Shootin' the Breeze

by "Bummer"

bummer @ abate

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January 2015


    “This is the first day of the rest of your life!”

    Well, duh! Of course it is. I’ve seen this statement on posters, read it in books, magazines, and heard it from people who think they have “deep” thoughts for over forty years. And even taking into consideration the so called “heaviness” of the optimism behind the phrase, it’s STILL one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. A depressed person who thinks their life sucks might add onto that “heavy” pronouncement, “and it is what it is”....then we’d be awash with confusing nonsensical clichés.

    That’s the problem with clichés...the more we use them, the more obvious and less meaningful they become. And we say enough dumb-ass things all the time without having to resort to repeating asinine phrases we heard, read or saw someone else say on television or in a movie.

    Usually after we say something original that is incredibly idiotic, we instantly regret it and try to cover it up by laughing it off, hoping our listeners will think it was just a joke, even if you did momentarily think you were saying something utterly profound (stoners do this all the time). But instead of covering it up, what if you could just go back in time and re-phrase some of those half-witted statements? Or better yet, what if you could simply take an eraser to that blackboard of your life and wipe away some things you regret having said entirely?

    Here are some foolish things that I think shouldn’t have been said, or maybe even thought:

  1. “Because it’s there.” Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to climb Mount Everest when asked why he did so. That’s all?! I mean, that’s it?!! The odd thing (to me) is that so many people seemed to think that this was a very “deep” thought. The statement made headlines around the world!
  2. “Go ahead and shoot if you think you’re bad enough mother&%$@#*!!” He did. And I got shot. (It is amazing how a few words can change your life.)
  3. “I’m not a crook!” Richard Nixon. A politician should NEVER say this for various reasons.
  4. “Well then, can I have my drugs back?” A friend of mine in a packed courtroom to the judge after she was busted for possession (as in not her own scripted meds), then got off on a technicality. I’m surprised the judge didn’t reply, “Sure!” then bust her again properly as she walked out.
  5. “I’m invisible.” A really trashed friend of mine answering his wife when she asked why he wouldn’t roll down the window of their car and speak to the police officer who had just pulled them over and was standing there patiently tapping on the window with his flashlight.
  6. “This agreement is symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again.” British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain regarding the treaty he had just brokered with Adolf Hitler in 1938 a few months before England became involved in World War II. The US didn’t join them until years later in 1941.
  7. “Each one better than the next!” A large sign I saw on a burger joint as I was visiting my sister in Chicago when I was twelve. They took it down the day after I asked the place’s owner what it meant. (Read it again slowly.)
  8. “Being a champion opens a lot of doors. I’d like to get a real estate license, maybe sell insurance.” Mike Tyson, former heavy-weight champion of the world when asked what he was going to do with the rest of his life. By this point he had already received more than $300 million in fees and purses over the course of his boxing career.

    Have you ever said or done something you instantly regretted? Something so stupid that you wished you could go back in time for a re-do? Of course you have. If not, let me be the first disciple in the New Church of YOU!

    Once, forty years ago when I was a twenty-something know-it-all, I asked Willie Nelson to autograph my bike in the parking lot of a truck-stop on an interstate south of Akron. As he did so, I gave him the advice that he should use a different guitar because his was so beat-up and sounded like hell. I even laughed and said, “I mean, you can have any guitar in the WORLD!” He just smiled, looked up at me and politely replied, “Ya think?” as he handed me back my felt-tipped pen. Then he climbed onto his tour-bus and they pulled out. It was only THEN that I finally noticed he had gotten as far as ‘Will’ and stopped writing.

    Twice I gave talks at ABATE seminars, and both times I was so hung-over that all I could do was mumble and babble in a rasping voice to audiences that were probably just as embarrassed by it as I was. But that was nothing compared to some other examples of blunders that I’ve made, most so shameful that I simply do not care to share them with you. The ones that I’m okay with, well I’ve probably already written about ‘em over the years.

    And that’s the thing about shame: its relative in its intensity. What shames some people might not even bother someone else because it’s not high-up on their list of things to be ashamed of. Or they have no shame. Shame is something you learn.

    Little kids are never ashamed of anything they say or do until they learn to be that way from us older folks. And when they do learn to respond, “I’m sorry” regarding an incident, are they really sincere? Even then, they soon begin to add a “but” onto most apologies turning it into an excuse, and oddly enough a form of denial at the same time. As in, “I’m sorry but I couldn’t help it” or “but I had good reason” or “but it was because of something YOU said or did”. Many continue doing this into adulthood, “I’m sorry but I thought I WAS wearing one!” (which goes with either a helmet in some states, OR a condom in ANY state). Personally, whenever you hear the “but” word after an “I’m sorry” I think you should stop paying attention because it just doesn’t mean anything anymore....especially IF you’re a cop (helmet) or a date (condom). In fact in both cases it probably makes things worse because it just shows what state the “sorry” person was in!

    Also, regarding being sorry: One of the many rules that good old “Jethro Gibbs” (of NCIS fame) lives by is that you should never say you’re sorry because it’s a sign of weakness. Well, no matter how cool Gibbs might be, I disagree. In most cases it’s a sign of strength, integrity, and character.

    And many times (particularly if you don’t entirely mean it), it’s a necessary tactic to persevere in this life. Hell, I’ve had to say “I’m sorry” so many times that I say it automatically whenever I see an ex-wife...BEFORE I even find out why she’s looking at me that way. But even then, whether I mean it or not, I NEVER add a “but” to the apology. My thinking on this is that even if your intent IS to get away with something by humbling yourself and making someone else feel superior, don’t blow it by confusing the issue. And if you’re bullshitting the apology anyway, it simply doesn’t matter.

    It certainly does get confusing. So these days I try not to do anything I might be sorry for later, which gets harder and harder as time goes on. But I try. Or at least I think about it every now and then.

    So instead of thinking about being sorry, thinking of shame, or of holding onto the regret of things said......perhaps we should be focusing on “Hope” for this New Year. Hope that our politicians do right for us in their upcoming terms. Hope that our fellow citizens do right by each other. Hope that WE get on track and do right for ourselves.

    (Sorry, but I was having “deep thoughts” there. Oops! I just said “but”! LMAO!!)


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