Hiding out

Hollywood’s car chases keep getting faster, louder, more explosive and destructive. Where would we be if Jason Bourne hadn’t destroyed innumerable police cars, several taxis and a few SUVs?

But my favorite car chase included a few cell phones, corn fields and an arrogant thief.

After holding up a convenience store on the Interstate highway in western Nebraska, the young man leaped into his car and raced away. As his speed zoomed over 100 mph at times, he probably assumed he could outrun the State Patrol.

Soon he had the Patrol out in full-force following him into Colorado. The driver soon realized he couldn’t outrun their radios and that reinforcements were assembling in front of him.

A couple of towns flashed by, hardly blips in his vision at his speed, before he swung onto an exit and headed into farm country.

Out where only corn and wheat fields swayed in the wind. No State Patrol. He could hide.

So the driver flew down dirt roads with no worries. He’d lost his trackers.

But he didn’t understand the nature of the rural mind.

Farmers tend those corn and wheat fields. And they know the traffic on those country roads. When an unknown car flashed by at high speed, a farmer grabbed his cell phone and called a neighbor. That neighbor called a neighbor.

Before long, the sheriff was alerted as farmers tracked the car careening through the farmland through cell phone calls.

While the racing thief thought he had outsmarted law enforcement, the network of farmers calmly plotted his course and helped the sheriff lay out a plan.

The sheriff and his deputies blocked the road ahead and behind because they knew exactly where their man had been. And was going. He was nailed.

So, don’t think that you’re hiding in farm country. You’ve never been more exposed.


Soft voices

SeasonsLola had already staked her spot in the front row before the singers arrived because she knew them and planned to catch up on life.

They were, after all, on the outside while she was tethered to her walker and assisted care. She was anxious for news.

They came in late and she settled in her chair, knowing she’d have time afterward for some news.

This was a weekly hymn sing in the nursing home and the group made their way through a dozen hymns before the singers closed out the morning’s entertainment.

“Susan,” Lola called out as Susan and the others gathered the hymnals. “Susan, you all need to talk louder. I couldn’t hear a word you said.”

“Really?” Susan came over to the table. “Not a word?”

“Nothing. I think you need to bring a microphone or something. You all have such soft voices. I couldn’t hear anything!”

Tess joined Susan at the table. “We have soft voices?”

Then Susan brightened up. “Lola, did you put in your hearing aids this morning?”

“No,” Lola said. “I need new batteries. Why?”

Susan and Tess smiled at each other. “Oh, just wondering.”

My way

Story_squareI didn’t think we were going to Cuba until two days before we boarded an airplane at Cancun and headed east. “Americans can’t go to Cuba,” I told our missionary host.

Fortunately, he ignored me and we went.

Four days were spent in Havana and the trip also included a van trip across the island to the mountains at the east end.

Our first night in Havana, we went to a fancy restaurant where waitresses wore black dresses, white aprons and white caps. Like old-fashioned maids. Glittering crystal adorned each table with heavy silverware resting on starched napkins at each place setting.

And a pianist filled the air with sweet music.

When he saw us, he recognized us as Americans. Americans are rich in Cuba. No matter what money we had.

So he immediately began playing tunes by Frank Sinatra. Cuba, in case you haven’t heard, is largely lodged in the 1950’s and the musician must have assumed that Sinatra melodies would net him some nice tips.

Emboldened by his strong Sinatra performance, the pianist then approached our table. “I know many American songs,” he said. “What would you like to hear?”

My husband leaned toward him. “Could you play Amazing Grace?”

The man frowned slightly as he searched his memory banks. He finally shook his head. “I do not know that one.”

We smiled at each other and then my husband surrendered. “How about some Sinatra?”

“Oh, yes, sir!” The pianist scurried back to the piano and ironically played instead I Did it My Way.

Changing winds

SeasonsDarlene knew things had changed when she was called into the lab room to see her father sitting on the examining table clad only in his underwear.

Merle was the most modest man she had ever known. She turned away from him to face the doctor, hoping he’d find his clothes while she heard the report.

“Your father has hardening of the arteries in his legs,” the doctor said. “That affects his walking, of course.”

They discussed the treatment plan and then Darlene checked on her dad out of the corner of her eye. He hadn’t moved.

“Uh, Dad, why don’t you get your pants on?”

He stared at the wall.

Darlene scanned the room and located his pile of clothes on a chair. She edged to the chair, still keeping her back on her father.

“Here, Dad.” She held out the jeans and shirt and, when he didn’t take them, laid them on the table behind him. “How about you put on your clothes? I can wait outside.”

“I can’t do it.”

Darlene felt her throat tighten. She had dressed her children just short of 10 million times when they were young. But never her father.

“You’ll have to help me.” He spoke softly, his voice hoarse.

So Darlene threaded his thin arms into the sleeves of his shirt and buttoned it. Then she pulled his jeans to his knees and helped him stand.

He gripped her shoulders while she finished with his pants.

“Thank you,” he said.

There might have been a tear in his eye. She couldn’t tell for sure.

But, for a reason she didn’t understand, she wrapped her arms around him. “Oh, Dad, you’re welcome.”

Merle had never been much of a hugger but he didn’t shrug off her arms. He patted her shoulder.

“Let’s go home,” Darlene said. But winds of change had already come.


Story_squareWhen our younger son turned 13, he informed me that, although he needed a new bottle of shampoo, he did not want the cheap stuff he’d been using for years. “I want manly shampoo,” he announced.

I understood he might not want to use foofoo shampoo like lilac or rose, but what’s wrong with strawberry and coconut?  If it’s good enough to be in dessert, it’s good enough to wash hair.

But I have not yet untangled the male mind. I thought, having two brothers, two sons and a husband, I could get some insight. Why not ask them?

When my brothers were boys, they had contests to see how much fruit they could cram in their mouths. One day my younger brother stuffed so much banana in his mouth that he couldn’t move his tongue until the banana dissolved.

So, after we were adults, I cornered him. “Remember the banana incident?”

“Yeah,” he said drawing his words out like cold molasses.

“So why did you do that?” This was a prime decoding opportunity.

He lifted his shoulders. “I don’t have a clue.”

Some help that was.

One day I watched our 12-year-old son and friend challenge his 6-year-old sister to foot races. Every time the boys crossed the finish line ahead of the 6-year-old, they did a victory dance only matched by my mother when I came home with an engagement ring.

I described the scene at dinner to my husband. “Why would those boys get any joy out of beating a little girl in a foot race? They were older, faster, bigger. What fun was that?” Surely my husband could shed light on the issue.

He lifted his shoulders. “Testosterone causes brain damage.”

Like that was helpful.

Those stories clanged around in my brain as I stood with my younger son at the shampoo aisle. Still trying to learn about a guy’s thinking, I turned him loose. He was my newest study.

We came home with manly shampoo.  He rushed to the shower. In the middle of the afternoon.

This was the boy who showered like the cowboys in the westerns: after every cattle drive.  And we didn’t have cattle.

Still damp, he rushed out of the bathroom and held his dripping hair under my nose.  “Smells manly, huh?” he said.

“Oh, yeah,” I assured him.  Then he thrust his forearm in my face.

“Smell that.”  Apparently he had manly soap, too.  I told him he was very manly and he was satisfied.

I might ask what banana-stuffing, footrace whupping and woodsy shampoo have in common.

Apparently they’re among the pieces in building a man.