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Sweet Dreams

So, here I am…living the dream. Since I have always been sort of a hopeless, romantic, dreamer, it’s worked out pretty well.

I remember as a small child, I would lay in the stiff and crunchy straw grass at “the short cut” and stare up at the autumn clouds on a sunny October day, and I would imagine that if I could just get up there, I would have a blast bouncing from cloud to cloud. Free from gravity, free from tonsillitis, free from runny noses, free from arguing parents, free from uncertainty, free from fear. No bullies, no bullshit, no restraints. I dreamed about flying all the time. I would jump out of a plane from above the clouds, and just drop down upon them…as soft and gentle as my grandma’s hug. The clouds were landing spots, and launching pads; it was real, and possible… and it was just a matter of time.

And then, in fifth grade, back when they taught you stuff instead of how to take tests, we had science as part of our curriculum. And when you took science class in fifth grade, they loaned you a text book, AND…in this particular Houghton Mifflin text book, there was a chapter on weather… and THAT fucked everything up.

Turns out cumulus clouds are not spongy, springy cotton balls, basically they’re just water. If you tried to jump on one, you would fall through it, crashing to the earth. Then you would land on the sidewalk or the street (because back then the world was made mostly of sidewalks and streets) and you would break an arm or a leg. So then, you would still have tonsillitis, a runny nose, bickering parents…bullies & bullshit, but you would have to add whatever broken bones you acquired from the fall to that inventory of earthly misery. I probably should have deduced all that when I saw planes fly through the clouds.

So that sucked…

The lesson here is that a good education is a spoiler of dreams.

However, it’s still a sweet memory, and it was a sweet dream. A little boy imagining a trampoline world up in the clouds…free and peaceful, special and safe. Nothing wrong with that.

Later, I dreamed of being an athlete. Mostly a pro football player, but I could have been a baseball player, a swimmer, or a track star. Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Carlos Palomino made me want to be a fighter. Bruce Lee and David Carradine made me want to be a martial arts master, but a Robin Hood type; a protector of the innocent and downtrodden. (And the cute!!)

I kicked a LOT of imaginary asses at first. After I became a more skilled imaginary ass kicker, I daydreamed of taking on real life bullies. I usually kicked those thug asses while protecting some of the girls who were my seventh and eighth grade crushes. These were very James Thurber, ‘Walter Mitty’, type daydreams.

Imagine, if you will…

Laurie, the seventh grade captain of the cheerleaders, and prettiest girl in the school, is walking down the hall, making eye contact with me from twenty lockers away, and smilingat ME.

So with a cool twitch of my head, I shift my poorly trimmed hair out of my eyes, and I walk towards her. (We’re moving in slow motion, because that’s how daydreams work, this allows the joy to last a full, one third, longer…this is always true. You can Google it.) As we get closer to each other, it seems like it’s a foregone conclusion that she’s going to ask me to walk home with her. Of course I will, and I’ll carry her books for her. Maybe she’ll ask me go to the Sadie Hawkins dance, and if we go to the dance, maybe I can kiss her goodnight. I would kiss her so gently and sweet, right on the mouth…and she will taste of Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill wine, and everlasting love.

But Oh No! Just as we are mere inches away from each other (and everlasting love) Rick Bluto steps in front of her and asks her if she wants some of his Big Buddy bubble gum. He’s very suggestive and ungentlemanly in his offer. He startles her, and scares her, and I see the pleading in her eyes…asking me for help. But Bluto is much larger than me, and he’s strong, and hairy…and in seventh grade you avoid confrontation with hairy guys at all costs. So I turn and start to walk away in shame. But as I look over my shoulder I see that he’s grabbing her arm to try to hold her hand, and I can stand no more. So I walk back – with the determination of a grown man in love. And even though I’ve never had any “formal” training, I’ve watched enough ‘Kung Fu’ episodes to have a basic understanding of martial arts, and I bust Rick Bluto’s large and hairy ass for him. Of course, it was for Laurie too, and for me, and for everyone else in America. The kids all gather around and start chanting “Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!” It’s practically over before it starts, because I’m so quick, noble… and martially gifted. 

I win the confrontation, and the girl. Rick Bluto learns a lesson, and starts getting better grades, and stops picking on all of us, and becomes a congressman. Laurie and I get married and have a couple of kids. And teachers, school administrators, and everyone in our community agrees that THIS seventh grade class was probably the best ever. Everybody wins.

No shit. I really dreamed like that, all the time. I even wanted to start my own street gang, but we were going to be a nice and noble gang – good Samaritans – we would defend women and children with “…the fiery passion of a thousand suns”. We were going to get denim vests with sewn on patches. We would be called “Feminine Protection”, and the mean streets of Woodbridge VA and Washington DC would be safe to walk again – any hour of the day! That was my dream.

One day, in the summer of ’72, I shared my dream with my mother. I asked her if she would buy me a Levi’s denim jacket, help me cut off the sleeves, and find a way to embroider “Feminine Protection” on the back.

So being the amazing mother she was, she explained some things to me. “Oh”, I said in response to another science lesson. After the trauma of the lesson on feminine protection,  I couldn’t come up with another catchy name for my noble gang, so just like the clouds, another dream was dashed.

I had a rough childhood, full of disappointment and failed dreams.

But eventually, I started to put those childish dreams away. When it became clear that I was not going to be the president of the local chapter of a noble street gang, or the next Lynn Swan, Muhammad Ali, or even Kwai Chang Caine, I started imagining a different future, one more reflective of who and what I really am.

When I figured out that I was just The Large Man, nothing more, but certainly nothing less, dreams changed to aspirations. When I realized that other than being a decent kisser, and having a knack for picking the perfect “next song” at parties, I had no special powers or talent. I was an average guy, and I began to dream average guy dreams.

Or did I?

Maybe…just MAYBE, those average guy dreams are actually bigger…and better.

I wanted a wife, and I thought it would be awesome if she were pretty, and she liked me. I wanted a couple of kids that I didn’t have to spend a lot of time in court with. I wanted a Large dog that came to me when I said, “Here boy!”. I dreamed of living in a house in a safe neighborhood, and driving a car that I didn’t hate that would get me back and forth to a job that I also didn’t hate. That was it. Well, I guess I’ve always wanted a decent stereo too.

Wife, kids, dog, house…stereo. Less dramatic than bouncing on clouds and protecting cheerleaders from bullies, but in reality, just as ambitious.

A good and simple life is hard to come by. The stars need to line up for 2 completely different humans who want pretty much the exact same things. Finding a partner who loves you, and who will love you forever is just about  as difficult as bouncing on clouds. A lot of times people think they love each other, because of all those beginning fireworks, but when the smoke clears and the ash settles, they find out that being in love, and staying in love, is much harder than falling in love. Take my word for this…I have some experience. Some dreams end a lot worse than finding out clouds are really just water.

