…a rare display of perfect white teeth two widening, full lips revealed said friend.
Beginning with her rugged and worn-in desert tan combat boots, continuing up dusty cargo pants that seemed tailored, pausing where a thick belt sloped pertly from her left hip to her right where the pistol’s holster hung several inches below her waistline, tightening with her damp tank top that left no doubt about her taught stomach and full breasts, and ending with her coal black hair that she tied back in a pony tail three days earlier, she was a fighter through and through.
I stepped forward and her shooting arm flinched. Slowing my approach, I kept her in the long shadow that was the result of the setting sun meeting my tall frame. Raising the open palms of my capable hands to the level of my stomach, I signaled that I meant no harm. She let me continue. Two steps remained and finally she began to rotate the pistol to an angle that would cause my intentions great consternation. Still I walked forward. One final breath of harsh, dust-filled wind before the evening’s calm would begin caused us both to turn our heads downwind, eyes closed. Quick to re-open mine, I saw through her sun-glasses that she hadn’t yet opened hers and that when she did they widened as much from fear as from excitement upon the discovery that I had smartly seized the opportunity to close the remaining distance between us. My shadow blanketed her body in its entirety now. I raised my hands further until they were at shoulder height, which was also the level of her eyes. She tried to hold her breath in an effort to prevent her quickening heart rate from revealing itself through a rapidly rising and falling bosom. She failed. Almost imperceptibly, I advanced my hands until my fingertips landed gently upon her sun-glass’s frames. I then slowly pulled the glasses, and a few strands of hair that appeared relieved to be free, forward.
Back to the good stuff, if I do say so myself.
I don’t take advice on life from my younger brother. Actually, I don’t take it from any immediate family members.
When we discuss life, we mostly just fight. All parties are to blame, of course, but when pitted against my younger brother I’m always ready to accept more blame because I’m older and should know better, the theory goes. Amidst our current unpleasantness I have been thinking about why I never listen to him. This naturally led to me contemplating how I decide to ever listen to anyone. In other words, which criteria do I use to seriously consider another person’s invariably well-meaning advice? As always, I’m curious to read how others would answer this question too.
For me, however, it boils down to loss. The more loss a person has experienced, the more I listen. If a person has experienced less loss than me, then I don’t listen. After all, what do they know?
So mom and dad, brother and sister, I hear you, but your life choices haven’t resulted in much loss according to my all-seeing eye. Sorry. If I’m missing something, please share. At this point, what do you have to lose?
Loss is important to me because it demonstrates risk. Taking risks demonstrates belief, which demonstrates passion, which, in turn, demonstrates that you are alive. At least this is how I see things. I’m not prescribing this to you. I just want you to know this is how I am. I don’t mean any disrespect. We’re just different. I live the inverse of: “You won’t fail if you don’t try.”
Actually, come to think of it, since I hold the “lost most” card, I do want to prescribe this way of life to the four of you. Live a little. All four of you play it too safe.
Now, I know at least mom is rolling her eyes and asking “Why should I listen to him again?” “What’s he lost?” I’ve lost half of H-‘s childhood. Half. How’d I lose it? By passionately rushing into a marriage that K- and I should’ve seen wasn’t ever going to work. And let me be clear: It is no good that neither K- nor I can ever get back the time lost because of our decision–no good at all. But the flip side to that coin is we each get half of H-‘s childhood. And we would’ve never got any of it if we would’ve played it safe. And without H-, well, we’d all be worse off. You know that’s a fact.
I just smiled after writing that. Because it’s true. I’m actually excited now. (I love writing.) So until you convince me that you’ve lost as much, I’m not taking your advice to play it safe. I’m not going to pad the walls by considering all the outcomes or what strangers or relatives will think. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m going to do–and do it better. Forever. So there.
Diary style again…apologies.
Eudaimonia. Two years ago a professor wrote the word on the chalkboard in both Jesus-fish style Greek and the more familiar alphabet version. It had been a long time since someone had impressed me. Suffice it to say he had my attention. It means to flourish. Two years later almost to the day, today, I can’t help but wonder if anyone knows what it means to flourish.
Robert William Case, friend and author of Icarus and the Wingbuilder, does. But he’s already married. Actually, I could go on and on naming folks I know, 60+ years old, who demonstrate an understanding of eudaimonia daily.
But I want to find someone who understands it, is under thirty and, here’s the kicker, female. Does she exist? Because, unlike say Batman, God, or Rainbow Dash, this is a person that I don’t even think I’ve heard of existing.
By way of example, as I’ve mentioned before, I play the piano. Both the instrument and the piano. Yep, I don’t pass by opportunities to confess that I have the greatest one. Anyhow, once, after playing for an older lady friend, she flattered, “Oh Pete, you’d be wasted on a younger woman.” Oh boy. It’s a good thing I was sitting. But was she right? Most of the time I think so. And then when I discover not many young people can even play an instrument (one small attractive quality), let alone enjoy playing one (eudaimonia alert!), I reach a consensus.
