Tuesday, July 27, 2010




On Sunday the 18th of July I picked up 2 years Clean and Sober down at my local NA Group. In the last two years I haven’t had so much as a sip of beer or wine. I haven’t smoked no mind altering drug, or snorted or ingested any chemicals designed to change the way I feel.
That, friends, is why I feel so damn good.
So it was quite ironic to be at my High School Reunion that weekend and have a $19 glass of Red Wine spilled on me Friday night. I posed for pictures, wine glass in hand, staggering a bit as though I was three sheets to the wind, because I really didn’t know what else I was supposed to do. I hope the pictures do not mess with anybody's serenity.

God, did that wine smell good! I hadn’t even smelled Red Wine in two years and here I was, marinating in it! I smelt like a London Broil.
I took a loaf of bread, stuck it in my pocket and went looking for a nice Catholic girl, hoping we might have Communion. Instead, on my way home, I got pulled over by the Southlake cops whose sensitive cop noses immediately smelled the woody floral bouquet of a nice 1969 Montrachet and wanted to book me for a DWI.
"But Officer" I pleaded "I pick up my Two Years Clean and Sober pin in less than 36 hours"
“Sure kid” Deputy Fife said “You are soaked”
‘Yessir” I says ”See where it spilled on my pants? I haven’t had a sip!”
‘Do you think I just fell off the Ice Cream Truck? Out of the car, longhair!”

The second Police car arrived and I thought "Holy Crap, I'm in it now!".
It was the Captain of the watch with his assistant.
They haul me out of the car, they shined the light in my eyes, they made me touch my nose (which I can hardly do stone cold sober), they had me walk the line, but you know me...I'm so goofy I couldn't keep from crackin' up that this ironic shit was happenin’ to me.

So I started talking about NA, recited the Twelve Steps, talked about the Third Tradition, and how the only requirement for membership was a desire to stop using.
Then I started talking about what the program had done for me, and how I never knew I could stay clean, how I didn't even know I would want to, and how all my friends and family that I had alienated and isolated from were back in my life and all...and that I had kept coming back and given myself a break and found a new way to live and a God of my own understanding...
And I started to recite the Third Step Prayer:
"Many of us have said: Take my will and my life, guide me in my recovery, show me how to live, clean."
And I looked up and all three of those cops were in tears.
They let me go, and didn't even write me a ticket for the headlight that is out.
It was a close one, dude!

By the way, having the wine spilled on me had no real effect on my sobriety, or my desire to stay clean. The message we carry is that:
“Anyone can stop using, lose the desire to use, and find a new way to live”

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Some people might try to hang on to the idea that Bob Dylan or James Taylor are the spokesmen for our generation. But after watching 20 ladies and John Angell, the old Chief Wrangler of the Rodeo Club, at the 35th Reunion joyously take the dance floor, it leaves little doubt that The Village People and their smash hit "YMCA" may be the one true voice of the Class of 1975.
I have suffered through this song innumerable times, at Spencers Corner in the 70's, The Run Down Comfort and Grand Central Station in the 80's, then Spencers Palace in the 90's. Where ever my class flocks, this song is played and the dancing begins.
All the dancers do the same basic move, but some have perfected it over the years. Saturday nights winner had to be Nancy Smith, with her right arm outstretched and a pointed finger flicking perfectly in unison with the thumpa-thumpa of the music and moved her arm in a slow wide arc while mouthing the words:

Young man, there's no need to feel down.
I said, young man, pick yourself off the ground.
I said, young man, 'cause you're in a new town
There's no need to be unhappy.

For the next verse, Nancy went back the other way, using her left hand and finger. It was donme while gracefully swinging and swaying to the music. She was a machine!
Then, of course at the chorus, everybody throws their hands in the air, then down to shoulders, then with hands on hips; the big finish comes as they spell out "YMCA" .

It's fun to stay at the y-m-c-a.
It's fun to stay at the y-m-c-a.
They have everything for you men to enjoy,
You can hang out with all the boys

So as I stood there watching them dance, my mind began to wander, the way I'm sure yours must be now. I began to see into the future at the 50th Reunion in 2025, where I'm sure this song will be played, and danced to as well. I could see the ladies, just slightly less spry, but giving it their all just the same, and John Angell hopping right along with a very stylish cane, most likely Onyx, with an Ivory handle as everybody sings out:

Young man, are you listening to me?
I said, young man, what do you want to be?
I said, young man, you can make real your dreams.
But you got to know this one thing!

