Sunday, July 24, 2011


From the very first, we realized he was here for a purpose or at the very least MEANT to be here. Could have been to even things out: Two girls / Two boys, etc... Could be any number of reasons, but however you want to put it, March 20, 1986 was a day that changed the world. It wouldn't ever be the same. James Roy Darden landed on this 'ol rock and immediately began shaping his destiny. Although he and I spent alot of time together in his earlier years, it was easy to tell he looked up to his older brother alot and to this day they are "thick as thieves".
In a little less than 2 weeks from the time of this post, James and Jacob will stand together as James marries the woman that he has professed his love for, for a very long time ago. Her name is Stephanie, and as all of you can attest to, his mother and I did the parent thing and figured we were not too sure of this relationship. Now, to know Steph is to see her spilling over with smiles, generosity, and caring. Add class and maturity, and it was not too long before we were sold out on this girl and saw what our youngest son had been smart enough to see long ago. It seems like forever when they told us they were marrying, and yet again it was just like yesterday. Steph has done text-book style preparation and although there are a few minor (cough, cough) things left to do, we are just mere days away from what some would call the wedding of the year. Now, mind you, I took James aside at the beginning of this process and advised him that the number one thing he has to do is simply show up. He has hired a man to help him accomplish this and to make sure he makes it to the wedding on time. This would be his brother Jacob. I had also advised James that this was Steph's wedding, and to NOT criticize the process or hesitate his answers when asked for his opinion. He, again, understood his role and it was to just make sure he never said horrible phrases such as, "now wait a minute", or, "you're kidding, right?", or "I don't care what you say, I LIKE the Chicken Dance". While statistics may state differently, most marriages are doomed during the planning phase as opposed to seven years in.
We laugh alot during this whole process, but Steph will tell you there have been nights when she hasn't slept because of something that either hadn't gone well, or something major coming up, so it isn't all fun and games, and as all of us men know, she deserves the most beautiful wedding that she can have. I know she feels the presence of her mom in all of this and that helps alot.
It's that dogged pursuit of perfection, the close eye to details and the ability to juggle several things at once that helped win us over from our initial opinion of Steph, but it was the devotion and unbridled love James has expressed for her that makes us love her as well.
You know it has been said that only a special few women get to marry a Darden male and on Friday evening August 5th, another one goes off the market.
I wonder if Steph's been practicing her new signature...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Tale of Three Cities OR, When Life Gives You Lemons...

I have been extremely blessed with a great 2010, especially after how 2009 ended up for me. I have been living life one day at a time with very little "far in the distant" planning and it has been wonderful. My days seem to be more productive now and Life has thrown very little my way that wasn't easily handled. So, in one of those just when you think NOTHING could go wrong moments, our pick-up's tranmission went out. No warning earlier that morning; no other symptoms that would suggest this was coming. So, you could say I was taken completely by surprise. I was leaving my parking garage downtown to go meet my buddy Jeff for lunch out by his office. Jeff has a knack for knowing where all the good eating establishments in town are, at least down by where he works. He once told me he would take me places; little did I know that meant going to prison, but I digress...The Darden Family Truckster was slightly acting up on the way to lunch and by the time I got there it was almost completely not responding (CODE BLUE!! CODE BLUE!!). Well, I figured, heck, I was already there, God is in control, and I was hungry. After a hearty lunch of Seafood Gumbo and Boudin Balls (don't ask, and NO they aren't like Rocky Mountain Oysters), Jeff and I parted and I commenced to see what I could do to get the truck to my dealership. Well, it didn't even go in reverse, drive or neutral. I was certainly in a pickle. But alas, all my Eight Ball Rambling fans, I had roadside assistance coverage on my car insurance and promptly called them. The man on the other end of the line assured me he would have a tow truck out to me, but it would be an hour. One hour?? No sweat. Besides, I could just go back into Boudreaux Cajun Restaurant and wait for the truck. One hour stretched into an hour and a half and then two hours. I made a few calls back to the roadside assistance folks (the latter one being a little harsh from my end, but I figured they deserved it. Only later did I feel bad about my response to this guy). At the two and a half hour mark, my tow arrives. I am not a happy camper by now. You can only do so many Cajun Conga-Lines in one day and I had reached my limit. The tow dude was a young man in his early 30's I found out later was from Moracco and after a few minutes he had my pick-up on the truck and secured and we took off for the Ford dealership, where I had purchased the pick-up.

