Joey Jabaley from 100 years of Jokes and Mistakes

Come to Same Sex Marriage

Sunday Afternoon

Georgia is hotter than forty hells in the summertime. The air is so still. The smell of horse sweat and manure mixes with the exhaust from the growing number of cars. Itıs suffocating. Everything is bone dry and dusty. Thereıs no escape. Even in the shade of a big oak tree, it feels like itıs 100 degrees. My town is probably no different from any number of other small towns. Folks suffer through the incredible heat as best they can. Down here we drink a lot of iced tea and lemonade when it gets hot, but the best relief for me and my friends is to take a walk down to the creek, strip down, and go for a swim.

Even though there is no school in summer, Iıve got plenty to do. My mom makes sure of that. Iıve got so many chores to do that sometimes I actually look forward to school starting back. I start sixth grade in the fall. I think summerıs the best time of year, except maybe for Christmas. Weıve got a deal going, my mom and me. The deal is, if I get finished with all my work, I can have the rest of the day until supper to spend with my friends. Of course, the deal also hinges on my staying out of trouble. For the most part, this arrangement has worked to benefit us both. For Mom, I do my chores pretty quickly and then Iım out of her hair for the rest of the day. For me, I get some of the freedom and independence that go along with shouldering a little responsibility.

Sunday throws a wrench in the whole system because we have to go to church, of course. That means either the chores get done really early before church, or itıs back home to finish after. God forbid(I know Iım not supposed to take His name in vain) the preacher gets on a roll. That can mean being hot and fidgety for hours, sitting in church, praying that the good Lord will have mercy on you and somehow signal the preacher that enough is enough!

I just woke up and itıs already 9:30. Iım late getting started on the jobs Mom has for me to do.

"Michael, the next call you get it gonna be from your father. Now get up!"

This means she must have called at least a couple of times already, but I honestly havenıt heard a word until now.

"Get up sleepy head"

Itıs my little brother Chris. A cute enough kid, but he drives me crazy.

"GET OUT OF MY ROOM!"

"Get up sleepy head." he says again.

"Mom heıs still not up!"

"Michael?"

"Iım up Mom. Iıll be right down"

"Iım gonna kill you!" I say to Chris as Iım pulling on clothes and heading for the stairs. Unafraid, heıs right behind me.

"Michael is a sleepy head. Michael is a sleepy head! Michael is a sleepy head!"

I could smack him, but it would just ruin my afternoon, so I decide to let him off the hook -- this time.

In our house, we start off Sunday mornings with biscuits and honey. Chris and I get milk. Mom and Dad drink coffee with theirs. Once church is over, Mom usually cooks a bigger breakfast when we get home.

"Slow down" mom warns, as I come barreling down the stairs. And donıt you make yourself sick by eating too fast"

Of course by now, itıs too late. Iıve already dunked a biscuit in honey, guzzled down my milk, and stuffed two more biscuits in my pocket. As I head out to the barn to hay the horses and clean their stalls, Iıve only got two things on my mind: first, I hope the preacher is as tired as I am this morning and doesnıt go on too long today; and second, I canıt wait to meet Terry and Jody down at the creek this afternoon.

Terry and Jody and I are best friends, that is if you can say three people are all best friends. I think usually best friends means only two people, but with us, it definitely means three. Mom and Dad donıt much like the fact of me playing with Jody. They say itıll make people talk, so I usually tell them Iıve been with Terry, but like I said, itıs always three with us.

With chores finished in record time, Iıve scrubbed up and put on my church clothes.

"Michael!"

Chris always has trouble with his tie, and with getting his top button buttoned. He always calls me to help him out.

"What do you want?" I holler from my room.

"I need your help," he whines.

"Weıve been working on this for weeks together. Donıt you think itıs time you tried it yourself?"

"I canıt. I want you to do it"

Itıs already starting to get hotter. All I can think about is going swimming later. I nearly choke Chris buttoning his top button.

"Ouch!" he cries, but Iım not paying any attention to him.

"Come on. Letıs go."

And we head off to church.

Our family still walks to church. Itıs only a mile. Lots of folks have cars now, but in our little town, maybe not as many as in the cities. Itıs 10:30 a.m. now. Thereıs not a cloud in the sky, and the temperature is rising. Momıs got a broad-brimmed hat on, but sheıs already fanning herself. My dadıs got his jacket off, and I can tell heıd like to loosen his tie and unbutton his top button. Unfortunately, my dad has the same trouble with his top button as Chris. He usually requires Momıs help. Any move of his hand in the direction of that button would only get him disapproving looks from my mother, so he toughs it out.

When we get to the top of the rise that looks down into our little town, we can see a crowd has gathered outside the courthouse. Theyıre all looking up at something, but weıre too far away, and I canıt make out whatıs going on. Mom and Dad both strain to see. Then Mom lets out a little gasp and bows her head. I look up at my father and notice his face harden, and in time with him, we all slow down a bit.

While Iım still trying to see whatıs going on, and my folks are obviously not in much of a hurry to move closer, I notice someone running towards us. Itıs my friend Terry.

"Hey Michael! Michael!" he calls out.

"Hey Terry!" I reply. "Whatıs going on?"

"You have to come see. Heıs deader than a door nail."

"Whatıre you talking about?"

"Michael, we need to be getting on to church," my father says. "You can talk to Terry later. "Terry, you run along now."

At that my father turns in the direction of church and away from the excitement.

