Perfection

Today Shiloh, my red Labrador Retriever, and I were surprised by a pitbull on the loose. We were walking along, practicing Shiloh’s training, when all of a sudden there was this extra dog right at my feet. Now, I believe I’ve heard rules for encountering pitbulls somewhere, but since there was no lead time, I just reacted with as much sense as I could muster. I was not perfect, not even close, or probably even wise. I just kept my bare legs in between the two dogs, calmly saying no,

magnifique ♥♥♥go away. My heart was beating like a bass drum. Shiloh just wanted to meet this new friend. I was not friendly. I imagine there were warrior angels saying and doing a whole lot more than I did, because the pitbull went away. Phew!

But it got me thinking about perfection, which I believe this morning was proven to be an impossibility. I have always wanted to be perfect, and I know a lot of other people who feel the same way. And yet, there are all these rocks in the road. Unanticipated events, selfishness, time constraints, incapacity, etc.

But there’s another thing. I don’t think God even expects us to be perfect. He said we wouldn’t until heaven. Why do I want something He has said isn’t possible? One reason is that I hate conflict. My imperfection causes conflict, inside and outside myself. and yet, conflict is as sure a thing as perfection is unachievable. So, I’d be better off practicing my skills at resolving conflict than longing for perfection that’s never going to happen.

What are the conflict resolution guidelines? Lemme see, I’ve got time to think aobut this. No pitbull at my feet. Ask questions first to be sure I understand the situation. Listen to what the other person says. Find out what they’re feeling. Speak in “I” messages. I need, I will, etc. Develop a plan that, if possible, will make both of us happy. Then work the plan. That’s not perfection, but it’s a good shot at it. Probably wouldn’t work with a pitbull, though.

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Elvis Will Always Be King

I’m going to stroll down memory lane in my blue suede shoes. It will lead me to Memphis, this year. In 1957 it led there, too, when I was eight. Only Memphis came to San Fernando, California on a black vinyl 45 rpm with Heartbreak Hotel on one side and I Was the One on the other. It belonged to the girl next door, and we spent hours in her room listening to it, and dreaming of that black haired, pouty lipped boy who stole our hearts from thousands of miles away. My favorite side was I Was the One. It was heartful. That’s what I liked about him, heartful. He loved his mother and God. I didn’t care whether he swiveled his hips or not, and I sure wasn’t going to go scream at a concert. The story of his rise from poverty got me. I wasn’t real crazy about The Colonol, but I guess he knew his stuff.

When my ninth birthday loomed, I went to my father and said, “Daddy, can I have an Elvis Presley record?”

He answered, “Who in the hell is Elvis Presley?” Yeah, that wasn’t my papa’s most astute moment.

And so, along with thousands of other young girls, teen girls, women, I began attending the King of Rock ‘n Roll. I cried when he went into the Army, thinking we might not get any new songs. I loved Priscilla because I loved Elvis, and thought the birth of Lisa Marie practically a royal event. As time went by, I bought more 45s, and then lp albums, and then went to his movies and dreamed I was the one he sang his songs to, especially the Hawaiian Wedding Song in Blue Hawaii. His songs, like Love Me Tender and Can’t Help Falling in Love  punctuated my teens. In the early ’70s my new husband proved he really loved me when he got us tickets to an Elvis concert, which we missed because we both had a terrible case of the flu. However, my favorite Elvis song, The Wonder of You, is one of “our” songs to this day.

And then the year our oldest daughter was born, we heard the terrible news of Elvis’ death. I thought how sad it was that he had carried his world on his shoulders, but only managed it with drugs. I guess it’s obvious I didn’t think he faked his death. Who in their right mind would fake a death like that? He left us lots of fun memories, Harleys and Cadillacs, that smile and the sweet things he did for the City of Memphis, his love of his country, and the down homeness that never left him.  I picked a bigger than life and imperfect musical idol, and I’m glad.

Never Too Soon for Another Story

It was a light and cloudless day. (Nice switch, huh?) The old man lay on his back in the grass waiting for a cloud so he could identify what it reminded him of. The grass woke his allergies and he began to sneeze. When he decided to get up before the cloud appeared, he discovered that he was a human turtle, except his shell was on his front. Poor guy.

About that time some teen boys came along. The tallest one stopped. “Whatcha doin’ ol’ man?”

The old man quickly rolled back onto his back. “I’m exploring Mars,” he said, thinking fast. Well, as fast as an old person’s brain will think, anyway.

The kid lay down in the grass next to the man and observed. “I don’t see anything but blue.”

The other four boys lay down to get a look. “I don’ know. Maybe that’s it over there,” one said. Turned out it was just a speck of something on his glasses.

“I believe,” the old man mused, “that there are some things invisible to a teenage eye that be seen quite clearly with a senior eye.”

“No way,” the tallest one flared. “Everybody knows young eyes work better than old ones.”

“Hmmm, if that’s so, why I can tell you aren’t wearing any underwear?”

