October is not a hard month for me, more a reflective one. My dad died in October seven years back. Scott Newhall, former swashbuckling editor of this paper, passed as well, upstaging both Halloween and the 1992 presidential election. I haven’t gotten over my pal and sister-like substance Laura Raynor passing a few weeks go. How can the world’s nicest and most beautiful woman just — die?
Can’t reach her on the phone, but, that darn Raynor. She still makes me smile. No. Giggle. I communicate with her by blowing, long, faux-fed-up-with-you raspberries toward Heaven. Peeking over a cloud, she never lost that tickled pink second-grade laugh and sprays a robust raspberry right back.
Maybe that’s where rain comes from. Angels giving us the raspberry.
It’s Halloween, like — tomorrow. I should be writing something nostalgic, like trick-or-treating with my daughter, recalling her being 5 and talking me into a trade for MY See’s Candy sampler for HER cootie unwrapped mini-jaw breaker, rich with lint and human hair. The election’s Tuesday. Certainly I should fill my lungs with pedantic Blah-Buh-Blah-Buh-Blahs and expectorate them on my 12 readers.
Know what I’ve been thinking about lately? Doing the Right Thing.
Was there ever such an untiring and constantly moving target? To one set of eyes, it’s a gentle sea breeze blowing off the ocean at sunset, making you shiver and aware how wonderful and simple is Life. To someone else? That same vista is filled with sharks, flesh-eating bacteria, sleeper waves and planet-ending climate change, coming, like — tonight at 9:03 p.m., so let’s hurry back to the car.
A few years ago, I stumbled on one of those annoying acronyms, designed to help you alleviate spiritual posture problems. This effortlessly patient and pesky grammarian’s forest deity is — “T.H.I.N.K.” A close surfer friend shared it as a proactive means to avoid having to pull my own, big, size-14 muddy boot out of my mouth. How? Damn the simplicity — by not putting your foot in your mouth in the first place. In a day, there’s a thousand ways to practice.
Let’s say your sweetheart turns her perfect cue-ball shaped heinie toward your face, then disinterestedly asks: “Honey? Do you think these jeans make me look fat?”
If guys had guardian angels, they’d look like Denzel Washington who would dive through the air at you in slow motion, shouting, “NOOOOOOOOooooooooo!!!!” in a distorted, compressed, bass plea before you fire the afternoon-killing silver bullet answer of: “Well gosh, honey — maybe justa — smidge…?”
If you’re a guy, you know you’re dead meat if she’s answering your carefree-as-a-puppy smile with Death Eyes.
T.H.I.N.K. That was my surfer buddy’s acronym. Before you respond, or seek any course of action, best you measure it against this despicable little acronym. Is your response?
T — for Thoughtful?
H — for Honest?
I — for Intelligent?
N — for Necessary?
K — Kind?
Now. The blankety blank thing is, T.H.I.N.K. isn’t graded on the curve. This sucks for me. I was born with the gift of P.B.R., Perfect Butthead Radar. I can smell imbecile from 12 counties away. I could accurately and, for all to hear, ascertain that said imbecile is a booger-eating moron, and, given my heightened sensitivity, I’d be both correct AND honest. Plus, I’d get valuable Smug Self-Righteous Points. But, would that be the right thing to do? Pointing out Mr. Busted Waffle Iron For A Brain’s questionable brunch habits?
I had a delightful girlfriend years back. Smart. Funny. Intelligent. Near-sighted. Adored her. And, she (my voice goes up three octaves here) just might have teetered a wee bit on the cusp… She broke up with me, in major fashion, 24 times. During a regular day? More. Why? From what I could decipher, it was mostly for me just showing up. On that Fateful No. 24 Day, she emailed a rather unkind and inaccurate summation of who I was as a human being.
Shoulda just let it go. But, no. I had to defend myself over the World Wide Web. I stole five hours of my life, going over her eight-page diatribe with my own five-page antiaircraft retort, tit-for-tat, neener-for-neener.
I’m Rubber. You’re Glue. What Bounces Off Me — sing it with me con gusto boys and girls — Sticks To You!
To use the T.H.I.N.K. acronym correctly, you have to have a constant, stellar and perfect Major League Baseball Ted Williams kind of day at the plate — 5 for 5.
Was my response “T” for Thoughtful? Yup. Took lots of concentration to fire back my response. “H” for Honest? Yup. “I” for Intelligent? How dare you ask? I wrote it, didn’t I? For those of you taking stats, I’m now 3-for-3. I am on an “R” for “Roll.”
Was my response “N” for Necessary?
You ever suffer from those wretched, involuntary sighs? Like when you realize “I” for “Idiot” was four train stations back and you missed your stop?
A five-hour response wasn’t exactly — Necessary.
Oh, that damn, painful word.
Kind. “K” for Kind.
Kind should have been to tell the truth about what a peach she was, and how I treasured our wonderful time together. Kind would have been to contritely wish her happiness.
Showed the email to a friend a few evolutionary rungs on the scale above me. He somehow managed to steal my favorite facial expression, a half-smile, half-smirk, and said: “Great letter, man! Probably shouldn’t have sent it. But, great letter!”
There’s no Magic Vacuum Cleaner Button on the computer, that unsends stupid things. I felt an inch tall. Which was appropriate. Because I was an inch tall. I didn’t, T.H.I.N.K.
That zigzagging, scurrying and moving target of Doing The Right Thing? What a compelling and attractive place, to walk in a world where, if others didn’t, then you did.
It almost gives one pause to stop and — well.
John Boston is a local writer.