Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Laid back beach trip

A few photos of the September 15th beach trip in no particular order. No parties, dancing, or rendezvous, just the kids and me hanging out. I'm afraid this summer was a bust. But you know what they say about a bad day at the beach.

One of my favorite spots on Pawelys Island facing the marsh close to the north causeway. Had Spoilboy and Wiggles been more appreciative of nature and the beauty of the marsh along with the ability to be quiet I would have loved to sit at this spot and just watch the tide come in. A few trips ago I bumped into a couple that I had been friends with in high school at this spot enjoying the view and having a moment alone before returning home. Incredibly despite having family still in Georgetown and Pawleys my old high school friends actually thought I had died years back. Apparently the high school reunion organizers had sent a card to my last know address years before and got back a response that I had died. Several times I have thought about tracking down the reunion organizers to see what address they sent that card to to find out who said I was dead but I frankly don't have time.

A long deserted stretch of Huntington Beach State Park a little south of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. When I lived on the coast this was my second favorite place to hang out. While many beaches have problems with to many people causing problems this one, and this section in particular, is almost always this deserted. I had several long evening walks down this way while in college with some awesome ladies. One "walk" lasted too long with my girlfriend and I running for the car trying to get out before the park closed. We didn't make it, and we had to deal with a grinning park ranger who I thought would turn out to be a jerk but just said that he had dealt with this before and escorted us out.

Darth Spoilboy and Miss Wiggles. After months of pain-in-the-ass issues at work and getting the money pit ready to sell, if the market ever improves, we loaded up in the starship and made it down to the coast on September 15th. It was a perfect day with a great breeze and the kids really enjoyed running around on the beach. Miss Wiggle was convinced she could catch a sandpiper and ruined some good nature shots I was trying to get. Saw a dolphin out in the water and both Spoilboy and I had to stop her from trying to catch a ride with it. We had a nice long walk up the beach of about three miles both ways. Spoilboy and Wiggles handled the march but Wiggles was asleep in the car just as soon as I put her in the car.

On the south end of Pawleys Island Sunday morning. Tide was coming in and a heavy wind had the surf really rough. Saw this guy in his boat where the creek separating the island from the mainland runs into the ocean. I actually thought he was going to loose his boat due to the rough surf and end up in the ocean because for a few minutes he couldn't seem to stand up. Dude was finally able get everything under control and and head back up the creek and safer waters.

Spoilboy, Wiggles, and me heading back to Uncle Paul's place before heading home toward Columbia. Many of the beachhouses in this shot are survivors of Hurricane Hugo and while they were extensively damaged in the storm they were rebuilt back close to the same style that existed before the storm. On the north end of Pawleys many of the houses are of a new style with glassed in porches that drive me utterly crazy. Pawleys before Hugo use to carry the slogan "Arrogantly Shabby" due to the nature of the structures on the island. After Hugo and later with an influx of (I'll be kind) newcomers the new construction on the island tended to be McMansions on stilts creating a, I hoped, a tongue and cheek new slogan saying "Arrogantly arrogant". Unfortunately, having met many of the newcomers the new slogan has been taken to heart. One of the features almost universal to older houses was a huge screened in porch facing the marsh or ocean to catch breezes to keep cool. Many of the new houses have huge plate glass windows depending on air conditioning to overcome the small greenhouse effect they produce and enclosing the people inside. Overlooking the over use of air conditioning and the fact that what another hurricane will turn those huge glass windows into shiny tiny razor sharp shards I have a huge time trying to understand why people would invest so much money in a beach house and not want to experience the environment. If they just wanted to see the beach a huge plasma TV and a beach video playing continuously would have been a lot cheaper.

While looking somewhat in a good state of repair, to me the picture below is the holy ruin of Pop's Grill and a place where for years teenagers and even families came to catch a quick burger or hot dog after spending time on the beach. The insidious growth and American addiction to the Burger Clown spelled the end of this landmark. Several times the place has been reopened but with the new owners violating the spirit of the place as it was meant to be when it opened in the 50's. Way before I ever came along the Pawleys Island community was a small village away from just about everything but enjoying a special spot on the planet. Although a small general store existed just off the island just about all supplies for living involved traveling to Georgetown and even longer distances if you needed something special. The glories of Wal-Mart and hyper-consumerism had yet to come about to supply your midnight desire for popcorn or cheap CD's. At least in my view sometime around the early 90's the small village disappeared with a rabid development allowing in a huge crop of snobby Benz driving newcomers that has spoiled to a great extent the special nature of what once existed. Many upper class subdivisions have been built on what was once swamps and raising property taxes and forcing many longtime middle class and working locals inland. Making matters worse a home insurance crisis I believe on par with what is happening in Florida is adding to the exodus of locals. Sometimes I wonder if a new type of 21st century landed gentry is being created with the rich only being able to afford coastal property and the middle and working classes at some point being restricted to affordable resorts. Almost makes me look forward to rising sea levels and stronger hurricanes from global warming.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

