Food for Thought-Uncertain Descriptions of Grandeur

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Taken past the place,
Where words merit,
You stand before me,
Now the speculation of my verbal intent,
Has been clearly called,
What do I hold?
My uncertain descriptions of grandeur,
Begin to blunder outward,
In aimless migrations,
Around the blossoming edges,
I gaze inward,
While you see beyond,
Me.

–Richard Bryant

Food for Thought-Delmont’s Clinically Depressed

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Delmont walked into the bar, three sheets to the nonexistent wind. With no low pressure front in sight, Delmont’s drunkenness was the only metaphorical breeze in town. The air conditioning died three weeks ago and it was hotter than a goat’s butt in a pepper patch. Vernon, the manager of the bar, kept leaving messages for the repair man who lived on the other side of the sound. Despite the fact the woman who works down at the ferry office saw the a/c guy’s obituary in the paper a week ago; Vernon kept calling and leaving increasingly irate messages for a dead man.

Delmont was already good and pickled, marinated in brine and sweat and bourbon and tears; thanks in part to some liquor store gift certificates which subsidized his emotional breakdown. Delmont was also depressed. Before the effects of the cheap bourbon slammed into his central nervous system, he was, according the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (IV) suffering from the stressful events and life changes characteristic of a major depressive episode.

Delmont’s major depressive episode began three days earlier. Memorial Day weekend was meant to be a family occasion. He ran the drop cord from the window to the front yard. Delmont set up the camp stove and the little television so they could watch Judge Judy while he cooked. Amid the smell of decaying crustacean flesh caused by boiling shrimp for a few minutes, Delmont’s second cousin (and third wife) informed him she was leaving.

Delmont's Home

Delmont’s Something or Other

“It’s over, I done met somebody else,” Harmony announced.

Delmont didn’t understand, “What kind of woman tells a man she’s leaving when he’s in the middle of cooking shrimp? I’m still going to want to eat after you leave; you don’t want me to ruin this very delicate process. “

Delmont’s shrimp contained a high concentration of sugars. If heat is applied, even a tiny amount, the amino acids and sugars in the shrimp do a chemical dance which produces fine tasting food. Delmont didn’t know the science, per se, only that you shouldn’t over cook the shrimp. When they to turn from transparent to opaque, it’s time to move. Delmont soon forgot about the shrimp.

“You ain’t listening, Delmont. I met someone else,” she said. “This ain’t about the shrimp.”

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An example of Glenn’s Work

Delmont was in denial. Harmony claimed to have met a traveling art salesman who worked the hotel circuit. She said this happened sometime after Easter. He specialized in selling portraits of mischievous cherubs and adorable kittens to resort hotels. Delmont hadn’t been in a hotel since his second honeymoon with his first wife but he remembered the pictures from the hotel wall.

Glenn, the art guy, offered a care free life on the road in a 1989 Honda Civic. (Delmont drove a 1987 Dodge truck which was no longer ram tough or able to pass state inspection.) When he wasn’t selling paintings, he was hitting the flea markets all up and down the east coast. Delmont didn’t know what to say. First his shrimp, then his cousin, now his wife (who were one in the same); Delmont’s life was slipping away.

Harmony’s exit from Delmont’s world was the rock bottom experience he never expected. The first two divorces were easy. Kicked to the curb for riding too close to the center line with Harmony by Cheyenne and Cheyenne by Debbie, Delmont had never been left with the over cooked shrimp and the empty trailer.

Hotter than hell in a bar without air conditioning, officially diagnosed as depressed, Delmont found himself uttering those five words, “This ain’t about the shrimp.”
“What’s it about?” asked the bartender.

Delmont thought for a moment. He had seen couples visiting the local cemeteries up and down the island. Standing for a moment before a grave, trying to do the math in their head to determine how old or young someone was when they died. He always laughed at the amazement in people’s voices when they realized people in the 19th century died at a young age. They always appeared to be shocked to see someone from the 1800’s who died in their 30’s. They always said, “How tragic”. No one ever says, “How typical”.

