Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Christmas Lesson

From Neal Boortz:

Several men are in the locker room of a golf club.  A mobile phone on a bench rings and a man engages the hands-free speaker function and begins to talk.  Everyone else in the room stops to listen.

MAN:  'Hello'?

WOMAN:  'Honey, it's me...are you at the club?'

MAN:  'Yes'

WOMAN:  'I'm at the mall now and found this beautiful leather coat.  It's only $1,000.  Is it OK if I buy it?'

MAN:  'Sure, go ahead if you like it that much.'

WOMAN:  'I also stopped by the Mercedes dealership and saw the new 2011 models.  I saw one I really liked.'

MAN:  'How much?'

WOMAN:  '$98,000'.

MAN:  'OK, but for that price I want it with all the options.'

WOMAN:  'Great!  Oh, and one more thing...the house I wanted last year is back on the market.  They're asking $950,000'.

MAN:  'Well, then go ahead and give them an offer of $900,000.  They'll probably take it.  If not, we can go the extra fifty thousand if it's really a pretty good price.'

WOMAN:  'OK. I'll see you later!  I love you so much!'

MAN:  'Bye! I love you, too.'

The man hangs up.  The other men in the locker room are staring at him in astonishment, mouths agape..

The wonderful husband turns and asks:

"Anybody know whose phone this is?"

I Am A Rambling Man

Just some random musings on a cold, rainy Saturday:

In Henry County, Georgia, this week, the home of local rappah Waka Flocka Flame was raided by authorities.  Flame was not home at the time, but anothah brothah rappah, Gucci Mane (pronounced Goochie Main) was home.  Flame tweeted "the folks just kick my door in good thing I left for court LOL".  No word on the eventual outcome of eithah rappah.  Or whether Daffy Duck will be suing for sound effects infringement.

WXIA, Channel 11 in Atlanta, has successfully launched the latest in weather forecasting, calling it the Wizometer (pronounced wiz-om-e-ter).  I choose to pronounce it WIZ-O-ME-TER.  So much more entertaining, and raises many more questions.  How much did "11 Alive" pay for the WIZ-O-ME-TER?  I'da come up with something just as entertaining for a lot less, I'm sure.  Come to think of it, I really do miss Guy Sharpe.

John Pruitt, over at WSB-TV, did his last newscast last night during the six o'clock hour.  The station had a tribute video for him which began at 6:48pm.  It was cut short at 6:55pm so the station could have five minutes of advertising.  Forty-six years in the business and shut out by a Viagra commercial.  That must have been hard to take. 

Just so you don't think I'm now the local arbiter of television taste, let's talk about Christmas.  The perfect storm occurred this week in North Georgia--rain/sleet/snow + idiot drivers + a full moon.  All that adds up to around 1,000 automobile accidents north of Atlanta in a matter of a few hours.  No word on whether Waka Locka Flame or Goochie Main were involved in any of these wrecks.  I just had to find a way to mention their names again.

What do car wrecks have to do with Christmas?

--A lot of those drivers totaled their vehicles. 

--They now need another car or truck. 

--I sell cars and trucks. 

--They need to buy from me. 

If they do, I'll have a Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Retroactive Birth Control...A Thanksgiving Wish

The car business can be ridiculous at times.  And entertaining.

Especially when small children are involved.

Just now, a family (husband, wife, four small children) stormed out of our dealership, angry at us.

Now, for the record, I have no problem with people being angry at me.  I've had a lifetime of it, and most of the time I brought it upon myself.  But not this time.

These folks weren't mad because of a vehicle, or deal, or payment, or anything remotely having to do with buying a car.

They were mad at us because THEIR STUPID CHILDREN WOULDN'T BEHAVE.

Like Daddy used to say, "I think those parents need a whippin'."

Take a girl, about five years old, add two brothers--let's say eight and ten, throw in some complimentary balloons, and prepare for the apocalypse.


Hey, kid, your Daaaaaddddd may not be able to blow it up as big as Johnny can, but guess what?  I can light your ass up like a bottle-rocket on the Fourth of July.  In a split-second.  And your entire family to boot.

Now, after this child verbally pukes on his dad, with Mom standing close by, he proceeds to lie down on the floor of the showroom, kicking and screaming.  (Insert visual of Sales Consultant walking by, silently shaking his head).  At which point Mom, drawing on her vast wealth of Mother-Wisdom, loudly proclaims, "Come on, let's go.  These people are all smartasses.  We're never buying a car here."

Lady, you got that right.

And let me get this straight.  You can't control your children, and it's somebody else's fault.

A little perspective:  I don't really have a problem with children who sometimes misbehave.  I have a problem with parents who allow said behavior to go unchecked and uncorrected.

A little more perspective:  in a few years, these same children will be driving on the same roads I use.  And I'll know who they are.

I'll be able to tell by the giant Johnny-Blown balloons filling up the minivan.

An Invasion of Privacy--At A Reunion sweetheart and I attended the First Annual Baptist Student Union Re-Union at Mercer University in Macon this last weekend, where she was both the youngest- and best-looking alumnus on campus.

We gathered at a restaurant the night before (which shall go unnamed, but the initials are Cheddar's), where my love squealed with delight at seeing friends we hadn't seen in over thirty years (except for our respective roommates, who married each other, and with whom we had kept up over the years).

She breezed into Mercer's Newton Hall, site of the infamous Berry-Coppage nuptials thirty-two years ago, without a hitch the next day.  She squealed with delight as she saw friends she hadn't seen in over twelve hours.  It was last night all over again.

As I strolled in behind her, a burly woman (I found out later her name was Butch) looked me over and said, "Not so fast, bud.  Please walk through the body-scanner before entering."

Now, I realize I may be a little rough around the edges, but a FULL BODY SCAN at a REUNION?  Please.  No, really, please.

As I passed through the body scanner, and Butch perused all my most private, prized possessions, I wondered silently, What the...?

"Please, sir, no profanity.  This is a former Baptist Institution of Higher Learning."

Butch could read my mind?  This would not end well.

"Sir, please exit the scanner and step to the side."  As countless other former BSUers waltzed right on in (well, not exactly, since we all know God didn't put no praying knee and dancing foot on the same leg), I was being pushed around by a woman on a college campus.  Deja vu.  All over again.

"Sir, I'll have to do a pat-down to make sure you're not carrying any concealed weapons or the King James Version of the Bible."

No.  And again I say, No.  No pat-down, no strip-search, no body-scans, no nothing.  In the words of that great theologian Oz:  "Not no way, not no-how."

I ran--RAN--toward the barbecue sandwiches and tater chips, daring anyone to stop me.

My future daughter-in-law will be flying in to Atlanta tomorrow from Orlando for Thanksgiving, "National Opt-Out Day" at airports nationwide.  I'm sure the TSA will demand to scan/search her since she is so obviously a threat to national security, being a hairdresser cosmetologist and all.

The philosophy behind all this nonsense reminds me of what a preacher once said about the beer commercials which showed a guy screaming down a snow-packed mountain on skis, sliding to a perfect halt just outside the lodge, where a beautiful woman waited for him with a cold six-pack.  The preacher said he'd like to see that guy drink that six-pack at the top of the mountain, then see if he could slalom down that slope.

I think I'd like to see the TSA personnel spend some time in full body-scan/search mode before they're allowed to inflict the same on babies, grannies, and my son's sweetheart.

Especially Butch.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I Had A Colonoscopy and Went To Heaven

As that great theologian, Elvis Presley, once said, "It's been a long time, baby."

While you've been away, I've had a couple of things happen.

A couple of Fridays ago, I had a colonoscopy.  Let me explain.

Thursday afternoon, before the procedure ( a term loosely defined as a gross invasion of privacy on one of my most private parts) on Friday morning, I was instructed to use the product "Evac-U-Crap" to "cleanse" my intestinal tract.  At 4:00pm, I began.

First, I mixed 32 ounces of a semi-clear, fizzing concoction in a container provided by the manufacturer (all for the low, low price of $64.00, handling included).  Then, every fifteen minutes, I drank eight ounces of the stuff.  A play-by-play:



4:45pm--still nothing, although by this point I've decided I hate warm Gatorade.

5:00pm--a slight rumbling in the nether regions.  A preview of things to come.

So...about 5:18pm, more or less, I exploded in the first of several eruptions, the details of which are better left unstated.  The good news was that the whole process would begin again at 7:00pm that same day, when I would consume another 32 ounces of Evac-U-Crap, after which it would consume me.  Again.

7:15pm--pure fire turning me inside out.

7:30pm--I decide to have "Exit Only" tattooed on my lower back in hopes that will prevent the doctor from performing the procedure.

7:45pm--"Exit Only" doesn't even begin to describe it.

8:00pm--I want to die.  Or at least get a padded toilet seat.

The instructions clearly stated that I was to have a "clear liquid" diet the night before my colonoscopy.  No problem, that's what it looked like I'd been having for the past month.

