Sunday, November 19, 2023

Cherish It

When you are having a great time, when you are doing something that you love to do more than anything else in the world, it seems like a human condition that we don't realize those moments and cherish them and hold onto them and love them and know that this is as good as it gets. When your best friends or loved ones are there with you and the memories of these times live with you forever. You look back and wish and dream that those times would be there, paused in time, but they never are, they never are.

When you are hunting with your good buddies and your son is little and the day is perfect because the birds are flying non stop and everyone is shooting well and your dog retrieves every goose without wavering and comes back to you with a little blood on his face and tail wagging furiously and presents the bird to you like a good boy.  And your young son shoots his first bird and everyone in the goose blind is happy , overjoyed for him. The look on his face is pure joy and the smile on your face never seems to never want to leave you. And then when the hunt is over, you go to the local bar and grill that has been there forever, the one that George Jones got kicked out of one time after a concert because he was too drunk and acting up, yes , that bar. And the beer is cold and the cream of crab soup is full of backfin. And there is that one local guy that just had his deer made into jerky and he brings you over some to try even though you just met him a few minutes ago, just because that is the way folks are in the country, just good and solid Americans and citizens. Your feet are thawing out from the cold hunt and the jukebox is playing Hank Jr. and the aforementioned Mr. Jones, and you smile because your 10 year old son put those songs on and people start giving him money to play more songs just like that, and he plays Skynyrd and Marshall Tucker and the folks at the bar, the Vietnam Veteran playing Keno and the lady who has been married 4 times and the guy who gave you the jerky are amazed at the kid's musical taste and they actually start to clap when the next song comes on and they congratulate me for raising such a fine son.

And then you get back into your truck and start to drive home but first you must stop at the High's convenience store at the top of the hill on your way home and the lady behind the counter greets you like a long lost friend and she calls you honey as she rings up your Diet Mountain Dew and black coffee and the three dog bones for your Labrador because he deserves it for being such a good boy.

 You walk out of Highs and you notice that your truck has mud on the tires from where you parked at the farm earlier and it makes you feel like a country boy and damn I guess that you are with your shotguns and country music and your hunting experience of 30 years or so. And Hank Jr and Creed Fisher come on your playlist as you drive and they sing of outlaw women and being blue collar and then Chris Knight comes on and he's the best, along with Hank, of course.

You look in the rear view mirror in the back seat and your son is fast asleep and the Labrador is lying on him like a big black blanket and the dog is dreaming and twitching as he dreams and you think that he is dreaming of retrieving more geese and you are happy that he is able to do what he is born to do.

A snapshot in time, a day to remember, and somewhere between Maryland and New Jersey, you realize that this day, this day right here, is one that may never come again, and it makes you happy that you experienced it, but the realization that it may never come again, may never be this way again, tears you up a little inside.

Sunday, October 29, 2023


I went to a Sportsman's Club today with a couple of buddies of mine.  We shot pistols and they taught me so much. It was great. One friend was Troy, a Marine who served in Iraq that I met in the gym, and the other was Jeff, who is a fighter and a tough guy, whom I met in the gym also. I haven't had friends who were not involved in either coaching with me or involved in sports with me, well, ever. I have never had non work/sports friends. That's weird, right? I mean, I can't relate to most people. I know it's a weakness of mine. I think every man is soft if they haven't boxed or trained combat sports or served in the military  or lifts weights or fights or has fought or played football or hockey or rode a bull.  I know that's a weakness of mine. Like the dad's at the youth sports teams that my kids were on. Great guys, I am sure. I picked up one friend from youth sports, and he's a police officer. So I respect him. And he squats. But I don't know the rest of them and they have regular jobs and stuff and they aren't big. One of them could be the baddest guy on the planet, I know. Probably not. Like minded folks seem to gravitate to each other. The brain guys over there, the former athletes over there. I'm not snobby , just don't feel like doing the fake talk and all the fake handshakes and theirs is all soft and clammy and then they feel me squeeze theirs and they try to tighten up but there is no strength there. I'm like, aw man. Aw c'mon, man. Lift a little, damn.  I like talking to the mothers, because I don't judge them at all. Sexist or something, I know. I don't usually shake their hands but if I do, I don't judge how they shake hands. Actually, I lied. If it's a firm as hell handshake, I always say, GOOD HANDSHAKE! Which is inferring that they don't know how to give a hard handshake because they are a woman, I guess. Whatever. I can't help it. 

