Monthly Archives: May 2015

Granddad Bods are Sexy!

Recently, a Clemson University student, Mackenzie Pearson wrote a school article that went viral. In the article she proclaimed, “Girls are all about that dad bod.” According to Miss Pearson, “dad bod” is the guy who is “softly round” and pudgy around the middle, and instead of having a fit “six- pack” sculpted body, he drank the six-pack.   She proclaims many women find these guys to be the ultimate sex symbols. They are the guys women want the most! Why? I haven’t the slightest idea, but maybe, the “dad bod” says the man is confident in who he is and he is ready to settle down to Saturday nights at home with the wife and kids and a good down to earth Chuck Norris movie high kicking its way across the TV screen. Maybe, it says I don’t mind drinking an occasional beer with the boys, but I would just as soon make a beer run to the Seven-Eleven and come home to cuddle with my wife. Maybe, women are finally tired of competing with self-adoring chiseled men who are more concerned with pumping iron in the gym and primping in front of the mirror than they are paying attention to their woman. Or, maybe, women have finally come to their senses and are ready to settle down with a real man who wants nothing more than to be left in peace with his Pillsbury Dough boy rolls, a soft couch to relax on, a beer to sip on, and a woman he turns on.

For women, it seems the appeal of the “dad bod” lies more in what it represents than what it looks like, and for that I applaud women. It is nice to read that the younger female generations are finally becoming aware of the advantages and finer points of slothiness, languidness, and the virtues of a fully pumped figure.   The realization that there are women who truly appreciate a man’s girth brings tears to my eyes. It is beyond comprehension that there are actually women who would love to sit on my sofa twirling a slender finger in the abyss of my rather cavernous navel button while sharing a large Pizza Hut New York pizza and watching the big game. That is the dream of every substantially hefty man in America. Although it completely defies all universal logic, it does prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is a God and that Heaven can truly exist on earth even for pudgy guys.

However, where was Miss Pearson during the height of my pudginess? Where was she or someone like her when I was in my twenties and thirties and could have benefited most from her startling revelation? Of course, she had yet to be born, but surely there was someone out there – her mother, grandmother, or a close family friend – who had similar ideas of the perfect man and could have made the “dad bod” announcement years ago. Unfortunately, she came along far too late for me and the countless other “dad bods” of my generation who languished unjustly in obscurity. I can only imagine what a little more female sensitivity toward chunky male bodies would have done for my generation’s self-esteem.

The “dad bod” notoriety I was denied as a young man really troubled me for a couple of days after I read the article, but then one night as I was eating supper in front of the television, I dropped a peperoni pizza slice from my plate and my world was forever changed. My wife and I jumped at the same time; she had just vacuumed and mopped the floor that afternoon and my tumbling peperoni slice was about to make a mess of her hard work. We both closed our eyes and cringed in anticipation of the dull squishing spatter of the pizza slice splashing against the floor. No sound! Absolutely, no sound at all! Then my wife began to point at me; a smile of relief spreading across her face. There lying face down on my shirt was the pizza slice. Like a slab of granite breaking loose and sliding and tumbling down the face of a mountain slope, it had caught on the plateau of my portly belly and stopped. My “table muscle” my “granddad belly” had saved me from the dog house!

Beginning that very moment I was on a crusade. Like Miss Pearson, I had made a revolutionary discovery. As I scraped pizza sauce from my shirt, my mission on earth became clear. Like the “dad bod,” which granted a new lease on life to every twenty to thirty-five year old, slightly out of shape, chubby round guy in America, I wanted to do the same for older guys. I wanted to take the uplifting “dad bod” trend one step further! That day, it became my mission to awaken America to the next logical step in the evolution of male sexiness – the “granddad bod!” If women think slightly spongy dad bods are sexy, I reasoned they would go absolute bonkers over the slightly sagging jowls and overlarge cushy bellies of countless granddads across America. Therefore, I launched the “Granddad Bods are Sexy” campaign to change how America looks and thinks about sexy.

