Dancing With the…..Girls?!

For the life of me, I can’t remember if I was in fourth or fifth grade. But the events of that day are still vivid in my mind.

I am a baby-boomer, though I didn’t realize it growing up. I was born a couple of years after the end of the war. We lived in a bustling river town about 45 miles west of Chicago.

My dad worked at a lumber yard in a bigger town ten miles north. He was the first employee hired by the partners who started the company. One story he loved to tell illustrates the times. There was so much demand for lumber they had to scratch to find it wherever they could around the country. He would tell about going to the train yard on a cold autumn morning to check a shipment from Georgia. When they opened the door on the boxcars that pine was so wet and green that the steam just rolled out.

I experienced the boom when I started school. Shelby School was an old brick building with six class rooms and a kindergarten wing. Instead of having grades K though 6th, there were so many kids in town they needed two rooms each for 1st through 3rd, the same being true with the other schools in town.

The year I got to fourth grade, four new elementary schools opened. Fourth grade was the only class in the schools the first year. The next year they add fifth and then sixth the year following.

Davis School was a nice modern building. There was even a small gym. You should probably know that I didn’t care much for PE. Being a “husky” kid I couldn’t run, jump or shoot baskets worth a hoot. One day though, PE went clear through the floor: they announced we were going to square-dance. Boys and girls together. Mortified, I was certain I would be infested with cooties.

The morning came and I feigned illness. Mom saw right through me. I dallied at breakfast. Threateningly Mom said, “You’d better get moving or you’ll miss the bus.”

Moping, I started out. I had to walk north to the end of the block, turn left at the corner and go to the next corner.

It was late winter. It would snow a little, then warm up and rain a little and then the puddles would freeze again overnight. As boys are wont to do, I was slowly Icy puddle 3moving north breaking the thin crust of ice on each puddle I encountered, hoping to miss the bus. Then, splash. I found myself sitting in a puddle with my pants soaking up the frigid water. At first I was very upset. Then it occurred to me that I might miss the bus. Oh happy day.

I went home and confronted Mom. She was not pleased. “But it was an accident,” I pleaded. She found some dry clothes and urged me to change quickly, there was still time to catch the bus.

Back out on the street I headed north. There was the puddle. I stopped and looked at it. I started out again then turned around and went back. I stood there thinking for several minutes. With the decision made, I slowly sat down in the puddle. Now I would miss the bus for sure.

When I got home, Mom was standing in the open door looking like she would explode. “I slipped aga…..”. “YOU DID NOT,” she said very loudly.

It seems I made a critical error as I was reasoning at the puddle. I neglected to factor in that the puddle was in front of my aunt’s house. Mom had called her to watch for me as I headed back to the bus. She of course witnessed the whole thing and called Mom back before I got there.

I paid dearly for my sin.

“But Mom, I missed the bus.” “You are going to school,” she said with more ice in her voice than there had been in that puddle. The last clean pair of pants in the house was too short and made of hot, itchy wool. She put me in a taxi with a note to my teacher. Arriving late and looking frumpy, I had to endure the jeers of my classmates and the stern look from my teacher. The greatest humiliation of the day, though, was that I had to square-dance…….. with girls.


A Fall Afternoon

Its that time of year again. Time for cold, clouds and gloom. Actually the changing of the seasons is one of the great things about the midwest. After Fall and Winter comes Spring!


Good Advice

I never intended for this blog to become a pulpit. Yet today I am talking about a sermon my pastor gave recently. Or rather, about the first part of one Scripture verse from that sermon.

The setting is Jerusalem in the fifth century B.C. Ruins had replaced a once vibrant and magnificent walled city. Nehemiah returned to lead the people in restoring the once great city. As with any noble, heroic work, he faced strong opposition; from inside and out. When the wall was rebuilt to half of it height, he learned about the taxation, exacting of interest and other abuses heaped upon his poor, defeated countrymen by their own Jewish nobles and governors.  To put it mildly, Nehemiah was very angry. He then wrote, “I took counsel with myself…” (Neh. 5:7 ESV)

I missed the next little bit of pastor’s sermon lost in thought when I saw that phrase. Everyone of you reading this has at one time or another gotten angry. The anger may have been justified, or not. That isn’t the point. The point is, what do we do when it happens?

