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Finding humor

There is nothing humorous about which to write!

Some believe that the “ice bucket challenge” is funny, and yes, watching Ethel Kennedy and several others of note get drenched is, momentarily, quite laughable. Then I think of the cause behind these viral “I must be seen doing it” videos, and I think back to reading Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom and suddenly the challenge doesn’t seem to be quite so funny. I also think of my friend “The Colonel,” as Professor Ed McGee was known when he was teaching at Babson, who was diagnosed in his early sixties and who opened the door for me to begin teaching creative problem solving, team building, and goal setting for a variety of groups because he was no longer able to do so. It makes me happy to see all of the money that has been raised for ALS research, but if you’ve ever watched someone deteriorate and die from the disease, there is no humor.

There is certainly no humor in the drought that has hit parts of the Southwest, nor is there anything funny in the horrible floods of the Midwest.  Since the Napa Valley has just been hit by a 6.0 earthquake, I guess the grapes shaking off the vines may be humorous to some, the wine makers aren’t laughing…at least, it will ease the job of the pickers. Speaking of pickers, can anyone find something to chuckle about with these kids who were crossing the border in hoards? If you can, your mind is even more screwed up than my own…and that is really going some!

Robin Williams’ death was tragic, but even in death, his legacy gave us something to laugh about. Oh, we’ll never see him on stage or in film again, but it brought back some of his wonderful humor, if only for a brief moment. I have seen clips that I’ve never seen before…and I’ve laughed. I have a sister-in-law and a dear friend, both of whom are suffering from Parkinson’s. I’d rather remember Mr. Williams as he was in his crazy days. It’s not humorous, but when the media and the police first announced that Mr. Williams was a suicide and that he was found with a belt around his neck, the attitude of several reporters appeared to be, “That cowardly bastard.” It was quite amazing how quickly that attitude turned around when it was later announced that he was in the early stages of Parkinson’s.

There is nothing humorous about the arrest of a freshman in South Carolina or a 13-year old in Albuquerque, New Mexico being arrested for burping in a physical education class. As they say, “better to urp a burp and bear the shame than squelch a belch and die in pain!” There is a line here which students, teachers, and administrators have to learn not to cross. Criminalizing a student for burping or for carrying a writing assignment too far indicates a certain degree of paranoia that is far from funny. If a student is a perpetual trouble-maker, get the parents involved and don’t tolerate any bullshit from them about their child being perfect. We’re all aware that the news media will rarely, if ever, take the side of those who “have had enough.” We also know that teenagers can be little shits, but criminalizing them will only turn them into heroes among their classmates. Try embarrassing rather than arresting.

Is there humor in the world? Sure, there is, but it seems to be so far outweighed by the horrific, nasty, and downright terrible that one really has to search to find laughter.  In order to laugh out loud, I find that I must watch Big Bang Theory re-runs or Two and a Half Men [before Charlie Sheehan went off the deep end].

Well, I guess it’s time for me to go watch my reruns. Tonight, I’ve picked a couple of really funny shows, True Blood, Vampire Diaries, and Grimm…wow, those should be hilarious!

The murder of James Foley proves once more that Islamic extremists place little value on human life…any human life, including their own. It also demonstrates the degree of cowardice to which these people will go, as they cover their faces to do their horrific deeds.

My initial reaction to Mr. Foley’s beheading was, “Let’s go bomb the bastards out of existence,” but that would kill too many innocent civilians. These arrogant sons-of-bitches don’t give a damn about who gets killed whenever and wherever they choose to fight. In fact, much of the video that I have seen shows them terrorizing and killing civilians who don’t practice religion exactly as they do. My questions are simply, “Does every soldier in your group carry a prayer rug and turn to Mecca five times each day? Do you respect the Quran and follow its teachings precisely? If you form an Islamic state, how will you keep other religious fanatics from overrunning you and killing you for their beliefs? I would imagine that the idea of prayer has gone out the window right about now since killing is what these people seem to believe in. As far as the Quran is concerned, there is probably not one hafiz in the entire fighting group. As far as a separate state for this type of warlord is concerned, I have some news for these people. It won’t be external warfare that will bring down their state; it will be civil unrest that will be its downfall.