As a result, I am busy signing sponsors to help promote and put the words “granddad bod” on the tip of every man and woman’s tongue across the nation. Info commercials will soon go into production for granddad bod essentials such as red and white checkered tablecloths known as “Gut Covers” that are precision cut to fit granddad bellies, deodorized granddad bod boxers that can be worn at home or on the beach, a deodorant soap called “Old Leather,” and a cologne that female test monkeys completely flipped over called “Essence of Yesterday’s Shower.” I am in negotiations with Coleman Campers and Tents to develop a line of breathable tent wear that can be worn casually or to more formal all you can eat buffets. I am also developing two training courses, “How to Utilize your Granddad Bod to its Fullest Potential” and “The Sensitive Side of the Granddad Bod.” My goal is to have the products and courses available to the public by mid-summer. In addition, my wife is developing her own training course designed specifically for women, “How to Feed, Clean and Care for the Granddad Bod in Your Family.” Both of us are excited to share our first-hand knowledge about granddad bods and to do our part to help America become more aware of this national treasure.

In the meantime, if you have any questions regarding the granddad bod, or if you have some granddad bod tidbits you would like to share, please do not hesitate to write and let me know. Putting granddad bods on a pedestal in every home in America is my ultimate goal, so your input is greatly appreciated. The great thing about granddad bods is that given time, limited exercise, and a restrictive diet of fats and carbohydrates, any male can have a granddad bod. And, don’t think for a moment my wife and I have forgotten the ladies; the blueprint for the “Grandma Bod” is on the planning table complete with varicose veins, lower back problems, choices of blue, silver, or white hair color, and sags in all the right places. We plan to put sexy back into the lives of granddads and grandmas across America, and we are so confident we can do it that we have alerted law enforcement to possible riots in the streets if enough granddad and grandma bods are not available to fill the expected demands of younger generations. It is time for granddads and grandmas everywhere to rev up our engines and get back in the sexy game! With granddad and grandma bods, you are never too out of shape to be SEXY!

JL

©Jack Linton, May 31, 2015

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You might need to go back to school if . . . .

Part III: Politics

Success in almost any field depends more on energy and drive than it does on intelligence. This explains why we have so many stupid leaders.  Sloan Wilson

Have you ever wondered why so many politicians claim to represent the people who elected them, but when they get to Jackson or Washington they become independent contractors representing special interest groups and personal agendas rather than the people? Listen to them speak; all too often they speak of the people, but not for the people. Although they may be elected under the umbrella of a certain party and therefore owe a certain allegiance to that party, they tend to forget their first responsibility is to the people and not the party. They are the elected voice of the people and not the elected voice of the party, or at least that is how it is supposed to work.

Such contradictions of purpose are common in arenas such as politics where there is little accountability. During elections, politicians know they can make any promise they need to entice people to vote for them. They know accountability comes once every two, four, or six years according to their office term limits, and more important, they know voters have notoriously short memories. Therefore, once elected, they can do practically whatever they want until their final year or maybe eighteen months in office when they once again hit the streets and airwaves campaigning, political hobnobbing, fabricating new promises, and padding their accomplishments to fit the ear of the voter. Face it, most voters are basically lazy; they rarely take a deep look into the past records of candidates they vote for in elections – locally or nationally. They simply vote for the party; they follow the lead of friends and relatives; they cast their vote based on image; or they decide who to vote for when they get to the polls and see the ballot for the first time, which means they often favor the incumbent.

In America, our leadership problems are as much the result of the laissez-faire attitude of the public as it is who the public elects. We vote out of allegiance to a party, we vote how someone tells us to vote, or we don’t vote at all. In today’s world, people even tend to shy away from voting their conscious for fear of being politically incorrect or out of sync with family and friends. The days of deep independent, intelligent thinkers have been replaced by strict party allegiances, apathy, and fanatical bigotry sometimes thinly veiled by the auspices of patriotism and religion. When it comes to putting the right people in leadership positions, we are our own worst enemy. We are guilty of paying an unbelievable amount of lip service to the political process, but when it comes to voting and accountability, we display an incredible lack of interest. We talk a good game, but talk is about all we do when it comes to politics. So, maybe, its time the voting public went back to school and learned about their responsibilities as a citizen . . . .

