I’m Afraid I’m Going to Have to Ask You to SHUT UP!

Two wrongs don’t make a right. I’m aware of that. My response to what I’m about to describe to you is probably just as wrong as what I’m writing about here. Also, this marks the first time that I’ve titled a blog entry using a bad word. Words in this case. Yeah, I know. There are worse words and phrases than “shut up.” My daughter considers it a bad word, though, and so it is officially a bad word. You see, my wife and I have tried to teach our children that there are words and actions that are impolite and inappropriate. We’re not perfect and neither are our children. I freely acknowledge that. One thing that I think we have done a relatively good job at is teaching them when it is appropriate for them to sit quietly. Among those times would be, of course, church. Movie theaters also fall into this category as do libraries. I’ve sort of always operated under the assumption that this was one of the easier lessons to teach a child. I won’t get into the whole clichéd thing about what happens when we assume but you know what I mean. I’ve apparently assumed incorrectly.

My 5 year-old daughter and I attended my 4th grade son’s awards day ceremony at this school this morning. Mrs. Willis, the principle, welcomed those in attendance. We all clapped and the procession of students began to cross the stage in the student activity center. It was a quiet, respectful ceremony…for about 45 seconds. That was about the time that one, then two, then 7, then too many to count decided it would be a good time to converse with their neighbor. What began as a murmur quickly grew into multiple, practically full-volume conversations between adults. Not children, there was some of that, but mostly adults! I heard no less than three cell phone conversations occurring during the ceremony. These were not conversations occurring right next to me, mind you, but across the room! Come on, people! Certainly you can do better that this. Maybe not, though.

If this were the first time I’ve experienced something like this then I might be inclined to simply write it off as an anomalous occurrence. I’ve attended many events similar in nature over the last couple of years where whatever happening on stage is secondary to socializing with others. Graduations, plays, pageants, and assemblies of all sorts have fallen victim to the maddening din of rudeness. Yep. I said it. It’s rude. It’s also inconsiderate and selfish and most of you should know better. Not everyone was behaving in this manner but those who were made it sound like an unsupervised lunchroom full of second graders on chili crispito day. I caught the glances of several others who were as dumbstruck by this display as I was. We shook our heads and shrugged our shoulders in helpless frustration. Maybe more holders of the microphone, those who are on stage speaking, should employ what we’ll refer to as the Preacher Hankins method of quieting a crowd. I’m not Preacher Hankins but my father is. When I was in 8th or 9th grade, I decided to have a little share time with whatever buddy of mine happened to be sitting next to me in church. My father, his big, booming voice extolling the virtues of a life spent following Christ, stopped cold in his tracks and said, “Thad, you better zip it right now.” I have related that story many times in my life by saying, “You ain’t been called down ’til you’ve been called down from the pulpit by your preacher who also happens to be your father.” It wasn’t pretty or fun. My ears turned red and I was more embarrassed than I ever remember being before or since. A funny thing happened, though. I became more selective about the things I needed to say aloud in church and even when I determined something did need to be said, it was whispered. In fact it was whispered in as whispery a voice as humanly possible so as not to raise the ire of the preacher again.

If principals and teachers and guest speakers and masters of ceremony all over the country would occasionally call a couple of people out and make an example of them by embarrassing them and pointing out the rudeness of their behavior, then maybe others who would behave similarly would think twice before conversing. Maybe not, but it sure would make those of us who try and sit quietly and respectfully feel better! My rant is done and I can now go about my day in relative peace. Thank you for indulging me. Enjoy Foghat.

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That Was Awkward

Wanted to post something but too much pizza on this pizza night at the Hankins household has rendered me complacent. So, here is a repost from June 15, 2009. Enjoy. Or don’t. I’m complacent right now, remember?

