Leaving an ingredient out or putting the wrong ingredient in can make all the difference in the outcome of the dish. Thousandths of a second is the difference in victory and second place. We know details make all the difference. Two third graders were discussing the details of romance, a tricky subject at best. One third grader had narrowed it down to these essential ingredients and shared with his friend. “If you are going to have a relationship with a girl,” he said, “you need to remember these four things. 1. Be a man. 2. Smell like a man. 3. Take care of your girl. 4. Never, ever tell her that she needs to lose weight. Ernest Hemingway said, “Every man's life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.” I believe it is safe to say if you do not abide by detail four I can tell you why you possibly died.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Lore has it that when the Greek scholar Archimedes stepped into a bath and the water level rose he understood the relationship between the displacement of water and the volume of the object being placed in the water. Presumably at the moment of discovery he called out “Eureka” the Greek equivalent of I have found. Discovery can be a powerful moment. What discovery was made on a bus full of middle school students I am not sure. As we traveled down the road the moment of discovery must have occurred for one student, for he yelled out, “Urethra”. There was a moment of silence when all heads turned towards him. “What?” he said as he faced his fellow students. At this point the stares had changed to laughter. Trying to ease the awkwardness of the situation I said, “A very fine scientific word but possible not one to be shouted out on a bus.” With a genuinely confused look he said, “What do you think I said?” It was repeated by those around him. Now with a blush to his face he said, “No I said Eureka, I said Eureka.” With much laughter he was reassured of what he had really said. He lowered his head in embarrassment and all soon returned to normal. Before he left the bus he looked at me and asked, “By the way what does that mean?” I assured him he had not entered the world of words that mom will wash your mouth out for and that he should just go home and look it up. His friend said he would but he was afraid his mother would check his internet history on the computer. They say knowledge is power, but a little knowledge in the hands of a middle school student is a dangerous thing.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
We have all been tired and in need of rest for our weary bodies. We have also known the weariness of spirit. A spirit in need of rejuvenation and rest cannot find comfort in a rested body but a tired body can be strengthened by a renewed spirit. I assume a student was weary in spirit when he leaned forward and said in a very soft subdued voice, “Mr. Brandon do you think you could sing Amazing Grace for me?” After a few verses he said, “That was pretty good. That’s my grandma’s favorite song.” This in turn must have put another rider to thinking because in the same soft tones she asked, “Mr. Brandon do you think you could,” she paused and I wondered what comfort her little spirit needed, “could you whistle the tune from the Andy Griffith Show?” We each find solace in our own way.
Friday, April 17, 2015
Most of you understand that I have many nick names for the students that ride the bus each day. Some of the nick names I actually call them when they are on the bus and some nick names I only use here to protect the innocent or guilty whichever way you want to go. As the students were getting off the bus I called them by name saying have a good afternoon. I said goodbye to Sharkie, because she has an aquarium shirt with a shark on it that she is fond of. Then there was Hollywood, because I didn’t know her name and she was wearing sunglasses one day so, Hollywood. I was not aware that a young lady behind me was listening as I commented to each person as they left the bus. When I pulled to her house and called her by her actual name she said, “Why don’t I have a nick name?” It was a reasonable question. I thought about her personality not a tom boy but not girly, girly either. Well maybe attire. Some days a cute girl outfit, others days shorts, t-shirt and tennis shoes. This could prove difficult. But before I had a chance to render my verdict she said, “I want to be called, Tex.” So, Tex it is. You never really know what lies deep in the heart of a person. It may be a dusty old cowboy.
On a dark and stormy morning there is a quick flash of light from behind me. There was just something about it that did not register as a flash of lighting. Then there it was again. I looked in the mirror and was none to surprised to see Mr. Mucus with a head lamp on. “What’s up with the light?” I asked. “You never know what this weather is going to do,” he responded. “I want to be ready so I also got some crackers in one pocket and a bottle of water in the other, just in case we have to go to the basement for a tornado.” If we go to the basement I know who I’m sitting next to.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Wanting to share his new movie knowledge a third grader asked, “Mr. Brandon have you seen the movie Tammy?” Mentally I run through my movie library. Let’s see there was Tammy and the Bachelor, Tammy Tell Me True, Tammy and the Doctor, and Tammy and the Millionaire. Each had the same story line. Young naive country girl, my favorite was Sandra Dee, who lives with her grandfather and prays to God about the many confusing thing in her life, falls in love with sophisticated man about town. She sings about nature and especially about her new found love and in turn is rejected by high society. High society then learns valuable lessons from the girl with the pure and loving heart. Holding these movies with fond memories and knowing we all have sang along to “Tammy, Tammy, Tammy’s in love” I said, “Tell me about it.” Then I settled back to listen to the heartwarming story as told through the eyes of a younger generation. “Well,” he began, “there was this girl who got fired from her job so she stole a bunch of stuff and then her and her grandma went on a trip. Her grandma was on a lot of medication and she wouldn’t take it so she acted crazy all the time. Then they picked up a guy on the trip and they did some things that I can’t say because you know it was rated R.” I pulled the plug on the movie summary with a “What are you watching R rated movies for?” “I don’t know, I just wanted to know if you had seen the movie,” he said. So one generation watches a rather admittedly, campy movie about a young girl named Tammy, who loves, cares for, and respects her grandfather who has very few material good and offers only love and understanding in return. She treats others with respect even when looked down on and we see how other can respond when shown the right example. Another generation watches a movie about a young lady named Tammy that has no respect for herself or those around her. She goes on a trip with her heavily medicated grandmother, because the grandmother has money. They drink, steel, and pick up strange men along the way doing things that no one should be doing. There are some who would argue that a movie is just entertainment and whether we watch or don’t watch has nothing to do with the morals of our society. I’m not one of them. I believe tonight I will watch a Tammy movie where the most provocative nude scene is when Tammy dangles her bare feet in the waters of the Mississippi River.
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
A sight, a smell, a sound all can trigger memories that come back to us and fill our hearts as if we were living them again. And they don’t have to make sense to anyone else, nor should they, but they are a part of us we cannot escape. In the quiet of the night all alone, if I hear a refrigerator running I cannot help but find myself as a small boy in bed at my grandparent’s house safe and warm in the spare room next to the kitchen. The right song on the oldies station can restore to me again my small children singing from the back seat of the car. What sight, sound, or smell triggered a memory for Mr. Mucus I do not know but he said, “Mr. Brandon, do you remember when I was little and …..” He has been riding the bus for five years so at this point many fond memories ran through my mind. The time he was a super spy, when he told me I could be a part of his scout troop, or the many times he has told me, “I love you man.” So I was a little set back with the end of the statement. “and I would get sick and throw up almost every day?” Yes I remembered, over twenty times in one year. I know how I felt about those memories but it was obviously not how he felt for he ended with, “Good times, good times.”