You might need to go back to school if . . . .

  1. You believe the Tea Party is the party of the people;
  2. You believe Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Tea Leoni’s character on “Madam Secretary” have more than hair color in common;
  3. You believe the Mississippi Republican party supports public education;
  4. You believe either party – Democrats or Republicans – holds all the right answers;
  5. You believe the nationwide GOP push to privatize public education is for the good of children and not a ploy to line the pockets of the private sector eager to get its hands on education dollars;
  6. You believe Mississippi does not have the $1.3 billion it has shorted education over the past few years, or you believe the $1.3 billion Nissan received from Mississippi during the same period came from the tooth fairy or Santa Claus;
  7. You believe like 4% of the American public that “lizard people” control our society through big business and politics;
  8. You need or allow a political party to do your thinking for you;
  9. You can identify the Three Stooges but not the three branches of government; and
  10. You believe a “merge right” highway sign is an invitation to a Ted Cruz political rally.

Although it is easy to believe politicians are the blame for so many of our problems, it is not as easy to look in the mirror and see the real problem. If a politician or political system becomes unaccountable to the people, there is no one to blame but the people. When citizens fail to understand this simple truth, then maybe it’s time they went back to school and revisited Political Science 101 and History 101.

JL

©Jack Linton, May 23, 2015

Educating Mississippi’s Children: Can We Really do it on Our Own?

Mississippi State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carey Wright recently announced the Mississippi Department of Education will seek public comments for Common Core English and math standards. She said a committee of educators will then examine comments and issue proposals for possible deletions or changes to the Standards to the state Board of Education. Of course, Governor Phil Bryant and Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves applauded her decision, but why shouldn’t they? In their eyes, Wright’s study panel constitutes a softening of her support for the Standards. That might not actually be the case, but Wright, who is caught between a rock and hard place due to her support for the Standards and her future as the State Superintendent of Education, has taken the only action available to allow her to “save face,” confront public conspiracy hysteria, and appease the Governor and Lieutenant Governor as well as the Republican dominated state house and senate. If the results of the study point negatively at the Standards, Wright will probably be given the opportunity to renounce her support and be welcomed by Bryant and Reeves as the long lost “prodigal son” who has finally come to her senses; however, if the study sheds favorable light on the Standards, Wright’s future as State Superintendent of Education could be in jeopardy. The only thing that is for certain with the study is that regardless of the results, Phil Bryant’s distrust of the Standards and Tate Reeves’ political aspirations will not be curbed.

In spite of its detractors, Common Core Standards represent a major step in the right direction for the education of Mississippi children who year after year rank nationally at or on the bottom in academic achievement. The Standards are not a threat to Mississippi children; the threats that hold potential disastrous consequences for Mississippi’s children are the lack of support for a curriculum (any curriculum) that dares step outside public and leadership comfort zones, lack of understanding or interest in the basic concepts of learning, and the inability of many in the public and in state leadership to comprehend the long term and unintended consequences of their failure to embrace a rigorous curriculum that teaches children to be critical thinkers rather than masters of simple recall of information. There are those in the public and state leadership who believe Mississippians do not need curriculum or even funding help when it comes to the education of our children; they believe we can do just fine on our own. If that is true, why haven’t we done so before now?  Instead, on our own, we have demonstrated year after year that when it comes to the education of ALL children in the state, we lack the motivation, resources, and maybe even the capacity to pull ourselves off the academic bottom.

When the facts are considered rationally without acerbic denials, bitter accusations, and acrimonious blame, the only plausible conclusion is that as a state, we have passed the point of “do it ourselves.” Decades of bad choices, bad leadership, bad men in important positions, quality of education dictated by geographical boundaries, and an embedded belief by state leaders that education is just another item that needs to be funded have led Mississippi to the brink of educational bankruptcy. Our children – we – do not deserve that! Unfortunately, too few in the public and leadership have any interest in understanding the facts or making the tough education choices required to end such malpractice. But, maybe, we are incapable of comprehending our dire circumstances or acting for the common good of Mississippi.