This young Moraccan man was in his early 30's and seemed pretty anxious as we headed toward the Ford dealership. He asked me many questions about my work, if I was married, what I did for recreation, etc... your garden variety small talk. Then he started in on himself, how fit he was, how he worked out,how he loved to sweat (we had that in common), his current girlfriend, what roles women play in this world, and that if a man wanted to "stray" from his relationship, he had the right to, and that he had been with three different women that past week, and so on and so forth. As all this was going on I knew in my heart I needed to be very careful in how I responded. Without even taking a breath he went rambling on how he liked he job somedays and somedays he hated it, especially whan he had to deal with old people. The really sad thing is that he knew what he wanted in life, had acheived some of it, but was totally miserable and didn't know it. As long as he could do whatever he wanted and no one messed with his lifestyle, he was ok. To make matters a lot worse, halfway to the dealership, we came upon a wreck that had shut the freeway down to a dead stop. My day was getting VERY long, if you know what I mean. We finally pull into the dealership and the tow dude goes and deposits my pick-up in the back of the dealership and comes back around to give me my keys. I wished him luck and said bye and went in to set up my repairs without having tried to tell him he was headed down a slippery slope towards a crash and burn. As he drove off I felt like I failed him. I also realized during all his talk I was so amazed how he didn't show any respect towards life, women, or the law.I was literally speechless. If I knew anything, it was that he will meet his end sooner if he didn't slow down and get a better outlook on life. Maybe someone else could save him. After having spent the last 4 hours just getting to the dealership, I was so put out I figured he deserves what he gets. Nice attitude, huh?

After I had arranged with the dealership to work on my car, I was told by the Service Advisor that in order to arrange a rent car for me they would have to determine if the problem was under warranty and that should be the next day and he would call me. So, he called a young man that drove the shuttle to come take me home.

This young black man, also in his early 30's, came driving up in the shuttle, I hopped in and we head for home. He stuck out his hand, introduced himself and we shook hands and started chatting. I asked him how long he had driven the shuttle for the dealership and after he answered he told me that he also was a valet for a very high end night club in Houston and worked alot of long days but loved the work, besides he had a family to support. We got to talking about wives and how we have to treat them and I was amazed how this young man approached life and what it took to get by. He loved his wife dearly and would do anything to please her. Wow, what a switch from earlier in the day. He said in his other job he would always deal with celebrities from baseball players, football players, basketball players, the music world, but it never fazed him about their celebrity. He knew deep down they were just like everybody else, and so that's how he treated them. We arrived at my house and I wished him well, just as I had done earlier to the Moraccan man. What a difference a culture and an upbringing makes...

The LMD (Lovely Mrs. Darden) and I decided to celebrate the weekend by dining at one of North Houston's fine family-oriented eating establishments after work Friday. We were seated promptly and took just a few minutes to order and sat and waited for our food. We were in no rush and sat there and talked. The restaurant was filling up fast and I remarked how lucky we were to get in when we did. I looked around, as I always do, to see the other diners. A young couple with a cute little boy playing with his menu, although clearly too young to read; a single parent with an child who was pretty fidgety, a young mother with a restless infant and the infant's grandmother, and the hostess brought in an older couple and showed them to a table the busser was just finishing bussing. The woman who was being seated started ragging this Hispanic busser in some sort of slang Spanish because apprently the table wasn't cleaned to her liking, although it was clear that the busser hadn't yet completed his task when the hostess brought them up. The older couple sat down. She sat there with a scowl on her face while she looked around the restaurant, never smiling at all while she talked with whom I assumed was her husband. She was a woman who obviously had seen better days, (poor man, although he must have loved her at some point many years earlier). Over in the booth across from Ms Congeniality and Mr. Keep My Thoughts to My Self, the young mom with the restless infant was trying to console him and stop his crying. Pacifiers didn't work, bottle didn't work and this poor little boy was not happy at all. The crying continued. Although the crying wasn't that loud, it drew hard stares and some unsolicited comments from Ms Happy Pants. The young mother, clearly offended, climbed out of her booth with a now happy baby and approached Ms Bug-Up-My-Butt and let her know how the cow ate the cabbage ( Ok, all you young folk, feel free to Google the cabbage reference) after what seemed like, oh, a couple of minutes arguing back and forth, the young mom sat down with her baby and Ms You-Can't-Talk-To-Me-Like-That got up from her table and headed for the manager leaving our ol buddy sitting there wallowing in the echos of their cat fight. The manager moved the older couple to another table in another room; the problem solved. We finshed our meal, paid and left having felt lucky to get dinner AND entertainment.

