Hooray For Me…

And the hell with everybody else.

I grew up in a world where people were supportive of each other, regardless of political viewpoint.  If you were a liberal, conservatives might look at you side-eyed and shake their heads, but they supported you as a human being. They might talk about you behind your back, call you a ‘quare’ bird, but it was usually in whispers and in all honesty, where I grew up there were few liberals…still are few liberals.

I don’t know where that world has gone.  I hope, pray, that it is just a vocal minority but they seem to have developed a loud “hooray for me and the hell with everybody else” attitude.  Sounds selfish to me but then who am I to accuse?  I’ll just say if the shoe fits wear it. It is my opinion.

The most vocal don’t believe that falling sick to Covid is worse than getting the vaccine or the “jab” as they like to call it.  I detest hearing “I don’t need it. God will call me home when he deems it is time.”  I hate hearing “It is no worse than the flu.” Some three hundred and fifty thousand more were called to their heavenly home in 2020 than in 2019 and we seem to be on a similar schedule for 2021.

Where does free will fit into this?  If I choose to roller-skate on a crowded boulevard during rush hour and am crushed by a beer truck, is that God’s will?  Where does “data” figure into this? “Oh, don’t waste my time with data, my mind is made up. There is a chance I’ll survive and if I don’t, it’s God’s will.” Not my god.

It appears that some of the same vocal minority believe storms, wildfires, and changes in climate patterns are a symptom of an angry god rather than the prodrome of a sick planet. Yep, science is for sissies, and New York got flooded because of liberal leadership despite the fact Ida traveled from New Orleans to New York over several conservative states.

Somehow the liberal media and all the world’s liberal leaders have figured out a way to keep a secret.  A worldwide plot to eradicate conservatism with facemasks, vaccines, windmills, and solar panels.  Covid and Climate Change are all hoaxes or a plot.  All we must do is take vitamins, exercise, eat well, and sweep out our forests.  If that doesn’t work, animal dewormer…yeah, I know they make it for humans too…for parasites. Just say no to windmills and solar panels while you are at it.

I’m trying to picture my parents, Ernest and Eldora Miller, members of the “Greatest Generation”, standing in a picket line, or screaming at a school board about the evils of Satan’s mask mandate and waving placards denouncing returns to Marx’s virtual learning. I can’t picture it because it would have never happened.  It is almost too humorous to consider.

Lord help us if someone mentions “lockdown.”  Oh, that slippery slope toward communism.

How did wearing a mask or getting a “jab” lead us to arguments about freedom?  Do you want the freedom to infect your family, friends, and the old guy you passed in the checkout at Wally World? 

Why are we not supportive of humankind?  Somehow humankind has become a triggering word too.  Why should we worry about people in other parts of the world not named Afghanistan?  That pesky, “Love thy neighbor” thing in the Bible? 

Does this mean my parents were unaware at best or stupid at worst?  No, they were concerned about their family, friends, neighbors, and people they had never met.  Old Ernest and Eldora saw a way to make life better for all.  They were concerned about the human collective except the most vocal will take offense to me using the word collective.  Collective is just too close to communal, and we all know where communal leads. To the great communist devil hiding under our beds.

Somewhere in the dimly lit past, I remember loading up after church into our 1953 Ford Customline and driving to our small school, standing in line with all the people I had just been in church with at the cafeteria.  My parents, grandparents, brother, and me.  Why?  To eat lunch? No. To receive the Salk vaccine on a sugar cube.  No one was protesting and polio disappeared.  Imagine that and I grew up in a most conservative place.  There was no discussion of mandates.  There didn’t need to be.

What happened to us?

Commander Spock of Star Trek fame uttered these words in the movie “The Wrath of Khan,” “Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Captain Kirk answers, “Or the one.” I agree with Spock even though he was a fictional character.

