Thursday, January 8, 2009


Billy Ray Barnwell here, even though this book seems to have no unifying theme, no subject tying all these chapters together, no raison d’être which means reason for being and is pronounced RAY-ZAWN DEBT, French makes no sense to me, I mean to put letters in that aren’t going to be spoken is a complete waste of the alphabet if you ask me, which you didn’t but I’m just saying, I continue to put pen to paper or rather fingers to keyboard when there’s no reason on God’s green earth for me to be doing it, maybe this is what a psychiatrist would call a compulsion, or maybe the fact that you’ve read this far shows that you have one too, compulsion I mean, not psychiatrist, hey we’re all in this together, writer and reader, we’ve formed a kind of bond I suppose, even though you’ve never laid eyes on me and I’ve never laid eyes on you, I have no idea what you look like, whether you are tall or short, thin or fat, young or old, rich or poor, stupid or brilliant, male or female, but I trust that you are there and because I do we continue to have this conversation, it’s kind of like prayer, trusting that Someone is listening. The famous theologian Lily Tomlin once asked a very good question, she said how come when we talk to God it’s called prayer but when He talks to us it’s called schizophrenia? and I think that is a very good question indeed, if you ever figure out the answer please let me know, send a postcard to me, Billy Ray Barnwell, at General Delivery, Not Grapevine, Texas, because I would love to know the answer, but that is not why I started this chapter, I started this chapter because a scene from the 1968 movie Funny Girl starring Barbra Streisand came into my mind, Funny Girl is based on the life of Fanny Brice who you might say was the Barbra Streisand of an earlier generation and in this scene Fanny is having a conversation with her mother about her husband, Fanny’s husband I mean, not her mother’s, his name is Nicky Arnstein and he is played by Omar Sharif pronounced Oh Marsha Reef, who was arguably the most handsome Egyptian actor ever to step foot on a Hollywood sound stage, and the problem is that Fanny makes a lot of money working in the Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway and Nicky Arnstein just gambles it all away as fast as she can make it, talk about a compulsion, but Fanny doesn’t confront him because she has been mesmerized by him ever since the time he gave her a blue marble egg, so she says “But Ma, I love him,” and Fanny’s mother who is played by an actress whose name I can’t remember answers her with one of the best pieces of advice I have ever heard in my entire life, on-screen or off, she says, “Fanny, love him a little less; help him a little more,” I love that line because many times loving or what we think is loving is just not enough but helping just might be the highest form of love one person could offer another, so if your kid or your friend or your spouse or your POSSLQ which A is pronounced POSSIL-queue and B means Person Of Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters and C is an actual category recognized by the United States Bureau of the Census is strung out on drugs or alcohol don’t just weep into your pillow at night, take him or her to someplace like Teen Challenge or the Betty Ford Clinic which is equipped to deal with the problem in ways you cannot, I don’t mean to preach, I’m just saying don’t just sit there, do something, although I suppose we shouldn’t forget that there are also times in our lives when the proper response might be don’t do something, just sit there, with me it was when my Dad was in the middle of one of his three-hour lectures and if a tear ran down my cheek he was apt to go ballistic and say don’t you dare cry, if you start crying I’ll give you something to cry about or he might lose it altogether and just backhand me and slap me so hard the glasses would fly off of my face, I tried awfully hard not to cry and get my Dad upset but usually it didn’t work and then Mama would say something to get his anger redirected towards her, she was willing to be the target, the trick is knowing when to do one and when to do the other, doing something or just sitting there I mean, if life came with a book of instructions it would make things a whole lot easier, well as a matter of fact it does come with a book of instructions called the Holy Bible but the thing is you actually have to read it and this is Billy Ray Barnwell signing off.

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