Saturday, July 21, 2018

Sock it to me, baby!

Oh, the years we’ve wasted donning white socks and black, sometimes brown if the ensemble screams for it, but never bright orange, or psychedelic candy stripes like the ones I’m wearing today.

“How gauche,” I hear. “How unprofessional,” you say.

Well yes, maybe if you’re a banker or the chief of police, but wouldn’t you trust the mayor just a wee bit more if he went around wearing knee-high rubber ducky socks on purple, or pink stars on fluorescent orange? I know I would.

Just think of the mindless hours we spent separating those “boring” socks – darks in this pile, whites over there – when bright reds covered with pizza slices would’ve given us at least a hiccup, something to ponder, a respite from the endless tedium.

“You can’t wash those with your white shirts. They’ll turn everything into a faded bad acid trip.”

Yes, but we’d be awash in exotic colors the likes of which the world has never seen. Let’s do away with the white oxford. Let the business blue fade from memory. Give me something boldly muted that makes people wonder, “What the heck was he thinking?”

Navy blue socks with palm trees; gray socks bearing pineapples; tropical fish swimming in black; blue hibiscus on white; polka dots for the left foot, stripes for the right. These are not the socks of children anymore. I say they are the socks of men.

“He must be suffering from heat stroke. Somebody call an ambulance.”

No, I’ve just seen the light, thanks to my loving wife who bought me a pair of bright red socks for Father’s Day – bright red socks that remind me of a time when life was simpler, more adventurous, a playground expedition followed by snow cones in the park. But then life crept up one day and declared, “Become a man. Throw away your childish things. Cleave unto all things adult like mortgages and insurance payments. Embrace navy blue, a good all-around color that’s befitting for every occasion. And by all means shun the Star Wars Chewbacca socks like the plague, for they will be your undoing.”

Ah, too late. For my sock collection will remain undone until every last tiresome pair goes extinct through natural selection, leaving behind a drawer full of adventurous foot attire that only the brave would dare to don.

“It might be too late, but does anybody know CPR?”

No need. My heart is so much lighter, now that my feet are so much brighter. I’d recommend it to one and all (buy yourself a cheap pair of silly socks to improve the quality of your life) but most people would never fall for the idea that happiness can be bought for mere pennies on the foot.

There will come a day when I will breathe my last breath, cry my last tear, sing my last song. Is it so appalling to want to live those final days with a smile on my face and Super Mario socks on my feet?

I think not.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

A night hike through the woods

It was close to 10 p.m. on a Friday night and there was a baby 'possum standing in the middle of the trail. Someone was shining a flashlight on him, but he just stood there in the spotlight, frozen, like an amateur Shakespearean actor who has forgotten his lines in mid soliloquy.

I felt like helping out the poor thing by whispering the next line: "'What a piece of work is man, how noble in reason, how…" but who does that sort of thing -- giving lines to a creature that's too young to have even heard of Shakespeare?

Me, it seems.

I asked Chris Caswell why the possum wasn't running away, and he said it was too young to be scared of humans. And I thought, "And too young to have learned to look both ways while crossing a road; to have learned not to open suspicious emails; to play possum, I reckon."

Someone doused the light, leaving the possum to find its own way off stage, and we moved on.

We? Yes, an adventurous band of humans out on a night hike through Lake Bob Sandlin State Park, eager to see what could be seen, hear what there was to hear. We were two park rangers, Chris and Clifford Daily; Chris’ wife Sarah and their two youngsters, Carter and Luke; Kristi from Abilene who was camping in the park; and me, a cub reporter looking for a story and trying to overcome the human instinct of fearing all things that creep, crawl and shriek like a fox in the middle of the night.

Oh, yes. The fox. Of course at the time I didn’t know it was a fox. I just heard it scream out in the woods one night many years ago as I was heading out the door to pull the trash dumpster to the end of the driveway. Needless to say (but I will anyway), the trash didn’t make it, and I cowered inside wondering, “What the heck was that?”

“That’s a bobcat,” said Chris, bringing me out of the memory. And as if on cue, a coyote started howling. The seven of us stood still on the trail listening to the beast sing his song, while the moon and Jupiter danced above the treetops, not paying us any mind.

When the concert was over, Chris said, “Sounded like a male,” and we continued down the pathway, not doubting him one iota.

And those two youngsters? Nary a peep could be heard from them. It was as if walking down a path surrounded by poison ivy, snakes and scorpions was just part of their bedtime routine – put on your pajamas, go brush your teeth, don’t forget your half-a-mile hike through the spooky woods, and then daddy will read you a bedtime story.

During our trek, we thought we saw a snake, but it was only a stick; we saw some poison ivy, and we stayed far away from it; Kristi from Abilene noticed a box turtle laying eggs, and Carter hunkered down next to it to get a better look; and Chris said scorpions illuminated by UV light really glowed in the dark, and he dashed off ahead to look for some.

Who does that sort of thing?

Not me, it seems.