Wednesday, March 30, 2016

An Employee of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department

I have a bright Barbie pink Townie bicycle that I pedal around our delta-flat subdivision for exercise. I always wear a helmet even though it’s singularly unbecoming. My beloved husband took one look at me in it and advised, “Leave that thing at home and just go to the hospital if you must.”

Four or five years ago, I sustained a minor injury when out riding two or three streets over from our subdivision.  I was startled by a car turning onto the street and managed to stop but still skinned one knee through my jeans.

I’m a fainter. It was a hot day, and the car speeding close to me on the bike gave me a scare. Black spots started interfering with my vision. I knew exactly what to do. I pushed the bike to the corner, leaned it up against the stop sign, sat down on the curb, and laid back on the grass. Experience had taught me that the spots would disappear in a few moments, and I could make my way home without any further difficulty.
In the meantime, I was pleased to note that the back of my helmet kept my head off the ground.

I had just stretched out and was beginning to feel better when a young, firm voice from just above me said, “May I help you, ma’am? I’m an employee of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department.”

I opened one eye and was confronted by a younger version of myself. I knew she wouldn't go away until I either got up on my own or let her help me.
So I let her help me. She and her teen age daughter were taking the girl’s boyfriend home. When we couldn’t get the bike in her vehicle, the boy pedaled it the two blocks to my house.

As she helped me out of the car, the young mother confessed she was a crossing guard for nearby Houston High School.



Monday, March 28, 2016

Billy Joel

Friday night I attended the Billy Joel concert at the FedEx Forum here in Memphis. There was a record breaking crowd of 18,000 people.
18,000 people with only two screamers. Of course they were seated in the nose bleed section a row or two back of me.

I'm not complaining about my seat; in fact, I rather liked it. There was a rail right in front of me where I could prop my feet. No one could stand in front of me.

The very front row is not always a great place to sit. I sat front row for The Producers on Broadway and watched the sweat fly as Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane danced. The view from the middle of the first level or the balcony is best. You get a better overall view without seeing all the strain that goes into the production.
I hadn't been to a pop concert since some time in the late 70's when a neighbor grabbed me out of a flower bed where I'd been pulling weeds all day to use her free ticket to see the Village People. With three children, I was too busy at the time to give the Village People much thought and was somewhat taken aback by the unusual mix of people in attendance. There were pre-adolescent children with their parents in tow and men dressed in leather accessorized with chains. After a moment, an exceedingly dim bulb went off somewhere in the depths between my ears, and I enjoyed watching the people as much as the singers.

That's about all I remember from that evening except that there were 29 speakers stacked on each end of the stage, and my ears range for a week. I don't recall any hog callers among the leather-clad macho men or the pre-teens.

The sound was just as huge Friday night without any boxy speakers to be seen. There was also a magnificent light show. The baby grand piano rotated through-out the evening. Two huge screens hung above and in front of the stage where enlarged shots of the performers were interspersed with candid shots of the audience.

Billy Joel is the consummate entertainer. He worked hard to make sure everyone got their money's worth and went home satisfied. He and his group mixed Memphis and Stax music in with his own and spoke fondly of the times earlier in his career when he'd played Memphis. His affection for Memphis was obvious.
Once a month or so for the past year, he has taken a helicopter from his house in the Hamptons to Madison Square Garden and performed to a packed house. I couldn't help but wonder how he would compare the audience there to the one in Memphis.

I tried fixing a withering stare of disapproval on the hog callers behind me, but the lighting was dim, and they were drinking pints of beer as they stood with linked arms and swayed back and forth in rhythm to the music. I kept hoping they'd have to leave for the ladies' and give us a few moments peace. No such luck. Their male companions had probably been making beer runs all night long to give their ears a rest.
As an encore, Billy Joel sang four more songs. He put his heart and soul into the performance, and it was wonderful. I went home hugely satisfied. The entertainer gave a memorable performance.

The hog callers may have faced the next morning with sore throats and hangovers. If they make a habit of consuming that much beer, it will assuredly impact their bodies as well as their health. But above all, I wonder about 30 or 40 years from now when they are my age. What will the younger generation do that makes them cringe?


Tuesday, March 15, 2016


I was in high school when Kennedy and Nixon were running for the presidency. Members of the class were invited to speak for their candidates. We followed the race with tremendous interest and discussed it daily in class.

The teacher was fresh out of college and perhaps one of the worst teachers I've ever had. Class opened with a brief discussion of current events which was a good approach and gave some of us the habit of following the national news, but for the rest of the hour, we were required to sit quietly with hands folded while she read the text book to us. Talk about deadly dull.

One major lesson was emphasized after the presidental election was over. We were taught that whether or not we had voted for the winner; whether or not we thought he was competent; the office of the President of the United States deserved our respect. We might think the person currently holding the position stole chickens and sucked eggs, but the office he held deserved our respect.

He was representing our country, and our country was something special to be held in the highest regard.

It's because of that young teacher and the lesson she pounded into my head and heart that I think our current president should have attended the funeral of the Supreme Court Justice and the former First Lady. He might not have agreed with them and may have had no personal respect for them, but he should have gone through the ceremony out of respect for the positions they had held.

I also think we should make it a habit to refer to the current President as Mr. Obama rather than Obama; out of respect for the office. We may or may not like him, but we should all revere the position he holds.

And that's my sermon for the day.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Between My Ears


I love people; going places and doing things, but I also must have large chunks of time to quietly sit in a corner with only a book to keep me company. A book is never “only”. It opens countless worlds and times and introduces people and ideas I’d never have the time or energy to visit any other way.

This winter I’ve been part of an Egyptian household in the 1930’s with Naguid Mahfouz in Sugar Street and ridden in a freight train through the forests of Siberia with Dr. Zhivago. Both were hugely dramatic experiences.

Now I’m on the run with Allan in The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared.  This Swedish novel is great fun and a welcome change in pace from the drama of the other two splendid books. I’m also studying how the author maintains a rapid pace and dry sense of humor. If you need a good laugh, do get a copy of this book by Jonas Jonasson.