I sought work at the gentlemen’s club, in part, because I had never worked with women. Right after college it was Air Force pilot training (mostly men), followed by the last male-only Air Force flying squadron (must have balls), then several odd professions to include a car wash (mostly fellas) and the oil fields (oil rigs being the last bastion of actual men on the LORD’s good earth).
Despite, or in spite of, being married for six years, I had never really been around women, nor really even desired to be around them. It’s been three years since big-P-I-M-P-in and in a most unexpected change, these days I often seem to find myself around only women. Don’t get the idea that I am one of those creepy, sinewy older guys we all know at work who aren’t quite gay, but somehow are only able to be friends with women. For good or bad, that’s not me. With me, the situation is manifest in other ways.
For example, my beloved toastmaster’s club is gaining women by the droves. Six years ago it was the only place I knew of which had about a 50/50 make-up. But recently I went to a off-day meeting where the ratio was more like 80/20. The official roster has it 60/40–or 31/19 to be more precise. Where have all the cowboys gone?
Then there’s the last time I was asked to teach at church. Naturally, each Sunday I notice that most of the regulars are of the fairer sex, but that did little to diminish my astonishment as I was totally unprepared to speak to a group of two men and thirty black women. In answer to my reactionary inquiry, my pastor said, “Expect more like 80/20 in the future,” but that, “Yes, it’s more women than men.” Me, teaching women? Ha. What do I know?
Here’s what I know. After much deliberation on the matter and many years in school, I’m calling it quits on trying to learn about women. To me, from what I’ve seen and from what I believe I have been purposefully shown, that goal would be no different than trying to learn about the ocean. I don’t mean learning about the elements of one of Earth’s oceans that we can observe with our five senses. I mean that, for me, women as a group are like the ocean that is eternally beyond the ocean that we presently perceive. What’s more, even if I could learn about women, not one reason comes to mind as to why I’d want to.
Instead, I’m going to focus on learning about one woman. That’s right. My mind is resolved. One of you lucky women will soon gain a suitor. Get excited. And since I’ve recently also concluded that shame is probably the deepest sensation felt during the acquisition of knowledge, I’m pretty sure that my upcoming education will be exceedingly difficult for my prideful self.
As far as the other thought, I lost it somewhere by the ocean part. It’ll return some other day, I guess.
I will give you this, though. Just now as I walked by the dumpster in the darkest hours before the dawn, I saw the regular raccoon but also two smallish ones. Can’t say I’ve ever seen a raccoon family before. What about you?
…on the rental market in Denver.
Just a few short weeks ago I was mentally preparing to begin seeking a one-year lease on a house. Pretty soon, I discovered that if I was willing to sign a lease for longer than one year, it may move me to the top of the applicant list.
Yesterday I visited a nice home that would work, and submitted an application for a two-year lease. Within hours I received an email from the owner detailing that he went with an applicant who would sign a five-year lease.
Five years! Wow. What rules govern the market in Denver?
Any help, blogosphere?
H- asked me if I’ve ever been bullied. This was at dinner. I’m sure it was after she’d shared that her second grade class is, yet again, learning about weather patterns (iz literasee evin uh konsern enymor?). But I cannot remember for certain whether it was after, that is, caused by the scene we witnessed at the restaurant or not. It must have been after.
We were eating at Freddy’s, which has turned into one of our favorite spots. While there, we were privy to some man walking back into the establishment with his recently purchased brown bag of burgers. He proceeded to theatrically unpack the bag and open the boxes in front of the watching staff, notably one unassuming teenage girl. Then, I recall him angrily adding the rejoinder, “…and now you’re wasting my time!”
Despite joining me on my other two trips, first to fill the sauce cups, second, the drink cups, and after displaying excitement upon our number being called, when I stood up to head to the counter where the man was, H- looked at me sincerely and announced, “I’m staying here.”
Uneventfully enjoying our food, in response to her bullying question, I finally said, “Do you know what war is?”
She replied, “Yes.”
“What is it?”
She answered, “It’s when you kill people.”
“Is that worse than bullying, do you think?”
She said, “Yes.”
“Do you think bullying occurs before killing or after killing?”
Not needing too much time to consider the question, she soon responded, “Before.”
“And you know I fought in war, right?”
Ever resilient, H-‘s eyes rounded out the word “Yes” with the innate understanding that her father couldn’t do wrong.
