Monday, March 25, 2013

They Listen Better . . .

My nephew Jeremy, sister Kat's son, was a handsome boy and is now a handsome man. He was and is very personable, with a great smile.

One Christmas while I was visiting Kat and her family, Jeremy, then perhaps eight or nine years old, sat beside me on a sofa while I looked through the past year's photos. You know the drill.

I came across one with Jeremy and his little sister, and in the picture Jeremy was wearing a smile that would melt the hardest heart. I said, "Boy, look at that smile."

Jeremy: "Yeah. It's fake."

Donnie: "What?"

Jeremy: "It's fake. They told me to smile, so I did."

A few years later Jeremy experienced some problems. He became more rebellious than one might reasonably expect a teenage boy to be. His parents were just unable to find the key to calming him down. Nothing seemed to work.

During our Christmas visit, brother Billy volunteered to take Jeremy back to Maryland to live with him and attend school there. Jeremy was consulted and all agreed that it seemed like a good idea, and when Billy drove back home Jeremy went with him.

On arrival, he got his own bedroom and a set of ground rules. Only several rules, but rules my brother considered important. The *most* important dealt with when Jeremy was expected home. He was told that he was to be home by nine o'clock on school nights, and if for some reason he couldn't make it he was to call Billy and fill him in.

On the very first school night, Jeremy returned home around midnight, having made no telephone call to Billy. Billy told me about it later. Billy, BTW, was perhaps a head taller and a hundred pounds heavier than Jeremy.

"I heard him come in at about midnight, but I just let him go to bed. I wanted to start the new day with the rule fresh in his mind. In the morning I got up early, showered and shaved, and just before leaving for work I went into his bedroom and grabbed him by the throat. I find people listen better when you have them by the throat."

Apparently so, as the rest of the year went much more smoothly, and even today Jeremy is what people once referred to as a straight arrow.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


I once wrote about Joan here, a friend whose New Years Eve date stood her up - no call, nothing, just stood her up.

One night after work several weeks later, a couple of friends and I went to the bar at which he was a bartender. He was way down in the dumps and after a few minutes someone asked him what was bothering him.

"I made a big mistake." That was all he would say, but the word spread like wildfire, and we soon learned that he had been the victim of an old scam. A bar patron, a stranger, had quietly and confidentially offered him a deal: as many color TV's as he would like for $250 apiece. In the late 1970's this was a *major* bargain.

He asked around and five others, including the owners of the bar at which he worked, counted themselves in.

He was given the address of a warehouse and a time (at night) and date to show up. He borrowed a truck and kept the appointment. When he got there he was met by the stranger, who told him "Give me the money and back the truck up to the warehouse."

He turned over the money and the stranger counted it, said "Six TV's," and walked into the warehouse. Bartender backed the truck up and waited.

And waited.

And would be waiting there still if his departure depended on seeing those television sets. The stranger had gone into the back of the warehouse and out the front.

He was now out $250 of his own money and $1,250 he had to repay those he had cut in on the "bargain."

It isn't always true, alas, that what goes around comes around, but karma wasted no time on this one.