So I'm sitting here thinking about non work or sports friends that I have had. I had a friend one time that I went to camp with as a kid, Beebo. Cool as hell. It was a camp that my dad, Dr. Steel ran. Beboo used to say to me, "Your dad is a great man, Jim Steel, a great man." He lived on the same block as my aunt in Beltsville, Maryland.  He would say to me, "I do not like your aunt, Jim Steel. She calls all the parents when it is report card day." I loved my aunt, but she was a busybody.

I haven't had any girl friends that weren't work/sports related, either. That'd be weird to me. And sorta not right. Some other bias lies I their somewhere. 

I was talking to my friend, Cristi the other day. We worked at Penn together and she is the head strength coach at NC State. We were talking about guns and I told her that I was going shooting with two friends of mine from the gym, Troy and Jeff. She started laughing her ass off. I asked, "Why are you laughing?" And she said that she had never heard me say that I was hanging out with "some friends". Weird, she said. It's true. I have never said it before.  But Troy and Jeff do fit my prerequisites of my judging of men, though, so it isn't that weird. 

I had a blast with my new friends. Maybe I'm evolving, or something like that.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023


I'm just an old redneck. It's not a derogatory term to me. Somebody decided it was one day, so some folks think it is. Screw em. I can't keep up with what offends folks these days, so I have decided to not give a shit. Of course, people think if you are from the South, you are a  stupid "redneck" and racist, anyway. It's funny, but the only "bad guys" in movies now are people from the South and Germans. Two groups of people that Hollywood feels safe to make look like assholes. Germans yes, Japanese, no. I got it. And never Chinese, right? Got it. And all Italians talk like they are from Staten Island and are in the Mob. Got it.

Back to the redneck thing. If you love the outdoors, hunting, fishing, drinking beer, working hard at something physical like chopping wood, dogs, what about America used to be, country music (Hank Jr., George Jones, Keith Whitley),  ALL guns, the soldiers, UFC, any combat sports, freedom, lifting weights, big jacked up trucks, The NRA, sitting outside and listening to Hank with your dog (which I am doing right now),  stickers on your back window of the truck that has something to do with all of the aforementioned things, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and especially, dark bars with ice cold drinks and a jukebox that has Marshall Tucker on it, then by golly, you are a redneck to me. It's a great way to be.

You see, you don't give a damn about what others think is a big deal. barely anything is a big deal. Well, maybe if the geese aren't flying when you are hunting, now that's a big deal. 

You may have social media but it's just for hunting pics and pics of your dog. Many times, you get pissed off that you have it, so you delete it for a while. Then you miss looking at all the big deer that have been shot, so you get back on. It's a curse.

You don't watch regular tv at all when you're a redneck. You watch country music videos, hunting and fishing shows, podcasts with Navy Seals, Officer Tatum, and gun stuff. And old football games from the 70's and 80's. Oh, those are so good. Do you know who was tough? Ron Jaworski. He got the shit kicked out of him most every week.  And on that cement astro turf they used to play on. That stuff was criminal. NFL does not care about the player's health and never has. If they did, every stadium would have natural turf. 

Anyway, being a redneck is about being free. Free to not worry about shit and just go out in the woods because you realize that is what is really important, not some latest fad that America has gobbled up like they always do. The latest and the best is always the damn woods. That's what's most fun for a redneck. Simple shit. Doesn't mean he or she is simple, it means that they see through all the bullshit and see what's really important in life.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

I Am Not a Hooker!

Last night,  after my son just finished his high school football game, around 930 pm or so,  we decided to go to Wawa to get some hoagies. I wanted to go to Buffalo Wild Wings because they serve beer but it was getting late and I knew that keeping James out late when he had practice at 8am the following day just so I could have beers would not be very popular on the home front. I did it the week before. The beers were so good.  I had a few big Coors Lights. I'm into Coors Light lately. I went from Broken Skull IPA to Coors Light. Soft.