I was at a family reunion yesterday for my wife’s family. Maybe forty or fifty people give or take a few. In the South, someone is always asked to say a blessing before eating. There was some discussion as to who it would be and when it was finally decided upon, my brother-in-law, Brad, began to pray. About five seconds into the prayer, some unfortunate soul decided that was the time to walk into the house through the front door. If you’ve never been the person who walks unaware into the midst of a group of hungry, praying southerners, all the while continuing the conversation you had started with someone outside, prior to the blessing, well, you don’t want to be. Trust me on this. I’ve been there. The voice that in reality may be only slightly louder than you might talk to someone in a library, becomes a scream in such a situation. Which got me to thinking about other embarrassing moments. Such as…

Waving at someone whom you think is waving at you, when they are actually waving at someone behind you. It can be tough turning a full-fledged wave into a stretch or a move to fix your hair. I never know how to react when this happens to me, regardless of whether I’m the waver or the faked-out wavee. If I’m the waver, I kind of want both people to think I was waving at them even if I’ve never met the guy I wasn’t waving at. If I’m the guy who waved incorrectly, I want to act like there is someone I’m waving at behind the guy who waved at the guy behind me. Whew. Turn the old tables on him!

This one may be unique to working in a phone store, but…answering a question that you think someone is asking you when they are actually asking someone on a bluetooth, wireless earpiece. I usually say out loud, “Well, I’m an idiot. You weren’t talking to me.” Luckily, they don’t hear that because they are so engrossed in the real conversation.

Then, there’s the time I extended my right hand to shake hands with a man who had no right hand. Awkward! The bad thing about that is I knew him, his name was Jim, and I was aware he didn’t have a right hand and I did it anyway. He kind of chuckled and grabbed my right hand with his left hand and that always feels really weird. Stupid me.

By the way, is it ever okay to shake someone’s hand as they are exiting the bathroom? Or worse, they have just turned around from doing their business and haven’t even made it to the sink to wash their hands yet? I have a friend who was at church one Sunday and had just finished his business at the urinal and turned around to head to the sink. He swears a guy said, “Hey Jojo(not his real name). How are you?” And reached out to shake his hand. My friend shook his hand. Gross. 

Speaking of church, a friend and I once went to a revival service at his church which started at 7:00 p.m. We walked in while the congregation was singing and sat down about halfway to the front with some friends of ours. They finished the song and then the pastor called on someone to CLOSE the service in prayer and we left. Three minutes, tops. Apparently, church started at 6:00 p.m. I wondered why everyone was looking at us so funny.

And, of course, the old I’m walking along, I almost trip over an invisible rope, now I must jog for ten feet and look back to try and see the invisible guys who were holding the invisible rope.

I know this is sort of a pointless post but things have been kind of heavy here lately so I thought I’d try to lighten things up a bit. Ain’t life fun?!? Tell me some of your most embarrassing moments in the comments section below. Or, just laugh at me and say nothing, which is what most of you will do(minus the laughing, I suspect). Oh, and if anyone knows Steve Calloway, ask him about the time he and I were at McDonald’s one Sunday night after church and he ignored the elderly ladies who were trying to talk to him. He’ll know what you mean!