No man does it all by himself.
I said, young man, put your pride on the shelf,
And just go there, to the y.m.c.a.
I'm sure they can help you today.

Then again I see in my minds eye, as I'm sure you are doing now as well, the 75th Reunion, our ranks very much thinned, probably down at the La Dora Lodge Old Folks Home on Bedford Road, and the DJ puts on YMCA and six ladies and John Angell take the floor in wheelchairs and walkers. I gotta tell ya, I'm tearing up a little as I write about it. Some things are immortal, and surely YMCA and John Angell will be.

Anyway, as I was leaving Saturday night, I saw two of the YMCA dancers outside. It was two girls that I didn't know in High School and they did not know me. As far as they knew, I might have gone to Odessa-Permian Basin. I'm certain they have never seen one of my Facebook or Bulletholes stories. I stopped and said hello, and told them that I had calculated that if I lived to be 100, that I would have gone to 9 more Reunions, therefore I would have watched the YMCA dance 9 more times.
"Don't you like to dance?' one asked.
"Oh yes, I love to dance!" I said.
"Well, why didn't you dance to YMCA tonight"
"Because" I explained "I flunked spelling. I cain't spell no good."

They didn't laugh. They just kinda sat there with their mouths open.

Nancy doing her flawless YMCA routine.
The judges gave her....ALL TENS!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Camping at Toledo Bend one year, I was cutting the grass for Aunt Glesnal who lived right on the lake and I decided I needed a new muffler for her Lawnmower.
Glesnal lived way out in the boonies, 20 miles into town. She told me the nearest Hardware store was "Smileys" but it had no identification on the outside of the building, just a dilapidated weatherbeaten ol' wooden shack on a certain intersection of a dirt road and a one lane blacktop.
""Bout 8 miles down, can't miss it; don't let Smiley scare ya" she says.
I also needed some bolts and other stuff so I made a list and took off down the road to Smileys. Sure as heck, its right where she says it will be, in the middle of nowhere, couldn’t miss it. No cars in the driveway but through the trees you can see back to what is probably Smileys house. I go to the door and peer into a very dark room thru a screen door. I open the door and step inside. Behind me is the summery slap of the screen door. Even though it is the middle of the afternoon it is eerily dark in this room.
Peering through the darkness I clear my throat and say "Hello". It is more a question than a greeting. Out from the darkness comes the reply "Can I help you?" and a light comes on.
Its Smiley; he is 6'6" tall, completely bald and looks like that lead singer for Midnight Oil. There is a single bare bulb bouncing by his head, hanging from a wire, his hand in the air as he holds the pull chain for the light.
"I need some bolts" I say
"Follow me" he says. The light goes out and I follow Smiley through the dark, mostly by sound and shadow. At last he stops, reaches up and "click", a light comes on, revealing an assortment of bolts. Into a paper bag we put the ones I need.
"What else?" he asks.
"Garden hose" says I.
Light goes out and we proceed in the dark to my next item. He stops, light goes on, he produces from a shelf a garden hose, pulls the string,lites out!
We repeat the process through my entire list. Every item I need, we go to in the dark, and there is always a bulb hanging within a foot of my selection. I have never seen lighting so strategically placed anywhere, and Smiley has not said another word since the initial "Follow Me" It was quite surreal.
Last thing on my list is the muffler. I can remember the make of the Mower but not the Engine so I take a guess. Smiley knows better and tells me "NO, for that make of mower it is this engine and the muffler you will need is this one."
I'm not too sure and decide on the muffler he is warning me against.
We proceed to the register, lite goes on , I pay , lites out and as I am leaving I speak again, into the darkness of Smileys Hardware Store:
"If this muffler is the wrong one I can bring it back, Right?"
A moment of silence...then from the darkness Smileys slightly irritated voice:
"Sure, son, if its not the right one."
I get back to the house and check the muffler.
Damn! Wrong one! Back to Smileys I go .
Thru the screen door,slap!
Into the darkness once again I speak:
"Looks like it’s the wrong muffler, sir."
A long moment of silence.
Again I say, "Looks like it’s the wrong muffler, sir."
Finally out of the darkness comes the voice of Smiley:

