“Just toss him a beer and that ‘Mae West Vest’. He’ll be fine.”
“ButSir, he quit drinking months ago.”
“Well Christ! That’s probably most of his problem right there. Ok, fish him aboard. I’ll have some ‘chat’ with him; get to the nature of his ‘Urgent Urgency’.”
I’m not drownin’.
But toss me ThatMae any-wayyy.
You may keep the beer.
Just asking advice / feedback from
The ‘Blogging / Writing Community.’
The ‘La Cosa Nostra’ of our ‘Unique Community’
“Is there something, anything, anything at all you are about to actually ask us?”
“Uh, yeah, Yeah. Sorry, got carried away by the current there for a sec.”
“In truth, it’s just a simple question. Not really much to it at all in fact. But, in my recent writings… not so much the ‘writings’ per se, not sure I’d ever call some of them ‘writing’. It’s more about well, kinda embarrassing to ask, but you see, when constructing… or is it ‘destructing’… or perhaps re-constructing the previously de-constructed or de-constructing the previously con-structed, or just possibly…”
“As Brevity is the Soul of Wit, I shall be Brief”
“More Matter With Less Art“
“Enough! Good God Man! Get To-The-Bloody-Point!”
“Alright already! Sheesh! My query is thus…”
“Is the font I’ve been using too large? Do you think my readers find it obnoxious? Obtrusive? Even abusive to the eye? Self aggrandizing even? I use it ‘cause I can’t see for shit these days and…”
“Yeah, Yeah! We get your point. Finally! We’ll take your request under sober consideration and get back to you presently.”
“I just want to express my deepest, humblest, sincerest thank you for what…”
“Are you still Here Marcom? You have been summarily dismissed! You will hear from us presently. Now haul ass!”
“Thank you. Thank you all. Y’all…”
*Lance slowly and deliberately backs out of the room. Softly closing the door behind him*
‘Verbosity’ is the Soul of My (and Sponge Bob’s) Wit
Well, I’d like to think so…
Spongebob Theme But Overly Verbose
Street Cred for Vid: Gigaflare8822
(At the end this time)
Of late I have been committing The First & Worst Deadly Sin:
‘Burying The Lede’
This unhappy behaviour must cease and desist immediately.
Here is the ‘Note’ Placed in its Proper Place:
I am taking a ‘brief’ break from re-writing ‘Shonnie.’
Bringing her back into me, back into my life, reliving her, re-falling-in-love-with-her, horribly missing her…
And as much excitement and joy as I may expierence in the re-riding of that emotional roller-coaster enterprise, bringing her back has, of late, become too emotionally painful for me.
I just need a break.
So I am taking one.
Shonnie is exhausting.
Yet exhilarating to remember.
She wore me out once.
Now she is doing it all-over-again…
“Way to go Shonnie. Wish you could see me now. You would, no doubt, laugh your little darling ass off.”
Some Added ‘Added Value’ below for all you ‘Word Nerds’ out there in Radio Land.
Why is it Spelled “Lede”
The spelling lede is an alteration of lead, a word which, on its own, makes sense; after all, isn’t the main information in a story found in the lead (first) paragraph? And sure enough, for many years lead was the preferred spelling for the introductory section of a news story.
So how did we come to spell it lede?
Although evidence dates the spelling to the 1970s, we didn’t enter lede in our dictionaries until 2008. For much of that time, it was mostly kept under wraps as in-house newsroom jargon.
Once, Al Marlens, the assistant managing editor, told one of the cleaning men to walk up to me and ask to see my lede, “not lead,” a newsie slang for the first sentence of a story.
—Myron S. Waldman, Forgive Us Our Press Passes, 1991
Spelling the word as lede helped copyeditors, typesetters, and others in the business distinguish it from its homograph lead (pronounced \led\ ), which also happened to refer to the thin strip of metal separating lines of type (as in a Linotype machine). Since both uses were likely to come up frequently in a newspaper office, there was a benefit to spelling the two words distinctly.
William Safire, who knew a thing or two about newsrooms, wrote in his New York Times “On Language” column in 1990, “Wouldn’t it be easier if the noun for the metal were spelled the way it sounded (led, to rhyme with dead) and the noun for the beginning of a newspaper story were spelled the way it is pronounced (lede, or leed, to rhyme with deed)?”
Others have been less than willing to embrace the new spelling. At The Awl, founder Choire Sicha tore out at those who use lede like it’s an affectation:
You schmucks who use ridiculous journo-terms make me crazy! Finally, someone is willing to speak out against the use of “lede” in public. Because, ha ha, sucka, there’s no reason for it! (Plus, MOST OF YOU ARE JUST BLOGGERS.)
—Choire Sicha, The Awl, 19 Sept. 2011
That “someone” was Howard Owens, a writer who has speculated that the flourishing of lede in the 1970s is ironic given that Linotype machines were starting to be phased out from newsrooms around that time. Owens attributes the fondness for the spelling to nostalgia, calling it “an invention of linotype romanticists, not something used in newsrooms of the linotype era.”
Despite the acknowledgment of lede by Safire and others, and its subsequent use by journalists and non-journalists alike, phrases employing the traditional spelling of lead still find their way into print:
But because I didn’t want Marshall’s piece to get lost in a big evening, I’ve buried the lead: The New Music Group was followed by a late-night appearance of wild Up, with Christopher Rountree conducting his increasingly impressive young ensemble in three more premieres
Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, 2 Oct. 2016
Needless to say, don’t want to bury the lead, but I think there could be a second day of down for Apple (AAPL) — said so myself in a video I did with Jack Mohr (see above) — but if you don’t own any, by all means don’t let me stop you from buying some.
Jim Cramer, TheStreet.com, 26 Oct. 2016
This is sure to become one of those longstanding usage debates that will have its hard-liners on both sides, and perhaps reveal a little bit about the writer’s familiarity with the news business.
