Monthly Archives: April 2012

It’s Not Me, It’s You


Earlier this week, I was discussing weirdness with a co-worker. My weirdness. My alleged weirdness, that is.

It all started because Heidi had said she was bringing cake for Shakespeare’s birthday. The caveat was that people who wanted a piece had to recite a line before getting a slice.

My response: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day, nah, you’re better than that, summer’s too dang hot.” Which after all is the gist of that sonnet anyway. Heidi said that was acceptable, and I replied that I had more where that came from.

Then I wrote her – we were messaging at the time – that I quite often quoted “Out, out, damned spot” to my kids when I was running them out of my room or chair or house or – well, you get it. Then I added, “They have no idea where it comes from and just think I’m weird.”

Heidi’s response: “That’s not why they think you’re weird, Arthur.”

Which got me to thinking. I’m not the weird one. I’m normal. It’s the rest of you folks who are weird.

Then again, you decide …

I call myself to the stand as a Witness for the Prosecution – a great Billy WIlder film (aren’t they all, by the way) starring Charles Laughton, Marlene Dietrich, Tyrone Power and Elsa Lanchester with an ending you’ll never see coming.

Prosecutor: Mr. Nator, isn’t it true that you play some sort of deranged type of Jeopardy!?

Me: That’s unfair, you’re prejudicing the jury by calling it deranged …

Prosecutor: Your honor, instruct the witness to answer the question!

The Judge (also known as anyone who’s made it this far): Answer the question, Mr. Nator.

Me: Well, let me explain. You see, I like TV. Doesn’t have to be good TV. In fact, I generally like stuff other people don’t. And don’t get me started on TV shows about the Mob or high-brow period pieces about British families or …

The Judge: The question, Mr. Nator, the question …

Me: OK, OK. Yes. It’s called Ultimate Jeopardy! What my wife, Karen, and I do is, on Final Jeopardy!, when the category is revealed, is try to get the question before the answer is revealed. It’s fun, because you have to look for a question that’s not too obvious but not too obscure, often with little to go on. A few nights ago, for example, the category was International Road Sign Stickers. Had no idea how to respond to that one.

Prosecutor: But why would anyone play something so obviously impossible?

Me: That’s just it. It’s not impossible. Sometimes we get it right. (It’s never a bad strategy to guess Ernest Hemingway. You’ll just have to trust me on this.) Last night, my son Garrett won with the question “What is Orion?” The category: Constellations and Myths. So see, it isn’t impossible. Or deranged.

Prosecutor: Very well, Mr. Nator. But isn’t there another game you play when you’re watching TV?

Me: What are you talking about?

Prosecutor: Blake and Miranda, Mr. Nator, Blake and Miranda.

Me: Oh, I can explain. I mentioned I like bad television. Well, I like singing competitions. I know they’re not cool, I just like them.

Judge (remember, that’s you readers): Just get on with it, Mr. Nator. We don’t have all day.

Me: OK, OK. Yes. Karen and I watch The Voice. And we both really like Blake Shelton.

Prosecutor: The Blake and Miranda game, Mr. Nator, Tell us about that.

Me: Well, that’s nothing. You know Blake’s a loveable bumpkin, right. And his wife, Miranda Lambert, she’s a country spitfire.

Prosecutor: On with it, Mr. Nator.

Me: Well, sometimes Karen and I role play their communications on the show. We’ll have Miranda saying, “Blake Shelton, you stop talking to that blonde slut, Christina Aguilera.” And Blake will reply, “Aw, Miranda, you know you’re the only blonde for me.” And stuff like that. We’ll make up an entire dialogue of them and perform it with one another.

Prosecutor: That’s not all, is it, Mr. Nator. Tell us the rest.

Me: Your honor, I fail to see the relevance …

Judge: On with it, Nator. Our patience is wearing thin.

Me: OK. Well, see I play Miranda and Karen plays Blake …

Prosecutor: Case closed, your honor. Case closed.

