An Oldie: “A Queendom! A Queendom! My Horse For A Queendom!”

This is an ancient post, one that most probably have not seen.

I am a mite lazy today and trying to find some inspiration somewhere to post something new…but for now: Please Stay Tuned.

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When I was a young teen, freshly discovering the Joys of Puberty, I had an Ant Farm.

(Early Puberty does strange things to Not quite still Boys, but not quite Yet Men.)

Not one of those green and clear plastic toy ant farms. Oh, Hell No. This was hand-crafted and from fine pine two-by-fours. Two panes of 3/8” plate glass measuring thirty by twenty-four inches seated in the painstakingly mitered channels of the wood sandwiched the heavy Plaster of Paris block inside, in which I had meticulously carved all the ant-sized tunnels and oval shaped ‘ante-rooms’ for the ants to place the larvae and store the rations for a winter that would never come.

For these were domesticated ants—house ants, if you will—I had willed them such. These tunnels and carved out spaces were painstakingly coated with clean sand using a strong, but non-toxic well-cured epoxy.

It seems I had always been fascinated by ‘every creeping thing… and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds…’ And ants were always at the top of my ‘Creepeth Hit Parade.’ Once I had my initial stock, I spent many a happy hour studying their daily perambulations. I loved them dearly.

“Yes Elizabeth, ‘tis a strange one, this boy…”

The problem was my ants were too much mortal, and always died off too soon. Woefully I would watch as the living carried the fallen up to the surface and piled them in one corner of the farm, taking the time to respectfully, it seemed to me,  place them just so, re-stacking the funeral pyre if through my neglect I did not remove the excess bodies in a timely fashion, causing an ant-sized dry deluge of the departed.

After some research, I discovered that the worker ants died after a shorter predetermined length of time than I had previously believed.  I had managed during my ant-excavations to capture nubile winged Princesses and the large-headed and virile winged Princes. Problem was, they could not fly high enough in my little ant utopia to consummate their nuptials.

What to do?

queen ant

Discover and enslave a Queen. And of course I knew all along it must sooner or later come to this. I had hoped for later, but alas. I could not in good conscience, keep restocking my sterile ego of a closed system with workers who in reality had no firm purpose and no real meaningful existence, other than to daily heed the call to “Bring out yer dead! Bring out yer dead!” I was forcing them to live a Sisyphean Sorrow, and I did harbor remorse for that.

ant farm

I spent the better part of two summers searching for a queen for my ant farm. (Surely there must be some manner of metaphor or even allegory to be found therein.)

I would scout out the biggest, meanest ant mounds and methodically excavate them with a hoe, carving, peeling, madman like, layer by layer, like an onion so as to not overlook Her Majesty: Desperately hoping to find My Queen. I got stung, bitten, ravished, and generally harried and harassed by the noble and fearless workers. (Which are all female, by the way; Now run tell that!) I scraped down…down…down…  All in a vain searching attempt to find the queen who would make my farm whole and self-sustaining.

I never found her. She was too deep, too elusive, too protected, too well hidden from me. Perhaps she did not really exist at all?  And never did. Who knows? I have never in all my anting days, seen Ant Matriarchal Royalty. Perhaps the eggs are exuded from some ant fungus in the summer-warmed earth? Perhaps from some mutually beneficial agreement signed eons ago, betwixt Bacteria and ‘Antdom’ provided the means for both species to survive?

And thrive.

These are the ponderous questions that eventually came to plague my dreams like so many Harpies. And so I gave up Mythical Queens shortly thereafter and put my mind and my bodily efforts toward the pursuit of the real-life warm, touchable, see-able, lovable flesh and Heart-Felt fulfillment to be had from the interactions with Cheerleaders and Majorettes.

The ants had expedited my metamorphosis from a some-time boy into a full-time young man.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

–Corinthians 13

And p.s. gentile (pun) reader: Please do not mistake my quoting of King James Version, as testament of Christianity, ‘fore I can quote Edith Hamilton just as easily.