The only way Mississippi can prosper is if its people are knowledgeable, educated, individually responsible, self-reliant, capable of critical thinking and willing to accept the consequences of their actions. The plantation fiefdoms of the 19th Century are long behind us; we can no longer prosper as a state where the majority submits to the will and thought process of a few.  We can no longer afford a society where prosperity is often little more than a trickle down from the affluence of a few. The future of Mississippi is in the education of its children – an education that must be more than “good enough” – an education that must positively transcend to future generations. While there is a time for Mississippians to take pride in our “home grown” “we can do it better” heritage, such notions do not always translate effectively to the real world, especially in education. In nearly 200 years as a state, Mississippi has struggled to consistently get the education of its children right, so why would the public, educators, and leadership in a state that ranks regularly in the nation’s bottom two or three in academic performance believe we now have the capacity to do better without outside help? When it comes to education, we have had multiple decades of doing it on our own with little to show for our efforts. Do we want to continue banging our heads against the wall and in five or ten years still be trailing the rest of the nation academically, scratching our heads and asking the same questions, and still pointing fingers of blame?  If yes, then all we need do is continue on the path we are going.  If not, all of us need to stop treating our children’s education as a game, a political gambit, and a whipping boy for our fears and insecurities. We need to embrace a curriculum that takes us out of our comfort zones and into the 21st Century; we need to rally behind education and not against it.

JL

©Jack Linton, May 17, 2015

You might need to go back to school if . . . .

Part II: Believers

“People say they love truth, but in reality they want to believe that which they love is true.”    Robert J. Ringer

I believe most people become annoyed and even angry when you don’t believe as they do because they want assurance that if they are wrong, they are not alone. Friendships have been lost and wars have been fought simply for the sake of convincing, coercing, or outright forcing people to buy into the beliefs of others. Regardless of their social standing, ethnicity or education, people are not comfortable or happy unless everyone around them thinks and believes as they do.   When people climb out on the believers’ limb, they do not want to be alone, and they will do whatever it takes to bring others out on that limb with them. However, lately, it seems the vast majority of people need little convincing or coercing to climb out on that limb no matter how outrageous or precarious.

To be socially accepted in the circles they travel, people in general have little problem believing in anything that is thinkless [sic] or void of common sense. For example, look at television commercials. Every year, the public spends billions of dollars on gadgets advertised to make their life easier and more enjoyable: gadgets that let them listen in on private conversations through walls a block away (Can you say voyeurism, eavesdropping, or unethical?), gadgets such as X-Ray glasses that supposedly allow you to see through fabric or clothes (Can you say perverted?) and health gadgets such as elastic belly wraps guaranteed to peel away the fat by simply wearing the device daily (Can you say gullible?). People are born believers in anything that guarantees them an easy solution to righting their perceived or actual inadequacies. They buy into TV commercials, clearly biased news reporting, hearsay, stealth politics and even peer pressure in their continuous quest for anything that helps them “fit in,” fixes them or promises to bring truth and happiness into their lives.

The problem is that people too often tend to blindly embrace fabricated truths. But, unless you are willing to subject yourself to ridicule and abuse, it is best to allow them to indulge in their delusions or fantasies of reality. They are hurting no one but themselves and maybe their pocketbooks; therefore, sometimes the best remedy for ignorance is to not nurture it by ignoring it. But, unfortunately there are times when ignoring ignorance is like feeding plague pellets to rats; the ignorance infection grows out of control even faster. In today’s society, there is no shortage of people willing to blindly wallow in ignorance.  Isaac Asimov said, “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” In an age of convenience, the only sword of knowledge some people possess is their ignorance. They sometimes flaunt their ignorance under the flags of individual rights, religion, and what is politically correct. Why? I believe Thomas Edison explained it best when he said, “Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.” In today’s society, it is easier to accept ignorance as a fact than it is to use common sense and brain power to invalidate the stupid, the ignorant, and the ridiculous. Thinking has become too much work for a society more interested in being entertained, patronized, sanctified, and politicized.