In a span of a couple of days I had met or came in contact with three extremely different people, all from different backgrounds, cultures, life experiences and they all left a mark on my life as I had for some reason been placed in their paths, or they in mine. Two were young and extremely happy with their lives; one older and not happy with life at all. Two headed for destruction if their lives didn't change, one going down the right path and heading for a long life of happiness. A young Moraccan man, a young black man, and a older women. I mention their nationality, color, or age for no other reason than to say that their culture or upbringing is the fabric of who they are. In a country other the good ole USA, the culture and where women stand in that culture is completely different or at least his lifestyle was witness to that. In our country where more and more young black men turn to drugs and crime or at least blamed for the majority of crime, one black man chose to go against the average and become a honorable, family oriented man who loved his wife as much as he loved his next breath. And the woman. How did she become so angry? What life experiences did she have that made her hate people or life? I wonder if she had ever smiled or hugged somebody or spoke softly to a loved one.

What is the fabric of who you are? Did past life experiences shape you into who you are today or were you able to break free from a horrible past? What path are you heading down?

Life gives these three people lemons....which one do you think makes the lemonade?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Clean Up Your Own Backyard Before You Complain About Someone Elses OR So How's That Change Workin' Out For Ya??


I suppose with all thats going on in the world and especially here in the good ol USA, that sooner or later I was going to have to speak up on these topics. My oldest brother, whose name I will leave out for reasons known only to he and I, the FBI, CIA and IRS, used to have a saying that reads "Un reune boca cerrada no entran moscas", which very loosely translated means, "A closed mouth gathers no flies". In other words and in most cases it's best to just keep your mouth shut. I am sure we all know some people throughout history that should have used this great advice (Dixie Chicks, etc...) but chose otherwise and paid some sort of price for speaking out. I, your humble blogger esquire extraordinare (sp?), choose to do so at this time, thowing caution to the wind:

Thanks to our 24 hour news channels (how the heck did we survive without these guys before?)we have news crammed down our throats and whether we know it or not this has a great effect on our minds and thoughts and yes, often provoking us to speak out or take action. I am all for keeping up with what's going on in the country or the world. I just don't need to overload on it. I worship a God that is ever aware of what's going on and He is much better equipped than I to dispense judgement. Afterall, ladies and gentlemen, I read the end of the book and I know how it ends. So, what I am about to say is not to judge people or countries. Just my outlook on what's happening.

I have for quite awhile believed if we (the USA) had spent more time and money in Mexico years ago we might not be having such a problem with illegal immigrants. But politics being politics we now have a volitile situation that could possibly turn deadly and then what a pickle we will be in. For some odd reason our beloved government decided to invest money, time and resources elsewhere possibly thinking "Oh, it's only Mexico." I believe we are now experiencing the results of that kind of thinking.
That being said, I support Arizona and it's fight to control their borders. They have a right to do what they feel is necessary to keep their state and people safe, short of harassing LEGAL citizens. Now, to all my friends (yes, I do have a few) that side against this law in Arizona and my Hispanic, Black, Asian, European, etc.. friends who say I couldn't possibly know how being a minority feels or profiled or harassed because I am white, I say that I don't need a couple of airliners crashing into skyscrapers to know when something is wrong.

