Hallmark Movie Leading Man 

Hi. I’m a Hallmark movie leading man.

I’ll pause for a moment so you can take me in while I...pretend to...remember my lines…(picture a soft chuckle emanating from my non-threatening, JCPenny model-like grin).
You may remember me from such features as: An Angel for Christmas, An Angel for Valentine’s Day, and my most notable autumn role: Spooked By An Angel.
I’m writing this note (using the calligraphy pen you surprised me with on the anniversary of my crushing divorce to a terrible, mean and overall not-right-for-me woman) to finally reveal the truth regarding the contents of my fragile, yet steadfast heart.
Far be it from me to wear my heart on my sleeve--but dang it all--I’m in love with you in the awesomest, awesome way. I realize it may be a long stretch that you, an ad executive from (insert big city here) who returned to her small hometown to reclaim her roots by way of a recently deceased and beloved family member’s bakery/flower shop/chest nut farm, and me, a handsome vessel with slight smears of stage makeup giving the effect of baby jaundice, would ever end up together. But life’s crazy sometimes--like the time we spontaneously square danced at the Pumpkin and Grits Fall Festival in the downtown Comfortville community events barn. You took old man Johnson’s hand and he reluctantly—but spryly--jumped up and boogied like a jovial mosquito, bringing a punkin’ spice filled tear to all our awkward blue eyes.
Ah, Mr. Johnson. Abe. The man who vowed NEVER to dance after his wife’s passing following a courageous battle with all of the top five worst diseases in America.  You always believed underneath his gruff exterior lived a cuddle bug as sweet as Fanny Getrude’s freshly picked peaches. And you would know that sweetness since you spent your summers running through her orchard playing freeze tag with your gal pals, ending the day with a tall glass of Ms. Getrude’s secret recipe iced tea and stories of her rambunctious days as a youth during the Great Depression. It taught you so much about life and treasuring precious moments...figurines. She also turned you on to the beauty of Thomas Kinkade paintings. What talent!
Ah! Oh, look at me, reminiscing. If I have one fault--which is doubtful--it’s that I get wrapped up in cheesy nostalgia. What can I say, I’m a softy and my heart is easily warmed.
Back to you.
We’ve spent so many afternoons strolling down the quaint downtown sidewalks, wearing parkas and metro-sexual wool scarves--which probably went out of style the previous year but are still available at Wal-Mart (Dean Cain clothing line). We fake drank out of our paper coffee cups from the Jitter Bug. Man, I love that place. The manager, Skipler, a non-threatening asexual figure always has an off-color joke to share and all too often seems to be the thread that holds our community events together (Pacing for Pups 5K, Jumping for Juvies Jumprope Marathon, and many more).
Wait...back to you.
You like go karts, right? 
Man I wish we were knee deep in a situational romance involving mechanically produced snow! We would totes have an epic snowball battle with some random youths passing by. They would love it! Then, once we finished our chilly battle, they would politely leave the area so we could collapse onto a park bench—stage giggling—while you attempted to remember the last time you had an opportunity like this, to truly be free to act like a child again. Sigh.
So, you know my feelings.

You know my heart.

I’ve splayed my emotional landscape before you.

This love is never ending--though I’ll probably have a change of heart should you be preparing to board a late night flight back to the big city. But as soon as you changed your mind upon hearing a story from a forgotten B movie actor dressed as a hobo in the airport lounge, hitched a ride back into town, I’d be waiting right behind you in the church as you prayed for one...last...Christmas miracle:
*Roll credits (which will quickly minimize to the corner of the screen as Candice Fuller Bergen Johannsen Bure graces the screen to tell us about 43 NEW Holiday specials to come in the next few weeks.

Me and...JT 

Tonight, I opened for James Taylor.

Well, I played in the lounge located behind the stage, but all that separated our two concerts was a curtain. Close enough for me.