Many will say that Spock’s utterance is too utilitarian, the doctrine that an action is right if it promotes safety and happiness, and that the greatest happiness of the greatest number should be the guiding principle of conduct.  I certainly believe sacrificing oneself for the greater good is an individual choice but no one, not me or anyone else, is asking you to sacrifice your life.  I believe the data supports that and they are not going to take your guns either.

Do some people have potentially deadly issues with the vaccine and is it worth the fear?  Sure, but a very small percentage, 0.0017 percent have died after taking the vaccine through June 14, 2021.  People died from the polio vaccine.  Look up the Cutter Incident and it was caused by a mistake. 

Do the vaccinated still catch Covid? Yes, but look at the vaccination numbers versus unvaccinated and the recovery rate.  YOU LOOK IT UP. The data shows you are much more likely to recover if you do get it and are less likely to get it, period.

For those from the “Don’t confuse me with the facts group”, it would appear, logic has disappeared, worse, it appears logic is purposely being distorted. That worries me the most. People are getting sick. People are dying because hospitals are being filled with the unvaccinated.

To be clear.  Do mandates take away freedoms?  Of course.  What I’m saying is, we shouldn’t even have to mention mandates.

Don Miller writes on various subjects, mostly uplifting non-rants. His author’s page may be accessed at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR1smB-fmScUP0JbtXJZaCzDQXYPuJKLT-n4oLUE6ojWkNkHcug5ZFWD8DE

“If I had known…”

If I had known last March it would be the last time I sat in a restaurant for nearly eight months, I would have ordered dessert.“ Unknown

I don’t know who is responsible for the quote, I just know it wasn’t me. I also know what I didn’t know then.  Despite all of the misinformation floating around, no truer words have been spoken.  When there is a next time, I will order dessert.

I didn’t buy the President’s spiel that COVID-19 would be over in the heat of summer, but I also didn’t buy I would be contemplating a Thanksgiving without friends and family…and then there is Christmas.

None of my aunt’s dressing and butterscotch pies.  None of my brother’s newest culinary creation or a cousin’s broccoli casserole.  None of Bob’s ham or turkey.  No visiting with the girl cousins who are more like sisters. At least I will have my bride’s tomato pies all to myself and will hear no one ask, “What about that election.”

No visit with Ashley, Justin, and the grands.  No tall tales, no hearty laughter, no catching up.  Instead I’ll burn up the phone lines, I guess., and maybe a Cornish hen on the grill. 

No post dinner nap while pretending to watch the Cowboys take it on the chin again.

Next time and until the Lord takes me home, I will always order dessert.

The date in early March eludes me.  I know it was before my brother’s birthday on the thirteenth because we didn’t celebrate it…or mine…or anyone else’s.   Maybe it was late February….

There have been few celebrations over the past seven months. I guess not being one of the two hundred and sixty some odd fatalities is celebration enough.  For some reason, my thought has a “hurray for me and the hell with everyone else” ring that is not intended.

I was at a BBQ joint with my bride on that day in February or March.  A large pulled pork BBQ sandwich with ‘yaller’ sauce, mayonnaise cabbage slaw, and a couple of orders of deeply fried, battered okra sat before me.

All were washed down with a Damn Yankee, Narragansett beer or three.  Maybe fifteen hundred calories…not counting the calories from cleaning up my bride’s plate…so the dessert was declined.  I will never allow that to happen again.  I will always order dessert. Maybe I’ll eat dessert first.

I’ve learned several things about myself as I’ve sat in my self-imposed isolation wishing for BBQ and dessert…wishing for Aunt Joyce’s dressing…wishing the kids were about….wishing for Thanksgiving celebrations.

I’ve learned I really do like being around my wife, otherwise we would have killed each other by now.  I realize the jury is still out from her perspective…and I’ve hidden all of the weapons just to make sure.

After seven months my hair still hasn’t grown long enough to put into a ponytail.   It is more of a ragged mullet. MacGyver would not covet it. Could be due to the absence of hair I began with.  I am going to keep trying.  Maybe I’ll start an “inverted Mohawk” ponytail/mullet movement for hippies in their seventies.