Could you imagine what this country would be without all the different nationalities and cultures? All of us at one time had relatives immigrate to this country. The Dardens have been here since the mid-1600's, and it is fantastic to read about all of my relatives over the centuries and how they lived. (I do have some relatives way back that were kicked out of every decent church they went to, but that's for another blog) The important thing is they all came in legally. We want you, we NEED you, we want to experience your cultures, but come in LEGALLY. Read up on America and experience it's history, other cultures and yes, it's great opportunities for you...but come in LEGALLY. There is a process and it is there for a reason. There is an order to things and it's there for a reason.

For some reason Washington doesn't seem to think there is a problem with illegal immigration until it is re-election time. (Why do we keep electing these yahoos into office??) Bush didn't do much of anything to combat it. Obama is only now speaking out on this because it is mid-term election time and why not? Regardless of what America wants he is going to do what he can do for his legacy. Is there anything more "transparent" than this guy in the Oval Office?? And I don't believe John McCain would have done any better. Ok, Ok, Ok, I really believe there are people who run for President or elected office who actually think they can make a difference. Then they get to Washington....

So what's this all leading to? If the Federal Govenment will not do it's job and secure our borders, than let the states do it. If you are here illegally and desire to be part of the greatest nation in the world, go home and apply for citizenship the correct way, because we want you here. We want you to be a part of the thread of the cloth that is America.

I pray for this country and I pray for the safety of President Obama and regardless of what I think of him personally, he IS the duly elected leader of this nation and deserves our prayers.

So there you go. Not as bad as you thought, huh?

Friday, July 23, 2010

There's No Joy In Mudville OR Excuse Me Sir, Are Those Fruit-Of-The-Looms ??

The noted German scholar and philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche is credited with the saying: "That which does not kill us, makes us stronger". It is a empowering, comforting, yet highly misleading statement. It could just as well have read "That which does not kill us......leaves us maimed, blind, crippled, emotionally void, and quite possibly, mentally arthritic for the rest of our lives". I imagine it really depends on if we have what they call intestinal fortitude, or courage, or pugnaciousness (yeah, I had to look that one up too), or simply the ability to get back up after being knocked down, brush ourselves off, and head back on the road of life. But stronger??

The jury may still be out on this for me......

I was a college freshman in the fall of 1974 at what was then West Texas State University. I received a small but appreciated music scholarship to attend there. WTSU was in 1974, one of the, if not THE most respected Fine Arts Universities in the state of Texas, and also the Southwest. It's School of Music was second to none and it's faculty was a Who's Who in Music showcase. Our Marching and Concert Band Director was Dr. Gary Garner. He was a man like no other. He was extremely friendly and his style of teaching was totally opposite of that I had experienced in high school. In high school we had not only halftime shows everyweek to learn, but contests at the end of the year, so the pressure was much heavier. Here in college it was fun.(EIGHT BALL MOMENT: I met my wife Carol in high school. I was a Junior and she was a stinkin' Sophomore and it was summer band in August.....In West Texas.......100 degrees....Now as upper classmen it was our responsibility to inflict as much grief on incoming sophomores as possible. It was simply tradition.
I noticed her initially during the first few days of summer band because she reminded me of a girl I had liked back in 7th grade. Now, since it was extremely hot during practice, there was an unwritten rule that if you felt faint or dizzy, you could drop out and go sit down in the shade, whatever there was of it, to cool off. The others would trudge on until the scheduled break. I noticed one time that Carol had turned beet red and had dropped out and sat down on the ground against the fence with another sophomore. When the scheduled break was called I felt it was time to go make an impression on her with my witty banter, good looks, well documented status as an exceptional drummer and killer charm. Afterall, she was in a weakened state. JUST like I wanted it. Weak and vulnerable... heheheheh. So, I slung my snare across my back and did my best James Dean/John Wayne/Steve McQueen walk over to her. In the seconds as I approached this wounded animal, a million possible words came across my mind, but as I was within mere feet of her, I realized all the cool words had failed to arrange themselves in an understandable sentence and I ended spooing out words that would live on in history as the very first words I ever said to this future grandmother of 8: "Hey, sophomore, did ya puke??" The rest, they say, is history....)
Underclassmen, especially Freshman, have always had to either wait their turn or work extremely hard to achieve any kind of recognition at their level of classification, especially as it comes to band in a major college and doubly so at a highly regarded Fine Arts College as was West Texas State University. I was content to feel my way around, check out every drummer to determine his or her weaknesses and see where I was to fit. Drum section during marching season require several spots to be filled which included snare drums, tom-toms, bass drums, cymbals, & bells. In college, halftime shows are much more relaxed and less rudimental and included many props, all of which were to be the responsibility of a lowly freshman, alternating each week, and yes, yours truly did my time. After, I was "paroled" I rejoined the snare line the next week. Week in and week out we worked on perfecting our halftime show all heading towards our one out of town trip for the season which was The University of Tulsa.