I played to a packed room and happy attendees, singing along and drinking Stella Artois. I played for an hour and a half. As my last song ended, I heard and saw the crowd rise to greet Mr. Taylor.

Sometimes being an independent musician sucks and it’s hard work. People ignore you and you don’t make enough money to do it while supporting your family. It can be frustrating.

Seeing James as he started right in (with Steve Gadd on drums btw) with “Carolina On My Mind” somehow made realize how amazing and heartbreaking playing music can be.

Tonight, I’m positive. Tonight is happy. The long drives, late nights, sore throats, irrational drunk people are worth it.

Good things are on the horizon.

Life Is Sweet and Simple 

One of my mom’s primary contributions to our Thanksgiving meal for the extended family was sweet potato casserole. You know the kind: yams that when coated with a fine layer of brown sugar, cinnamon and marshmallows, become ‘candied’ and basically taste like candy. She had a gift for making this simple dish something from another culinary world. There were always Thanksgiving leftovers, but the heirloom dish she used to make her casserole was always scraped dry by ravenous spoons--and maybe a finger or two.

I awoke this morning to greet another family-filled holiday without her. I felt the familiar tinge in my heart to which I’ve grown accustomed when remembering her—and still grieving her absence. She’s been gone a few years, but it still hurts. It will always hurt.

Like her signature Thanksgiving dish, my mom was a simple person. She never required much from life aside from a good sewing machine, hot tea, art supplies, and Motown records. But she took simplicity and made a richness out of life that was irreplaceable.

It’s so simple. Life is sweet, isn’t it?

The good stuff, the bad stuff, and everything in between. You take what you’re given and make sweetness from those simple ingredients. Love the people around you. Love the people that piss you off. Love the people that don’t wish to be loved. Once they’re gone, there are no leftovers, just memories.

I'm going to attempt to make that casserole and it will taste nothing like my mom's, but that's okay, I'll still try.

My life sweet today and cherish the fleeting and be grateful for the simple things.

Harriett Hamilton: Small Tokens of Grace 

​I came into my faith under the wings of a Baptist church in east central Indiana. Entering the sanctuary each Sunday as a child, I was consumed with intimidation as we passed family after family who seemed to have the extra things in life that our family lacked: money, nice house, clothes that fit, a present father.

The worship space was plain and elegant—the décor a hold-over from the 50’s and 60’s. The bright red carpet invaded the space resembling a giant child’s tongue after he’s consumed a cherry popsicle. There were three sections of oak pews, each stained seemingly to match the ashy skin tone of the elder members. The wooden seats were bolted to the floor for safety—and probably to ensure they remained in place should a raucous soul move too roughly in the spirit.

There was no assigned seating, however, most of the congregants sat in the same pew every Sunday. It was an unspoken rule that you don’t move from the previous week’s position—physically and for some, spiritually. We were no different, though on occasion my mom’s uninhibited spirit would have us move up a pew or back a pew from our home base, which was within the first five rows on the left side of the sanctuary.

Directly in front of our seating area sat the huge electronic organ, played nimbly and capably by a kind grandmother by the name of Harriett. Halfway through the service, after we had sung the opening songs, said a prayer and recited scripture, took up a collection, our pastor would make his way to the pulpit to provide a sermon. Harriett would click off the small reading light above her books and loose sheets of music. She would leisurely pivot on the large attached bench and slip on her flats and begin softly walking to an empty pew. I watched her the entire time, but once she was a few feet away I would look towards the pulpit only to happen a glance back at her to catch her eye. She would flash an easy, reassuring smile and a quick wink. Without fail she would sit down in front of us. A few seconds later as she appeared to be listening attentively to the sermon, her arm would reach behind toward us extending a handful of Velamints wrapped in tissue—one for each person in the pew.

I was young so I don’t recall much of the sermons on those Sundays, but I’ll always remember Christ’s unfailing love and recognition shown to me through Harriett’s simple gesture of choosing to sit near us and offer those small tokens of grace.