So, what can be done? Probably nothing! Of course, it would be best for everyone if shallow thinkers simply went back to school and started over. We have Head Start programs for underprivileged children, so why not have a Restart program for underprivileged adults who are intellectually and common sense challenged? It certainly would not be difficult to identify candidates for such a program. The beliefs people embrace are often the biggest clue that they desperately need to unplug and reboot – THEY NEED TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL!

You might need to go back to school if . . . .

  1. You believe you can deal with stupid people by arming yourself with knowledge;
  2. You believe Preparation-H shrinks wrinkles;
  3. You believe in the first and second amendments, but not the pursuit of “life, liberty, and happiness” for all people;
  4. You believe yoga is an evil practice and Harry Potter is an evil book designed to trick people into joining the dark side;
  5. You believe you can change a stupid person’s mind by lowering your standards and looking at life from his/her perspective;
  6. You believe in Rumpology or “bottom reading” as a legitimate science. If you do, maybe you can tell me why I get this sudden pain in my right rump cheek when I am around you, or maybe that does explain it;
  7. You believe in Urine Therapy! Here’s drinking to your health;
  8. You believe everything you read on the Internet, Facebook, and Rolling Stone;
  9. You believe adults don’t urinate in swimming pools; and
  10. You believe it is okay to share your opinions, but take offense when others share theirs.

I doubt such a list will strike a personal nerve with any of my readers, but if you recognize a friend, relative, or acquaintance in any of these ten items, please help that person enroll in the nearest school as soon as possible. Your sanity and mine may well depend on it.

JL

©Jack Linton, May 11, 2015

Coming in future weeks:

Part III:                       You might need to go back to school if . . . . for Politics

Part IV:                       You might need to go back to school if . . . . for the Gullible

Part V:                         You might need to go back to school if . . . . for the Simple Minded

Jesus and the Turnip Truck

Joseph Lightway, an energetic second year teacher, was constantly amazed at the incredible commitment to children the teachers in his school displayed day after day. Sure there were a handful of sour grapes on the faculty, but overall he felt he was blessed to be part of such a professional group of teachers. To him, they were simply remarkable! In fact, they were so wonderful and unselfish that he came up with a plan to do something very special for them. He spoke to his wife about his plan, and though she expressed doubts he could make it happen, she agreed if he could pull it off, it would be the most amazing gift ever presented to a group of teachers. That was all the encouragement he needed; that night Joseph sat down at the kitchen table and wrote a letter to Jesus inviting the greatest teacher of all to visit his school and speak to the teachers. The next morning, he carried the letter to the post office where a kind woman behind the counter took the letter as if a letter addressed to Jesus Christ was a routine occurrence.

The letter was mailed L.O.D. (Love on Delivery), and it was delivered promptly to #2 Heavenly Way by a white dove with a U.S. Mail insignia laced on the underside of each wing. Jesus was impressed and touched by Joseph’s sincerity, but he had one stipulation; he would make the journey to earth only if he could speak to all the teachers in the world. Even with that one rather overwhelming condition, Joseph was elated when Jesus’ secretary notified him that Jesus had accepted his invitation. He felt confident the news media would jump at the opportunity to be a part of such a historical event, and they would readily broadcast the event around the world thereby meeting the one condition set for the visit. But, the next day when he spoke to Jesus’ booking agent, Samuel, he became very discouraged to learn that Jesus preferred to be personally in the presence of all teachers when he spoke, so a broadcast was out of the question. The young teacher’s heart sank; it was not humanly possible to gather all the teachers in the world in one place. With his shoulders slumped under the weight of the enormity of Jesus’ request, he decided to seek advice from his pastor, Brother David “Nothing is too small or big for Jesus” Howard. When Brother Howard heard about Joseph’s dilemma, he began to laugh. “Joseph, Joseph,” he said, “do you honestly think a trivial problem such as finding a large enough venue for Jesus to speak is an obstacle he hasn’t thought about or can’t handle? If he can feed 5,000 with a few loaves of bread and pieces of fish, he can certainly provide enough space to accommodate all the teachers in the world. So, quit worrying about Jesus’ job and do yours. Announce that Jesus will speak at your school and let Jesus take care of the rest.”

