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Smiling through the adversity

Kesley Colbert Contributing Writer

I’m supposed to be writing happy stories about growing up back home. You know, like running barefooted through fields of clover. Splashing around with boyhood friends at the swimming hole. Riding bikes to town on Saturdays to watch Lash LaRue chase bad guys across the silver screen. Holding hands with Ann Carol McCaleb, the Homecoming Queen, in the pale moonlight…..

Those happy yarns are getting harder to spin in the world in which we find ourselves today.

When we were cruising Main Street in that ’56 Chevy with the top rolled down everybody liked Ike. It was way more than just a slogan! I’m not so sure it is the same with any president today.

If Congress was fussing and fighting, we didn’t know it. You couldn’t tell a Republican from a Democrat in our little town. Mayor Y. D. Moore kept electricity and water running out to the house. And if something went bad wrong, Aaron Pinson, who was about the nicest Police Chief in the whole United States, would amble over and take care of it.

We didn’t have pandemics back in those days. Nobody got quarantined unless you had the mumps or German measles. And you most always got ice cream while you were laid up.

If you coughed, somebody’s mother would throw a double spoonful of SSS Tonic down your throat. Now, I don’t suppose any of you are old enough to remember SSS Tonic. The taste would gag a maggot! But let me tell you, one swig of that stuff and you didn’t cough again for the next three years!

I wonder if anyone of these medical chemist gurus searching for a Covid-19 vaccine has thought about SSS Tonic…..

Listen, if I tell a good story today, how can you know if anyone is laughing behind all those masks? I heard of a couple that went grocery shopping over the weekend and the wife brought the wrong husband home!

A guy drove by the house this morning with his mask on and he was the only person in the vehicle. I reckon he was afraid he was going to give the virus to himself….

Of course, we all agree (silently), there are lots of folks out there that look a heap sight better with a mask covering their face.

But back to the point of this epistle—it is hard for a simple minded scribe like me to think about one thing…..and write about something else.

Ann Carol ain’t the most uppermost thing on my mind this morning. Nor is running down some idyllic country lane singing “May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose.” I’m worried about my friends. My wife. My children. Me!

I’ve been torn like this before. It was after a high school football game in 1964. We got beat us 42 to 0. The opposing team showed no mercy. They tackled me with extra special ferocity. And, to add insult to injury, while they were unpiling after another hit, they’d remind me how ugly my girlfriend was.

After the contest, as per custom, we would meet on the fifty yard line, shake hands and congratulate each other on a game well played. The coaches made us do it! Now folks, I wasn’t smiling but I was trying with all my might to get a couple of “good game y’all” out for appearances sake….

But I didn’t mean it!

I was thinking in my heart “if they were tied to a brick wall with their backs turned on a dark and stormy night I could show them what a blindside tackle really felt like!”

Splitting your attention is a tough deal. Daddy put it succinctly the night we pulled behind a car where the girl appeared to be glued to the driver. He was hugging her neck and driving down the road at the same time.

Dad followed along behind for a few minutes watching that car weave back and forth before assessing the situation, “Son, that’s an almost impossible task—driving down a public highway half doing two jobs!”

It is just difficult to write down silly stuff when you don’t feel silly. But you know what, that might just be when the world needs it the most…..

And I can end on a sad note to maybe get us back on track as to the troubles that beset us on every side.

I might have exaggerated just slightly about how well I knew Ann Carol McCaleb. I have never actually held hands with a Homecoming Queen in my entire whole life!