Flavors of Friends

Some are vanilla,
predictably plain
Dependably true
always the same

Some are exotic
quixotic
sherbets with fireworks lives
occasionally glancing
to check others’ eyes

then the specials
like bubblegum treat
beautifully different
sumptuous sweets

Yes, chocolate, strawberry,
and rocky road too
friends of all flavors
some licked and
some chewed

like ice cream
I taste them
each one of a kind
then off on their way
they melt in my mind

Yet over the years
a few friends remain
these flavors I savor
again
and again

tio stib

2014, 2016, 2018, 2020

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The Blind Side Parables – 6

Jack was ready to give up, it felt like he’d been climbing through the cloud forever. He cursed his impetuous nature for once again leading him astray. what kind of nuts was it to climb a beanstalk hundreds of feet up into the sky until it disappeared into the clouds?

Crazy nuts, he muttered to himself, even as he climbed higher.

Then, he was out, blinded by bright sunlight. He squinted, rubbed his eyes, tried to see what new world he’d entered.

“Fee Fi Fo Fum, you’d better run or I’ll bite your bum!” roared a deep voice nearby.

But before Jack could scamper off, he was plucked up by the back of his collar and held high in the air. He tried to turn to see his captor, but to no avail. Then, he became aware of the pungent odor. Whoever, whatever had him, it stunk.

“Ah, little man, you wrinkle your nose at me. Yes, it’s true I’ve had no bath for weeks, not since they shut my water off. Nothing but hard times here.”

Jack was spun about, suddenly face to face with the biggest man he’d ever seen, a man fully ten feet tall, unshaven with scruffy hair, and wearing a mismatched assortment of ragged clothes.

The giant smiled, revealing a mouthful of occasional yellowed, teeth, “never seen a giant before?

Jack was speechless as the giant twirled his limp body in a complete circle.

“What’s your name?” asked the giant.

“J-j -ack,” came the sputtered reply.

“Not another Jack,” exclaimed the giant, “you’re the third one this week. Is everyone down there named Jack?”

No response.

“My name is Rump, but you can call me Big Rump,” continued the giant, “eyeing Jack more closely now.”

“You’re quite fat Jack, a tasty treat, except, as you’ve noticed, my teeth are no longer able to enjoy chewing on a yummy kid.”

Jack sighed with relief.

“I suppose you climbed up here dreaming of riches and easy money, just like all the other Jacks. Well, too late buddy, look around, all the Jacks who preceded you have trashed the place.”

Jack cautiously turned to survey the surrounding landscape.

“See that smoke over there and the blackened debris, that’s what’s left of my castle. The last Jack was so miffed when he found I no longer had the golden goose, he tossed his cigarette butt into the yard, started a wildfire and burned the place down.”

Jack started to fidget.

“Hey, settle down, I’m talking to you. It’s lonely up here and I get tired of talking to myself.”

Jack froze.

“Had to give up the golden goose to pay property taxes. Do you know how much it costs to run a castle these days?”

Jack shook his head.

“Taxes, heating bills, maintenance, rodent control, it all adds up. and the real bummer, I lost my insurance a month ago and I’m not getting a dime for what that other jerk Jack did.”

Big Rump continued, “everyone thinks us big guys have it made, but let me tell you, just because my dad was a giant and left me all his wealth, doesn’t mean I’ve had it easy. Look at these clothes. Do you know how hard it is to find anything decent and fashionable in my size?”

Again, Jack shook his head.

“Just about impossible, and even when I find something I like on amazon, no one wants to deliver up here.”

“Must be tough,” Jack muttered.

“Tough!?” You have no idea,” exploded the giant. Then, he paused and looked at his captive.

“You’re not like the other Jacks, you actually listen to me.”

Jack just smiled, not wanting to add that he seemed to have no other choice given the circumstances.

“Maybe you can come back again, shoot the bull, share a beer.”

“Sure,” Jack answered.

“Yeah, I’d like that, come back and visit, I’ll clean things up, we’ll have a picnic.”

Big Rump set Jack beside the beanstalk, “careful on your way down, that stalk can get slippery.”

Jack hurried to grab the beanstalk and began to ease himself down. He took a last look at the lonely giant, who gave him a mostly toothless smile and a little wave.