So I was getting out of my truck last night at the Wawa and this lady is coming across the parking lot towards me. Now, this happens to me all the time. People tell me their life stories out of the blue and start talking to me about everything.  One girl asked me 20 questions about the WILL OVER HOPE tattoo on my arm. Anyway, she was around 65, about 5'4, pretty round but not obese, with long gray hair in a ponytail. And earrings. I remember she had like little pink heart earrings. So she's about 10 feet from me and she throws up her arms as she is getting closer to me like a preacher singing hallelujah, and she yells to me, I AM NOT A HOOKER! I was like, too bad! No, actually, I said, you are not a hooker? Well, neither am I. She was druuuunnnkkkk. She had like no teeth that I could see. Definitely not meth, maybe pills but definitely alcohol. So she then tells me where she lives in the trailer down the street and how she's not a hooker and I think she said not a drug addict too, but then she asked me for 3 bucks. To get into her house or something. or maybe it was for food. I can't remember, I just keep thinking that I was glad she wasn't a hooker, but she wouldn't be all that bad if you were into that old lady with no teeth drunk off her ass kind of thing. Wow, she was so disappointed when I wouldn't give her three dollars for god knows what. When I told her no, she started moaning and making noises and she was still looking at me with her mouth open as I was driving away. Moaning, I guess. Then, I swear, as we were driving away, I looked at the gas pump and a lady was standing there pumping gas and if she wasn't a hooker, nobody is.  I wonder if the old lady went over to her and insulted her by saying that she wasn't a hooker, and could she spare 3 bucks?

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Jobs, Jobs

 I had a lot of different jobs over the years. In high school, I worked at Adelphi Mobil gas station. I worked 13 hours each Saturday. Then I would get home at like 10 at night and run to my girlfriend's house a few miles away, and then I'd squat in her basement.  I pumped gas at the Mobil station and it was a good job. The owner was a jerk and the mechanic had some kind of plastic thing that he used to have sex with, but all in all, it was good.  I put plugs in tires and I hung out with my friends. I learned that working with the public is miserable. Or rather, people are miserable. And if you are blue-collar working, some people act like they are better than you. Makes them feel good with that power over somebody else. As soon as a miserable person would leave the station, we would all be like, what a dick. I worked in the equipment room at the Kinesiology building at the University of Maryland the following year. I was always late because I didn't have my driver's license and I had to get rides. I folded stuff like towels and clothes and I did odd jobs for my Uncle George. He was the Acting Dean. One time he came down to where I was working and he handed me a pair of plyers and was like, go into the locker room on the second floor and take a part of all of the lockers. There were 50 lockers. I swear, I tried my ass off, but I couldn't take apart any lockers, Not ONE. My uncle was probably messing with me by just giving me a pair of plyers to do the job. I was too scared to go tell him I didn't do it, so I laid down and took a nap. I figured I would at least delay the ball-busting that I was gonna receive for a bit. I eventually told him of my failure and later he said. "I had a kid take apart all the lockers. It took him like 15 minutes." I didn't say anything.

Then I began as a grad assistant after college at Gardner-Webb, coaching football, and made $4.25 an hour for working 80 hours a week and only getting paid for 19 hours. I needed some extra income. I'm not bitching, because I loved coaching, but I needed to pay rent and eat and buy Penthouse and Red Dog beer. Broke as hell. Sometimes, I'd sneak into the cafeteria, and this one girl who worked at the front desk used to let me in to eat for free. She didn't have any neck muscles, I remember that about her. Not that it has anything to do with anything, I just remember that about her. I was like, the first time I saw her, I said to my friend Billy, what the hell, dude. That girl has no neck muscles. I felt sorry for her, but she didn't seem to mind. That's probably wrong to feel sorry for her or something. She was just a great girl who happened to not have neck muscles. I delivered pizzas for Tony's Pizza and Cleaners. I had to deliver to trailer parks and yarn mills in rural North Carolina. One guy gave me a beer for a tip. I got stiffed a lot, and I got lost a whole damn bunch. This was before GPS, and the delivery area was like 20 miles away. Tony the prick would be like "Go down and take a left past the brown cow at Mr. Robinson's house and then take a right at the Pantry store and then it is 10 minutes from there around the curve. You can't miss it." One time I went to deliver to a house way back in the woods and there were cameras on the trees on the long dirt road and then there was a silver plated .45 on the counter where they told me to put the pizza. Bunch of guys in there. They were really cool dudes, gave me a tip, and everything. But something shady was going on, for sure. I had that vibe as soon as I turned onto their driveway.

