Playful, Pius or Remembered Stuff

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Monday, October 21, 2013

A Big Nothing

Yeah, yeah, today is my 79th birthday.  But I tell you it's a big nothing.

Nobody is ever 79 years old.  It's nearly the big 80, but it isn't 80.

When  a kid is 9 years old, he will want everyone to know he is almost 10.  Kids that age are always "going on" to the next number.  "I'm going on 13."  the kid says.  But he may be 9 years old and just can't wait to be a teen ager.  Any kid on that side may say he's going on 13, and so he is.  Some just have a bigger run at it than others.  But I'm not in a hurry to tell everyone I'm going on 80.  Wouldn't that raise eyebrows?  "Hey, friends, I'm turning 80."  Or how about this, "I've just started my 8th decade."  Baloney!  I'm not turning anything.  I'm not going on anything.  A lot may happen in a year, and like my father in law used to imply, it's getting to the point that buying green bananas is being very optimistic.

When a pretty young lady is 29, she is very sensitive about her age.  She wants you to realize she is still in her 20s and has not passed that dreaded marker of 30.  She may spend a little money erasing wrinkle lines that no one else can see.  Her "laugh lines" display far to much hilarity in her career, so she supposes.  Consequently she is bold to correct anyone who is misled about that and assert that she is 29.  In fact she seems to make that point so many times that one gets the feeling she has been saying this for several years.

Jack Benny was 39 forever.  I think he was still 39 when he died at ninety something.  It makes for good natured joking.  But there is no joke nor is there anything good natured about insisting that everyone knows I am 79.  It's a big nothing I say.

For some there comes the mood to brag about longevity.  An old geezer may well be proud that he still enjoys his stogies and bourbon at the ripe old age of 109.  Everybody expected him to die from lung cancer or cirrhosis of the liver before now.  So he is sort of having the last laugh by blowing smoke and announcing his age.  I'll drink to that.

But that doesn't happen at 79.  Nothing happens at 79.  That's not retirement age.  Everyone in the world is giving senior discounts long before you ever reach that non-descript marker of 79.  Newspaper editorials, or letters to the editor, may suggest that I should surrender my driver's license.  Now and again a tragic auto accident involves a septuagenarian, and someone will howl for my license.  Someone hit the accelerator instead of the brake.  It could happen to anyone, but when you're my age, it becomes a class action persecution.  This seventy something year old just plowed through a crowd at a Farmer's Market, therefore all licenses should be revoked at age seventy, or seventy nine.

The age of 70 sounds like a true mile marker.  Seventy five is 3/4 of a century.  But 79 is a big nothing. When kids talk about growing up they sometimes imagine an ideal age.  Was there a time when you wished you were 18?  Or maybe 21 or 25?  Well, when was the last time you wished you were 79?

So I say my seventy ninth birthday is a big nothing.  I didn't ask for it, and if you plan a surprise party for me, I will find a way to shock some sense into you.  Us old geezers have learned a few things in all these years, and I might try one of them.  A seventy nine year old streaker is not a pretty sight.  In the first place, he is definitely not a streaker.  His miserably misshapen body gains no attractiveness by losing its clothes.  And he may more accurately be called a hobbler or a shuffler rather than a streaker.

Okay, the streaker thing is a little too radical for my taste too.  But don't try the surprise party.  You'll be sorry.

I know that I am glad to be alive.  I know that my kind Heavenly Father has my life ordered out for me.  My genetic father died in his early 50s of a massive heart attack.  Now, ever since my heart attack, I waken each morning thanking God for another day.  I do not specifically thank Him for being 79, but I thank Him for His loving providence that allows me one more day to live with my best friend and companion.  All this and heaven too.  That can't be beat.

Okay, this post sounds like I'm bitter, and I really am not.  I still say, however, that a 79th birthday is a big nothing.

Monday, October 14, 2013

La La Land

I live on the left coast, in what some people call "La La Land", in other words, Los Angeles, California.  There is a lot of pretense here.  It was a natural nest for movie productions and fantasy theme parks to emerge.  Walking the streets of Hollywood has always been a hoot.  Maybe more dangerous today, but still one is able to find someone in a clown suit and a red bulbous nose.

It's a nasty place with sordid lowlife hardly hidden beneath the surface of society.  The San Fernando Valley section is known for a plethora of porn studios.

Did you know that there is no such city as "Hollywood"?  It's just a zone number of Los Angeles.  And yet it has an honorary mayor.  Tourists come by the drove to walk the pavement and see names and hand prints from stars past and present.  But there's just nothing exciting about it if we were to call it the "Los Angeles walk of fame."