“Bye,” they each said simultaneously.

Moral: Even giants need friends.

tio stib

You might also enjoy: The Blindside Parables – 5; A Friend Passes

The Blind Side Parables – 5

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”

No response.

Then the mirror was shaken and an irate voice yelled, “get with it mirror, this is your commander -in-chief speaking!”

Jolted awake, the mirror thought, jeez, he’s back again, this schmuck just can’t get enough of himself. And not only does he stare into the mirror at all times of the day, he never turns off the damn big screen TV, hoping to see himself on his favorite news channel. The mirror couldn’t remember the last time it had enjoyed a good night’s sleep.

The mirror thought back to the day it had taken this job. True, times were tough, with all the pandemic job layoffs, no one seemed inclined to do much introspection, and magic mirrors were even less popular now that everyone was staring into their smart phones hoping some banal text would suddenly turn their lives around. So, when his agent had called to say there was a gig open at the White House, the mirror had jumped at it.

It had already been installed in the president’s bedroom when the story of the previous mirror’s demise was revealed. Seems that mirror had made the mistake of not properly praising the  man’s hair and it had been shattered by the furious toss of a hairbrush.

“Hey, mirror, I asked you a question. Now, get with it or I’m going to send out a tweet that you and your kind are part of a radical left wing conspiracy trying to destroy America’s in-egalitarian system of shareholder  capitalism.”

Recognizing that a temper tantrum was imminent, the mirror hastened to reply, “You are, Donny dear, the fairest, the best, the most beautiful.”

“More beautiful than Vladimir?”

“Of course,” answered the mirror, piling it on, this guy could never get enough of himself, “Vlad’s a midget, wears lifts in his shoes, not even close to your impressive stature.”

Donny smiled as he looked at himself, liking what he was hearing.

“More beautiful than Xi Jinpang?”

“Of course, Donny, that guy’s nearly bald.”

Confidence restored, Donny turned and walked away, off to sign another proclamation, another demonstration of his all consuming largesse. On today’s schedule was the annexation of Canada.

The mirror let out a sigh of relief. How, with all the possibilities for magic mirror assignments, had it managed to get Donny. The mirror wondered if bad karma had something to do with it.

Then he was back, agitated, “I just heard that I’m behind in the polls, tell me this isn’t so.”

The mirror, long ago resigned to the truth that job security was more important than strict adherence to the facts, again decided to humor Donny with an alternate picture of reality.

“Not possible,” assured the mirror calmly, “my latest poll shows you leading with an almost 98 percent approval rating.”

“That’s more like it,” breathed Donny with relief, and he turned to get back to granting tax relief to everyone who was worth more than a billion dollars and who regularly played on one of his golf courses.

The mirror sighed, sure its poll was limited to members of the president’s immediate family who had not written tell all books about him but, hey, a poll’s a poll.

Moral: What you see may not be what you get.

tio stib

You might also enjoy: The Blindside Parables – 4; Almost Heaven

There is Hope

As I had for many mournful months
I sat at ocean’s edge
 
alone
lost in stillness
mesmerized by the tranquility
of wavelets lapping
up the silent sand
 
the sun reached down
and stroked my hand
warm, soft, strong
much as her touch once
comforted my starving soul
 
then memories blinded tearful eyes
the darkened day turned cold
but then I heard the sounds of joy
the sounds of life renewed
children laughing
singing, screaming
a songbird flitting by
 
and I heard it
the voice within
 
at last,
there is hope
again
tio stib

You might also enjoy: <a href="https://travelswithtio.com/2018/02/22/blind-man-on-a-bench/">Blind Man on a Bench</a>, <a href="https://travelswithtio.com/life-journey-thoughts/">Life Journey Poems and Prose</a></p>





			

The Blind Side Parables – 4

Aladdin had been furiously rubbing the lamp all the way home from the bazaar. The old man had assured the boy that the lamp was, indeed, magical. Just rub it and a genie would appear and grant him three wishes.

Not born yesterday, the boy had asked the trader why, if the lamp was so marvelous, the price was so cheap.

The white bearded man smiled and said, “this lamp is quite old and sometimes it takes a bit to get it started. Besides, I like you and so, a special deal.”