Funny how it worked for me though. It seems like when my hopes and dreams became a little smaller, and a little less spectacular, my realities became much bigger, richer, and sweeter than I ever imagined. As a young man, I absolutely DID dream of this life, I just never dreamed that it would be this sweet.

Wife, kids, dog, house…simple when you write it out like that, but when you add them together, and take a good look at that simple, sweet dream, it’s really quite something.

Sweet dreams & Big love to you. Thanks for reading.

TLM

Disgruntled

Do you guys watch TV? Do you ever watch the news channels? Sports channels? Presidential debates? Do you ever listen to news radio? Do any of you dear and treasured readers of The Large Man Chronicles have a Facebook account? And do you follow the thread on at least a semi-regular basis?

Does it sometimes seem like everybody in the world is pissed off about something?

It does to me, and I’m becoming a bit concerned.

One of my favorite things in the world is the NFL championship game. (I ain’t allowed to use the “S” word because of copyright protection. If this Large Man tale is ever published by an entity with intentions of profit, I would have to pay a fee for using the “S” word. Paying fees is not “super”.) As I watched this year’s install of America’s greatest entertainment event, I truly enjoyed the Denver defense’s dismantling of the Carolina Panthers team. I also took great pleasure in watching one of the game’s all-time great players (and pitchmen) win his last game, and walk away as a champion.

But as much as I loved it all, as much as I scheduled my Sunday around the event…as much as I bask in the passion of the event; it’s never lost on me that is a game. It’s a game!

It’s a game played by young men. Young human men. Young human men who have been coddled and handled most of their lives. (Also very much abused in my opinion – story for another day)

I’m not the only person who watches that big game, (I don’t pay a fee for “big game”, but the NFL tried to copyright that too) but it feels like I’m the only person in America who wasn’t disgruntled over some aspect of the game when it was all over.

White people are mad about Beyonce. Deaf people are mad about Marlee Matlin’s limited TV screen time. Peyton fans are mad that Eli didn’t show enough emotion. Black people are mad because white people don’t love Cam.

 

Now I’m mad…because it’s a football game. That’s all it is. People get worked up over the stupidest, silliest, shit. I’m heartbroken that my kids are growing up in a world so full of contempt. Contempt for difference, and contempt for tradition. Contempt for expressions of joy, and even contempt for expressions of grace and humility.

I DON’T LIKE CAM! But I don’t dislike him because he’s black and if he stays healthy he will most likely break ALL the records of my beloved white quarterbacks*. Even though that kind of sucks…I want my heroes (sports heroes) to be heroes forever. But that’s just about impossible.

*I don’t love them because they’re white.

I do not dislike Cam because he’s a joyous and talented and strong and INTELLIGENT, proud African American man, I don’t like him because he went to Auburn, and I’m a ‘Bama fan. Do I wish he handled his post-game presser a little better? Maybe. The guidance I might offer the young man is that if you are going to perform the histrionics after every first down, a little humility after you got your ass kicked would be appreciated by the rest of the world. But that’s my way…that’s what I would teach my children. Doesn’t have to be Cam’s. Cam Newton is not the first athlete to act like an asshole after a game – win or lose. Bill Belichick does it every week.

Why the anger? Why the hate? It’s a game. I don’t understand how a reasonable person would give a flying —-!

I don’t have a problem with Beyoncé’s halftime show, but guess I understand how some people might. However…controversial social expression only hurts you if you let it. And, black or white, you’re an idiot if you let it.

I do have a problem with her music, but only because it sucks. It’s barely even hers. If she didn’t have a pretty face, a nice ass, and a choreographer, we wouldn’t know who she is. You may feel differently…I come from a time when people could stand alone and make your heart soar, and ache, and dance, with just their voice and a piano. Her lyrics lack depth, her melodies are unimaginative, her voice lacks style and clarity…and her message sucks. Give me Aretha, Brenda Russell or Billie Holiday, any day…and twice on Sunday.

But that being said, it may be that she is simply not my cup of tea. I’m a 56 year old white male. Her voice is not the voice I hear when I crave inspiration, or a slow dance with pretty girl. But based on her record sales, my position on the matter is quite different than people much younger than me. She seems to reach them. Guess what…that’s ok too. It makes me a little melancholy when I think of an R & B artist who has no soul (in the way I define & recognize “soul”), but society will not prosper or face its demise based on Beyoncé’s success…or her halftime show. I’m bigger and stronger…Larger than controversial messages. I’m teaching my kids to be that way too. In Casa de Grande Hombre, we’re not counting on Cam and Beyonce to be lighthouse beacons for ships that carry our eternal souls, so it’s kinda hard for them to disappoint us.

The media, Twitter, and my Facebook page burned with hatred and disgust for 3 weeks after the game. I had a friend starting chemo, maybe that’s why I didn’t place a lot of importance on a pouting primadonna, and an over-hyped line dancer. I thought this was one of the best championship games I’ve ever watched. I totally enjoyed the halftime show too. The colors, the singing, the dancing, were spectacular. I would have preferred the Stones, Springsteen, or Tom Petty, but I’m really old.

And I think Coldplay sucks too.

The people who say they represent deaf people were off the reservation pissed about the sign language interpretation of the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ not being broadcast in its entirety on TV. It was shown on the big screen for the duration of the song for the people in the stadium. But that’s not enough.

It’s never enough.

There was a military fly by with F-16 jets, so now there is an entire contingent FA-18 pilots and navigators who are suing the NFL for their exclusion. Civilian Lear jet pilots heard about the FA-18 movement, so they’re getting in on it too.

Several Peyton Manning fans brought it to the attention of the media that Eli was less than excited when it looked like Peyton had clinched the game with a beautiful pass for a 2 point conversion. So now, Peyton’s father, Archie Manning, has grounded Eli until next season, telling him if he can’t support his older brother he doesn’t need to go out and socialize with others.

I don’t know where it’s going to end, but I ain’t playin’.

Big Love,

The Large Man

Alarm Clocks

Welcome back boys & girls. From the bottom of my artistic, sarcastic, grammatically & politically incorrect heart, I want to apologize for my absence. My daytime revenue generation duties have occupied almost all of the bandwidth in my head for the last few months. When the left side of my brain is the dominant player, there’s very little space for sensitivity, humor and hijinks. I truly hope that someday I’ll figure out how to create a world of balance. For whatever it’s worth, if you are someone who misses the Large Man when he is away, please know that I miss him too. Only 2 things give me more pleasure than opening up a blank Word doc and typing out, The Large Man Chronicles.

Today’s story isn’t really a story, it’s a lament. I’m channeling a little bit of Seinfeld here:

“So what’s the deal with alarm clocks? Do they really suck, or what?”

Yes, Jerry, they really suck.