Taking Brother Howard’s advice to leave the logistics of the meeting to Jesus, Joseph went happily about his job of getting the teachers to the big event. He called a meeting of all the education leaders in the world to meet with Samuel and him in Dallas, Texas at the Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium. On the day of the meeting, the stadium was packed with education leaders from around the world. Chocolate candies and letters of the alphabet cutout by first grade teachers from across the United States were spread out on each table. The Texas superintendent of education gave his ponderous opening remarks and then introduced Joseph and Samuel to the group. While Samuel thanked all in attendance for taking time from their busy schedules to meet with him, the education leaders continued to talk among themselves, text under the table, get up to take phone calls, and basically proved themselves to be rude and obnoxious. Samuel, however, did not let any of this bother him; he told them Jesus wanted to deliver a special message to all teachers around the world, and that the help of education leaders would be appreciated as well as expected. Of course, many of the leaders were immediately apprehensive of the religious implications and overtones of such a message, but after much discussion and a rapidly approaching lunch hour, all the leaders agreed to move forward with the plan. They immediately petitioned their governments for help. Public and military transportation directors were given orders to get the world’s teachers to Joseph’s school on time no matter the expense. As education leaders do, they scheduled a teacher professional day for the big occasion and sent emails and newsletters with their pictures and bios alongside a bio of the famous guest speaker.

On the morning of the big event, all the teachers from around the world gathered at Joseph’s school. Some were excited about the meeting, some were excited they had a day with no kids, some were non-committal – at least the sun was shining, and some moaned and groaned about having to attend a meeting when they had so much to do in their classrooms. Representatives from all the teacher unions were present complaining about not being consulted or invited to help plan the event. News media from around the world surrounded the area hoping to see Jesus make a spectacular entrance by fiery chariot or even better, carried on the wings of angels. Vendor carts rolled up and down the street and weaved their way through the school parking lots peddling balloons shaped like angels, Jesus, crosses and chariots. Crosses made from telephone poles towered above white tents of every size with fluttering Christian flags and banners waving in the gentle south Mississippi breeze. Each tent was filled to capacity with stacks of boxes from China and Korea containing souvenir Bibles, crucifixes, figurines of Jesus embracing a teacher, bottles of water guaranteed to turn to wine if the buyer was close enough for Jesus to touch the bottle, bottles of cheap wine with labels claiming it had been transformed from water to wine by the touch of Jesus, and discolored pieces of decaying wood sold as remnants of the actual cross. As a means to collect data for pandering future mailing lists to corporate buyers, small booths for people to sign up for Jesus newsletters and fan clubs were set up outside the door to each tent as well as strategically located near clusters of portable toilets. Behind the media and tents, National Guard troops pushed back thousands of curiosity seekers and protesters brandishing signs and banners touting the end of the world, Jesus as a fake, the end of Christianity, and blasting Jesus as a sellout for appearing to a select group and not the masses as a whole. Samuel had tried his best to get the word out that this was a courtesy visit by Jesus and not the long awaited SECOND COMING, but it had apparently done little good. Crowding the steps leading to where Jesus would deliver his message stood local, state, national, and world politicians jockeying for position to get a picture with Jesus that would guarantee their election and/or reelection for their lifetime. Agents of the United States Secret Service surrounded the President and yelled through mega horns at other security agencies from around the world also struggling to ensure the safety of their leaders. World leaders argued hotly as to who would be the first to shake Jesus’s hand as he mounted the steps. Overall, it was a glorious day to be human!