Aladdin could hear his mother’s admonishments when he got home, reminding him of the goose that didn’t lay golden eggs, and the carpet that didn’t fly.

He paid a handful of shekels and took his prize.

Now, locked in the bathroom to avoid his mother’s questions, sweat dripping from his brow from endless rubbing, he stared at the naive face in the mirror and thought-

Sucker.

He looked again in the mirror. There was something written on the bottom of the lamp. He’d seen the strange symbols before, but they’d made no sense. But in the reverse reflected image in the mirror, he could read a message-

“Rub me and your wish will be my command.”

Aladdin smirked, he’d been rubbing the damn lamp for an hour and nothing had happened.

Then, he saw some fine print below, “Note-this is a left handed lamp and it likes to be rubbed counterclockwise.”

“Oh,” exclaimed the boy, who was right handed, and he quickly resumed caressing the lamp with his left hand in a counter clockwise direction.

Another hour later, sweat pouring down his face, the frustrated boy  screamed, “that’s it lamp! I give up!”

Angry, he slapped the lamp hard.

“Ouch!”

Aladdin looked at the lamp. He’d heard a voice.

“Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Did you really have to hit me that hard!”

Stunned, the boy watched as a wisp of smoke rose from the lamp’s  spout, then grew into a foul smelling cloud that slowly evolved into the form of a grimacing genie rubbing her head. Aladdin couldn’t help but think, the creature floating in the air above him looked a lot like Whoopi Goldberg.

“Geez kid, you really know how to ruin a good dream. I was just getting it on with that sexy prince from Madagascar when, ‘Whap!” you slapped me on the side of the head and woke me up.”

Sniffing the air around her the genie added, “Ugh! A hundred years without a bath can lead to a big stink.”

Aladdin stared wide eyed, the lamp really was magic.

Reading his mind, the genie said, “that’s right, it really is a magic lamp. Sadly, it’s an old model, doesn’t even have a solid state hard drive, so it’s slow compared to the new 5G models. But, hey, I’m here and I still do the wish thing.”

“Wish thing?” queried the boy.

“I’ll grant you three wishes, anything you want. Well, almost anything,” said the genie, now peering closely at Aladdin, “are you eighteen years or older?”

Aladdin blushed, “not exactly.”

“Look, kid, you are or you aren’t. Which is it?”

The boy shook his head.

“Well, there are things I just can’t do for minors. Didn’t you read the fine print on the lamp?”

The boy’s blank face gave the answer.

“Can’t really blame you, it takes a microscope to make it out. Briefly, the lamp and its magic are not responsible for any damage you may cause. You may not sue us and any tax liabilities created by your wishes are your responsibility and yours alone. There are no refunds or exchanges after your wishes expire. Do you agree to these conditions?”

Aladdin slowly nodded his head.

“Great, now let’s get to it, I’d really like to get back to sleep and find out what’s going to happen with that prince.”

“Well,” the boy said, scratching his chin, “My mom would like a new house.”

Shazaam! Suddenly Aladdin found himself standing in the plush living area of a grand house with a large pool outside surrounded by lush gardens.

“Wow!” exclaimed the boy in amazement.

“You think she’ll like it?” questioned the genie, I modeled it after the latest cover home on architectural Digest. I hope she’s fond of pink.”

Aladdin noticed all the walls were covered in pink velvet. He wondered whose house had been on that magazine cover.

“Okay, let’s keep moving,” urged the genie, “ what’s wish number two?”

The boy looked down at his ragged clothes, “perhaps some new…”

Shazaam! Aladdin found himself standing in a huge bedroom, looking into a walk in closet filled with new clothes of all colors and types, including one wall entirely covered with shoes. He gaped at the impressively clad young man standing before him in the full length mirror. Slowly turning, he touched the sparkling diamond in the center of his silver turban, then ran his finger over the gold embroidery on his tunic. Not bad, he thought, not bad at all.

“You like it! Of course you do, it’s all the latest fashion from Paris, although most of it was made in Bangladesh. Sorry about the slippers, we’ve been having supply chain problems in Magic Land.”

Aladdin looked down at his gleaming golden slippers. They were at least size sixteen. He wore size eight.