The boy’s head jerked sideways, and he stared at the old man, suspicion dripping from his face. “Mind your own business, Pops.”

“Or why do I know that the rest of you didn’t make the football team?”

The other four scrambled to their feet, and put their fists on their hips in indignation.

“Give an old man a heft up, will you? Then I’ll tell you how I saw all this.”

The boys heaved him to his feet. “OK, give. How did you know that stuff?”

“About the underwear, son, your pants hang so low I can see the crack in your butt. Not a jockey in sight. About the football team, the rest of you smell like beer. It’s football season, and every kid on that team is afraid of the coach. They’d never dare train and drink. Thanks for the lift.”

Voila, age and treachery get the drop on youth and skill again.

 

Once Upon a Time, in a Galaxy named for a Candy Bar …

Yes, children, it is time for a story. I love stories, don’t you? Must be the Irish in us. At any rate …

This young girl named Jenny who had dimples and auburn hair skipped toward the neighborhood grocery with $2.50 in her hand. The $2 was for milk her mother needed and the $.50 she could spend on whatever she wanted. Being a responsible youngster, she put the milk in her cart first. In those days you could enter the store in bare feet, but it was a bad idea. Somebody had spilled sticky something on the floor. Jenny felt it pull at the bottom of her feet as soon as she stepped into the liquor aisle.

She sat down and turned her foot up to look. What was that aroma? Her mother definitely would not like it, but she touched her finger to the bottom of her left foot and then to her tongue. Ummm, it tasted like caramel and something else. Jenny looked around her at the floor. There was quite a puddle of this stuff. She noticed where someone had shoved broken green glass under the counter. A label on a piece of the glass said, “ish Cream.” Jenny put her palm right into the sticky puddle on the floor and slurped up the yummy stuff, several times. After a while, she began to feel warm and the liquor aisle got a little fuzzy looking. She looked at all the bottles on the shelves to see whether she had enough money to get some Ish Cream, but she couldn’t find any.

About this time, a clerk came into the aisle. “Honey, are you all right?”

“I’m wondering whether you could show me where the Ish Cream is?” Why did her words slur?

“I’m not familiar with that product.”

“There’s a broken bottle of it there on the floor.”

“Oh, my dear, that’s Irish Cream. Here it is. But you aren’t 21, are you?”

She didn’t know what how old she was had to do with it, but clearly, she didn’t have enough money. What would be a good substitute? How about a Milky Way? She headed to the check-out stand, but her balance was off and she teetered into a display of pancake syrup. The bottles swayed crazily, there was a loud crash, bottle tops flew off the plastic bottles, and syrup went everywhere. Little kids, who had been obediently holding onto their mother’s carts, shouted with joy and came skidding into the syrup. The boys lay down and flipped themselves over and over, mouths open, tongues licking. Little girls sat at the fringe, scooping syrup into their palms. Mothers screamed and came running. Jenny tottered in the other direction.

The loudspeaker said, “Clean up on Aisle 4! 911!”

Jenny uturned around the end of Aisle 4 into Aisle 5. However, her trajectory was a little off and she ran smack into an old lady waiting for a prescription.

“Well! I never!” The old lady grabbed the end of the counter to steady herself, but missed and sent rolls of toilet paper flying through the air. One of them bopped a bald-headed man right on top of the head. Jenny had to laugh or explode. He picked up the toilet paper and threw it at the old lady, but he missed and hit a teenager with a nose ring. The battle was on. Jenny sneaked quietly away. She still had to figure out how to spend her $.50, after all. Her tummy was feeling a little woozy, so she nixed the idea of the Milky Way. How about a toy?

In the toy aisle a mother argued with her toddler about a toy he clutched.

The mother shook her finger at the child. “I told you, it has to be less than $1 or you can’t have it. That’s $3.50. Pick something else.”

“Me want this one.”

Mom attempted to wrench the toy from the toddler’s grasp, but instead her elbow flew back and cocked Jenny in the chin. Jenny did a face plant right under the spinwheels.

The toddler pointed at a spinwheel. “I like that one, too.”

The mother checked the price. “Good, I’ll trade you. Thank you, young lady, you just saved my life.” She merrily rolled her cart, toddler spinning the wheel, away, leaving Jenny to pick herself up. Jenny rolled to her left, but couldn’t find her balance. She rolled to her right, same thing. She rolled onto her belly, and just then her stomach heaved and she threw up on a clerk’s shoes. However, she did feel a little better and was able to get up.

Once she did, she noticed a young girl, maybe about her age, but thin and scraggly. Her hair hadn’t been washed in an eon, her clothes were dirty and torn, and her shoes didn’t have bottoms. Now you’re expecting Jenny to give the girl her $.50, aren’t you? That would tie up the story in a neat little bow, like on Facebook. However, that is not what happened. Jenny looked the girl up and down and said, “There’s some Irish Cream on the floor in the liquor aisle that will make you feel a lot better. I left you some.” Jenny bought a bag of Takis, and hot-footed it home to tell her story before the store could call.