One of the many reasons I left my last job was because I hadn’t been on a date since beginning it. The schedule was just too crazy. It’s been months now of not having any crazy schedule, of establishing some social patterns, of trying to meet new people, and still no change. When do I get to give up? Because this notion that there is hope is getting very old.
It is. I know it is bad. I know it is bad because I have felt a woman willingly place her hand in mine. I know because I have enjoyed the exponentially arousing feeling of her fingers brushing down the length of my fingers as we interlace them. Because my shoulders have received the full weight of her eyes after she concludes that they can bear her trust. Because I have been allowed to consider each and every subtle quality that define her face and neck. Because my tongue has tasted the deposit and withdrawal of her unfamiliar breath.
I know because I have been caught unaware by the ferocity with which my delight in the delicate dance of our tongues was overcome by an unmistakable wish to devour my prey without obtaining permission or forgiveness.
I know because I have seized her narrow waist and smashed her concealed hips into mine before granting my hands license to hunt for the entry point. Because, ever confident, I have triumphed past that magical barrier which separates exposed from unexposed.
I know because I have lifted her into the air and felt the unrivaled trifecta of her fingertips guiding, her legs surrounding, and her body enveloping as she descends.
Oh yes. I’m convinced. Sex is bad.
Happy Valentine’s Day
The screen fills suddenly with what appears to be a creepy looking Target employee standing directly behind a beautiful young brunette as she shops. Next we see the young brunette giving in to a handsome, though, bumbling man’s flattery in a grocery store. The image quickly changes to the red shirted creep now driving on the highway in too small of a car. Changing again, the screen now shows the brunette and handsome man skinny dipping in a lake and as they begin to kiss they carelessly sink under the water. Now the sceen fades to black and reappears with what we can tell are clearly faster moving images beginning with the creep climbing out of his car in the driveway behind the beautiful woman as she starts to run toward the house. Now a heartbeat sounds as the handsome man pulls into the drive after work and sees her legs on the ground in the garage as it opens. The next beat is followed by a policeman’s face denoting helplessness while the man hangs up his phone and resignedly tosses it to the side of the couch. The next beat shows the man loading an ax into the trunk of his car. Then after the next beat a bedroom door opens to reveal the creep’s back as he sits in a chair unaware anyone is in the house. The next beat is followed by the camera zooming in on the handsome man’s face as he begins with a terrible violence to swing the ax. One more beat and we see the image cut out right when the ax would’ve made contact with the creep. Silence accompanies a black screen. A moment later, we see and hear a breezy Missouri forest in the fall which has what can be none other than an empty grave and mound of dirt beside it. Then the words Buried Within appear, followed by “Coming Soon.”
It wasn’t for me, of course. I bought it as a gift for the last book reader in the land. For my part, I, Peter, the eldest Deakon brother, hailing from that last great North American municipality Kansas City, so named for the river that decreed its eastern boundary and ferried the native tribes of the same name, always scoffed at such trinkets. Not anymore.
I had only moments before stepped out of my aging helicopter, which had assumed the role of confidant over the last few lonely years, and calmly removed my gold-rimmed sunglasses to look upon the setting sun, perhaps for the last time, through the many layers of slowly falling dust my old friend had kicked up. Rarely did she bestow upon me the gift of being able to stare at the life sustaining star unflinching and without filter. There were no governments anymore, no commanders to frown at me if I didn’t wear my cover when outside, but still I deftly exchanged the aviators for my old blue airman’s hat that I nevertheless kept in my flight suit’s left ankle pocket. Ever scanning the sky for trouble, I only looked down for a moment when I paused to wipe clean with my thumb the polished silver captain’s bars before placing their visibly worn fabric bearer on my head, cocked slightly to the right.
That’s when I saw her, rather felt her, approach. She had come to a stop just outside of arms reach at my five o’clock without my noticing, shame on me. It was when I began a turn to my left that out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of her swelling bosom’s shadow as it accented her figure’s shapely outline upon the hard packed dirt. “A quiet runner,” I thought, impressed, “or maybe I am losing my hearing after all these years.” My torso lagged, hips even more so, behind my rapidly turning head as I began to assess friend or foe. The dusty black Glock in her right hand said foe, a rare display of perfect white teeth two widening, full lips revealed said friend.
A bitter poem as the worst holiday ever conceived approaches dreadfully slow.
Longsuffering does not mean suffering through long hours at work to buy you jewelry.
Longsuffering does not mean suffering through long lines with other procrastinating men to buy you flowers.
Longsuffering does not mean suffering through long years of staring at some perplexingly huge teddy bear that got me laid once.
Longsuffering does not mean suffering through long explanations about why you can’t make friends with women.