Jesus arrived in a yellow taxi. Samuel exited the taxi from the front passenger seat and opened the back door. The media pushed forward, cameras flashing and microphones extended over shoulders, under arms, between bodies and even squeezed between legs. A loud moan of disapproval spread over the crowd when a bent little man with a thin lived-in face dressed in a white seersucker suit with a white notebook stuck under his arm exited the rear cab door. He took a moment to brush rumpled creases from his trousers, looked rather contemptuously at the horde of media surrounding the taxi and then began writing in his notebook. He held the notebook high above his head with “THOU SHALL STAND BACK!” written in perfect block lettering across the page. The crowd did not move. With a slight frown, he pulled the notebook down and began to scribble on the pad once again, but this time he used two pages. When finished, he hoisted the notebook once more high above his head with “STAND BACK HEATHENS” printed across the page. No one moved. The frown became more intense as he flipped to the second page and shoved it at arm’s length above his head; “THIS MEANS YOU!” the page read. One young reporter on his first assignment stepped meekly back. The seersucker suit laid the notebook on top of the cab, reached inside the cab and pulled out a long rather worn looking shepherd’s crook. He turned back to the crowd and lifted the staff high above his head. “THOU SHALL STAND BACK!” he roared and slammed the end of the staff against the asphalt pavement. The shock wave blew aside the media and onlookers crowding the taxi forming a clear path from the taxi to the steps leading to the presentation stage. Stunned bodies lay in heaps to either side of the cleared walkway some painfully mouthing prayers of forgiveness while others groaned curses. The little man nodded his approval, folded the shepherd’s crook and put it in his coat pocket in case it was needed again. He turned to retrieve his notebook, but it was gone! Speaking in a tongue never heard before by human ears, he mumbled a few words angrily and then pushed his hand deep into his pants pocket and pulled out a small tin container with “Chill Pill” printed across the top. Opening the tin box, he took a rainbow colored pill and popped it into his mouth. Immediately, a warm smile spread across his thin face.

Jesus stepped from the taxi amid cameras now flashing from a respectful distance, the multitudes of voices calling his name rode as thunder across the parking lot, children burst from the crowd and swarmed around him. A few adults tried to follow behind the children, but the thin faced little man needed only to reach for the shepherd’s crook in his coat pocket to halt their advance. Hurriedly, the school band director ushered the marching band forward barking orders for the tubas and trombones to help make room for the band’s one hundred plus members. As the band serenaded Jesus’s walk with the director’s special arrangement of “Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art” performed in rounds, school choirs from around the world broke into Handel’s “Messiah”, Bach’s “Mass in B minor”, and Allegri’s “Miserere.” Although the resulting cacophony was exhausting to human ears, Jesus had no problem concentrating and isolating each relevant contribution. As he neared the steps to the platform the band and choirs gave way to acrobats and human pyramids as the school cheerleaders greeted Jesus with “J – E – S – U – S! J – E – S – U – S!” What does it spell?” “JESUS!” roared the football team. “What does it spell?” the cheerleaders squealed. “JESUS!” roared the baseball team. “Jesus, Jesus, We love Jesus,” clapped the cheerleaders. “Go, fight, win! Go, fight, win! Yay! Jesus!” At the foot of the steps, Jesus turned to face the band, choir, cheerleaders and the crowd. With a smile on his lips and a gleam in his eyes that twinkled brighter than any star, he raised his hands high above his head and said “Bless you my children.” Although his voice was as soft as the flutter of a butterfly’s wings, the blessing was heard at the farthest corners and boundaries of the crowd. The crowd fell silent and dropped to their knees, hoping and praying the blessing was also intended for them and not only the children who had just performed. Jesus waved to the crowd as if to reassure them and then turned to the steps where the world’s dignitaries and politicians awaited him. The smile immediately left his lips and his eyes took on the hardness and color of coal as he mounted the first step and quickly climbed to the top avoiding eye contact and ignoring the hundreds of hands reaching for him including presidents, kings, and queens.

At the top of the platform, he stopped, and signaled for the teachers to be allowed to move forward. He welcomed each teacher with a handshake and hug if they preferred. They all knew who he was, and he knew who most of them were as well. After he had personally greeted each and every teacher, he made his way to the stage where a podium had been set up for his message. He looked approvingly over the crowd; children were seated first, teachers second, school support staff sat directly behind the teachers, curiosity seekers and the general public were allowed in next followed by the news media and then politicians and world leaders brought up the rear. As ordered, Samuel stood at the back doors to ensure they remained open so any last minute stragglers could be seated. Jesus did not believe in closed doors.

