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

One Word: UNSTOPPABLE AWESOMENESS!!!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A Lafe Index: Health Care

Today, while sitting and my desk almost bored to literal tears, I slowly and surely began rethinking every single event that has happened in my life. When I finished with that, I read a magazine. When I finished that, I tried to pick up my medical insurance big blue book and read through it. I found a lot of interesting things that my insurance company will not cover. And as always, the funny thing about all these things that are excluded is the fact that I know someone at sometime tried to turn in a receipt for one of the following. So here are a few things that my insurance company will not cover...

Hypnotism -- Honestly, do you really need to charge insurance to bark like a dog and not remember a thing about it. If you need a friend to laugh at you doing stupid things, just give me a call.

Rolfing -- I have no idea what this is. But it sounds like either a new way kids are doing drugs (hey, man, I was rolfing out of my gourd!) or some sort of intense probing.

Beauty/Barber service -- Yeah, I have this receipt for a follicle sheering. Can I use my mullet as part of my deductible or should I claim it as a disability?

Accidental Dental Replacements on Non-Virgin Teeth -- Sorry, Mr. Benson, we cannot do anything for your tooth. It seems your tooth has been quite a naughty little tooth and picked up a bad case of plaque somewhere.

Nail Trimming, Cutting, or Debridling of Feet -- Isn't debridling something they do with horse's hooves?

Tattoo Removals -- That is easy, you can just get that "I Heart Guns N Roses" tattoo inked over with something cool like a dragon or maybe a nice butterfly.

The Reversal of Voluntary Sterilization -- Does anyone else besides me see those Vasectomy Reversals Specialist from Houston billboards plastered all over the interstates. There are so many questions about those signs and procedures that I have about this that I can't possibly write them all down on my blog because I am pretty sure it would shut the entire Internet down. Seriously, not just this page, the entire Internet.

Treatment of Benign Gynecomastia -- Now, you might be asking yourself, what in the world is benign gynecomastia. Well, to put it more scientifically, it is what most people call "man boobs" or "man teets." I don't even have to write a joke for that one, it just writes itself.

Medical and Surgical Treatment of Excessive Sweating (Hyperhidrosis) -- Luckily, Patrick Ewing was a rich NBA star and could afford treatments out of pockets. Or who knows, maybe the Knicks helped him out with the bill.

Psychosurgery -- I don't know what psychosurgery is, but it sounds extremely unfun.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

How To Enjoy Every Sandwich: Wednesday the 24th

It was hard for me to walk on Wednesday morning. I was walking kind of weird, it was a slow sort of waddle. I had to keep walking and keep walking or else I couldn't get back started.

All the men started off at 7 in the morning towards the church. The walk was probably only a few city blocks, but it took me a while to walk such a little way. On the way to the church, I looked around the little town. As in most Mexican towns, there was a multitude of Coca-Cola signs, bright colors and public service announcements. One public service announcement was scrawled on a small little building about the dangers of how sexually transmitted diseases can be contracted and even though it was in Spanish, it was pretty easy to translate what it was saying.

When we got to the church, Cepa pulled me over and told me that I would be in charge of cement for the day. So I walked over and picked up a few 50 kilo bags of Cemento Cruz Azul (Blue Cross Cement) and dropped them off next to the mixer. Thankfully we had a mixer and didn't have to mix the concrete by hand.

Cepa told me that each load of concrete required a quart of a bag. So I had to slice every bag in half with machete. After I slice the bag in half, I picked up on part of the bag and emptied about half of the bag in a bucket. Cepa had drawn a line in the bucket so I would know exactly how much cement to put in the mixer.

I was doing all right until I was trying to empty some cement in the bucket and some cement dust splashed back in my eye. The cement was burning my eye, so I immediately ran over to the large pool of water we were using to wet the concrete with. I washed my eye as well as I could. I washed my hands off and took my right contact out and pitched it in a trash can. My contact was already gray and was almost solid. I washed my eye out five or six more times and wondered what kind of bacteria was now crawling around in my eye.