Harriett Hamilton passed away yesterday, January 25, 2016.

She led a long life of blessing others with an infectious smile, warm heart, and loving presence. She will be missed, though it makes my heart happy knowing she’s now sharing a mint and a smile with the loving God who instilled in her that same giving spirit. 

Andy Goldsworthy 

Andy Goldsworthy is an artist from Great Britain. His work focuses on utilizing the elements of nature to create innovative works which challenge our perceptions of the volatile and ever-changing beauty of nature. He describes his initial process:

“I take the opportunities each day offers:
if it is snowing, I work with snow, at leaf-fall it will be with leaves;
a blown-over tree becomes a source of twigs and branches.
I stop at a place or pick up a material because I feel that there is something to be discovered.
Here is where I can learn.” 

It’s also incredible when the observer realizes that he’s created this piece with leaves. One can only imagine the amount of time and patience required to collect the materials for this work, not to mention organizing them to flow together.

Since I possess no talent in regards to painting, drawing, sculpting, etc., I’m always fascinated by those that do. As I grow older, I recognize the precious time that is disappearing every day and that I should embrace the present; I should also be prepared to let go of the present to prepare for the future. That’s the message I gleaned from Goldworthy’s work. He creates pieces that may disappear in a matter of minutes (blown away by a windy day, washed away by a rising creek or ocean wave), but it moves the observer to appreciate the temporary beauty of his work and the natural world that provides him his canvas and medium. 

Check out his work here:
Andy Goldsworthy

Here's another dedicated to his work:


I Hugged Robert Parent. 

I remember his presence well; the almost giant-like presence, towering over my cousins and me with welcoming hands and a steadfast embrace.  Enveloped in his arms, my world was easy, and fears that often swirl around a young boy’s heart were on pause.  It was much like a dream for me hugging my grandpa, and when you are young, you expect those dreams to last forever.  But like a handful of dandelion seeds must be whisked away by ever moving winds to form new landscape, so must these delicate dreams.

Robert Parent was a medic in the US Army during World War II.  He carried a pistol at his side and was trained on a bazooka, instantly making him a bad-ass in his grandsons’ eyes.  According to my mother, the day he returned from active duty he stuffed his olive green fatigues and military issued accessories in a cardboard box and threw them in the trash, along with any desire to speak of his wartime experiences.  My grandfather knew there were wonderful moments in life from which to create worthy memories; war was not one of them.

There was an annual parade in our hometown celebrating the beginning of an event called the Rose Festival.  The parade (and festival) was one of the largest in the area and seemed to awaken a young and excited spirit in my grandpa. There were numerous rolling vendors selling blow-up hammers, neon light sticks, and other assorted temptations for a young child.  The scores of floats were ornate and striking; transporting local dignitaries and festival queens whose royal designation may or may not have bore a correlation with their level of attractiveness.

The marching bands burst forth with an endless supply of oxygen and drum rolls, as the pimply-faced high schoolers tried feverishly to stay in step with the chubby kid smacking a bass drum beside them.  Every few feet a white polyester leg could be seen falling out of step with its counterparts giving the appearance of a robot soldier losing battery power. 

Strategically placed in between the floats and bands, were overweight Shriners performing formations with go-karts.  The merry drivers would awkwardly follow one another in a straight line until they approached a large section of the crowd, break from their lines, proceeding to thrill the spectators with figure eights and turns, all the while narrowly missing the feet of the dazzled children that stuck out from the front row seat on the curb.  And on that curb I would sit enjoying the spectacle along with hundreds of others, occasionally sneaking a glance at my grandpa as he sat in his wooden backed aluminum lawn chair, smiling and puffing away at his Dutch Master cigar.  He would always keep a supply of the cigars in his breast pocket, to keep him company on long walks with his dog Mitzi or while relaxing on his front porch listening to a Red’s game.    