Monday, July 12, 2010


"A man who wishes to serve the cause of religion ought to hesitate long before he stakes the truth of religion on the event of a controversy respecting events in the physical world. For a time he may succeed in making a theory which he dislikes unpopularby persuading the public that it contradicts the Scriptures and is inconsistent with the attributes of the Deity. But, if at last an overwhelming force of evidence proves this maligned theory to betrue, what is the effect of the arguments by which the objector has attempted to prove that it is irreconciliable with natural and revealed religion? Merely this, to make men infidels. Like the Israelites, in their battle with the Philistines, he has presumptuously and without warrant brought down the ark of God into the camp as a means of ensuring victory :-- and the consequence of this profanation is that, when the battle is lost, the ark is taken."
Thomas Babington Macaulay

Friday, July 02, 2010


I called my friend Susan out in Mobile. She gives me advice on romance and relationships and always listens intently to my stories concerning whatever I may have gotten myself into. She always has, ever since High School, when Sophie and Lisa took me ‘Trick-or-Treating” and it wasn’t even Halloween, ever since Jeri broke up with me in the 11th Grade because I managed to be wearing a bag over my head with nothing on but my underwear in her living room at her Sweet 16 Party, ever since that funny looking middle aged Maitre' d named Dick tried to harass me SEXUALLY when I was a busboy in 1974.
She has always been there for me, and if I call her at 3AM in the morning from Las Vegas before I tie the knot with some cross-dressing Showgirl at the Elvis Church, she is delighted to take the call and has saved me more than once. She was there for me last fall when I confessed that:
“If a girl happens to smile at me, all I can think is “Uh-oh, she wants me”.

So when my latest romantic pursuit sent me a very cryptic message yesterday, I called Susan right away. She answered the phone:
“Hi Susan!”
“Hi Steve! Whats goin’ on?”
"I think my new girlfriend is two-timin' me!" My tone indicates I'm a bit hysterical. Thats probably an understatement.
There is a bit of a pause, then in a kind, patient, soothing voice Susan asks:
'Why do you think that Steve?"
"Because of the text she sent me"
'What did the text say, Steve?"
"It said "I'm tired and not doing anything tonight and I'm turning my phone off". So you know what that means Susan?"
"What do you think that means Steve?"
"That means she's doing SOMETHING tonight."
Susan laughed at me. Laughed at me and said:
"Steve did you stop to think that maybe she might just have had a long day, and just wants to go home and get some rest?"
"No, no,no" I'm even more hysterical now "Thats not what she does. Thats not what ANYBODY does. I've played this game before. And even if she did, why would she bother telling me about it? There is something going on over there, I guarantee it."
"Well, Steve, what are you going to do?"
"What am I going to do? I'm going over there, thats what I'm going to do."

I really crack Susan up sometimes.


Here's my friend Susan's piece of the beach down at Fort Pickens on the National Seashore in Florida. I've never seen anything looked so clean as this sand and water.
Thats her umbrella there, and I imagine Susan with her toes in the sand while she relaxes with a tasty cool beverage in her hand, and her little beverage even has its own little umbrella. She's probably listening to her little portable radio, with Frank Sinatra singing that song "The Way You Look Tonight".
This is the before picture. The news last week was it don't look like this no more. And the way it looks tonight will just about break your heart.
Who is to say how long before it looks this way again?

So James Mcmurtry did this song a couple years ago called "God Bless America".

It expresses how important that nasty ol' oil is to all us Merkins.

More important than a beach, a Dolphin, a bait-shop.

Its insane to think we are going to keep drilling without failsafes even as this one gushes out of control. All those drilling jobs that are being lost should be charged off to BP, Haliburton, Andarko and whoever else was involved in this disaster.

The best case scenario if we keep drilling is that we are involved in a clean-up for the next decade while a whole a way of life and culture disappears.

Who is to say if it shall ever return?

The worst case scenario is that we continue to drill without every failsafe available to us in place and it happens agian. Then instead of one leaking well we have two.

Or four and throw in a Cat 5 Hurricane.

I have read an article that says this well is so damaged down below that it will never be contained. That soon there will just be a gaping hole in the ocean floor while we turn the Gulf into a giant oil leak.

There, thats my rant.

Maybe MacMurtry does it better.