Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Monday, December 29, 2014


I was 27 or so, and working with a real tough guy who was maybe three years older.
He wasn't a chef, he was just a guy trying to make it as cook. But he seemed like less of someone that should be a cook than anyone I ever knew  

He had come from a broken home. Some steel town outside Pittsburgh. He said his daddy beat him senseless all the time. It was like he had walked right out of that album, right out of that title song, "Born In The USA".
He seemed like he had probably done some time; maybe he had, but what he talked about the most was how he’d left home at 16, joined the Army and ended up in Vietnam. He was entirely affected by it all; he wore an American flag headband and an Army jacket and we called him Rambo. He talked like Rambo, walked like Rambo, acted like Rambo and wouldn't you know it he looked just like Rambo too, except his nose was a lot more crooked. And he was a big, strong, fit SOB too with a look like he could creep up on you and stab you in the neck and you wouldn't even make a sound. He was the first guy I knew that had one of those little locks of hair growing longer from the back. I think they call it a "Rat-Tail".
His favorite song of course, was Born In The USA, he sang it always.
He seemed like a guy who might go off any minute, kill a cop and end up in the woods somewhere, and a whole army wouldn't be able to shake him out of there. But I found favor with him somehow, maybe because we’d be preppin’ in the kitchen, and I’d get the song started by banging a pot with a spoon keeping time, then "Born down in a deadmans town",  and pretty soon the whole kitchen is singin’ it.
We’d belly bump, and he’d let me box him, like a Doberman might let a Terrier nip at him.
Fuckin’ Rambo. I think about him every time I hear a Springsteen song.

He had a girl, but I think he slugged her one night, and I don't remember if he got fired, or if he just stopped showing up. All I know for sure was he was a stick of dynamite with a short ass fuse. And like a wolf, no matter how much you fed him, he would always have one eye on your throat and another on the woods.

So when a buddy posted "Downbound Train", a song I'd never heard before that I can recollect, it made me think of Rambo. Fits him, it does, maybe even more than the obvious Born In The USA. And I got to say, upon hearing this song I got choked up thinking about Rambo, and how I cant even remember his right name, and hope to God he's doing OK.
I hope to God he's doing OK.

"Downbound Train"

I had a job, I had a girl
I had something going mister in this world
I got laid off down at the lumber yard
Our love went bad, times got hard
Now I work down at the carwash
Where all it ever does is rain
Don't you feel like you're a rider on a downbound train

She just said "Joe I gotta go
We had it once we ain't got it any more"
She packed her bags left me behind
She bought a ticket on the Central Line
Nights as I sleep, I hear that whistle whining
I feel her kiss in the misty rain
And I feel like I'm a rider on a downbound train

Last night I heard your voice
You were crying, crying, you were so alone
You said your love had never died
You were waiting for me at home
Put on my jacket, I ran through the woods
I ran till I thought my chest would explode
There in the clearing, beyond the highway
In the moonlight, our wedding house shone
I rushed through the yard, I burst through the front door
My head pounding hard, up the stairs I climbed
The room was dark, our bed was empty
Then I heard that long whistle whine
And I dropped to my knees, hung my head and cried

Now I swing a sledge hammer on a railroad gang
Knocking down them cross ties, working in the rain
Now don't it feel like you're a rider on a downbound train

Friday, December 26, 2014


I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and got everything they wanted, and enjoy continued blessings for all of next year, and gas prices stay low.

The best part of Christmas was buying Dave Mows Grass some bowling shoes, shipping them to Arkansas, then calling the local bowling alley up there and getting him a $50 Bowling certificate.
The man said "Would you like us to call him Christmas Eve and let him know its here?"
"Yes, that would be so nice" I said.
Then, Christmas Eve, Dave calls me and thanks me for the bowling certificate.
He hasnt opened packages to find the shoes yet, burt he is excited and says:
"I was going to spend some money on a Smart Phone, but instead I'm going to buy bowling shoes."
Man, I just couldn't stop grinning, thinking about him opening up those shoes..
As it ends up, he not only got Bowling shoes under the tree, but a Smart Phone too!
What will he do with all that money?

I guess every few years, or less, you manage to buy the right gift for the right person at the right time, and its the best feeling ever. Maybe that's what Christmas really is,.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


On the way in to work this morning I only saw 4 cars and gas was 1.66 a gallon.
Hello? Did I miss the Rapture?