As we turn, I can see, but it takes a minute for me to understand what I see. Thereıs a man, hanging from a makeshift pole, and the people are just standing around, talking, and looking up occasionally. The man looks kind of familiar. Weıre almost to the church now, and as we approach, I hear a noise off to my right-a kind of whimpering. In the shadows of an alley between two buildings, I can make out my pal Jody.

"Hey Jody!" I shout.

"Michael! Keep quiet" my father says sharply.

My mom hustles Chris into church, but Iım planted to the spot, looking at Jody. I see out of the corner of my eye, my father behind me, keeping a protective eye out.

"Son, weıd better go inside"

"But whatıs going on?"

"We can talk about it after services"

Then I see Jody glance up at me, then towards the figure of the hanging man, then back at me. I feel the hair stand up on the back of my neck. I get that same feeling I used to get when I was little and afraid something was hidden in the darkness in my room at night.

My father calls out to Jody in a loud whisper, "Get on home now Jody. Hurry! Go on"

Jody doesnıt seem to hear, he just keeps crying quietly. As he looks at me and then back at his brother, hanging on the pole, I turn to go into church. I guess he wonıt be coming swimming today down at the creek. Come to think of it, I donıt much feel like swimming anymore myself.

 

Facing Death

 

One of my favorite movie scenes begins with a shot of the earth from space. Steadily, the eye moves further and further away. All the while, sounds from the earth are evident, simultaneously getting fainter and fainter. Soon there is nothing but blackness and silence. Steady progress and achievement define man. This puts it into perspective. Weıre born. We live and die in an instant on the time clock of the universe. Insignificant? Maybe in the grand scheme of things, but not to us!

Thinking back, I can only retrieve bits of memory on my teenage years. There was a lot of worrying. It was not really about the future. Actually, living and dying couldnıt have been further from my mind. Then came the twenties. No need to be really serious about anything. Just have fun. After all, I had my whole life ahead of me.

Then the bomb dropped. I turned thirty. Trauma didnıt set in that year. It wasnıt until the following year that the panic began to set in. Counting the years behind me and comparing them to the years that possibly lay ahead gave me my first unexpected glimpse at mortality.

Mankind has expended quite a bit of energy trying to find a way to outwit the angel of death. Multi-billion dollar industries have been built around staving it off and hiding the tell-tale signs of itıs imminent arrival. Efforts have not gone without reward. People are living longer than ever. Their quality of life is better too, yet an average life expectancy hovering around the eighty year mark has done nothing to allay our fear of death. In our arrogance, we press forward, believing that it is only a matter of time before the grim reaper becomes just another casualty in our ongoing conquest.

In stark contrast to our ongoing efforts to cheat death, some of manıs proudest and most shining moments are when he looks death square in the face. There is no chance of winning, yet fate is faced bravely and unflinching. Perhaps the legends and heroes are the first to come to mind. They are familiar and we idolize and deify their behavior.

I wonder what the women are thinking in the photograph that opens chapter six of The Century. The faint countdown that accompanies us all through life, ticking towards the ultimate end, is reaching a crescendo. The prominent figure on the left appears defiant, standing upright with her head held high. She is a pillar for the older woman whose haunting face is a metaphor for the atrocities to come. The woman at the middle right looks almost angry, unable to hide her disgust for the photographer. The woman on the right end appears confused. Maybe her mind refuses to acknowledge what it knows is inevitable. Finally, there is the younger girl on the left. She hasn't disrobed, and she is hiding her face. Is she ashamed and embarrassed or just scared? As this photograph illustrates these women facing an untimely death, why is the observer moved to think of the tragedy instead of dismissing their plight as just another speck of dust on the timeline of the universe? Perhaps it is the capacity of feeling that makes us special after all.

Letter to a Martian

Dear Marvin,

So youıve chosen me as someone you want to interrogate about earth culture, only the session wonıt consist of my sitting under a bright light while you ask me questions from the darkness. Youıll interrogate me by scanning my brain with your mind probe.

Welcome to the dark reaches of my mind. If youıll step to the right, youıll be entering the Writing Workshop II section of my brain. Here a host of neurons are all bouncing around at random trying to come up with a cohesive thesis and subsequent research paper about same sex marriage, and why it should be allowed.

In earth biology, animals, from the simplest one celled organisms to the most complex, humans, all instinctively struggle to survive or continue their form. Most achieve this through procreation. Biologically, two discordant genders mate by bringing compatible blueprints of themselves together to form a new copy.

In the human species, arguably the only species endowed with the ability to reason, this instinctive need to procreate has led to the establishment of many rituals and customs.

One of the most prevalent customs is the pairing off of two individuals who form a long term relationship, usually making a home together, maybe raising children, and providing each other with support and companionship. The majority of these couplings are between two discordant genders. This majority may arise out of the species' instinctual procreation/survival mechanism, although in modern culture procreation is not necessarily the primary reason for the coupling.

In a growing number of visible cases, couplings are between two members of the same gender. Based on many religious rituals that have arisen around coupling and procreation, some members of the species now seek to deny the culturally established rights and responsibilities to those who seek to couple with members of the same gender. The basis for this they say is that it violates the established religious rights loosely built around coupling and procreation which thereby implies that allowing these same gender couplings hinders the species ability to survive.

This all takes place under a government whose self imposed rules for it's citizenry state that it will not seek to impose a state religion on it's people. My research will seek to prove that those who oppose same sex marriage do so either out of pure hate of those who are different, or out of a psychological fear that same sex couples may seek to rear children through adoption or some other means, creating their own families, and that by doing so this must somehow undermine the families created by traditional means.


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