As I began again she interrupted, “But I don’t understand why people would kill each other?”
“Do you remember the video I tried to show you where the planes flew into the buildings?”
“Look at this napkin, H-. Pretend that the napkin is the United States. Everyone in the United States is an American. There are people off of the napkin, people from different parts of the world who want to hurt us and kill us. The only way to stop them is to cause them to fear us. They must believe if they ever try to harm us again they will immediately be killed.”
“It’s okay now, H-,” I reassured her.
“How do you know he’s not mad anymore, daddy?”
“Well, he saw me approach to get our food and he backed away.”
Her eyes blankly looked out the window, as if searching for something.
“Plus I heard another employee defend the girl and say, ‘I’m sorry, sir. It was my fault. I’m new and still learning the job.'”
“Oh,” she said.
I then whispered, “But I don’t think he was new. I think he just said that to calm the man down.”
“You don’t think he was new?”
“I think he was trying to calm the man down, H-. That’s the bigger goal. Do you see how in this case the lie was okay?”
Her vertical nod showed me only that I was leading the witness.
“What about if it was not just a restaurant? What if someone was depending on you to tell the truth, should you lie then?”
“Right. But here, it isn’t wrong that the employee lied. It would have been worse if something worse would have happened. Do you understand?”
Last night, I taught my daughter that, not only have I not been bullied, but that I have done more than bully to others. And that lying can be okay. What do you think? (As you answer, keep in mind that this was after we prayed over our dinner in the name of Jesus.)
Saints, ministers of the Gospel, I can imagine some of you are a bit disturbed by my attitude when it comes to the Marchers. Or maybe not. In any case, do not think that I have not considered it. To keep it brief, here is my defense.
Picking up in the middle of Elijah’s speech found in first Kings chapter eighteen we find:
“‘…Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD, and the God who answers by fire, He is God.’
And all the people said, ‘That is good idea.’
So Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, ‘Choose one ox for yourselves and prepare it first for you are many, and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it.’
Then they took the ox which was given them and they prepared it and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon saying, ‘O Baal, answer us.’
But there was no voice and no one answered. And they leaped about the altar which they made.
It came about at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, ‘Call out with loud voice, for he is god; either he is occupied or gone aside, or is on journey, or perhaps he is asleep and needs to be awakened.’
So they cried with loud voice and cut themselves according to their custom with swords and lances until the blood gushed out on them. When midday was past, they raved until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice; but there was no voice, no one answered, and no one paid attention.”
I’m Pete, not Elijah. But I do know how to read.
Sidebar: See the rest of the story if you think the LORD plays games when it comes to his name.
It’s Friday. I have the day off, and I need to get back to my study of the ancient people of Ugarit and their wedgy language. Before I do, I want to formally share my thoughts on the school shootings. I believe they are worth repeating.
I believe the school shootings, beginning when I was a senior in high school and continuing to this day, raise the issue of whether man’s creation and use of two atomic bombs has fundamentally altered the status of arms in the United States of America.
To understand how I can see this as the issue raised by school shootings requires me to explain that I believe the natural state of man is chaos. I believe that the manner with which we take a break from the chaos is “the law.” I believe that “the law” is the act of giving up freedom in order to obtain freedom. Philosophically, I believe the U.S. Constitution without the Bill of Rights (of course this document is not real–this is merely philosophical discussion) is “the law.” I believe the similarly-standing-alone-for-philosophical-explanation-only Bill of Rights is the rebuttal which declares preference for life in the pre-law, chaotic, and natural state of man in certain particular areas of life–being in our specific case: arms. Kind of a two-sides of the same coin thing, which itself manifests to the rest of the world the proud and distinct self-understanding of our people.
So that’s what I believe to be the issue raised by the shootings.
Here you’ll see again my solution to this issue, the real issue, the only issue, the issue that you have been up to now unable to say or write because you do not think for yourself, which is to add (second amendment stays) the following amendment to the U.S. Constitution, “Amendment XXVIII: In time of peace, Arms shall no longer be secured by the people.”
…to assume you had character to begin with.
Not a single one of you accepted my challenge. Not-a one. Your silence allowed my mind to wander. In hindsight, I wonder why I didn’t think through my challenge before I declared it. Of course you wouldn’t understand you had been attacked and defend yourself. You don’t have character. Character requires perseverance, and perseverance requires overcoming some sort of difficulty. No, not the difficulties you’re thinking you have overcome. Neither exasperatingly stuck-open selfie sticks, nor completely spelling out words live under this umbrella. I’m talking difficult. I’ll give you an example.