The Tulsa Hurricanes football team was highly ranked in the nation and was having a remarkable season, as were our Fighting Buffalos of WTSU, and the upcoming game was expected to be a sell out, so obviously we were working our butts off to present a great halftime show.

Opportunity can either sneak up on you by way of hard work, luck, an opening caused by an illness or all three in my case. Monday morning of the week of the Tulsa game, I got the news that I was going to play Lead Snare at the game. Needless to say I was pumped....and mega-nervous, so the show prep was more important than ever, at least to me.. Playing Lead Snare included playing several solo's during the show as well as leading the drum line out. Some bands come on the field from the sidelines, WE ran out from the end zone in a fast kick-butt drum cadence led by who else, but the lead snare. We finished our practicing for the week and late Friday afternoon left Canyon, Texas and headed for Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Late Saturday morning we boarded our buses and headed to Chapman Stadium on the University of Tulsa campus for a run-through of our show. Due to some traffic problems we arrived a little after noon. All 300+ of us "de-bused" and headed for the field to check it out. When I imerged from that tunnel, my mouth fell open as I stepped into the first artificial field in my life. It wasn't astroturf but more of a carpet and because of the fact that it was over 110 degrees on the field, there was heat rising off the green turf and sending an eerie feeling through everyone there this was the enemie's turf and we weren't welcome. after a few minutes on walking on the field to get it's feel and feeling the intense heat rising up from the turf, we gathered together in the endzone in our assigned spots with our instruments in an "at ease" stance. The drum major yelled "BAND!!" The band came to a quick attention with a drum whack and the words "Ten Hut!!!" which echoed through 30,000 empty seats. The drum majors blew their whistle, our section leader clicked us off and BAM!!, we were off and running. Except for a few stops for water and rest from the extreme heat, we ran throught the show three times and when we felt that we were ready, packed up and headed back to the hotel. We were ready,but more importantly, I was ready. I had the show down pat in my head, and all the solos down to a fine art. YES, I was ready. I felt like I was being given a tremendous responsibility, and I was confident that I was going to be one of a handful of freshmen that were allowed to play solos in their freshman year, and could take it and run with it.