I have learned boredom is no motivation to getting things done. All those jobs that need to be completed, I can’t even get them started.  I just let more things go. ..more things that need to be done.

I haven’t even found new and more interesting ways to stay bored.  How many reruns of NCIS New Orleans or Star Trek The Next Generation can I watch? Is The Hallmark Channel next?

I’ve found rips to the grocery store to be scary, even double or triple masked up…considering the idiots ignoring masking rules along with the directional arrows.   It’s a political statement? Possibly more dangerous than a simultaneous four-way stop or the new traffic circle built next to Wally World in TR. I do have to eat but I’ll never use the traffic circle.

I’ve learned I’m not the hermit I thought I was.  I find myself chatting with frogs, snakes, turtles, ground squirrels, and birds…even the little snail that somehow found it’s way onto my shower curtain.  I don’t think he is listening. I would talk to my bride but then she might involve me in a conversation where she talks and I listen.

When the wildlife is not around, I talk to myself. Unfortunately, with cold weather ahead, the frogs, turtles, and snakes will be self-isolating and I’ve found I don’t make much sense even to myself.  Just ask the snail on the shower curtain…I think I may have talked him to death.

As I contemplate Thanksgiving, if I am fortunate to sit down at an indoor restaurant table again, I will order dessert….maybe two. 

If you are throwing caution to the wind and visiting family and friends this 2020 Thanksgiving, first of all, be careful, wear your mask and social distance. It is not a political statement, it is an intelligence statement.

Secondly, eat that extra bowl of banana puddin’ or German Chocolate cake.  Put an extra dab of cranberry salad on your turkey sandwich and maybe a wedge of dressing.  Enjoy the sweet potato casserole or pumpkin pie. Do it for me but if you have Bourbon pecan cheesecake…don’t tell me, it might break my heart. 

Happy Thanksgiving.

***

Don Miller writes in a variety of genres. He will release his newest historical novel, Long Ride to Paradise, after Thanksgiving, The tale takes place during the historical period known as Reconstruction.

Don’s authors page can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR1iraxbHHzYu2km-B4PsMVtsrBn9_NwN3OCmVKqxkn3Kq9qOpHWGOUhW9w.

The image is of Bourbon Pecan Cheesecake and I am drooling. Recipe at www.tastykitchen.com

When Football Comes Back Again…

 

…and it will…someday.

It is the middle of the second week in August and there should be sounds, sights, and smells associated with the religion that is football.

There should be the scent of freshly cut grass, the visions of early morning mists rising off the practice fields and sharp white lines gridded on dark green.  There should be the “thump” heard ‘round the world when leather shoe meets the leather ball.

There should be aromas of Cramergesic ointment or Atomic Bomb…and ammonia from sweat-drenched athletic wear left to dry overnight and smelly athletic socks.  There should be grunts and pops, and a groan or two as large bodies running fast make contact with each other.

From a parking lot or distant practice field, the shouts of band directors, trumpet blasts, and drumbeats should be piercing the heavy, humid air.  They should be the clarions of the upcoming season.  There should be a rattle of equipment as they rush to their spots before the silence of parade rest.

Somewhere a chunky kid with a sousaphone wrapped around his chubby body should trip and fall on his way to his spot.  Laughter should reign before the silence of concern.

Spinning flags should be cutting through the air as flag lines practice their half-time routines.  Twisting school colors flying toward the morning sun.  Instead, there is the silence of the Covid-19 Twilight Zone.

Cheerleaders would be joining the band’s spinning flags with flips, cartwheels, and tumbles of their own as they practice their cheers and their routines.  “Two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar, all for ‘so and so’ stand up and holler!”  Unfortunately, like London Bridge, their human pyramids have all fallen, the little girl at the top has crashed and burned.

There are no sounds, sights, or scents…at least near my little piece of heaven.  Football season is on hold for a bit longer, maybe the beginning of next month…maybe not.  “All activities shut down until further notice,” due to corona concerns.  The powers that be may make another decision this week.

