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A third-grade cutie and chocolate-covered cherries . . .

She was one year behind me in elementary school. I first became aware of her in my fourth year of elementary school and from that point on I stalked her, all the way through the sixth grade. A blue-eyed blond with a curvaceous figure, long pigtails and bowed legs, she was always smiling and skipping instead of walking—that may, perhaps, have accounted for the bowed legs. I did not consider her figure to be curvaceous at the time, did not in fact know the word. I just thought she was really, really, really cute, and the curvaceous thought came along in later years.

Her older sister was one of my classmates through elementary school. I pined for the older girl from the first grade to the fourth, then in that year I became aware of her blond sister in the third grade. I guess I liked younger girls, even at that early age, and I was hooked—my pining for the older sister ended abruptly.

Oddly enough, my fourth-grade class learned the song, “My darling Clementine” that year, right after I noticed the cute little blond in the third grade. That song relates the death of Clementine, a girl that lived “in a cavern, in a canyon” with her father, a “miner, forty-niner, excavating for a mine.”

According to the song, this is how Clementine perished:

Drove she ducklings to the water,

Every morning just at nine,

Struck her foot against a splinter,

Fell into the foaming brine.

Ruby lips above the water,

Blowing bubbles mighty fine,

But alas, she was no swimmer,

So I lost my Clementine.

How I missed her, how I missed her,

How I missed my Clementine,

But I kissed her little sister,

And forgot my Clementine.

When I heard the line that said “But I kissed her little sister,” I knew God had smiled down on me and cleared my path to a heaven on earth—all I needed now was to make my case to the little sister.

I never did. She never knew how I felt. I just hung around where she happened to be and stared at her. I never even sat beside her at the picture show—yes, we called it the picture show. The term movie was not in vogue in those days. But I did sit as close as I could without appearing conspicuous. I would actually take the seat directly behind her and stare lovingly at the back of her head, only occasionally leaning to the right or the left in order to see the screen. She was always cordial, always said “Hi!” when we met, but she never invited me to sit beside her and I was too scared to ask. Had I asked and been rejected, my life would have been over—I could never have recovered, and I was not willing to take that chance.

For a period of several months we lived in the same neighborhood. I lived in the house on one corner of the block, and her house was on the other corner on the same side of the street. She played with her friends and I played with mine, and except for school days we were rarely in the same area.

I believe that I have explained the third-grade cutie phrase in the title to this posting, so now I’ll get to the chocolate-covered cherries. I somehow acquired a whopping total of forty cents, cash, to be spent on anything my heart desired, and my heart desired a one-pound box of chocolate-covered cherries, a gift for Clementine’s sister, the “blue-eyed blond with a curvaceous figure, long pigtails and bowed legs” that lived at the end of my block.

I don’t remember whether there was any occasion involved—I suppose it could have been Christmas or someone’s birthday, or Valentine’s Day or some other significant day. I bought the cherries, took the box home and stared at it for a couple of days, then at high noon on a Saturday I took it to the house on the corner, placed it on the porch near the front door, rang the doorbell and ran like hell.

I never looked back. I never knew whether anyone was home at the time, whether the doorbell was answered, whether the door was opened, whether the box was picked up by her or by a family member, or by someone that just happened to stroll by, and seeing a perfectly good box of chocolate-covered cherries lying on the porch, purloined it and slithered away into some dark recess and glutton-like devoured all the candy. No one from either end of the street ever mentioned the chocolate-covered cherries incident, and life went on as before. It may perhaps be hard to believe, but I’ve wished, many times, that I had eaten them myself.

After elementary school I saw Clementine’s sister only one more time. I was home on leave from the military service and I took a nostalgic drive past the school where I attended junior high and high school. She walked across the street directly in front of me and I turned my head so far to watch her that I got a crick in my neck and damn near wrecked my car.

Now for an anti-climatic disclaimer: When I was twenty-years old I met, fell in love with and married a Georgia peach, a blue eyed blond with a curvaceous figure, but no pigtails and no bowed legs. We are well into our 58th year of marriage and are still in love—and the beat goes on.

I neither dwell nor dote on my memories—I had to do a lot of remembering to recall the specifics of the chocolate-covered cherries for this posting, and the walk down memory lane was interesting, but I neither regret nor wonder about what might have been.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2010 in Childhood, Family, Humor

 

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Redux—About the King of Texas . . .

My “About the King of Texas” page is a work in progress. I am re-posting it now as one of the first steps towards presenting a more comprehensive picture of my mother’s youngest son—that’s me, myself or I, whichever seems correct to the viewer (other writers vary, and as a group tend to use all three at separate times.

In my world when I was a child, when asked a question such as, “Who wants to go to the picture show?” we would often reply, “Me, myself and I,” indicating that all three of us would jump at the chance to see a picture show. For the edification of viewers a bit younger than I, picture show was our term for a movie. We never suggested going to a movie, or to a theater.

The term movies is derived from motion pictures, the words first used to describe the mid-19th century process of projecting images on a dark screen by passing film strips rapidly between a bright light and the screen. Motion pictures morphed into moving pictures and the truncated term movies soon followed, and that is the term most used today. In the era of my early childhood, the terms motion pictures and moving pictures were not used—at least not in my isolated rural area in Alabama.

