Not long ago, a group of teens traveled to the Smoky Mountains for a retreat. While they were lounging in the cabin, the boys in the group noticed an unusual item is one of the bathrooms. A bidet sat prominently in the room, and the boys were quickly fascinated with its operations. They pronounced the name of the things as “BO-DAY.”  Before long, the chaperones locked the bathroom and refused to allow the boys to continue playing with the thing and making up stories about it. This story is just another example of the goofy stunts boys pull.

Many times, a group of boys decides the time is right for a camping trip. Most of the journeys take the gang to the backyard of one of its members. In the country, the trip might be much farther from the house. They set up tents, collect wood for a fire (hoping that they can actually get the stuff to burn), and spend some time laughing at jokes or telling ghost stories. These guys like nothing better than catching a participant asleep. Shaving cream is placed in the unconscious boy’s hand and tickles with a weed or feather are administered to his nose. With any luck, the sleeping boy will take his hand to rub his nose, thereby smearing his face with said shaving cream. If the trick works, the rest of the crew drops to the ground in stomach-aching laughter.  

For some unknown reason, boys are hell-bent on daring each other to do ridiculous things. A foul odor emitted from rotten source always inspires young males to offer dares. One of them will eventually stick his nose to the fouls stuff and inhale deeply. At other times, the dare to eat something that is spoiled or disgusting is proffered. Again, one in the crowd steps forward and ingest the nasty item. Heroic stature is assigned if the boy can swallow the stuff and manage to not throw up.

Older boys make dares that are more perilous. They urge friends to see how fast the cars they drive will go. Sometimes they push drivers to “burn the tires.” Of course, that can lead to a loss of control so that a vehicle fishtails and runs off the road and into a ditch. Back in the day, boys gathered late into the night at the one red light in Karns. There, they took both sides of the road, and when the light changed from red to green, they punched the gas and raced to the community center building, a quarter of a mile down the road.

Drinking alcohol is another area where boys commit boneheaded acts. So many times, a
male’s first drink comes amidst a dare just to taste the stuff. Next comes the chugging game, and before a guy knows it, he’s commode-hugging drunk. On occasion, a boy is suckered into a drinking game where he consumes too much alcohol. The resulting spinning room, dry heaves, and hangover come thanks to his daring band of friends.

Some boys are fascinated with stunts involving personal acts. How unbelievably dumb is it for a boy to have someone strike a match and hold it toward his behind as he passes gas? Ooh’s and aah’s and wows follow as a blowtorch flame appears. Never mind the possibilities that the flame might run the other
way. Or what about the old knife game called “chicken.” One person throws a pocketknife into the ground as close to another’s foot as possible without stabbing it. The loser is the boy who hits his competitor’s shoe. Actually, the one with the knife sticking in his foot is the loser.

Boys just don’t have the brain development to make rational decisions. Perhaps the first flows of testosterone drown reason in younger males. At any rate, part of the rites of passage for males is committing a handful of dumb stunts. With luck, those boys survive the acts to become adults who have more ability to think reasonably. At least we can hope that is the case. 

Less is Enough

Most mornings, I crawl out of bed and walk to my closet. Once the door is opened, I stare at a long line of shirts and several pairs of pants and try to decide which of them I will wear for that day.
Sometimes, the process is much like choosing a show on television to watch. Plenty of options are available, but not a single one is appealing. I long for earlier times when making a wardrobe decision wasn’t a problem.

When Jim and I were boys, we received new clothes once a year. Mother dragged us downtown to the department stores. These new duds were for school...period. Each of us received a couple of pairs of jeans and a couple of shirts.

At home, we had our old clothes. We played in them and worked in them. New items were tucked away for other times. The knees of some jeans were threadbare. I never understood exactly how that happened, but I’d look down and my knee would be trying to escape from the hole that was forming. Mother would at some point take the jeans to her sewing machine. There she applied a patch, much like something that is placed on a flat tire. The quick fix gave those jeans a few more weeks of life. I hated patches because they always scratched my skin or stuck to it like glue.

Mother was an ace seamstress. She sewed for several women before taking a job as a teacher full time. She would sit at her machine and in no time put together shirts for Jim and me to wear. They outlasted any store-bought item and were just as nice looking. At that young age, however, we preferred shirts with tags on the collars. The last thing we wanted was to be different, a damnable curse to children.