At Hardee’s, the weekly meeting of old men wearing high crowned baseball caps should be discussing the chances of the local high school having a winning season in between bites of sausage biscuits and sips of coffee.  If it weren’t banned, Marlboros and Salems would send smoke from their fine Virginia tobacco skyward.

Instead, they are discussing the chances of having a season at all along with pontifications of, “They just ain’t as tough as we’s used to be.  We’d uh played through the Bubonic Plague if in we had to.  You remember when ole Roger played an entire season with two broke lags and his helmet knocked bass-ackwards.  Yeah, these coaches and players ain’t nothing but a bunch of wussies”.  Says the equipment manager from 1968.

The local universities have begun “teeing” it up, giving us hope, as smaller colleges await word as to whether their seasons will even take place.  Entire conferences have canceled seasons or pushed them back to the spring.  Telling a player to check his facemask takes on a new meaning in the anything but normal environment of Covid-19.

I miss football.  Not just the “I played it and coached it for so long, there seems to be something missing” missing football.  This year is different.  Every year since my retirement I’ve battled myself, attempting to silence the little football voice in my head that whispers this time of year.

“Go on up to the local high school.  I’m sure they could use your expertise and experience.”  As I’ve gotten older and creakier, the voice has been easier to silence but the little worm is still there.  There still seems to be something missing.

The voice I hear today is a different voice.  This is the low bass rattle of James Earle Jones telling me football will be canceled for this year.  It is as bad as the Beatles telling me “God is dead”.

Bordering upon sacrilege, Southern football is akin to a religion with its sacraments and cathedrals.  We have our revered gods, Bear, Pat, Vince, Bobby, and Danny.  Yes, I know Danny is still among the living and Bobby is Bobby Dodd, never Bobby Bowden.

One hundred thousand seat sanctuaries sitting empty.  The choirs of bands and cheerleaders silent.  Tailgating prayer meetings canceled, stadium parking lots noiseless and unoccupied.  Sacramental beer and pulled pork barbeque abandoned for another year…maybe.  “My Dabo, my Nick! Why have thou forsaken me?”  Will “Go Tigers” or “Roll Tide” be heard at all this year?

I have hope but my hope is tempered with concern.  If football is played someone will come down with the disease…maybe entire teams.  Even with a fatality rate of less than one percent, are we willing to sacrifice less than one percent of our athletes for a football season?  Are we willing to sacrifice our children to football gods?  Was that blasphemous?

Football is a dangerous sport.  It is something that I lived with when I played and when I coached.  You are one wrong step from a career-ending knee injury or an illegal hit away from permanent brain damage.  Some would say you are brain damaged just playing the game.

My greatest fear as a coach was losing someone to a bad hit or heat issues.  We have done much to reduce the possibility of injury or death, but it is still there.  Football is a sport that requires contact in close quarters.  I don’t know how you reduce the contact and contact is what transmits the disease.

1968 equipment managers and ‘wannabes’ are chastising those who opt-out of this season.  I don’t chastise.  I understand the fear.  If I had a son, I don’t know if I would push him toward football even in the best-case scenario.

Football teaches lessons I don’t believe can be taught in other sports.  I just don’t know if those lessons are worth ‘acceptable losses’ and I don’t believe my desires have to be those of my son or daughter.  Except for the desire for them to be safe.

Despite what I once thought, football is not life or even a reasonable facsimile. It is a distraction for most of us, a diversion, and I don’t believe our distractions should cost even one person his life.

***

Don Miller was primarily a high school teacher for forty-one years and a coach for forty-five years.  Twenty-nine of those seasons were spent coaching football in what is a football Mecca…the Deep South.  His author’s page is at  https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR3H6APy6s1iIg6N1Cz5-RgcsnXmdrL3L47f2X_zzO1dKChLRG-NShnjbsk

The image is from Pinterest.  Clemson QB Jimmy Addison handing the ball off in the late Sixties.