First date

Watch out ladies, a young Sith lord is now on the loose.

One of the biggest enjoyments about being a parent for me has been watching the different phases my children have gone through. Not all of them have been cute and fun, far from it, my son, Darth Spoilboy loved Barney the purple dinosaur deeply and wanted to see it every waking minute when he was three and four years old. Throw in Dragonwife who back then bought every Barney video she could find for her baby and I swear what little mind I can claim almost slipped away. To this day if I hear “I love you, you love me, we're a happy family ....” I go catatonic for several hours. Luckily, for me, Miss Wiggles did not like Barney and I happily watched all the videos be carted off by a slightly sour looking dad who had bought them during a yard sale several years ago with the mom and their young one singing that hideous song as they walked away. I said a prayer for that poor man that night and hoped he would feel as good as I did to pass those cursed dinosaur videos off to someone else when the time came.

Spoilboy later developed other interests such as Power Rangers and Pokemon, both only slightly less irritating than Barney but much shorter lived. Other less than fun phases involved him lifting the skirts of unsuspecting ladies, powered Nestle-Quik chocolate drink, and the saying of bad words in public. Okay I’ll accept the fault on that one since he was only repeating what daddy said around him, those little ears could have heard a mouse whisper. After each phase passed, good or bad, I did suffer from some sadness realizing that a milepost had been reached on his way to that strange land of adulthood. But the latest phase he has entered really is a wakeup call that one day he will be grown and the little fellow that followed me around with a toy mower as I cut my grass will be completely gone.

Actually it started last year as I caught him in the school playground talking with a girl during the open house that his school had at the beginning of the school year. I left Dragonwife in the classroom with a gaggle of other mothers discussing the trials and tribulations of modern life. Bored soccer and tennis moms wanting to be somewhere else, divorced moms flailing absent ex-husband , and desperate housewives juggling this meeting and one of two smaller children wanting to go catch the gold fish in the class aquarium. I was one of only a handful of fathers attending the open house and if pushed to admit it I left the classroom because some of the discussions involved how worthless men were, mainly espoused by the divorced mom group but the premise went unopposed by the other two mom groups. After slipping out I found Spoilboy talking with a young girl but left the issue alone since I knew the last people he would want to see right then would have been his mom or me. Not much came of this secret meeting, I know Spoilboy did receive a few phone calls that year in which he did not want us to hear what was being said and I do know a few were from girls. So while it was a big change for him recognizing that girls were interesting beyond the cooties you catch nothing shook the foundations of mom and dad until this weekend.

Spoilboy is now in junior high and immediately his social life took a quantum jump almost as soon as he walked into the doors. His appearance is of the utmost importance requiring cool clothing labels, and expensive deodorants that have television commercial suggesting spraying their product on will drive women mad with desire and come running up to tear your clothes off. Unfortunately, I know for a fact those commercials are blatant false advertising but I never tried the stuff, no really I haven’t I just know a friend who did. The boy who used to ignore the internet now sending instant messages to several of his friends regularly about homework, the phone is “uncool”. He has about 25 gigabytes of songs on the hard drive many I frankly can’t stand, and is trying to talk Dragonwife and myself into letting him establish a My Space page; and yes he and his friends consider Blogger uncool as well. But what really through me for a loop was a phone call I received from a dad late Friday evening asking if Spoilboy could attend a church party and a movie with a friend from his class on Saturday. The seriousness I heard in the dad's voice on the other end of the phone was strange until I asked which one of Spoilboy's friends was he talking about. I had a whole list of the usual suspects in my mind and was ready to agree to it when the dad on the phone spoke the name of his daughter, one of the girls in Spoilboy’s class this year code named Amanda. After talking with Amanda’s father on the phone further about this party and movie I could tell this was bothering him as well but he said that they never would be alone and that they would be home around 10:00pm. We both agreed to it and Amanda’s father and I laughed when we both mentioned about how we would break the news of this to the respective mom’s.