James Foley becomes the second American journalist to be beheaded by radical Muslims. The first, the video of Daniel Pearl, was shocking. The murder of Foley is shocking, but this public execution is no more or less than what these homo sapiens do to their own. Khalid Sheik Mohammed is the name of the man who killed Daniel Pearl. It took time to identify him and to catch him, but the last I heard he was still at Gitmo. We don’t know who “British John” is…yet. We know he’s the head of a British foursome called “The Beatles;” we know several other things about him, including the fact that he is a coward who has to cover much of his body to hide his identity. Don’t worry, John, analysts today are very good at picking up on small things. Knowing, for example, that you’re left-handed will be a big help in identifying you. I’m not certain you’ll get to Guantanamo Bay, however, because Jim Foley was a very popular guy, and strange things often happen to animals twixt the barn and the pen.

ISIS or ISSL or whatever they’re calling themselves on this particular day has indicated that it has additional American captives that it will kill. I offer my condolences to the wives, fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers of those captives, but I have no doubt they will carry out their threat. You see, human life is cheap in the eyes of these homo sapiens {please note that I do not call them other than by the genus by which other humans are called], and human life from another country is cheapened further because they believe that it is tainted in some way. Their thinking is different; they are wired differently from human beings. They are a throwback to the hunter/gatherers of eons ago. When they are encountered, the only treatment of them is a quick death. They understand that. It’s unfortunate that they still exist, but they’ve left their aeries in the mountains, and it is now incumbent on real people to eliminate them.

Am I trying to be funny? Absolutely not! I find the assassinations of Daniel Pearl and James Foley revolting. War is war, and combatants are meant to kill one another. Innocents like Pearl and Foley are to be left alone. “What about our wives and children that the Americans have killed with their bombing?” they ask, to which my response is, “You hide behind their skirts and expect to be protected?” How stupid can you be? That is just another example, first, of how cowardly they are, and second, how little regard they have for human life.

I abhor violence, whether it’s a cop beating a homeless woman in California, a Black kid in Ferguson, Missouri shoving and then threatening a clerk after the kid and his friend have robbed the store, bullying by anyone whether physical, psychological, or through texts and e-mails, or some coward in the Middle East cutting off the head of an innocent civilian…I cannot stomach such behavior. I wonder how “British John” would feel if put in the same situation as Jim Foley. My bet is that he’d cry like a baby and piss all over himself. Sorry, but if that’s the way you wish to live; it’s probably the manner in which you will die.

“The world is divided into ‘givers’ and ‘takers.’ If you’ve never heard the expression, invite me over to your cave sometime, and we can discuss philosophy 101. However, I never heard the rest of the statement until today. It goes, “The takers eat well, but the givers sleep well. What a wonderful expression when combined. I wonder if it’s true. I began to do a bit of research on the subject of givers and takers, only to learn that there is a third category, “matchers.”  The takers take with no thought of how it might affect others, rather like, “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine…and if I want it, screw you, I’m going to get it.” The givers just give without thought other than it will help the team, organization, or whatever. The matchers, however, are those who will give but expect to receive something from their giving…a favor later or some kind of quid pro quo that will benefit them.

I never realized the amount of study that has gone into this subject of givers and takers…and even matchers. I also never realized that this entire thing could be turned into book after book after book. It made me realize that no matter how obscure, shadowy, vague, or downright weird, there is always some smartass who is able to take advantage of it and turn it into a profitable book, workshop, or lecture tour.  In addition, if one is really good, it can be turned into an entire semester-long course for guinea pigs who will supply an endless amount of raw data so that more books can be published and more money can wind up in the author’s pockets.