They suck like ticks on a huntin’ dawg, like distant cousins on a family trust, like leeches on a nut sack. (See Stand By Me)

I’m lucky that I usually don’t need an alarm clock. Most of my life I’ve had an internal rooster that crows sometime between 5:30 and 6:00 AM every day. You can insert some double entendre right there next to my internal “rooster” if you want, it’s taking all my literary discipline not to get sidetracked with that.

But anyway…

For as long as I can remember, as an adult, I wake up in that time slot and make a determination if I have to stay up. I have never missed a meeting, flight, or been late to work because I’ve overslept – I’ve been absent and late for lots of other reasons, but never for oversleeping.

But when my schedule changes, or when circumstances dictate rising earlier than 6:00 am, I must employ the services of my Sony “Dream Machine” digital clock radio, or the evil alarm app on my dumb phone, or the dreaded (and less dependable) wake-up call provided by whatever Hilton or Marriott property I’m currently sleeping with. As I stated earlier, I have been navigating unusually intense and treacherous waters in my day job over these last few months. Nothing sordid, evil, or unkind, just untypical…early flights to and fro, time zone changes, etc. So…lot’s of alarm clocks.

I didn’t have an alarm clock when I was a kid, I had my mom. Initially in the wake up process, my mom was very sweet. She would come downstairs to my room, and give my shoulder a gentle nudge, “Wake up, sunshine… it’s time for school” Never harsh, never mean, and never unkind… as long as I got up with the initial nudge. If a second reveille was required, it wasn’t as sweet.

As I grew older, and took a wife, the same loving and respectful treatment was always delivered in those wee hours of the morning, “Rise and shine, Handsome…time to conquer the world! You’re going to be President some day!”

I don’t think my wife really thinks I’m going to be President, she just likes for people to start the day with a great attitude. It’s one of the things I admire about her the most. Our children hop out of her car when they start their school day believing they can…whatever “can” entails. I love that.

That’s how one should start their morning – gently, calmly, and LOVINGLY, stirred into the new day. Not mechanically, electronically, or digitally shaken into it with sterile, heartless, LOVELESS buzzers, bells, whistles and beeps.

Stirred, not shaken.

Being mechanically or electronically, or even musically awoken is an assault on one’s spirit. It’s a sin against our humanity. It is a symptom of a society that has lost its way.

Alarm clocks don’t send us out into the world with confidence and security, Moms do…loving parents & spouses and partners do. Alarm clocks hurl us into the gravity of a given day and remind us that we are not in charge of our schedule, and therefore our lives.

A little internet research on alarm clocks and their inventors led me back to the mid 1800s. A French inventor named, Antoine Redier was awarded a patent for an adjustable mechanical alarm clock in 1847. There is some argument that a guy named Levi Hutchins from New Hampshire made one in the late 1700s. The Seth Thomas Clock Company got a patent on a small bedside alarm clock in 1876. Sometime around 1940, James Reynolds & Paul Schroth invented the first clock radio with an alarm.

All those guys are dicks.

I am of the opinion if employers and educators didn’t know the public had access to these soul sucking mechanical and electronic devices, they would have started office, store, factory, and school hours a little bit later. It’s the inventors of alarm clocks that screwed it up for the rest of us.

It is a known fact that a lack of sleep is detrimental to our health. It causes bone deterioration, skin irritation, digestive disorders, nerve damage, colds, flu, obesity, heart failure, whooping cough, and all forms of venereal disease. So…one could conclude, if there were no alarm clocks, we would all reside in a healthier world.

The only time alarm clocks should be employed in our daily lives is for waking up to fish, or to watch a sunrise at the beach, or to make babies (I think I read somewhere that female ovulation is at its peak when the male “internal rooster” crows…sometime between 5:30 – 6:00 AM). Otherwise, alarm clocks should be banned.

I love the early morning. I love the still and the darkness of the pre-dawn, and then listening to the world slowly wake up and begin its dance and song of a new day. Being in that moment, being able to witness that sound and motion – that symphony, is one of my most favorite things. But I love those things on my terms. I don’t like anyone, or anything, telling me what I have to do, and when I have to do it.

ESPECIALLY … with a soul sucking mechanical or electronic device.

I have 12 to 14 more years to work. You are all invited to my retirement party. If you can’t get there due to your schedule or whatever, I’ll just describe it for you here:

1. My boss will say a few words and shake my hand
2. I will say a few words about how I couldn’t have done it without all the love and support of my wife and family, and the amazing team of co-workers who allowed me to be part of their “family”
3. I will be given a nice gold watch
4. …and a hammer

I think you know what happens next…

Thanks for reading.

TLM

Privileges

This 89th edition of The Large Man Chronicles is dedicated to all the men and women who travel to make a living.

Just to be clear

I get it. The whole traveling salesman thing must look pretty cool. I have been in every state in the lower 48, a few international spots as well. The first class upgrades, the $75 steaks, the sampling of micro-brewed beers from exotic lands like Tampa and Omaha, the year round golf, the hookers, etc. are better than spending one’s work week in a rail yard, or at a wastewater treatment plant. (I’ve worked those jobs as well) Travel and entertainment on the dime of a third party definitely has its privileges.

Here are some examples of the privileges I enjoyed just last week…

Monday

Left my house at 6:45 AM – EST. Headed from Pittsburgh to Odessa Texas, connecting in Dallas, easy check in, plane at the gate, all is good. Should be in my hotel room by 9:00 that night.

Board the plane, take aisle seat, 12B, and wait with anticipation for the beautiful and exotic Brazilian dancer who will surely have seat, 12A, right next to me. When I close my eyes I can see her dark brown skin, the color of mocha. I can see her expressive dark eyes. I can smell the shampoo in her sun streaked hair. I can imagine her accent and her broken English as she laughs at my quirky stories. As I wait for her, I feel bad for this woman who I haven’t met yet, when she discovers that I’m married, and this thing, this connection, will only last for the duration of our flight. We’ll shake hands, maybe share a quick hug, wish each other well, and our time in row 12 on flight 1481 from Pittsburgh to DFW will become nothing but a sweet memory.

Turns out, my Brazilian dancer was a Large white dude, dressed in cargo shorts, a pit stained tee shirt, bottle thick spectacles, and a frown. He looked at the seat numbers and snarled, “I have the window”.

“Of course you do.” I said, with a smile.

My smile was not returned.

This Large, white, non-Brazilian, dude, squished his gelatinous body against the fuselage of our ship, and against me…for 3 hours. I was privileged to have his company.

He was a nice enough man, for someone who wasn’t a Brazilian woman. He worked in the IT department of an energy company in Texas, and he believed the world, our Earth, was flat. He seemed irritated with me when I didn’t give him my approving, “No shit! Really? I never would have thought of that! Makes perfect sense!”

I politely smiled, and nodded. While I didn’t exactly nurture his irrational theories on the shape of our planet, I didn’t make any attempt to counter point his ridiculous reasoning either. I was nice.  I actively listened when all I wanted to do was sleep or read…or punch him in the pie hole so he would shut the fuck up.