Usually about halfway through the parade, a particular float would grab his attention and he would stand up and begin waving excitedly.  The float in question was sponsored by a square dance club and it shook uncontrollably beneath the motion of ten to fifteen stretchy cloth clad dancers with the sole purpose of demonstrating their best promenade…two by two.  The man calling the square dance held a cheap microphone that crackled when he pronounced his consonants and his sing songy, folkster rap would continue the entire length of the parade route.  The reason for my grandfather’s excitement at this moment was that he was good friends with the white haired caller and when the float passed by he would throw my grandpa’s name in the song and dance call:

“Swing your partner round and round, bow to the corner, Hey there’s Bob Parent! Bow to the left, Promenade!”  

My grandpa would clap and wave and then plop back down in his chair.  He would look at us all with pride as if the parade for a moment at least, was in his honor.  And maybe it should have been.

My grandpa’s jovial spirit fueled his friendships and interactions.  Rarely would he enter a local restaurant or store without hearing a boisterous “Hey Bob!” Granted, his conversations during these interactions were brief and mostly surface topics, but his welcoming personality and warm laugh made the other person feel as though their words were worth a fortune to my grandpa’s ears.  He had a certain gift for making his friends and family feel on top of the world.

My grandparents played a major role in my early childhood.  Through most of my young life, my mother bore the weight of parenting my brother, sister, and I.  We struggled to say the least, but my mother was resourceful, working hard to keep our hearts filled and stomachs satisfied.  Due to her work schedule, usually consisting of 2 to 3 jobs, it was necessary for me to stay with my grandparents after school. 

Their home was filled with warmth, and proudly displayed the wear and tear from countless years of loving and raising children and grandchildren.  My grandma was a wise and kind woman; the type of person who knew how to transform a simple box of macaroni and cheese into a kindergartner’s dream come true.  Her motherly love came naturally and she selflessly gave her love to our family.  At that time, my grandpa worked for a local bank making deliveries.  He would arrive home shortly after the bank closed, around 5 o’clock. 

I would wait for this moment the entire afternoon: the huge bear hug from my grandpa. 

His scratchy wool sport coat…

The prickly 5 o’clock shadow against my cheek…

The overwhelming waft of Old Spice aftershave…         

His gentle strength.

While in his embrace he would enthusiastically ask my grandma, “Mom, did you see what I got?!” referring to the hug, and the love given by his grandson, the grandson that felt adored by his grandpa’s simple actions. 

For a little boy struggling to make sense of his little world which lacks the strong presence of his father, this hug and attention from my grandfather was my compass.  For he was more than just my grandfather: He was a humble war hero and my grandmother’s soul mate.  He was the joyful caretaker of the hearts of his best friends and the ‘unofficial’ grand marshal of the parade.

My grandpa passed away during my senior year of high school from cancer.  I sat by his side along with my mom and brother, the morning he whispered his last breath to the earth.  How such a common affliction could ravage such a unique soul will forever confound me.  During his funeral I grew angry at myself for my lack of tears.  I listened to family members speak of his life and history.  I stared at the empty vessel that was my hero lying in the casket.  I prayed that he was with Jesus.

As we walked by the casket for the last time, I realized the physical comfort my grandpa provided to me was now a memory.  I turned to walk to the back of the church. Tears flooded my eyes at the loss of a beautiful part of my life.  But I know the beautiful flowers can not last forever, there are new fields to grace…new dreams to fill. 

I’ll hug my kids tightly tonight.

The Artist 

My mom was made of art.

She was artistic, yes, but she also lived and breathed creativity in all of its quirkiness and simple beauty. She—sometimes reluctantly—embraced the ebb and flow of life and channeled both the light and dark moments into her handmade works, so as to emit splendor from every weave of a needle; every scratch of a pencil. Hers was a life more fulfilled by resourceful optimism.