As an undergraduate, I was forced to take a course entitled Advertising Production. It was a required course. This was in the 1950s when textbooks were relatively inexpensive. Therefore, when I learned that this text was going to set me back nearly a hundred bucks, I was really pissed. The man who taught the course was still living in the 1930s. The course was as dull as dishwater; the book a piece of crap, and if you turned in a smoke and mirrors project and did well on the tests, you were pretty much guaranteed an ‘A.’ Several years after I graduated, this same faculty member was taking a year-long sabbatical, and I was asked if I’d be interested in teaching the Ad Production course for a year. Hey, what an opportunity to put a few bucks in my pocket, so I said, “Yes.” I was given something that was supposed to be a syllabus, told the name of the book that had been ordered, an “atta boy,” and left to my own devices. The book was the same one that I had as an undergraduate. It had not changed…one iota. On the first day of class, I asked how many had purchased the book. The answer was zero. They were waiting to see what the instructor was going to do; how would he teach; would the book be required, etc., etc., etc. I told them not to buy the book. I’d be damned if I was going to put royalties in the pocket of some lazy son-of-a-bitch who hadn’t bothered to change his book in nearly 20 years.

You have to understand something clearly. Advertising Production entails many things. There is the creative process, the production process, budgeting, and a whole pile of other ‘stuff’ that goes into what you may read in Time or U.S. News, listen to on your favorite radio station, or watch between segments of NCIS or Grimm. The classroom is great but not for this particular course. Back then, you took students to an ad agency for the creative process as well as cost figures. You took them to a commercial printer if you wanted them to see the complexities of a print advertisement. You took them where things were actually happening, let professionals spend an hour – I had a lot of friends in the business – telling them the facts of life [as you took notes to make up exam questions], and showed them firsthand what they might be facing after graduation. From the owner of a commercial printing company, the students received a spiral-bound printer’s handbook. In class they were told that this was their Bible and to be prepared to be tested on what it contained [I had probably ten different editions of the same book and had found it to be invaluable in producing bulletins, brochures, and catalogs]. They learned early on that their projects would be judged by real world standards and not by how much BS they could shovel.  Of the money I received from teaching that class, nearly half went into transportation, publications, and ‘honoraria’ for speakers. I’m not that giving a person, but I would be damned if those kids were going to suffer through the bullshit through which I suffered. Funny thing is that several stayed in touch for years; one stays in touch to this day. I’m not certain who the giver was and who was the taker. I probably learned as much from them as they learned from me and the people to whom they were introduced.

Frankly, I don’t think we should go through life as takers or givers or matchers, or whatever. According to some of the data I’ve seen, the three categories aren’t necessarily a measure of success. Oh, boy, there’s another word that’s worthy of an entire essay! Some givers achieve greatness as do the other two. Other givers, takers, and matchers are at the bottom of the achievement list. Perhaps this is why I question the idea of trying to make so much psychological gobbledygook out of who is what in this world in which we live. When I started this piece, I had no idea where it would take me; no idea that it would rekindle my very first college lectureship experience; no idea that it would begin to make me think about my own family and who were the givers, and who were the takers.

I’m reminded of a quote by the philosopher,  Kahlil Gibran,“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” Certainly, it would be great to win a big lottery jackpot and give much of it to your favorite charities, but it is when you give of your knowledge, freely and without reservation; when you give of your time to help others without concern for yourself, then you will begin to realize just how good giving can feel.

You don’t need it

What is wrong with being bald? Where is the problem with having gray in one’s hair? Have you ever seen a man or woman with snow white hair? It’s singularly beautiful. I’m not talking about the dirty gray that you see on some, but if the genes are right – mine don’t happen to be, but what the hell – it seems to enhance the beauty or at least detract from the ugliness of the person so blessed. In terms of being bald, I guess the classic actors were or are Telly Savalas, Yul Brynner, Stanley Tucci, John Malkovich, and several others, none of whom appeared to be concerned about the fact that their heads were shaved because they were mostly bald.