 I delivered pizzas forever, it was always an easy job to get. 

Not job related but a good story: One time I was down at the Broad River near where I was coaching at Gardner- Webb and I had been fishing with my girlfriend. Didn't catch shit. So we were in the gravel parking lot getting ready to leave and this random drunk guy ran up to us and was like, "Hey man, can you fight for me? This guy took my girl and he won't give her back." I was like, seriously?. The guy talking had to have been around 25 years old, had no shirt on, and had on cut-off blue jeans, He must have weighed 127 pounds He was definitely drunker than Cooter Brown. My girlfriend was saying, "JIMMY! DON'T YOU DARE!" But I wasn't gonna do that shit. Even I wasn't that stupid, and I was plenty stupid. I told him that he had to take care of his own business and he walked away. I wonder what happened?

 Back to jobs. I cut a lot of lawns when I was younger. My dad had some older friends who couldn't cut their lawns anymore, so we would throw our mower into the station wagon and go cut the lawns.  I cut my aunt's lawn and my neighbor's lawn. I got ten bucks a lawn, which wasn't bad in the 80's. I was a lawn man. I ran over all kinds of plants and shit that I wasn't supposed to run over. I did my best. And then when I was coaching at Gardner-Webb, I cut the game and practice fields.

I had many more jobs: Bouncer, cement work, clearing land, and stuff like that. Good, honest work. 

I liked most of the work, some of the bosses, and most of the folks that I worked around. All in all, they were some great experiences and memories.

Monday, August 21, 2023


Saturday, December 14th

I wake up without an alarm at the usual time, 4:24 am. I get out of bed and I hear my Black Labrador, Tar, run up the steps. He always does that when he hears me wake up. He’s two and a half years old and my hunting dog and my best buddy, 85 pounds of energy and fury. He usually starts off the night lying in bed with me but ends up finishing the night sleeping on my reclining chair downstairs. 

“I’m coming, boy,” I say as I make my way into the bathroom. Tar waits patiently outside of the bathroom door as I finish my business.

We have a routine.

First, I get dressed. My phone says that it's 22 degrees outside, so I dress warmly. I put on a heavy flannel shirt, my brown torn-up Dickie’s jacket, Origin jeans, and Rocky boots, topped off with a camouflage Mossy Oak baseball cap. Then I walk downstairs as Tar leaps down 2 steps at a time and we go out to the backyard to play fetch. I have 22 acres of woods and farmland here, and Tar has plenty of room to run. I have him perform his retrieving drills for around ten minutes, just enough to get him panting some, then we go back inside for me to drink coffee and for Tar to eat.

I don't have plans today and I don't want to have any plans today. I worked long and hard enough coaching college football for 30 years and each day I am happy that I don't have to go into an office or have a boss to answer to or recruit some 18-year-old kid to come play football for my school. 

I retired a year ago from coaching and I came back home to Bayville, Maryland, where I grew up. I bought this house and farm and I live way out in the country, a good fifteen-minute drive from the town.

Bayville is a small town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, a place forgotten by time, a waterman’s town, and a town hit with hard times for as long as I can remember. There is a chicken plant two towns away where some folks work and a seafood packing plant in town, but that's about it. Seafood is not as plentiful as it once was, so jobs are scarce. Lots of folks are on welfare, doing drugs, or just hanging out at the liquor store or at the park in town. Everybody is waiting for times to get better, but times have been bad for a long time.

There is a tree that has halfway fallen and is leaning against the duck blind on the edge of the timber pond out back of the house. It's not a big tree, but I want to chop it down, both because it'll collapse the duck blind eventually and because I want to swing an axe for exercise. Tar and I head out to the timber pond. 

It's about a mile walk, and I’m looking at this walk as a chance to get some more exercise along with the ax from the shed, I grab a 25-pound weighted vest from the shed and put it on. I put the axe across my shoulders and begin walking at a fast pace. Tar runs ahead of me, gets way out in front, and then comes running full speed back to me when I whistle. It is a game that we play whenever we are walking in the woods and the dog loves it. When we arrive at the duck blind, Tar immediately goes for a swim. I begin chopping down the tree, counting 20 swings as hard as I can before I break for 30 seconds and go again. Counting reps may seem weird when chopping down a tree, but my mind always starts counting anyway, so I look at it as a training session. When I am done, I split the logs into just the right pieces to fit in the wood stove in the house. This is the type of work that I love: Outside, sweaty and dirty and hungry and thirsty when done.