One lazy summer evening found me sauntering into our front room, watching my mom sitting in the small corner that served as her sewing and craft area. I plopped down on the green carpet and sat cross-legged, flanked by G.I Joes and our dog, Abby. My eyes refused to blink as I watched my mom’s gentle, agile hands manipulate her chosen medium; a piece of fabric she would transform into a stuffed animal for a niece or nephew’s birthday, or charcoal pencil to paper to produce a sketch of one of our tattered cats sitting in the windowsill staring affectionately at her.

She was surrounded by a large rectangular sewing table, boxes and bins of ribbon, a craft store’s worth of fabric in old Avon boxes, and miles of spools of colored thread. Her chair –most likely some sort of “gift” from a church member who purchased a new one for their home office—creaked and groaned as she made calculated pivots to reach for thread, or to pat the furry head of our grossly overweight cat, Louie, reassuring him he was receiving her undivided attention.

The hot, humid Indiana summer evening drove her to set up our large blue—very child un-friendly—steel box fan, and she opted for the coolness of a hand-made summer dress that soared past her knees screaming: ‘I’m a conservative hippy!’ Varicose veins—like broken blue calligraphies—were drawn around her calves and shins from years working on her feet. Her feet found comfort in brown leather moccasins decorated with small beads and tassels in Native American patterns—a new pair each year as a small gift to herself.

Nearby stood a tall glistening glass of sun tea that she swore tasted differently than iced tea that simply steeped on the kitchen counter—as if the sun’s energy transferred to the tea enhancing the flavor. Complementing the tea would be a small bowl of peanuts or saltines on which she would nibble in between precisely sewn stitches or the delicate shading of a sketch.

In winter months, the iced tea was replaced with hot along with an occasional peanut butter sandwich. She knew to leave the knife and peanut butter jar on the counter since one of us would see her eating the sandwich and immediately want one. No one can spread peanut butter like a mother’s careful, flowing hands.
There would always, always be music filling the air: Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Lionel Richie, The Temptations, and her favorite: Smokey Robinson. There were times when she would close her eyes, lift her hands, and get lost in the earthy, yearning Motown emotion; singing and dancing as if she was a graceful puppet on soft strings. Motown moved the blood in her heart; cajoled the sweetness in her soul. Come to think of it, my mom might’ve been a 30-something black woman at heart.

Out of all her selflessness, however, she took great personal pride in her three kids. She had no doubt in her ability to love us honestly and completely. We were the medium she chose to work on until she was exhausted at the end of each day. And from simply witnessing her in all her endless glow and optimism, I had no doubt that I would also work with my hands and heart to return that love to her—to bring light from the dark, and joy from the pain.

And maybe give sun tea a second chance.

​Happy Birthday, Mom.

Once A Boy: Be Here Soon 

My mom would always tape a 3x5 card to the fridge. On the card was a written list of our bills for the month.  While walking through the kitchen or opening the fridge to steal a hunk of bologna, I often found myself pausing to look over the list.  I was only in the 5th grade so I was just beginning to understand large numbers and how money worked—but I still had no clue as to the amount of work and time it took for my mom to pay for those 2 to 3 digit numbers on the card.  She held down a full-time job, and spent many other hours either employed part-time or fulfilling various sewing or art related requests to support our family.  My mom loved her kids; she grew tired of work, but never grew tired of us.  

So when the time came for me to join the band at school—and buy an instrument (snare drum)—I knew it would be difficult for my mom to afford the extra cost.  But she believed I had the ability to play drums and she wanted to provide the means for me to do so.  Luckily, the music store selling the band instruments offered a monthly payment plan to spread out the cost. So on to the fridge it went: $15/month – Snare Drum. To some people this may have been a drop in the bucket, but this was money that could be used for groceries or gas for the car.   