At 2:30 in the PM CST, we land. As we approach our gate, the captain spoke into the PA system with an extremely stern, south Boston accent, asking us to remain in our seats and “remain calm” until we are instructed to leave the plane.

Remain calm?

When we stopped at the gate, a few of the people in first class unbuckled, and stood up, (as those people are prone to do, because the rules don’t apply to them) only to be immediately told by the flight attendants (and harshly so) to stay seated . I’m wondering, What’s up?

THEN…2 uniformed, and armed, marshals, board the plane, and with hardened, “not fucking around here” looks on their faces, made their way to the back. I couldn’t see much, but I heard harsh words being exchanged loudly. After a few tense moments, thankfully, 2 people were peacefully removed from the aircraft.

I don’t know if many of you Large Man readers are following the news lately, but adult confrontations in public are a bit discomforting these days. It’s not like a fight over a girl between 2 teenage boys in the high school cafeteria. No one in the back of the plane started the chant, “FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT”. Other than the confrontational voices, and the sound of my heart pounding its way out of my chest, it was dead quiet.

It was a scary thing to witness. But the good news was that it helped take my mind off of the 400 lb. IT guy sitting next to me trying to convince me the world is flat.

I still had another flight to catch. I remember saying to myself, Thank goodness all drama is over for THIS day.

What a stupid thing to say. Even to yourself.

My flight to Midland was delayed about 4 hours. I got to my hotel room at 2:15 AM, CST, on Tuesday… which was 3:15 on my clock because I started the day in the Eastern Time zone. So, just a tad under 20 hours of travel time. You good folks can Google this if you like, but one can drive from Warren, PA to Midland TX, in 24 hours, and you can listen to a Jack Reacher novel on CD while you do it. The 400 lb. conspiracy theorists, and the heavily armed law men are only make believe in Jack Reacher novels.

Tuesday

Work to do. People to see. Hands to shake. Deals to make.

Out of bed by 6:30, rolling down I-20 by 8:00. Lubbock bound.

I love the sights, sounds, and people of Texas…there is no place like it, and each region has its own flavor, and the west Texas region may be the most distinct and charming. The day was a great day. My work day was rewarding, my activity made a difference. Privileged.

After Lubbock, I made my way to Abilene. While it was a nice day, still, I drove a few hundred miles after only a couple hours of sleep, so a beer, a steak, and a pillow were going to be welcome therapy for all the privileges I experienced over the last 40 hours. There was an Outback Steakhouse walking distance from my hotel.

The thing about Outback is that the one in Springfield, is the same as the one in Madison, and the one in Madison is the same as the one in Franklin, and so on. You get a consistent meal, properly prepared, with enthusiastic and polite service. Across the board, and across the map, it’s rarely exceptional (other than the one in Midlothian VA), and it’s never bad…except for the one in Abilene.

(Are you f-ing kidding me…)

First world problem, I know. In the interest of brevity, I’ll simply say my meal was nothing like I ordered. When this was mentioned to my server, when I was asked,”How is it?”, rather than taking her own action to fix it, she immediately called in her management team.

Three people standing at my high-top bar table, staring intently at my plate, then the one who seemed to be in charge says, “Sir, I understand we didn’t prepare the meal to your liking. Would you like me to do something about it? It looks pretty good to me, seems juicy.”

Really, does it?

(Are you F-ING KIDDING ME!)

Don’t ask me if I would like you to do something, tell me what you are going to do…or better yet. Just do it.

No big deal. Off to bed. Wednesday will be better.

Wednesday

…was better. New faces, new places, and the prospect of new revenue. Doin’ the job I love.

Back to Midland/Odessa.

If you ever find yourself in downtown Midland, give Luigi’s Italian Restaurant a try. The place is always busy, and they don’t take reservations, but it’s definitely worth the wait. If you can, invite my customers, Michael and Blaise, to join you. You’ll enjoy the experience even more. Privilege.

I walk back to my spacious and comfortable room on the 10th floor at the Double Tree, in bed by 10:30…and finally, some real R.E.M. type sleep by 11:00. Don’t even remember turning off the TV.

At about 1:30 AM (CST) I’m dreaming about flying home. In my dream, I’m sitting next to a beautiful and exotic Brazilian woman, with the sun streaked hair, mocha skin, and everything… as I caress her cheek, she playfully smiles at another one of my funny, funny, jokes, she grows fangs and her face contorts into a scowl, and she begins to scream at me at the very top of her lungs. Her howling is loud and shrill and even…almost like an alarm, and every time she screams, a light flashes inside the airplane’s cabin…almost like some kind of strobe.

It’s so startling and real, it jolts me awake. I sit up in my bed, in the spacious and comfortable hotel room, realizing that the Brazilian woman was just a dream, but her earsplitting screams continue.

“Ohhh”, I say out loud…to myself.

The loud and shrill screaming and the flashing lights from my dream were actually the hotel’s fire alarm. I make my way to the door, in only my orange and white striped Tommy John’s and my Pablo Cruise, Worlds Away, tour t-shirt. There is a recorded message on a loop blaring over the PA system: THIS IS AN EMERGENCY. IMMEDIATELY MAKE YOUR WAY TO THE NEAREST EXIT. DO NOT USE THE ELEVATOR. THIS ISN’T A DREAM. MOVE YOUR ASS, LARGE MAN.

I may have imagined some of the message, but the orator was extremely serious. I had to go.

I was about to close the door, from the wrong side, when I realized I didn’t have my room key, or pants. I regrouped, dressed, all under the calming, WHAAH, WHAAH, WHAAH, of the alarm, and the flashing strobe, and the harsh man’s voice telling me not to take the elevator. I got myself together, stepped out the door, and made my way to the stairwell.

Did I mention I was on the 10th floor? Have I ever written about all my knee surgeries? Did I tell you that even though I was in west Texas, it was in the upper 20s outside? Probably mid 30s, low 40s in the stairwell.

I was privileged to walk down 10 flights of stairs, at 1:36 in the AM, Central Standard Time, in jeans and a t-shirt.

It’s kinda funny…I remember thinking to myself:

WHAT THE FUCK! WHAT ELSE CAN GO WRONG ON THIS STUPID FUCKING TRIP? THIS SHIT DOESN’T HAPPEN TO ANYBODY ELSE! I WAS SLEEPING LIKE A BABY! I WAS GONNA GET A LITTLE SUGAH FROM THAT BRAZILIAN CHICK…IN MY DREAM, BUT STILL! … FUCK!

That’s what I was thinking, but outwardly, I remained calm. There were other people in the stairway, I didn’t want to create any more panic or fear than we were already feeling. Again, I’m not sure how much any of you are following the news these days, but emergency alerts, fire alarms, and flashing lights…not really the fun kind of exciting.

