The Unauthorized Biography of Rosco P. Coltrane

When it's my moment in the sun, I won't forget that I am blessed, but every hero walks alone, thinking of more things to confess

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Location: Owensboro, Kentucky, United States


Thursday, September 29, 2005

Let Me Tell You A Story

I dropped by my friends' Kent and Kristen's house right around bedtime for their little ones, Aidan and Patrick. They were both already in their PJ's and were sitting on the couch reading Curious George with Kent. I sat down and read with them for a bit. I read the story about the Tower of Babble. We laughed and did hand gestures. They laughed at the way the words would rhyme. If there was a difficult, Kent would ask Aidan if he knew what that word meant.

I know one thing, kids like television, but they love reading. I discovered this a few years back whenever I was teaching up in Rhode Island.

Every night, when the kids would go to bed, we would give out daps and hugs. I would walk into their tents and give my tried and true wisdom from The Nutty Professor.

"Women be shoppin'. You can't stop a woman from shoppin'!"

When the lights when out, it was story time. I remember the first time I read at night, I was trying to read the first Harry Potter book to the kids. I couldn't pronounce most of the words, and when I was done for the night, I announced that I would never read that book again because I only read books in English. That week, I went out and bought W.P. Kinsella's Shoeless Joe and read it to them at night. I also read a Wendell Berry book one time. I read a little bit of Dylan Thomas poetry. But the most memorable book was I read Willie Morris' My Dog Skip.

I read most of the book, but another teacher read the ending of the book while I was off. I will never forget one of the biggest kids around came up to me and put his big paw on my shoulder.
He just shook his head at me and said to me in his thick Puerto Rican accent.

"He died yo! Skip died yo! That ain't right!"

I always thought it was weird, why these teenage kids loved to have books read to them at night. It was only after a while that I realized, kids whose parents died of AIDS when they were just children, they didn't have story time at their house. When a parent is strung out and coked out of their mind, they simply forget about their kids, much less storytime. When your parents are working two jobs, there isn't enough time to talk, much less read.

All they wanted, which is really all anyone really wants, is a little bit of attention, a little bit of joy. I sometimes wonder what those kids are doing know, what they are doing now, how they are seeking out attention. I hope they aren't hotboxing cars. I hoped they aren't rolling out of their minds. I hope they aren't in prison. I hope they aren't robbing banks. I hope they aren't dying on the streets.

I hope they still read. And I hope they remember a little bit of wisdom that I gave them. I hope that they do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Return of Quirky Thursday

I noticed another one of my little quirks at the grocery store the other day. I get to the checkout line. And I start to unload my groceries, but I don't just throw them any which way up on the checkout belt. Oh no. I have to find symmetry on the checkout belt. I line everything up using every square millimeter of room on the belt. There is this really weird order that I must follow. Canned foods must be on the right hand side of the belt. Bread must be on the left hand side. Any drinks must be at the back. When I get done placing everything on the belt, I look to see if anything needs rearranged. If there is any time left after arranging all my items, I look the Weekly World News.

What can I say, I'm sick.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Holy Grail of Newman, KY

Growing up, whenever the air would begin to get cooler, there was an anticipation that was in the fall air as well. We would wait and wait and wait. And then, one day, we got home and it was there in the mailbox.

The Service Merchandise catalog was like finding the Holy Grail in Rural Route 7 Box 145A. (Mom and Dad, are you amazed that I still remember that address?)

Long before the internet, where you can find anything and everything to buy just using Google, the catalog had all these amazing electronics, these really cool tape players and digital clocks, and all the coolest new toys, toys that were always too expensive and needed too many batteries.

My sister and I would fight over the catalog. Then we would pick out what we wanted for Christmas or our birthdays. We would memorize the pages. We would slowly change our minds before Christmas, then change our minds again.

I know that sentimentality gets the best of us as we get older. Retro is always more fun and cool. Change always happens, it is bound to happen.

But you can't get that feeling that you did with a catalog. Sure the internet is wonderful, you can find anything at anytime. But I wish children today could still fight over finding gifts in catalogs.

All this looking back aside, I would not trade my MP3 player for a bulky old tape player and a Bon Jovi Slippery When Wet cassette that was slightly warped and flipped sides during the chorus of Wanted Dead Or Alive.

I guess that's what happens to people my age. We were born in the waning days of old and the waxing days of new.

Monday, September 26, 2005

I could get a good look at a T-bone by sticking my head up...

It amazes me the ideas that people try to sell: stupid little statues on QVC, insurance on DVD rentals, and Clay Aiken music.

But one of the most astounding and dumbfounding ideas I have ever heard is a store that sells naps in the Mall of America up in Minneapolis. For 70 cents a minute you can walk in a store, lay down and take a nap. That's 42 dollars an hour!

Here is the thing, I have been to Minneapolis a time or too. It is a pretty fun down. It is buck naked cold in the winter. And when it is buck naked cold up in the middle of Minnesota, you do one of two things. You either drink, a lot. Or you go ice fishing. Sometimes, you do both.

But I don't think I could pay real money to go in someplace and take a nap. I think I couldn't do it because the entire time I would be trying to sleep, I would be adding up the cost in my head. Which also begs the question, what happens if I try to take a nap but can't fall asleep. Though, come to think of it, any time I have ever wanted to take a nap, I have always succeeded.

The store has assured the public that they will have a one person a room limit.

Wow, you stay classy Mall of America.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Childhood Souvenirs

I saw this picture this morning in my hometown newspaper. When I saw it, I remembered an old memory that I had long ago tucked back faraway. But, this morning, it was as though it happened last week.

In the house that I grew up in, there was a small little closet underneath the staircase that went up to the attic. It was called "the quiet room." It was my little refuge, my little room of my own, my favorite place in the world. It had a small 100 watt lightbulb and every book we owned. I would go in there and I would just sit and read. I would hide and read.

Well, anyway, there was this one night that I remember that there was a tornado warning for our area. My mom gathered my sister and me up in her arms and we went to the quiet room with a flashlight. We read books in the dark until the storm had passed.

I don't remember exactly where my dad was. I think he might have been working late. I also think that he might have come home to find us hunkered down underneath the stairs and he asked just what in the hell we were doing. I don't know. But I remember being underneath those stairs. And I remember not feeling very scared.

I wish I had a quiet room right about now. Someplace safe, someplace quiet, someplace I could hide and read.

I bet a lot of people around the Gulf Coast wish they did too...