Me: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I throw myself at your mercy. I’m not weird.

Didn’t I just prove it?

“I used to think anyone doing anything weird was weird. Now I know that it is the people that call others weird that are weird.” – Paul McCartney

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It’s Not Me, It’s You


Earlier this week, I was discussing weirdness with a co-worker. My weirdness. My alleged weirdness, that is.

It all started because Heidi had said she was bringing cake for Shakespeare’s birthday. The caveat was that people who wanted a piece had to recite a line before getting a slice.

My response: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day, nah, you’re better than that, summer’s too dang hot.” Which after all is the gist of that sonnet anyway. Heidi said that was acceptable, and I replied that I had more where that came from.

Then I wrote her – we were messaging at the time – that I quite often quoted “Out, out, damned spot” to my kids when I was running them out of my room or chair or house or – well, you get it. Then I added, “They have no idea where it comes from and just think I’m weird.”

Heidi’s response: “That’s not why they think you’re weird, Arthur.”

Which got me to thinking. I’m not the weird one. I’m normal. It’s the rest of you folks who are weird.

Then again, you decide …

I call myself to the stand as a Witness for the Prosecution – a great Billy WIlder film (aren’t they all, by the way) starring Charles Laughton, Marlene Dietrich, Tyrone Power and Elsa Lanchester with an ending you’ll never see coming.

Prosecutor: Mr. Nator, isn’t it true that you play some sort of deranged type of Jeopardy!?

Me: That’s unfair, you’re prejudicing the jury by calling it deranged …

Prosecutor: Your honor, instruct the witness to answer the question!

The Judge (also known as anyone who’s made it this far): Answer the question, Mr. Nator.

Me: Well, let me explain. You see, I like TV. Doesn’t have to be good TV. In fact, I generally like stuff other people don’t. And don’t get me started on TV shows about the Mob or high-brow period pieces about British families or …

The Judge: The question, Mr. Nator, the question …

Me: OK, OK. Yes. It’s called Ultimate Jeopardy! What my wife, Karen, and I do is, on Final Jeopardy!, when the category is revealed, is try to get the question before the answer is revealed. It’s fun, because you have to look for a question that’s not to obvious but not too obscure, often with little to go on. A few nights ago, for example, the category was International Road Sign Stickers. Had no idea how to respond to that one.

Prosecutor: But why would anyone play something so obviously impossible?

Me: That’s just it. It’s not impossible. Sometimes we get it right. (It’s never a bad strategy to guess Ernest Hemingway. You’ll just have to trust me on this.) Last night, my son Garrett won with the question “What is Orion?” The category: Constellations and Myths. So see, it isn’t impossible. Or deranged.

Prosecutor: Very well, Mr. Nator. But isn’t there another game you play when you’re watching TV?

Me: What are you talking about?

Prosecutor: Blake and Miranda, Mr. Nator, Blake and Miranda.

Me: Oh, I can explain. I mentioned I like bad television. Well, I like singing competitions. I know they’re not cool, I just like them.

Judge (remember, that’s you readers): Just get on with it, Mr. Nator. We don’t have all day.

Me: OK, OK. Yes. Karen and I watch The Voice. And we both really like Blake Shelton.

Prosecutor: The Blake and Miranda game, Mr. Nator, Tell us about that.

Me: Well, that’s nothing. You know Blake’s a loveable bumpkin, right. And his wife, Miranda Lambert, she’s a country spitfire.

Prosecutor: On with it, Mr. Nator.

Me: Well, sometimes Karen and I role play their communications on the show. We’ll have Miranda saying, “Blake Shelton, you stop talking to that blonde slut, Christina Aguilera.” And Blake will reply, “Aw, Miranda, you know you’re the only blonde for me.” And stuff like that. We’ll make up an entire dialogue of them and perform it with one another.

Prosecutor: That’s not all, is it, Mr. Nator. Tell us the rest.