I made it to the lobby. I stepped out of the stairwell, and walked down the hallway to the cadence of the alarm and the accompanying flash of the strobe. As I stepped into the hotel’s lobby, it all stopped.

After 10 flights.

It stopped.

THEN…

The same “serious” voice said, loudly…almost as if to mock me, “ALL CLEAR, ALL CLEAR, ALL CLEAR”. Just 3 times. And that was that.

I was given the privilege of taking the elevator back. But when I got back to my spacious and comfortable room, I was too wired to go to sleep. It was about 2:00. I was privileged to have a few HBO channels…it was 4:00 before I could get back to sleep. I don’t remember what I dreamed about, but there were no Brazilian dancers.

I think you get my point.

THURSDAY

More stuff happened. Some good, some bad. I had a shitty dinner…warm beer, cold soup, award winning burger – NOT! When I asked the waiter what kind of micro-brews they had, he asked me, “What’s a micro-brew?” Like some kind of a fucking savage.

Oh, and not for nothin’…my daughter’s Christmas concert was Thursday night. Missed it. Privilege.

FRIDAY

First thing in the morning, back on a plane. As I waited for another 400 lb. white boy, with khaki shorts, and a pit stained t-shirt, my luck turned. Along came Danielle.

Danielle is a beautiful, young, New England born, business woman. When she walked up and pointed at the window seat next to me, indicating that it was her spot, I said, with a smile, “You have no idea how happy I am to see you!”

“Wow! Really? Why is that?” She replied, with a brilliant smile of her own.

I told her my story. She laughed, ’cause she could relate. Then we chatted about business travel, growing up in the east, the merits and drawbacks of west Texas, and all the different people we meet along the way. It was a pleasant, if too brief, 1 hour flight. That, actually was a privilege.

Connect in DFW, bid the lovely and charming Danielle a safe journey. Hop on the next jet airliner, “takin’ me to my home….” I land in Pittsburgh where it all seemed to start. Waiting by the turnstile for my bag…

…and waiting.

…and waiting.

…and waiting in line at the baggage office.

…and waiting.

More privileges.

Thanks for reading!!

Send me an email at thelargeman@gmail.com

Happy New Year

So to summarize; in my last tale, I shared with you the sights sounds and smells of football. The football of my youth… what it meant to me, and how I missed it. I tried to explain to you that even though my last game was 38 years ago (almost to this very day), I’m still a football player…and I will always be a football player.

That’s pretty much it.

Some people might wonder why I needed the 1,700 words in our last chapter to tell you what I just summarized in 65…try not to pay attention to those people.

Friday Night, November 6th, 2015

My hometown’s high school football team got a bonus game. I don’t know why or how, but we were able to schedule an extra game against our historical rivals, the Owls of Bradford, PA. (I know what you’re thinking: Owls? Really? What were they thinking?)

This development was especially exciting to me, because I had missed the previous 2 games due to my day job’s travel requirements. The last game I saw under those Friday night lights, was a gut wrenching, homecoming game loss, to a team that our hometown boys clearly outplayed. (It happens. They’re kids). So the opportunity to see just one more, with a chance to end it on a sweeter note was a nice and welcome bonus for The Large Man.

It was cold, as northwest Pennsylvania football games, in November, tend to be. Because it was so cold, and probably because it was a non-scheduled game, the crowd was a bit smaller than usual. Also, there was no marching band, so that made the evening chill a bit more menacing.

I love our marching band. It might be because my daughter has been marching and playing piccolo with this band since she was in 8th grade. My daughter is the greatest piccolo player in the history of Pennsylvania high school marching bands…and although they don’t officially keep these kinds of records, she’s probably the greatest piccolo player in the history of American music.

Because my wife and I have had a kid participating in Friday Night Lights for the last 4 years, attendance is not an option. Why would it be? I still get a thrill every time I see that kid march onto the field, under those sacred lights, playing with her besties, being a “geek”…in the most awesome and proud sense of that word. I only wish my Mom had been able to see it one time (in this life), she would have loved every minute, and she would have cherished every note. I would have loved to share that with her.

So anyway…back to the game. This last game…

We won. That was good.

Because this “last game”, really was the last game. The announcer took some time to introduce and honor the senior players one last time. Then at the end of the game, the underclassmen formed 2 lines for the seniors to walk through, took off their helmets, and held them high as their teammates walked off that hallowed ground for the last time. It was a moving and powerful moment.

The “moving and powerful moment” was amplified by the soundtrack being played over the PA system, (remember, no marching band tonight) the song being played was Kenny Chesney’s, ‘Boys of Fall’. Until this night, I was not familiar with the song.

If you are not familiar with the tune, take a break, go to YouTube, or some on demand music source, and acquaint yourself. It is as beautiful a tribute to this game as anything I have ever seen or heard. And the timing of its play on this night was perfect.

So as I’m taking in this touching scene, hearing this song, watching these boys; my attention was drawn to one…#60. He’s a big kid, and just a freshman. I was watching #60, and watching his body contort and twitch as he watched his mentors, his elders…his friends, assemble for that last walk. I watched his face torque up a little, and then he reached up and wiped his eyes, doing his best to hold it together as he watched his brothers walked past.

I think #60 gets it.

The story of how #60 got here is ironic for a few different reasons, mostly because it’s something I predicted 3 or 4 years ago.

Ever since #60 was old enough to understand the words being spoken to him, he has been told to be gentle, or be careful.

“Be nice, (#60), that kid is smaller than you, sweetie, you have to be gentle”.

So #60 grew up to be a very big, very careful, and very gentle kid. He followed all the rules, he did his best to be calm, kind, and gentle, in all circumstances.

When he was 4-years-old, he was the size of a 10-year-old, and his uncles, and older cousins were totally jacked with excitement when they were considering the potential damage this kid was going to do to our family’s annual Easter piñata.

“Let all the other kids go first. It’s going to be over when (#60) gets his swing”.

When #60 took his turn, he gently tapped the Easter Bunny piñata, that was it…just a kind little tap. Everyone laughed and laughed. It was a family joke for years. It just wasn’t in #60 to hit something, he was supposed to be gentle, so he was.

When #60 was in 6th grade, I had an opportunity to talk with him about what school extracurricular activities he thought he might try to participate in. He considered basketball (tallest kid in the school, cut from the team…not aggressive enough). He participated in student government, and he played rec league soccer. I asked him (with permission from his mom) if he thought he would be interested in playing football. I explained to him that his size would make him a valuable asset to a team, and that he should consider it.

He told me, “I don’t really like football. I don’t really understand it either. I don’t think I would be good at it.”

“Fair enough”, I replied. “So answer me this; we live in a small town in western Pennsylvania, football is a big deal here. It’s very possible that you could be just walking to class one day, walking down the street, you could be anywhere, and one of the middle school, or high school football coaches are going to see you, see your size, and ask you to consider playing. What are you going to say?”