All of us have been told things like, “take a deep breath”, “count to ten”, “cool off”, “think nice thoughts” and etc. Those bits of advice are meant to defuse the volatility of our anger, as is Nehemiah’s statement. I can still remember colossal blunders I have made in the heat of an angry moment when I should have had a little chat with myself.

Next time the temperature rises and you are about to blow your top, remember old Nehemiah and take counsel with yourself. Just maybe “me, myself and I” can get together and avert a disaster.

Love Remembered

I am definitely not a romance novel kind of guy. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a little spark of romance in me. I mentioned in Death’s Door a trip we took for our anniversary in June. We spent the weekend in Door county Wisconsin for their annual Lighthouse Festival.

Lighthouses hold a fascination for us. St. Augustine Florida was the first one we visited in the ’90’s. That got us hooked. To date we have been to 175 different lighthouses on both oceans and all five Great Lakes. In fact, my son, who was visiting recently, declared that we are geeks about lighthouses because we keep an “esoteric inventory” of them. He picked that up from an interview with Adam Savage from “Mythbusters”. I guess he’s right.

Me and the wife actually sat down and discussed why we are drawn to these crazy things. What it seems to boil down to is the stories. There is the romance of the sea, the power of nature, acts of heroism, different places and times in history, the sacrifice of families living in isolation at remote locations and of course the love stories.

When you climb those spiral, cast iron steps that have stood there for 150 years, you imagine you are the keeper carrying oil up to the lamp. The higher you climb the further back you go in time. You step out on to the observation deck. The modern towns and condos on the shore fade. There is only the water. In your mind you see a ship in the dark, twelve miles out being coarsely bullied by the irrational sea. In the pilot house the captain takes comfort from and sets his course by the beacon flashing over your head.

On this latest trip we visited nine different light sites, six for the first time. Five of those six were on islands that we saw on a special boat tour that sails once a year weather permitting.

Many of the island lights have been abandoned for decades and some are in advanced stages of decay. With modern technology like radar and GPS, lighthouses are no longer needed for navigation. We were saddened to learn that the Poverty Island and St. Martins Island lights – both in Michigan waters – are on a doomsday list and are slated to be demolished.

Some lights are saved by non-profit groups that raise  money and volunteer their time. In the case of these two, they are so remote and the islands so desolate it just isn’t feasible.

My wife’s “favorite” lighthouse is Eagle Bluff. It is not the most picturesque location or unique design. What she especially likes, are the stories.

One of the keepers had a large number of sons. That was a boon in regard to tending the livestock and garden, and when it was time to paint. All were pressed into service to paint; even the smallest was required to paint up as high as he could reach. When the lighthouse was restored some years back they found 90 coats of paint on some walls. They figured there should have been about 60. The mystery was solved when they interviewed the youngest son who was then in his 80’s. He told them that mother had a penchant for having the boys get out the brushes and mix up the paint when they misbehaved.

The boys were all accomplished musicians and would often entertain the family and guests in the evening. On Saturday night they would take their instruments, including the piano, down to Fish Creek and play at the weekly dance. And the stories go on.

The Sherwood Point light was one we had never seen. You could only view it from the water. It had not been open to the public for over 40 years because it was U.S. Coastguard property. By special arrangement, it was open to the public the two days we were there this summer. Of course this light has a story too.

Keeper Henry Stanley transferred from Eagle Point Light and first lit the lamp on October 10, 1883.  Miss Minnie Hesh, Mrs. Stanley’s niece, came to visit from Brooklyn, New York, in the fall of  1884 after the death of her parents. Like many Door county visitors, she stayed.

