Tidbits - December 20 2018

TIDBITS by RALPH SHEALY

SMOKE FREE

  I celebrated 11 years without a cigarette last week.
  That’s  the longest I’ve ever gone without smoking in my life.
  “What about your childhood?,” some may ask.
  As, I said....
  As I child, I dug out ducks and lit them.
  I wasn’t a heavy smoker in my youth. Maybe, one or two cigarettes a year, until Jamie and I spent a week with Aunt Doris and Uncle Shep Shepherd during Swift Strike in 1963.
  Uncle Shep kept cartons of Winston AND Salem cigarettes in his closet. Needless to say, when Jamie and I weren’t selling bologna sandwiches to soldiers for a quarter, we were out in the barn burning a couple. Aunt Doris and Uncle Shep had to have smelled the smoke on us, but they never said anything.
  We got it honest.
  Homer Calk Jr. said Daddy burned up three cribs by smoking in bed when he was a baby.
  Of course, we did not go through childhood without getting caught.
  Daddy once left one cigarette in a pack on the counter, and we were too stupid to know he was setting us up.
  We copped to the offense.
  Our punishment? After Sunday lunch, he handed us each a thick five cent cigar and told us to smoke every bit of it.
  Oh, boy! We were getting punished by getting to smoke!
  We never smoked a cigar before, and didn’t know the “no inhale” rule. Before we had reached the end of the smelly cigar, we were both the color of The Grinch.
  Thankfully, our smoking area was right by the bathroom.
  We never fell for that one cigarette trick again.
  You’ll recall the time when I was a teenager and decided to sneak a smoke after I finished milking one morning.
  We had to run soap and water through the milk lines after milking, so while I this was going on, I went out to the Ranchero, turned on the radio and lit a cigarette I had pilfered.
  Unfortunately, I had forgotten it was Tuesday and Uncle Alton always stopped by the barn  drink a cup of coffee that morning.
  I didn’t hear him drive up, and I had just taken a big drag when he walked up to the window and said something to me. I threw the cigarette under the seat, but I still had a mouth full of smoke, and when I answered, it all came pouring out.
 Uncle Alton never said a word, but he laughed about that morning until the day he died.
  In the fall of 1969, my parents took me to Carolina to begin my freshman year. I watched them drive off, and when the car was out of sight, I crossed Main Street to the Big Bird and bought my first pack of cigarettes, and I didn’t put them down again for 38 years.
  It’s a sad event that helps me remember how long I’ve been without a cigarette. I had begun taking Chantix the week of my cousin Johnny Shealy’s funeral in 2007.
  The following week, I quit smoking. It was pretty remarkable for someone who was up to four packs a day when he made the decision to quit.
  For the first few years, I missed smoking, but now I don’t even think about how much I enjoyed every cigarette I ever lit.
  Yes, I’ve gained 50 pounds over the years. I  blame those on Little Debbie. I don’t eat that much at meals.
  My father died of lung cancer in 1998. His father died of lung cancer in 1961. He kept smoking after his father’s death, and I kept smoking after mine.
  It is an addiction..
  I always hated former smokers telling me I needed to quit, so I have never been one of those people.
  But, if you have never smoked, don’t start, and I you currently smoke, give yourself a Christmas present.

SURFING

  I had a fluorescent bulb or two go out in my bedroom (you never know which one is bad).
  I bought two new bulbs, and then I had to face the trauma or putting them in.
  As I’ve said before, the older I get, the closer I want to stay to the ground.
  My light fixture is above my bed, and in year’s past, I have stood on the mattress to change the bulbs. The last change was several years ago, so the bed has gotten higher.
  I also have a memory foam topper on my mattress, and I don’t know if it remembers the last time I changed the bulbs.
  I decided to use my little step ladder, instead of the mattress. It only has two steps.
  First step was okay. Second step .... “Oh, my Lord, I’m going to die!”
  I tried to change a bulb from the ladder, but remember it was dark in the room and I couldn’t get the bulb ends to match up.
  I gingerly climbed down from 20 inches up. That’s right 20 inches. A boy who stood on the edge of Blowing Rock as a teenager and threw a tissue off, is now petrified to be up 20 inches.
  I still had to change the bulbs.
  It was still dark in the room, and now I had to stand on memory foam. It was like I was surfing, with my arms and legs spread, and forward movement.
  I took the old bulbs out, and then had to bend down to pick up the new bulbs, one at a time.
  I took me five or six tries to get the ends of the bulbs lined up. Finally, there was light!
  I was so relieved to see the light, but I still had to get off the bed!
  I would have kissed the floor when I got off the bed, but I didn’t know if I could get back up.

IT IS, BUT

  This is our Christmas issue, but we have to print our New Year’s issue on Friday, and it still won’t be Christmas!
  So, I’m saving most of my Christmas memories for the Friday, or Dec. 27, paper. We need something to go in that paper. It’s hard to fill up two papers in a week.
  I like Christmas music in December. I don’t like it in October and November.
  I’m not being Ebenezer Scrooge. As a choir director, I have been listening to Christmas music since July. I don’t need to hear it on radio stations.
  I have been astounded by the uproar over the radio play of  “Baby, it’s Cold Outside.”
  First of all, there is absolutely nothing in the lyrics of  “Baby, it’s Cold Outside” that makes it a holiday or Christmas song in the first place.
  Apparently, the people who are protesting have never heard the lyrics of modern songs, only one 70-years-old. 
  One of the radio stations that took “Baby, it’s Cold Outside” ran a poll asking listeners if they approved of the song being played.  Only 23 percent said the song offended them. The station started playing the song again.
  Along with that, some also complained that “Rudolph, the Red Nose Reindeer” promotes bullying.
  You wonder how someone like Donald Trump, who has no political experience, and does not adhere to political correctness, can be elected President of the United States?
  Things like this. That’s how!