He contemplated what I said, pondered my question, and answered with unwavering confidence, “I’ll just tell them ‘Thanks, but I don’t like football’, and I’ll tell them my parents won’t let me play”.

I said, “OK. I think you should be prepared for that conversation. It sounds like you’re settled and grounded. I respect your decision.”

This seemed to make #60 happy. He was rehearsed, and prepared. We discussed the possibility every fall, and he remained steadfast, “No football for me! I don’t like it, I don’t want to like it. I won’t play!”

Flash forward about a year, maybe a year and a half, #60 was on the middle school track team, throwing the Frisbee (I think in track and field, they call it “discus”) and the spear (they call that a “javelin”). He was finished with an event, walking towards the locker room, when he was stopped by a stranger.

“What’s your name, young man?” asked the personable, yet imposing figure of a man, who #60 had never met before.

“I’m Jack” replied #60 as he extended his hand. “Who are you?”

As they shook hands, the stranger said, “I’m Coach Latimer, my players call me Coach Lats. I’m the high school football coach. You’re a big kid, have you ever thought about playing football?”

And just as #60 had rehearsed over and over again whenever his Large father brought up the subject, he was about to say, “Nah, not really…football just isn’t my thing”.

He looked Coach Lats in the eye, and said, “Sure, I mean, I’ve thought about it. I think I’d like to try.”

“Well that’s great! We have a bus that takes kids from the middle school up to the high school for weight lifting. It’s a voluntary activity, and you would be welcome to join. We just need a permission slip from your one of your parents. I’d love to see you there!”

#60 was less “steadfast” when face to face with Coach Lats’ charm.

“OK. I think I’d like that. I’ll talk to my parents tonight. Thank you.”

I was out of town when this chance meeting (that I predicted, but did NOT orchestrate) went down. Later that evening, when my son (#60) called me to tell the story, he was as excited as a lottery winner. When I asked what changed his mind, he didn’t really have an answer. I held the phone in my hand, looked at it, shook my head and laughed. Kids.

Talking to his dad over a 3 year time frame: “NO…I don’t think so…just not my thing…I don’t like it”
Talking to Coach Lats over a less than 5 minute time frame: “OK!”

And so it began.

I could write a book about #60’s August. (And I just might) I didn’t know how it was going to go, I didn’t know how this kind and gentle giant was going to react the first time he got knocked on his ass. Nobody knew how he was going to work through the pain, bumps and bruises of his first full contact practices, and then 2-a day practices. He was going to have to endure all of the brutality of the sport, before he ever understood or could comprehend the beauty of the game. I have a lot of admiration for the adults who found a way to coach #60 through August of 2015. I have a lot of appreciation for a handful of older kids who encouraged and helped him. It was tough, but somehow, #60 made it.

And then…
On a muggy August evening, at the first scrimmage …

Coach Lats called his name, putting #60 in at defensive tackle. It was a rough debut, but #60 entered the fray head up, and head first…nervous, but unafraid. As a father, I will never forget that moment.

He also entered the fray to sincere and enthusiastic cheers and “whoops” from his teammates…his brothers. After getting pushed around a few plays, he came off the field and was greeted halfway by some seniors, congratulating him on his first action. When I asked #60 about it the next day, how it made him feel to have that support, he looked me right in the eye, and a single tear rolled down his cheek, “You have no idea, Dad. It’s hard to explain. It’s like I’m the biggest person in the room almost everywhere I go, but I always kinda feel invisible. But now, I don’t know…I feel different. I feel like I belong. You don’t know what that feels like.”

Well…yeah, son, I do. I know exactly what that feels like.

I didn’t tell him that, I just let it be his. It’s his time now, and believe me, he has earned it. I didn’t think #60 would make it through August. That’s an accomplishment I will always respect. Not everyone gets to be a football player, but #60 does. This second half belongs to him, and his piccolo playing big sister.

I don’t know if #60 is going to be a good football player, or a great football player, or just a football player. Time will tell, and it’s his own journey.

Here is what I do know: You need 3 things to be a great football player. You need talent. God provides most of that…you can certainly develop it, but to be great, some Divine assistance is usually necessary. You also need a little starch … a bit of a mean streak. It’s not a game for the “gentle” or the “careful”. But above all, you need passion. You need passion for the game, passion for your teammates, and passion for the moments they create. You need to play this game with passion. Without passion, it’s just a sport.

We’ll see if #60 can uncover and develop those first two, but he has the passion. #60 showed it as he honored his senior teammates, as he struggled to contain that emotion on their last night, his last night with them, and his first night truly understanding that he’s a “Boy of Fall”, a football player… and he will be for the rest of his life.

So here we are…it’s the second half, and I’m back on the bench. This time, it’s the best seat in the house.

Thanks for reading.
TLM

Well it’s, turn and face the stars and stripes
It’s fightin’ back them butterflies
It’s call it in the air alright yes sir we want the ball
And it’s knockin’ heads and talkin’ trash
It’s slingin’ mud and dirt and grass
It’s I got your number, I got your back
When your back’s against the wall
You mess with one man, you got us all
The boys of fall

‘The Boys of Fall’
Written by Casey Beathard and Dave Turnbull
Recorded and Performed by Kenny Chesney

Its (not) Just a Game

The high school football season is over in my home town. No Friday night lights for a while…and I’m a little bummed. Would you like to know why?

OK…

Thirty-eight years ago, I played in my last high school football game. Well, I didn’t actually play in the game, but I was dressed and on the sidelines, and I would have competed beside my teammates had I been called. That game was a state championship game. We lost a heart breaker, 12 – 7 to the crimson clad Crabbers of Hampton High School in Virginia. I was a boy of fall, and even though my active gridiron journey ended on that chilly December afternoon in 1977, I am still a football player, and I will be for the rest of my life.

Every time I smell fresh cut grass on a muggy August day, I am reminded of who and what I am. I can close my eyes, and I’m walking across that hard as rock practice field, the parched, sun ravaged grass crackles under my cleats. I’m holding my helmet by the facemask and bouncing it off my thigh pad, and I’m on my way to that grueling afternoon practice.

I remember how hopeful we would be if there was even a chance of rain in the forecast. Just the thought of rain’s relief in late August or early September during a practice would fill your heart with hope, and hope can get you through just about anything.

And, oh my… when you saw those clouds forming in the western sky, and you smelled that moisture on the breeze, you somehow found a way to make your tired legs move a little quicker. When those clouds delivered on their promise, and you heard the first notes of that tic, tic, tic, song of raindrops on the top of your helmet, it was like being born again. You pushed a little harder, you ran a little faster, and those shoulder pads popped a little louder. The dust washed away, the heat took a break, and you loved being there.