Tar and I have put in some work today, and I have a feeling of accomplishment, one that I only get when I am finished with a great training session or when I am working at the farm. We walk into the house and I feed Tar for his second meal of the day and go to the mini-fridge behind the island in the kitchen and grab two Coor’s and sit at the dining room table. Ice cold and crisp, the first beer goes down in seconds and I start directly on my second. Tar comes over and licks the top of the bottle and sits and looks up at me. “What? Have you finished your food already? Oh, you had a hard day, too, huh, buddy?”

I open the big refrigerator and grab a hamburger patty that I made last night and feed it to Tar. This boy is all carnivore. And the burger is gone in a second. I get up and stoke the fire of the wood-burning stove and Tar and I sit on the floor in the living room together. I sip the beer and alternately let him lick the top of the bottle. 

I look at the weather report on my phone. Early snow is expected in Bayville. I have always loved the winter and especially snowy days. With the day over and the clouds looking like snow, I decided to head to Grumpy’s Bar and Grill, about a ten-minute drive from the house. I love sitting at a bar on snowy days, in from the cold and content. Telling Tar that I will be back soon, I go upstairs and shower. Then I go to the bedroom and reach in the closet to get out my camo Tractor Supply jacket, and some old Frye boots. I go to the dresser and get out a fresh pair of Wrangler Jeans and a Bass Pro Shops Camo hat. I'm ready to go. All of my outfits are pretty much the same, I am no fashion plate, that is for sure.

I walk back downstairs and out the door, with Tar staring a hole in my back through the sliding glass door. I feel bad for leaving him. My 2020 Ford F250 starts right up, and I pull out of my driveway and onto a dirt road. I'll take the backroads to Grumpy’s, drinking from a red solo cup filled with fresh Coors. 

After a peaceful, country drive with Chris Knight’s, The River on the stereo, I pull up to Grumpy’s. It's been here forever, locals only. I had my first beer here when I was 16. My old man bought it for me out of the blue one day after a long day's work of working concrete with him. Locals consist of farmers and people who work with their hands for a living. The parking lot is filled with pickup trucks with mud on the tires, and stickers on the back windshield of the trucks of deer and geese and ducks.  No pretty trucks here, no sir. These are working trucks and hunting trucks. The bar is lit up outside with neon signs advertising Budweiser and Smirnoff Vodka and Natural Light, a favorite here on the Eastern Shore. The inside is just what a bar should be like, dark and cool. Dark enough that it takes a minute for someone’s eyes to adjust to the darkness when coming in from the outside. 

With it calling for snow, the farmers and all the workers have cut out of work early to start drinking. Plus, it is Saturday, always a good day to drink. When I walk in, everyone’s heads turn to see who just came in. “Boys”, I say, nodding. I know all of them. Here and there, over the years, I have met just about everyone in the bar. I grew up not far from here, some of them knew my dad. I still have my red solo cup with me, forgot to leave it in the truck.

“Jimmy, how’s your old man doin’?”  Ronald Smith asks as I take a seat by myself across the bar from him. Ronald is about 70 years old, weathered, and tough. He’s wearing a pair of overalls with old paint splattered on them and a ratty baseball cap with an NRA patch sewn on it.  He was a waterman until the crabs started to dry up in the late 80s and then he switched over to farming. He's sitting at the bar with a can of Busch, a spit cup, and a can of Copenhagen snuff sitting in front of him. “He’s good, Ronald, how are you?” I worked for Ronald when I was a teenager, doing odd jobs on his farm, fixing stuff, cutting brush. 

“All good here, getting an early start,'' he says, looking at his watch. He is sitting next to a woman that I do not know. She is about 50, I guess, and she looks just as tough and weathered as Ronald. But I'm not judging. This area can be rough with very few jobs and a meth and pill epidemic taking over.  That stuff can make anyone look old beyond their years. “I’m Sally, by the way, she says, ``I work with Ronald.” She volunteers that information without me asking. “Nice to meet you, Sally,” I say. I lift my red solo cup to them both. “Cheers”, I say and they lift their drinks.

Someone puts some money in the jukebox and Alan Jackson comes on, singing “Hello Walls”. 