“Better too big than too small,” noted the genie, “now, what’s it going to be for wish number three?”

Suddenly sure of himself, Aladdin looked at the genie and said, “true love.”

Shazaam! Aladdin found himself outside, standing next to the pool looking out across its sparkling azure blue water to the spectacular view of distant mountains.

But, thought Aladdin, true love, where was she?

“Turn around, kid, you’re facing the wrong way.”

Aladdin turned and was hit full on by a leaping Labrador retriever. The collision carried man and beast into the pool. Even half immersed, the dog still managed to joyfully lick Aladdin’s face in spite of the turban which mostly covered it.

“No truer love than a dog for its master, kid. Her name is Scheherazade,” added the genie as she slipped back into the lamp, “gotta be going, all the best!”

Moral: You don’t always get what you want, but you always get what you need.

tio stib

You might also enjoy: The Blindside Parables – 3; Life Journey Poems & Prose

Life Is Like A Broken Egg

Yesterday I dropped an egg. Actually, I didn’t drop it, I surmise it rolled unseen off the counter. I heard a noise near the floor. In a microsecond, my brain flashed through the possible causes of such a noise. At about the same time, my brain reached another conclusion. The toes on my right foot were also sending signals to my sensory center. Something gooey was down there.

A broken egg!

As I groped around cleaning the shattered shell from the floor and then its contents from my foot, I pondered the symbolic relevance of this event in my life.

Yes, I tend to get lost in my own world at times.

Perhaps, I wondered, my life is like a broken egg. Here I am, marching along unseen by most of the world and then, crash! I splat into eternity, possibly making a mess for someone else to clean up as I exit.

That’s one possibility.

My mind drifted off in other directions. I remembered a structures class where we dropped eggs in specially designed containers from a third story balcony. The object, of course, was to preserve the integrity of the egg. The challenge was to do this with as little material as possible. It’s no problem to put an egg in a big box of bubble wrap and drop it unfazed onto the floor below. The trick is to drop the egg, mostly naked, with the same result. Similarly in life, I thought, there’d been times I’d insulated myself with such things as work and selfish interest so that the rest of the world couldn’t touch me, and I couldn’t touch the people who cared about me because I was too closed off from them.

There have been naked opposite times when I was raw and open, times when I felt that life had run me over and left me for roadkill. Going bankrupt and watching friends die come to mind.

My lesson from these experiences: Sometimes it’s good to overprotect. Sometimes it’s good to hurt. The pain reminds me of happier times.

All this you may say, from simply having an egg hit the floor? Yes, and there’s more.

What if I’m like an egg? A hard, durable shell on the outside and a soft sticky mess inside. My outside, that part of me I show the world, is a lot like the shell of an egg. It’s quite resistant to general pressures, quite strong when grasped firmly. But, the shell has its weak points. It doesn’t do well with pressure applied to a single point. Yes, I have my buttons. I hate cleaning up other people’s messes, such as wiping up their broken eggs. I have no tolerance for fools, which is why politics disgusts me. The egg shell is also brittle. It doesn’t do well when landing on sharp objects. I explode when subject to sharp noises, and am even more violent when subject to the sound of barking chihuahuas.

All this from a broken egg.

My last thoughts on this surprisingly deep self-dialog. How do you crack an egg? I use two hands. Even so, I often make a mess of this simple action, sometimes striking a nearby surface so hard that the shell cracks open and leaves a trail of egg goo from there to the frying pan. (This is a clue to what I usually do with eggs, hinting at my limited cooking repertoire). Sometimes, when my mind is somewhere else such as now, I fail to hit the egg hard enough,it doesn’t crack, waking me from my reverie to initiate another strike on the shell. This usually results in the previously mentioned egg goo trail.

What does this say about my life? I tend to be overly cautious and conservative. Do I lack faith in my creative abilities to expand my egg cuisine? Maybe I’m just lazy.

One of my goals for the New Year is to learn how to crack an egg with one hand. I think this may take quite a few eggs. I’ve heard that gin fizzes are a good use for egg whites and an easy way to forget about life’s deeper concerns.