Maybe he shouldn’t be as shocked when he did the math about his own life. How typical. It’s so easy to underestimate the weight of the water, you can cook to long, overestimate the catch, and forget that the shrimp you’re trying to eat are ultimately, full of their own poop. Sometimes the tragic and the typical, like a second cousin who’s also your wife, are one in the same.

Food for Thought-How Do Ducks Know When They’re Lost?

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1. When I’m ornery, mama gives me Midol in a piece of cheese
2. When I buy whiskey, I make two or three dry runs to be certain the Baptists are out of the liquor store
3. I have my own line of artisanal pickles for sale in a farmers market near you
4. I’m never certain if the people on golf carts are giving me the finger or telling which direction they’re turning
5. When I’m not selling pickles to organic pickle aficionados I’m trying to answer this question: how do ducks know when they’re lost?

Food for Thought-Dust Clouds of Sunburned Otherness

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Dust clouds of sunburned otherness,
Stalk the irregular dignity of my soul,
Clamoring for a nameless encore,
An offering to the bedraggled sky,
Accompanied by watered down melodies,
Played in my overturned mind,
Major fifths and minor tonics,
Off key and out of tune,
You know the ones,
where the empties of awareness.
are often strewn.

–Richard Bryant

Food for Thought-The Shaman on the Bratislava Train (The Sixteenth Letter)

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25 May 1957
Between Bratislava and Belgrade, The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
After the third tunnel, over the fourth hill, near the curve where dinner is served

Dear Friend, Colleague, and Seeker of Rare Birds,

The letters on my desk grew weary of being unread. Each passing day carried two new realities, the wind was blowing, flowers were blooming, and birds were singing. I lost count of the letters on my desk and the realities beyond my door.

With no other choice than to follow the enigmatic clues left by the People’s Office of Indemnification and Life Guaranty* concierge, we are now bound for Bratislava*. Since we last spoke, over breakfast in Zagreb*, the cumulative uncertainty stalking our journey grows by the minute. How is your cabin? I find mine to be well apportioned with all of the amenities one might expect from first and half class travel in socialist Europe. There is a small table which divides the compartment in half. It is only large enough to hold my typewriter. If I am not writing to you, I remove the typewriter in order accommodate my meals, hands, or guidebooks. My seat, (do you have a seat?) will also fold out into a bed. This is where I intend to sleep once darkness falls. I hope your bed promises a degree of support for your back.

My travelling companion is an Uzbek born falconer, raised in Georgia, now residing in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. After Comrade Khrushchev’s speech* condemning the Georgian bandit* he was in a camp* for bird trainers. Now, he is a socialist shaman in Almaty*. Called by the people of the Soviet Union to share his wisdom, he and Qush* are teaching socialist shamanism to Russia’s friends and allies.

How fortuitous to be riding with a grand shaman of the tribe of Genghis Khan*. I told him of our quest for the Picus Viridus*. He believes the bird to be hiding somewhere we have yet to search. We have simply not looked in the place where it exists. While I do welcome his presence and company, Qush defecates often and near my pillow.

I hear the conductor approaching. I must finish this letter so he may deliver these words to you.

Your friend,

M

*Bratislava the capital of Slovakia, then the second city of Czechoslovakia
*People’s Office of Indemnification and Life Guaranty an insurance company in late 1950’s Belgrade
*Zagreb the capital of Croatia
*Georgian bandit Joseph Stalin
*Comrade Khrushchev’s speech Nikita Khrushchev’s 1956 speech to the 20th Party Conference of the Communist Party Soviet Union where he condemned the atrocities and abuses of power by Joseph Stalin
*Almaty capital of Kazakhstan
*Qush the Uzbek work for bird
*Genghis Khan as Khans go, the most important Khan of all time
*Picus Viridius the Common European Woodpecker

Food for Thought-Three Biscuits Shy of a Load

Two Cute But Illiterate Dogs

Two Cute But Illiterate Dogs

It’s pretty hot today,
I’m feeling half cooked,
Well done,
Worn out,
Plum tuckered,
Tromped flat,
Claritin cluttered,
Sneezing up
Coughing down,
The tomatoes gone too ripe,
The dog forgot,
To read and write,
And mama says,
“Son, the outhouse is all aglow,”
I’m about three biscuits
shy of a load.