Chasing the Twins…In Memory of my Uncle Ralph Who Went to Heaven Last Night

My Uncle Ralph was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis over 40 years ago. He retired from preaching and slowly, his health began to deteriorate. By the time he moved in with my family, after the death of my Aunt Bunny, my mother’s twin sister, in 1990, he couldn’t walk and was mostly confined to a recliner where he pored over his massive baseball card collection, watched any sport that happened to be on TV, and became my friend. When Aunt Bunny died he probably never thought he’d be reunited with her sooner rather than later. He probably never expected to live more than 20 years after that. I’m glad he did, though I neglected to visit him in the last years of his life. My loss. I’ll be speaking at his funeral on Wednesday and count it an honor. I’m reposting this article he wrote for my blog back in 2009 in his memory. We will miss him here, but I can only imagine how happy he is now to be reunited in Heaven with my Aunt Bunny who took care of him for so many years. Can’t wait to see them both again.
My mom and dad
My Aunt Bunny and Uncle Ralph
By Ralph Smith
(Commonly known as Uncle Ralph)
It was 1949. Harry Truman was in the White House, the Braves were in Boston, and I was in the U. S. Air Force. I had never heard of Elvis, or Viet Nam, or the Internet. I had never seen a television, a mini-skirt, or a cell-phone. Every jukebox was playing “The Lovesick Blues” by a guy named Hank Williams. I’d never heard of him before leaving for Germany a year earlier. Little did I know that I was coming to his home town, and arriving on his birthday, September 17.
I was sent to Maxwell Field to be re-assigned to some other base. I arrived on Saturday and went to church on Sunday, where I met a pair of pretty twin sisters, Those Twins have been discussed previously on this blog, and if you’re wondering why I’m telling all this, I’ll give you a clue, as Hank would say. If this story hadn’t happened pretty much as it did happen, many of the people reading this blog wouldn’t be here. Come to think of it, this blog wouldn’t be here! So pay attention!
There were a lot of men coming through the relocation center at Maxwell at that time, for various reasons, and the regular staff was snowed under. Hundreds of men were standing in line every day, and it was time consuming work. When the sergeant in charge learned that I was a Clerk-Typist, I “volunteered” to help out. If you served in the Military, you know how you volunteer. In this case, I didn’t mind a bit, because I wanted to see those Twins again.
Those Twins were Dorothy and Doris Barber, but they were known as Dot and Bunny. They were the youngest of fifteen children, and they were the only unmarried ones remaining. That, by the way, was the most amazing family I ever knew, but that’s another story. Because they were the youngest, their Mother was very protective, and insisted that they only double-date. Their Father had died the year before, and their mother was boss. That meant, if I wished to date Bunny, I must bring a buddy for Dot. That was no problem, except for Dot, who didn’t care to date just any guy. I did the best I could but the talent pool was limited.
Then I met Jim, who was returning from Panama. He was tall, and good looking, and almost as cool as I was. He was also a Clerk-Typist, and he volunteered, just as I had, to work at a desk beside me. I persuaded him to double-date. He liked it. We dated the twins, and we became buddies. We were young and foolish. We spent money like congress. We bought a car together. We moved into a vacant room in the transient barracks without permission. That room was for men with four or more stripes. Jim had two and I had two……thar’s four. We talked a lot about all kinds of things. Once, he told me that if he ever had a son, he’d name him Thad. I told him that I had been a Chaplain’s Assistant, and that Chaplain’s name was Thad Son. I kid you not!
We worked hard in the office, sometimes late at night. Our friendship grew stronger. We chased the twins. Jim went to Pensacola with me to visit my family. I went with him to Fayette to visit his. True love didn’t run smooth. We dated other girls, and the Twins dated other guys. I was miseraabe. By this time, I was in love. I thought Bunny was the prettiest girl I ever knew. That was sixty years ago. My opinion has not changed.
We bought a newer car, Through circumstance you don’t want to know, we lost it. Neither of us blamed the other. We had fun together, we made mistakes together. We rode the bus together. We chased the Twins together.
The work we were doing slowed down, and Jim and I were no longer needed there, so we were transferred to other squadrons on Maxwell. The trouble was that we were separated now. We worked and slept in different buildings. Each of us made new buddies That often happened in the Military, and fellows usually just moved on to new relationships. In this case however, a bond had been formed. Jim and I were now more than buddies; we were friends. There was also that common mission…….we were chasing the Twins.
We stayed at Maxwell until we were discharged. We got jobs and Bunny and I were married. Three weeks later, Dot and Jim were married. I was not mature enough for marriage, but nobody could have told me that. I thought I was ten feet tall and bullet-proof. There was no doubt in my mind that I would get a job and climb the ladder of success. Yeah! Jim probably thought just as I did, but I won’t speak for him.
We had chased the Twins, as Jim loves to say, until they caught us. In love stories and fairy tales, when boy finally wins girl, that’s the end, but in real life, it’s only…..THE BEGINNING.