In retrospect, I postulate the possibility that those terms had become passe’ and we had advanced to the term picture show. However, I don’t recall hearing the word passe’ at the time—had I heard it I would have probably considered it to be a mispronunciation of a familiar noun, one that had several definitions and uses (so to speak), including its use to indicate the gender of a female cat or kitten, namely passe’ cat. The gender of a male cat is, of course, indicated by the term “tom cat,” indicating a male cat or kitten).

For the additional edification of the group of the population younger than I, a group that accounts for ninety-one percent of our nation’s population, those under the age of seventy, I happily and gratefully report that I breathe the rarified air of the other nine percent. I have for a goodly number of years, and I’m still counting.

Hey, don’t laugh—we’re gaining on the young’uns—in 1950 we were only five percent!

I don’t recall our little town having a theater—if it did have one, it was never referred to as a theater. Little though our town was, we did have a picture show, one that was brightly lighted and showed films every Friday and Saturday night—it was dark for the rest of the week.

Ah, for the good old days!

Here is my current home page.

It’s not completely original—I have made slight modifications to it over the ten months I’ve been blogging, and subsequent changes will follow. This posting includes the comments that the site has garnered (a rather sparse listing).

About the King of Texas

I will complete my “About” page later (and I have a lot to say about myself), but because my daughter made me promise to post something—anything—no later than today, I’ll keep my promise with this short prayer:

Oh, Lord, please deliver me from people that use the expression “can’t wrap my head around that.” How can one wrap one’s head around something? If one has difficulty forming a mental grasp of something one has heard, seen or felt, then say it, rather than using such an inane voguish phrase.

On the practical side, should one successfully wrap one’s head around something the cranium would be horribly distorted, and the process of unwrapping one’s head could be unsuccessful—consider just how disastrous that would be.

Viewers’ responses:

1. Well said….written. I have never liked the phrase “keep your eyes peeled” which sounds pretty painful. However I do like the phrase “head on a swivel.” I’m sure the King of Texas knows (or will shortly find out) where these phrases originated. He seems like that type of guy to me. Also, it is quite convenient when people say “to me” at the end of a sentence. My 5 year old daughter says that quite often and who can argue with that—. Not I. (By itsjustnotright on March 23, 2009)

2. Dear King of Texas: You write like Flannery O’Connor, so maybe you are the King O’Texas. I am going to delve more into this blog at a later time—you know, when I can wrap my head around it. What do you think of the word “irregardless?” (By Barbara Kelley on June 13, 2009)

My reply:

Hi, Barbara—thanks for the comment, particularly for your comparison of my writing to that of Flannery O’Connor—I’ll accept it as a compliment, regardless of her propensity to lace her writings with grotesque characters. I appreciate your application of an apostrophe to my title—apostrophication, so to speak. I know—apostrophication is not a word—at least it was not a word until I created it. I couldn’t find it anywhere online or offline. I should probably apply for a patent so I could draw royalties each time the word is used.

I love it—there is probably a wee bit of Irish in all of us, including our current president. And here I must give thanks and a tip of my hat to Kinky Friedman, a well-known Texas resident and a successful writer and sometimes candidate (unsuccessful) for public office. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Kinky said that he would vote for that Irishman, Barak O’Bama.

As regards—or in regard to—or regarding—irregardless:

Irregardless is not a proper word, regardless of its appearance in dictionaries and regardless of its use in speeches and writings by supposedly erudite persons. An exception might be when the user is faced with an untutored audience, one that might accept its use as proper—audiences in certain southern hilly or swampy areas, for example.

You know, of course, that the prefix ir means not, and the suffix less means without, ergo the non-word irregardless contains a double negative.

Less negates regard all by itself—it needs no help from ir.

Thanks again for your visit and for your comment. Please feel free to “delve more into” my blog—I welcome your comments, whether compliments or criticisms, and I will respond to either—or both.

3. Good morning—one day one of our officers said, “I can’t wrap my head around it right now.” I thought, what does she mean? Well, I know now. I became overloaded with projects at work and simply couldn’t take on one more responsibility. Still, I don’t appreciate this kind of expression. Why not just say, I have too much responsibility right now and can’t take on anything more at this time. Information overload is a reality in the work world now unfortunately.

Cindy Dyer is our graphic artist. She mentioned what a great writer you are. I can see you enjoy being a student of language. The world needs those who can express themselves with polish and flair. The gift of writing using eloquent language skills is fast disappearing from this world.

Best wishes, Mary Ellen

Immediately after reading Barbara Kelley’s comment, my head swelled to such huge proportions that, for a brief time, any itch that developed anywhere above my neck required the use of a back-scratcher to quell the itching. Because the swelling phenomenon occurs frequently, I keep a back-scratcher within handy reach. In this instance the swelling was mercifully short in duration. Through my use of deductive reasoning (reaching a conclusion by reducing a general conclusion to a specific fact), my swollen head quickly returned to its normal size.

I realize that probably all my viewers know the principles of deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning, but on the remote possibility that one-in-a-million is not familiar with the terms, here is an example of deductive reasoning:

First premise:

All good writers are always brilliant.

Second premise:

I am sometimes brilliant—I have teeny weenie flashes of brilliance (my opinion).

Conclusion:

I am a good writer.

The swelling was quickly reduced because that argument is not valid. If the first premise is true, that brilliant writers are always brilliant, then my conclusion that I am a brilliant writer is invalid because I am only sometimes brilliant. In order for the argument to be valid, the second premise would have to be that I am always brilliant.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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