Kickoff was set for 7:30pm and after we relaxed for a few hours, ate, dressed in our marching uniforms we boarded the buses at 5:30 and headed for the stadium. Now, the standard band uniform back in 1974 was made from 100% cotton and hot as the dickens. I was lead to believe cotton "breathed". HA!!! Another lie made up by cotton manufacturers to fool the American public!!! Band uniforms like ours were two-pieced with the pants being equipted with buttons on the front and the back for suspenders because there were no loops for belts. The other piece was, of course, the overlay which had the schools name and all sorts of decorations on it. To complete it for marching was the hat which had a slot or hole in the top for a plume. Underneath the overlay you wore a T-shirt so needless to say the complete uniform was not only heavy but extremely hot. Because of this and the fact that it was a very hot day, we were allowed to walk around with out the overlay until the second quarter began at which time we would put on the overlay and prepare for the show. With 8 minutes before halftime we placed the plumes in our hats and row by row left the stands on the visitor side and headed for the north endzone.
From my position in the endzone I looked up at the home side of the stadium and saw not one empty seat. The Hurricane fans had turned out to support their team and were majorly excited at their team's 14 point lead with a minute left in the first half. My focus was not so much on the score but what I had to do. I glanced both directions beside me and saw the rest of the band at parade rest and I smiled. I had made it. My mind quickly went back to those years in high school and marching at football games. Yeah, it was a learning experience and pretty darn cool, but now I was in the big-time. A major college football game and marching with people who were awesome at their instrument. Only the serious musician continued on after highschool, and here I was on the crest of my musical career in front of several thousand people. YESSSS!!!!
A quick drum major's whistle brought me out of my thoughts and back into the north endzone of Chapman Field, Tulsa Oklahoma.
What happened next happened so quickly, I was caught totally off guard and utterly incapable to remedy it. The half had ended, the teams run off to their respective locker rooms, our head drum major yells the command I had come to love, "BAND!", the band snaps to attention, with a drum whack and responds with "TEN HUT!!". Snap! (one suspender), snap!! (suspender # 2), snap (suspender # 3), PLEASE GOD DON'T LET... Snap!! All four of my suspenders had popped and my pants started that slow but sure fall. NOOOOOOO!!! In the mere seconds that this all happened, my mind went into panic mode which caused no clear thinking, so I couldn't devise or create a plan that would allow me to do the drumming I was supposed to do. I got our section leader Paula's attention and showed her what had happened and the biggest smile came upon her face as she strained to not burst out in laughter. She clicked the beginning of our cadence and off we went into our show, except I clicked my snares off and played the tom-tom part with one hand and the other holding my pants up. What was supposed to be a 15 minute program seemed like an hour. There were bursts of laughter from the Hurricane faithful, probably thinking this was part of our show. I was so embarassed and could think of nothing but packing up once we got back to Canyon and going back home to Jr College. Maybe news of this wouldn't make it back home if I left quickly enough. And what about Carol?? What would I tell her? Remember, she thinks I am cool, and hung the moon....Well, the crowd gave us a standing ovation, afterall it was a kickbutt halftime show. I just didn't play any major part of it. Paula covered the lead part with the solos and to this day Paula is the best drummer I have ever heard, hands down. As we were filing back into the stands to get ready for the second half and me still holding my pants up, I caught the band director's wife (or Mom as we all called her) waving for me to come over. I made my way over to her, sat down and as she put her arms around me hugged me, gave me 4 huge safety pins and smiled that smile only a mother could smile.
I don't remember how the game ended. I just waited for an endless barrage of heckling or jokes coming my way, but none came. Never. Not on the way back to Canyon, not ever again. So, slowly as the year went on and football season ended I forgot all about it. Oh, it comes up every once in awhile in my mind but not for long.
Things have a way of working out for the better. Later that year I tryed out and made the Concert Band. We were honored to be chosen with only three other concert bands in the nation to attend and play for the College Band Director's National Conference in Berkley, California. It was there I heard the Brigham Young University Concert and fell in love with concert music. As our band got on stage and played our selections I was so proud of us and me too, because I had yet another snare solo, this time in front if the country's most revered musical geniuses AND four secured suspenders.

"That which does not kill us, makes us stronger"...... Maybe or maybe not, Freddy, but you DO get up, brush yourself off and head on back on that road.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Why Do Things Happen The Way They Do? OR Toto, People Come And Go So Quickly Here