In 1889 Minnie married William Cochems, the son of a Sturgeon Bay businessman. Cochems became acting assistant keeper in 1894. Upon Keeper Stanley’s death in 1895, Cochems was appointed Keeper. Minnie was appointed assistant keeper in 1898.

A Keeper’s wife had a very busy life. There is the gardening, canning and cooking, tending to the needs of the children and all the other chores of washing, ironing, cleaning and… That was all part of the life of a wife and mother in her home at the beginning of the twentieth century.

We often don’t think of the fact that a lighthouse is three different things. Though it is a family home, first it is a lighthouse. With that comes all the work and responsibility of maintaining the light. Cleaning the lens, trimming the wicks and hauling the oil were primary. Checking the lamp, refilling the oil, and winding the clock-works needed to be done every two hours, every night  during the shipping season.

What we don’t consider is that a lighthouse is owned and regulated by the federal government. An inspector could show up anytime without notice. Poking his nose in anywhere, he would evaluate everything.  Laundry and ironing had to be finished and out of sight by 10:00 AM. Being a public building, they had to be ready to receive guests and give tours at any time.

William and Minnie, the Keeper and his assistant, did it all for thirty years, until Minnie’s death. They worked side by side raising a family, maintaining the light and growing in their devotion to each other. This was a partnership; they were a team demonstrating what a marriage should be.

William dearly loved his wife and greatly mourned her passing. He buried her on a hill near the lighthouse. In remembrance of her years of service, William built a stone marker that bears a plaque in her honor. He retired five years later.

Sherwood Point was the last manned lighthouse on the Great Lakes being automated in the fall of 1983.

If you get to visit Sherwood Point, you can go down the sidewalk to the northeast and see Minnie’s marker. If you ever get to spend the night there, don’t bother to do the supper dishes. They say that Minnie’s ghost visits at night, washes the dishes and sets the table for your breakfast.

Taming the Wild

Pete stood facing east. His eyes reflected the pastel colors of the sky just before sunrise. The cloud bank at the horizon was outlined in the iridescent orange of the sun that was just out of sight. He absently lifted the tin cup to his mouth and poured in the contents. Instantly he spat out the cold coffee and grounds. “Swill,” he muttered. Shaking out the cup, he walked over to his steed and put it in his saddle-bag.

“Reckon we’ll make Kingman by sundown?” inquired Hank. “Reckon,” Pete replied.

“Think we’ll have rain? Monsoon’s comin’ on.” asked Hank. ” Maybe,” answered Pete.

“That was a real gully washer we hit in Tucumcari,” Hank reflected. “Yup.”

“Probably be another hot one,” Hank commented. “Yup,” came the reply. But Pete was in another place and time.

These two went way back. They were born and raised on the Eastern seaboard. In their teens they grew restless and had to break out. They took off for the West before they turned twenty. Out west they would live the wild life with the wild things. It seemed they were riding these trails together all their lives. From ocean to ocean, International Falls to the Rio Grande, they saw it all. But they always came back to the high desert of New Mexico.

In the early days they got quite a reputation. Drifting from one little cow town to another they always hit the saloons. After they got some liquor in them, there was usually a fight. Pete had a lightning right hook that really stung whomever he hit. They called him “The Scorpion”. When Hank got worked up, he would clinch his teeth and his breath made a hissing sound. “The Snake” was his handle. They were different men back then. Time has a way of changing a man. As does the desert. As does the love of a woman.

Pete knew that when the Lord called and he was on his death-bed, the last image to fade from his mind would be the image of Tess that was branded on his brain the day he first saw her. He and Hank had been riding all day in the New Mexico desert. Hot wind was kicking the sand up into little dust devils. Pete glanced off to the right at one of those little devils. When he glanced back, she was standing there. Her skin was red-bronze. She had a tattered eagle feather woven into her black hair. Their eyes met and their souls merged. Her lips were the color of a desert rose. Her dark eyes had gold flecks like the Tiger Eyes from the mountains of Colorado. She was as fresh and fragile as a cactus flower. They rode these trails together for years – the happiest years of his life.