Later, in those early days of November, there would be the sound of fallen leaves as they rattled and skittered their way across the field, that sound let you know it would all be ending soon. By then, the brown leaves were pretty much the only vegetation left on our practice field; that dry and crackling grass we trudged across in August had given up sometime in October. No matter what color the uniforms are on the field, the game of football is a game that turns gradually from vibrant green to autumn brown. This happens every year, it’s just part of the deal. It’s a beautiful, and a sad transition.

The sights and the sounds and the smells of practice were taken for granted back then, mostly because the joy, pain, and privilege, of being a ball player were all beyond my scope of understanding. I was just a boy, trying to play a sport. Sometimes, I think I just played because I thought I was supposed to. The best way to describe how I felt about the sport back then, was that I both loved, and hated it. Now I only miss it. I miss the game.

I miss it most when the leaves start to turn, or when I see a young girl in a cheerleader’s uniform, or when I smell an outdoor fire. These things are the language of fall, and fall is football.

*****

Every autumn I play in my high school’s annual graduate golf tournament. About 150 classmates get together each year to play a little golf, raise a little money for charity, have a few drinks, and tell a few tales. Obviously, the “tales” are my favorite part.

This year, the foursome playing behind me had 2 guys in their group who played ball with me “back in the day”. My buddy, Chris, was one of the guys.

Chris has a memory about the two of us, and he just loves to share it whenever the two of us are together…and he can gather an audience.

Here’s the condensed, less profanity laced version:

“OK, so we’re a week or two away from the start of the season, and (The Large Man) is pretty much stinking up the joint, and he’s running out of opportunity to be a regular player. The dream of being a starter is LONG gone. He’s slow, he’s nicked up, he’s a senior, and he’s getting desperate.

We’re doing 1 on 1 drills, and as he comes up to the line, the head coach starts strolling our way. Large Man is playing Z, (wide receiver) and I’m playing strong safety. The dude has the nerve to say, “Let me catch this, Chris. Coach is watching, and I need to look good.”

What am I supposed do? Large Man’s been good to me, he’s cool, so I’m willing to help him out.”

Chris is a spark plug. I would bet that Chris pays nothing for his electric bills, he’s his own independent source of energy. Chris is still involved in the game as a high school coach, (a recent state champion coach) and with his intensity and energy to draw upon, I would imagine he’s one of the best out there.

He owns these piercing blue eyes that are so full of life, I think if you look at him directly in his eyes you might turn into a unicorn, or a flying monkey, or a…stone. In a good way, he seems to spend most of his life with a “shit eating grin” on his face…you know the grin I’m talking about. He sports the grin of a dude who is just happy to be wherever he happens to be.

But as he continues his favorite “Large Man” story he struggles to contain the laughter that’s percolating behind that grin.

Chris continues:

“So we line up, he’s gonna run a little curl pattern. I know what’s coming, I give him a wink to let him know we’re cool. They snap the ball, he runs a clean pattern and I stay off him – just a touch…made it look like he juked me. I come scrambling back to him as Dahl (the quarterback) hits him, right as he makes his turn. A perfect strike! Chest high, ball right in his hands…we gave him a Christmas present, and it’s not even Halloween yet…

…and the asshole drops it.”

Chris is laughing as he speaks now.

“Before I even touch him…LAY A FINGER ON HIM, the asshole drops it!

The ball goes through his hands, hits his chest and facemask, back through his hands, and lands harmlessly on the ground. Well, not harmlessly, because the head coach just walks away shaking his head, and both of our position coaches are chewing our asses. Me for “…letting his slow ass as beat you!” Large Man for dropping the ball. He goes back to the huddle, Dahl slaps him on the side of his helmet, and doesn’t throw him a ball for the rest of practice…probably for the rest of that year.

Hey Large Man! Is that true or is it not? You remember that? You pass droppin’ mother f%$#&r!”

Yes. It’s true. I remember the moment well. Not with the same affinity I remember the cheerleaders, the smell of the rain and the grass, and the bouncing of the helmet off of my thigh pad and all…but I remember.

I am the Chronicler of Large Man history, but I can’t tell that story any better than Chris tells it. And even in my shame, it’s a great memory. That’s the thing about football, sometimes even the bad stuff is good.

God gave me 2 perfect knees. Football took them from me. My back hurts, my shoulders ache every day. My pride is bludgeoned every time I get together with any of my old teammates. But it’s OK.

My lifelong best friend, DJ, who was an all-star teammate (cornerback), and maybe as great an athlete as I have ever known, will tell anyone who will listen that I was “impossible to cover”. He has told me that I probably should have played more, because none of the teams we played against had athletes slow enough to cover me.

It’s not a compliment.

And yet, I would not trade this pain or that humiliation for anything. If I had it to do all over again, I would. Even if I played less. It sucked to sit on the bench as a senior, knowing that it was all coming to an end. I wish I had some stories about my game winning touchdown catches, and how my team carried me off the field in glory…with confetti falling all around me, but I don’t. I had some moments, but they’re significant only to me, and that’s okay. To me, they are as important as my job, my house, and even the people I love. They are bullet points on my human resume. They are part of the mortar that holds together the building blocks of who I am. I’m a husband, a father, a friend, a salesman. And I’m better at all of those things because I’m a football player.

I guess I’m a pass droppin’ mother f#%&*r too, but there’s no sense in belaboring that point. I choose to leave that bullet point off of my “human resume”.

My buddy Chris can tell that story over and over again, DJ can make us all laugh about my less than fleet feet, and while it may be humor shared at my expense, it’s something we went through together. The kinship that is formed between men and boys who participate in the game creates a bond that is rarely broken. It’s like a souvenir. It’s not something you can hold in your hand, like a silver dollar given to you by your grandfather, but it’s like that.

These memories are emotional keepsakes, and at least for me, they make my knees and shoulders hurt a little bit less. These memories are a like spiritual Bengay. That alone makes it worth it. That’s why it’s not “just a game”.

The game has taken a bit of a turn for me this year, but that’s a story for the sequel. Please stay tuned for, The Second Half – coming soon to a computer screen near YOU!

The Large Man Chronicles had a technical issue a few weeks ago, and we lost ALL of our Gmail contacts. ALL OF THEM! If you like receiving the Gmail alerts and links, please send me a note at thelargeman@gmail.com and we will add your email info to the distribution list.

Thanks for reading… Happy Thanksgiving…God Bless…

Big Love,
TLM

Sometimes it’s OK to get emotional about things that make no sense. Every now and then you need to allow yourself, and the people you care about, to be irrational. My children will be angry about this opening line, because my general modus operandi with them has been, “I don’t nurture irrational behavior.” However, that specific M.O. was a teaching strategy, so as not to raise self-centered, self-absorbed, psychopathic, participation trophy gathering, divas. (I think it may have worked, we’ll see. Those two books are still being written.)