Jack Ruby (born Jacob Leon Rubenstein; MAR 25, 1911 – JAN 3, 1967)
Why Jack? Oh Why?!
Of course if you want the answer to that
Burning Behind the Grassy Knoll
question, all you need do is listen to Lenny.
Look no further.
Lenny Has This One Covered Y’all:
Before We Proceed, here is a ‘Disclaimer’ by way of an Author’s Note:
‘Slightly’ re-worked, but I left in all the ‘Incoherent Bullshit’
(For ‘Hysterical / Historical Purposes of Course.)
Or, if you ain’t ‘into’ Lenny, I suppose you could just ask Lance, as his erstwhile step-mom, Gloria, had worked for Jack during the Sixties in his
According to Gloria, Jack was very, very proud of his Club and always referred to it as, wait for it…
“A Real First Class Joint.”
She never told me precisely what it was that she did there for Jack, by way of gainful employment. And in truth, I really didn’t wanna know.
Whatever it was that she did do for Jack, it was probably not what these girls did.
(For ‘Their Jack’)
She, Gloria… er… was not ‘qualified’
She prob’ly sold cigarettes or sumthin’.
(Sorry. But there never was any love lost between me and Gloria. This paralyzed fact is well-documented and may easily be discovered in the pages of my blog.)
And if you, any of you, breath, yeah ‘breath’. A single word of this to my also erstwhile step-sister…Whom I love dearly, well, that breath, will, yes will, be your last…
Sadly, Very Sadly, I must update this for 2021:
(And, as always, Most Everything I just typo’d, said, thought… well, it’s all bullshit.)
(NOT THE PARTS REGARDING MADELYN. THAT IS NOT BULLSHIT)
I was born’d, rear’d an’ raised in California. Northern California. I have never even SEEN Texas. (Just read about it is all.)
In books an’ shit.
And on some old pirate maps.
Just funnin’… I’m only Half-Crazy.
Just tryin’ to make up for all those “Thursday Throwbacks” I missed out cashing in on during my recent
Yeah, I always considered ‘Throwback Thursdays’ somewhat of a ‘gift.’ I mean, if I had nothing to write I could always dig down into those old archives, et voila!There ya go!Instant Post!Keep Feedin’ Them Fishes! Yada, Yada, Yaaaa Duh!
(In Some Truth: I just wanted to put up some Lenny Bruce–for ‘Old Time’s Sake’)
And it kind of goes along with that Brother Dave post from a day or two ago.
(See? There is some continuity to my mind)
Believe that? Really? Wanna buy a bridge? Cheap? Real Cheap!
I generally spend about ten minutes ‘writing a post’. Then three minutes waiting on ‘spell check’ to remind me that I cannot spell ‘cat.’ Then two minutes (except for the upload wait) to upload photos/videos. One minute at the ‘final’ look.
Then: Click that ‘sucker’.
That ‘Publish’ button.
Rinse and repeat the next day. This bothers me. Why? Because, as all of us (may) feel, we can write so much better.
Alas, I am lazy. I just want to get it out there… Catch the likes; catch the comments. Fuck the quality! “They” know what I mean… Don’t they? I mean, they read me! Not too much need for exposition, ya? ‘They git it, eh?’
(Lance removes tongue-from-cheek)
Just some musings from an amusing, dazed and confusing, wanna-be writer/blogger. Take with however many grains of salt you require.
If you’re of a mind to, and/or have an opinion on the ‘writing/blogging’ process.
Well, I do not seem capable of shutting the hell up…
“I had the right to remain silent, but I didn’t have theability.”
“I have never had an original thought; I don’t live in a vacuum.”
And if this ain’t poignant for today… Well then. I do not know what is, or could be ‘is.’
Take a listen: All ‘Policemans’ in NYC might even appreciate. If they can read, that is…
And I wanna be ‘Your Lenny‘
There is a vid credit, but I lost it. His lawyers will surely contact mine…Right here on TT&H
Now, this is some strange form of Serendipitous Bullshit.But I didn’t look it in the mouth; I appreciated my opportunity.
I actually shook his hand.
This Great Man’s Hand was ‘Shook’ by My Hand.
Only in America!
“Oh Hail Yes!”
Specifically In San’ Dog, California.
He weren’t none of that.
He was some, most, but not all.
Yet he was a great and actually humble man.
He was merely a man with a plan.
And He was The Real Deal!
I loved him for that.
Just like I loved Woody
And His Son
And as I respect and admire and love all the Great Americans who struggle for Equality and Freedom and Justice for all.
This concludes our regularly un-scheduled broadcast.
“I love Las Vegas! Jesus Christ do I love Vegas! I’ll make it, make it good and clear; it’s because my Girl’s Right HERE!”
“And MY Shonnie’s Right THERE!
Wearing Her ‘Come Hither’ Stare!”
Vid Cred: icamatrix
I took Shonnie by the hand and we waltzed over to a blackjack table.
‘One Dollar Minimum Bet’
This was to be a training session and a trial run. An ‘Introduction’, or ‘Baptism’, or ‘Enlightenment, if you will.
Then again, it could just as quicklyandeasily degrade into a ‘Fiasco’, a ‘Waste of Time‘, an ‘Exercise in Futility’, given Shonnie’s paucity of patience.
“Hey! You said something about teaching me ‘counting down the deck’ in Blackjack. Was that bullshit, or what? I have never played blackjack. What is that anyway, counting down the deck?What does it mean?” She demanded.
“Lower your voice to somewhere around a three on your dial. And never use the ‘C Word’.
“Huh? The ‘C’ word?”
“Counting” I whispered.
She lowered her voice almost to a whisper, a difficult accomplishment for her. “Oh, Okay ‘Mister Mystery-Man’, I won’t use any ‘C’ words, until I call you out for being a ‘cunt’.”
“I’m a ‘man’. I can’t be a ‘cunt’.”
“Oh yes you can. I have met lots of ‘man-cunts’ in my day.”She did not whisper that, drawing some looks from nearby innocent bystanders.