Dragonwife came into the house around thirty minutes later full of her usual fluster concerning the week at work and plans for the weekend. As best as I could with the head of steam she had going I sat her down and as calmly as I could explained that Spoilboy had been invited to a party and then a movie Saturday evening. As much as I complain about Dragonwife at times she knew there would be a twist in this news given how I had poured her a glass of ice tea and told her to take some relaxing deep breaths. When I told her that the friend he would be attending the activities with was Amanda Dragonwife’s jaw hit the floor, damn shame too with all her expensive dental work. At first she was completely against it saying he was to young but when Spoilboy came down wanting to know our decision she agreed to it when he promised to come home and give her hugs and kisses like he did as a baby. Y’all this agreement is highly classified, all sorts of preteen hell would break loose if this ever got out, but it won’t stop me from blackmailing him if he shows his ass about doing work in the yard again.

Saturday morning came and I realized Spoilboy was on the phone with Amanda a couple of times talking as the day progressed about things complete alien to my 40-something mind, Spoilboy said any explanation to such an old person as myself was beyond silly and a waste of time. And later as the time approached for him to be picked up it was easy to tell that he was being extra ordinarily serious in how he dressed and smelled. I did make him take a shower again when he asked if he had sprayed on too much of his fancy Axe deodorant. But I let it pass when I could tell he had went ahead and sprayed an even larger amount on after his second shower. Amanda and her dad came to the door not long after to pick him up and the adult chit chat among the parents left much to be desired, both her dad, Dragonwife, and myself were just a little to overwhelmed about the situation despite our statements to the opposite. Amanda and Spoilboy were clearly glad to see each other and were eager to be on the way to the party. We, Dragonwife and I, went outside to see them off and I noticed Dragonwife’s face had a little less than pleasant expression on it and asked her what was she thinking. She responded back after a few seconds that Amanda had taken her little boy and that he was too young to date. The entire time everyone involved had been avoiding the “date” word but to a great extent that is exactly what my son and Amanda are having right now. Being honest again , and a little shallow, the thing that is getting me is that my son who has not even turned twelve is on his first date, I didn’t have my first date until I was fifteen and if I wasn’t more than a little proud of Spoilboy right now that fact would bother me. God help me when I have to go through this with Miss Wiggles.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Constitutional concerns

What goes around eventually comes around, even for us.

I never really thought I paid that much attention in my high school civics class, the last time I had any organized class in American government. But evidence that I encounter every now and then suggests that I either subliminally learned the stuff while lusting after the hot little redhead named Lisa sitting a few seats across from me in that late afternoon civics class or that even earlier the old ABC Rocks cartoons that touched on civics, among other things, carried secret signals of deeper information that eating the right amount of sugary cereals on a Saturday morning while waiting for the Bugs and Roadrunner cartoons allowed young minds like mine to process and store. But either way the basic, and in my belief, dangerous ignorance of the Constitution that I have witnessed in the people around me from time to time would be hilariously funny if it did not chill me to the bone.

Just yesterday I was attending a meeting with others in my department and while the group did eventually come to some sort of order more than a few minutes were spent joshing each other around in a friendly manner and making idle comments about the news broadcast on the television that people had been watching during lunch that had just ended. This was the same scenario that existed over a year ago when I wrote an essay concerning the monstrous comments my co-workers were making about the Iraqi people which simply but accurately put were to the effect: "Kill them all and let God sort them out". They saw no issue with marines killing civilians in cold blood and that in war shit happens. I held my tongue that time mainly due to the fact that all agreeing to that premise were pure civilians who had never served in the military and were suffering from the Rambo syndrome believing you could learn about war from Stallone running through a gaggle of low paid extras carrying a fancy M-60 machine gun blowing them away as he guided the ammo belt feeding into the weapon with his other hand. For those who may not know the traditions and regulations of the US military stand completely against the purposeful harming of non-combatants and treating those we fight inhumanely. The idea of winning over hearts and minds goes back all the way to George Washington and while horrible shameful exceptions have happened through the years its only with the Spoiled Little Brat currently occupying the White House that such behavior has been given an official sanctioned pass. So yesterday when the idle chatter in the room turned to politics at a very similar low intelligence level I told myself that I would keep quiet and just sit in my chair and not alienate the people I work around. But unfortunately, one of the new guys said something and my mouth and some portions of my brain disconnected from the part that kept thinking that discretion is the better part of valor.