Lisa is the bartender. She's a good-looking woman, mid 40’s and with an ass that is perfectly round like a swollen peach, and looks great in a pair of tight jeans. She has long black hair and a just right face, showing some age but not too much. We went to high school together and dated some back then. I went away to college and she stayed in Bayville. I hadn’t seen her until I moved back here a few months ago and came into Grumpy's and there she was, smiling and as pretty as ever.   She is a widow and as far as I know, she hasn't dated since her husband died, despite everyone except the oldest man in the bar flirting with her. Bad, bad marriage, her ex-husband beat the hell out of her. He was a real scumbag. She got away, and he got killed in a shootout with the police after a convenience store robbery. 

“Coors?” she asks in her strong Eastern Shore of Maryland accent. I lost most of my accent years ago, but I can feel it coming back, and I like it. Back to my roots. She knows the answer about the beer. I just smile as she slides it over to me. “Where have you been, Jimmy White?” “Oh hell, Lisa, I've been around.” “You have? You haven't been around here at all, mister. “You are like a hermit way out in the country with that dog of yours.”

“Sometimes he's all that I need,”  I say, slamming the contents of the beer down. 

“Hell, you are thirsty, huh?” 

“Yeah, just a little.”

She walks away to help someone else and I stare at her ass. Damn. I look over at Ronald, and he pushes his head toward Lisa and smiles, like he's saying, go get her, boy. 

After 30 minutes, I'm six beers in and I'm feeling just right. I get up to take my first piss since I got here. I'm getting ready to open the door to the men’s room and I hear a female voice. “Hey.” I turn around and it's Lisa standing there. “Let's hang out when I get off,” she says. “I would wait around for you to ask me, but I'm tired of waiting.”

 “I thought you had to work until closing.” 

“No, I get off in about 3 minutes. I close only on Thursday and Friday.” 

I honestly forgot what day it was until she said, “It's Saturday, you know.”

 “Shit, I am always forgetting what day it is. I'll have one more and we will head out,” I say.

I down another Coors and pay the bill and we are out the door.

 “I'm driving,” she says, and I have no problem with that at all. And we head to my truck and climb in. 

“Let’s go to my dad's old place”, she says, and we go down the road, Lisa singing old Kieth Whitley and smiling over at me every once in a while. I don't say much, it all seems so surreal like we are back in high school again. We pull into an old farmhouse sitting back off of the road. Her dad died a few years back, and Lisa has been taking care of his old house, the house she grew up in. She rents out the fields to local farmers, which pay for the taxes. “What are you gonna do with this place?” I ask.

“I'm gonna move in”, she says. “I'm ready to get back to the country.”  She lives in an apartment in town over top of  Murray’s Deli. 

We get out and sit on the front porch. She opens the door to the place, walks in, and in a few minutes, comes back with a bottle of wild turkey. 

“Kicking Chicken?” 

“In the flesh.” 

“Hell, I'm drunk enough”

She says, “Don't be a pussy”, and she takes a big swig.  And then she hands me the bottle.

I look at her and hit the bottle until bubbles appear. 

“What did you call me?” 

She pulls a joint out of her purse and lights it.

“I see what kind of night it's gonna be.”

“I like those kinds of nights, “ she laughs.

We sit and pass the joint and watch the deer in the field in front of us. A mess of geese is honking in the sky somewhere. It is dusk and all seems right in the world right now.

After an hour or so, she asks, ``Are you ready?”

“Hell, if I can stand”. 

“You'll be okay,” she says.

She drives my truck and I hit the bottle of Wild Turkey. “You are more redneck than I am,” I laugh. “I reckon you and I are about the same when it comes to the redneck scale,” she answers.

It's dark now, and the stars are out clearly. I feel on top of the world. Lisa is singing some Roger Alan Wade.  I turn to look at her. “Dammit, I really like you,” I blurt. She chuckles, and looks over at me, “I like you too, Jimmy.”  “Why’d you say dammit?” she asks. 

“Ah, I don't know,” I say, feeling my stomach drop as my eyes meet hers. My tongue is loose now and I know I may say something that I regret, but of course, in my condition, I don't care at all. “We are going to have some fun,” I say, “I know we are.” 

She smiles and looks straight ahead as we head down the dirt road.