Longsuffering does not mean suffering through long lists of men’s names who you thought really loved you.
Longsuffering does not mean suffering through long years of hoping you’d get the clue that I wanted to be more than friends.
Longsuffering does not mean suffering through long periods of silence as you conclude life is as your dad said it was, not as you wanted it to be.
Longsuffering does mean suffering through long days and nights which add up to years of wondering where the hell a woman worth her salt hides and if I will even be able to recognize her.
“Large keyboard instrument that produces soft and loud (Barron 95).”
At seven feet long, six hundred seventy pounds, and taller than a toddler, it demands attention. But for a few aesthetic nuances, there is purpose in every handcrafted stationary and moving part. Equally beautiful and functional, the black behemoth exemplifies creativity. Neither do its origins disappoint. Cristofori’s problem was monotony. The harpsichord produced one sound. The strings were plucked. No matter how hard or soft the musician pressed down on the keys, the resultant volume was the same. But life’s spark would not let the matter rest. He sought both soft and loud, and henceforth created a new connection to the Infinite.
Mystifying in its identical name, the keyboard these words are typed on sits atop a wooden table in a room whose walls and closed blinds seem inclined to constantly advance inward. The piano keeps them at bay. Its weight symbolizes its persistence to preserve its place in this world.
The words begin to grow short. The afternoon advances. The man approaches confidently, if lazily. As he steps around the bench, his body brushes against the hanging blinds. He pulls his hand up short of the light switch. As if unable to contain a joyful secret, the swinging blinds reveal the sun is shining. He opens them and smiles.
There is nothing, I mean nothing, that compares to playing the piano in the light of the sun.
*Barron, James. Piano: The Making of a Steinway Concert Grand. New York: Times, 2006. Print.
Have I told you much about Greeny? The following paints as accurate a picture of this war hero as any, I suppose.
Taking off his skis Saturday afternoon, he stops and says, “I just learned something about myself. See that woman over there? I watched her come down the mountain on tele’s and thought, ‘You know. I could marry her.'”
“Wow, man. Pretty deep,” my brother and I’s wide-eyed response.
“No, you don’t understand. You know what my girlfriend said to me the other day? She said, ‘It’s cold out here.’ I couldn’t believe it. It was like 60 degrees. I told her, ‘You can say, ‘I’m cold.’ But you can’t say ‘It’s cold.’ You can’t say it because it is not true.”
He always has been a stickler for the truth.
What I really want to share though is what happened at the club Saturday night. The seven of us in the bachelor party play pool for a few hours until most are losing interest and ready to head back to the condo. I convince Greeny to hang out a bit longer, because, well, we’re good friends and you never know when some new war will break out etc, etc. It was about midnight, and we had had enough to drink that I finally suggest we tempt fate on the dance floor where there are probably eight ladies and only one dude. (Focus on the decent odds, not the lame club.)
The entire floor cleared when we walked onto it.
I couldn’t stop smiling. I felt my body move more from laughter fits than any attempt to bust a move. Greeny was more still. He gets this look. The wheels are clearly turning behind his thousand yard stare, but from experience I assure you not necessarily very fast. He scans the room one last time and then reports, “Pete. If you and I are in any other country in the world and walk onto a dance floor, the women would leave their seats to join us. Here, they return to them.”
Now, ladies, I know what you’re thinking.
Wait. No, no I don’t. Never have. Same for Greeny.
“What is the deal with the traffic?” he muttered, alone in his car. It was 6:44pm and that meant he only had sixteen minutes to drive the twenty minutes of pavement that separated him from his destination. “I wanted to be there right now,” he continued.
As predicted, twenty minutes later he arrived. Transforming what should have been a three-point turn into an eleven-point turn, he finally came down off the curb and shifted to park.
“Oh man. I didn’t expect anyone to be dressed up. Oh well,” he thought, seeing a few other stragglers walking up to the building.
Not knowing what to expect, he approached the door and was yet again immediately greeted with a welcoming handshake from a stranger.
“This place is amazing,” he thought.
He knew some of what was going on. He wasn’t dumb. He sat in pews like these week after week for a decade as a child. “It’s just muscle memory,” he could hear the critics say. It felt familiar and familiar feels good. “You go to what you know,” Hollywood wisdom taught about behavior during trying times. But he didn’t care.
“So what?” he thought. “Who cares if I only like this place because it is familiar? Why is that wrong?”
Then he heard it. It couldn’t have been louder than a whisper, but boy was it distinct. When the church was a little fuller on Sundays, it wasn’t as audible. But on this night, it sounded like the crack of thunder.
“Tonight’s,” a pause, “scripture reading,” the man looked up, “is from the Gospel of Luke,” the man stopped. “Turn with me,” he continued, “to Luke chapter eleven,” he took a breath, “where we’ll read,” and another, “verses one through two.”