The trouble started with the news lady on television reporting about the current Democratic poll results in South Carolina and the standing of Hillary, Obama, and John Edwards in this state. Given the crowd I was around many will be able to guess the comments that went flying about the three. Just about all were along the lines about over hyped and overbearing women, ever so slight racial slurs, and expensive haircuts. I easily kept quiet and made a mental note to buy a lotto ticket so I could at least daydream about expatriating myself from such high level discussions in the future. It wasn't until one of the newer guys made a comment about how he could not understand that while Slick Willy was impeached but was not removed from office. This fellow who will for me be forever be code named "Spanky" was implying that some deal was done to keep him in office even though he had been impeached. The guy next to him murmured some sort of agreement and it was then that I found myself opening my mouth.

I tried to explain to Spanky that articles of impeachment had been draw up and passed by the House. And that President Clinton was tried in the Senate with the Chief Justice presiding over the senate as judge. That it would have taken a two-thirds majority of senators to convict him and only after that would he have been removed. Well, Spanky gave me a look an irritated parent might give a child and he shook his head no and tried to tell me that was not how it worked. Slightly peeved myself now I explained it again and told him to go read the Constitution himself and stop guessing. My stance either forced him to consider he was wrong or that he was dealing with a crazy person. My best guess is that he thought I was crazy because the look he gave me back was something of the look I bet he would given if someone tried to tell him about quantum physics. Spanky did come back and say that either way Clinton had been a naughty sleazy boy and should have been removed. Believe it or not I found myself smiling at Spanky's comeback mainly because it sounded so much like one Senator Larry Craig made years ago about Slick Willy and I won't go any farther than that along that line. I wish I could write that such encounters are rare but I have seen so many around me with wild ideas about the Constitution. One fellow I served with in the Guard thought there was some clause in the Constitution that said you have to serve in the military to be president, another slight at Clinton. Another had some confusion with the British parliamentary government and thought after the 94 election that Clinton would go due to the Republicans taking both houses of Congress. And finally after the 2000 election I can't even begin to describe how many people I talked with who were either insanely happy or mad over finding out about the electoral college and how its works.

Years ago I stumbled on "I, Claudius" on PBS and was quickly drawn into the story, so much so that I went to the library checked it out and read the book by Robert Graves. During one part on the television version an aged Tiberius is speaking with Caligula telling him that "Rome deserves you" because he was so popular with the city but the soon to be dead ruler knew of the younger man's perverted tastes. It was later explained by the host of Great Performances, Alister Cook, that statement was a tongue-in-cheek backhanded slap against the Romans for whom Caligula was very popular. In other words Tiberius was saying the fickle, spoiled Romans would get what they deserve from that monster. I can't help but find myself thinking the same thing concerning so many of the ignorant, asinine people that pride themselves on slapping a magnetic yellow ribbon or an American flag on their car and think how much of a patriotic person they are while they go about ignorant of the basic principles they live under. Even though thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died, civil liberties have eroded, the military service men and women are stretched to the breaking point, and most of the world thinks of us along the same lines as Iran because Junior has felt called by God to spread democracy (Karl Rove type not Jeffersonian) and consumerism to distant lands. No, Junior wants to spread the light of democracy but I somehow find it so easy to talk with people who are blindly ignorant of their own government so at some point, like Tiberius said of the Romans concerning Caligula, we will get what we deserve. I just hope my kids and I have unassed the country before then.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

A Parrothead review: Flirting with Mermaids

Vigil, this one is for you

Part of being a Parrothead is exercising the fantasy, for me on a regular basis, of chucking all the crap associated with daily life in America these days and hopping on a sailboat and leaving this wonderful civilization behind. Destinations usual involve a deserted tropical island surrounded by turquoise waters thousands of miles away from Wal-Mart, the hamburger clown, the current government approved boogeyman, McMansions, screaming Big Nannies out to save everyone whether you agree with them or not, and the general anxiety a great deal of people in this country seem to revel in as they toss back huge amounts of mood altering drugs just to make it through the day. For most sailing away to some distant sane shore will remain a pure fantasy since obligations and real concerns keep them in the trenches for many reasons. An equally important reason that keeps many from living the free life on the seas is the complete absence of any knowledge of how to sail. Which I’m not ashamed to say covers me since I know next to nothing about sailing.