The ads on television that push hair restoration for “that younger look,” or adding coloring to hair or beards in order to ‘score’ with women are embarrassingly simplistic and downright insulting. What, you think that by going through a process that puts hair on your head or color in your beard, you’re going to be more attract6ive to the opposite sex? My guess would be that you’re trying to look younger in order to think younger, act younger, and make a damned fool of yourself.

You are what you are, and while hair coloring works well for most women – except for the purple-headed grande dames – I’m not all that certain the same can be said for men. Unless a man has his hair colored professionally, it usually comes out as five shades of brown as opposed to fifty shades of gray.

After Joan died of cancer, I did two things to honor her memory. First, I had my wedding ring made into a heart and attached to the cross I wear around my neck. The second thing I did and will continue to do until I die, is to shave my head. Did she undergo chemo and lose her hair? No, she refused chemo because (a) it was too late, and (b) she preferred quality of life over quantity of life. So no, I didn’t shave my head because Joan had lost all of her hair. I did it as a tribute to her memory. Was I going bald anyway? That’s a tough call. I had a small tonsure on the back of my head and a couple of runways on the front, but by and large, I still had to get to a barber every couple of weeks to look presentable. Today, while I still haven’t mastered the art of shaving my head with a straight razor – I admit to crazy; not to stupid – I keep the old scalp as bare as possible. Let me put it this way: After I’ve shaved my head, it glints. That’s enough for me.

People do all sorts of crazy things to make themselves what…more attractive to the opposite gender? That seems rather shallow to me because it would appear that the person is starting out with a deception. If that’s what floats someone’s boat, beautiful, go for it, but understand something very clearly; you are a victim of the advertising community. You also probably have insecurities about how you look, and the advertisers are doing nothing but pandering to those insecurities. My personal insecurity about my looks took place when I was in high school. During the summer, between my freshman and sophomore years, I grew nearly a foot in height, all the way up to six feet, three inches. The only problem was that my weight didn’t grow with me. At 145 pounds, I could stand sideways to a sapling and disappear. I wasn’t the tallest kid in the class; I was the tallest person in the school. The most polite of the nicknames was probably “Bones,” but those days are gone forever. Looking back, I can chuckle about how insecure I was over my height as well as my weight. Today, at six, one, and 250, I’m still somewhat insecure about my weight…no I’m not; it is what is, and at 80, I just don’t give a damn any more.

The exterior of a person is really quite meaningless. When Robin Williams committed suicide, all the gory details were part of the police announcement. Zelda Williams, his daughter, shut down her twitter account because of some of the nasty comments she was receiving. Now time has passed, and the public is learning about the real Robin Williams; not Williams the comedian; not Williams the actor; not Williams who constantly battled depression. People are learning about Robin Williams, the generous man who entertained troops in Iraq and Afghanistan without promoting his tours; who taped a ‘take care’ message to a woman in New Zealand who is dying of cancer; who regularly did fund raising for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital; who was one of the kindest and most generous people in Hollywood; who was probably haunted by the onset of Parkinson’s disease. Outside, he was…talented and strange. Inside, his heart was filled with kindness and generosity.

You don’t have to add hair or shave your head. You don’t have to Botox your face or use a particular brand of skin softener. You just have to be the best you that you can be. As one quotation goes, “When you were born, you cried and all of those around you smiled. Live your life so that when you die, you are smiling and all around you are crying.” I can think of no finer tribute.