Me: Your honor, I fail to see the relevance …

Judge: On with it, Nator. Our patience is wearing thin.

Me: OK. Well, see I play Miranda and Karen plays Blake …

Prosecutor: Case closed, your honor. Case closed.

Me: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I throw myself at your mercy. I’m not weird.

Didn’t I just prove it?

“I used to think anyone doing anything weird was weird. Now I know that it is the people that call others weird that are weird.” – Paul McCartney

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Right on Target


Tuesday was a long day. It seemed to drag on forever. Even a colleague at work said so.

To top it off, I had errands to run when I got off. I had to get gas, for one – it’s a fair amount cheaper in South Carolina, where I work, than in North Carolina, where I live.

Plus I had to pick up a couple of prescriptions – nothing that serious – at Target and I had a pair of shorts I wanted to exchange. And, as frequently happens in my three-cat household, I had to restock the Whiskas, or is it Friskies?

So I did all my business at the Target near my house, because that’s where my pharmacy is, instead of the three or so that I pass on the way home.

When I finished getting all the stuff I needed, I went up front to pay and had to choose between two lines.

I chose the wrong one, or so I thought at first.

I definitely chose the slow line. The woman at the head of it had bought more stuff than I thought, and she was paying with a check. You know, one of those paper things that you get at the bank. That no one ever uses any more.

The cashier didn’t seem to know what to do with it. But she finally seemed to figure it out. And then the check got rejected by the bank, I guess. Finally, the shopper’s friend paid for the order (I heard the shopper swear to the friend later that the check really was good – and I believe her).

But while all this was going on, the woman in line directly in front of me saw someone in the other line – the fast one – whom she knew. Turns out the woman in front of me was a hairdresser in Monroe who had let her hair grow out – a little at a time. She trimmed a half inch occasionally, she said, to prompt its growth.

About this time, she turned to me and said, “Guess we got in the wrong line, eh?” Thing was, she said it without an ounce of malice.

She was blonde, well, bleached blonde, kinda attractive with some of them funky glasses. I guess she was in her late 30s or so.

Meanwhile, her friend got through the neighboring line and came back to talk with her. She asked the hairdresser if she had kids, because she was buying diapers and stuff. No, she said, she was going to a baby shower.

But then she added that she and her husband were adopting a child. From Uganda. Well, two actually, because they were brother and sister. The sister was an infant, she said. The brother was older, and had epilepsy. She’d just seen photos the night before and she said she was really getting excited about it all.

As it happens, the other woman was a pediatric nurse. She started talking to the hairdresser about her soon-to-be son’s medical problems. They agreed it would be tough but manageable.

I’m obviously standing there listening. And thinking about how much I admired the hairdresser. Who was taking on two children who really needed her. From a world away.

Her friend left, and the hairdresser turned around again. The line was still pretty stalled.

“I guess we picked the wrong line,” she said again.

I smiled and nodded.

But you know what I was thinking? “No, ma’am, I picked exactly the right line.”

Because I felt a whole lot better about the world after my encounter with this woman.

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I Got a Blog Post, I Ain’t Got No Point


With apologies to The Fifth Beatle (depending on how you count the one who replaced Paul after he died) …

I wasn’t planning to do much today when I got up this morning (except prepare a presentation for work tomorrow). I wasn’t even planning to blog.

My plans changed when I got back from taking Nicki to work: That’s when I noticed the grass needs cutting. Again.

I know what you’re thinking: Don’t you have two teenage sons that could be doing that for you. Or at least that was what I was thinking. Indeed I do. But Austin worked a pretty long shift yesterday and I’ll probably let him off the hook. Garrett’s 13, and I might let him relieve me a little, but I’m not sure he’ll do it the way it I want it done.

So I see a day of pollen, aches and sweat ahead.

Which prolly is a good thing. Because it will keep me from gluing myself to the Master’s, which I would normally do.