I remember the first time I saw him like it was yesterday. There are many things I can't recall but I do remember when he entered the doorway of my class. He looked kind of rough, shirt halfway tucked in and and hair cut that looked like someone other than a barber had done it. (Eight Ball Moment: To be honest, all guys had that butch cut or a burr cut. I had a burr thanks to my Dad and the Sears & Roebuck Family Hair did my four brothers. My one and only sister somehow missed out on that action. It would be Saturday night in the summer in Midland Texas, and there we all were, lined up for the "cut". This was of course so we could look "presentable" for church the next day. Dad would get a little angry because he had previously sent down the law that it was impossible to cut wet hair and so we all needed to have dry heads come haircut time. We hated haircut time, so we made sure we sweated it up outside so he couldn't cut our hair. After awhile he gave up and cut it anyway. Thus the UGLY pictures of me and one would surmise that I had stepped into a fan blade. For a price, these pictures could make it to FaceBook)...He sat down in the empty desk across from me and after the principal had finished talking with her, the teacher announced that the new student's name was Doug Roberts. It wasn't long before Doug and I struck up a friendship, simply because of the proximity of our desk. Besides he was a friendly guy, AND he had a sense of humor. Well, he would laugh at my jokes, so he definantly showed good taste. During recess he was pretty good at soccer and making the girls laugh and giggle, so we got along fine!! As time went on, I got to know Doug better and we became fast and close. We laughed at the same things, even battling for the Class Clown title. It was during one of those moments where the teacher had had enough of our cutting up and jerked Doug out of his seat by his arm, that I noticed he always caught the brunt of the punishment while I always got the stern look and that was all. I felt bad for my friend but I couldn't do anything. He looked tho, like he was used to this. Like he had gone though before. I actually admired how "cool" he looked taking his punishment. All things became clearer when I got home and faced my mom who had just got off the phone with the principal. Doug apparently had a past. She explained to me that Doug had been in and out of juvenile homes and detetion centers for the past 2 yrs and had even been caught stealing a car. I was full of so many emotions I didn't understand at my age. This couldn't have been my friend. They had it wrong.... The next day at recess I asked Doug about everything. Reluctantly, he told me everything and even more than what my mom had told me. He didn't like to tell people because it usually ended up with him not having friends. Well, I guess something inside me just didn't care, and Doug and I carried on like nothing had happened. We rode bikes, dug fox holes in empty fields. Never ONCE did he ever suggest we do anything illegal or wrong. Mom even softened up and let Doug and me play in the house. She didn't know Doug like I did, and I know she kept an eye on Doug, but that was ok. He was used to it.
The Christmas holidays came upon us and we played off and on since school was out. Christmas came and went as did New Years and Doug stopped coming by to play. I knew it was because of the holidays and I would see him again after the first of the year. School came back into session and on the first day back at school I waited to see my friend. He didn't come that day or any day that week. I went up and asked the teacher about Doug and she said that he wasn't on the role in her class, but Doug might be in another teacher's class. I looked for him during recess, but never saw him. I figured his parents might have moved which was very common in an Oil & Gas town like Midland. I missed my friend. Class wasn't the same without him. My life wasn't the same without my friend...

A year later, I was coming out of sleep one Saturday morning and heard someone quietly open my bedroom door walk over and sit down on my bed and put a hand on my should. It was Mom. She didn't shake me, but gently squeezed my shoulder. "Honey?" I was awake now. "Yeah, Mom?" "They found Doug Robert's body". "What?" "He had escaped from the Detention Center and was climbing up a oil storage tank, got to the top and fumes over took him and he fell in. They recovered his body a day later". I was stunned beyond belief. What could I say? What could I do? Nothing. My heart hurt. I had never hurt like that before.
Monday morning Mom took me by the funeral home. I told her to stay in the car. I found the room where Doug's body was. I walked up and stood there and stared at this.. this body. This wasn't my friend. This couldn't be my friend. But it was. I became so angry at everyone including my mother who never gave Doug a chance. All the teachers who treated him like trash. The principal who felt it neccesary to tell the teacher about Doug's past assuring Doug of never getting a fair shake.

It was revealed later that Doug was sent back to detention for hitting a teacher at another school. He stayed there until the day he decided he too had had enough.

All I remember through all these many years was we were friends. That his past didn't matter to me, and he appreciated that. He laughed at my jokes and I at his. We were friends, good friends...
I miss you Doug.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

You Don't Accept Checks? How About the Irish?? OR Senile?!?!? I've Never BEEN To Africa!!

So I says to myself, "Self, what in the dog can you blog about that would make your fan base of 5 come back for more?" "What will keep their interest and coming back time after time?" Well, as you who are bloggers yourself know, there ain't no sure-fire way to guarantee readership. So, I am going to just put what I got out there and we'll see what sticks.