I went back to work with only one contact in for the rest of the day. It was a little bit awkward, but it didn't give me as much of a headache as I thought it would.

The ladies got to the church around 8 and jumped right in to working. Brittney was the queen of shoveling. She shoveled and shoveled lots of rocks and sand. The mixture a quarter bag of cement, 2 five gallon buckets of sand, 1 1/2 buckets of gravel and Cepa added the water quite unscientifically with a small bowl, wetting it however much he saw fit.
Manuel, Arturo and a few others finished the concrete while everyone else hauled the concrete in a bucket at a time. They first poured footers throughout the entire floor. After the footers were set, they began on the rest of the floor. It went remarkably fast. It was pretty much finished by lunch time.

Manuel was a true artist with a cement spade. His strokes with tools were well worn and practiced works of art.

Besides measuring cement, I spent the other part of my day trying to get to memorize the days of the week in Spanish. He always had a hard time with Miercoles and Jueves.

At lunch, we had something that looked really hot. Cecilia came by and asked me if I wanted another ham sandwich. I thanked her very much and soon she came back with a couple of sandwiches. Though I was tired and my feet hurt, I could help but laugh.

I kept on thinking about what Warren Zevon said when David Letterman asked Zevon if he had learned anything since he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He said he really hadn't learned much, except how much you should enjoy every sandwich.

I was sitting in 90 plus degree heat, humidity so great the air was practically sweating, I was under a thatch roof, sitting with some of my best friends, eating a white bread ham sandwich with the sound of waves breaking in the background. I can't say for sure, but I am fairly positive that will be the best sandwich I will ever eat. And I know exactly how much I enjoyed it.

After lunch, the ladies went back to painting and a few of the guys did as well. We toured the house that they had been working on and it was quite amazing. It was two levels and made entirely of concrete. There wasn't enough paint so Matt, Reagan and I headed back to the Cacalote house to get cleaned up a bit. I read a little bit more of my book and Aaron tended to my sore feet.

I took a small nap and when I got up, I began to waddle back up to the base. I stopped at Ernesto's to play with his children and pick up a Pepsi. I made sure to give Ernesto's oldest daughter a 10 peso tip. She smiled this huge smile that she seems to be quite famous for and held the coin in her cupped hands like it was a lightning bug.

As I walked back to the base, I talked with Cecilia who was on her way to the base to help cook supper. Cecilia told me she was from East Tennessee and that she loved it down in Mexico, but she didn't really feel as though she will live in Mexico much longer. I told her that she had one of the best names in the world, a name that belonged to my grandmother. I also told her that she had perpetuated the stereotype in which I believe every woman named Cecilia is an excellent cook.

I said good-bye and walked towards the computer lounge to respond to a few emails. I needed to email a couple of friends back, but the computer room was locked up. (Sidenote: Monica, I was trying to email you back but I somehow deleted your email while I was down in Mexico, so email me back sometime...)

I walked over to a hammock and began to relax with a book. I read a little bit more of A River Runs Through It. I also watched a few birds in the palm trees above me. I looked up at the coconuts in the trees and was reminded of a story by dad told me about trying to harvest a couple of coconuts from a tree when he was a teenager.

After a while, I walked up to Jill and Bethany's room and found them snuggled in a hammock of their own. They were listening to an MP3 player and singing quite off tune. After listening to the unceremoniously serenading me, I decided that I needed to split.

I talked with some of the group and rested my tired feet. And after a while, I began to read aloud the last few pages of A River Runs Through It. When I stopped Kristen wanted to borrow the book and I said sure, no problem. I have three copies of the book and have lost or lent out 3 other copies. I made sure to get my book mark, my visa, out of the book before I gave it to her.

After some snacks, Reagan, Matt and I walked back to the Cacalote house. We walked with some of the students, who were making fun of Reagan's headlamp and trying to scare him. Little did they know that all they had to do was create a few shadows and they very well could.