 We would have band rehearsal on Wednesday afternoons, so that morning my mom would drop me off and I would carry my snare drum (in a big case that weighed almost as much as me) from one end of the school building to my classroom on the other side.  It was heavy and my back ached. When the school day was over, I couldn’t transport my drum on the bus so I had to be picked up from school, which meant I would be waiting a good 30-45 minutes until my mom was available to pick me up.  I would watch as numerous teachers left the building, occasionally one would speak to me asking if I had a ride and then I would have to explain the situation to them. I was extremely shy so I was often embarrassed and awkward as I talked to them. I grew to loathe Wednesdays.

My mom would eventually arrive in a beat up car and greet me with a Hey Kiddo and I would respond in kind, but underneath I was so angry and disappointed in her.  

As we drove home I would steal a glance at my mom.  She was tired.  She spent many hours each day working because she loved her kids.  She worked jobs she disliked to provide opportunities for us to live and grow.  She knew music would become a passion for me, and her sacrificing some time and effort on her part was totally worth it.  

For the rest of the school year, I happily carried that snare drum through the halls, and Wednesday afternoons still found me sitting outside the school, alone, on my drum case. Teachers would stop and ask if I had a ride and I would simply smile and proudly say, “My mom will be here soon.”    

Once A Boy: A Pretty Good Start 

Upon entering puberty, adolescent boys and girls undergo several, life-altering changes.  In the 4th grade, however, my body was similar to that of a toddler—but slightly taller—and I possessed slightly improved bathroom habits. I was always sporting sweatpants and a t-shirt with some type of baseball emblem (see the Barry Larkin blog entry) or cartoon character ironed on the front.    

Recess at our elementary school included all students in 4th-6th grades, which resulted in a smorgasbord of children, as well as those who were beginning the child-to-adult transition.  Four girls in particular—let’s call them the Amazon Quartet—found themselves a good 5 or 6 inches taller as they entered their 6th grade year.  They towered over my weenie frame and seemed to enjoy how a light shove from their hairy, man-like arms could easily knock me off my feet.  One girl had poufy bangs and eyes that seemed to want to jump out of her face; another looked like a red-headed cave man with press-on nails.  The other two just had an overall unpleasant appearance—I imagined they were twins of one or more non-human parents.

One cloudy day as we headed out to recess, Bertha and her step-sisters (FYI: I just changed their group’s name) decided they really wanted to unload some insults and shove someone—me.  They made the usual jokes about my sweatpants, small stature, and off-brand K-mart shoes.  I stood there and attempted to shrug it off and laugh, but my patience was fading and I was becoming angry.  Then the shoving began along with the insults and I had had enough.  I was sick of their tormenting and I reached my boiling point, so all of a sudden my best attempt at a counter attack left my lips:

“Shut up, you...buncha fat cows!” I yelled.   

This was not a good idea because I then felt what seemed like Godzilla’s hand smack my back, and I found myself lying in a thick mud puddle.  The women’s biker gang….err…I mean girls erupted in laughter.  The bell rang ending recess and they turned and walked towards the school.  I stood up and tried to wipe off the mud that was covering half of my body and hair.  I looked down and Barry Larkin’s face was also covered with mud.  I think he was ashamed of my inability to defend myself. 

This is it; I’ve had it with these girls.  I’m going to tell on them.  Their teacher and principal will be so upset they’ll get suspended and I’ll win.  I’ll have revenge.

I began walking back to the school building ready to turn in the bride of Sasquatch and her daughters.  I looked and saw the four of them walking in front of five or six boys in their class.  The boys were teasing the girls and pulling their hair and I think I heard a “How’s the weather up there?” joke.  The girls looked mortified and displayed frowns of stone on their faces.  

As much as I fought against it, I felt pity on them, and though I would spend the remainder of the afternoon in mud-caked clothes, I refrained from telling my teacher.  It seemed they received their comeuppance and continued to receive it, as these same boys would go on to ridicule them for the rest of the school year—and well into junior high and high school.