I recently came across a very basic but very entertaining and real introduction to the hard knocks that come with at least trying to live a real life in which you do nothing but sail to far away exotic ports meeting people that would fit in well in a Jimmy Buffett song. In Flirting with Mermaids the author, John Kretchemer, tells the stories of a “sailboat delivery skipper” taking various types of sailboats from point A, where it had sometime been bought sight unseen by someone across the world, and sails it to point B to turn it over to the new owner. The meat of his tales involve him dealing with bad weather, breakdowns across the entire spectrum of issues were a oceangoing sailboat is concerned, and at times pesky crewmembers, wars, and ill-mannered government types across the planet. Mr. Kretchemer writes in a clear easy manner allowing a total land-lubber, in a sailing sense, like me to understand what is going on most of the time as he and crew makes their way from say the Azores to the Caribbean during hurricane season.

In the first story we read about a Western Caribbean research voyage with a crew of eccentric Swedes that soon has him meeting his future wife, the knock out lady on the cover, in Belize. Quite frankly this story by itself had me hooked entangling my expatriation fantasies of tropical places untouched by American culture from what I read are even now spoiling the surroundings in Central America. The intrepid skipper and wandering American girl fall quickly for each other and after a bad time trying to take possession of a sailboat in the Dominican Republic in which his new love accompanies him Kretchemer begins recounting his sailing exploits from the time he sailed around the world and after just to give her some idea of what she was getting into as they grow more serious about each other. Many of his trips recounted in this book could have been adventure novels by themselves but the short story form does not take away from them. All through the book the idea that Kretchemer had lucked out and found what he was meant to do in life is evident, even though it cost him an earlier relationship, and later has him worrying about how he would turn his love of sailing into something that could feed his growing family. At the end of this book I came away impressed with this guy, instead of doing the safe thing just about all of us do with a steady job, mortgage, and if we are lucky a week vacation at some theme park were the comparison to a cattle processing plant is not unjust its nice to know that the independent free spirit of American legends can still be found.

Many times in life once the nuts and bolts of some fantasy are known the luster is quickly lost and the dream dies. Instead for me I came away from this book enlighten and even more interested in sailing. While some could grow bored as the author’s story telling falls by the wayside as he describes technical aspects of an Atlantic crossing the book is engrossing and thrilling for me because of it. I highly recommend this book for those who love adventure and those who love sailing.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

At a complete loss to do anything.

I had hoped to have returned to my blog this month with a light-hearted post about my past, my family, or something about the world in general. But I found that after observing something at work I really need to unload my feelings at the situation that I witnessed one afternoon a few days ago. Right off the bat I have to state that I am in no way proclaiming how great my compassion for my fellow man is or how empathic I am to the feelings of others. If anything this is a declaration of my cowardice in the face of the strange combination of the social laissez-faire/screaming big nanny rules that have developed these last few decades.

The temperature last month, you might be able to guess, had been on a consistent high broil setting with high humidity but without any of the afternoon thundershowers that can offer at least a short reprieve from the heat. But working inside a very climate controlled environment such as a hospital does offer the benefit of a cool shelter away from such weather extremes when many others are forced to work outside. The only drawback to such an advantage is that when you are real busy working inside without any window to the outside available you can become disconnected to the daily events going on in the larger world. Several times I have gone to work on a bright sunny morning only to leave work that afternoon in the pouring rain, and of course the reverse is true. In the scope of things not being able to observe the changes in the weather during the day is very small potatoes but never the less when there is a moment I can step away I do like to walk outside and get a breath of fresh air.

