My Shoes Don’t Match by Lee Broom

Lee_Broom 

My shoes don’t match I say to myself
Observing one black and one brown.
One pointy toe, The other a moc
I chuckle as I sit down.

I remembered a time In Pershing Square
An orator holding his own
The end is nigh Beware my friends
Repent before heading Home.

Is he right I wondered My shoes don’t match
I’d found them a moment ago.
I repented not They felt warm and snug
I left them on my toes.

My shoes don’t match I repeat to myself
Observing one black and one brown.
One pointy toe,  The other a moc
Each slipped over A woolen sock
The time is passing Tickety tock
A smile replacing a frown;

(I’ve another pair just like these And they are my very own.)

From: An Amo and Curio Olio. A Folio of Prose and Poesy
By Lee Broom

THE TABLE

 

There is a meeting room in the church that I attend once a week. The rest of the week this room is known as The Library. On Thursday evenings it is the room that is occupied by THE TABLE and those who circle around it.

I have been a part of that circle since 1976, nearly half a life time ago. Around THE TABLE the Thursday night occupants have shared laughter, tears and applause. We have hugged and congratulated each other, we have loved and spoken in rare occasions of anger, apologized, shared and carried on.

Last night I arrived to discover that our room had been flooded by the most recent August monsoon downpour. The room was emptied, a note on the door directing us to another room on higher ground.

It was not the same. I have adjusted to moves to and from other rooms before. Not a problem. But tonight was different. We weren’t gathered around THE TABLE. We weren’t looking at each other’s faces. There was no smiling, joking or hugging. We seated ourselves and stared at the back of the heads of those in front of us. It reminded me of the time at a retreat years before when the guidance councilor had asked our group – it was about the size of this one – to circle the room, turn to our left and place our hands on the shoulders of the person before us.

 We were then instructed to start a massage and to give a great neck and shoulder rub to the person in front of us. I was giving such a wonderful rub up to that moment when we were ordered to stop that I hadn’t even noticed the one that I had gotten, although I was curiously aware that I was now missing what must have been a great  experience.

Next we were to repeat the task but this time to focus on the tactile gift that we were receiving from the person behind us. Suddenly, I noticed with gratitude the rub down my neck and shoulders were getting. The blissful experience lasted at least three seconds, only to disappear completely a few seconds later. (Think about it.)

Last night, like that circular pat down of decades before, we were missing the usual excitement as we sat and  critiqued each other’s haircuts and frayed collars.  Eventually we focused on the chairperson at the front of the room, and then to our speaker of the evening.

When we broke into discussion groups I left and went back to visit THE TABLE. It had been in several different rooms over the years and was actually two tables as those of us with over twenty years experience knew. This amazing bit of 19th century woodworking was scratched and marred by life itself. I know nearly every scratch and have stories to tell about many of them. When I reached  the  drying room I looked at THE TABL. I was not looking at a 72″ X 72″ table; it was now divided into two and piled with chairs and boxes of books and as I stood there before it I began to remember…………

So many stories. So many births and deaths and memories of great courage and fears overcome by Love and Good Will………..So why would my first memory be of gastric distress? Perhaps because I had to leave the room tonight as I had on another Thursday evening so many years ago.

 I was trapped in this small crowded room. iIhad to pass gas. At that time twenty years ago the two tables were placed end to end in a different room. When the speaker finished, rather than break into groups, we just started going around THE TABLE, taking turns discussing the evening’s topic. I had eaten home cooked pinto bean tostadas an hour before the meeting and I was very gassy. I quietly rose from THE TABLE and walked out the door and down the hall into the kitchen. My ability to fart on command was totally under control. Grateful that no one would be able to hear me I celebrated my good fortune by allowing the pressure to build and with careful timing, filled the room with the sound of five beautifully tuned, mega-farts. As the final toot emerged from my bowels, in walked my buddy Al. “Quack, quack” said Al. “Quack, quack ” said I. (That is how Al and I always greeted each other back then.) Al leaned to the left, raised his right knee practically to his chin and let ’er rip. Dismayed by this sudden display of competitive spirit but not to be easily outdone , I did what I could to discourage this would-be champion of  gustatory gassiness and with a roar of disgust filled the air with pinto-rial fumes and stood back to witness Al’s response.