Did you know that the San Diego freeway does not go to San Diego?  The San Diego freeway is numbered 405, but it ceases to exist just a few miles south of Los Angeles where it dumps traffic onto the Golden State freeway, US 5.  Then about 90 miles south of that you will find San Diego.  And yet you can find countless signs around town identifying the 405 as the "San Diego" freeway.  If truth is a little relative, oh well, this is the left coast.

There is a baseball team down in Anaheim, CA, who are called the "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim."  I kid you not.  It's not that the owners love our city, but baseball is a huge business, and Los Angeles represents a lucrative market for fans left over from the Dodgers.  Oh yeah, the Dodgers were swiped from Brooklyn many years ago, but now they have been in LA longer than they were in Brooklyn, so it almost seems legitimate.

The sports joke around town is the fact that LA has no NFL team and hasn't had one since the Raiders picked our pockets several years ago.

For all it's foibles and fantasy, Los Angeles is still my city.  I was born in the Angeles Hospital in downtown Los Angeles.  Here is where I grew up, partly in south central LA and the other part in Eagle Rock (another zone number in Los Angeles).  This is the place my wife said she would never again live (that was before the Lord called me to serve our church in Carson where we lived for more than 20 years.  Oh, by the way, Carson is not a zone of LA.  It has its own city council and mayor.  But three of the past mayors went to jail.

Ah, yes, this is home.  Now we live in another city in the megalopolis of LA, and likely we will only move when chauffeured in a hearse.  My story is just a microcosm of each one of us living in a fallen world, waiting for the Savior to take us home to glory.  I pray, dear God, though I am in the world, please don't let me be part of the world.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

God has a sense of humor

Do you have a spooky experience that made you think twice about the possibility of haunting?

This experience took place in the late 60s, and is absolutely true.

Barbara and I had gone to bed and each of us was reading.  Not often in our lives have we read to each other, but this night we did.  I read her the story from the Saturday Evening Post about a haunted house.  Some Hollywood sound man claimed his house was haunted.  His wife was some pretentious second rate actress, and they lived in a wealthy neighborhood.

After they were in bed, they could clearly hear the scooting of chair legs and the jingle of silverware emanating from their dining room.  Whenever he would creep down stairs to see what was happening, no one was there.  After this happened several times, he rigged a tape recorder and strategically placed a mike near the dining room at the foot of the stairs.  Sure enough one night they heard the sound of a party, complete with silverware, glass clinking and several people lowly murmuring.  He cocked his pistol, crept quietly down the stairs and turned on the light, only to find the room still and quiet as he had in the past.

He couldn't wait to check his tape, and sure enough there were the party sounds.  He even heard the stairs squeak under his feet, the click of the light switch, and his nervous clearing of the throat.  It was a complete mystery.  He checked for the possibility of neighbor dinner parties with the intrusion of sound into their dining room.  There was no known explanation.

When they had occasion to go to Europe for a few weeks, this man asked a detective friend of his to stop by the house a time or two to see that everything was okay.  When he returned from Europe he was told this strange story by his friend.

"I was finished with my errand one night, so I stopped by your place.  As I approached your address I saw your house with every light in the joint fully ablaze.  I pulled into the driveway and ran into the house, but just when I reached your front door, every light in the house suddenly went off.  I checked thoroughly and there was no one there."

The next day when he greeted his next door neighbor he was asked, "Hey, who was that guy you left in charge of your house while you were gone?"  He answered, "My detective friend stopped by a couple of times."  "Naw," the neighbor corrected, "this guy seemed to be living there.  I saw him out by the pool.  He was rather heavy, balding and he sported a big black mustache."

Later when his wife was entertaining guests, someone asked, "Aren't you going to introduce me to your house guest?"  But she corrected, "We have no one else in the house."  Her guest insisted, "But I saw him in the kitchen doorway just now.  He was a large man, balding and he had a black mustache."

There was some other creepy stuff in the article.  It ended with the home burning to the ground.

Barbara and I talked about it for a while before going to sleep.  Is there a possibility of poltergeists?  If there were such things, they would have to be angels or demons.  We know that departed souls go immediately to be with Christ (if they are believers).  Perhaps demon spirits enjoy distracting the attention of people who ought to be thinking of the things of God.  Curious, but we are safely in the hands of our Heavenly Father.

Then about 3 in the morning, our hall light suddenly came on.  You'd better believe we were rather spooked by this.  It had never happened before (nor has it happened since).  We don't give in to ghost explanations, so I examined the light switch.  We had the type of switch that slowly moved to engage or disengage the connection, and the switch was not fully thrown when we went to bed.  So when the temperature and humidity changed during the night, the switch made contact.  Problem solved.

But why was it that particular night that this happened?  The only night in all our married life that I read a ghost story to my wife was also the only night in our entire lives that a light switch mysteriously came on in the middle of the night.  Since we believe in a God of providence, this was not an accident.  I concluded that God indeed has a sense of humor.