Trying to ignore her remark for now, I said, “Just try to aim for ‘discreet’. This is Blackjack, not Craps. Blackjack is more subtle, more subdued, more cerebral. Craps is for screamin’ and hollerin’ and gettin’ rowdy. Blackjack is diametrically opposed and polarity opposite.”
“Do you ever speak ‘honest’ fucking English? You know, without all the bullshit fancy words that no one gives a rat’s ass to hear. You’re not as smart as you think you are, Cowboy.”
“Ah now, come on Lil Miss, Ah jes tryin’ ta inject ah little bit ah refinery into yer head.”
“Stop right now, or I am gonna ‘inject’my fist into your head. Now, in English, tell me what is Blackjack. ‘Condensed’ ‘Abridged’ version if-you-please. See there Schmuck? I know a few ‘fancy six-bit words’ too.”
“Touché,” I said.
She smacked me hard on my ass.
I continued, “Surely you played ‘Twenty-One’ as a kid, right? Or was it all ‘Strip Poker’ or ‘Strip Her and Poke Her’ with The Boys-on-The-Block?”
“I’m warning you Asshole,” she said playfully, almost tenderly.
Shonnie is the only woman I have ever known who can successfully use ‘Asshole’ as a term of endearment.
“Okay. Okay. Seriously Shonnie, I just want you to get a feel for the game. Tomorrow, I will teach you how to count. You seem to have some ‘Rain Man’ in ya. No offense.”
“Never mind. I’ll tell you later. You just listen to me, and as we play, and I’ll teach you all about what are called the ‘Basic Strategy’ rules of the game and more important, the rules you never, ever break while playing. Not The Dealer, nor the other players will mind or care.”
“Besides,” I continued, “It’s common for neophyte players to show up at a ‘Dollar Minimum’ table and get verbal instructions, even from the Dealer, if the dealer has any class at all, that is. Tomorrow, we’ll hit The El Cortez, and we’ll be in disguise. They have one of the last double-deck games in town.”
El Cortez is Jumpin’! Hahaha!
Worth a read: One of my ‘El Cortez Moments’
“El Cortez? Double deck? Disguise? Get the fuck out! And, by the way, I don’t remember seeing any ‘El Cortez’ anywhere.”
“Not surprised you missed it. It’s a bit of a rundown joint… But in a good way, in the tradition of the old ‘Sawdust Joints’. Don’t worry. They used to know me there. Hopefully they have forgotten that they used to know me there. I’ll explain later. Please sit down and think about what you want to drink. The waitress will need to know.”
We sat at ‘Third Base.’ Well technically, ‘I’ sat at third base. Shonnie sat next to me.
“Card counters actually have an advantage when it comes to the seating. These players are recommended to sit in the third base position to give them more time to keep an eye on the table, as well as count, and of course bet last.”
Credit: Blackjack Australia
The dealer was a perky blond. Her name tag announced
“I’m Debbie-From-Des Moines”
“Live it Up!”
This Here’s Debbie. Kinda Cute an’ Innocent-Lookin’Ain’t She? Be Thee Not Deceived;
She’ll Take ALLYour Money Ere You Leave
(If You Grow Careless)
And as the hours passed by, I taught her Basic Strategy Blackjack. She was good with it. Grudgingly very good with it. (My gal ain’t stupid, just stubborn and impatient.)
We never bet much. This was just for training after all, (and we already had our stake from Shonnie’s earlier very profitable ‘Dice-Capades‘) and I distrusted the dealers at the Plaza anyhow, so we just chilled. Well, at least I chilled… and taught.
“This is boring.” she said rather abruptly.
“Honey, you’re learning the game. Relax.”
“I like craps better.”
“Darling, we all do, but Craps is all about luck and guts and gambling. Blackjack is all about skill, smarts, strategy, and patience. ‘Patience’, I realize, is not your strong suit, and I know from time to time I strain what little you have, but this game is gonna pay off for us tomorrow night. Trust me.”
We continued with the Blackjack Lessons for a few more hours.
Shonnie was growing weary and bitchy and mouthy so I called an end to the training session, satisfied enough by then with her understanding of the game.
We walked over to the coffee shop and I bought her a bagel with cream cheese (Her favorite food-of-the-moment, she claimed) Then I took her off to bed.
She was beyond ready, and fell asleep just as soon as blond hair hit white pillow. I gently pulled the blanket over her petite little, exhausted body.
I was left alone with my thoughts, my plans, and a hard on.
“Sleep Princess,” I whispered to her, “And I have something important to tell you tomorrow.”
She stirred a bit and moaned, but did not hear.
I lay down beside her, wrapped myself around her, and slept too.
Anddreamt happy dreams.
Part IX Coming Soon:
“Shonnie The Biker’s Wife, Part IX: Counting”
Update: Part IX is Up
If you are new here, or a long-lost returning Pilgrim, you may want to begin your Shonnie Journey Below
And then simply “Follow the Yellow Brick Road”
i.e., The Lancelot Links:
Below You Will Find Most Of The Original Posts. Once / If You Arrive At Thirteen There Are Links To The Final Few Chapters. Please keep in mind however, that each and every one of them is in the process of being rewritten: first to last. This will probably take at least two or three weeks.
I am just fulfilling a promise I made years and years ago:
“Ronnie, I will Never allow your memory to die.”
In 1971 when my step-sister Madelyn and I were fourteen and thirteen respectively, my parents would often go out of town on the weekends. My father and stepmother seemed to always have some magic convention or gathering to attend in Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, or any number of other venues.
My father knew all the local high school kids from his directing of the senior plays every year. Two of the former graduates, Ronnie and Doug, then about twenty years old, remained very good friends of my father and particularly Ronnie, (who was Peanut’s Uncle). My father decided that Madelyn and I needed a ‘baby-sitter’ while he and Gloria were off on their long weekends, so they paid Doug and Ronnie to look after us.
