There are times when we may think we are the center of the universe. We place an enormous sense of importance in our work and words. Every once in a while it is good to have a healthy dose of humility. This YouTube video produced by IBM is a lesson in human perspective and our place in this wonderful Cosmos.
La Flor, who’s on again with Little Carmen, had the stray puppy follow her throughout one of San Antonio’s outdoor mecca shopping malls. Little Carmen had to enthusiastically like everything La Flor liked. He was the designated bag carrier. And, according to her set of ground rules he signed, he can’t complain. He only can flirt with her.
As for me, I found an Italian trattoria, had a very tasty leisurely lunch, and after lunch, I did this and that, which I will not divulge because La Flor reads these blogs and counts the number of times she is mentioned. If I divulge this and that, she will know this and that and I will have no getaway places. If La Flor does not have the highest name mentioned count, all hell breaks loose, the bleep hits the fan, and the familiar saying, ‘You haven’t heard the last of this’ is repeatedly repeated.
I returned home around three thirty. I walked into the living room and froze. I wasn’t ready for what I saw. La Flor and Little Carmen sat in swivel chairs, about a foot and half apart. That’s not what stopped me.
They are staring at a camera on a tripod. Operating the camera is Thompson Thomas. He’s the Dr. Phil alt ego who looks like a pencil, receding hairline, has a high-pitched voice. It wasn’t always high pitched. It started sometime after Little Carmen found out he was gaga over La Flor. Little Carmen persuaded him, after a bit of twisting and turning and his voice rising with each twist to let go of his fixation on La Flor. I found this unusual, but not out of the ordinary as far as La Flor is concerned.
I looked at La Flor, frozen in my tracks and said, “What are you doing in a sports bra and bikini bottom? Do you have a sand volleyball game in your future? And, what is Little Carmen doing bare-chested in a bathing suit next to you? He looks like a wooly mammoth.”
“Is that a good look?” asked Little Carmen.
La Flor nodded her head, and said, “We are so adorable and cute, right, Ray?”
“Remember, this is a family blog,” I said.
“We belong on TV. I have a new career and LC is going to the top with me.”
“That’s right, Ray-mo. The beautiful, tough, and edgy sportscaster said, I’m a hanger-goner.”
“You called Little Carmen a hanger-goner?”
“That’s right, Ray. I have high standards. He misses making one compliment to me, he’s a goner.”
“I got to agree with the beautiful, tough, and edgy sportscaster. How’d I do?”
“I gots to learn, Spanish,” said Little Carmen.
“How many TV sportscasters look as good as LC and me? Don’t answer. The answer is obvious. Zero, zero, zero,” La Flor said, making a zero with the thumb and forefinger of each hand, then looking at Little Carmen until he made the third zero.
“How is this going to happen? How will you be discovered?” I said.
“We will be discovered. TT is filming our demo. He’s going to send it to all his contacts. Dr. Phil for one. Dr. Oz for two. And, he knows Bobby Filet. He quit Dr. Phil to work exclusively with us.”
“I think it’s Bobby Flay.”
“No, it’s Filet,” she said.
“I turned to TT, “You did?”
“Uh huh. La Flor promised to set me up with one of her hot girlfriends. She only has hot girlfriends.”
“Let it go, Ray. TT you ready to record our demo?” said La Flor.
“Yes, beautiful, tough, and edgy sportscaster,” said the soprano voiced TT.
“TT not to worry about the voice, it returns to normal in a day or three,” said Little Carmen.
“Thanks, LC. Ready, three, two, one, action,” squeaked TT.
“Welcome to the world’s hottest and cutest sportscasters,” said La Flor.
“Yah, welcome. Check out how beautiful the beautiful, tough, and edgy sportscaster looks today. Can I say you looks more beautiful than you did ten minutes ago?”
La Flor does a half turn, gives Little Carmen a big smile, “You may.”
“You looks more beautiful than you did ten minutes ago.”
La Flor turns back toward the camera, “Here is breaking sports news.”
“Yes, breaking news,” said Little Carmen.
“I am going to the spa tomorrow and getting a seaweed wrap, facial, and massage.”
“That’s terrific beautiful, tough, and edgy sportscaster. Can I gives some breaking news?”
“We only have time for one quick item, LC. Make it a good one.”
“Okay. Breaking news. Tonight’s special at Carmen’s Pizzeria is a double topping of Uncle Gino’s homemade sausage. Use gets a large for eighteen ninety-five and if use says LC sent use, use gets it for five ninety-five.”
“What do you think, Ray? Awesome, right? We’ll probably be leaving here as soon as the sports networks see the demo.”
“You going to take TT with you?”
“Please take me,” squeaked TT.