 

If I say anything at all that can be misconstrued, I will be called a racist. The funny thing is that I no longer mind if that ‘label,’ for that’s what it is, gets pinned on my clothing. It’s rather like being a Jew in Nazi Germany in the 30s. Perhaps that’s a poor analogy, but I think you understand what I mean. An all-Black Chicago Little League team has made it to the Little League World Series. They almost made it last year, but they lost in the finals. When I hear that, I go ape. So they lost in the finals, so what? A lot of teams lose in the finals. Because they were Black, was the other team supposed to lie down and let them win. I believe we are discouraging equality by calling the Jackie Robinson Little Leaguers, does this make them different from the Harland Whittaker Little Leaguers?  Who the hell is Harland Whittaker? Exactly; you get my point. Everyone knows – any baseball fan that is – knows who Jackie Robinson was. How many can name the man who signed him? His name was Branch Rickey for the uninitiated, and don’t underestimate the amount of abuse he took for assisting Jack Robinson in breaking baseball’s color barrier.

Meanwhile, in Ferguson, Missouri, people of color are, once more, taking away – stealing if you will – all of the goodwill that the Chicago South Side team is building by behaving like animals over the shooting of a Black teenager by looting stores and rioting. Excuse me, but what law gives you folks the right to smash glass and loot stores because someone of your race was shot and killed. What, you didn’t have a flat screen and wanted one to watch the Little League World Series? I not only find that difficult to believe, but I’ll call you a goddamned liar if that’s why you were looting these stores. Whether it’s Watts, Ferguson, or anywhere else in the country where there are Black neighborhoods, it seems that it’s anything for a riot; anything as an excuse to break store windows and steal – and probably from minority business owners – just for the sake of busting windows and making off with unauthorized goodies!  And, of course, right in the middle of the whole thing is that champion of civil rights…for Blacks only, Congressman Al Sharpton.

When Trevon Martin was killed, I heartily concurred that George Zimmerman should be found guilty of first degree murder. When he wasn’t, I didn’t go into the streets and break windows or trash cars. We – not white people; we…Americans – don’t behave that way. If asked, we express our opinions and say that the verdict, in our minds, was wrong. It’s the same way as I believe the Los Angeles Police Department officers should have been convicted of the beating of Rodney King; the same as I believe that O.J. Simpson got away with murder. The difference there is that there was a riot after the King verdict and nothing but cheers have O.J. was found not guilty.

Racism is a two-way street. Oh, don’t say that; don’t tell me that only white people can be racist. Bill Russell, the former Boston Celtic was and probably still is a model of racism. I have personal experience to back up that comment.  It appears that it’s alright for Black people to have a prejudice against whites because of the slavery issue. Who were the original slave traders in Africa? They were Black tribesmen who took prisoners from other tribes and sold them into slavery. Were Washington, Jefferson, and many other founding fathers slave owners? Absolutely. Was slavery wrong? Absolutely. Is it over and done with since the Emancipation Proclamation, Brown vs. The Board of Education, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Yes, but there are still Black youngsters who will say that my ancestors kept Black people down. Okay, it’s possible, but that was one hell of a long time ago. Build a freaking bridge; get over it. Stop using it as an excuse. Black is beautiful, my ass; Black is no more beautiful than Red, White, Yellow, or any other color that humanity cares to possess.

It turns my stomach when I see an ad on television for the United Negro College Fund. If there was ever an ad for the United White College Fund or the United Asian College Fund, all hell would break loose. If people like John Johnson of Ebony, Berry Gordy, Jr. of Motown, Ervin Johnson, Willie Davis, and thousands more Black businessmen and women can make a success out of life, why not those same people who would rather riot, shatter glass, and rob stores. Is this a genetic trait? I rather doubt that? I mentored a person of color through part of her college years. She was a great person who succeeded because she wouldn’t be dragged down by her friends who wanted to party all the time. They dropped out; she did not. Her mother was a single parent; her brother was involved with drugs; her best friend hanged herself, and this young woman fought through her grief to succeed. She now has a wonderful career; she went on to earn an MBA. She had the entire deck stacked against her, but she made it into a house of cards that fell around her and she persevered.