Like how my life is like a broken egg.

tio stib
2014, 2016, 2018, 2020

First published in January, 2014, but since I haven’t mastered the one handed egg crack yet, I decided to publish this again to remind myself of goals I’ve yet to attain.

You might also enjoy : Truth, It’s Coming

The Blind Side Parables – 3

The prince was straining, he hadn’t realized how difficult it would be to pull himself up the tangled mass of hair to the top of the tower. But, he told himself, he must climb, the beautiful Rapunzel awaited.

Suddenly, a cascade of foul smelling detritus fell upon his head. Stunned, he let go the hair and tumbled to the ground. Dazed, he looked up, only to be hit full in the face with one more horse apple.

Far above, Rapunzel peered down from the window of her tower top prison and sighed.

“My oh my,” she pined, “so difficult to find a good prince these days.”

Of course, none of her savior wannabees had known about the added test they would face when they reached her window. There, gasping for air and sweating with excitement, they were immediately quizzed by Rapunzel, who had her standards, a man of brains, brawn, and a sizable bank account among them. So, she’d run through her checklist, then, bending down as if to bestow a kiss on expectant lips, she’d nimbly push the failed suitors away. the surprised screams never fazed her.

But having her legendary long hair yanked out by hormone crazed men had become tiresome. She’d negotiated with the wicked witch to borrow Jenny, the big farm horse with the magnificent tail. So now, when she heard a pleading voice call out, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your long hair,” it was Jenny’s tail that was tossed out the window.

True, Jenny occasionally dropped a load of excrement on a would be lover. But, Rapunzel thought, if he was a real man, wouldn’t he ascend a mountain of dung to claim his princess?

Moral: What you see may not be what you get.

tio stib

 

You might also enjoy: The Blindside Parables – 2, If

 

Invictus, by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

BY WILLIAM ERNEST HENLEY, 1875

One of two poems I turn to for inspiration, (the other is “If” by Rudyard Kipling)

Here’s a link to a powerful reading by Morgan Freeman from the movie “Invictus”, in which he plays Nelson Mandela.

 

The Blind Side Parables – 2

Having easily trashed the straw and stick houses of the three pig brothers, he was feeling quite proud of himself. Sure, this last house was a bit more sturdy, but they didn’t call him the Big Bad Wolf for nothing. He only wished his dad could be here to see his son in action. But, alas, Papa Wolf had run up against that damn little kid, Peter and was now confined to a cage in town,  snarling at tourists.

Wolf did some stretches, a few jumping jacks to get his heart pumping, then drew in and exhaled several deep breaths. Ready, he turned to face the little brick house and smiled. This was going to be fun.

He roared, “alright pigs, come out now or I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down!”

The door of the house flew open and out marched Bernie, the smartest and most practical of the pig brothers. His two cowardly siblings could be seen with their noses pressed against the inside of the living room window.

“Where’s your mask!” demanded Bernie, “what kind of example are you setting for the community, huffing and puffing and blowing a contagious virus around in this time of pandemic crisis?”

Speechless, Wolf stared at the pig. Suddenly, he started to sneeze, triggered by Bernie’s particularly obnoxious cologne.

“A-a-choo!”

Bernie jumped back, “jeez, you’re too much!. Here, put this on and start acting like a responsible member of society.”

Handing a mask to Wolf, the pig turned and marched back into the house, slamming the door behind him.

Fidgeting with the mask, Wolf tried to get it on over his large ears and protruding snout. Finally, with the mask barely covering the end of his nose, leaving most of his gleaming white fangs exposed, he gave up. Obviously, the mask was designed for a little pig, not a big bad wolf.

His shoulders slumped. He was a failure, an apex predator without a job, just another gig worker lost among the masses of the structurally unemployed. He should have listened to his wife, who’d been telling him for weeks that bullying was out of fashion.

But he’d done everything right, worked hard, followed in his dad’s footsteps, listened to all the advice, practiced in front of a mirror the growls and looks that made a Big Bad Wolf really scary.

He sighed, yes, he’d done everything he was supposed to do, but he’d always had doubts.

Wolf turned and started the long walk home. Then, he stopped, remembering-

deep in his heart, he’d always wanted to be a ballet dancer.

Moral: Little pigs are nothing to sneeze at.

tio stib

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