Sunday, July 30, 2023

On Being a Graduate Assistant Coach

 I am sitting on the back deck at my house listening to Wade Reeves sing, "Country Out Here," which is a damn good song. It's all about doing country shit, being in your truck, going to a place with your friends to hang out, listen to some Hank Jr., light a fire, that kind of stuff. That is damn fun to do.

Some of my fondest memories are when me and Jimmy and Todd were Graduate Assistants for football at Gardner -Webb University in the old days, 1989-1994. We'd get done with work, of course we already lifted weights and cut the fields ( practice and game), broke down film, coached at practiced and washed the uniforms. 

We would pile into Todd's old Chevy S-10 and head to the State Line Store in South Carolina.  Way out in the country, like the only store on the highway. "Dip" was so fresh down there. It would be a day old. The place where they had the Klan rally had the freshest dip. And the lady behind the counter had like a not so great face but a great ass. At least that's what everyone said. Anyway, the State Line Store was only about 10 minutes away. Where Gardner Webb was located, Boiling Springs, was a dry town, so you had to drive a bit to get beer. Thats ok, it was great flying down the highway, so happy to be done with work and to be together and hanging out. State Line store sold jewels, fishing gear, snacks and beer. I think it sold guns, too. Hell yeah. America.

So we'd get a case of beer. Both Jimmy and Todd made more money than me. I was getting paid 4.25 an hour, and working 80 hours a week and getting paid for 19 hours. How about that? All you spoiled kids out there have no idea of paying dues. Somedays they would splurge and get long neck Bud. That was a treat. Todd was into Rolling Rock for a bit. But usually it was like, IceHouse because it was strong, or Milwaukees Best if times were really bad. 

Damn, we had so much fun.

We would head to the One Lane Bridge which was located in the state game lands on a dirt road. It was a tiny bridge that had a creek flowing underneath it. Sometimes we would go down there and just sit in the back of the truck and drink and talk and listen to music, but if it was summer time, we would bring the beer down to the creek and put it in the water to keep it cold and we would go sit in the water and drink. So much damn fun, there with your friends, catching a buzz, dipping Copenhagen and bitching about how soft some players where.  And bragging about how tough others were. When I look back on those times, there were rarely, if ever any girls around. It wasn't about that at all. I think that most of us had girlfriends or wives but nobody wanted to do the girl thing right then. Hell, we wanted to talk about lifting and football and dogs and guns and hunting. We didn't give a shit about picking up girls or being around them at that time. Just hang out with your boys for hours. 


One time, one of the graduate assistants had a wife who was a little nuts and she left him and he was like, "Man, I don't wanna be by myself tonight. Come over and drink some beers," and I was like, "Cool, I'll come over, no problem. " The wife had taken the kid and gone to her family's house.  We went out and drove out on the dirt roads and talked and spotlighted deer. Just to see them. So, I'm asleep on the couch hours later and the wife comes in and she sees me, the enemy for some reason, and she picks up one of those baby rockers and throws it across the room and is like, WHAT THE FUCK IS HE DOING HERE? Me, just doing a favor for a friend. So my friend pulls me into another room and is like , "You gotta go, but here, take my gun, brother. I don't want to kill her."So I took his gun and left. Plenty of nights such as those. 

All of it was a blast.

The most that I made a month working there was 520.00 a month.  I was the strength coach for football, was in charge of all of the practice and game fields including cutting and painting them and I was the defensive line coach.  The 520.00 paid rent (110.00 was my half), water, phone electricity. I had enough for beer, some pasta, dip and usually a Penthouse magazine. Then I was poor as hell the rest of the month. Like eating-the-4-hot-dog-special-at-the-Pantry-convenience-store-and-sneaking-into-the-cafeteria-poor.

I'm not sure if anybody else would work like we did and get paid so bad and treated so shitty like we did. Hell, I would think that would be illegal these days. But although we bitched a lot, the poverty along with the camaraderie, and lasting friendships make it a great story, and it all adds up together to make up some of my fondest memories. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2023


I have never understood bragging. Bas Rutten, one of my idols, always said how stupid it was to brag. Why would you give your opponents ammo against you?

Unfortunately, it has trickled down into the high schools, little leagues, etc. Kids dancing, acting like bitches. Men don't dance, except slow dancing at the prom or a wedding or some shit. As a man, you are not allowed to freaking dance, any fast dance at all. Don't talk about the movies. Sinatra was making money and slaying babes. Dean Martin, too. Forgiven. 