Friday morning I went to the hospital, accompanied by my sweetheart, for the "procedure".  The doctor had told me that I'd be drowsy during the colonoscopy.  I demanded to be put to sleep.  Not under anesthetic--put me down, like a dying dog.  Please.

He did.  I slept through the entire twelve minutes it took him to figure out that my colon was, and is now, fine.

While I was "under", I saw Daddy and Uncle Johnny.  They were standing in front of me, somewhere which looked like the mountains where I live.  Daddy said, "We've been waiting for you", then turned and said something to Uncle Johnny, and they both laughed.

Then I woke up.

My wife said as I was coming out of the anesthesia, I asked her where Daddy was.  When she told me he wasn't there, she said I started crying.  I'm sure I did.

Not from the procedure.  From that little glimpse of heaven.

Friday, October 8, 2010

As If I Didn't Have Enough To Contend With... sweetheart and I spent last Friday evening in the romantic confines of our local hospital, where I was sent after a week's worth of, well, intestinal issues.

My doctor sent me there--to a place where he doesn't have "privileges", even though he could throw a rock and hit the building. 

I wish he'da thrown the rock.

After describing my situation to the desk jockey Emergency Room Intake Specialist ($), I sat in the waiting area for (and this is no lie) one hour and twenty-two minutes. 

Good thing it wasn't serious.

Once my name was called by Nurse Ratchett the Triage Nurse ($$), my entry into the bowels of the ER ($$$) truly began.

She had me rehearse my symptoms, which I had previously told the nurse at my doctor's office, my doctor, and the Intake Specialist at the hospital.  I assume this was to ensure my story stayed consistent.  After this interview, I was informed that there were no ER rooms available and that I'd have to lie in the hallway.  If that was okay with me.

At that point I really didn't care.  Either give me a shot or shoot me.  As that great theologian Jerry Clower once said, "Shoot up in here amongst us;  one of us has got to have some relief."

I donated a blood sample, a urine sample, and drank some type of radioactive Gatorade so the radiologist ($$$$) could do a CT scan.  In two hours.

It occurred to me that, while you're lying in plain sight of God and everyone strolling about the ER, no one will look at you, much less look you in the eye.  I guess they're afraid you'll ask them for something.  Like some help.

At the 2:18 mark (post-nuclear syrup time), I walked to Radiology ($$$$) for the CT scan.  I was given some type of other dye (I'm out of dollar signs) which the Radiologist informed me could possibly (A)  Make me feel like I was tasting blood in the back of my throat, (2) feel like I was peeing on myself, and (D) cause me to throw up.

I chose all three.

After the CT scan I spent another hour lying in the ER hallway, awaiting the results.

The ER doc told me I had gastroenteritis, which is a long, expensive word which means "we don't know what's wrong with you, but this sounds severe enough to placate you for spending half a day with us".

Oh, and I have an abdominal hernia.  The doc said it was probably a side-effect of my cancer surgery.  A year and a half ago.

So now I have an appointment with a General Surgeon next Friday for the hernia, the Urologist in Alabama the following Thursday for the cancer test, a rotten stomach, and part of my intestine trying to break free of my midsection.

After which, in the words of that great philosopher Travis Tritt,  they'll be "billing me for killing me".

Lord have mercy on the working man.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

I Cut My Finger and Just About Died

A couple of weeks ago, in a moment of lapsed judgment, I cut my index finger badly.  With my own knife.  While trying to remove a staple from a piece of paper.

A couple of days after that, I went to the doctor, since the finger hadn't stopped bleeding.  Or hurting.

While there, he suggested that I go ahead and do my PSA test, which I've been doing every three months since having prostate cancer last year.

A week later, he called with the results.  They were not good.

Now, this is the guy who saved my life by finding the cancer in the first place.  But it looks like every time I go to him for something else, he finds cancer.  I'm thinking about changing doctors.

Anyway...according to him, I shouldn't have any PSA readings at all since I no longer have the organ which produces the readings in the first place.  But I do, even though I don't.

Both indicators indicate that the cancer is back. 

And to think I thought the catheter would be the worst part of all this.  What an idiot.

So I called the Specialist in Alabama, who set me up with an appointment on October 21 for another PSA test and consultation.  He said, "If you're not overly concerned, I'd like to wait four weeks, do another test, then decide what we need to do next."

Concerned?  Me?

I'm looking forward to the October Surprise like a trip to the...oh wait, there's no comparison.

He suspects the first surgery either missed something or left something behind.  YOU THINK?

I already didn't feel the best;  now I feel worse.  I'm not a pessimist, though.

You know the definition of a pessimist?  Someone who feels bad when they feel good for fear they'll feel worse when they feel better.

Not me.  I'm an optimistic realist.

If I have cancer--again--I'm sure there's something they can do for it.  I'm sure it involves some sort of "procedure" (another word for YEEEOOOWWWW), "recovery" (an extension of the "procedure"), and, yes, a catheter.

I don't care at this point.  I just want to know what's going on, why it's going on, and what the doctor's going to do about it.

(Ever notice how medical professionals use the plural "we" when talking about what only "they" are going to do?  I've often wondered what my contribution to the "we" is, since I'm out cold during the entire process.)

So, that's it.  It may be back, it may not be.  Looks like it is.

I can't wait.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Talking About God--Or Not

My son and I were discussing spiritual things this morning when he told me about a blog he'd visited where the discussion about God went to...let's say, a different plane.

According to him, reading it sounded something like this:


He thought his head would explode.  So did I.

He's tempted to post a question on this blog like this:

Did God mean what he said when he said it?  Was Jesus telling it straight when he said what he said?  Is ABCD really ABCD--or is it actually BCDE?  Is Elvis really alive? (the last one was my contribution)

My son had a coach who told them over and over again:  Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Of all the discussions we could have about God, wouldn't the same philosophy make sense?

Or do only those with BIG WORDS have the right--and obvious intelligence--to have this discussion?

I grew up in a country church, where Preacher Bill Coleman, a textile worker turned preacher, "preached the Word" every Sunday (even if he did buy some of his sermons).  He was a country preacher, using country words, to preach to country folks.

I miss that.

I won't miss the BIG WORDS once they're gone.  And gone they will be.

For I'm certain Heaven ain't got room enough for BIG WORDS.  Only a BIG GOD.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Elvis Saturday

I love this song...

I read that this was recorded around 3:30am the morning after the "Aloha" special.  The King ain't wearing his cape--or belt--because he threw them into the audience.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Some Stuff You Just Can't Make Up. Nor Would You Want To.

I don't always know what people are thinking, but I can sure tell when they're not.

I receive frequent emails from WSB Radio, and at the bottom of today's email was an ad for charity event called--and I am not making this up--"24 Hours Of Booty".

What would you think those twenty-four hours would entail (heh-heh)?  And what charity would benefit?

Lest you think I'm lying, here's the link:

It is a bike ride.  For cancer research. 

Okie Dokie.

For those of you with gutterbrains, if you scroll down to the bottom of the webpage, you'll also notice among the beneficiary organizations one called "Keep Pounding".

All right.

Somebody needs to get to the bottom of this, and soon.  Before people get the wrong impression.

Like I did.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Two Cents...With A Penny Left Over

Seeing as how hundreds dozens two or three people might be influenced by what I think, I'm prepared to postulate about the Georgia Governor's race.

Roy Barnes is a Democrat.  Nathan Deal is a Republican.

Now, let's be honest.  Most of the time there ain't a nickel's worth of difference between the two parties.

And why do they call them "parties"?  They always seem to be fighting someone about something--mostly each other--and rarely smile.  Except when they're backslapping each other, planting the knife a little deeper with each pat.  Doesn't look like much of a party to me.

Anyway, I was fortunate enough to be living in the Hurricane Sunshine State the last time Barnes was the top Dawg in Georgia.  But I read about him periodically in the Atlanta Journal periodical.

The biggest thing I remember is how Roy changed the State Flag.

For the uninformed, the Official State Flag of the Great State of Georgia used to be this:

Then Ol' Roy got elected, and the State Flag was changed to this:
I've seen Ol' Roy's flag before.  It's been at Six Flags Over Georgia since it opened in the 1960s.

Now the state flag looks like this:

The first flag is the one I grew up with.  Notice anything unique about it?  That's right, the Great Seal of Georgia is on the left.  Naw...that ain't it.

It's got a racially insensitive, redneck-inspiring, Rebel-yelling symbol of the Confederacy just screaming for attention.  And getting it.

I won't get into all the ramifications of the Stars and Bars, the Battle Flag of the Lost Cause, the remnant of what true Southerners like to call The War of Northern Aggression.

My Lumpkin County Berry ancestors were a part of the famed Blue Ridge Rifles of the Confederacy, the Marines of North Georgia, whose name and reputation live on at North Georgia College in the ROTC program, another pain in the ass for liberals.

But I digress.

While flags have little or nothing to do with how government is operated, I think they do serve as a symbol of whatever they're supposed to represent.  The first flag is Dixie.  The last flag is Safe.  The Ol' Roy flag is just Dumb.  It looks like whoever designed it was trying to please everyone while inspiring no one.