After another long day, I took my bandages off my blisters so they could air out and went to bed.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Just Another Four Letter Man In A Jam

Last night, I came home ready to write some more about Oaxaca. But for some reason, I just couldn't. I tried. I sat down and even got a few sentences out, but it just wasn't there. I had somehow lost my muse. Not sure where exactly she went. Maybe she went out for some cigs kept on going, maybe I left her in Mexico, or maybe she just went out for some drinks with the gals, I am not sure. All I know is she was nowhere near my laptop last night.

I paced around my apartment, looking around my muse. But it was no luck. I tried to watch a little television, but it just frustrated me more and more. So I decided there was only on thing I could do to find her. I grabbed my sunglasses, turned on XM, and peeled out of the parking lot. I just began to drive around and around through the gloaming of the day. No real agenda, no real destination, no real route. I was just headed towards more blacktop trying to find my muse.

I drove around listening to a lot of great music. A little Counting Crows' Holiday in Spain, Slaid Cleaves' Oh Roberta, My Morning Jacket's Same in Any Language, Ryan Adams' Wonderwall, Radney Foster's Half of My Mistakes, and Percy Sledge's When a Man Loves a Woman. The music seemed to cut through the heat and humidity of the night and create a cool breeze. I drove around looking for a new book I have been wanting, but the gloaming kept calling me. And even though gas is 2.69 a gallon, I didn't care. I just kept on going. Until I found myself on a street I had never been on before. And when the street dead ended, I found myself at the entrance of the National Cemetery.

I walked through the markers of W.W.I veterans, people born almost a hundred years before me, with nothing but silence and an occasional break in the silence from a softball game nearby. There were lives that had been fully lived and done before I was a glint in my parents' eyes. I walked through the Pearl Harbor veterans section. I walked through the Korea and Vietnam vets too. There were people that died too young. Young men that never made it back. Now only names, only inscriptions in white limestone that glimmered in the dying light.

As I was walking back to my jeep, my eyes were focusing on all the different names. All the Theodore'ss and Arnold's, names that aren't as popular now as they used to be. As I was processing all these names, my eyes were caught by one marker in particular.

Willis (Name withheld for privacy).

He was in World War II and died in the early 90's. The inscription stated his rank and below it a few simple words: He Was Loved. On the reverse side of the marker was of his wife, Irene. It had the day she was born, the day she died, and the simple words: She Was Special.

I stood there for about 5 minutes envisioning Willis and Irene. I saw their life together flash by on that tombstone. It was strange how six little words on a tombstone told me such a story. It was like watching a movie projected on that tombstone. I could see their entire lives.

Willis so young, going off to war. He was so gung ho, so ready. He married Irene two days before he left for Europe. She knew it was probably mistake, it was too hasty, but she did it anyway. And the day Willis returned home, about a month after the Japanese had surrendered, she realized that she would have to fall in love with him again. But she stuck it out. They had kids, they bought a house, the kids grew up. Willis worked hard as an accountant at a local factory. Willis and Irene never really traveled much. Irene didn't ask Willis many questions about the war. Though she knew he had reoccurring dreams of battles and fights, she thought it best not to ask. Maybe they will go away, she thought. But they didn't. But he survived. And not long after he retired from keeping the books, he and Irene planned a nice vacation to visit relatives on the West coast. But Willis had a stroke and died a few months before they were to leave. Irene didn't know what to do. It took a while for her to figure out all the finances Willis had left her with. And at the funeral, a few old men with tears in their eyes showed up to show their support of a man that new in a battlefield 50 years before. Irene eventually realized that she could go on without her husband, just like those days after the wedding, when she didn't know Willis was coming back. Now she knew he wasn't coming back, but she also knew that she would see him soon enough. But she lived her life, and she filled those 15 years that she lived without her husband with good memories that she planned to tell him about one day.