So, to everyone out there who thinks it’s so amazing that an all-Black Little League team from the South Side of Chicago is in the Little League World Series, knock off the bullshit. It’s not “an all-Black team;” it’s a team from Chicago – you want to add South Side, okay, but leave out the color, please. Oh, by the way, the team from Philadelphia has a female pitcher, Mo’ne Davis. I won’t tell you her race, nationality, or country of origin…not even her religion; you figure it out. What the hell are people going to say when the Little League World Series welcomes its first all-female champions and they’re a mixture of Black, White, and Asian? Oh, Lord, how I would love to live to see that!

Robin Williams is dead at the age of 63. He leaves behind a comedic history which we may never see again. He leaves behind a volume of film work that produced over five billion dollars in revenue. He leaves behind a series of humorous and brilliantly human interviews with Charlie Rose…and all I can add is “Thank you, Mr. Williams. I’m deeply regretful that the demons who haunted you finally won.” Rest in Peace.

Unfortunately, there are people in this world who don’t want Robin Williams to rest in peace. Too bad, he’s already crossed over and has become a perfect being in the eyes of God. Only God knew what haunted him, and I happen to believe in a forgiving God. I won’t even mention the name of the right-wing radio personality who publicly stated that Williams died because he was a leftist and that all leftists are sad and dark. There are people in this world who are just plain cruel, and I have to admit that I don’t understand that. It would be better for these people to keep their opinions to themselves. As Lincoln said, “Better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and confirm it.” I think it was Lincoln; I don’t really care. I’m quite certain that a great many folks have expressed it in one way or another throughout the centuries.

I didn’t know Mr. Williams. There were many times when I thought about inviting him to ride his bike in the Pan-Mass Challenge, but I never worked up the courage to write to him. The kicker is that from what I’ve heard and seen, I’ll bet that he would have arranged his schedule to be at the PMC because of what it serves. Come to find out, he did a great deal of charity cycling for various causes in California. I suppose that there were people who watched him and secretly hoped he fall off his bike or have some kind of accident. I use the word “secretly” because cruel people generally want to remain anonymous. They don’t have the courage – the balls, if you wish – to say what their devious little minds are truly thinking.

What is gained by speaking cruelly of someone, living or dead? What satisfaction is gained? Do people do this because they are lacking some chromosome in their DNA? Are they jealous of the person, who is a success; who has done something that leaves the world a better place for having been in it? Perhaps these are the people, like the radio announcer who just want to garner attention for being outrageous because they understand that they don’t have anything that is sufficiently concrete to be mourned when they die. Perhaps these are the twits who feel that their ‘friends’ will know who posted or tweeted or did some other social media idiocy, so they remain in the dark shadows of anonymity.

Making cruel remarks about sad situations is just another form of bullying and, like most bullies, they are fearful that if their name becomes known, they will then become the bulled. The entire social dynamic of this is a blot on who we are as a society.

There will probably be some comments about Lauren “Betty” Bacall, the wonderful actress who died less than 72 hours after Mr. Williams. But wait, most of the cruelty comes from a certain demographic and they wouldn’t have seen Bacall on screen. That probably won’t stop them however; cruelty and ignorance appear to go hand in hand when we’re talking about those who will hide behind the anonymity of social media.

There’s little more to be said by me. Friedrich Nietzsche said, “Man is the cruelest animal,” and Dostoyevsky added, “People speak sometimes about the “bestial” cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel.”

Enough; those of you who may have made nasty comments about Robin Williams; go back to your lonely, bitter little lives, and leave the mourners to our tears and fond memories.

Your story

To your left, at one end of the beach, there are cliffs. No, no, no, these are not cliffs such as you see off the English coast or somewhere in the Scandinavian countries. They’re not all rocky and craggy; well, in a couple of places, but these are more like steep, shrubbery, viney, rocky cliffs, but from the top there are stairs that have been built. As a matter of fact, from your vantage point – behind a pair of very good Zeiss binoculars – you can make out four sets of rather steep stairs, two of which appear to have those chairs they advertise on television…that must have cost a bundle. The houses at the top don’t appear to be too shabby either. As a matter of fact, they are pretty damned nice…glass front facing the beach and it looks as though the glass curves around so that they have a full view…wow!

