Monday, February 16, 2015

Random Envy 3- If I were king......



I admit it. Sometimes I wish I were king. Not only that, but I would like to just appoint myself to that role. No messing with time-wasting and expensive elections that just cause bad feelings, with all that mudslinging and name-calling. Don’t worry – I won’t do anything crazy, like re-instating slavery or taking away women’s right to vote. I have considered abolishing trucks, SUVs, minivans and other gas-guzzlers - these are not fuel efficient and minivans are ugly. But, with low gas prices, who really cares? I have also considered doing away with all timeouts in football and basketball games – it would make everything speed up nicely, and eliminate so many commercials. And if we really MUST have a “red zone” in football, let’s just go ahead and spray that part of the field red. At this time, these are only considerations…

One day I will be king. The world is too intelligent a place not to notice that I would be great in that role.
The first thing I will do is a little housecleaning. I will prioritize the following:
-Change the spelling of the word “raspberry” to “razzberry”
-Ban all one-way streets
-Put a maximum occupancy limit on HEB
-Remove from the English language the word “brouhaha”
-Reserve the word “awesome” for only things that truly are (like the Grand Canyon, or spaghetti)
-Eliminate all wires and coat hangers (although I haven’t decided yet what I will replace coat hangers with)
-Do away with all laugh tracks on sitcoms (better yet, do away with all sitcoms)
-Reverse daylight savings (spring back, fall forward – that makes so much more sense anyway)
-Ban all ad-libbed vocal acrobatics used by singers performing the national anthem
-Eliminate all reality TV shows (which are actually scripted and thus are not real anyway)
-Eliminate all committees (they just obstruct getting anything done)

I also would have many changes to make for our fair city of Houston:
-Officially change the city name to Tokyo (because it is so huge), or Mecca (because everyone is coming here)
-Hang “no vacancy” signs beside Houston city limits signs while I’m at it
-Make it a felony to cut down a tree in Houston
-Remove all “Watch For Ice” signs on Houston bridges (they are only useful two days of the year and by the time they have been up all the other 363 days everyone ignores them when they are needed)
-For that matter, just ban all signs (they are ugly and only contribute to too many distractions and too much useless information)
-Limit the number of Mexican restaurants and car washes on Louetta Road to one each per mile
-And on the same street, reduce the size of the huge American flag at the Service First car center (it has caught 3 airplanes already)

I will also attempt to solve these dilemmas:
-If something is neither here nor there, where is it?
-How do you get under the weather?
-How do you get beside yourself?
-Why do we say chi-pot-le but not Brett Fav-re

I will keep these very few rules:
-Be respectful
-Be responsible
-Green = go; red = stop [no change, that’s a sensible rule]

That’s my platform, and I stand by it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


THE EDGE, or the Benefits of Bribery

Sometimes you just get desperate. I find myself on a Saturday morning at Champion Forest Gym – er, that would be Church, on one of their cavernous basketball courts (expecting the Houston Rockets to come out any minute as the music pounds away and the team introductions boom out). Our team trots onto the court, but all knees must be knocking, as they have been blown out of their first two games and I’m sure they have little confidence that they will fare better this time. Despite giving them another of my usual fiery pre-game pep talks as their assistant coach about how this time it will be different, their eyes have that glazed-over look like they’re just waking up and wondering how they got here.

I have little cash on me, but I will start with one player. My child. Bree is actually a sharp basketball player, who usually serves as point guard due to her dribbling skills and speed, and ability to drive the ball toward the goal. But she, like the others, is aware that her team is continuing its downward spiral that unfortunately lasted throughout the entirety of last season. Hey, don’t judge me! We’re not talking about deflated balls here, Tom Brady, just a little motivational incentive…On her softball team, I found that an occasional bribe worked well with Bree, until the team became so good and consistent that I simply had no need to pay her to perform.

But basketball is different, and this team is comprised of different girls, and this is a fresh morning. $5 per shot made. That’s my deal. When she is on court, I simply call her name out, and when she turns to look, I flash an open hand. She nods her head and goes to work. I do see intensity (and, wait a minute, could that be selfishness as she ignores her teammates’ cries to pass the ball, and stubbornly dribbles to the goal despite having players hanging all over her?). Yes, and look – she has made four points and her team is actually ahead! A few others are also hitting shots. Her teammate Paris is on fire, rebounding, stealing, and flaring across the court like a runaway train. She has made a few points too, and would probably have more if she could learn to actually slow down at the goal and shoot more carefully, with purpose, instead of simply flinging the ball in the direction of the hoop and hoping something happens as she sails by.

Despite our showing, it remains a defensive game, with neither team amassing many points. In fact, when the final buzzer goes off, the score is a mere 10-9. (Not a baseball score either.) Unfortunately, at the last period the opponents pulled ahead, and we are on the short end again. Bree still collects her cash, but at the table following the game, every face looks glum. The girls are dejected – so close, and still they couldn’t pull it off. I admit to one of the parents that I was paying for points. She merely laughed, remarking, “How do you think I got Paris to play so hard?” But despite our underhanded techniques, we still lost. That’s karma for you. (Or maybe the other team was receiving bribe money too.)

This gave me a wonderful idea. Instead of bringing post-game snacks, I will propose that we use the money for a bribe fund. Each family kicks in five bucks (7 x 5 = $35) and if the team wins each girl gets five. If we lose, the money is carried over for next week. Organized bribery. More systematic. Everyone wins. Imagine if we played this closely a game with only two girls bribed – what could happen with all seven? It would be just the edge we need. And with all the losses this year and last – these parents would gladly cough up a mere five dollars for a victory and an injection of pure self-esteem as a bonus.

Just a thought….