But when dealing with a loved one, a friend, or anyone for that matter…it’s critical to have an understanding that while you may think Chevy Van is the cheesiest, stupidest, pop song of all time, they may have lost their innocence in an actual Chevy van, and that song may evoke a beautiful memory, and that memory may bring a tear. Offer a hug, and let it be…it costs you nothing.

Always open doors for people. Men for women, women for men, men for men, anybody for everybody. It’s just nice, and in a world where hateful and crazy people get all the press, this little act of courtesy and kindness sends a subtle message out to the universe that most of us are good and kind. Acts of kindness and grace are the best way to teach kindness and grace. And when you’ve held the door for several people, and someone grabs the door, and tells you to, “Go ahead…” allow them their opportunity to be kind as well.

Never make a scene at a wedding…especially if it’s not your wedding. Don’t argue with your spouse, date, or table mates. Don’t get drunk and loud and stupid (well…stupid anyway). The bride has been dreaming of this day since she was old enough to dream, and the parents of the couple have just spent a TON of cash, don’t be the reason things weren’t awesome. I just went to 2 weddings that were amazing. Now I want them all to be amazing. If I have to explain this any further, please cancel your subscription to The Large Man Chronicles.

Sometimes commercials are better than the shows they are sponsoring. Insurance commercials seem to have replaced beer commercials for entertainment value. Flo, the Gecko, Mayhem, the Farmer’s guy…each character seems better than the next in that trade.
BUT, there is at least one exception: Dos Equis’, World’s Most Interesting Man. That spot is the best. Everything I’ve ever written (and ever will write) is completely subjective – except for my opinion on the World’s Most Interesting Man. You could make a movie out of that character.

Always lean towards forgiveness. The weight of a grudge is most certainly heavier for the one who carries it.

Never give me frozen yogurt as a substitute for ice cream.

Sometimes it’s okay to stay put.

Always kiss with your eyes closed.

Never kiss with your eyes open.

Sometimes people you love will disappoint you and let you down. You can still love them. But don’t let that love bring you down too. This is a tough one.

Always remember that rules and statistics and facts and figures about people are based on the average, but no individual whom you interact with is “average”. Don’t use a cookie cutter approach when dealing with people – we’re all unique, like snowflakes. Every boss, every teacher, every coach, every doctor, and every mentor, needs to have that sentence coded into their DNA, or at least have it printed on all their letterhead. (After paying the appropriate royalty fees to me, of course)

Never doubt the positive effects of charity. Be as charitable as you can be, and then do a little more. But don’t put all of your hope there. Charity treats the symptoms, it rarely cures the disease. I’m not sure why that is. If you have an example to the contrary, please share it with me. I would love that. But still, don’t give till it hurts, give till it feels good.

Sometimes I want to pinch myself when I consider all the awesome and amazing women I have around me. I would like to pinch them too, but I don’t objectify women – because my daughter says I shouldn’t. I really like the ladies though, probably because I grew up with, and in close proximity to, really strong, smart, and pretty, women and girls. Lucky me.

Always trust your gut. Unless you have a history of making really bad decisions. Then don’t. If you have a history of bad decisions, seek the council of someone who loves you, cares about you, or has nothing to gain by seeing you fail. Don’t seek the council of people who don’t have your best interests at heart. AND PLEASE … don’t pretend you don’t know the difference. You know.

Never give up on yourself. That’s like the worst thing you can do.

Sometimes I hit the repeat button, if a repeat button is available, when I’m listening to Stairway to Heaven.

Always listen to Stairway to Heaven when it comes on the radio.

Never change the station when Stairway comes on.

Sometimes …by Brittany Spears, may be the dumbest song of all time.

Always …is a great song by Stevie Wonder from Songs in the Key of Life.

Never…is a pretty crappy song by Heart. I’m not sure what album it’s on.

Sometimes the grass actually is greener on the other side. Just like a pretty girl, a toasty autumn campfire, and a roaring waterfall, an opportunity is usually worth taking a look at.

Always avoid ending a sentence with a preposition, like I just did with the previous point.

Never let arbitrary grammatical rules get in the way of making an important point.

Sometimes it’s OK to quit. Sometimes; but please apply common sense here… pretty please.

It’s always good to quit doing harmful things to yourself, like smoking, or drinking, or playing the banjo. It’s never good to quit learning, or growing emotionally and spiritually, or to quit playing the guitar.

All I’m saying is that sometimes…when you’ve exhausted every option, and your endeavor is only causing pain, maybe it’s okay to walk away. If your job pays you a buttload of money, but you wake up every morning and then go home every evening hating every minute of every hour in between; stop doing it…quit. If any relationship is unhealthy, has been unhealthy, and has no hope of ever being healthy; stop.

Sometimes we force ourselves to stay put and stick it out in bad situations for reasons we can’t even identify. We do it for a sense of duty, or an allegiance to a standard of living that we don’t even understand, probably put there by someone we don’t even know. Adhering to a code of behavior that serves no purpose to you or your loved ones…well…it serves no purpose.

Wanna know why? Okayhere’s why:

If we’re lucky, we’ll live about 90 years. Also, if we’re lucky, we’ll need to spend one third of that time sleeping. You gotta sleep, and 8 hours of sleep a day is good for us. Most of us will spend one third of those 90 years working, and even the very best jobs in the world are still work. So that just leaves one third of your life to do fun things…to eat steaks, to build campfires, to go skiing, to love your wife or your girlfriend or your boyfriend or your neighbor, or your neighbor’s wife or girlfriend or boyfriend. You only get 1/3 of your life to make homemade ice cream, to watch James Bond movies, or all these new Marvel Avenger flicks…to see the Rocky Mountains or the Grand Canyon, or Wicked on Broadway, or Clint Black in Warren PA, or Earth Wind & Fire at Red Rocks…to cuddle with babies or puppies…or to watch baseball. Only 33.3 % of your life can be spent playing hide-and-go-seek, or ding-dong ditch (ringing doorbells and running away), or building model cars or airplanes.

You only get one third of this life to just sit and stare at the ocean. ONE THIRD! Shrimpin’ boat captains get more ocean time, but you know what I’m saying.

If you are lucky enough to live to be 90, after sleeping and working, you only get 30 years for fun. Sometimes, it’s OK to quit things that aren’t fun…sometimes we should dare to be happy.

Always share The Large Man Chronicles on as many social media outlets that will support the format. Facebook is a good one. If you want to tell me how much you love it, post it on Facebook. If you want to tell me how much it sucks, send me an email at thelargeman@gmail.com …. Nah…I’m just kidding, you can say it sucks on Facebook too. I enjoy having my soul crushed in a public forum.

Never get in a car driven by someone you don’t know if they have tattoos on their face, or drink milk more than a week past its expiration date, or ask a woman if she’s pregnant, or fight with your mother, or go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line, or think that I don’t appreciate your attention to these Chronicles I love to write.

I think that’s it…
Big Love,
TLM