Oh, wait, that reminds me of the current election.

I've decided, based on my vast knowledge of the Roy Barnes era, to call him Ol' Roy for the duration of the race.  Here's why.

Ol' Roy was the name of Sam Walton's (he of Wal-Mart fame) dog.  And the name of the Wal-Mart brand of dog food.

Ol' Roy dog food is manufactured by some mysterious company, name unknown, and labeled for sale in all the Wal-Marts of the world.  I assume it's like every other generic product sold anywhere under any name--it's the lowest bidder's product.  It serves a purpose, but you never really know what you're buying until your dog pukes his guts out because he's eaten lead-laced bovine by-products produced in China.

I wouldn't feed my Sir Jack Ol' Roy if it was the only dog food left on the planet.  And I won't vote for Ol' Roy for Governor.  I'd like to think the voters of Georgia had enough sense to impose term limits on him the first time he served.

Of course, I thought Americans had enough sense in the last presidential election to choose wisely.

So I could be wrong this time too.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sir Jack

So...I went to Dahlonega last Friday night and decided to take Jackson the human dog along for the ride.

Every dog I've ever had loved to ride in a vehicle.  Stonewall, Jack's distant predecessor, loved to ride in the Mustang with the top down.  Acted like he owned the car.  And the world.

Jack gives every indication he's going to be just like Stoney.  He sits/lies in the passenger seat, alternately laid out and upright, sniffing all the new scents of the road and taking in all the sights.

He must know Dahlonega is a tourist town.  He sure stares at it like one.

I took him past the old Courthouse, around the Square, up towards Grandma's, and started back home.  At which point he, standing upright and regal, peed all over the passenger seat.

It belongs to him now.

Others may sit there.

But it's Sir Jack's throne.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The King Is Dead...Long Live The King

It's Elvis Week in Memphis.  Funny, I just figured every week was Elvis Week in Memphis.

There were the ETA (Elvis Tribute Artist) competitions, the annual Candlelight Vigil at midnight on August 16, a TCB Band (the remnants of Elvis' stage band) concert, and more.

I can still remember August 16, 1977, like it was yesterday.  I was in Marietta, Georgia, in the last of twenty--count 'em--twenty churches the Mission Team I was a member of had been in that summer.  Going home that night, Mama and Daddy had brought me my fire-engine red Chevy Impala.  I couldn't wait.

My partner that summer, Fred O. Pitts (Fred-O), knew I loved Elvis.  When I got back to the home where we had been staying, he was waiting.

"Roscoe," he started, "I have some bad news.  The King is dead."

Just like that.

I didn't have to ask who he was talking about and he didn't have to tell me.  He knew I loved Elvis.  I talked, sang, and acted like him constantly.  Fred-O wanted to be the one to tell me.

In disbelief I drove down to the 7-11 to get an Atlanta Journal, which was then published in the afternoon (the Atlanta Constitution was the morning paper).  I knew it was true when I saw the "Blue Streak" edition of the Journal, only published under special circumstances.  The headline confirmed what Fred-O had told me: "THE KING IS DEAD".  I still have the paper.  The Memphis Commercial-Appeal was more poignant:  "A Lonely Life Ends on Elvis Presley Boulevard".

I had seen Elvis in concert at the Macon Coliseum less that two months earlier.  He was wearing the same powder-blue suit they would bury him in.  I was shocked at his appearance and told my date, "He won't last six months."

He didn't.

While others were in West Memphis this past Sunday night, walking quietly past graves in the moonlight, I was watching "Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii".  Again.

When Elvis sang "I'll Remember You", the lyrics were haunting.  Again.

I'll remember you, long after this, when the summer is gone...Love me always, promise'll remember too.

 I thought to myself:  yes, I will.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Absolute Truths

I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

There is great need for a sarcasm font.

How are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

Was learning cursive really necessary?

Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.

Bad decisions make good stories.

You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

"Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this - ever.

I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello?), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voice mail. What did you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and run away?

I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

Sometimes, I'll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what was going on when I first saw it.

I would rather try to carry 10 over-loaded plastic bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.

I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

Is it just me or do high school kids get dumber & dumber every year?

There's no worse feeling than that millisecond you're sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.

As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate bicyclists.

Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Elvis Friday

Another one of those songs that comes up--in my mind--all the time.

Oh.  Yeah.  Baby.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Welcome, Jackson

My sweetheart and I have a new grand-dog.  His name is Jackson, and he joins our other grand-dog Chief Atticus Berry.

We've had him a little over a week now, in which time he has learned to fetch, talk, drive a tractor, and catch a football.  Okay, okay...he can't really catch a football because he doesn't have thumbs.

He's also marked his ground outside by pooping and peeing everywhere and anywhere he wants to.  Just like a newborn, which he basically is.

In our short time together, he's tried to eat a shoe, learned to love ice cubes, and had worms.

The first thing he's learned he can't, the second I'm okay with, and the third he went to the Dog ER for, where he got a shot after everyone in the place fell in love with him.

He's a handful--all dog with oversized paws and ears and bound to get into more trouble.  And I we love him.

See what I mean:

Saturday, July 3, 2010

That Was Me You Didn't See On TV

My sweetheart, baby girl, and I went to Atlanta yesterday.  Before heading to Atlantic Station and IKEA we stopped off at the Greasy V (The Varsity) for lunch, since Emily had never been there.  She was amazed.

"Whaddaya have, whaddaya have!  Have yo' order in yo' mouth and yo' money in yo' hand!"

Ah, the memories.

We sat down to eat and I was accosted by a gentleman with a video camera, who asked me if I would like to make a few comments about the Damon Evans situation.

For the uninformed and uncaring, Evans, Athletic Director at UGA, was arrested in Atlanta a couple of days ago for DUI.

But wait.  There's more.

He also had a 28-year-old woman (not his wife) in the car with him.  And red panties (also not his wife's) in his lap.

But I digress.

I try to go incognito when in public to avoid situations just like this one.  Once people realize who I am, I can't eat, walk around, or anything else in peace.  It's awful.

So "Mike" (you'll see him shortly) asked me a few soft-ball (no pun intended) questions about the scandal, to which I pontificated for posterity (and the 4pm and 6pm newscasts) with wisdom and aplomb about the Bulldog's blunder (see, I even write well).

Then we went on our way, Mike thoroughly impressed and I trying to figure out how to set the DVR to record the broadcasts, using my Blackberry.  Didn't work.

No problem.  I called Mama, who would certainly make sure she saw her boy on the TV.  She was in Kroger and didn't think she'd make it home in time (I found out today after talking to her that when I wasn't the lead story she changed the channel).

I diligently searched for the by-now viral sensation of the IntraWeb, and found it.  Here's the link: randy is not in this video.

Apparently some other, Breaking!  Development! in the case came up and I, alas, was pushed aside for that report.

There was Mike, there was the AD, there was not me.

Probably just as well.  It's hard enough to go out in public like it is.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010



We have a saying up here in the mountains: every story ends in death.

It comes from the fact that if you're talking to an old-timer, inevitably, no matter what you're talking about, the conversation will end with talking about somebody dying.

I was up here on vacation from Florida one time when a man who lived nearby strolled over to where my sons and I were fishing in the Chestatee River. When he found out my family was from here, and realized we were related, he visited for a while. Then he became silent, pointed up at the mountain across the river, and said, "Ye know, that's whar Beulah Gaddis got kilt." Every story ends in death.

Ed McMahon. Farrah Fawcett. Michael Jackson. All dead, all last week.

But wait, there's more.



When I told my sweetheart about a new show coming on called "Pitchmen", starring BILLY MAYS and Anthony Sullivan, she said, "Now don't think I'm stupid, but didn't BILLY MAYS play baseball?" When I told my mama last night about his death she asked the same question.

I don't think they're stupid. They're not expected to know about a guy who started pitching items at county fairs and on the boardwalk at Atlantic City. But to a guy who sells for a living, BILLY MAYS was an icon.

He didn't play second fiddle to a talk-show host, or have a poster ogled by teenagers, or ogle teenagers. He just sold stuff.

Orange Glo, OxyClean, Mighty Putty, Kaboom, even ESPN. He knew how to sell, and he loved what he did.

He once said he could never sell a product he couldn't believe in. I can identify with that.

His wife said when she went to wake him early Sunday morning he was unresponsive.

Of course he was. He was already at the Gate, saying in that booming voice, "HI, I'M BILLY MAYS."


just like all those in lower case remember mj a year later.  too.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Worthless, Interesting Information You Can't Live Without

A friend sent me an email containing the following information:

Pearls melt in vinegar.  Who found that out?

The three most valuable brand names on earth:  Marlboro, Coca-Cola, and Budweiser, in that order.  The three most worthless brand names on earth:  General Motors, Chrysler, and Toyota, personal opinion.

It's possible to lead a cow upstairs but not downstairs.  What's a cow doing in your house anyway?