Friday, December 19, 2014


Every year I go through the same exercise at Kohls. The cashier asks if I have a Kohl's Credit card.
"No ma'am"
"Would you like to apply for one?"
"Ma'am, there's no way they are going to give me one."
"We will give you 20% off just for applying"

Well, who can turn that down?
So every year I hold up the line to get my 20% off,  the cost being the shame, humiliation and suffering I go through while everyone is watching.
I hear the guy two people down ask whats taking so long, and the woman behind him whisper "He's trying to get credit", then the computer spits out its answer, and the girl cocks her head and says "I'm sorry, here is a number you can call to find out why you were DENIED"
I don't need to call, I know damn well why I was denied, but HEY, I got my 20% right?

Well, let me tell you something sister.
This year is different.
I'm going down to Kohls and get my 20% AND their fricken' card because I'm getting approved for credit all over the place!

Thursday, December 18, 2014


I used to like him. Then he turned into a PBS money machine.
He comes up with a new one every few years.
He had one a while back where he opens the program, talking about selling all his worldly possessions and moving to an Island in the Pacific, in the middle of nowhere, just him and a straw hut and his one pair of sandals which he only wears when he’s not going bare foot.
Tonight, on stage at the USC auditorium, he is barefoot, just to make his point.
And the island he moved to, now that he has nothing, having abandoned all the toils and troubles of the world?
Poor SOB.
I lost all respect right then.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Some folks are under the impression that a store owner can just refuse service to anyone for any reason. That that is what America and the First Amendment is all about.
But that’s not true. What America is all about is exactly the opposite.
You have the right to purchase goods and services from anyone, anywhere, no matter who you are and the accident of your birth.
That was the purpose of the Civil Rights Amendment back in 1964.
That no one could be told where to sit on a bus, or which water fountain to drink from, which restroom to use.
That no man be denied buying lunch, having his car repaired, or lodging for he and his pregnant wife at a hotel, based on his skin color, or his religion, or lack of one.

There was a court case up in Oregon where a Biker was suing because he was refused service for being biker. But that’s not why he was being refused service. He was being refused service for being loud and obnoxious. That’s what the court ruled.

Lately, many states have expanded those rights to guarantee service regardless of race, creed or color to include Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender. It seems like the only people that are really against this are Christian. They tend to see this as an attack on their Religion.
I’ll go along with that when I hear about a Gay Florist refusing service to a Methodist.

The fact is....

They wonder aloud “Whatever happened to the right to refuse service”?
But they themselves have never been refused service.
I've never been refused service. Tell me how that works, because I might be a tad miffed if I went to a service station with a flat tire and was refused service because I was a woman, or black, or Muslim or was not a Christian, or FOR ANY REASON. Or because I was Gay.

There was a case in Colorado, where a Bakery denied service to a Gay couple who wanted a wedding cake from his shop. The Baker, a Christian of course, says it offends his religion to have to bake a cake for a Gay Wedding. I’ve got friends that agree, that think he has a right to refuse service on these grounds.
“Why can’t they just go somewhere else for a cake?” they ask, those who have never been denied service.
Those who have never been in a minority.

Lets say I’ve been talking with my boyfriend, and we’re gonna get married. And for the last few months we’ve been to several weddings, and the cakes were GORGEOUS. They were made by the Finest Cake Shop in Denver. So we go online and look at their cakes, we're almost giddy, and one day we go down to the Finest Cake Shop in Denver to order our cake. But the big poo-poo behind the counter says :
“You boys look gay to me”
“Yes we are”
“ I refuse to make a cake for you”
Well, me and my beloved are shattered. We really liked the big poo-poo’s cakes, and what started out as joyous occasion has turned into a bag over the head punch in the face. Yes, we will go get a cake somewhere else, but we will also file a complaint against the big poo-poo.

The good thing is the courts see it this way too. The court in Colorado ruled that anyone who denies service based on sexual orientation will be fined.
We are all, as Americans, guaranteed a right to service regardless of race creed or color, and in many states regardless of our sexual orientation.
The tide, I think, has turned.

It is sometimes argued that if a Christian cake baker is compelled to bake a gay wedding cake, what would prevent a black cake baker from having to make a cake for an Aryan Nation Wedding with Swastka's on it.
Well, the judge in this case ruled on that as well. Click here and see pages 8 and 9.