Now mind you, Madelyn and I were both pretty certain we were over-mature for our age and could easily fend for ourselves, but we loved having two “big brothers” to help us throw the greatest parties in the history of Honey Grove while under their tutelage. We used Marcom Manor as our venue of course and were always in a rush to get the house back into some semblance of order before the folks returned, usually on a Sunday, but occasionally on a Monday or Tuesday.
During Labor Day Weekend of 1971 my parents were off to a big convention in Houston and we had a great party planned for Sunday the Fifth of September. We were to have ‘The Mother of All Parties’ out at Lake Coffeemill, north of Honey Grove. (The party was going to serve double duty for me, as my fourteenth birthday was just five days away.) Right up until the night before, I had no date lined up for this all-day Blow-Out, and I was in a panic.
Around about eleven, I saw and old ex-classmate of mine from the sixth and seventh grade who had moved away the year prior, slowly driving past (we were all on the town square, sitting on the car hoods, drinking beer and planning the next day’s activities). I figured she was in town to visit some of her family who lived between Honey Grove and Lake Coffeemill. I chased her down (literally), stopped the car and asked breathlessly if she would like to come out to the lake the next day for the party. Happily she said “Yes.” And that made my night. Her name was Chrissie.
Semi-Early the next morning Madelyn, Gina (Ronnie’s girlfriend) Ronnie and I (along with some other hanger’s on) were busy gathering all the items for the picnic/party and loading up ‘The Magic Bus’ which was what we called Ronnie’s 1957 Chevy Station Wagon. Some other folks arrived (mostly ‘twenty-something’ folks) with their cars and trucks. All the vehicles were loaded with beer, wine (Cheap Mogan David, Spanada, Boone’s Farm, etc.) hot dogs, buns, hamburger meat, condiments, and on and on. As I said, this was going to be the last big party of the summer and we were going to do it up right. Madelyn and I were to start High School the following Tuesday.
Ronnie loved The Beatles. He once told me, “The Second side of Abby Road is the best side on the best album, by the best band in the history of the world.” Even today, I cannot listen to any Beatles’ music without thinking of him and all those wonderful times we all spent together. He was a good kid, and always looked out for me. Gina was the same, and I have to admit I had a not-too-secret major crush on her. I had been dating her little sister off and on during the previous year, but she and I never could get our act together. She was my very first blonde girlfriend and to tell the truth, I’ve never had any luck with blondes ever since and have historically shied away from them.
Ronnie taught me how to smoke pot, be cool, and turned me on to all manner of wonderful music. He coached me all that summer in my soon-to-become burgeoning High School football career. Most important, by his example, he taught me to be compassionate and patient and tolerant and kind. In short, he taught me how not to be an asshole, which as an arrogant, wet-behind-the-years, knows everything about everything, little shit of a teenager, I was all too good at. Ronnie saved me from that.
He was an easy-going, good-looking kid with a toothy smile and a joie de vivre that made a room light up whenever he walked in. He had unlimited optimism about everything and everybody. Never once did I hear him say one unkind word about anyone, even though there were some in our circle who deserved an unkind word upon occasion (including yours truly). Ronnie saw nothing but good in all people. Absolutely everyone in Honey Grove loved him, old and young alike.
He didn’t even mind that every time we were all together I would invariably find ways to sit next to Gina and just fawn. He laughed that off like everything else. He knew Gina loved him dearly and nothing on Earth could ever separate those two. Gina had a soft spot for me as well, but more in a ‘Big Sis’ kind of way, but try explaining that to a thirteen-year-old with romantic ideas, puppy-dog eyes, and raging hormones.
Once we had all the vehicles loaded, we began our ‘convoy’ to The Lake with The Magic Bus leading the way. Ronnie driving, Gina riding shotgun in her ‘Lake-Party Uniform:’ cut-off jeans, halter top. Situated between them was a gallon of Mogan David, which, as we pulled out of town, Ronnie grabbed and thrust out the window, pumping it up and down for the rest of the parade to see. It was on!
I had the back seat to myself and was in my ‘uniform’ cut-off jeans and t-shirt, hippie sandals, and behind me a huge beer cooler, all the cookout stuff, and about a thousand eight-track tapes that Ronnie kept in the car always. Music was the defining force in all of our young lives and The Magic Bus had the best ‘rigged’ stereo in Northeast Texas and was as close to a mobile concert hall as I had ever seen.
Ronnie had installed some kind of colorful strobe light contraption on the dash over the glove compartment that pulsated with the beat of the music. The Magic Bus was indeed, Magical. There was no ignition switch, just a couple of wires hanging down underneath the steering column which had to be united to start the car. Anyone with a mind to could have stolen that car at any time, but of course no one was ever of a mind to.
Many times during road trips to Commerce to see Gina’s Hippie friends, or to The Lake, or Bonham to the drive-in one time to watch Woodstock, or once to Dallas to see Led Zeppelin, I would love the getting there more than the arriving there. I loved to ride in that car with the good company, the camaraderie, and all the great music and I felt so wonderfully alive. I always hated it when we did finally arrive to our destination of the day, because for me, the best was in the getting there; the riding in that car, grooving to the music and watching Texas roll by.
Lake Coffeemill lies about twenty miles north of Honey Grove and for once I was anxious to actually arrive at a destination. This would be the Best Party Ever. We stopped about ten miles from the lake to pick up Chrissie and she and I spent the last ten miles chatting and holding hands in the back seat.
Chrissie was always an elusive butterfly and I was so proud she was with me on that day. Of course I tried to show off by talking to Ronnie and Gina about ‘older things;’ things like some of the concerts we had been to, parties we had thrown, et cetera. Mostly I ended up looking and sounding like an idiot, but Chrissie didn’t seem to mind. I do think she genuinely was fond of me. She was a long and tall dark-haired, dark-eyed beauty and actually quite different from any other girl I had known up to that point in my life. We were a good match and seemed to have great potential as a couple, but we would never get to explore that potential.