Yeah, the story was so vivid when my muse stood there and told me of two people and the lives that I will never know. Maybe the story I found somewhere deep in that limestone is true. Maybe it all happened like that. Probably not. But I do know a few things.

I know that Willis was loved. And Irene was special.

And I found my muse in a cemetery in the gloaming between day and night.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Son Of A ..

Wednesday is the cutoff day for me to send mail back home to Owensboro and have it arrive on the weekend. I was going to send my dad a card and pick him up a present, but when Wednesday rolled around, I was incapacitated by pain and medications to knock out said pain. It is probably just as well. There is nothing I could pick out for him that he truly wants or needs. My dad and I are similar in that we are notoriously hard to shop for. A week ago, I was in the Ft. Smith Harley shop and walked around to try and find something unique for him. But it was no use. The collectibles were too cheeky (Harley Davidson Style Coffee???), and I honestly didn't know of any practical motorcycle part that I could buy him that he would want, need or even use.

But now that I think about it, another coffee cup or another gas cap just would be adequate to really thank the man that has shaped my life so much.

I have often said that I get my love of books from my mother, a very well read and respected woman, but I get my love of stories from my father. My dad tells some of the best stories. And though I have heard many of his stories, far too many times, I usually tell him that I hadn't heard them before. I usually tell him this just to listen again. To his hand gestures and his expressions. He often prefaces each of his stories by saying, "This ain't no bullshit." And the epilogue of every story usually is "As God is my witness, true story." Whether the story had to with him getting mess hall duty in the Navy, having a pet skunk, or getting pulled over by a cop and popping off to the cop a bit, the stories always bring a smile to his face as well as mine. After ever story he will just laugh, and I can see his eyes go back to a different time and a different place.

The older I get, the more I realize I am becoming more and more like him. I tell the same jokes that he tells. I laugh the same way he does. And I would say most of my stories that I tell usually have him as one of the central characters. I quote my dad a lot. I use his little sayings here and there. I cuss like my dad. Whenever I hurt myself I clench my jaw in anger and say, "sonofabitch" or "hellfire!" I talk to myself like my dad does. I ask myself questions like "Benson, why did you do that?"I shake hands like my father. I befriend people like my father. I get frustrated like my father. I get frustrated at the stupidities in life and let them frustrate me so much that I have to sit down for a second and regroup my thoughts so that I can just accept things and move on. I like making things work like my father. I love figuring things out like him. I appreciate aesthetics and well as functionality like my father.

I trust my father a lot. I think he trusts me too. He has let me in on a few of his secrets. He has told me how fast he really goes on his motorcycle instead of the speed he tells people so they don't worry. He has also told me the recipe for his famous bar-b-que sauce and sworn me to secrecy. Though, I know I am not the only people in those distinct clubs, it still means a lot to me for some reason.

I call him up a couple times a week, asking him his opinion of things. Whenever I have a problem, I try to lean on his 60 plus years of life experience. I call him up and say, "Hey old timer," and he laughs and says "Old timer my ass, I can still whip you." Usually I am having a problem that I can't find an answer to, somewhere my logic is flawed. He always points me back in the right direction, pointing towards the answer instead of giving it to me. And for that I am thankful and wish that somehow I could repay him.

It wasn't until a few weeks ago that I got a chance to reciprocate. He called me on a Thursday night and I had just ordered my Skinny Dip (it is New Belgium's summer beer and quite tasty) and sat down to enjoy my beer with my friends when he called. He had a few rough days and was trying to figure out some problems. I walked outside, underneath a beautiful rainbow next to the setting sun and talked out all the options and solutions of a problem that had give him fits the past two days at work. We talked for almost half and hour, trying to use our logic skills to find an answer. Though he was probably using me more for a sounding board for ideas, I still felt good that I could try and help him. It was one of those moments that I hope I will always remember. It is nice to try and help someone that you know you can never truly repay.

And that's why I just could buy him another coffee cup this year. I just owe him too much.