As much as I admire the outcome of these cases, I especially enjoy the logic and language employed in the rulings:

"Finally, Respondents argue that if they are compelled to make a cake for a
same-sex wedding, then a black baker could not refuse to make a cake bearing a white-supremacist message for a member of the Aryan Nation; and an Islamic baker could not refuse to make a cake denigrating the Koran for the Westboro Baptist Church.
However, neither of these fanciful hypothetical situations proves Respondents’ point. In both cases, it is the explicit, unmistakable, offensive message that the bakers are asked to put on the cake that gives rise to the bakers’ free speech right to refuse. That, however, is not the case here, where Respondents refused to bake any cake for Complainants regardless of what was written on it or what it looked like. Respondents have no free speech right to refuse because they were only asked to bake a cake, not make a speech."

Monday, December 08, 2014


After about 3 days after my last shoulder surgery, my girl says to me “Are you sure we should be doing this?”
I said “It doesn't hurt. As long as I don’t get too carried away”
She says “It doesn't hurt?”

So then one day a couple weeks later, and its “not hurting”, but all of a sudden I feel a little tear.
So I kinda eased up ya know, but I didn't say anything, or she’d have got all over me, and that would have been the end of that, if you know what I mean.

So at PT the next day I tell the physical therapist”I did something and I could feel a little tear”
“What were you doing”
And so I showed him how I was up, with both arms locked like in the missionary position and I said “Well, I was watching TV, and I got up like this like I was going to do a push up, but I didn’t do a push up, I just kinda stayed in this position because it felt good”
 And he  looks at me and says “And that feels good?”
"It doesn’t hurt?”
“But you think you felt something tear?”

And so he has me lay down, and he pulls and pushes and checks my range of motion and says
“Well, you seem to be OK. Maybe it was just scar tissue”
I was pretty relieved.

So the next time I’m with my girl, and she says “Are you sure we should be doing this?” and I said “Oh yeah, I asked the Doctor and he said its OK”

Saturday, December 06, 2014


I don’t remember who it was that came to the house, could have been any one of us I reckon, but dad sat me down later to talk.
He liked to smoke his cigar when he talked all serious to me at the kitchen table. He would say three words
(“You are judged…”,
pause for effect, look at his cigar like it was a crystal ball, take puff and blow great clouds of smoke out, and as the smoke cleared, I would be looking him dead in the eye. He would say two more words
(“by the…”),
 his eyes would  follow the smoke coming off the stogie making  its way to the ceiling. I couldn’t help but watch with him. Then, as punctuation, he would tap his cigar on the ashtray, and finally finish his thought
(“…company you keep”),
which happened to be some new buddy with bad posture, a slouchy hat, long hair and bloodshot eyes.
It’s one of my fondest memories of dad, having him and that cigar busting my ass at the kitchen table.

Friday, December 05, 2014


I dreamed I was working  a part time job. It was at a Hyatt, or some huge hotel.
There was a buffet, a really fancy buffet, and I was doing some nice stuff for it, everything from carved steamship rounds of beef to galantines of duck; from smoked fish mirrors to pate’s;  the band was actually on a riser in the center of the table, 5 piece jazz doing Patsy Cline tunes, and we had them surrounded with tropical plants and  ice carvings of saxophones, stand up base’s,  eighth notes and of course, swans.

I put this buffet together once or twice a week. It was just part time, I still worked my day job.
And as things so often go in dreams, several months went by of working this job when I suddenly realized…
I haven’t received a check yet!
Surely by now I’d have gotten paid, yes?

So I called Human Resources and asked about it.

“This is Steve Renfro and I’ve been doing the buffet on Tuesdays and Fridays for several months now, and I still haven’t received a check”
“Let me check into this for you” the lady says.
A moment goes by.
“Mr. Renfro, I don’t have any record that you were ever hired. What is it you do here?”
“I put together your Tuesday and Friday night buffets”
“Oh, those are very nice”
“Thank you. But you don’t show that I work there at all, and that’s why I haven’t received a check?”
“That’s right Mr. Renfro. You don’t work here”
“So does that mean I don’t have to come in tonight?”
“I don’t know about that. You’ll have to check with the chef”

(About this time in the dream, I’m thinking there is something very Seinfeld about was is going on, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

So she transfers the call down to the kitchen. I explain to the chef that I was never hired, that I never received a check, and that I don’t work there.  Technically, I never have.

“So I won’t be in tonight”  I said.
“But we need you. Your buffets, they are very nice” he says.
I think about it a minute. How can I refuse?
“Ok Chef. What time would you like me?”

I woke up about this time. And it was while I was making coffee at work that I recalled the Seinfeld episode that must have influenced this dream.