Category: Humor (page 1 of 21)

Short essays that I have written

Football in Texas

We live in Waco, Texas, home of the once mighty, but sometimes declawed Baylor (University) Bears. Do I need to tell you that the Bears is a football team? If so, don’t visit Waco without a visa and an open carry license.

There are 39 football-playing colleges and universities in Texas and the primary college conference in Texas is the Big (of course) Twelve. However, there is a slight math problem because there are only 10 teams in the Big 12. Only three of these teams are in Texas: besides Baylor, TCU in Fort Worth and Texas Tech is far to the west in Lubbock. One Texas team—the Texas A&M Aggies abandoned the Big 12 and went east to join teams like Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and Alabama. That was to get more publicity for their team, play in more lucrative settings and promote football education. West Virginia, on the other hand, has come west to join the Big 12. It is claimed that the switch in football teams lowered the team IQs in both states.

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An 80th Birthday Party

My wife and I have just gone to an 80th birthday party. It was for a man we knew indirectly thorough our daughter and her husband—Karol and Mike. We had met the man and his wife—I’ll call them Mr and Mrs Joseph Askar (for that is their names)—a few years earlier at their ranch when Mike and Karol took us there. The Askars, now retired, are originally from Lebanon and have had a very successful business and ministry career for many years.

I can hardly remember either my own or my wife’s 80th birthday, but I knew this one was going to be special. It was held at the “Baylor Club” on the fourth floor of McLane stadium, the citadel of sports worship in Waco. We had driven by the football fortress many times and had once been inside for a more traditional worship service when a large number of churches and denominations combined for a rally. In that instance the “touchdowns” were individuals who made professions of faith and the “players” were singers, choirs and a well-known preacher.

We were told that this party was RSVP and that the dress code was semi-formal, so I had to scrounge around and find a tie, something I knew went around my neck, but hadn’t been there for years. It was raining so I wore my Aussie slouch hat (made in Sri Lanka), but discreetly left it behind a pillar on the first floor before the four of us took the elevator to the Baylor Club room. (This, being a Baylor Baptist building, gave ample protection for the hat.)

The Baylor Club room is elaborate, with enormous posters above and around us, each commemorating some significant football event. There were tables set up for around 150 people. To the west we could look out of massive windows to see the brightly colored bridge near the stadium and the clouds in the distance. We were close to Interstate 35 and I kept watching the traffic for an accident, but this was an off-day and none occurred. To the east, through special doors, best known to club members, was the holy of holies for football, the elaborate and expensive rows of leather chairs in small, separate rooms that looked down on the football field. Large windows could be opened to allow the aroma of football to permeate the lofty private rooms of the football fanatics—rich ones of course.

We had entered the Club room from the doors near the elevators and were immediately offered finger food of all sorts. These are called hors d’oeuvres by those who can pronounce French, but are more often referred to as appetizers by the middle class. In the mountains of Pennsylvania we would have called the finger food “stuff.” Mr Askar is from Lebanon so I didn’t expect German Allondigas meatballs or Bavaria Blue Cheese Mousse, but there might have been some on one of the trays. All the finger-licking stuff was on small trays on tables around the room which held various bite-size of bits of cheese, all creamy, milky, gooey and salty. There were spreads, dips, balls and sockets; they were things yellow, white, red, blue and green. There were all kinds of other “appetizers” as well: carrots, of course broccoli, cucumber, radish, and other lesser known vegetables. And this was just the beginning—we eventually found a seat at a round table that had plates, ice tea (this is Texas), ice water, pieces of cutlery, and real cloth napkins. I was puzzled by all the forks, knives and spoons—was someone else assigned to eat with me? In the center of the table were decorative sets of silk flowers. I grew up on a farm so I could sense they not for eating, but to be admired.

It was all enough to make me forget about Mr Askar and his birthday. But we were reminded of him by virtue of 6 or more large TV screens on walls with images of him and his family in every phase of their lives. There was no sound because a tall blond woman with a guitar and cowboy boots (and dress) was singing something that sounded like a song. There was a mike, so she was loud enough, but I couldn’t pick up a word except “love” here and there.

There was an MC, a man who knew Mr Askar well since the two had immigrated to the US from Lebanon about the same time. He made a couple of Reader’s Digest jokes and then gave us instructions about the meal. We were to form a line in the pasta dish section, or in the meat and vegetables area. We chose meat and a man carved slices of beef from what must have been the hindquarters of the biggest bull in Texas. We filled our plates and went back to our table where 10 of us were now seated.

The program was in English and Arabic. Fortunately, I was seated next to Dr Saadi from Syria, a professor at Baylor and family friend who teaches Arabic, so I could ask him what the MC was saying or singing. A fair number of the guests could respond in Arabic, but no terrorists were present, so genuine American Texans seemed at ease. Near the end of the program, which consisted of songs and sayings about the honored guest, there was a “open mike.” This was a time of short stories and hilarity about Mr Askar, which went on a long time because it included comments by a relative from Australia, family members, friends and some of the 100 grandchildren who were present. They had the picture of their grandfather on their t-shirts.

At the close, Mr Askar thanked everyone present (in Arabic) and gave a short evangelistic message (in Arabic) and we were dismissed. It had been a grand occasion, even if I sneaked off occasionally to one of the club member’s rooms to see if Baylor was winning their football game. It was played in San Antonio but we could watch it on a big screen.

Guests were invited to sign their names in a registry and keep the ballpoint pen, which had Mr Askar’s name in English and Arabic on it, as well as to pick up a bar of special smelling soap that someone had brought from Jordan. It was a fitting gift, I thought, as I washed my hands of the program and night at the Baylor Club.

McLane Football Stadium
Baylor Club
September 8, 2018

Planning for the Future

My wife and I sat down the other day to make some plans for the future. After considerable discussion and some misgivings we decided that we planned not to live forever.

That simple decision made other plans much easier. If we aren’t going to live forever—at least here on this earth—what do we want to do while we are still alive and remembered who we are?

We have traveled a lot over the years, so a cruise up the Mississippi or along the Alaskan shoreline didn’t really get us excited or seem like a good plan.

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The Day the Garbage Truck Didn’t Come

We live at Village Circle, which is a square, in Waco, Texas—there are 25 units in the “circle.” One of the most sophisticated actions by all residents is putting the garbage containers out for collection each Friday and collecting them as soon as possible after the garbage trucks come.

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International Left-Hander’s Day

Yes, and today Nabisco has produced a “limited run of Left-handed Oreo cookie packages,” just to show their love for left-handers and, incidentally, to make some money.

We have a lot of left-handers in our family: my wife Joice; our son Kirk and his wife Christine, two of their three children; two of the three children from our daughter Karol and her husband Mike. Mike and I also partially qualify because we do some things naturally with our left hand.

To celebrate this auspicious international occasion, my wife and I decided to take our nearby grandchildren out for ice cream. Only one of them, Cam, and I are right-handed so, to be fair, we would have to eat our ice cream with our left hand.

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