If you're a mayor, you're used to taking the heat, of course, but not the flames. Several years ago there was a story that was pretty amazing. It came from Newark, N. J. where Cory Booker was Mayor, and what he did to save his next door neighbor.
Wow! Talk about so near and yet so far. Poor Desmond Bishop. He missed what could have been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go to the White House and meet the President of the United States! Actually it was a few years ago.
Sometimes when our son comes to visit, he comes with a box of doughnuts under his arm. Just what we need! Now these are not just any doughnuts. They're from a doughnut chain that has become very popular in America. I don't do ads, so you'll have to figure it out. But we were driving with our son through a tourist community a while back, and he suddenly exclaimed, "The hot light is on!" I thought my car was overheating. Nope! It was good news. He meant that the light in the window of this doughnut store was on, which is their signal that a hot batch of their delicious doughnuts has just come out of the oven. And I have to tell you, when you get them fresh like that, oh, can you say "irresistible"? Did I just make you hungry?
When people ask me why I'm not going on some roller coaster that goes upside down and around and around at something like 200 miles per hour, I don't want to just tell them I'm chicken. So, I tell them I'm not tall enough. You know that picture they have of a little person? They have them at the entrance to rides that are a little more challenging. You're supposed to stand next to it, and if you're not as big as that person that they've drawn, you're not allowed on that ride. I've got grandsons, on the other hand, who would love to get on some of those rides. They don't have the wisdom of my years. They don't have the well-developed survival instincts that I have, but for a long time they weren't allowed on the ride. They just didn't measure up.
I guess you could call it a "tale of two cities." It was during the Civil War. The Confederate Army had again invaded the North. The Confederate General came to Hagerstown, Maryland, and he threatened to burn the town unless they came up with a $20,000 ransom. A local businessman rallied the townspeople and he collected the ransom. Hagerstown was spared. Then the Confederate forces moved up to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and they made the same demand. Those folks didn't come up with the ransom. Chambersburg was burned to the ground.
Hans Christian Andersen wrote this little fable, The Emperor's New Clothes. And when he did, he was displaying some keen insight into human nature. The Emperor in the story was a vain man, whose main focus in life was to dress in these elegant clothes and show them off to his people. Two scoundrels exploited that vanity by offering to make for the Emperor an extraordinary garment made from cloth so light and so fine that it looked invisible - invisible, that was, to anyone too stupid or incompetent to appreciate its quality. Which none of his officials wanted to be, for fear of losing their position. So they simply expressed admiration for the garment that didn't really exist. Even the Emperor had to fake his response to the garment lest he appear stupid and incompetent, right? So at that point, the scoundrels convinced the Emperor to appear before his subjects, wearing only his magnificent new clothes. And, of course, the crowd cheered for the clothes that weren't there. Who wants to be stupid, right? Until a little child did what little children do: tell it like it really is. He just went up to the royal carriage and blurted, "The Emperor is naked."
It was an incredible moment when our second grandchild was born. My wife and I actually got to be in the birthing room only minutes after his arrival. There was that fragile, precious little handful of baby boy, and then across the room was that amazing life-support system they call the placenta. I couldn't help but flash back to the birth of our youngest child. His delivery was the first one I was allowed by the hospital to be there for. (That was in the very old days, you know.) And I'll never forget our obstetrician's comment immediately after the baby and the placenta had come. He looked at me and he said, after having had this experience hundreds of times, "This is the greatest miracle known to man."
They call them the chain gang. They wear stripes, but they're not prison inmates. They're football officials, and they carry this chain that measures whether or not a team has made a first down. Now not everyone is a football fan, so let me explain this. A team has four tries to move the ball ten yards. If they succeed, they get a "first down" and they get four more plays. If they fail, they have to turn the ball over to the other team at that point on the field. Many times it's impossible to tell with the naked eye if the ball has made it those ten yards, because it's very close. So they call out the chain gang. They come trotting out, they extend the chain to its full length, and then they set it down. If it extends beyond the ball, the team falls short. If it falls short, the team has succeeded. And as many who have played or watched football know, winning or losing a game can, like in moments like these, literally be a matter of inches no matter how far you've brought the ball.
Okay, you book your airline flights in advance to get the best possible fare. The only problem is occasionally something will change and I can't use that ticket. They'll let me use it later, but sometimes I wish I could give it to one of our staff or a family member to use toward a trip they're taking. No can do. No, see, that ticket has my name on it. The person using it has to prove with photo I. D. that they are me because that's the rules. Only I can go on my ticket.
When teenage boys come in the door from school, they have one thing on their mind, "What's for dinner?" Of course, they've been building up to this moment since shortly after lunch that day. Certain answers will, of course, make them happier than others. For one, I dreaded hearing my mother say, "We're having a casserole." I'm not sure why, but casseroles just didn't do it for me. But for our boys, and for many boys and girls of all ages, all over the world, there is an answer that no one wants to hear when they ask, "What's for dinner?" Answer: "Leftovers."