Humans are the only primates that don't have pigment in the palms of their hands.  But in the South, humans always have a little pig in the palms of their hands.  Along with barbecue sauce.  And some chicken wings.

Ten percent of the Russian government's income is from the sale of vodka.  The other ninety percent is from tax on the sale of vodka, comrade.

No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, or purple.  Not true.  The names L'month, J'orange, L'silver, and J'purple do.

A duck's quack doesn't echo, and no one knows why.  I bet Elmer Fudd knows.

The longest recorded flight of a chicken was thirteen seconds.  Waiting at second fourteen was Colonel Sanders.

Nutmeg is extremely poisonous if injected intravenously.  And it doesn't taste good on deviled eggs, either.  Trust me.  Use paprika.

James Doohan, "Scotty" on Star Trek, was missing the middle finger of his right hand.  I bet Captain Kirk had something to do with that.

The list goes on:  never follow a possum across the road, any conversation beginning with the word "Look" is going to end badly--very badly, when you answer the phone and the caller asks for you by your complete legal name--hang up, etc. 

All things we need to know.  And use.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Father's Day

The most confusing day in Lumpkin County is upon us:  Father's Day.

But seriously, I love any day that Hallmark decides needs another card.  Primarily because I really enjoy Hoops and Yo-Yo cards.

I am blessed to have had a wonderful father and to have had three wonderful children.

I just wish Daddy would have been around to see his grandkids.  They wonder what he would have been like around them;  I know.

He would have loved them unconditionally, like he loved me.  Daddy was a great judge of character;  soon after he died I looked in his Bible and found a note from the last time he was in Sunday School.  Apparently the teacher had asked what kind of person you liked.  Daddy wrote on a small slip of paper "I like somebody who's the same every time I see them."  Me too, Daddy.

He would have told them stories, mostly true, sometimes embellished, often funny, but always with a point.

Daddy and Uncle Johnny (his brother, whom my children also missed the blessing of knowing) were going from Dahlonega to Gainesville in a '32 Ford Coupe when they were teenagers.  Daddy fell asleep, and at some point Uncle Johnny lost control of the car, flipped it several times into an open field where it landed upright on all four tires.  Uncle Johnny said that after they came to a stop, Daddy looked up and asked "Why did we stop here?"

He would have made sure they knew to put their hand over their heart when the American flag went by in a parade.  I was standing next to him at a parade in Barnesville one time, and when the flag went past I noticed he had his hand over his heart, but I didn't.  I never made that mistake again.  It cost him and his generation too much for me not to show respect.

It was in that same parade that Daddy noticed the man leading the parade, our Fire Chief.  Now I didn't hear Daddy say much bad about anyone, but he had the gift (and curse) of timely sarcasm.  As the Chief rode by on his black stallion, he and the horse each decked out in black attire with silver studs and such, Daddy said "Look, son, you don't see that very often."

"What's that, Daddy?"

"Two assholes on one horse."

He would have withered a lot of people I've met since that day.

Daddy would have held my babies, spoiled them and left their Mama and me to clean up the mess, taken them fishing and to parades and movies and who knows what else.  And I would have let him.

Not because I loved him so, but because he loved them so.

I miss them not knowing him.  I miss him not knowing them.

But mostly I just miss him.

I love you, Daddy. Still.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Reflections On Faith

In these trying times, it's good to be clear about faith:

--Muslims do not recognize Jews as God's Chosen People.

--Jews do not recognize Jesus as Messiah.

--Protestants do not recognize the Pope as Leader of the Christian Church.

--Baptists do not recognize each other at Hooters.  Or at the liquor store.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

You Can't Fix Stupid. Ever.

I read a lot.

Which keeps me informed of all the news I need to know, and some news I don't.

For instance, do you realize how stupid some folks are?  I do.  Almost daily.

As that great philosopher Forrest Gump once said, Stupid is as Stupid does.

Being both an observer, occasional practitioner, and example of Stupid I can speak with authority on this subject. 

For instance, in Daytona Beach, Florida an irate Wendy's customer left the drive-thru, entered the store, and chased an employee around the restaurant with a stun gun, which was pink.  While being encouraged by a friend, who was not pink.

I can only imagine the scene (actual names have been used because you can't make this stuff up).

"Shoot her, Melanese Asia!"

"She won't stop moving, Katrina Mari-Alice!"

While an elderly lady is screaming "Where's the beef?"

It should be apparent that any time you have someone named after a Hurricane and another named after a Continent that sooner or later there will--be--trouble.  Especially if you allow them to ride around together.

Stun guns will never be a problem in the Great State of Georgia, where laws are being passed to ensure that its citizens can carry real guns anywhere they like:  churches (understandable, especially when Baptists are having Deacons' or Business Meetings), airports (What?), and yes, restaurants.  Even Wendy's, which is only marginally a restaurant.

In Georgia, that same scenario would have unfolded like this:

"Shoot her, World's Largest Continent!"


Done.  Now, about that Frosty...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The System Is...The System

The system is broken the system.

I was watching the news this morning and apparently all infierno is breaking out at Kennesaw State University, in Atlanta, and throughout the Intraweb over a student there.  A young lady. shall I say this?  Illegal Undocumented Alien.

Now, I don't pretend to have all the answers to the immigration problem;  that's why we have morons folks in Washington.  But I do have some questions.

From what I can gather, here's how this whole fracaso unfolded.

--the student in question was brought here by her parents when she was ten years old.  The parents were...extranjeros.  Which made her one, too.

--she graduated from a Georgia high school, then enrolled at KSU.  In Georgia, when you enroll at a State university, you're either supposed to be a U. S. citizen, a non-resident alien here legally, or a permanent resident here legally.  We in this Great State use the time-proven "honor system" and assume the applicant is telling the truth about their resident status, because no proof of citizenship is required.  Ever.

--so...she's been here eleven years, graduated from one school and enrolled at another, and by all appearances a bright and honorable young person.  Except for that one nagging issue, which, if I was her, would cause me to constantly look over my shoulder for the INS.

--a few days ago, this student gets pulled over for a traffic violation, whereupon Cobb County deputies check to see if she's here legally, which under United States law they are allowed to do (see the State of Arizona for clarification).  She's not.

That, my friends, is when the problemas began.

Let's recap:  a person (and her family) here illegally without documentation attends a taxpayer-funded elementary school, a taxpayer-funded high school, and a taxpayer-funded university, without any teacher/administrator at any time, at any level, ever asking for any type of citizenship/immigration papers.  Then she commits a traffic violation, without a driver's license of any kind, and subsequently is found to be here illegally.
What?  How?  Why?  What?  My head hurts.

And then, after breaking the immigration laws, taking advantage of the taxpayers of Georgia, driving without a license, she becomes...a hero.

I saw a bumper sticker not long ago which said, "If government is the answer, then you must have asked a really stupid question."

The Atlanta newspaper loves her.  One of the editors said we need more people like her (to which I say, look around).  Television stations adore her.  On one station this morning, she said, and I quote liberally and not verbatim, "I hope my situation brings about needed changes in the law." 

So do I, senorita. So do I.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I Have Absolutely NO Social Culture

Allow me to preface this by stating I am an EOE--Equally Offensive to Everyone.  That being said, I have to write about last weekend.

My sweetheart dragged asked me to accompany her to a ballet recital last weekend.  It was there I reaffirmed that I have absolutely no social culture.  At all.

One of her elementary school students was dancing in this thing and she went to provide moral support.  And teach me a lesson, which was that when I say "yes ma'am" I better not complain about whatever it is I said "yes ma'am" to.

Her little student was third on the list of--count 'em--seventeen different dancing troupes.

She finished dancing and came up to sit beside us.  Jennie gave her flowers.  I prayed for a way out.

For the uninitiated, a school-age recital is like having a root canal without the benefit of anesthesia.  At least to me.

Now it's different if it's your child performing.  At least that way you know somebody there.  As it was, I knew nobody except my wife and this one child.

We had great seats--right under the air conditioning vent, which was blowing on Full Arctic Freeze-O-Breath.

Did I mention it was a balmy 42 degrees here last Saturday night?  Oh.  Yeah.

I kept waiting for someone to come over the PA system and say, "Randy Berry, you can leave now.  And take your stinky attitude with you."  But no.

In the middle of eternity, a lady stepped out and proclaimed Intermission.  Now at any other venue when Intermission is announced you can at least get up and thaw out (or leave gracefully).  Not here.  "I have some announcements while they're changing the tape to record the DVD."  I am not making this up.  That's literally what she said.

And--AND--I was overdressed for the occasion.  I'm normally a shorts-no socks-deck shoes kind of guy.  For this, I got dressed up.  For this, I got dressed up?

I asked a parent how long the program would last.  He said about an hour and a half.  Seemed like a lifetime.

The best part was being with my love.  But I could've done that without the ballet recital, which I could not and did not appreciate artistically.  Looked like a bunch of grade-school girls running from one side of the stage to the other, jumping periodically.  I'm sure their parents were proud.

