Ricky Bobby

Ricky Bobby
If you ain't first you're last

Monday, January 17, 2011

Experience vs. Education

Lewis Grizzard once wrote...."everything I needed to know, I learned in Kinder garten". I get that. I really do. And while I don't necessarily agree with that verbatim, I did learn a lot of valuable information as a youngster. Much more I had the misfortune to learn by experience later in life. There are two ways to learn something. Experience or Education.....as my Dad said, Education is what you get when you read the fine print, experience is what you get when you don't. Over the years, I've gathered 51 rules for better living. In the safe I have left a copy of that wisdom for each of my three children to read after I'm gone. My prayer is that they will know by heart, from wisdom imparted, each one of those rules before reading them. If so, my life as a Dad was a success.

It's fun to sit back sometimes and reflect on the learning opportunities of our lives. The richness of lessons learned and insight gained mostly due to a "failure to read the fine print". But here today, I'm mindful of a few truths I learned BEFORE I was ten years old. How about I reach back into the ole Treasure Chest and see what I can find.....

A hornet is faster than a John Deere tractor
..(bad news always travels faster than good...I somehow knew Grandpa was dead before anyone told me)

Sometimes the person spanking your butt loves you more than the one kissing your feet...(your Mom is the best friend you'll ever have. And fly swatters NEVER break)

Neither kids nor dogs get mean overnight.(There's some dark reason for either one....and somebody should probably be in jail for it.)

You can't unsay anything
.(I'm just not ready to tell this one yet)

Never corner something meaner than you. (Possums, Coons or Bantam Roosters)

Just because it can't be explained, don't mean it didn't happen. (Like Mike Rister riding a 20 inch wide minibike through a 15 inch space and never touching either side....or Roy falling off a log raft onto a gator and not getting bit....or even wet for that matter)

If you don't have a dog in the hunt, don't offer an opinion on the chase.(Don't tell Uncle Clyde to quit talking bad about Aunt Ruby)

You won't know the baddest dog in the pack till the bone hits the ground. He's seldom the one you'd think.(The day Ray Miller punched my sister in front of my Dad...knees elbows and firewood....until then I didn't know my Dad had it in him)

Zip up the screen door of the tent before you fall asleep. (Snakes, spiders and coon dogs like sleeping bags too.

Truck drivers have a lousy sense of humor.(You'll have to ask Donnie about this one)

Just 'cause a coon ain't moving don't mean he's dead...(again....ask Donnie)

God blessed me to grow up where I did, when I did, with who I did. Although many of my tales don't mean much to anyone who was not there when it happened....most did lead to a lifelong mental image with a life truth attached. I've often felt bad because my kids didn't enjoy a childhood like I did. While I was so intent of giving them (more) than I had, I really only succeeded in taking away some of the treasures of being a kid on a farm. The were always "given" so much, that they never had to "make" anything. In different ways everyone does this to their kids I think. Too bad huh? Another truth learned too late.

Spanish Bayonettes and Shark's Teeth.....

Everyone has that one friend who just cant stay off the sharp end of the stick. You know the guy, if someone is going to get cut, poked, punched or slapped.....its him.

My old friend Donnie called earlier this morning and reminded me of the guy that fit that bill from our early days...."Roy". He just seemed to always wind up at the bottom of the pile, top of the rock or under the ladder. He just had the "gift" you know. Here's to Roy...scars, broken bones and bandages.

In 1971, things were good. Roy, Donnie and I were all poor, but none of us knew it. Donnie had already lost his dad, Roy's would live for another 3-4 years, and mine was home drinking. We were busy being 10 year old boys; that in itself was a full time job. We each had a bicycle, and took great joy in being creative with them. Some weeks we would extend the forks and make choppers, sometimes we would strip them down and see how fast we could get them to go. One of those weeks, we were doing "time trials". We took turns riding down to the bridge and then come roaring back down the road seeing how fast we could make the cut across the limerock culvert and into the yard without wiping out. Let it be said its never a good idea to try to turn a bicycle too fast on a gravel road. Aunt Wilma took as much pride in her Spanish Bayonettes as we did in our bicycles. She had a patch of them 'bout the size of a large walk-in closet right next to the drive way...She would cut the bottoms off of egg cartons and make "flowers" out of them. That patch of bayonettes looked like a pink and white explosion. Come to think of it, looking back on the people who raised us, we were destined to turn out to be red-necks. Styrofoam egg carton flowers...only in Perry, Florida..Anyway, now its Roy's turn to burn rubber and here he comes....screeching off the road and hits the gravel on the driveway. Over, and Over that bicycle rolled right behind Roy. Eventually that bike settled down right on top of Roy......right up in the middle of that Spanish Bayonette garden. He was screaming and squirming "Help Me" he said, "NO" I said, "Help Me" he cried, "NO" said I, "Help Me Please" he whimpered, "NO WAY" I snickered, and everytime he moved, another bayonette would puncture his butt. No way was I going to go in there....that was one fix he had to work his own way out of. We were eventually able to patch up both of those flat bicycle tires, but Roy's wounds could only heal with time. He stayed thirsty for a week, cause everytime he took a drink, he sprinkled water.

Like I said, Roy was always in the wrong spot at just the right time. He was resilient though. I know good and dadburned well he regrew teeth like a shark....cause I knocked out two sets of 'em myself. Once with a baseball bat, and once with a right cross. Boys are like that you know...punching out one another's teeth in the morning and buddy buddy by noon. They just don't teach that class to girls for some reason. I guess it was OK for me to punch Roy or Donnie, but no one else had that right. Like my sisters were with me....they loved to whip up on me, but heaven help any other poor soul to take a swing. Theose gals would swarm on him like flies on a mule's butt. It was always fun to get Angie riled up and then run....I could out run her, but she was just fast enough to catch Roy....and I knew it.

Old Roy offended a big ole red-neck boys at the school dance one night. Donnie and I should have known at the time that a fight was unavoidable, but we just weren't going to let it happen. That ole boy wanted to fight, but he didn't want all three of us. We told him he could order french fries if he wanted.....but he was gonna get everything on the menu. Anyway, that whole deal dragged out for a couple of weeks with the ole red-neck boy slinging insults from afar every time he saw Roy. One Saturday Night Roy just had enough....we pulled into the McDonalds Parking lot, and Roy walked into the brush with that old boy and they had at it. Grunt, oofff, punch, smack.....OWWWWWW! GET HIM OFF ME SOMEBODY!!!! I'd like to say Roy won that fight, but I can only say he gave as good as he got. Neither one of those boys looked like Sugar Ray. Roy came out of it with a great big ole shiner. Don't ever let anybody tell you a steak will take the swelling out of a black eye. We pooled what little money the three of us could come up with and bought one at the grocery store....big waste of a good cut of meat. There was nothing to do, but keep him out as late as possible and drop him off at home after Aunt Wilma went to bed. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall at that house for breakfast the next day.

There were many more tight spots, and more creative solutions....but those will have to wait for another day. As long as Roy's alive, I will invest my money in Band-Aids.