Thanks to all who read.

Spiders, Itsy Bitsy and Big an’ Hairy

Spiders:

When I was ‘growing’ up in California on good, red-letter days, I would capture a jumping spider. Having caught same, I would place her into a mason jar with wood chips. You see, jumping spiders do not build webs (this makes them ideal pets, by the way); they like to live in caves made by little boys using wood chips. Well, that is what I always heard. And my experience bore that out.

Anyway, once I moved to Texas, I missed my spiders. Not that Texas has a spider shortage, mind you. I just did not know where to look. “Looking for Spiders in all the wrong places.”

One day, lo’ and behold, I found a jumping spider which looked so much familiar to me,

“Natasha! (I have always named my spiders), Natasha! did you walk all the way here from California?”

“Of course,” she said, “Yes.”

I gathered her up and placed her into my mason jar. I did not ask if she wanted to be my pet. I just assumed.

Months later, I announced to my Grandparents:

“My spider is gonna have babies.”

“Lance, Son” my Grandmother informed me, “There is no daddy spider in there. Your spider cannot possibly have baby spiders.”

Continue reading

Armadillos Should Not Golf

“Golf is a Gentleman’s and Lady’s game.”

I looked around at my twenty-odd fellow PE classmates sitting Indian-style in a semi-circle in front of Coach. It was late spring in Winnsboro Texas. I was twelve.

drunk dillo

Yeah, this is me: mocking.”

Poking my buddy (a lanky, slow-drawling ugly tow head of a boy named Gary) in the ribs with my elbow, whispered, “Golf? What’s he talkin’ ‘bout?”

Coach continued, “Gentlemen, today I am going to introduce you to the greatest sport of all: Golf.”

“Coach done lost his mind,” I remember thinking. “Ever’one knows there ain’t but one sport: Football.”

“Golf,” Coach said, “Is a sport you will enjoy for the rest of your lives. It requires skill, intelligence, decorum, and class. You all will search me out later in life and thank me for this day.”

(Coach was about twenty-nine and was going to night school in Tyler studying to become a physician. He was not your typical Deep East Texas Football Coach. He had a brain.)

We just sat there, dumb-founded, but we, to a boy, respected Coach so we said nothing. Although we did exchange some incredulous, ‘What the hell?’ looks.

Coach took us out to the practice football field and introduced us to “The Greatest Game on Earth.”

I cannot speak for the rest, but I was hooked.

Rode the bus home to Granddaddy that afternoon and announced, “I am gonna be a pro golfer.”

Gran-dad was sober that day (see shot not fired in anger) and said, “Is that a fack? What you know ‘bout golf young’un?”

“I know it is a Gentleman’s game, and I know I am a gentleman.”

“Pshaw Boy! You doan know anything about anything. I know about golf.”

Turns out, my Grandfather did, in fact, know a lot about golf. He had actually almost convinced his neighbor to combine his one hundred twenty adjoining acres with his and build a golf course for Winnsboro. Granddad was somewhat of an entrepreneur, having been in the Grocery Business, the Appliance Store business, the Catfish Restaurant Business (on the Tennessee river), the Worm Ranch business (selling red-worms to the bait shops at the area lakes), and pretty much had failed at all of them.

The following Friday I got off the school bus and noticed two little flags poking up from two little golf greens in our huge front yard. The ‘yard’ was about sixty ‘yards’ deep. There was a green next to the Farm-to-Market road just behind the bar ditch, nestled between the two Crepe Myrtles, and another green just in front of the house. Granddad found me as I was rummaging the fridge for left-over cornbread and sweet milk.

“Boy! I dun built you a golf course.”

“Yes, Granddaddy, I saw.”

He disappeared for a few minutes and returned with a golf club and some golf balls.

“Come on, I gonna see how much golfin’ that coach dun taught you.”

Eagerly I followed him out to the front yard. He dropped the balls in front of the porch and handed me the nine iron.

“See if’n you can hit that green yonder.”