Apparently, taking me to anything beyond a George Jones concert is like putting perfume on a hog.

You can do it, but why?

Saturday, May 8, 2010


All my life, I've been surrounded by the absolute best Mamas in the known universe.

Now, before you decide to argue that point with me, let me remind you of what that great philosopher Michael Scott once said:  Don't be an idiot.

My Mama, Ruth, is an absolute firecracker but sweet as honey.  I wrote about her on her birthday this year.  She is something else.  She's mobile, agile, and at times hostile.  She speaks her mind and doesn't mind who knows what she thinks about anything.  I love her with all my heart and wouldn't change her if I could.

She's always been there for me (and lots of others who called her "Mama").  She's sharp as a tack and loves fiercely.  She's a true mountain woman in that respect, like a mama bear who doesn't like her cubs to be messed with.

My sweetheart's Mama, Velma, is one of the sweetest women I've ever known.  The week after Jennie's dad passed away, Velma's kids had to put her in an Alzheimer's facility.  Jennie was the saddest I've seen her in a long time.  And there's no comfort to be given when there are no other choices to be made.

Velma was industrious and hard-working, and that's how I'll choose to remember her.  As one counselor at the facility told Jennie, "When your mom speaks now, that's not her talking.  That's the disease."  God bless her.

Ah, but my sweetheart.  Her Mama capacity is unmatched by any of her friends or relatives.  She loves her children with truth and compassion.  She's always been unwavering in her faith in them and her ability to bring out the best in each one.  John and Carder are "Mama's Boys" and Emily is her "Baby Girl".

Her children have never had any reason to doubt her love for them.  She's supportive and straightforward, compassionate and righteous.  She's a mystery wrapped in an enigma covered by a question.

May that never change.

All three have impacted my life in different ways.  Mama prepared me for Jennie by showing me what a Mama should be.  Velma got Jennie ready for me by being an example of the same.  Emily's preparing for her soulmate with a mantra I keep repeating to her:  watch how a boy treats his Mama;  that's how he'll eventually treat you.

So, on this Mother's Day, I'm thankful for the women--the Mamas--in my life.

God knows where I'd be without them.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Roscoe Athens Berry, May 9, 1920-May 5, 1979

I wrote this last year.  Since Daddy would have turned 90 this May 9th, I wanted to honor him again.  Anything italicized has been added this time around. 
Last week marked the thirtieth anniversary of my dad's death. He had a heart attack at work one Friday morning, and he died a week later on Saturday. He was 58. I was 22 and married for about six months.

Growing up I wanted to be just like my dad. He and my Uncle Johnny were the two best men I had ever known. Quick-witted, compassionate, hard-working, Christian men. I wanted to be like them.

My daddy worked on cars since before I was born. He came back from World War II with that training, and the memories of faraway places like Hawaii, the Philippines, Guadalcanal, and New Zealand. He never talked about the war unless I asked him, and when I did and heard some of his stories I never wanted to ask again.
I recently found out that Daddy mustered out of the service in early 1946 as a Master Sergeant in the 82nd Airborne.

He and Mama moved to Barnesville after they were married and he initially worked for the Chrysler dealer in our town until he had enough of the owner talking bad about everyone's trade-in. He told me later, "Don't ever run down a man's car. It's his and it's all he's got."

My earliest memory of Daddy and cars was at the J.R. Smith Motor Company. Mr. Smith sold Fords and this was the late fifties and early sixties. It's easy to understand how I fell in love when you consider the Galaxie 500, the Fairlane, and the Mustang of that era. He worked at "the Ford place" for almost 30 years, first as a mechanic, then service manager, then parts manager. His last salary was one hundred dollars a week. In 1972. Apparently he didn't just work for the money.

I'd go "help" Daddy on Saturdays, the highlight of my week. We'd walk from our house to work so we could leave Mama the car. I remember the cool mornings as we'd walk together, me trying to keep step with him. I was no more than five years old.

My job was to put the parts order where it went, whether in a bin for small parts or upstairs for mufflers and tailpipes. I thought I was something big. I still remember KDAZ-13-FL13. It was an oil filter.

I learned respect from watching Daddy in operation. He respected old and young, black and white, boss and employee. He taught me that it was okay to speak to black people and call them "sir" if they were older than me. That was in the Deep South in 1962. Think about it. He was way ahead of his time.

I went to Carter's Drug Store one morning to get Mr. Smith some cigars. I didn't need money. Everyone knew J. R. Smith. All I had to tell Mr. Carter was what I needed and he gave it to me, writing down the amount on a running bill for Mr. Smith. While there I was approached by some cadets from Gordon Military College and one of the asked me who my old man was. I told him I didn't have an old man, but my daddy was Roscoe Berry.

When we finished work (they closed at one o'clock on Saturday--those were the days) we'd start home. I wanted to march like Daddy did in the Army, so off we'd go, marching home. I realize now what a sight we must have been, a grown man and a five-year-old marching in time through town.

That should have been embarrassing, but Daddy didn't act like it was. I only gave Daddy and Mama boyhood things to be ashamed of me about when I was young. I wish I could say the same thing since I "grew up".

Daddy got a service station when I was fourteen, and I worked for him until I went off to Mercer in 1976. From that time he ran it by himself. I'd talk to him and Mama once a week and try to come home every chance I got. They were fun to be around, and all my friends loved being around them. They'd come over and hang out even when I wasn't there. Those were the days.

I got married in September 1978. Daddy was my best man, and boy did he look good in a tux. He cried during the ceremony, and so did I. We moved to coastal Georgia not long after that and I began pastoring a church there.

I was at a church in Hinesville when the call came one Friday morning in May. Daddy had some chest pains at work and had been taken to the hospital. Jennie and I prayed all the way there that he would live until we got there.

I wish I'd prayed harder.

He was in ICU and in those days there were no pacemakers, open heart surgery, or any thing to help the situation. We visited him for ten minutes every hour. At night I'd just walk in and watch while he slept. Every time we talked that week Daddy kept saying how good God had been to him.

He got out of ICU on Friday, and that evening we watched "Dukes of Hazzard". He laughed, we laughed. He'd be out of the hospital Monday.

Saturday Jennie, a friend and I were working at the station. That afternoon I got a call from the hospital. Daddy had taken a turn for the worse.

We flew the thirteen miles to the hospital, rushed to the elevators, the doors opened on the second floor, and there was Uncle Robert, Mama's brother. He was waiting for us.

"He's gone."

I fell back against the wall in disbelief. I had just spoken to him that morning and he sounded fine. Apparently my Aunt Gwen had told Daddy a joke and he laughed, put his hand over his heart, turned to the window, and died. Dr. Holloway said if he'd been standing right there he couldn't have done a thing.

I remember Grandma Berry standing at the end of his casket saying a mama shouldn't have to bury her children. Within the year I'd be at her funeral as well.

Preacher Bill used Psalm 37.23 as the text for Daddy's funeral: "A good man's steps are ordered by the Lord." I thought about marching through town with Daddy.

Everybody seemed to love him. People I didn't know told me of things he'd done for them without anyone knowing. It made me love him more.

I had a dream during my recovery from cancer surgery. I saw Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Johnny, and Daddy standing on a riverbank across from me. I reached out to go to them and they backed up and walked away. I guess it wasn't time.

I think about you every day, Daddy. You'd be so proud of your grandchildren. They all have some of your traits. It's scary. I wish I could talk to you sometime, not only for advice, but just to hear your voice. I miss you. Knowing I'll see you someday is comforting, but it doesn't help those times when I wonder what you'd say or do.

The last thing my Daddy said to me in that Saturday morning phone call was "I love you, son." I still remember the sound of that.

He died laughing that afternoon.

I'm still crying.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Those Baptists Sure Know How To Throw A Funeral

My father-in-law, Raymond Coppage, passed away a week ago last Monday in Vero Beach, Florida.  Since I've already said what there was to say about him, I'll move on to something that would really matter to him.

We got to Vero late Monday evening to find grieving family and friends.  And a kitchen full of food.  With more promised.

Baptists are known for putting out a spread when one of their own passes away, and this wake (not a Baptist term, but it fits) would last four days and several meals.

Someone had brought casseroles, a Baptist staple at dinner-on-the-ground and funerals.  We blew through that food in about twenty minutes.  It didn't help that there were four children, their spouses, thirteen grandchildren and some of their spouses, assorted brothers and sisters, and some strangers who happened to smell the Baptist cooking and just stopped by to eat.

My brother-in-law is a regional manager for Publix Supermarkets, and Tuesday was Publix day at the house.  We all got excited about the prospects of Publix fried chicken.  If you can't have Mama's fried chicken, then Publix is the next best thing.

Alas, Publix fried chicken was not to be.

You'da thunk that among the numerous Baptists in and out of the Coppage household that week somebody, somewhere, sometime, would have brought at least a leg or thigh.  But no.