We turned off the paved two-lane and onto the gravel lake road. There are actually two lakes in this area separated by Bois d’Arc Creek and a long gravel road. The other lake is Lake Crockett and is slightly smaller than Coffeemill. The entire area is very heavily wooded with pine, oak, and cedar; all part of what they call ‘The Caddo National Grasslands’ and one of the few national parks in Texas (Texas is unique in that she kept most of her public lands when she joined The Union in 1845 instead of giving them all away to the Federal Government like all the other western states).
The road to ‘Gate 10’ on Coffeemill was the last part of our journey. Now, I say ‘Road’ and I use the term loosely. More like a trail, barely wide enough to navigate the Magic Bus through the trees and certainly better suited for Four-Wheel Drive vehicles. The trail winds around through the woods for about two miles before actually ending on the lake. Gate 10 was our turf. No one ever went there except our crowd, and possibly the occasional hunter. Everyone knew this; even the tourists knew this. By spending so much time there coupled with the fact that most didn’t even know the place existed made it ours. We must have been quite a sight on that day: no less than twenty cars, trucks, vans, all slowly bumping along single file down to Gate 10.
Soon after we arrived and got all the vehicles parked in the only clearing (about 25 yards from the water) everyone got busy organizing all the myriad items we had brought along. Grills were set up, beer coolers strategically placed, plastic-ware and paper ‘wine’ cups and tablecloths and folding tables appeared and of course the big speakers inside the Magic Bus were brought out and positioned on top of the hood, blaring music. Picture a Mini-Woodstock, Texas Style. It was about one o’clock in the afternoon.
Everyone spent the next few hours drinking beer, munching on hot dogs, shooting the shit, swimming in the lake, and lighting up the occasional joint. Doug arrived around two o’clock and he had some unhappy words for Ronnie. Apparently Ronnie had promised him he would stop smoking dope. The two of them were occasional ‘Youth Ministers’ at one of the churches in Honey Grove and Doug was, shall we say, a bit more fervent in his religion than was Ronnie. The two of them were most assuredly best friends and it pained me to see them argue over this. Doug got so pissed off that he just left shortly after he had arrived and I don’t believe he even had one beer while he was there. This dampened my spirits a little, but was soon forgotten. I knew they would work it out later and all would be normal again.
The afternoon was going by and things calmed a little as people gathered in small groups to drink, smoke, and chat. I took Chrissie by the hand and grabbing a blanket off the hood of one of the cars, led her into the woods. She carried a bottle of wine. We spread the blanket under an oak and made love, or what passed for making love then for us. Mostly just heavy petting, kisses, and arms and bare legs wrapped around each other. We could faintly hear strains of Carole King singing ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’ back at the party:
Is this a lasting treasure
Or just a moment’s pleasure
Can I believe the magic of your sighs
Will you still love me tomorrow…
We remained secluded there for some time, getting reacquainted, talking softly about nothing in particular. It is so easy to fall in love when you’re thirteen. My heart was in serious mortal danger. Falling hard for her. She was so sweet and so soft and so stunningly beautiful, with sloe gin eyes and all that implies… But I was prepared, eager in fact, to fall, to fall headlong, and all else be damned…But not yet: There was a party to be attended and tended to…
As it was growing late afternoon, we gathered up the blanket and the almost empty bottle of Spanada and headed back to join the others. I needed to pee so I headed to the lake and saw Ronnie, Jimmy Max, John David, Jackie, and several others climbing a dead tree about twenty yards off-shore. I swam out (after relieving myself in the water) to join them.
They all had towels fashioned about their necks and were acting out ‘Superman,’ climbing the tree and diving in: much rowdy laughter as they critiqued each other’s performance. We played at that for quite a while when my stomach reminded me that I had forgotten to eat anything all day.
Ronnie must have had the same stomach, because we exited the water at the same time and immediately headed over to the Magic Bus to see if there were any remnants of the ham that Gina had brought for us. Not much, but I grabbed a hunk of it, slapped it on some bread and starting wolfing it down. Ronnie and I were standing there, eating, while digging through the rest of the stuff looking for more food. We both obviously had the munchies.
“Jimmy Max is drowning!” someone was screaming.
Ronnie shot away from the car toward the bank and I stuffed the last bit of ham and bread into my mouth chewing and trying to swallow and almost choking as I ran after him. There was a large group of people standing there yelling and pointing out towards where I could just barely make out a figure bobbing up and down in the water. I estimated about fifty yards away. Everyone was yelling, “Ronnie! Save Him! He’s been down twice now! Save him! Save Him!”
Ronnie grabbed an inner tube while running to the shore, threw it into the water and jumping into it began paddling furiously, using his arms and hands like oars in a rowboat, turning his head to mark his course toward Jimmy Max. He actually left a wake. I have never seen anyone move that fast before or since.
I jumped into the lake and tried to keep up with Ronnie. I was a decent swimmer, but he soon left me far behind. I saw Ronnie get to Jimmy Max and watched as he was pulled off the inner tube. Jimmy Max had about twenty pounds on Ronnie and of course he was now strong in a panic.
The inner tube was swept away instantly (it was very windy that day). I continued swimming as fast as I could to get to the two of them. I saw Jimmy Max go under and Ronnie pull him up, his arms flailing about. When I was about ten yards from them Jimmy Max went down again, but this time Ronnie apparently couldn’t pull him up.
Things suddenly got deathly quiet. I could no longer hear the people screaming on the shore. The wind actually seemed to stop. Honestly, I didn’t grasp the seriousness of the situation. Things had just happened too quickly. I stopped about ten feet from Ronnie, treading water, not sure what to do next.
Ronnie looked right into my eyes and almost inaudibly said, “Help.” It was the weakest voice I had ever heard. I immediately swam over to him and tried to grab him around the waist. He was limp. Ronnie, who had always been so strong, was now completely weak and helpless. I struggled with trying to hold onto him, but it was no use. I just didn’t have any strength left myself.