Down where you and I are sitting – the peasant part; after all, it is a town beach – the sand is white and pure. The kelp and seaweed have been raked and scraped by one of those tractor-type things that come along every morning about 5 am. They must be electric because we’ve been here at 5 am, not of our own volition, of course, but when you’ve partied as hard as we do at times, it’s best to spend the night in the dunes where the worst thing you have to worry about is a stray dog coming along and using you for a hydrant…yuck…but that has yet to happen.

The beach is beautiful. It’s long, perhaps close to three quarters of a mile. There are rock jetties here and there, probably to keep the sands from shifting. Some people will go out on the jetties to fish and more than one has caught his or her fair share of bluefish or striped bass. Under your feet, as you walk into the warmish water, it is still gorgeous riffled sand. In 10-15 feet of water the bottom is still clearly visible. If you enjoy snorkeling, you can pretty well rest assured that at some point you’ll find that fish begin to swim with you or just ahead and off to one side. Stupidity says that you can reach out and touch them, but if you wish them to stay, that would be the wrong thing to try. This is one of the most heavenly places on earth you are thinking; then comes the tap on the shoulder.

You take the binoculars from your eyes, turn slightly and look up. The man standing behind you is well over six feet tall, with shoulders the shape of a quarterback’s pads. He’s wearing a Palm Beach suit; you know, the one with the blue and white stripes. He’s even wearing a straw hat; nice outfit. Unfortunately, the suit has not been tailored to conceal the bulge under his left arm. It’s quite evident that he does not have a box of chocolates hidden there, but then, what do I know. This is a hard man and one of which to be quite leery.

“Excuse me,” he says, and carries on as though he really doesn’t care if I excuse him or not. “The people who live in the estates to your left live there because they enjoy their privacy. That is why it’s a gated community…”

At this point, I believe I can see where this is going, and I’m quite certain that I don’t wish to go there…

“…therefore it would be greatly, greatly, greatly appreciated if you would not train your binoculars on them. They become very irritated when you do that. Am I quite clear on this point?”

“Look,” I begin, but before I can get another word out, his thumb materializes from nowhere and is pressing some nerve near my neck. The pain is not quite sharp; it’s more like excruciatingly electric. It goes across my left shoulder, down my left arm and out to the fingertips. It also courses down my left side into my left leg until the toes on my left foot are tingling and curling. Obviously, the man wants to make a point.

“Am I quite clear,” he repeats and removes his thumb.

“Quite,” I mutter, barely able to allow the words to escape my lips.

Maggie, who has been watching this episode from my side reaches into her handbag. Out comes the detective badge – she’s a Boston homicide officer – and hidden under a towel is her trusty Glock .40. “I don’t know who you are,” she says, “but I see that you have a weapon. If you have a permit to carry concealed, fine; I won’t press it; however, if you put a hand anywhere near him again, I will promise that you will not be pleased with the outcome.”

Slowly reaching up, the man touches the brim of his hat, “Beg pardon officer, but I believe you can understand why peeping Toms, nosy busybodies, and voyeurs are not particularly appreciated by the folks who live up there,” he says, bringing down his right arm and gesturing to the “castles on the cliffs.” Without taking her eyes from his hands, she retorts, “He is none of the things you mentioned.  A couple of those houses are new since last year, and I don’t believe brief curiosity deserves a visit from someone dressed like the ice cream man…or perhaps it does…if there’s something to hide up there. Is there something to hide Mr. I-have-a-gun-and-want-you-to-know-it? If there is, I just might have to have a chat with the locals. Now I suggest you turn your back to us and haul ass back to wherever you came from.”

Turning slowly, our newest friend slowly departs and climbs into a waiting car on the road beyond the parking lot.

What happens next is up to you. Finish this scenario in one page or less. Your story; your outcome…

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