H-‘s Spring Break was last week. (To new readers, she’s my seven-year-old daughter.) The entire reason I moved to Denver was proximity to the mountains. I wanted to live near the ski-resorts and I wanted H- to grow up skiing. The opportunity finally arrived to take her skiing. In short, the ski-lessons turned out to be a bust. She didn’t know the other kids, and the instructors were very un-ski-instructory.
The proper bunny hill, however, was open for another hour after the lesson, so I took her to the line for the unthinkably slow-but-brief chair lift. Suddenly she had to go to the bathroom.
“Too bad,” I said.
See, I have a younger brother. Once, when we were about to ride the Power Tower at Cedar Point–last ride of the night–as we crept closer to the terrifically terrifying thrill ride and heard the screams, he suddenly had to go to the bathroom.
I also said, “Too bad,” to him back then.
I can only imagine the transition H- experienced as she went from fear of the unknown, to fear of heights, to fear of how to get off the lift. But I don’t have to imagine her relief as I firmly held onto her and we successfully dismounted without hiccup.
“Ready for this?” I queried, absolutely certain she wasn’t.
She soon fell.
I didn’t help her up and I felt like a jerk.
Luckily, ever since she was very young, upon her falling down, I’ve been asking her, “Why do we fall down, Bruce?” and she answers with, “To learn how to pick ourselves up.” (Thanks, Mr. Nolan.)
We maybe made three trips up and down the bunny hill before we called it quits. If she ever chose to fall because she got going too fast and decided to bail before things got ugly, I would help her up. If she fell because she was afraid, I ski’d to her and told her to get up. That was day one.
Day two, we started fresh. After more of the same, she began to fall less and eventually proposed an intriguing deal.
“Hey Daddy. I was thinking. If I can ski down this without falling, can I have a stuffy (her name for Beanie Boos)?”
“I’ll make that deal,” I confirmed, quickly adding, “But you can’t fall once. But you’ve got a deal. It doesn’t matter if it takes all day either. If by the end of today you have made it down one time without falling, you get the stuffy.”
“Not once. Got it. Can I have one for every time I don’t fall?”
“No. But,” I continued, eyeing the larger mountain to our left, “If you go with me on that chair lift, all the way to the top, and ski down the green with me, then no matter how many times you fall, I will get you a second one.”
“So two total?”
“Yes, H-. If you don’t fall on this short one, and you simply go with me on the long one, you will get two stuffies.”
She agreed and we eventually boarded the longer lift. She seemed in awe of how much longer it was. I’m sure she was not looking forward to skiing down the mountain.
This green run took me about thirty seconds to make it down if I didn’t stop.
My mother, H-, and I took one and a half hours. Well, that’s not true. After about an hour, my mother just left us, unable to believe my treatment of H-.
H- cried most of the way. She fell about every ten feet. Only rarely did I help her up. At one point some stranger lady began giving H- tips, I didn’t acknowledge her existence. Probably five minutes went by before hah-sah-tahn concluded it was best to leave.
Are you getting the picture? I was aware that I was coming off as literally employing every horrible parenting tool out of the tool-bag. To these people, I was the tool. But they were mistaken.
See, they thought I was trying to teach H- how to ski. Far from it. It’s possible H- may never really take to skiing like I want her to. Instead, I was teaching her to have character. (Something I’m especially glad I did, considering I have since learned that none of you have it.)
Again, an hour an a half later, the last thirty minutes of which my dad and mom spent actively debating my sanity, H- and I finally made it to the point where she could see the bottom. Naturally she fell at that point.
“Get up,” I said.
Then, totally surprising me (for what reason, I do not know–this was the skill I was teaching) I hear her say to herself, “Okay. There’s the bottom. You can do this.”
I had to look away lest she see my joy; better for her to harbor whatever kind of ill will little girls can have for their fathers at this moment.
During the late lunch she further surprised me by suggesting that she probably shouldn’t get the stuffy because it took so long.
“A deal’s a deal, H-.”
Then she asked if after we go together a few more times on the bunny hill if she could try going by herself–after we ride up together.
Overall, H- did not take to skiing like my younger brother did at her age. She doesn’t turn much.
