They Call Him Flipper

In California, St. Teresa, or the East coast of Viet Nam, it really doesn’t matter, I love the beach! There’s an exciting and mysterious attraction to the ocean, the sand and all the creatures in the deep. Here in middle Tennessee, many folks will offer up a lake as an acceptable alternative, but to that I’ll shout, “Exhibit A!” Here’s the Exhibit A: when’s the last time there was breaking news about a lake creature found thousands of feet deep? Exhibit B: when have you seen photos of exotic locations on the coast of Tennessee? Never! Exhibit B Attachment 1: Tennessee doesn’t have a coast. Exhibit B Attachment 2: even if Tennessee had a coast, you’d have to drive through legions of University of Tennessee fans, with their car flags and door magnets just to get there. Slam #1: I can think of fifteen things I rather do than talk about the University of Tennessee. And ten more rather than the SEC! (that was Slam #2)

The beach is a much happier thought, and much more mysterious, thus Exhibit C: ocean explorers are finding new species every few months. Side Note 1: the funny thing is the species have been there all along, we just haven’t been able to get to where they are. As technology advances, so does discovery. Segue 1: Personal discovery.

I go fishing in the Gulf of Mexico a couple of times a year with my dad. Honestly, I only enjoy the actual fishing part of it when I catch fish. Most of what I enjoy is the unknown. Boating two hours away from the shore will put you right in the middle of the wild. I’ve seen sea turtles, sharks, manta rays, man-o-wars, manatees, crocodiles, and my all-time favorite… porpoises. Side note 2: Growing up in the states united in the East compelled me to fall in love with three things: seafood, the sun, and the Miami Dolphins.

Segue 2: the Miami Dolphins were named after the mammal in which I intend to elaborate on. Dolphins are very similar to porpoises and I’m not going to school you on the differences. In North Florida, we called them porpoises. Proposal 1: In all I’ve seen of ocean life, these creatures are the only ones that choose fun. On a large ocean liner, they’ll swim speedily at the bow. Behind a large troller they’ll dart in and out of the wake. Or off in the distance, they’ll jump high into a flip. Years ago I had the rare privilege of watching a porpoise swim upside down underneath a small watercraft I was on. It was amazing, amazing! I still remember the color of the belly and how excited I was to witness this.

 

Look at a porpoise in the face and you’ll swear they’re smiling.

Proposal 2: It’s as if all the other creatures of the sea act out of survival instinct, while the porpoise looks for ways to be happy. Analogy 1: Sea creatures are like the cart rides at Disney World. They turn a little to the left and right, but they’re locked on a track to go one direction. Instinct is the big honkin’ metal bar underneath the cart that keeps it on track. The carts, or fish, are slave to it. The porpoise? The porpoise is a Volkswagon Beatle named Herbie. They are free to go anywhere and do anything, and sometimes, they even go bananas! That was Corny Reference 1. But it’s true. Porpoises have instinct, but no metal bar. I like to think that they’re aware of our happiness with them and that’s why they jump out of the water, swim upside down underneath our boats, and help Sandy and Bud catch a group of criminals… because we like them and they like us.

The Nashville Flood, May 2010

If there never was a reason to love this city, there is now. What I’ve witnessed in the kindness of people here is not something I’ve seen before, and I’ve been through my share of tough storms (former resident of hurricane-prone Florida, including Hurricane Andrew). A quick recap- Saturday it started raining. Saturday afternoon it was still raining. Sunday rolled around and brought the same amount of sunshine Saturday had. More rain. It finally slowed down Sunday evening. And like a dog that comes inside after chewing up the garden hose, Monday came around with sunny skies acting like nothing never happened. Come on, Monday! Have some class. Historic flooding and you show up with sunny skies and calm wind? You’re a punk, Monday. Along with Saturday and Sunday, all three of you are real punks! With all the rain and wind and now gigantic loss. But I tell you what, the hearts of the people here are unforgettable to see. I’ve heard of areas turning down volunteers because there were too many! My first day to lend a hand was Wednesday. My friend Bill and I made our way to West Nashville and helped a family rid their house of all the appliances, waterlogged dressers, cabinets, clothing, pictures, bedding, and various other household goods. Bill and I were the second and third to arrive at this house, and before I knew it, there had to be about twenty people in the house with trashbags separating the salvagable from the loss, the jewelry, family pictures, sweeping water out of the kitchen, taking bag after bag out to the roadside. At one point, Bill and I were asked to walk two houses down the street to help move a refrigerator, washer, and dryer. There were four guys already there. I have no doubt three were former military because they were all talking loudly about what we should do, each absolutely confident their idea was the best. So we had three plans for each task, and the fourth guy, Orlando, must’ve bore the brunt of these three chiefs all morning long. I was glad Bill and I could step in and take some heat off Orlando. During one of these “brainstorming sessions,” I took the liberty of relieving myself in the backyard. I decided a few more ounces of liquid wasn’t going to do any more damage to this house. About thirty minutes and twenty-five ideas later, we got the appliances out the door and into the front yard. Back to the first house we went. Once it was completely empty we walked down the street to find that devastation was at every single house. Guess what else was at every single house? People. Folks are so caring around here, even people I don’t like were volunteering! You know the people I’m talking about, the ones that somehow steer the conversation back to themselves? I won’t get into specifics about this person, but when we’re there to empty out a family’s flooded house, I don’t necessarily need to know how sick you were a month ago, how far you drove to be here, how old you are, or how you can’t find the guy with the clipboard. But know this, reader, she was there. She was spending her day by helping people that needed help. And remember when I said Bill and I were the second and third to arrive at this house? Well, she was the first. That’s pretty awesome.