I've been away from Baptists for so long I've lost touch with what they're thinking.  Apparently they've gone healthy on me in my absence.  No fried chicken at a funeral?  Unheard of, and definitely un-Baptist.

Wednesday, Publix brought spiral-sliced ham.  Three of them, to be exact.

Now I'm a cooked-hog fan from way back, but three hams is a lot--even for me.

Still no fried chicken.

Thursday, the day of the funeral, someone brought spaghetti and salad for lunch.  Baptist spaghetti?  Unheard of.

After the funeral the family--all 153 of us--returned to the church for supper.

Ah, finally.  Fried chicken, as far as the eye could see.  Platters of bird covered an entire table.

Raymond would have been ecstatic.  He could clean a chicken leg bare in one bite.

I felt safe as I stood back in the line, secure in the fact that there would be plenty of fried chicken for me to choose from when I finally reached the Promised Land.

At 6:13pm I reached the Fowl Table.  Nothing left.

Oh, the preachers had some chicken.  As did the singers and piano players.  Even the grandchildren, who would have eaten fruit out of a blender, had chicken on their plate.  Everybody had chicken.  Except me.

Now I know that the eating was not what we were there for.  In my quest for crispy thighs, I was simply trying to honor Raymond Coppage in the best way I knew how.  He'd be looking down on me from that Great Covered Dish Supper in the Sky, plate piled high with all that Heaven had to offer.  I'd look up with a mouth full of chicken and say "Mh lothd uoo, mh phstf".

Instead, I ended up with some kind of roast beef and some green beans.

I guess I'll eat healthy from now on.  But I'll sure miss fried chicken.

And Raymond.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I was thinking just today about Homecoming at Midway Baptist Church when I was a child.

The men of the church would start cooking Saturday afternoon, roasting chickens and pigs and whatever else crossed their minds or their path.  They'd cook through the night preparing for "dinner on the ground" (although we ate on makeshift tables) Sunday after the morning service.

The service itself was memorable.  We'd skip Sunday School and the evening service (Homecoming and Easter were the only two Sundays of the year we'd cancel--such a strong word that it evoked much emotion at the monthly Conference where the church had to vote whether to do it or not--evening services.

The discussion about CANCELING the evening service centered around whether some lost soul would come to Midway that particular Sunday night, find the church CLOSED, then die on the front steps.  Which would put their eternal fate on the consciences of those who voted to CANCEL the evening service.

The church voted to call off the evening service.  I don't think anyone was ever found dead on the front steps, but those who voted against canceling the service were secretly hoping they'd be justified.

So Homecoming Sunday came, complete with a guest preacher and a Southern Gospel group whose name ended in "-aires".  The Gospelaires, Southernaires, Freedomaires, name 'em, they sang at Midway's Homecoming at one time or another.

The most memorable Homecoming Preacher was Brother Franklin Farbreath, who brought with him his Great White Throne Choir, famous for their original compositions "I'll Be Behind You When You Fall (At The Great White Throne Judgment" and "There's No Ice In Hell (Only Hot Water)".

Needless to say, Homecoming was always interesting.

Brother Franklin preached, cried, exhorted, exclaimed, cajoled, implored, shamed, disgraced, and entreated for an hour.  Then he said that phrase all good Baptists wait to hear at any service:  "In closing."  Which meant we were in for at least another thirty minutes.

Did this man not know there was food waiting just outside?  In addition to the scorched barbecue pork and brunswick stew, there would be fried chicken, ham, macaroni and cheese, fresh vegetables, pies and cakes galore.

If only he would shut up.

I leaned over to Mama and asked, "Ain't he about done?"  Daddy answered, "Son, I think he's just getting warmed up."

Thankfully he was close to the end of his sermon.  I knew this the moment he uttered, "Now, while every head is bowed and every eye closed..."  Every effective Baptist Preacher used this line at one time or another.  But I had a preacher-friend who did just the opposite;  he'd say "With every head up and every eye opened..."  I guess he figured Jesus was right when he said if you were ashamed of Him here He'd be ashamed of you There, so why take a chance?

Anyway...Brother Franklin asked for those who wanted to be saved to raise their hand, "No one's looking around" (thankfully he didn't know I was), then those who wanted to rededicate their lives to the Lord to raise their hand, then those who wanted prayer to raise their hand...I just wanted somebody to do whatever it took to get us to the food the fastest.

Then I heard The Great White Throne Choir begin to hum the strains of the first of two hundred and forty-seven verses of "Just As I Am" and knew it would be at least two o'clock before we ate.  Mama knew this too, and handed me another stick of Juicy Fruit.

I chewed away with my eyes closed, dreaming of cooked pig, fried chicken, and sweet tea.

What I wouldn't give to be back there, one more time.

Sitting between Mama and Daddy.  Hearing them sing and pray and say "Amen".  Feeling secure as they had their arms around me.

I'd just about give up fried chicken from now on for that.  Just about.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Padres 17, Braves 2...

...144 days until College Football starts.

I can't wait.  But I'll have to.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Memories of Dahlonega

I thank God every day that I live in Dahlonega and not somewhere else.  Like Clayton County.

I have great memories of the town and Lumpkin County.  Of course, it helps when your family's been around these parts since the early 1800s.

I come from a long line of gold miners and moonshiners.  My Granddaddy, Bob Free, used to pan for gold anytime his family needed money for necessities.  My cousin spent time in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary for making moonshine.  Other cousins never got caught.

I have more than a lifetime of stories, which I tell with only the slightest embellishment since truth is stranger--and in my case, better--than fiction.  Which means I don't have to make anything up.  So, here go some memories:

--Uncle Johnny's Dairy Queen caught on fire early one Sunday morning.  I don't remember much, other than the smoke coming out the back of the building and Uncle Johnny sliding down the "bank" behind his house (he and Aunt Rutha lived next to the DQ) in an undershirt and trousers, buckling his belt as he slid.  Someone had left the fry cooker on the night before and it caught on fire.  The fire was extinguished, Uncle Johnny was...mad, and the Dairy Queen is still there today.

--over at the "milk house" (Uncle Johnny owned the Better Maid milk distributorship) I had all the chocolate milk and King Sun orange juice I wanted.  I helped unload tractor trailers full of loaded milk crates more than once, and caught my hand between two crates on several occasions.  On Saturday mornings, Luke Carder (another cousin) and Gene would crank up Uncle Johnny's race car, a 1956 Ford Fairlane with straight pipes from the exhaust headers.  You could hear it all over town, since the milk house was two blocks from the Square.  Uncle Johnny later sold that car to a fellow from North Carolina who wanted to get his son Dale his first modified stock car.

--going to the Holly Theater with Sheriff Ralph Ridley's daughter Jana.  We were ten or eleven years old and in love.  Her daddy didn't think so.  After he talked to me, neither did I.

--racing my cousin up Wahsega Road towards Grandma Berry's house.  We called it "straightening the road" since Wahsega Road was a series of "S" curves all the way to the Ranger Camp.  We weren't trying to break the law;  we just couldn't wait to see Grandma and Grandpa.

--Grandma Berry made the absolute best fried apple pies I've ever had.  You could put one on top of your head and your tongue would fly up and slap your brains out.

--Grannie Free made the best apple pie in a pan I've ever had.  And the best biscuits, a trait she handed down to her daughter, my Mama.  If you've never had milk gravy and homemade biscuits, you haven't lived.  Cracker Barrel wishes desperately they had Grannie's/Mama's biscuits.  They don't.

--the Courthouse was in the center of the Square in Dahlonega.  There was a covered wagon sitting off the road as you went south out of town, up the two-lane road to Crown Mountain, the wagon Lumpkin Countians used when they delivered gold to Atlanta to cover the Capitol dome.  Now there's a McDonald's there.  Something is wrong with this picture.

--Lumpkin County was the second-poorest county in Georgia at one time.  The poorest?  Dawson county.  I'm not so sure we're not poor again.  We've been taken over by "come-heres" who know much better than natives what Dahlonega needs.  What used to be a gold-minin', moonshinin' town has gotten respectable.  And lost its soul in the process.

But out where I live, in the heart of Auraria--gold-mining country--I see the mist some mornings as I drive to work.  Cherokees walking, I've been told, on the Trail of Tears.  My ancestors walked by the creek that flows in my backyard, some to Oklahoma, some to their death.  I feel them in the mist.

It's quiet in the country, the kind of quiet I knew a generation ago in Dahlonega.  Before the imported collectable shops on the Square, there was Kenimer's Grocery, Dahlonega Ford, Fred Jones Chevrolet, the Holly Theater, the Pure Oil gas station.  And one traffic signal, with the red light on the bottom and the green light on top.  You were a dead man if you were color blind.

I listen to the birds in the morning, the deer at dusk, and the bears during the night.  It's heaven on earth.

Just like Dahlonega used to be.  And still is, in my memories.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Berry Raymond Coppage

He was born in March of 1930 in rural Lowndes County, Georgia, to parents who were people of the land when that meant something.