But she has something you don’t. And she will not forget it.
PS – The conversation with my friend didn’t go well, or develop at all really. We met. I barely and playfully broached the topic, and he said, “I’ve already replied.” It reminded me that he definitely carries the fire. But it also made me sad. Because I love conversation.
I should have known the night was on my side when her dress fit.
She briskly, confidently, and oh-so-perfectly entered Boettcher Concert Hall, holding the thin, race-car red fabric of her dress off the floor with her soon-to-set-the-piano-on-fire fingers.
Red is my favorite color. And if dresses could direct their attention, her dress pointed directly at my heart. Did I mention that it fit? It fit.
Beethoven is said to have said something like, “Music is God’s final revelation to man.” Of course, with an understanding like that, he could only have meant the LORD. Amen, Brother B. Amen. And thank you, LORD.
All I really want to do here is call to your attention this pianist. If she comes to your town, drop everything–every single thing that you are holding, whether in hand or mind–and pay any dollar amount to see her play. (Or any other currency for that matter, you uptight legalists.)
This woman turns the concert hall into the cathedral.
Do you believe that there is more to music than sound? Good. Me too. Zee Zee three.
You will not be disappointed.
H- slowly read, “United States of America.”
I took back the card and scanned for the line I intended her to read and be impressed by, and then reattempted my quest, this time with my finger as a guide for her eyes.
“Flight Instructor, H-. Flight Instructor. I can teach people how to fly.”
She was not impressed.
“Oh, look at this. These are the two guys who invented flight,” I said, showing her the back of the license.
She scanned it, displaying deep resolve to not feed my ego.
“Wait,” she finally said as I took it away. “Let me see it again.”
This time her eyes studied the images.
Her turn to impress, she dispassionately declared, “They look like the Wright brothers.”
“It’s called ergonomic,” he informed H-, taking a moment to verify that he believed the mug’s slightly twisted handle was in fact designed that way, and not just poorly made.
“I would rather call it a foal. Or, like, a stallion or parents.”
“What?” he asked, confused and trying to not lose focus on what he was reading while they ate their donuts. “Why would you call a coffee cup’s handle’s shape a horse?”
After taking a moment to recount the conversation in her head, she replied, “You said,” then she paused before continuing, “Wait, what did you call it?”
“Ergonomic-” he repeated mechanically.
“-Right,” she said, recognizing the big word this time. “Then I said, ‘I’d call it a foal’—I didn’t say a horse.”
“Right,” he confirmed, belaboring the word. “Then I asked you, ‘Why would you call it a foal?’” Then, deciding that H- was not going to let him off the hook easy, he refocused all his attention on their conversation and, for clarity, asked, “What is a foal anyhow?”
Eyes wide in disbelief, she answered with an impassioned yet restrained increase in volume, “A foal is a baby horse!”
“Okay, okay. I remember now. But you still haven’t told me why you would call it a foal?”
Seeing that her father did have a point and finally hearing his real question, she answered, “Because they’re cute!”
The difference between two and seventeen is either fifteen, if counting items, or two and three-quarters, if counting hours. And because it is now seventeen, I am even angrier at you than before.
I’m angry because today, I, like many of you, am asking the LORD why he isn’t granting his mercy to our children while they are in school. Nearly every day I pray, “LORD have mercy on us and protect our children while they’re at school.” Once again, the LORD has not responded in kind. About this, I’ll have a talk with him later.
But there’s more. I’m angry at you, fellow parents, because you are obviously not teaching your children forgiveness. What is your problem? Why don’t you teach this to the little ones? Do you not know about forgiveness? Do you not believe in it? Do you think forgiveness is some kind of joke? Do you think forgiveness is intuitive, natural, or some logical deduction? Well, you are wrong. The price of forgiveness is blood. It cost the LORD his only son’s blood, it is costing us our children’s blood.
So help me God, if your negligence in teaching your child forgiveness ends up costing me my child in some future shooting, I will be more than angry. But I go too far. Do you see? To receive forgiveness from our heavenly father, we must–that means it’s not optional–forgive each other. I’m calmer now. Contemplating forgiveness will do that. And the old rugged cross carries incomprehensible peace, too.
But now you have a Son-of-God-given mission: By all means, take a moment to teach your child forgiveness. Do this soon. I’m begging you.
Now, back to talking to the LORD.