But this bragging, calling attention to yourself? I was watching 7 on 7 at my son's high school the other day and this one kid on another team, all 5 foot 6 of him with 11-inch arms and all kinds of ornaments all over him was yelling and screaming, " I'm not from here! I'm not from here!" I'm not sure what that meant, except that watching him play was a joke.  He was awful. But he had the type of mouth that youtube loves.

I bet his teammates were all, "Way to have the fire, man, way to be! LET'S GO, MAN!   Everybody says, LET'S GO! It drives me batty. Come up with something original, "SMITE THE BASTARDS!" something like that would work. Some originality would be nice. Same old bullcrap.

I'm always writing about being humble.  But, you can be a football defensive lineman, and the offensive lineman is holding you and talking to you all game, and then you make a big tackle in the backfield and on your way back to the huddle and you pass by him and mutter, "Yeah, motherfucker." You are still humble then. That's part of the game. But the difference is, you aren't calling attention to yourself, just taking care of business.

I saw two coaches on their phones during a scrimmage the other day. On their phones. During football. I almost jumped off of the bleachers. But that is par for the course for everything these days. Nobody takes anything seriously. All these feelings and stuff. It's all about feelings and that's not cool or manly or anything. It should be about how humble you are, how strong you are, how stoic you are, how hard you work. Stuff like that. Feelings don't count. Sensitivity doesn't count. And bragging certainly doesn't. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Bad Times

Have times ever been worse in this country?

I guess. World Wars, the Depression, and stuff like that was bad. Real bad. 

 But can't you feel it right now? Like a black cloud following us all everywhere.  Foreboding. You get happy and then realize that shit is so so bad and that awful feeling comes roaring back into your brain. That feeling is like when you were a kid and your girlfriend broke up with you. That churning feeling deep down in your stomach.

 Of course, I am leaving out the elite, power-hungry zillionaires in this country. They have the sun shining on them every day. Screwing us all.

The real folks are getting poorer and struggling and wondering if it will ever get better. Mental illness is rampant among children. It is an epidemic. Suicide everywhere. Violence everywhere. Veterans with no hope, no money, and killing themselves. Your warriors come home and are forgotten. Money sent to other countries that in one of those payments would solve so many problems here. Imagine being a politician and, on your way to work, you have to avoid the homeless and you go in and vote to send more money away from your own people. 

What is the end game here? The outlook is dismal. How much power and money is needed in order to satisfy the sick assholes running the show? I see it, the poor, the struggling. I see them every day. I see them counting change on the counter to buy food, kids in tow. Do these power-hungry people have any conscious at all? They don't.

They have no idea. They grew up rich, they all went to the same schools, and they never "lowered" themselves to engage with the great unwashed. They have their world and think all of us are peons and are expendable. Control us, tell us that we are the problem. They tell us that climate problems are on us while they fly all over in their private jets. Yeah, I'm the problem because I eat meat. Irrationality has taken over and it is being made normal. 

 And it's all covered up by the complicit media, who for some reason, think that they are on the right side of this.

Sometime, someday, people will get fed up with it all, and they will fight back. Maybe. But maybe folks are so beaten down and tired of it all that they don't have any fight left. That is the plan, isn't it? To beat us all down and just get us to comply? People just want to get through life. Wake up, get their kids off to school, work, and maybe get a vacation for a few days in the summer. They don't want to deal with it because they just want to live and keep living and end up sitting on the porch one day, retired and enjoying it. That dream is further and further away. My retirement fund has been getting crushed lately. How about the politicians, the pharma CEO's? How's their retirement fund coming along? Oh, it's fine, I bet.

My Special Forces buddies tell me to just take care of my tribe, to not worry about things that I can't control. But I don't know. All this shit going on is messing up my tribe, big time. 

All About Being a Lifer

What's a Lifer? Someone who isn't in to something for just a day, a month, a's for life. Whether its training or your family or your doesn't matter. You work at it, you build on it, you see the big picture . You don't miss workouts because it means something to you. You are like a Shakespearean actor- no matter what is going on in your life, you block it out when it's time to train. You walk into the weight room and all else disappears. Worry about it later.