He also would never forget the day that the desert, as mysteriously and suddenly as it had given him Tess, took her back. How long ago was that? A year? Ten? Twenty?

“We should prob’ly get goin’,” Hank stated. “Oh; yeah.” said Pete snapping out of his trance.

He looked back east. The sun was just up over the horizon; a large orange ball of fire that set the whole desert a-blaze.

He walked back to his steed and climbed into the saddle. Turning the key, he jumped on the kick starter. The old Harley roared like a caged beast straining to break the bars. A hundred years earlier men rode horses made of flesh, sinew and bone. Pete’s mount was made of iron and steel.

This was their last ride: they were going to the ocean – leaving the desert with all of its memories, never to return.

Zipping up his jacket against the morning chill, Pete pulled down his goggles and nodded to Hank. In unison they put their big bikes into gear and took off, merging into the sparse traffic heading west on I-40. The Snake and the Scorpion were racing the sun to Kingman.

Learning to Lean

5:53 last Tuesday morning I had one of those moments. I was in sync with the road and my machine.

The highway is usually busy and boring on my ride to work. Though I could vary the route, my passionate quest for monotony demands that I take the same roads every day. Last Tuesday I rode my motorcycle.

I turned on to the last one-mile stretch. Cracking the throttle I wound through the gears. Doing 60 with the tach steady at 3600 and the wind in my face, there was not a vehicle in sight. Before my turn-off to work there is an s-curve. Gliding into the curve I put a little pressure on the left grip and leaned left. Halfway through I straightened up and leaned right. Those singing tires could not have followed the curve any better if they were locked onto a steel track. I decelerated and turned into work. My mind was still flying down the road.

I have been riding my bike for years. At this point I don’t think about the process of motorcycle riding  anymore. But it’s a different story when you first get on one. In the beginning you need to learn to coordinate both hands and feet to operate the throttle, clutch, front brake, rear brake, gear shift and turn signals. You feel a bit overwhelmed. But probably the hardest thing to learn is to lean in the turns. It seems so dangerous and unnatural.

I was talking to a retired business owner I know. He had a boat in the Everglades, a small airplane, a motorcycle and who knows what all else. Our discussion turned to motorcycling. He told me, “I could never take my wife on that motorcycle. She just wouldn’t lean. We would go into a turn, I would lean  and she would try to stay straight up. I don’t know how many times she nearly put us in a ditch. I quit taking her.”

This is quite a fitting metaphor for relationships. Leaning on other people from time to time can ease the stress and struggle on our journey. But leaning doesn’t come easy. After all we live in a country that was born independent. We tend to have the John Wayne syndrome. Be it the wild west, World War II or oil-rig fires, the Duke would ride in guns-a-blazin’ and solve the problem – single-handed. Thinking we can go it alone, we find it hard to ask for help.

Overcoming fear and learning to trust are requirements for leaning. Two sides of the old well-worn coin. I dare say that trusting a machine comes easier than trusting people. A machine is going to react the same way every time. On a bike you think, this thing weighs 500 pounds, if it falls over I’m going to get hurt. Eventually you gain confidence and actually look forward to the curves. With people you already know you can get hurt.

The issue is, are you willing to take the risk? People do stupid stuff and fail. But when you find someone to connect to, to open up with, to be vulnerable with, they can really help lift the burden.

So, what do you say Ke-mo sah-bee?  Are you going to tame the wild west single-handed? or learn to lean?

A Bag of Nuts and Bolts

Internet Explorer, click. Google, Gmail, click. Username, Password, click. Inbox. A notice from WordPress. Hey!, cool! someone “liked” my post! And I don’t know her, so, she doesn’t know me. I get so excited, it’s almost like Christmas in June.