I don’t know who won the contest that night but I remember thinking that if our friends hadn’t heard the bark of a dozen farts they most certainly heard our shrieks of childish macho laughter.

We returned to the room of THE TABLE and bowed to the huge round of applause.

Humongous (Humoungus, Humungus, Houmungus)

First posted on 6 March 2012

Yesterday………………… “We walked on. He hit the next pole more gently; we listened to the musical tone that resulted from the blow and I reproduce the musical note with my vocal chords. By the time we returned home Bill’s wrist was swollen and we had arrived singing a melody made of the notes that had erupted from the vibrating light poles that my pole playing son had produced with his pole bat.

On the next walk we sang that melody until memorized and eventually created a silly set of lyrics; no need for ASCAP membership yet but it was a lot of fun. Tomorrow I will tell you a story that I will entitle Humongous.”

One year later: My son Bill and I were on our first walk of the season. We had determined that since winter had left us and since we were tired of working out at School gyms that we should walk all the way to downtown Phoenix and back. On our way we began to make up words. Inspired by my son’s growing love of salty linguistics, we decided that it might be a good idea to create some more acceptable replacements. “Pistalvistard”, volunteered my suddenly inspired offspring. “Oynt-never-never”, I replied.

“Humbug”, said Bill and I reminded him that we had agreed to create new words. “Fungus”, he blurted with a sureness about his demeanor that dared me to challenge him.

“You didn’t make that up”, I declared.

“Sure I did. This isn’t the fungus that grows on old bread. This is Fungus as in Fungus Amongus.” He pronounced both Gs. I thought that this was a great word but that it didn’t qualify. Humungus. I asked him what Humungus meant and he laughed and said that it meant a really big bungus. We laughed and laughed and laughed.

And suddenly I had an inspiration. Over the next week we would do two things. We would ask everyone we met if they had ever heard this word and we’d write down the names of each person that we asked.

A week later we met on the patio before our walk and tallied the results. No one had ever heard of Humongous. Bill had spoken with 123 people. I had spoken with 72. We multiplied the total of 195 times 52 weeks and squared the answer to determine how many people would have an opportunity to hear this new word in one year. With 10 million exposures we would surely hear this word within a year or two. We were stunned to discover that it was only a matter of weeks before we heard this word from the lips of a stranger and in less than a year we heard it on KDKB. There eventually came a time when Humungous was more popular than the F bomb that was rapidly infecting the vocabularies of children, eliminating the need for substitutes.

Did you notice the various ways I spelled Humoungus?

It really is a word these days. It is in the Merriam Webster Dictionary spelled Humongous.

And yes I know. Bill and I are not the only declared originators of Humongous. That wasn’t why we did it. We simply wondered how long it would take to spread. That was valuable information in those days. But today? There are more bloggers in the world than there were people in our hoped-for audience. So, from now on I’m not standing in line for a new truth. It’ll be obsolete in the blink of an eye. Just point me to the next thing and ask me to do it.

 

Music Makes Everything Better.

First posted on March 5, 2012

When my son was a child (he will surely be a grandfather soon), he and I enjoyed taking long, evening walks together during the summer months. When we began this tradition we found we had little to say to each other. Remarkably, we stuck it out, eventually discovering some very creative ways of entertaining ourselves and each other. One evening as we walked, Bill picked up a stick along the way. The discarded piece of lumber was as long as he was tall, smaller than a one by four and larger than a one by two; I don’t remember how tall he was but he was six or seven years old. We had just arrived in Phoenix from Oklahoma City and everything we did, Bill and I and his sisters Mary and Dixie and his mother, was an adventure of the best kind.

As we approached a metal light pole, Bill raised his stick like a bat and creeping up as if to attack an unsuspecting animal standing there waiting to become dinner, Bill swung the stick and with a resounding ring, the vibration of which traveled back up the stick and through the bones in his small body, landed him squarely on the sidewalk. The greatest stress to my boy was the surprise of an inanimate object fighting back. The second was to the ulna of his right arm with considerable pain centering in the wrist. I removed my shirt and then my tee-shirt, put the outer layer back on, cut and tore the tee into three-inch wide strips using a 200-year old knife that had lived in the pockets of several generations of Broom men, wrapping the resulting field bandage around his wrist. When I picked up the stick, Bill told me in a very firm tone that I should give it to him and I obeyed.

