My stories have gotten too long.

            My stories have gotten too long. They’re beginning to remind me of Leon’s rebuttal the time he invited all the people out to Uncle Clifford’s barn. We’re not sure to this day exactly what he was thinking. I do know things, even for Leon, got a little out of hand. It was the first time some of Clifford’s prized Polled Herefords had ever been ridden. The hay bale fight that emptied the loft had straw, fescue and alfalfa flakes covering us like ash cascading down from Mt. Vesuvius. Chickens had flown the coop and were roosting in the willow trees. Someone knocked over a can of paint and red footprints literally danced across the sawdust floor. Every door, gate, latch and slide rail was standing wide open. Luckily, the fire was extinguished before it reached the tack room.

            Daddy was so mad he was shaking, “What happened?”

            Silence. And I’m talking silence here like you ain’t never heard before!


            “Well…..uh… was like this, Larry Ridley was talking to me about those old fashioned barn dances they used to hold out at the Fairview Community…….”

            I leaned back against a feed trough that had gotten turned up on its end and settled in. This could take a while! First of all, Larry Ridley was one of the nicest guys in Leon’s class. He understood farming and farm related equipment. He would never be a part of this type of barn “razing”. And secondly, Larry was not even here! Uncle Clifford lived over in Middle Tennessee. A hundred miles from our house! These “friends”, mingling in and out all evening, we’d met at the Dairy Queen in Lawrenceburg earlier in the day. Leon had made like Paul Revere on our ride back out to Clifford’s, alerting everyone along the Stedman Ridge Road of the impending shindig. And, apparently, some of our cousins invited a few acquaintances over. I never did find out how the marching band got involved.

            “It’s really not what it seems,” This was getting better by the minute as Leon sought a way out, “We were simply trying to befriend a few of the local folks. They couldn’t come up with a place to celebrate the ending of the summer solstice and somehow Uncle Clifford’s barn got mentioned. I tried to stop them by suggesting the Mt. Zion cemetery grounds but that was out because, of course, we’d have to wade the creek to get over there. J. C. and Teresa had a few friends that wanted to meet their cousins from West Tennessee. You know how little there is to do way out here. I reckon some just saw the lights or heard the music because there are people here who—”           

“Get to the point, son!” Dad’s patience had cut to the chase, “Enough wandering around!”

            I feel the same way about these little blurbs I’m perpetrating on the American public. I don’t want to be as long winded as Leon when another of his “good ideas” went awry.

            We live on microwaves, drive through restaurants, instant cash loans and high speed internets. We don’t even take the time to spell out y-o-u when we text message. No one in their right mind is going to sit down and read a story that seemingly just goes on and on and on.

            I sometimes doze off myself writing these things.

            It’s like having to listen to the boss when he comes up with a new idea that he believes is going to revolutionize the industry. We’ve all stood politely by while the grandmother lovingly takes a minute, or ten, to pontificate on her “little princess” getting the lead role in The Nutcracker Suite. And how many times have we listened in a semi-stupor as the latest politician takes ten thousand words to explain that the obvious flaws in his new legislation is not actually a flaw but a clever trick by the opposing party to make it look like he was wrong! 

            I remember Dad telling us years ago that the attorney who argues the longest and the loudest invariably has the weakest case.

            You should have been at the First Baptist Church back in the early sixties when Brother Hatcher got to talking about the Philistines coming down to take some land away from Israel! Whew! That man could wax eloquently…..for a while! He preached so long one Sunday on the virtues of the apostle Paul I got to praying Jesus would just come on back right now and put an end to our misery. Leon broke this “verbal-thon” a mite by quietly tearing tiny pieces off the church bulletin and rolling them into miniature basketballs. In between the “road to Damascus” and a “trip to Thessalonica”, he shot them toward the round pen holder slot screwed to the back of the pew in front of us.   

            Will Rogers often said the greatest attribute any speaker can have is to know when to get off the stage. Now, that is some rip roaring good advice……whether you are preaching, angling to get your views across to a skeptical audience, telling us how smart your granddaughter is or writing a newspaper column.

            I’m aiming here to take my own advice.