Then I get curious. Who is she? I click on her “like” link. I read “About”.  Then I read a couple of her recent posts. Wow! she wrote a book. Amazon, click. I found her book. “Look inside”, click. Boy, she has quite a story. She has been through a lot. She’s a Psychologist. She has taken all the hard stuff in her life, fused it to her studies and transformed it into something positive; she is helping people. Neat.

That’s when my mind soars. I think about the people I know in Indiana who studied psychology and now have flourishing counseling practices. My mind meanders on to think about the psychology discipline itself. The “science” of psychology has discovered a lot about the mind and emotions and how they work in us. There is a lot of useful information in the discipline – as far as it goes. I consider other “sciences”. My working definition of science here includes the pure or classical sciences and also other disciplines that gather data, systematize it, analyze it and form hypothesise based on it. I’m sure you true scientists think I’m an uneducated bumpkin. But, I’m including psychology, philosophy, ethics and even theology. I am lumping all these disciplines together for their commonalities. Their common processes, production and limitations.

I don’t believe that any one science, in your list or mine, can give you the complete answer; the whole picture. Each discipline is dependent on others. Let me illustrate.

At the end of the season this year, one of the primetime doctor TV shows dealt with a real sticky one. One of the doctors was pregnant. The problem was that the baby had no brain. It had a rudimentary brain stem that kept the mechanical functions of the little body running. Yet there were no brainwaves, no thoughts, no personality. The doctor-mom wanted to carry the baby to term, deliver it,  take it apart and donate the organs to save other babies. Not unlike an auto mechanic taking parts off of a wrecked Buick to fix another one. The doctors on the show were conflicted. Some said yes, others no. To be alive – medicine says – you must have brainwaves. This baby didn’t, but…

In the real world the psychologist, philosopher and theologian would have something to say and they might not all agree. The best any one discipline can do is give you a bag of nuts and bolts. I say that with true respect for the disciplines of science. Actually nuts and bolts are very important things. I’m a nuts and bolts kind of guy. One of the most important decisions to the success or failure of a mechanical device is to choose the right fasteners.

I believe we need to understand the limitations of the sciences and see where we fit in.

Indulge me while I tell a little story. It is pure fiction. Yet it is a true story. This is your story and mine. Our circumstances might have been vastly different, but the story is the same.

The young woman is standing alone in front of her mother’s casket, softly weeping. Hugging herself tightly with her right arm, her left hand rests on her swollen abdomen, feeling her son move. Six months ago, when her husband was deployed, Mom was so vibrant and excited about this little guy. The disease moved so fast. Doubts, fears and questions are spinning in her mind. They become a maelstrom that threatens to suck her down and crush her on hidden rocks.

At this point my fellow blogger-psychologist can get out her textbook and explain in detail the stages we go through dealing with grief. She would give us a very enlightening and helpful bag of nuts and bolts. But there is one extremely important piece missing: the touch of a another human.

The door at the back of the funeral chapel opens and an older woman comes in. She has been here too many times. Not quite three years ago, she and her sister – the woman in the casket – were here to bury their mother. She walks up and puts her arm around her niece. They tilt their heads until they touch and stand there weeping softly together.

She is no longer alone. A very narrow sliver of hope cracks the darkness. Now the healing can begin.

Death’s Door

Last weekend we took a trip to celebrate our anniversary. Door County Wisconsin was holding their annual Lighthouse Festival. We took a boat tour to see five lighthouses we would otherwise never get to see. The lighthouse in the header is on Pilot Island. It sits at the mouth of the channel between the north end of the Door County peninsula and Washington Island on the Lake Michigan side. Because it was so dangerous for the schooners 150 years ago the passage was named Death’s Door.

In those days Pilot Island was covered with lush vegetation. When the people abandoned the island and lighthouse the birds took over. The black birds in the picture are Cormorants. Their droppings are so toxic that all the vegetation died, leaving the small, stark wasteland pictured here.