–Richard Bryant

Food for Thought-The Anonymities of Nice

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What makes a stranger a stranger? How do you tell if someone is from the complex heart of undefinable otherness? Perhaps it begins with the purchase of a map, the posing of a query, or even the blatant refusal of a dog to lick someone’s hand. The bicycle gangs who ride these roads embody the two wheeled world of accessorized strangeness. Embroidered saddlebags from LL Bean, “Hell Hath No Fury Like Those We Delay” patches, and water bottles spiked with more caffeine than Starbucks can legally sell. How do I know this? I lived the strange. I rode strange. I am strange.

Outlaw bicycle culture remains the dirty little secret of the American underworld. Questions are asked and answers seldom given. From the comfortable confines of our cars, we see groups of men (and women) on matching touring bikes. “Don’t they look nice,” we think. “I bet they’re all on some holiday trip.” Maybe it’s true, perhaps it’s the lie the others want you to believe.

In May of 1973, not long after I returned from the Acai Berry Plus Rehab Center (I was overweight and addicted to over the counter weight loss pills), I decided to try cycling. It seemed like the ideal way to lose weight. With no job and little prospects, I had little do but ride bike. The solitary nature of bike riding, while it looked appealing in movies, wasn’t something I relished. I knew clubs of riders met and did day trips up and down the outer banks. These were good natured people, people with jobs, kids, families, and other hobbies that benefited society. All I needed to do was buy a bike and meet them at the library on any given Saturday morning. Using what money I saved in rehab, I bought a new Huffy from Sears and Roebuck, a helmet from my German friend Helmut, and shoes. Up to this point in time, I was barefoot, the shoes were designed to serve both life and bicycling.

My new life style would begin tomorrow. On Friday night, before I was to meet my new riding buddies I decided to go out for a night of carousing, cards, and checkers. With $2.57 in my pocket, I dropped into the last place on the left, the only bicycle bar in town, “The Dew Drop Inn”. If I was going to cruise the rolling hills of Ocracoke and make the uphill run to Corolla, I needed all the carbohydrates my body could handle. I would be home by 2 am and at the library by 9. This was my plan. What I didn’t count on was meeting the “Farley Mowat Serpent’s Coil Peddlers Society”.

At first, I was uncertain how they realized I was a bicycle rider. Apparently the bags from Target, Walmart, and Cycle World sitting by the bar stool were giveaways.  The art of floor level deduction is a skill cyclists learn early and use often.

“You riding that yellow Huffy?” asked the in-shape one with numerous tattoos of other in-shape people doing bicycle related activities.

“Yep,” I said. It seemed a frightening enough question to demand a one word answer.

“Who do you ride with now?”

“Me,” I said. “I don’t ride with nobody.” I tried to sound as tough as possible.

“We’re the Farley Mowat Serpent’s Coil Pedder’s Society, and outlaw bicycle gang named for the famed Canadian novelist and environmental writer Farley Mowat. One of our members Denikasi was recently sideswiped by a Z71 near mile marker 71. And while we nurse those ironic wounds, we’re looking for someone to take his spot.”

Each member of the gang received a club name. These names were taken from one of Mowat’s novels. Many of these were Eskimo in origin. Denikasi rode somewhere near the back of the pack. It would be a good place for me to begin. I was to be called Meewasin. Still not sure of Eskimo etymology, I believe “me was in” had something to do my membership within the club.

Through the hill towns of lower Outer Banks we rode with the restrained fury of accountants at a tax preparation conference. Blocking traffic, dealing in bootleg power bars, and holed up in two bit sin shacks; we slept wherever we could find racks for the bikes and a place to blow up our ergonomic air mattresses from Sweden.

For eighteen months, until overcome by a desire to live in a room with walls and drive a car again, I rode with the “Farley Mowat Serpent’s Coil Peddlers Society”. The constant beeping, road rage, and Gatorade addiction was killing me. Life, in its fullest, is a rush when it is lived four feet above the pavement, downhill, in the rain, with a line of traffic behind you. For me, that rush died on the bumper of an Oldsmobile Delta 88.

When the ride is over and the dream ends, look out your car window. Who are those strangers riding by on their bicycles?