Hahira, Georgia, would be made famous decades later by Ray Stevens in "Shriners' Convention".  But not then.

His momma and daddy farmed some, had a general store, and personified self-sufficiency, living and dying by that year's crops...or lack thereof.

He was my father-in-law, Berry Raymond Coppage.  At this writing, he's living day-to-day, waiting to go home.

He was the first--and only--child in his family to graduate from college.

He attended Norman Park Baptist College, Mercer University, and Union University.  And a little Baptist school in Louisville, Kentucky, THE Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

I first met him when I took my future wife home from Mercer at the end of one school year.  Raymond, Velma, Ray, and Ruth lived in a church-owned house on Atlantic Boulevard in Vero Beach, Florida.  Debbie, the oldest, was married and lived just south of town.  I met them all while I was there, and became Velma's hero when Jennie cut her hand while washing a glass and I doctored the wound, saving her life.  Or you'da thought so.

Raymond was pastor of King's Baptist Church at the time I first met him.  He pastored Southern Baptist churches for over fifty years in diverse locations all over Alabama, Georgia, and finally in Vero Beach. 

A man is usually defined by what he does rather than who he is, and that's a mistake.  While Raymond was a pastor by occupation, he was much more than that.

He loved his wife, Velma, so much so that he always made sure he remembered her with gifts on her birthday, anniversary, and other Hallmark holidays.  The gift was always perfect...because one of his daughters usually did the shopping.  You hear about spouses that complete the other.  Velma overcompensated Raymond.

He loved his children.  While it was late in life before he verbally confirmed this (that rural thing again) they had to know.  He was a good provider and his family never did without, although they weren't rich by the world's standards.

His garden was a consistent source of pride.  When he built his house on 39th Street his family might have wanted a pool, but what they got was a half-acre garden full of tomatoes, green beans, Vidalia onions, name it, he grew it.  He knew you can't eat a swimming pool.  His citrus was legendary;  comparing his Ruby Reds or Valencias to something you'd find in a grocery store was like holding a watermelon up to a peanut.

He fished every chance he got, twice trying to kill me in the process.  He liked to catch any kind of fish that bit and loved most a big bream on his line.  Once on Blue Cypress Lake my sweetheart hooked a big bass and was fighting it to the boat.  Raymond grabbed the new net we bought him for Christmas and stood ready to scoop said fish up when Jennie got it close enough.  She reeled the fish up to the side of the boat, and, wanting to help the process, pulled it just far enough out of the water to make it easy for Raymond to net it.  Whereupon the bass stood up, smiled, and spit the hook at all of us as we watched.  We just leaned over the side of the boat, dumbfounded, looking at the dark water as if the bass would think twice, come back, and jump in the boat.  He didn't.

Raymond's favorite food was all-you-can-eat.  Jennie had her Senior Recital in the spring of 1978, and before the event our two families went to the Country Kitchen, a catfish place just outside of Barnesville.  Jennie and I left early enough for her to prepare for the biggest event of her college life.  Daddy and Mama and Raymond and Velma were finishing up when we left.

Or so we thought.

Did I mention it was "Shrimp Night" at the Country Kitchen?

Jennie had me checking again and again for our parents to arrive, since she wouldn't begin until they did.  At the appointed time--exactly--I stepped outside the Recital Hall on the Mercer campus to see Daddy and Raymond running (as much as you can run with all the shrimp you can eat in your stomach) holding flowers for Jennie, and Mama and Velma trotting behind.  The reason they were late?  The women couldn't get the men to stop eating.

Once Raymond and I were at an all-you-can-eat restaurant.  At some point they gave us twenty dollars and asked us to go somewhere else and eat.

Raymond loved God with simplicity and sincerity and consistency.  He preached the Word.  He loved gospel music and hymns alike.  He was willing to do things differently if it meant reaching people with the love of God.

He had open-heart surgery in 1991 and I spent one night at the hospital with him.  It was dark in the room and I thought he was asleep.  He wasn't, and quietly asked me to read the Bible to him.  I didn't really search out any specific verses.  But God knew what Raymond needed, and when I "flipped" open my Bible here's what I found:

How blessed is he who considers the helpless;
         The LORD will deliver him in a day of trouble.
The LORD will protect him and keep him alive,
         And he shall be called blessed upon the earth;
         And do not give him over to the desire of his enemies.
The LORD will sustain him upon his sickbed;
         In his illness, You restore him to health.

That was 1991. 

Raymond believed the Bible.  He knew God loved him, delivered him, restored him to health. 

I have a story account full of Raymond-isms, funny stories he's told, illustrations he's used.  I'm drawing on that to write this, and after he's in heaven, I'll make more withdrawals.  It's untapped wealth.

When I've spoken to him, he sounds weak--very weak.  But he's alert and always asks how I am.  I guess that's the pastor (or father) in him.  Slowly winding down himself, he wants to know everyone else is okay.

I wish I could guarantee that everybody he cares about would always be okay.  But that's out of my hands.

He's not afraid of death or dying.  I've never known him to be afraid of anything, really.  Men of faith are like that.

It's the rest of us who have a problem with it.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Ramblin' Man.

If the house is in Florida, aren't they ALL "Florida Rooms"?

Why do people insist on putting fried chicken in the refrigerator as soon as possible when at a family reunion/lake/beach it can sit out all day and it's still okay to eat?

And...if I'm not dead by now from eating said chicken, can any food really harm me?

Why is it that you can walk into an ER but when you're discharged you have to be rolled out in a wheelchair? Do they know something I don't?

Any conversation starting with the word "LOOK" will end poorly.

Why don't "country" stations play COUNTRY--"The Old Possum" George Jones, Conway Twitty and the Twittybirds, Johnny "The Man In Black" Cash, "Whisperin'" Bill Anderson, Dolly "They're Real But My Hair Ain't" Parton, Tammy "Stand By My Man" Wynette,

I'm going to start paying for everything with Monopoly money.  It should work as well as the real thing, and I like the colors better.

Back when Ronald Reagan was President we still had Bob Hope and Johnny Cash.  Now we have Obama and NO hope and NO cash.

I really don't like coconut.

I used to think I knew it all.  Then I found out I didn't.  I'm just surrounded by idiots.

I'm pretty fly for a white guy.  Back up..don't hate the player, hate the game.  It's how I roll.  I'm glad that's out of my system.

A mind is a terrible thing.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I was watching the news this morning and I saw a clip of VP Joe Biden giving President Obama a man-hug and whispering loudly something in his ear.

Apparently it wasn't "congratulations, sir."

More than one report showed Joe Biden saying as he embraced the President, "This is a big f**king deal."

I'm not sure what he was referring to, but I think it was the health care bill.  At least I hope it was.

Now, I'm no prude.  I've done my share of cussing, sometimes justifiably, sometimes carelessly.  But I wasn't raised that way.

Mama and Daddy didn't cuss, except on those rare occasions when they used the most expressive word in the English language.  You figure it out;  if you can't, ask me.

Given Joe Biden's history of plagiarism, I think I know where he got it from:  either Batman, the Road Runner, or both.

I watched Batman when I was young, and anytime he would hit--yes, physically strike--a criminal, a cartoon balloon would pop up with "!@#$%^&*!" in it.  I knew the criminal was stating the obvious;  he was getting the snot beat out of him and expressing his emotions.

I watched Wile E. Coyote try to catch the Road Runner using the latest weapon from Acme, and fail.  Another balloon would pop up with--you guessed it--"!@#$%^&*!" in it. 

It didn't take rocket surgery to figure out what they were saying.  And I'm pretty sure Wiki Joe got his word from one of these cartoons.

So there they were, the President and Vice-President of the greatest nation in the world, standing on the precipice of "change" on a scale unseen since the 1960s, and all he can think of to say is "This is a big f**king deal."  Classy.  And Vice-Presidential.  No wonder they put "vice" before "president".

I'll tell you the big f**king deal:  a "health-care" plan with no funding, no plan, no parameters other than those hammered out in some back-room deal that taxpayers will pay for.  From now on.

Remember, government never gives you anything that they don't take away from somebody else.

Oh,  I remember now.  Daddy did cuss when he felt he was wronged by the government.

He'd comment "They screwed me without even kissing me first."

At least the President got a hug.  I think I know what we're getting.

Please, oh please, just kiss me first.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Sprung March 20. Snowing March 22.

It has snowed seven--seven-times since January 1.

Today it's snowing. Again.

It won't stick.

It won't last.

It don't matter.

It's getting old.

Wednesday's forecast: Sunny and 72.

Stinkin' global warming.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I Have A Question

Let me get this straight...we're trying to pass a health care bill written by a committee whose chairman says he doesn't understand it, passed by a Congress which hasn't read it but exempts themselves from it, to be signed by a President who also is exempt from it and hasn't read it and who smokes, with funding by a Treasury chief who didn't pay his taxes, all to be overseen by a Surgeon General who is obese, and financed by a country that's broke.

What the hell could possibly go wrong?