Word #1: Love

I have often said , growing up speaking midwestern slanguage, (with a Chicago accent) that English was the only foreign language I ever studied. It is interesting that in most European and Asian countries, learning the English language is required in their schools. I can attest to the fact that English is a hard language to learn. In English, certain single words can mean several things. Or, several different words can mean the same thing. Consider the words “cool” and “hot”. Opposites, right? Unless you are talking about cars or chicks. What about “to, too and two”. They all sound the same but are different. And how about “good food”? Identical “oo” and pronounced differently. Now, add in grammar…

In 1972 I started preparing for the ministry at a Bible Institute. I was seven years out from a less than stellar high school career. I had a purpose being in school, but it was hard learning how to study. One class I had first semester was English 101. In the first class the prof handed out his syllabus and gave us some warnings. He said we would be writing in class and outside of class. Spelling was very important to him. Rule one: one misspelled word equalled one letter grade reduction. He said, “If you can’t spell, carry a dictionary.” I couldn’t, so I did. Since I had three little sons, worked, went to school and had to sleep some, my wife typed my papers for me. She was crushed the day I brought an essay home with a big red “A” crossed out with a big red “B” next to it. The only other mark was a red circle around a word with two letters transposed.

I learned to enjoy reading and became intrigued with words. With their etymology, meaning and usage. We read to our boys a lot and encouraged them to read. We liked to play “word games”. We still like to throw puns and spoonerisms around. The grandkids are picking up on it too. Not long ago one of my sons said, “…it was never forced, we just always used good grammar at home growing up.” It frustrated them if one of their teachers used improper grammar.

This post is about a word: love. I anticipate doing several more posts about individual words. I chose this word because my grandson and granddaughter each touched on the idea in their blogs around Valentines day. I know, I’m a little slow getting around to writing this. I am no expert but felt it was a worthy idea to talk about.

At 17 I fell in love. Einstein said, 

“Falling in love is not at all the most stupid thing that people do-but gravitation cannot be held responsible for it.”

On our third date my 17-year-old girlfriend told me she would marry me. I laughed. We were married two years later. And we lived happily ever after, well not exactly.

There are a lot of goofy ideas about love out there.

I had a foreman around 1970 who was a year younger than me. He was living the “free love” ideal of the day. “I have not met a girl I didn’t love. But I don’t like them all,” he told me one day. He went on to explain that by “love” he meant having sex with them. The sexual union is a gift from God intended not only for procreation but also for pleasure, meant to be expressed by one man and one woman in the marriage relationship. Our society has taken a beautiful thing and twisted it. It says infidelity in marriage isn’t all that bad. It condones sex before marriage, before high school graduation, even before eighth-grade graduation. But this only shows how lopsided the world’s view of love is.

Probably the first misconception about love is that it is only a feeling. After all, didn’t Tina Turner sing, “What’s love but a second-hand emotion?” We want the warm, gooey, heart-all-a-flutter feeling. Sure its fun and can be an indicator of love, but it isn’t the sum total of love. Real love kicks in when you don’t have those nice feelings.

It appears to me, an untrained observer, that the main problem is the object of people’s love. They love themselves. It’s about me. Myself. The old perpendicular pronoun “I”. We tend to want what we want when we want it, without regard for the other person’s needs and desires. I do believe we need to have a healthy self-image but not obsess with self-love. Love is to be focused outward. It is intended to be given to others. That is quite a foreign concept in our selfish society.There is a description of true love that was written nearly twenty centuries ago. It is recorded in the Holy Bible in First Corinthians chapter thirteen. That description is just as accurate today as it was when it was written.

    “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

In this day and age, people just don’t want to take responsibility for their own actions, especially in relationships. Blaming the other person for our own insensitivity and stupidity is just the natural thing to do. Learning to say, “I was wrong,” and “I’m sorry” is a great start to building a long-lasting love relationship.