An irony of life is that often it is in our brokenness where we discover life’s goodness. It is as if our suffering becomes a teacher of life’s great lessons. In the following YouTube video, a soldier suffering from PTSD and a service dog come together to tell a beautiful story.
Twenty-four hours later, the max for La Flor’s attention span. I can forget about her wanting to use the blog for whistleblowing. Besides, who’s she going to blow the whistle on, Dr. Phil’s alt ego? Her mystery writer friend? Big Carmen? I decided to write a reflection on the meaning of life. . . .
“Ray, Ray, Ray! You promised I could be the whistleblower today. You promised. You promised. You know what happens to people when they break their promises to me?”
“I won’t let you forget it, ever. I mean longer than ever. I mean I will remind you when you wake up. I will remind you every five minutes. I will remind you when you go to bed. I will keep saying it over and over while you sleep.”
“Won’t you get tired of reminding me?” I asked.
The beautiful, tough, and edgy whistleblower knows how to get her way. I said, “It’s all yours, La Flor. Try not to make it too long. WordPress has a thing against long whistleblowing blogs.” Okay, I admit I wasn’t telling the truth about WordPress. Don’t tell her, por favor. I’m only trying to help you.
La Flor sat in front of the laptop. She said, “I’m all over this like perfect eyebrows on me. Like perfect pouty lips on me. Like the way I fit into the edgiest of clothes.”
“I get the point,” I said. I began to silently pray.
“Will I bother you if I speak aloud while I’m writing? It helps my creative spirit.”
“What you’re writing is all true? You’re not creating anything, are you?” I asked. A bit timidity in my voice.
“Every word. Make sure all the doors and windows are locked. Turn your smartphone off. I want no interruptions, especially from you know who.”
“Your mystery writer friend? Dr. Phil’s alt ego?”
“No. No. No. LC.”
La Flor turned her attention to the blog. She began writing her whistleblower piece, “Your so vain, LC. You probably think this post is about you. Don’t you. Don’t You. Well, I hear you went to Vegas. You played craps and naturally, won. Then you flew up to Chicago to see how deep dish pizza is done. Then, you strolled into my party like you’re walking on air. You had one eye on your smartphone, the other on the girls wanting to be your partner. Your so vain, LC. You probably think this post is about you. Don’t you. Don’t you.”
“Stop. Stop. You’re plagiarizing,” I shouted.
La Flor turned to me, “No, I’m not. I got permission from Carly Simon’s alt ego after I told her all about LC flirting with two of my competitors. I’m blowing the whistle on that two timing, sweet talking, hunk of muscle, and all man.”
“It sounds like you’re talking your way back to him,” I said.
“Only after he crawls back to me on all fours and begs me to take him back,” said La Flor.
“Then you’ll take him back?” I asked.
“No, I just want him to crawl back. Besides, I’ve got another guy.”
“You do? Who is he? Where did you meet him?” I asked.
“I don’t have trouble getting guys. They’re always hitting on me. It’s a curse I have to live with since I’m beautiful, tough, and edgy.”
“Somebody has to do it,” I said.
“I decided to go with brains over looks and muscle.”
“You’re using him, right?” I said.
“How did you know?” asked La Flor.
“Just a feeling. Do you think it’s fair?” I asked.
“Yes. Next question,” said La Flor getting ready to hit the publish button.
“Do you think Little Carmen will be jealous?”
“That’s the point, Ray. What planet do you live on?”
“Will Little Carmen confront your new faux boyfriend?” I said, think La Flor’s game might be dangerous for the unwitting guy who fell for her.
“All I can do is hope.”
“Survival of the fittest, Ray.”
“Is it Dr. Phil’s script writer? The skinny, geeky looking guy who’s very shy?”
“Perfect choice, don’t you think? You forgot to mention, receding hairline, and has the shape of a pencil.”
“A lamb being led to the slaughter,” I said.
“I like to think of it as the most meaningful thing he’ll ever do in his life.”
“La Flor don’t hit the publish button.”
I’ve always liked sports. I enjoyed the competition, comradery, and the discipline participation taught me. The athletes who participate in sporting events often offer great metaphors for us. In the following YouTube video, the athlete could have easily quit, no one would have noticed except her teammates. She could have given less than full effort. Instead, her 110% effort becomes our metaphor to never quit, no matter how dire the circumstances. The only time failure is certain is when we quit. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Give it all you’ve got.
I’m putting the finishing touches on my blog. I’m quite taken with my brilliance. My ability to twist facts into fiction. My complete understanding of human nature and its nuances, until . . .
“Ray! Ray! Ray!” The voice. The blaring, unceasing tonal demand. The refusal to take no for an answer. To cop a phrase, “She’s more beautiful than a runway model. She’s tougher than a tank of barracudas. She’s edgy enough to pull off any look. It’s La Flor.
“What’s up?” La Flor. I said softly and calmly. I watched a PBS special where I learned speaking softly and calmly works wonders on others.