Our eyes met again, but he said nothing as he slipped from my arms and sank. I saw bubbles come up from beneath me after his head disappeared. Nausea washed over me like a rolling wave.
Not knowing what to do, I dove down (the water must have been twenty feet deep there), but could not find an arm or a leg or anything to grab onto. After what seemed like five hours, but in reality, probably only five minutes of this, I started making my way back to the shore. When I got to within about twenty feet, I got cramps and collapsed. John David waded out and half-dragged, half-carried me back to the land. I was too tired to utter a word. Everyone surrounded me, yelling and asking, “What happened? What happened?” My mind cleared enough for me to think, “What the hell do you think happened? Ronnie and Jimmy Max drowned while all of you stood here and did nothing. That is what happened,” but I did not say it out loud.
Gina came running up in tears screaming, “Lance, where’s Ronnie? Where is he?” She was obviously in shock and hysterical.
“He’s dead Gina.”
I tried to take her in my arms, but she flung me aside and starting running up and down the shore looking out at the lake. I was too exhausted still to follow her. I collapsed down on a beer cooler and wept.
Everyone was jabbering away. Someone said, “This is just another joke. Any minute now they’ll come walking out of the woods, laughing at us.” I wished it were true, but I knew better.
The authorities came about an hour later with boats and starting dragging the lake. Close to dusk they found Ronnie. It would be another twelve hours before they found Jimmy Max. I got into the Magic Bus with Calvin and he starting driving us back to town. The same eight-track tape had been playing over and over again since the drownings: Moody Blues, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour.
We just left it in as we drove, not saying a word. After we had cleared the gravel road and were back on the highway, a car came speeding up to stop us, horn blowing. We pulled over and Chrissie came walking up, opened the back door and retrieved her purse. I couldn’t ever speak to her. To this day I do not know why, but I am sorry I didn’t because she probably thought I was evil for just sitting there with not a word for her. I never saw her again. And I never listened to that Moody Blues album again either.
I promised myself that day no one would ever drown in my arms again because of my inadequacies in the water. And some years later, I took action to ensure that I would always be able to keep that promise.
It goes without saying that Ronnie was the hero that day, but I am going to say it again. Why he was the only man out of the dozen or so equally capable just standing on the shore urging him on, to without hesitation risk his own life to save his friend, I still cannot comprehend. And yet when I try to, I just get pissed off all over again. Most of these men were my good friends, and I did remain friends with the most, but I no longer held any respect for a single one.
Even though this tragedy occurred over forty years ago, my memories are still all too much vivid. My great good friend and mentor heroically gave his life to save his friend. There is no greater testament to heroism. He died as he lived, with a passionate love for life and for everyone and for everything in his life. He will always be remembered. That’s another promise I made that day. It’s an easy one to keep. “Peace to You, My much missed Great Friend Ronnie; We remain here still, soldiering on. We hope you still smile at us and our folly.”
We freshened up, got dressed, and prepared to head down to the Casino Floor. Generally, and as a semi-hardened and made-fast rule, I do not gamble at The Plaza.
But on this night I was feeling freshly full of myself (No small thanks to Shonnie) and wanted to capitalize on that feeling before the ‘fresh’ had time to wear off.
Please allow me to clarify something:
I do not believe in Santa, The Easter Bunny, Cracks-in-Sidewalks, Broken Mirrors, Feet Belonging to Dead Rabbits, Karma, Fate, Oklahoma, or God.
But I do believe in Dama Fortuna, AKA ‘Lady Luck’.
In fact, before we left our Blue Hotel Room Love Nest, and while Shonnie was taking her second shower of the day, I offered up my Burnt Offering to La Dama Fortuna:
I carefully picked up a small bowl left behind by Room Service and ceremoniously set it down on the night stand. Then I retrieved a crisp five-dollar bill from my wallet. (I ain’t cheap ya know).
While holding ‘Honest Abe’ over the bowl, I splashed a little Jim Beam onto him.
Then carefully placing Mister President Lincoln into said bowl, I took my Zippo and set him and the fiver ablaze as my lil boomer box belted out this song, hoping Lady Dama would enjoy the music and smile down upon me and bless me with favorable favors:
Y’all may be thinking that I’m making this shit up.
Allow me to assure you.
I ain’t. I’m just really weird is all.
Gamblers, real true-blue-dyed-in-the-wool Gamblers, are a funny lot, funny as in half-crazy-funny at a bare minimum.
Your humble author is certainly no exception and registers a solid ‘three-quarter nuts‘ on the ‘Crazy O’Meter‘.
Shonnie emerged from her shower just as Frank was finishing up his song and Mister Lincoln had finished curling up and turning into semi-green ash.
“What the hell you been listening to? Some old-timey shit? And why are there ashes in that little bowl you’re all hunched over? And why does it smell funny in here?”
“Good God Woman! Must I explain everything to you? We’re In-Las-Fucking-Vegas! Normal behavior don’t work here. Trust me.”
She produced something resembling a petite pout, half-real at best, but I sensed I had slightly wounded her. Naw, probably just winged her a little.
I abandoned my tiny Dama Fortuna Altar and rushed over to Shonnie, embracing her little body and kissing her deep and tender.
“I’m so, so sorry Baby, (I genuinely was sorry for my un-called-for outburst) sometimes I get a case of the ‘pre-game’ jitters. Forgive me?”
She saw she had me at a remorseful disadvantage now and quickly capitalized,
“Okaaay, but you better be nice to me Cowboy,” she said softly while lowering her head and trying to look all ‘hang-dog’. Then she quickly looked up piercing me eyeball-to-eyeball and added not-so-softly, “Because you won’t like me when I’m angry.”
“Smart Ass! C’mere!” We kissed again. Then we laughed in unison.
All Good Now.