We walked on. He hit the next pole more gently; we listened to the musical tone that resulted from the blow and I reproduce the musical note with my vocal chords. By the time we returned home Bill’s wrist was swollen and we had arrived singing a melody made of the notes that had erupted from the vibrating light poles that my pole playing son had produced with his pole bat.

On the next walk we sang that melody until memorized and eventually created a silly set of lyrics; no need for ASCAP membership yet but it was a lot of fun. Tomorrow I will tell you another Father and Son story that I will entitle Humongous.

 

Ode to a child in pain.

Every five years he pays me a visit; appearing to be my friend.

Every five years he pays me a visit with hugs and techie amends.

Every five years I get hacked and I wonder why  these deeds I defend.

Every five years I get hacked and I wonder “when will this ritual end?”

And every day he hacks himself.

Every day he gets hacked.

He gets hacked.

Again and

Again.

By Lee Broom.

The Importance of Frank and Nako

reposted from 11 28 2011.

At the peak of my ten-K days I had two jogging buddies who accompanied me on evening runs. In earlier days I ran alone at dawn, usually five to ten miles, depending on my schedule. I lightened the load when I acquired these small companions.

These pals of mine were Frank and Nako.

Frank, a black toy poodle who never had to worry about getting a sissy-cut, was named after St Francis of Assisi. He was stoically silent when I rescued him from the pound and completely unaware of my presence. This curly-headed little critter seemed to be much more interested in the huge, dark, big-dog stool near the back of his cell. It had apparently been contributed by a previous tenant. I was informed by the doggie warden that when this little guy was first discovered running the streets of Phoenix, he was wearing a mute collar. He was arrested and interred and sentenced to death in a gas chamber unless someone adopted him before his ninety day appointment with the county canine killer arrived.

“If you don’t mind” I implored, “would you bring him around and introduce us, please?”

Instant friends, I took Frank home to present as a birthday present to Terri. But Frank eventually became my jog dog as Terri’s enthusiasm for the evening ritual began to wane. I kept my pal on a leash at first, until he knew the way. As his behavior became more predictable I released the tether allowing him to run leashless, gradually increasing his free time.

One evening as Frank and Terri and I started across a busy intersection we heard a strange cat sound from about a hundred feet to our rear.  Meow ow ow ow, Meow ow ow ow. It was Nako (Japanese for cat). Nako was Terri’s pet. Offensively independent, this strange animal and I were becoming very attached to each other.  The three of us turned to investigate. Each long meow which sounded more like a howl was interrupted every time one of Nako’s paws hit the pavement. Meow ow ow ow.

She was apparently stating her refusal to be left behind and demanding to be part of the team. Very assertive, this kitty; she never experienced the tethered restraint but she would soon demonstrate that she knew exactly what to do.  We waited for her to join us.

A year or so later we sold our Phoenix home and moved to Scottsdale. On our first evening in our new environment, Terri and I left Frank and Nako locked in the back yard after having jogged next to us daily for more than two years. This was our first evening in our new home and Terry had resumed our evening habit. Being in a strange neighborhood and respectful of the new pet control rules contained in the CC & R’s we decided to go it alone this first evening. Five minutes from home we heard this heart-rending doggie howl that just had to be Frank. We ran back home and opened the gate and in one and three-quarter seconds I had a wiggly armful of doggie as Frank leaped through the air like a refugee from an acrobatic dog act with a weekend Gypsy Circus. Nako greeted Terri by rubbing against her legs, purring like a buzz saw and we all enjoyed a brief reunion. Frank was no longer mute. His voiced approval and disapproval of every family event took some getting used to.

A year later Nako and Frank and I were jogging on the Scottsdale Country Club golf course, late at night; Terri who was no longer part of the team and homesick for a previous way of life had returned to familiar climes.

As we ran geysers suddenly erupted and Nako was blasted by the full force of a stream of water meant to arc over a twenty-foot span. Nako was only a foot from the sprinkler head when it struck and was knocked five feet through the air. She hit the ground running and disappeared, never to return. Or so I thought.

Some months later I was entertaining former  team-member Terri, who was asking me about our Big City Kitty. As I was telling her the story we heard a familiar sound.

Meow ow ow ow, Meow ow ow ow.

I miss them. I really do. I jog on a treadmill. I live in a condo. Maybe an iguana.