I tee’d her up. Took a few practice strokes, remembering to keep my head down, and then I addressed the ball. My back swing was perfect. The downswing weren’t. I hit the ball and watched it sail over the barb-wire fence into the deep pasture.

“Sheeit Boy! You damn sure ain’t no natural.”

He coached me all that afternoon and after I finally managed to at least find the ‘fairway’ he went into the house and got drunk.

For the next several weeks, I played golf on my private course. But I had a major problem: I had no putter. Try putting with a nine iron. Even Phil Mickelson won’t do this. Granddad crafted a putter for me out of some scrap lumber. It was too light, so he drilled it out and poured lead into it. Then it was perfect. My putting skills improved instantly.

Summer now and I was growing unhappy with my greens. I wanted greens resembling those at Augusta. Mine were one notch above cow pasture cut short. I spent a week or two pulling weeds and planting fresh Bermuda grass. My tender mercies eventually produced two greens Jack Nicklaus would have been honored to putt upon. They were smooth, silky smooth, and wonderfully… green. Lush green. In contrast to the rest of the yard (fairway) which was somewhat brown, with some grass burrs serving as hazards. Hazards to my feet. Young’uns in Texas never wear shoes in summertime, but of course you’d know that.

I watered my greens every day. I mowed them every other day. Being a sometime gardener, I loved green things. My golf greens were my pride. I loved the way the Bermuda grass had thrived and how smoothly the golf ball would travel on its way to the pin.

In golf you will make maybe one or two shots in your lifetime that you never forget. I made my first unforgettable shot that summer. I had clipped my ‘Tee Shot’ from the tee next to the road. It had travelled about fifteen feet.  I needed a great second shot (my course was of course a par three), to have any hope of making par. (I had fantasy tournaments with imaginary friends in my head—going head to head with Arnold and Jack). My second shot was from about fifty yards. I had a good lie. No grass burrs to distract me. I addressed the ball. Took several looks up to the flag. Did my waggle to set my stance. Backswing. Fore swing. Clean crisp hit. Watched my ball bounce twice on the green and roll straight at the flag. It disappeared.

“Hole in One!” My grandfather shouted from the porch. (Until then, I had not realized I had an audience, or a color commentator, a slightly nose painted color commentator.)

“Yeah!” I shouted. I saw no need to inform him it was my second shot.

One morning about mid-summer I went out to water my greens. There were small holes in the one closest to the house. Holes! Holes the size of tea cups! “Fuckin’ ‘dillo!” was my first thought. My dog Spot would never disfigure my green. Nope. Was an armadillo. No doubt about it. This armadillo had made a fatal mistake.

I was resolved to terminate him.

mocking dillo

Don’t Shoot! I am only the Piano-Player

With extreme prejudice.

I dragged my sleeping bag onto my belov’d green that night and with my .22 rifle under my arm I lay in wait.

Fell asleep on watch around midnight. Woke up with the sun to discover more holes in my green. Further enraged now.

This MEANS WAR!

Made repairs to the ‘dillo divets and played a few rounds that day. Close to sunset, I downed some strong black coffee and filled a thermos with more. Camped out again on my green. Feigning sleep, I waited with my rifle and a flashlight. Sometime in the night, I heard him. Grubbing for grubs on MY Green. The moon was half. I did not need the flashlight. I spied him on the edge of my green, mockingly desecrating my pride and joy. Ever so slowly I turned toward him while resting on my side cradling my rifle. Took aim and shot him square in his armadillo ass. Bam! ‘Run tell that, fuckin’ ‘dillo!” He did (run) and I am quite certain he did tell all his ‘dillo friends not to fuck with my golf course. Ever again. I suppose he died, or not. Actually, I probably only clipped him, but that was sufficient; he never came back, and I continued my golfing career. It would be five years before I actually set foot on a real golf course, but I did impress the hell outta my peers with my ‘short game’, as that was all I had known. Took me two years to learn how to drive golf balls (and cars and trains and such other things.)

But Coach was right: I wish I could find him now to tell him just how right he was, per his prophesy.