The very LAST thing a gambler wants to take to the ‘Gamble’ is ‘Bad Juju’.
An Ill or even slightly awkward feeling between a gambler and his woman is the absolute worst Juju of all, even worse than betting with scared money, which is damn near as bad.
If you’re carrying either of these situations to The Arena you may as well save yourself the bother, mail them a check, and call it a night.
You want Good Juju and Fearless Money is what I’m sayin’.
Good Juju Being Administered by Dama Fortuna
As we entered the Plaza Casino proper, it was all flashing lights, laughter, musical sounds from the slot-machines—basically your typical Las Vegas Scene.
I led Shonnie over to a bank of ‘dollar slots’. I pulled out a crisp one-dollar bill and fed it to the hungry machine.
“Pull the lever and stand by,” I said to her.
“I’ve never gambled before,” she protested. “You do it.”
“Honey, if my instincts are right, this ain’t gambling. Go ahead. It’s my dollar anyhow, so you really ain’t gambling, Per se.”
Joni’s Tribute to all the Slot Machine Junkies of the World
“The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines”
Vid Share Cred: Renato Spallucci
“Pear who? Okay,” she said, “Here goes nothin’!” while pulling the Bandit’s one arm, using both her arms to do so.
“I certainly hope not,” I said.
I’d never seen anything like that shit before: Both Arms to pull a one-armed bandits’ arm?!
I love this woman!
We watched the cylinders spin.
Bells sounded and lights flashed from the machine.
Double bar. Double Bar. Double Bar!
Casino silver dollars rained down into the tray, making that magic music of metal clanging on metal.
One hundred bucks! A propitious beginning!
(And damn good Juju!)
“Oh My Fucking God!” she screamed.
“Baby, God had nothing to do with it. Thank Dama Fortuna, if you feel compelled to thank someone.”
“Drama…who?? Shit! Wow! Look at all that shiny money!”
“It’s all yours. Take that plastic bucket and fill it up.”
“Should we go again?” She asked breathlessly.
“Absolutely not,” I said. “Come on. I’m gonna show you the ‘real’ games.”
“You’re the Boss,” she giggled.
I leaned very close to her, pulled my collar to her lips as I breathed into her ear,
“Speak into the microphone, My Dear.”
“Lance, you’re crazy!”
“Yeah. I am. C’mon.” I led her to a craps table.
“Oh! This looks complicated,” she said.
“Well, yeah. It is and it isn’t. Don’t worry. I will walk you through it. One question though, do you throw a baseball like a girl?”
“Ok then. We should be fine.”
Craps is the best game ever invented by Man.
I love the high-energy!
The Craps Crowds
I love the suspense as the galloping dominoes bounce down the table.
And last but certainly not least, I love the possibility of winning (and sometimes even losing) very large amounts of money in a very short amount of time.
“It’s all-in-the-game Yo!”
And yes, I am what some might call, a
Started when I was hustling crap games at Honey Grove Junior High in the school hallways between classes.
Only got busted once.
Rather Proud of my Record.
Shonnie and I shouldered our way in at one of the far ends of the table. We sandwiched ourselves between a middle-aged, gray-haired man (on our left) in a business suit (I immediately pegged him as a ‘Corporation Man’ on Convention) grasping what looked like a scotch and water and there was a cigar in a tiny ashtray set on the rail in front of him. It was obviously neglected, as there was an inch and a half of ash hanging from it.
On the right side of us, a ‘normal’ looking guy, about thirty-something, sporting a too loud red t-shirt and a gimme cap. Baseball. I forget the team.
Normal Guy had control of the dice, so that meant once his roll ended it would be Shonnie’s turn to ‘step up to the plate’.
The table was just about at ‘capacity’. I glanced around, looking at the contestants. You see, in Craps the idea is to find the table with the highest energy level. You want the most up-beat, loudest, rowdiest players at your chosen table:
Players who were having FUN–Again, Good Juju.
Sad to say, but one can never (in my experience) win any money at an empty table or one with an atmosphere of doom, which does sometimes come rolling in like a blue norther on a bad Texas Autumn afternoon.
Savvy crap shooters recognize the early warning signs of ‘The Atmosphere of Doom’ and fly away like scalded rabbits just before, or just as it descends.
This table was on the upswing and I intended to make quick work of it before the worm turned. (The worm always turns, but sometimes, thankfully, it takes some long time in the turning.)
Looking up and down the side of the table, opposite the ‘Boss’ and the dealers and the stick men and all, I studied the other contestants. There was a young couple to the right of ‘Normal Guy’. Right out of “Honey Moon Ville,” I guessed.
Next to them stood a nervous-acting, fidgety Middle-Eastern type wearing a white starched shirt and lots of bling. Next to him, a dude with a crew cut, tight shirt, bulging biceps, who may have been suffering from ‘Roid Rage’, given his overly passionate ramblings at the dice as they bounced down the green felt.
At the far end of the table there was a young big-bosomed bleach-blond hanging onto the arm of another elderly well-dressed business man. (‘A man and his Hooker’, I ungraciously thought).
Next to them there was a diminutive oriental man. I was thinking ‘China’, but could not be certain. I had a wonderful experience once at a craps table at The Golden Nugget following the streak of another China Man. Won almost two grand while he was in control of the dice.
You see, all craps players are infamously superstitious and from that night forward every time I encountered an ‘Ornamental’ man shootin’ crapthe needle on my Juju Meter pushed slightly more into the green end of the spectrum.
There were several other players mixed in and even some standing behind, perhaps waiting for some space to open up. I was happy with the crowd and the level of ‘Good Juju’.
After the current ‘roll’ had ended (wins all around) I pulled out four Benjamins and put them on the table in front of one of the dealers.
“Give me two hundred green ($25), and two hundred red ($5),” I announced. The dealer spread out my four bills so ‘The Eye in the Sky’ could get a look. He then stacked my chips and slid them toward me.