"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."
--Mark Twain

Friday, March 12, 2010

I'll Remember You

I sing this song--or hum some part of it--almost every day.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Simon Says. And So Do I.

In the midst of all the commentary on things like the economy, earthquakes, Toyota, etc. I'd like to comment on something that really matters.

American Idol.

Our household watches American Idol.  Not always live, which would be unbearable;  we have a DVR (how did we live without them?) and record it so we can skip the commercials...and some of the drama.

Last night we watched the playback of that evening's episode.  Since it was already finished, and I hadn't seen it ahead of time or knew the outcome or knew what Simon Cowell would say about the female contestants and I'm not psychic (or psychotic, for that matter) I felt pretty good about myself as I made the judgment call on the girls.  Along with Simon.

Randy Jackson can "yo dog" all he wants.  Ellen Degeneres can make everyone laugh.  Kara can be kind and cutting at the same time.  But Simon...well, Simon is special, isn't he?  Just cuts to the chase and lets the chips fall where they may (Dr. Ellzey, forgive me for mixing my metaphors).

(It's always easier to judge others when you're not in their shoes.  So I qualify my comments by remembering that as I criticize the Idol eager eight, there's a reason they're on the show and I'm not.  I'm slightly outside the age limit for contestants.)

Anyway...I was uncannily accurate in my assessment of last night's singers.  I was right there with sweet Simon.  To wit:

Katie Stevens--sang a Kelly Clarkson song I didn't know because I listen to country music and Elvis almost exclusively.  I did know she was boring.  Simon says (that's the only time I'll use that phrase, but I just had to) that she sucked the energy out of the song.  I says she just sucked.

Siobhan Magnus--mu spell checker's going crazy.  Were her parents high when they named her?  Her dad was in the front row last night, looking for all the world like Phil Collins.  You make the call.  She sang "House of The Rising Sun".  My first band in sixth grade sang that song.  Simon said it was weird.  I said weird started before she opened her mouth.  Probably at birth.

Doctor Midwife/Birthing Tub Assistant:  It's a girl.
Mother:  What shall we name her?
Father:  I've been thinking (putting away his roach clip).  I really do like your mother's name, Cruella, but...oh, wow, man...look at those chiffon drapes...let's name her Chiffon but spell it Siobhan and bug the hell out of all her teachers.


Lacey Brown--looks like a cute little bird with that dark red dyed hair spiked in all directions.  Simon said the song she sang was in danger of being forgotten.  I don't remember what she sang.  We were right again.

Katelyn Epperly--sang Carole King's "I Feel The Earth Move".  Dressed like Carole King:  hair, clothes, Wurlitzer keyboard.  Simon said it was like request night at a restaurant.  I requested she stop singing.

Didi Benami--WHERE ARE THESE NAMES COMING FROM?  Yawn.  Simon too.

Paige Miles--"Smile" by Nat King Cole.  Sounds like something you'd hear at a funeral.  Simon said it was like what you'd hear at a Holiday Inn in 1974.  I take offense, since I was playing in Holiday Inn bars around 1974.  We never played that song...I don't think.  I don't remember.

Crystal Bowersox--looks rough as a cob, sings like Aretha.  Simon said the competition was hers to lose.  I hope she wins it all because she doesn't fit the mold.  Ever the underdog supporter, me.  I realize how nasty that last sentence sounds.  I like it.

Lily Scott--Patsy Cline's "I Fall To Pieces".  Simon wondered why she chose that song.  I wondered how she made it this far.  Sounds like somebody choking a cat.  Simon said she was brave.  I agree.  You'd better be brave if you're going to be stupid.

So, Simon and I are on the same page right now.  I'm beginning to really like that guy.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Snowmageddon III

I hope--hope--this is the last time this year I'll have to say something about this.

We got around nine inches of snow yesterday between 5am and 1pm.  This translates to A) an inordinate number of idiot drivers 3) an unbearable number of "Special Weather Statements!" and D) more stupid questions than you can imagine.  Well, maybe not.

Anytime I hear someone say something stupid, I'm reminded of Keith Olbermann, when he co-anchored SportsCenter on ESPN, before he ran out to left field and stayed there.  He once said, "Remember, there are no stupid questions--only stupid people who ask questions." 

They all live in North Georgia.

Sometimes it's not questions, but observations, that make my head hurt.  One guy here at work, in the midst of the blizzard, observed that "if it keeps on like this them cars will be covered up before long." 

You think?

Another Florida transplant observed that "the wind makes it really cold out here."


Here are the facts: 

It's early March, time for the last cold spell before Spring is sprung and things turn green again. 

When it snows long enough and hard enough, cars, trucks, and everything else will eventually be covered up.

Wind makes cold weather colder.  Always.

Ken Cook did NOT take his coat off, roll his sleeves up, or loosen his tie at any point during the snowstorm, therefore there was never really anything to worry about.

I still miss Guy Sharpe, now more than ever.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Captain Obvious and Sergeant Stupid

I watch the local news every morning, more for laughs than anything else.  This morning I was not disappointed.

Tom Haynes was interviewing a victim of a stabbing in a lab on the Georgia Tech campus last week.  Well, it wasn't really a stabbing;  the victim was attacked by a former GT student using a samurai sword.

You can't make this stuff up.

Haynes, otherwise known as Captain Obvious, asked the victim: "When you were being attacked, did you feel that your life was in danger?"

The victim said yes.  I know how I would have answered:  "Nope, I was just hoping to live long enough to get to the Varsity for one more Frosty Orange and a chili dog."

The interview ended with the victim telling Haynes how the campus police and the Atlanta Police Department showed up.  Captain Obvious asked "When the police showed up, did you think your life had been saved?"

Again, yes.  Me?  "Nope, I've seen the APD in action.  They shoot first, and then, if anyone lives, they ask questions."

After this riveting exchange, I tuned to ESPN in time to hear Mike Tirico and Tom Rinaldi talking about Tiger Woods' press conference yesterday.  Rinaldi, Sergeant Stupid, observed that the press conference was "one of those things where people will remember where they were when they heard it", placing Tiger's TV time up there alongside the Kennedy assassination, the supposed death of Elvis, and 9/11.  Brilliant.

Which reminds me of this story:

An old country Baptist preacher was attending an associational meeting where a seminary professor gave a glowing report of the advances in theological education.  The old preacher was called upon to say the closing prayer, whereupon he said, "O God, I thank Thee that I am ignorant.  Please make me ignoranter."

Preacher, along with Fox 5 and ESPN, your prayer has been answered.

Friday, February 19, 2010


My mama's birthday is today.  For the better part of my life I knew her birthday but not the year in which she was born.  Whenever I would ask her how old she was, she'd always say, "39 and holding".  I wonder if she inspired the Jerry Lee Lewis song of the same name.  As soon as I typed that I realized I'd rather not know.

I have a lifetime of "Mama Memories":

--sitting in her lap on a Saturday afternoon, watching the rain pepper our Sims Street driveway, and her telling me it was little children going to church as I drifted off to sleep.

--riding in the front seat of our '53 Mercury/'59 Ford/'64 Galaxie, nestled up against her, my head on her shoulder as we traveled somewhere.  Before the advent of seatbelts or booster seats, there was Mama.  I never felt safer in my life than when I rode with her.

--any and every time I was sick she took care of me, giving me whatever she sensed I wanted or needed.  I'll never forget one evening I had the flu or something and all I wanted was a Dairy Queen hamburger.  Mama sent Daddy over to Mrs. Pritchett (she owned the DQ) and got me a Brazier Burger.  After they'd closed for the day.

--I'd sit next to her in church, and she'd make me little goblets out of Juicy Fruit wrappers.  She'd ask me every Sunday during the invitation song if I wanted to get saved.  One Sunday morning I said yes.  I'm here by the grace of God and the persistence of Mama.

--as I grew older, riding with her anywhere was an adventure.  She knew the speed limit, but she also knew every State Patrolman and Deputy in the surrounding counties.  She never got stopped for so much as a warning.  And she never drove slowly anywhere she was going.  Once, on I-475 near Macon, she flew by a GSP trooper who obviously didn't know her.  He gave chase, she hopped off at an exit, crossed over to the entrance ramp, and sat there until he passed by under the bridge.  She out-troopered the trooper.

--before I ever got my Learner's License, I was allowed to drive.  One Sunday afternoon Daryl Strickland and I wanted to drive the Galaxie out to the Dari Delite.  Mama laid down in the backseat so it would look like Daryl and I were alone, cruising for girls.  God knows what we'd have done if any girls had wanted to ride around with us that day.  I guess they'd have ridden in the backseat.  With Mama.

Everything I needed to know about life and living I learned from Mama.  She's feisty and gracious, the original Steel Magnolia.  You never have to question what she thinks about something, she makes it clear.  She's sharp as a tack and sweet as mountain honey.  She loves me, and that's been no small task.

She's my Mama.  There's not another one like her anywhere.  I love her with all my heart.

And today's her birthday.

Happy Birthday, Mama.  I'm glad you're mine.