Wednesday, October 24, 2018

"Nobody ever said this thing wasn't gonna be semi-tough."

Disclaimer: I hope not to rain on anyone's parade! If you are in one of those wonderful moments when all is going well, I celebrate WITH you, and FOR you! That's GOOD stuff! This post AIN'T about the good times, though, so if you want to stay bouncy, you might want to stop here and come back later when you need it.
In 1972,  Dan Jenkins published a book about professional football, and players, and hangers-on, and it should have been sold with a sweaty sock that had been worn during a game, and then left in a gym bag for a week. (Because the book was rough, gruff, and stinky, you see.)

It was wildly popular (#7 on Sport's Illustrated's 100 Best Sports Books of All Time) with people who loved football and sports in general, and who celebrated a world that was run on testosterone, money, and whiskey. The book had the title 'Semi-Tough.'(FOOTNOTE!)

Then, as now, people used understatement for emphasis.  Today, when people say 'a minute,'  it doesn't mean 60 seconds, it means a LONG time. "I've been working here for a minute" means "I've been working here long enough to know what I'm talking about. Got it?"

So when one of the characters, referring to the path to the Super Bowl, says "Nobody ever said this thing wasn't going to be semi-tough," what he really means is that it's the hardest task any of them have ever faced (or something along those lines).

And that's actually a general life truth.

Earlier today, I read this:
"For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again,
But the wicked stumble in time of calamity."
(Proverbs 24:16, NASB)
Back when I used to listen to the radio, my dial was set on FM 91.9 WCLK, Clark-Atlanta University's public radio station. They are the ONLY local station that still plays good jazz and blues, and they also have some GREAT gospel programs as well.
I listened;
I called in to talk to the DJ's;
I won some stuff on the contests (including tickets to see Ray Charles at Chastain Park!);
I pledged during the annual telethons.

And eventually, I started driving into Atlanta from Woodstock, in my raggedy pick-up truck, as a phone volunteer during the telethons. (Once, I even took Bess and Mick with me, and THEY got to work the phones; they were 11 and 8, respectively, I think. They LOVED it!)

On this particular occasion (maybe 2002?), I showed up a little early (as in, 5:30 AM) one Saturday morning to work the phones for the gospel music program. As I was getting my work area squared away, a couple of precious young college girls showed up, still a bit bleary-eyed at that hour in the morning, also there to work phones for the gospel hour. One of them requested the DJ to play "We Fall Down, But We Get Up" for her.
And I wondered if she had fallen down; college life certainly offers plenty of opportunities for young girls to fall.

This isn't her, but it could be. 
What was she facing that morning? 
Had something happened the night before?
I was not in a position to reach out to her,
but when I hear that song, I remember her.

This isn't me, but it could be.
I hope that EVERY time I fall down, 
I use the opportunity to go to my knees.

'Falling down' DOESN'T mean violating your standards, or bringing harm to someone else. Any of us will fall down if we are hit hard enough. We get sick. People we care about do stupid things. Stuff we depend on breaks. And when enough of that stuff happens, we go down.

I believe that people who read my blog regularly are realists, NOT people who think that somehow they are separated from disaster by an impenetrable wall. My blog wouldn't work well for folks with that particular belief system. When I'm not talking about unreal people doing unreal things (as when I am reviewing books), I'm writing about real people, doing real things, as more real things happen to them.

I'm one of those real people, and one of the ways I work at getting back up again is to write about it in this blog. But please:  don't see this column as a sign that it's nothing but doom and gloom at the Patterson House.  Nobody is being mean to me, and I'm not being mean to anybody. Physically, I AM hurting a bit more than usual, but frankly, that's just background noise.

The chief aggravation I am working through by writing this is that we have been hit pretty hard recently by some large, unexpected bills, and car repairs, WHICH ARE ALL COVERED BY OUR "PRUDENT RESERVE"!
We aren't in danger of losing the house, going without food, paying utilities; none of that stuff.
I just get freaky (more accurately: I fall down) when I have to go to the reserve. I like adding to it, not taking away from it.

Besides that? Well,  I still can't write reviews. So, I fall down. I'm still reading, though, so there's that.

And I just NOW got a phone call from one of my daughters telling me that HER car has broken down, too. Yup: I fall down.

Well, nobody ever said this thing wasn't gonna be semi-tough. While I'm down here, I might as well clean out from underneath my desk, and at some point, I will get back up again.

Peace be on your household.

FOOTNOTE: In 1977, Hollywood took Dan Jenkins' industry-favorite book about football, and made a movie using the same name. For some reason, a decision maker felt the football movie needed  less football, and more talk about actualizing yourself, better life through pyramid power, and the liberation found in wetting your pants in public. Unfortunately, I saw the movie, and will never get those two hours back again. It's my understanding that Jenkins got a small bit of revenge in a 1984 follow-up book, but I haven't read it.


  1. And a bit of GREAT news. Got to where my daughter was sitting glumly in her non-starting car. All it took was a Papa touch. I suspect that she may have mumble mumble and that's why it wouldn't start for her and would for me. So, she is back on the road.

  2. Well said. and I loved Semi=Tough... along those lines of stumbling the verse I really like is Isiah40:29-31

    29He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
    30Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
    31but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
    They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.