The last few days of August were just as busy as the beginning of the month but much to my surprise I found myself caught up to a great degree on Wednesday and as my co-workers and I rode the elevator down from surgery I broke away from them at the first floor and walked toward the main entrance to get some idea of what was going on outside. The main lobby is a huge sunroom with many chairs and benches available for people as they await admittance, or discharge for friends, family or themselves in the course of a normal day. I found a somewhat isolated section close to the foyer leading outside to the drop off point to look outside and collect my thoughts. The foyer has both an outer and inner sliding glass door to lessen the escape of cooler air from the inside and the invasion of hot air from the outside. On either side are benches people use when mainly waiting for someone to drive to the pick up/drop off point right outside. This area is extremely busy from early in the morning to late at night and hospital security enforces the time limit on cars being parked there very hard. Adding to the chaos that usual exists at that location of the two lanes available for cars to stop and either pick up or drop people off one was blocked by a broken down car. It was then that coming from the far lane I noticed a woman and a small boy who if I was forced to guess would be about eight of nine years old slowly making their way across the inside lane to the foyer. I’m guessing here but I’ll go ahead and state that I believe the woman was the mother of the little boy who it would be certain from the limping walk and the expression on his face was both in pain and scared as they entered the foyer. Adding to my instant assumption that he was about to be admitted was the fact that mom was pulling a small rolling suitcase. A large group of people exited the hospital through the foyer at that time leaving the inner door open long enough for me to hear the boy ask the lady not to leave him as the distraught lady told him to sit on the bench as she went and parked the car. I’ve seen fear many times in both myself and others and that little boy blazed it with the look he gave the lady leaving him at that moment. Both the closing of the inner door and a louder collection of people in the area prevented me from hearing her words before she turned, exited the outer door and ran across the blocked lane to her car and drove off to park. I watched the boy sitting there watching the car pull quickly out and make its way to the almost full parking lot in front of the hospital. I was greatly concerned for the boy’s well being at that moment but it was more instinct than compassion that had me exit through the foyer and walk outside myself. The car carrying his mom had slipped out of sight for a couple of seconds and the boy’s attention had drifted away to the people walking by him through the foyer. The look of loneliness on his face chilled me to the bone as I watched from outside. I don’t know if my concern came from my realization that I probably expressed a very similar feeling many times as my both my mom and dad made complete asses of themselves before I finally ended up permanently with my grandparents (very long story that I will never post) or that the well being children is something I just put to the forefront of my thoughts and most of the time my actions. As I both watched him and for his mom to come running back to the main entrance I weighed any actions I might be able to take and in this situation to offer some comfort to that scared boy, I saw none.

Working at a hospital you quickly become familiar with privacy rules and how badly you can get in trouble if they are violated. I am in no way an authority on the rules and regulations governing how hospital employees have to conduct themselves around hospital patience’s but from what I do understand they are Draconian in many respects. One seminar went as far as to tell us that even if we are friends with a patience someone could get in trouble just asking them the reason they were in the hospital. The highly educated and paid bean counter/legal eagles went even as far to imply one time that we should avoid those we know outside of work just walking through the hospital hallways. Luckily, common sense and the lack of enough bean counters to observe all actions in a huge hospital prevent implied stupidity in this case from being enforced. But at the entrance to the foyer watching that small boy face such uncertainty there were enough stuffed suits and security walking around from allowing me to drift over and striking up a conversation with that fellow.

That in itself was the lesser reason I did nothing and in this day and age few should have to guess what I am implying. Years ago in a far from perfect but simpler time Captain Andy and several other old timers could be found both at the park and on Front Street in Georgetown talking with the children as the strolled both alone and with their parents on what was the main street of my hometown. These old fellows were trusted fixtures and often gave out little pieces of candy to the kids as they chatted with them. Mom and dad’s greatest worry had more to do with dental decay from the candy they gave out than the perversions we find ourselves faced with today on a far too regular basis by both strangers and even people we know. As much as I felt that boy waiting in the hospital foyer could use someone to talk with as his mother made her way back I did not want to end up with the police being called on me as she ran up to find some strange man talking with her son.

Time and a radio call back to work became a factor for me forcing me back to my job and its demands. I looked around to see if his mom might be making her way back but I saw no one looking like the lady who had dropped him off. The parking lot was very full and it was an easy guess that she was forced to park far away. Adding to everything was a huge bunch of stuffed suits walking into view, full of themselves and whatever they might have had at their late lunch; I’ve never been one for high ranking brass preferring to leave the dog and pony for others so I knew it was time to go. I slipped back into the foyer and by chance made eye contact with the little boy who was still watching people walk by him. Making eye contact did not help matters with the worries I felt for him, they were deep and full of troubles I was legally restricted to only guess at. With his eye contact I felt he was beseeching me for some sort of contact but I like a coward I was only able to mumble something very lame like “howdy partner” with some sort of smile. Back in the main lobby I turned one last time and I think I saw his mom about to enter the foyer, at least that’s what I want to believe.