The point is that all of our clothes fit in the three or four drawers and on the small rod of a chifforobe. That included underwear and socks too. We needed no more than that, and our parents couldn’t afford to buy too many things in addition to the few shirts and jeans that we had.

Now, I have a dozen pairs of dress pants. In fact, for some colors, I have two pairs. In addition, I have three or four pairs of jeans. On the long rod in my walk-in closet, I have as many as 25 shirts. Some are long-sleeved; others are short-sleeved. Others are tucked away in a drawer, and so are half a dozen sweaters. I waste time too much time looking for something to wear for the day.

In the hall closet hang too many jackets and coats. I own two or three winter coats and a bunch of jackets for cool weather. Some of them are worn once a year; the rest of the time they take up space. Hanging with them are three suits and two sports coats. They come out for funerals and rare formal occasions.

My wife says that many of my clothing items are out of style. I reply that they are comfortable and have plenty of life left. The truth is that I hate shopping for clothes. My happiest days were spent at Toyota of Knoxville. I had a uniform to wear. No one raised an eyebrow when I walked in wearing the same type of shirt and pants each day. No decisions were made: I reached in the closet and pulled out one of the uniforms. Dressing could have been done in the dark.

One of these days, I’m going to rid myself of all but a few clothing items. The rest will be delivered to second-hand store. Others can take my discarded clothes and get much more enjoyment out of them. I will once again enjoy the day when less is enough. My time won’t be spent on such trivial matters as choosing what to wear.


At some point in this country’s existence, things turned upside down. Black became white, up became down, and lies became alternative truths. The last one listed is something with which all of us have lived and in which we have participated during our lifetimes.  

Most of us grew up in households where lying was a major offense by a child. Moms and dads taught us to tell the truth at all times. Some children learned that the road to hell was paved with lies by young folks. In short, we were scared to death to tell a lie and shivered with fear if we were caught doing so.

If a child told a whopper and then was caught by his parents, the punishments were horrific. Sometimes, a parent would reward a lie by administering a spanking. The entire time that the child ran in a circle to avoid the swats to his fanny, he was regretting the way he distorted the truth. The pain from the spanking paled in comparison to the little one’s embarrassment over having lied or having lost his parent’s trust.

On some occasions, moms decided to clean up the lying mouths of their offspring. They marched the offenders to the bathroom and stationed them by the sink. Washrags were
soaked with water, and then Dial soap was lathered to the surfaces. With rags filled with suds, moms demanded their children to open their mouths, and they proceeded to wash teeth, gums, and tongues in symbolic gestures of removing the untruths from the mouths of babes. The after-taste often was enough to set tiny stomachs on edge to the point of throwing up. It also stopped the lying, at least until the memory of the terrible taste subsided.

Another punishment for being less than truthful was grounding. A convicted liar was confined to his room or to the house for an extended period of time. During that entire time of imprisonment, tensions ran high; children were angry for being stuck at home without friends, television, radio, or computers; parents were miserable as they endured the whining and fit throwing by their children. The hope was that young people would think twice before lying so that they could return to their lives and spare parents of any more agony.

Perhaps the worst punishment for lying was the parental lecture. A guilty child was summoned before his parents and quizzed about his reasons for lying. After a half dozen statements of “I don’t know,” mom and dad tag-teamed and talked to the young person. Preaching might have been a better term for what took place, and invariably, at some point in this long-winded speech came the most dreaded line of all: “We are disappointed in you.” The offender had no comeback for it, and parents never let him know when and if the disappointment ended. A quick beating was preferable to the lecture because although it hurt, the whole matter was over and done in short order.

Most of us learned our lessons about lying, not that we stopped doing it, but we did a better job of not getting caught. However, some folks never have gotten the hang of lying. They continue to tell outrageous tales and profess that those fabrications are true.

 Folks in the government are most proficient in lying. Politicians peddle loads of them to constituents without blinking an eye. The most infuriating thing is they think all of us believe the lies they tell. The truth is that some of us actually have working minds that have built-in “BS” detectors; we recognize when a person is shoveling loads of it in an attempt to pervert the truth.

Lying sometimes is acceptable, such as when doing so spares another’s feelings. The majority of the time, however, fibs aren’t necessary. The truth serves us better in the long run. Everyone, especially our leaders, should work to end the intentionally false statements that are presented as gospel. It’s just not worthwhile in the long run.