“Good luck Sir,” he said, as I split the chips (‘Checks’ in the Vegas’ vernacular.) with Shonnie.
With all the bets paid, Normal Guy was ready to go at it again. I instructed Shonnie to take a red chip and place it in front of her on the “Pass-line” (If you don’t know how Craps works, you may be at some loss here—I will try to make it as easy to understand as possible.) I placed a red chip in front of me on the Pass-line as well.
All bets placed, Normal Guy tossed the dice toward the far end of the table. He rolled a four. (Meaning he had to roll another four before he rolled a seven, thus crapping out.)
“Put two red chips behind your bet,” I told Shonnie.
“We’re taking the odds,” I said.
“I don’t understand.”
“Just do it. Smartly.”
She stacked up the chips behind her original bet and I did the same.
On a hunch, I tossed a red chip onto the middle of the table and yelled, “Hard Four!” (Betting that the shooter will make his ‘four’—called his ‘point’, but that he will do it ‘the hard way,’ i.e., two deuces and not an ace and a three.
This is really a sucker bet, but I had Dama Fortuna in my corner. The bet pays ten for one, which if won, would net me forty-five dollars, plus of course our pass line bets with the odds placed behind them would win as well.
Normal guy tosses… wait for it… Double Deuces! Pandemonium from the players. Everybody wins!
“How did you know to do that?” Shonnie asks, as some decent stacks of red chips came our way.
I gently curled my fingers around Shonnie’s tiny neck, pulled her ear to my lips and whispered, “Stick close Baby. Gonna be a bumpy night.”
Winners paid, Shonnie and I put another two red chips on the pass-line. Normal guy rolls an eight. We back up our bets with two each red chips. Normal guy then rolls a seven. Aw Shit! Crapped out! No worries. We are still way ‘up’.
Now the dice pass to Shonnie. I can see she has stage fright. One of the dealers senses this too.
“Don’t worry Little Lady! Newbies are always lucky!” He says.
The ‘table’ agrees and I see chips of all colors dropping unto the ‘Pass-line’.
Shonnie and I both place one each twenty-five dollar green. Yes. I was confident. All bets now placed, I watch as she picked up the dice. Picked them up as one might imagine someone picking up a rotten banana, or a dead rat, or a used condom.
“They won’t bite,” I assured her. Just toss them at the end of the table. Oh and shake ‘em a little. And here, let me blow on ‘em.
“Blow on ‘em?” she said incredulously.
“Old Indian Tradition. Remember I am part Comanche.”
She rolled her eyes.
“Baby,” I said, “You can roll your eyes at me all you want, but right now I want you to roll those bones, er… dice toward the end of the table and don’t forget you can only use one hand to do so.”
“One hand?” she protested. “I always throw a baseball with both hands.” I hoped she were joking.
“Baby, this ain’t little league. Use only one hand or they will frown and act perverse.”
“Okay,” she said. Then after shaking the dice a bit, she wound up… and threw the dice…
…Right over the heads of the players at the far endof the table and off into space, most likely reaching escape velocity somewhere in the vicinity of Caesar’s Palace.
Collective groans from the table.
In craps, the absolute worst thing one can do is miss-the-fucking-table!
That, THAT! Is Extremely BAD Juju.
Dice are like the American or the Texan Flag. Never, ever let them touch the ground. Ever!
It always, always forecasts a negative outcome. Ninety-Nine times out of one hundred, the next roll will produce a crap out. In Shonnie’s case, the anticipated next roll would be snake-eyes, Box cars, or ace-deuce.
All instant losers.
I watched as most of the table players pulled chips back from their original bets. Not me. As someone went searching for the errant dice, I told Shonnie to put two more green chips on her pass line. I did the same.
We now had one hundred-fifty-dollars bet, even though I was not certain she would find green felt upon her second attempt.
She was offered two more dice by the dealer (stick man, just another word for him). I whispered in her ear, “Just relax Honey. Use a little less passion and a little more finesse this time. You’ll do great.”
She shook the dice, wound up, and pitched ‘em down the lane. When they came to rest: Natural Eleven! Winner!Winner! Chicken Dinner!
I grabbed her and kissed her hard on the mouth.
“Now, Do that again Little Dynamo Darlin'” I said.
Well… Now! Suddenly the table went nuts! Large bets were placed all around (after some applause).
Shonnie kept ‘control’ of the dice for the next fifteen or twenty minutes: an eon in ‘Craps Time’.
We won well over a grand, some thanks to my recklessly wild betting and some thanks to the favor of Dame Fortuna.
But of course, most of the thanks went to Shonnie’s curve ball.
When she finally crapped out, there was more applause. Everyone had ‘gotten well’ with her streak. And there are no more appreciative gamblers than craps’ shooters when it comes to situations such as these.
“Color us up,” I said to the dealer as I pushed our stacks and stacks of chips toward him.
“But Sir,” He protested, “You’re up. Aren’t you going to shoot?”
“Nope. We’re done here, but thanks.”
Shonnie and I gathered our (now mostly black–$100 chips.
I double-tapped a black chip on the table and tossed it to the Pit Boss. “For the Boys” I said.
“Thank you Sir,” he said back.
“What now?!” Shonnie demanded gruffly, but wearing all smiles.
“Blackjack Baby. Blackjack.”
“Lance. You’re nuts! I have never had so much fun! Ilovey… this!”
“Yeah, I know.”
(On both accounts)
Part VIII Coming Soon:
“Shonnie The Biker’s Wife: Part VIII: Black Jack Preamble”
If you are new here, or a long-lost returning Pilgrim, you may want to begin your Shonnie Journey Below
And then simply “Follow the Yellow Brick Road”
i.e., The Lancelot Links:
Below You Will Find Most Of The Original Posts. Once / If You Arrive At Thirteen There Are Links To The Final Few Chapters. Please keep in mind however, that each and every one of them is in the process of being rewritten: first to last. This will probably take at least two or three weeks.