. ma called him cousin joe, although i’m still not sure how exactly we were related. i think he was granddad’s cousin. but i just called him joe.

longtime readers will recall i’m a bit of a recluse, so i was never around him much once i made it past the point of mandatory family reunions. but mo met him for the first time after granddad’s funeral, and we sat on the back porch and listened as he told stories. joe had a lot of great stories.

he was a lifelong law enforcement officer. started as a highway patrolman and then became a Texas Ranger, the tejas equivalent of rock star. when he finally retired from that, he became sheriff in my hometown. something about the badge, i guess.

he told the most amazing story i have ever heard on the porch that day. i can’t repeat it because i’m not sure he’d want it made public, but mo still gasps when she remembers it. ask me sometime after our fourth beer and i’ll tell you.

but mostly he was a good guy. car chases, detective work, filling his partner’s boots with shaving cream. cop stuff. he died a few years ago from a failing heart. we went to the funeral, and i was stunned. an hourlong procession of police vehicles from the church to the cemetery. Law enforcement guys take things seriously. i was honored to be in the middle of it.

that’s the face i plug in when i read that an officer was killed. joe risked his life every day. you pull over a drunk guy on a back road in west texas, you never know how it’s going to end. joe was lucky.

i’m not a guy who cries a lot, but i was struggling last night while we were putting out the papers. the story went from bad to worse to unthinkable. i kept thinking about joe. about all the families who had their own joe, and how their lives had changed in an instant.

we get caught up in numbers. five dead. worst police incident since 9/11. but they’re not numbers; they’re human beings. decent people who risk their lives every day to keep us safe. families get phone calls in the middle of the night. somebody loses their own cousin joe.

how can it possibly make sense to kill people because you’re mad that people are getting killed? what the hell is wrong with us?

i don’t know the answer to this senseless cycle of violence. i’m not even sure i know the question.

i just know i’m mad. and so, so sad.

and i wish i had another afternoon on the back  porch with joe. those were great stories.

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my dream job

lifeguard on an empty beach. 

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my run

I have been sick for a while, so the first run back is a big deal. I’m running a 1.4 mile loop in my neighborhood. it’s an odd course, because although i live in a modest apartment complex,  it’s next to a street lined with million dollar beachfront homes. i worry that they don’t care for what appears to be a crazy homeless guy  running repeatedly through the neighborhood. but it’s my neighborhood too, so i do it anyhow. can’t we all just get along?

the first lap goes ok. i know there should be a back-running-again euphoria, but mostly it’s a drudge. there’s the usual 20 mph battering ram of a wind, but this loop is the perfect solution because the mansions act as a windblock on one end, and the baptist church does the same on the other.

i circle through the apartment parking lot, get a drink of water and head out for the second loop. the new zantes feel ok in a wait and see sort of way. way too hot to get excited about the run. autopilot kicks in.

i run past the mansions again. a woman stands on the porch watching me. you rarely see people on this block. the people go into their homes through the rear, with access from an alley road, and never use the front yard. it’s like nobody lives there at all. a ghost neighborhood of fortresses.

i make the turn, run the front stretch along the church parking lot. as i head into the left turn to enter frog row, i hear it. a siren.

i look behind me. police car.

this isn’t my first rodeo. i was running loops in my apartment complex in arizona once when i was detained by heavily armed cops looking in the area for a Very Bad Guy. i apparently matched the general description of the guy (a male with a mustache). drawn guns and bulletproof vests. luckily one of the officers knew my editor and we became great pals swapping stories about him. so i know the drill.

i stop, stand perfectly still, hands to my side. the cop comes out of the car. apparently they’ve gotten a suspicious person call. i’m the suspicious person.

it has to be the damn rich people. I LIVE HERE! IT’S MY NEIGHBORHOOD TOO! my head realizes that’s just the way people are. human nature. you’re suspicious of those who aren’t like you. but my heart hates it.

i have relatives who are law enforcement officers. i sympathize with the idea of going to work each day not knowing if it will be your last. if i make a mistake, we run a correction on page 2 the next day. if they make a mistake, they hold a funeral. i sigh and wait for instructions.

do you have any id, the officer asks. i don’t carry my wallet when i run (the fallout from an unfortunate incident with something in my pants), but i always carry my phone in a small belt around my waist.

i reach down to get it. as i do, i realize in a split second what a profoundly bad idea that was. i am facing away from him. he can’t see what i’m doing.

i always wondered if you would hear the sound of the gunshot before feeling it. the answer: it’s better not to find out. i crumple and watch as the blood forms a  growing pool. a  guy who was watering the bushes at the church walks over to watch. just like tv, he’s thinking. my dying thought: maybe i should have just used the treadmill.

and then it’s all over. another misunderstanding in america.

but of course this incident didn’t happen at all.

i’m white.

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The Great Pants Scare of 2016

i’m putting on my pants. i have done this many times, so i don’t give it much thought.


as i secure my belt, i feel something in my left pants leg. it’s big. it’s creepy. 


i’m not one to frighten easily. i can watch The Golden Girls just before bedtime with no repercussions. i survived the dick cheney years. i keep one eye open during Thriller. but creatures in my pants? no way. i lose it.

by lose it, i mean i start dancing around and screaming like a little girl *.  and not in a good way.

i grab the creature with my left hand. it’s behind the knee, about halfway up the pants leg. with my right hand, i try to undo my belt, which proves to be impossible. i tug and pull and curse being a lefty. but i’m unwilling to let go of the thing that has decided to take up residency in my wardrobe. dance, scream, juggle. i ponder the odds that someone is secretly recording this, leading to me becoming the next unwitting star of youtube.

dance, scream, juggle. i can feel it move around. mouse? isn’t the cat supposed to take care of these things? i should have been more generous with the kitty treats. underpants gnome? aren’t those just a myth? rattlesnake? is that a wolverine in your pants or are you just happy  to see me? whatever it is, it’s big, it’s still there, and it’s moving around. 

finally i manage to loosen the belt, undo my jeans and hurl them across the room. i warily walk up, shake the pants, and there it is.

mo’s work i.d. badge.

why?  why does this badge hate me so? why did it sneak into my pants? what was it planning if i hadn’t foiled its plot?

and now it’s sitting there on the nightstand. waiting for me. waiting.

i’m wearing shorts for the rest of my life.

* as always, i apologize to little girls, who no doubt would have reacted in a more dignified manner. 

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