Tomorrow is our 45th anniversary. It hasn’t been perfect. I don’t suppose that it should be. We were married young, had kids young and became grandparents young. It seems we have been growing together all of our lives. When you fall in love you feel you just can’t love more. Then you hold your first child for the first time and find you have more love. Holding your first grandchild for the first time, you find that love just keeps growing and expanding.

Now to you in my family, I want to go on record here and now and declare that I love you and will do anything for you.

And to my bride,we sure have seen a lot. Happy anniversary. I’m glad that we learned along the way that love isn’t easy but it is oh so worth it. I love you. 

Men and Machines

 My rule for the day is that the world of tools and machines belongs to men. As soon as you cite a rule, though, there is an exception. I have worked in machine shops and factories most of the last 45 years and it has pretty much been a man’s world. I have worked with a few women. As is true with any group of people in any profession their skill level will vary widely. Generally the women have been fairly proficient and they fit right in with the foul language and bawdy stories.

This world includes almost any mechanical device or tool. Like cars, motorcycles, hammers, saws, guns and knives. And since it is mainly a man’s world there are references to the fairer sex. You have undoubtedly  heard a good-ol’-boy refer to his old car or truck or tool or machine as “her” or “she.” You know there has to be a reason for that. I believe that it’s because, like it or not, we men can’t get women off our mind. 

Machines can at times be temperamental, so can women. There can be a learning curve with tools – and women? Ha! Men have wandering eyes, always looking for the latest and greatest machine. That comes with our ‘hunter’ instinct. Oh, and yes, we do notice women, too.

Relationships between men and women or men and machines can at times be strained. Like with me and my old motorcycle. My bike is a guy not a girl. It is a crusty, cantankerous old German. Like me I guess. And like me, being  old, things wear out and break. The old guy was in pieces in the garage for months. But he’s a guy, he’s tough and is now put together, dusted off and on the road. But what about those sleek, sexy, female vehicles? Now that’s a different story.

The “Cars” movies capitalized on this idea. Don’t tell my wife, but when I first watched “Cars” I fell in love with Sally. She’s that cute little blue sports car lawyer. Sally is a baby blue 996 series 2002 Porsche 911 Carrera from California.

The real car has a 3596 cc flat 6 cylinder engine. It developes 320 horsepower @ 6800 RPM and does 0-60 in 4.9 seconds. That’s one fast lady. In the UK cars magazine Top Gear, Sally (the cartoon car, not the real one) was included in the magazine’s list of the 10 sexiest cars in the World. That seems rather remarkable to me. This might make you wonder about the use of the word “sexy” in reference to a machine instead of a person and especially a cartoon machine.

You see this is where language gets interesting. Words don’t always mean what you think they do. “Sexy” for instance, in addition to the obvious meanings, is used in modern slang for anything that is desirable, interesting or trendy. That means you can have a sexy coffee pot, toaster, ink pen or car. And that all boils down to meaning pretty much the same thing to a guy. Guys, with that hunter instinct, get their sights on something and obsess until they get it. That can be a tool, a car or a woman. The paradox is that often when we get what we want, we don’t know what to do with it: especially with a woman. At least you get an instruction manual with a power drill. But that doesn’t help much since we don’t read and follow the directions.

So what am I trying to say? We guys can tell you what “sexy” is (ie. Sally the Porsche 911 or that John Deere lawn tractor) but are kind of at a loss to know what to do about it. In short, we are doomed in the relationship category.

To put one more nail in our coffin, we are always trying to fix things. And since we usually don’t know what we are doing, we often make things worse. That doesn’t stop us from trying though. We need to learn that relationships can’t be fixed with a wrench or a screwdriver. It takes time and attention. The next time you are tempted to put in the monkey wrench, stop. Look. Listen. Spend time with your sweetie and really listen to what she has to say. Let your guard down and be vulnerable. Push the macho aside and let her know how you feel. It takes work guys. But that is one thing a guy knows how to do.

Pondering all this I have a question as I leave. Is there anyone out there that can explain “woman” so a guy can understand it?