They couldn’t change who they were, but I could always wash off the mud, forgive and move on.   I could be a better person than those girls—as well as the boys who were teasing them. Later that afternoon, while doing an activity in class, I made a girl who was often the victim of bullying and teasing, smile and laugh—which made me feel about 10 feet tall.

That was a pretty good start.             

Once A Boy: Petey, and the road not taken 

Ah, the third grade—where a boy finds himself at the first important crossroads of his life: do I spend my adolescence and remaining elementary years as the obedient quiet child so favored by stressed out teachers, or, as the class clown constantly seeking new methods to raise the collective blood pressure of teachers all over the world.  

Well I can say, for the most part, I was the former.  I was shy, terrible at sports, and cute according to my mom, but not to the girls in my class. I also insisted on wearing sweatpants everyday to school, that is until I realized a daily sweatpants wedgie in the seventh grade was about the lowest social level on which to land, so that stopped immediately—but I digress—that’s another post.

Now allow me to provide a perfect example of the latter.

A fellow third grade student of mine, let’s call him, ‘Petey’, was a large kid with thick framed glasses—the kind a shop teacher might wear because his nice pair always break.  Petey took on what seemed to be a daily challenge: to somehow disrupt the class, resulting in banishment to the hall or the principal’s office.   Our teacher, Mrs. Morgan, was an older lady who didn’t smile much, especially when Petey entered the room.  There were days I thought I heard her swear under her breath.

We all thought Petey was pretty funny, most of the time.  Those of us who might begin to display any doubt toward the hilariousness of Petey’s antics, quickly found the capacity to laugh when he would threaten us with bodily harm— during bathroom break for example .Please God, don’t let him open the stall door, my sweats aren’t even pulled up!

When traveling the hallways to and from various activities, it was customary practice for elementary teachers to have students walk in a straight line and remain quiet until returning to the classroom.  Mrs. Morgan was very strict with this rule one day as we left the art room and proceeded back to our classroom.   

Well, Petey wasn’t having it. He saw no reason to quietly traverse the hallway with his peers in peace.  He couldn’t pass up a golden opportunity for introducing some chaos into the order.   So he chose to begin beat boxing (this was the late 80’s after all).  

Boom-boom-Pssh….Boom-boom-Pssh…Boom-boom-Pssh…snort! (he laughed between musical measures).

As we all filed one-by-one into the classroom, Mrs. Morgan’s voice could be heard cutting through the air, “Petey, I would like you to walk to the front of the classroom and demonstrate your sound effects for the class.”  She was holding a 2 foot long wood paddle, slowing lifting it then smacking it down on her other hand.  “If you don’t do it well enough, I’ll have to use this paddle to assist you.”

Petey’s face turned as white as a ghost—a chubby ghost wearing Reebok Pumps with the laces untied.  

He walked to the front of the room and began a soft, shaky rhythm while staring down at the ground: boom…boom..pssh…

“Louder!” Mrs. Morgan bellowed.  Petey began to cry—snot and everything.

Boom-boom-pssh (sniff sniff)…Boom!-Boom!-Pssh! (sniff sniff)

The rest of us just stared in amazement at the scene unfolding in front of us.  We didn’t know whether to laugh or cry ourselves. I found it hilarious watching him attempt to beat box while sobbing uncontrollably.

A  part of me felt sorry for my attention seeking classmate.  His inability to heed the rules and guidelines of elementary school placed him in these types of situations on a daily basis, and I should probably mention that I was beat boxing as well, but I somehow avoided the same fate as Petey.    

“Have a seat,” the teacher said sharply to Petey, “and from now on, stay quiet in the halls!”

Petey slowly walked back to his seat, resembling Eeyore wearing a torn Bugle Boy hooded sweatshirt.  He looked up and caught my stare and his eyes seemed to catch fire and I knew my next bathroom experience would be a terrible one.  

Thus the end of my third grade beat boxing days.