The easiest way to start making a difference is simply show up.

So if you’re now asking what the people in Nashville are like, wonder no more: they show up… in masses!

How Famous People Sleep

I never thought much about the way I sleep until I read an article about different sleep positions. While I found the diagram quite hilarious, the research findings seem pretty accurate. I usually start out in the Fetus position, then before I fall asleep, shift to the Yearner. How about you?

[check out “how famous men sleep in 2020,” my latest post by clicking here]

Fetus position – tough exterior but are still sensitive and may appear to be shy but warm up quickly.

Log position – social, easy-going person who is trusting, sometimes to the point of being gullible.

Yearner position – open-minded and still cynical, suspicious, and stubborn about sticking to decisions once they are made.

Soldier position – reserved, quiet, without fuss, and hold themselves and others to a high standard.

Freefall position – brash, outgoing, and very uncomfortable with criticism.

Starfish position – good listeners, helpful, and uncomfortable being the center of attention.

A lot of people will say they shift during the night, but studies have shown that most people stay relatively still throughout the night. Here’s my take on a few of the Lost characters:

Kate Austen (Evangeline Lilly on Lost) – Fetus

Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox on Lost) – Yearner

John Locke (Terry O’Quinn on Lost) – Soldier

Sawyer (Josh Holloway on Lost) – Freefall

John Locke (as Smoke Monster on Lost) – Freefall

Other famous people:

Cindy Lauper – Starfish

Shia LaBeouf – Yearner

Conan O’Brien – Fetus

Keith Urban – Fetus

Mr. Darcy – starts in a Freefall, ends in a Soldier

Bingley – Starfish

Sara Thomas (Kate Beckinsale in “Serendipity”) – Fetus

Jonathan Trager (John Cusack in “Serendipity”) – Log

Summer (from 500 Days of Summer) – Freefall

Piper (my beagle) – Double Yearner

Billy Ray Cyrus – Log

David Hasselhoff – Fetus

Ellen Degeneres – Log

Boyz II Men – Fetus

You Are(n’t) Awesome.

Have you ever thought about specific words and the power they have? I’m just now realizing the strength of the word ‘you’. It all began way, way back in the year 2010 while watching a great performace of “Can’t Help Falling In Love” on YouTube (here). A quick history lesson, this song was originally recorded by Elvis Presley (used in the film “Blue Hawaii”) and has since been covered by many artists, arguably the most notable being UB40 in the early 90s. For such a short song, the lyrics repeat “I can’t help falling in love with you” five times! However, it never feel repetitive, ie. “Say” by John Mayer (listen to it once and it already feels overplayed). Of course, there are many more songs including ‘you’ because every song is about you, me, or us, right? The word ‘you’ in singular fashion cuts a narrow path to an audience of one, personalizing the message for the intended receiver. But so much more importantly, it elevates their importance! There is a message meant for no one else in this whole wide world, it’s only for you.

I love you.

You are great.

I don’t like you.

You are the worst.

How thoughtful! Gaining the hearers attention, the message-sender now has the the power to build up or tear down. A song like “Can’t Help Falling In Love” builds up. A song like “Crying Like A Bitch” tears down. That’s the power of ‘you’… there’s no general vagueness, no “I wonder who he’s talking to,” no questions about the intended target. So whether it’s encouraging or not, it’s definitely special.

Wise men say, “Only fools rush in.” But I can’t help falling in love with you.

And you wonder why no one can stand you, and there’s no denying, you were crying like a bitch.

Mustache Friday

Tom Selleck.   Hulk Hogan.   White Goodman.   Ben Wilder.

What do these four men have in common? A fairly common case of Awesomeupper Lipness. For seven days I wore a mustache with as much commitment as I could muster. Consider it an experiment in social acceptance. Here are a few reactions I got from people:

Nice ‘stache.

Are you trying to get on the government’s watch list? Because you’re creeping out Amber.

*applause*  I’m applauding the mustache… manly.

Oh, damn… that’s deisel!

Magnum.

Are you trying out for the Police Academy?

I think I saw you on “How To Catch A Predator” last night.

Have you been watching “Three Men and A Baby”? What inspired this?

Honey, come over here. (mother commanding young daughter near me at a yard sale)

Ben, you have some dirt— *points finger to upper lip*

You kinda look like Tom Selleck. *followed by ‘not-a-compliment’ laughter*

What are you doing? (me to myself in the mirror)

*A nod and a wave from another guy with a mustache*

I’ll still hang out with you, it doesn’t matter.

You should grow it out.

Slow down, ‘stache.

Ben Selleck.

I like your mustache.

Birth control.

The Dude abides.

This is not the first time I’ve grown a mustache, however I was more commited this time, and spent more time making it look the best it could. Suprisingly, I never heard these comments:

That mustache is hot.

Hey manly man, take me out on a date and make my whole life worthwhile.

If I said your mustache was awesome, would you hold it against my lips?

If your mustache was money, it would be a thousand dollar bill!

Wow, Tom Selleck looks like you.

Did Chuck Norris scare the rest of your beard away?

*after seeing me, girl to current boyfriend*   We’re done.

*after seeing me, girl to current boyfriend*   See? Now that’s a man.

*after seeing me, girl thinks about current boyfriend*   Am I settling?

His upper lip is partying like it’s 1989.

Does that policeman know he’s awesome?

Is he punching through glass because he can or because he can?