A dull buzz hung over the room. The teachers speculated to one another about the funding cuts, slashed programs, RIFT announcements, or verbal spanking they were most likely about to hear. However, Jesus mentioned none of that. He did not chastise them for not being perfect, nor did he blame them for the sins of society. He thanked the teachers for their service to the children of the world; he gave an inspirational talk that built up to his addressing teachers as his angels on earth.

Most of the teachers listened intently, others played Candy Crush on their phones, a few slept, several stepped outside to take important phone calls from their hairdressers, a handful gossiped throughout the talk, every three minutes or so a few sighed deeply and looked at their watches, and a few stared blankly into space. After his talk Jesus made his way to the floor to meet with the teachers. He spent time talking to each teacher, taking a picture, and kissing each teacher on the cheek. All in all it was a glorious morning to be a teacher!

By the time the teachers returned to their schools, the rumblings of discontent had begun. Long dark shadows dropped over the teacher lounges, hallways, and classrooms of each and every school. By the afternoon of the second day following the big visit, school administrators around the world were reporting low morale and disgruntled teachers. School principals began to panic, “What can we do?” they cried. They quickly implemented morale building programs, set up committees to study the morale problems, and brought in psychologists and private sector employee relationship experts. School districts spent millions to hire companies to interview teachers and conduct surveys. Around the world, billions of dollars were spent trying to discover a solution to the problem, but since no one had any idea as to the cause of the low morale, no solution could be found.

One day an old farmer from Luxachaney, Mississippi drove his turnip truck to the back door of the cafeteria at Joseph’s school to unload his turnips. As usual the cafeteria ladies greeted with smiles and the latest news and gossip. They told the him about the visit from Jesus and the ensuing clamor about low morale that had educators around the world baffled and in an uproar. “You are a wise man,” one of the ladies said. “What do you think?”

The old farmer stroked his chin, but before he had time to stroke out his usual wise council, Joseph moped into the cafeteria. “Joseph,” the cafeteria manager said, “don’t tell me you are down in the dumps also.

“Maybe, just a little,” Joseph said. “I just found out they have discovered the reason for the low morale.”

“Why that is great news,” said the cafeteria manager.

“Not really,” Joseph said. “After studying the interviews and surveys, the stat guys discovered 20 percent of the teachers felt everything was great and morale was fine. They also found 60% of the teachers really did not care about morale one way or the other as long as they were left alone. It seems, the problem is coming from 20% of the teachers who left the meeting feeling Jesus short changed them.”

“How could they feel short changed after all the wonderful things Jesus had to say about them?” asked the cafeteria manager.

“Oh, they liked what he had to say,” Joseph replied, “but apparently, they didn’t like what he did after the message.”

“Good grief,” said the cafeteria manager, “he shook every teacher’s hand, posed for a picture with every teacher, and he even kissed each teacher on the cheek! What more could they want?”

“Apparently,” Joseph said, “to be kissed on both cheeks.”

“You’ve got to be kidding,” the farmer chuckled.

“Nope,” Joseph said shaking his head sadly, “20% of the teachers felt Jesus short changed them by not kissing them on both cheeks.”

“And, that is really what they are upset about?” asked the farmer.

Joseph didn’t really feel like smiling, but he did. “As unbelievable as it sounds, they are upset Jesus did not kiss them on both cheeks.”

The old farmer shook his head in disbelief, “Sounds like a bunch of turnips to me.”

“That’s much nicer than I would have put it,” said the cafeteria manager.

“Yep, sounds just like a truck load of turnips. 20% are delicious, 60% are not quite as delicious but not bitter either; mix them with the 20% delicious ones and they make a fine meal. But, that other 20% are bitter and rotten to the taste. They can spoil the whole truck load if you are not careful.”

“I think they did just that,” Joseph said and turned away, sorry for the mess he had caused by trying to do something nice. I won’t make that mistake twice he promised himself.

JL

©Jack Linton, May 3, 2015