To say I have led a squeeky clean life is a little misleading. In fact there are those in my past that would fall down in a fit of uncontrollable laughter to hear me say that. Yes, I have been a church-going person as long as I can remember. Before The Clinton Administration, before disco music, before Viet Nam and just about Davey Crockett-Wonderful World of Disney time. Yep, I was there in my regular pew in a garden-variety you-seen-one-you-seen-them-all Methodist church in the beautiful, oft-given-up-for-dead town of Midland, Texas every Sunday. In those days and possibly still is today, the main goal of any Methodist church in West Texas was to make sure the preacher knew that we needed to be OUT of there, having sung the final hymn, (altar call?? HA!), and walking out elbowing anyone in our way, no later that 11:50am. PERIOD. The Methodist Church back then replaced their pastors every two years, and if the pastor at our church didn't adhere to the 11:50am time, he would mysteriously be replaced before that 2 yr period. Why all the importance on this 11:50am time, you ask? Two reason actually: Beat the Baptist to Furrs Cafeteria, and during football season: The Dallas Cowboys. You may think of this as a little unreasonable and certainly bordering on blasphemy, but that would be far from the truth. Dallas Cowboy fans are some of the most religious people on the face of the Earth. They even built him a stadium with a hole in it so He could see them play; and even their coach was rumored to have walked on water. Now, as far as the Methodist-Baptist thing is concerned, I have never seen any group of people go at it so furiously and viciously as the Methodist & the Baptist did just to get to Furrs before the other. Groups that only minutes earlier had been singing angelic praises to The Almighty were now plotting to disrupt traffic so the other couldn't get to the cafeteria before them. You never saw a Methodist-Catholic feud, or a Baptist-Church of Christ feud, just the Methodist-Baptist thing.. Go figure....
Now, when it came to church league basketball, it was the Latter Day Saints boys that played the dirtiest. They would come in and shake hands before the game and play all nice until the buzzer went off to start the game and all of a sudden elbows flying, tripping, and all sorts of fouls came from these guys. Oh sure, after the game they were all nice again, but during the out. It didn't seem quite Christian to do such a thing, but they were really good at it. Usually by the time we had had enough and started plotting revenge, the game was out of reach and it made us look even more pitiful. Mental notes,boys, mental notes.... the NEXT time we play these yahoos.....

Being in church every Sunday didn't stop all the temptations a kid my age would have, you just were expected to be able to "resist" them and repent on Sundays if you slipped. Alcohol and tobacco were pretty much the "tempters", along with petty vandalism, so a kid my age had plenty to get in trouble with. But I held it down to just a few things here and there. I sure as heck didn't want to turn out like Doug Roberts.

Rewind about 3 years................

Next post: Why Do Things Happen the Way They Do OR "Toto, People Come and Go So Quickly Here"

Monday, July 5, 2010

Wha Shu Wont? or You Want Fries With That?

So I see you've made it. You have decided to enter this man's blog-o-sphere, or as I like to refer to it as "File 13 Of The Mind". I don't intend on changing your life here, but if that does happen, then good for you !! I don't intend on creating a whirlwind of controversy, but it that happens, so be it. You won't get rich here, but you'll never go belly up here either. Perhaps you need more information before choosing this as your daily inspiration, or shot of go-juice, or even your bedtime-bore-you-to tears stop off, so let me start out by explaning why "Eight Ball Ramblings". Remember that game with the Eight Ball where you ask a question, shake the Eight Ball and an answer appears in the "viewing window" and it hardly ever completely answers your question or doesn't even come close? Well, that's pretty much how my mind works. I could be talking to the better half and all of a sudden something completely out of left field comes to my mind. (All of you who don't understand the baseball reference just need to Google it). So I'll blog it just like that. As it comes. There won't be a constant theme here, so if you want that, turn on The Maury Show and see how many people So and So has slept with and is 150% sure that HE is my baby daddy. We will have fun here with Ask Uncle Roy, where you can respond with a question that I WILL answer. We will do blogs on topics like sports, cooking, best and worst vacations, best place to get a Chicken Fried Steak, worst smelling restaurant bathrooms, best & worst pick -up lines, Worlds greatest joke, news, politics as I see it, faith as it truly is, and just about any topic that comes in Eight Ball form. We will NOT blog about personal relationships-watch Oprah or read Dear Abby for that. Just remember we will probably change topics perty darn quick, so don't get hung up on any one thing. Lastly, I appreciate talent. Whether it is music, or cooking, or photography or any kind of real talent, I will link you up to sites I believe you will find amazing and possibly get you believing on how cool this country and it's people really are. So there you have it. Eight Ball Ramblings. Glad you could show up, so let's shake things up!!