Sticks and Stones

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Am I the only one who thinks that is a load of male bovine fecal matter? I’m a writer so I know words have power. An atomic bomb can level a city. The right words can destroy a country. Don’t believe me? Ask Czar Nicholas what he thinks of Lenin. It is a great and powerful thing to write the right words.

Dickens said so much with: “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.” Sydney Carton’s testimony at the end of A Tale of Two Cities has a meaning that goes beyond the ink and paper. It is a concept that even the most wasted life can have redemption and the most bloody of revolutions can result in the birth of a society.

Tolstoy shared a powerful thought when he wrote: “It’s much better to do good in a way that no one knows anything about it.”  It has a Gospel-esce sense about it. Whereas, Cervantes has a more cynical view when he allows Don Quixote to say, “I have always heard, Sancho, that doing good to base fellows is like throwing water into the sea.” Perhaps the two quotes feed one another. Keep your good deeds to yourself, if not for the sake of humility, for the sake of your reputation as an intelligent person. For the record, I disagree with Miguel’s thought.

Steinbeck showed some introspection when he wrote: “I wonder how many people I’ve looked at all my life and never seen.” That line made me consider how many people I have missed in my discontented winters. I know I have missed out on many people who could have made impacts on my life in ways that I cannot fathom.

Perhaps the most amazing words for me come from Douglas Adams. In the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, his words say, “The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.” I have no idea if it has a metaphysical, mystical, masonic meaning. I simply find it hilarious. Sometimes people need to turn off their brains and laugh at utter silliness.

Sticks and stones can break bones, but words can change the world… or at least they change my world.

A Quest for Lasers

Hello. My name is Doug, and I like to shoot people. It is all about the thrill of hiding in the dark and blasting away at people as they come around the corner. The sound of their voice as they realize they’ve been shot is a joy like no other. When you add the sound of their vest beeping, it is hilarious. I’m talking about laser tag. I may write about serial killers, but I’m not one in real life no matter what my browser history looks like. Laser tag takes care of the voices in my head that want me to shoot people.

I’m just kidding about the voices. They don’t tell me to kill people in the real world. The characters in my books, sure. But they never talk about real people in case any law enforcement officers are reading this.

I know what you’re thinking. “He’s in his 40s and still likes to play laser tag with kids younger than his kids? What’s wrong with him?” Allow me to explain with a true story. My oldest son, when he was about nine, turned to me and asked, “Dad, why do I act older than you do?” The question had been asked before by many others but it was usually phrased differently: “Why don’t you grow up?” When your nine-year-old asks why you act younger than he does, it can only mean one thing: You’ve got it right! I replied, “Because I know the secret of having fun and not growing up.” He shook his head in confusion. He’s now twenty-four and has become more childlike since he discovered beer.

But back to the whole shooting people thing. I enjoy the thrill of the hunt, the hide-and-seek with lasers, the maniacal laughter emanating from deep within my soul. It seems maniacal laughter is not appropriate in most other venues or that’s what the pastor keeps telling me after church. The people in the cereal aisle at Publix also look at you funny when you laugh like Count Chocula. Go figure.

There are some things that are simply fun without any pomp and circumstance. Laser tag is so much fun it’s almost two of them. Although when I am ranked number one in the group, I do admit to some pompousness at that circumstance. Who cares that I just shot dozens of kids who only wanted to have fun? What difference does it make that I was a merciless sniper shooting hapless victims?

On an unrelated topic, I have a new idea for the villain in my next novel. It’s about a man who confuses reality with fantasy while playing laser tag.

Do you ever….

  • Do you ever skip the gym and just walk up the down escalator at the mall so you can meet new people?
  • Do you ever go through the drive-thru at McDonalds in reverse just so your passenger has to pay?
  • Do you ever walk around Walmart with an open umbrella, cowboy boots, and a speedo while asking where the beef jerky section is?
  • Do you ever go to the grocery store and complain to the manager that their underwear selection is limited and you plan on taking your business elsewhere?
  • Do you ever just go and sit in a port-a-john, waiting for someone to open the door so you can ask if they have any Grey Poupon?
  • Do you ever answer your phone: “Thank you for calling the pedophile self-registration hotline. Please stand by while your phone number is added to the sex offender database in your area.”? (My bother hates it when I answer like that.)
  • Do you ever go to electronics stores to stare at the televisions that are turned off and then complain to the helpful salesperson that there’s nothing good on T.V.?
  • Do you ever pay your rent/mortgage in pennies?
  • Do you ever introduce your guest at a party as a “former world record holding adult film star”?
  •  Do you ever ask your neighbors if they heard the police breaking down your other neighbor’s door last night at 3:00am? Then it’s fun to go to the other neighbor and ask them the same thing about the first one.
  • Do you ever feel the uncontrollable urge to wear a tuxedo to the aquarium and waddle around claiming to be “god of the penguins”?

Or am I the only one who does that?