I love watching the Master’s. The course is beautiful, the drama is high, the player’s usually at their best. Augusta National is not too tough, nor is it too easy.

I watched a little yesterday, between errands and my normal goofing off, and I pretty much figured I’d watch more tonight while thinking about the ham and asparagus and creme brulee etc. to come.

Things changed.

                                                                                                                                                   

Earl Scruggs’ death a few days ago affected me in a lot of ways. I was a fan, both of his Flatt & Scruggs work and the stuff that came afterwards.

I had to be. Every Saturday night, my Dad watched the Flatt & Scruggs show as part of a lineup that included Porter Wagoner, the Wilburn Brothers and, later, Hee Haw. My Dad loved country music, though he wouldn’t love much of today’s country music. He tended toward bluegrass, but he liked all kinds: He actually bought a couple of Buck Owens albums and played them on our old stereo till the grooves wore out.

My dad loved them all, those shows. He really enjoyed Porter Wagoner, though he’d get mad at Porter for putting his hands on Dolly Parton, whom he always had a crush on. He had more than a crush on Loretta Lynn, who was on the Wilburn Brothers show (my least favorite of all of them – though I liked Loretta’s parts of the show – just not the WilBros).

But Flatt and Scruggs were my favorites of the genre. Even at a young age, appreciated their craftsmanship on the guitar and banjo, respectively. And they seemed to have a sense of humor. I also really loved their appearances on The Beverly Hillbillies. The best one was when they serenaded Jethro’s mom with the classic, “Pearl, Pearl, Pearl.” With lyrics such as these: “Pearl, Pearl, Pearl, come be my loving girl; Don’t you marry Lester Flatt, He slicks his hair with possum fat, Change your name to Mrs. Earl Scruggs” and Lester’s comeback: “Pearl, Pearl, Pearl, you’ll get no love from Earl; This here man is such a sap, He won’t hold you on his lap; Unless you are an old 5-string banjo.”

Ah, the 5-string banjo. Which brings me to one of my life’s great regrets – and I don’t have many. In the later years of his life, my Dad always said he wanted a banjo. I was a poor journalist (I know, redundant) and could never get him one.

I’m really sorry, Dad.

                                                                                                                                                     

I watched To Kill a Mockingbird last night. Again. I’ve seen more than 10 times, for sure. It’s definitely in my Top 5 movies (and books) of all time.

When Tom Robinson got convicted, I cried. As usual. The injustice of it all.

I applaud USA for showing it, and making a big deal of it. Its message of tolerance and doing the right thing is much needed right now.

The fact that Tom’s trial doesn’t have a happy ending, that Bob and Mayella Ewell don’t crack on the stand and yell, “You’re damn right I ordered a Code Red,” makes it more effective. The fact that Atticus vows to continue to do the right thing and work toward tolerance makes it more effective. The hurt on Scout and Jem and Dill’s faces makes it more effective.

                                                                                                                                                      

It will go ’round in circles, after all.

It’s hard to watch that message of tolerance and then watch the mustards at Augusta National as they continue to try to be exclusive. In all the worst ways.

What’s even worse is to hear all the people who defend Augusta National – which doesn’t bother to defend itself. “It’s a private club, let ’em do what they want.” “Men have to have a place to get away.” “They let women in there; now make me a pimiento cheese sandwich.”

It all sounds hauntingly familiar: Like the arguments used to exclude blacks from the club.

And, of course, most of the people making the arguments wouldn’t be allowed on Augusta National to make the egg salad or pimiento cheese or even mow the grass. They just think they’re being cool. Which, comes to think of it, is probably the reason people exclude others, anyway.

Hate ain’t cool. Intolerance ain’t cool.

And, to tell the truth, I guess I ain’t cool. Because I’ll probably watch the Masters today.

Make that another regret.

“Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.” _ Henry David Thoreau

“Don’t look back all you’ll ever get is the dust from the steps before …” _ She & Him

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