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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Forty Two Years and Counting



Every day I get a friend request on Facebook from one or two narcissistic females who post nothing but selfies on their home page. Are these girls really so desperate for compliments that they are willing to post photos that objectify themselves? It's kind of sad. Most are pleasant enough looking girls, but is that all they've got? Is there no brain back there with ideas and dreams and passions (and I don't mean long walks on the beach and cuddling by the fire)?

Have some self-respect girls. Any man worth his salt isn't interested in a girl he can use. He is looking for a woman who is his match in every way; one who challenges him, inspires him and who cares enough about him that she takes the trouble to "get" him in a way that no one else does.

That's how you get to your 42nd anniversary like my Sweet Baboo and I did today. You find someone real who uses her brain for something besides filler for a big hollow thing to which she attaches hair extensions, applies colorful paints and hangs big dangly earrings.

And to the woman for whom I would give my life, "Happy Anniversary, my darling." I look forward to millions more.

Love always and forever,

Tom

© 2016

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Of Libraries, Books, Basements and Icky Twerp!


I grew up in Texas where the summers were 100 degree miseries unless you are outside or one of the rare few who had a basement to hole up in.
My grandparents had a basement. Their house was built by a transplanted Yankee who didn't understand about Texas red clay soil and its deleterious effect on basements. The place always smelled of dirt because it was constantly sifting into the basement through the cracks in the block walls where the Texas earth shifted and bucked as the temperatures went from blistering hot to freezing cold when the Blue Northers swept down from Canada in winter.

I liked to go down there in summer. It was always cool down there with all the old furniture and stuff. There wasn't much down there, Honeymom's canning jars, cans of insecticide on a shelf, an old table she later gave me and some nondescript boxes I never dared to open. There was a laundry hamper and her washing machine down there as well. The hamper sat beneath a chute that dropped down from the bathroom. We were forbidden to drop rocks and sticks down the chute, but we did like to holler back and forth up it; one of us in the bathroom above and one by the hamper below. Adventures didn't take much to create back then.

Honeymama and Grandpa kept the TV upstairs so they could watch "As the World Turns" when he came home from the kitchen cabinet factory on his hour-long lunch break, so I seldom watched TV over there, though we did come over for my Grandpa's hamburgers and the annual showing of "The Wizard of Oz" for several years running. Other than that, we didn't see a lot of television, but spent our time running around down by the stock pond in the back pasture.

In bad weather. I almost always had a book going anyway. For more than half of my childhood, the TV was broken at my house and when it wasn't I, being an Adventist kid, couldn't watch Roy Rogers or Sky King because they came on the air on Saturday mornings. The only TV I got to see was Channel 11's Slam Bang Theater with Icky Twerp, a local program on an independent station in Ft. Worth, that cme on every day after school. It was supposed to be a "kids" show featuring Popeye cartoons and the Three Stooges, a strange little man with a tiny hat and two guys in gorilla suits named Ajax and Delphinium. Modern parents would have been aghast. Someone got punched in the face in every episode of every cartoon or film that Slam Bang Theater offered. Between cartoons, Ajax and Delphinium would beat up on each other, Icky Twerp and any "guests" they had on the show. Other than that daily dose of mayhem and violence, the Ed Sullivan Show was pretty much it for family TV viewing, with a sprinkling of "Bewitched" and "Lassie" thrown in during my adolescence.

I started out on books almost as soon as I could read.
I read Moby Dick in third grade. It took me six weeks and my biceps got bigger from carrying that massive book around with me. It was a bit over my head, but I soldiered on determined to finish what I started. I then found Captain Blood in the school library, a much more satisfying read than Melville and then finally discovered Captain Horatio Hornblower who was more satisfying yet. Then I discoverd the public library.

By this time, I was earning four or five bucks a week riding an after school and Sunday paper route for the Cleburne Times Review. Mom took us to the library one weekend because the television was broken and she wanted to lure my brother and I out of the tops of the oak trees in the backyard. It didn't work. I used to climb trees to read in private up among the leaves. Once, I got my library card, I was hooked. Because we had to save the $2 worth of gas so that my step-dad could get back and forth to work, going to the library wasn't an option. Besides, if my folks took me in, I didn't have nearly as much time as I wanted to roam about among the stacks. So, I would take off on my own on weekends and pedal my Schwinn Stingray bicycle the five plus miles into nearby Cleburne (named for Confederate General Pat Cleburne) to the Carnegie library where I would check out books by CS Forester, Rafael Sabatini, Lester Del Rey, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and Andre Norton until I'd read every swashbuckler, adventure and sci-fi novel in the place. I carried home four or five books a week (all they would allow me to take) then pedal back the next weekend to return them.

Then, I discovered the Sci-Fi book club from which I got two volumes a month for $3, which was most of a week's wages from my paper route. My room, a converted back porch my step-dad built on, had a long shelf of books I read over and over. We had a post office box, so I'd have to go into the post office to pick up my packages there when I picked up the newspapers every day off the afternoon mail truck. I'd tuck my new books into my paper route bag and carry it home with me to read after I got in off my route that evening. I went through two books a week minimum - often three or four. 

When we would go over to Honeymama's on rainy days and we couldn't go down into the pasture, I used to sneak down to the dark and musty basement to read. Much more scope for the imagination down there, reading under a single naked lightbulb suspended from the floor joists above. It was kind of an adventure all by itself.

I'm still collecting books off eBay that I read from the library back then or had on my shelf and then lost. I have the exact same edition of "Captain Blood" and Lester Del Rey's "Step to the Stars" and the entire Hornblower series that I borrowed from the library back then. I've added more than three bookcases over the years and that's what's left after I was forced to reluctantly sell off over half my collection during a forced move several years ago. I've also collected a formidable library of theological tomes so God gets a good deal of my attention, especially these days.

Since I've been writing for a living, I haven't had as much time to read for fun much anymore, but my Kindle library already holds hundreds of books in readiness for the end of the world, when I'll be holed up in my end-of-the-world bunker without an Internet connection. I'm working on a stationary bicycle that generates electricity for my computer while I ride it. I don't have much faith in the electrical grid, what with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton closing in on their parties' nominations. It's like choosing between Hitler and Stalin and I don't fancy we'll do well under either. But at least, I'll have plenty to read anyway.

And there will be bookshelves in my bunker. Of that you can be assured.

© 2016 by Tom King