“Whatever you’re doing, stop. Stop! Stop!” she shouted. So much for soft and quiet.
“Do you mean what am I doing now? Or, do you mean what was I doing?” I’m learning with La Flor. I want to get this right. If I don’t, we’ll carry on for four or five paragraphs.
“Tell me it’s not too late. See, I used too correctly. Please, tell me I’m not too late,” La Flor is pleading with me.
“Too late for what? Dinner? Coffee? Desert? Your favorite reality show? Give me a little help,” I said.
“If only LC were here. He would have reached you on time. I can’t run as fast as LC when I’m wearing stilettos.”
I looked at her feet, “Nice stilettos, how much they set you back?”
“Nothing, I used your card.”
“How much did it set me back?” I asked.
“Not as much as my earrings. Like them,” she said placing her palms behind her ears and pushing the lobs a bit forward.
“Tell me they’re zirconium.”
“Seriously, do you think La Flor is going to wear zirconium?”
Opps, back to speaking in the third person. What am I going to do? Get upset over it. Not a chance. I’ll report the card stolen, I thought.
“And, don’t you dare report the card stolen or lost,” she said.
What is she a mind reader?
“I’m listening to mind reading podcasts, and it seems to be working.”
I needed to change the topic, “Is this an emergency?” I asked.
“Of the first, second, and third order. Maybe the fourth, fifth and sixth orders. Maybe a takeout order,” she said.
Remember, I’m a sensitive guy. At least in my own mind. “Sit down La Flor. I’ll get you a glass of water.”
“Something stronger, por favor.”
“What I would give for a sensitive male,” she hollered.
“That’s me,” I said.
“Get real,” La Flor answered.
What choice did I have? I brought La Flor a glass of white wine and handed it to her. She took a sip. “Where did you buy this? What did you pay, a dollar seventy-five?”
“Hold on. It was on sale for three ninety-eight.”
She set the wine glass down, reached into her expensive leather, made in Italy, handbag, pulled out a tin of breath mints and took at least a half dozen out and chewed them as if she hadn’t tasted food for six weeks. “I’ll never lose the taste. If you ruined my wine tasting buds, I’ll, I’ll ….”
I finished her sentence, “Tell Ray about the emergency.”
Fortunately, La Flor’s attention span is a tad better than mine, that’s not saying much. She said, “Did you publish the blog?”
“As soon as we’re done I’m going to publish it.”
“I’m in time. Hold it. Keep it in draft. Save it for a slow day. Give it away.”
“I’m turning whistleblower,” she said.
“Whistleblower?” I am happy Little Carmen has to deliver pizzas today. I can only imagine what he would have done with the word whistleblower.
“I’m going to tear down walls. I going to bring the big shots down. I’m going to be famous. Maybe I’ll win a Pulitzer Piñata.”
I knew it was too good to last. The doorbell rang.
“Get it, Ray. It’ll be LC. I asked him to bring me an iced skinny latte while on his pizza deliveries.”
I didn’t have to answer the door. “Hey use guys, I gots your skinny, ninny, latte beautiful, tough, and edgy make me drool all over myself. BT, I can never remember the last letter. Anyways, I made this pie all by myself except for the dough, sauce, cheese, and toppings. Oh, I think it was S.”
“S? No, it’s W,” I said.
“What’s W?” a confused Little Carmen said.
“A letter. BTW, we didn’t order a pizza,” I said.
“It’s okay. It’s already paid for. The guy paid by credit card. I think use got it wrong, Ray-Mo. It’s BTS.”
“He won’t get his pizza,” I said.
“Not if he wants this one,” Little Carmen laughed.
La Flor stared at Little Carmen with a cross between a sense of awe and awful. I couldn’t quite make it out. She said, “Come over here and keep me company LC. Don’t talk while I’m talking. Did you know Ray gave me cheap wine?”
Little Carmen had a look of horror on his face, “Ray-mo. Cheap wine. You gotta nerve.”
La Flor put her forefinger to Little Carmen’s lips, “That’s enough, have a piece of pie and play with your smartphone. Ray, where was I?”
I wanted to say ‘the fourth level of insanity but didn’t. “So,” I said, “You are going to be a whistleblower.”
“Is that like those guys with the striped shirts at the football games?” said Little Carmen.
“Sorry, beautiful, tough, and edgy whistleblower.”
Come back tomorrow for the whistleblower’s story.
How many times have you felt like giving up? The dream, which once grabbed hold of your heart, lost its pull on you and faded away like the morning dew. Hold on to the dream. Hold it tight with both hands. Hold it so tight that even the jaws of life couldn’t pry it loose from you. The following YouTube video illustrates how never quitting, never giving up, and giving it our best every second turns a seeming defeat into triumph.