Dog Poo Made Me Rich.

Stepped in Dog Poo

Everyone has a poop story.

Specifically an animal poop story.

I’m no exception.

Growing up in a country town, we had no shortage of dog, bird, horse and mouse poop.  There were birds everywhere and I got pooped on quite a bit over the years.  The bird poop didn’t bother me so much. But stepping in dog poop was a total bummer… especially when I had brand new running shoes on.

I was about eight years old when I got a nice pair of new running shoes for my birthday.  We weren’t a rich family, so my mother – raising three kids by herself – used what little money she had to buy me the shoes I wanted. What a treat!

My grandmother often stayed with us during long holidays or for a few weeks here and there during summer vacation.

My grandmother always had a garden in our yard and we would eat the vegetables she grew.  She was a smart woman and was always armed with one or two lines of Wisdom or Sage Advice.

She would say things like:

Eat garlic, it keeps the bugs out!
Make sure you get plenty of roughage!

Or when we were going to go on a road trip to the beach and the kids were told to go to the bathroom first.

 ‘I don’t have to go, grandma’ one of us would say.

She’d always reply, ‘you can always pee -there’s always something in there, even if it’s a little bit.’  And would march us up to have our pee (she was right).

Inevitably –  as we kids were playing in the yard – one of us would always step in dog poop then get laughed at and ostracized by the other little tykes (brothers, sisters, cousins) even when it was washed off by one of our uncles or aunts we were still the Poop King or Queen for the day (or the hour until someone else stepped in poop and took the baton).

One particular day on a sunny, summer afternoon, we were all playing in the yard and SQUIBSH, the all too familiar sound of sneaker squishing dog poop was heard – followed by the immediate gagging stench of canine feces.

The all too familiar series of events then followed:

Initial Horror.
Children rush away leaving me alone in the stench.
Laughter and finger pointing ensue (from a safe distance of course).
I’m dubbed Poopy Boy.

I limp to the house (why do we limp when we step in poo?) bummed out – not only because now I’ve been the recipient of unwanted attention, but because the shoes I was wearing were brand new, white running shoes that made me cooler, dapper, and most importantly I could – in my head – run ten times faster than anyone else.

My grandmother heard the commotion and peeked out the kitchen window. She saw me limping to the house  and met me at the back door.

‘My new shoes!’ I cried.

‘It’s OK. We’ll wash that right up for you with the hose.’ 

That didn’t make me feel any better. But she did tell the other kids to shut up. 

As she was washing the poop off my shoe (it was my right shoe if anyone is curious) she said, ‘well, now you’ll have good luck the rest of the day.’
I asked.

‘Yes. If a bird poops on you or you step in doggy doo, you will get lucky… maybe even find some money!’

‘Wow!’ I exclaimed.

I felt much better now.

I put my shoe back on and went to join the other kids when I saw a glint. I stopped and looked down. It was a quarter! (twenty-five cents for an eight year old back in those days was a fortune!)

The other children gathered round.  I told them what I knew about poop & good luck…. then showed them my coin.

‘Oooo’, they said in unison.

The Thought Wheels in my eight year old head started turning.  I put the coin in my pocket and went around to the other part of the yard where I saw a drier day-old poop.

Not so fresh, so not so stinky.  I looked down at my shoes.

Oh well, I remember thinking.

SQUIBSH. I stepped on the poop. 

This time I didn’t run crying to the back door looking for grandma.

This time, I ran around front to where my mother parked her station wagon.

I opened the car door. Not sure what I was doing, but knowing that Luck was on my side, I looked in between the seats. I found a few pennies and a nickel! 

‘I found more money!

Ooooo!’  the cousins exclaimed.

I took a stick and scraped off some of the poo then sauntered down the street of our neighborhood.  I walked to this very old, very big house that was – once upon a time – a rich person’s mansion, but had since been converted into a nursing home.  I saw a bit of poo on the beatifically manicured lawn and promptly ran over to it.


‘What are you doing there, boy?’

I turned and looked and saw an elderly gentleman – whom I often saw sitting and reading on nice days – sitting in the shade of a massive willow tree.  Cane, book, hat, tie and a big smile.

Nothing,’ I replied. Walking over to him.

‘Can you do me a little favor, young man?’  he asked.

‘Uhm… OK’, I replied.

‘Go up to the house there, see those bushes to the right of the door?’

‘Yes,’ I said looking at the bushes.

‘Well behind those bushes there’s a hose. I want you to stretch the hose over here to me. Don’t turn the water on til I tell you.’

I hesitated.

‘Well go on boy!’ He said winking and smiling.  ‘I’m thirsty and I get into trouble with the nurses when I drink from the hose.  He crinkled his nose.   ‘… and it smells like you stepped in doo doo… so perhaps we should wash that off your shoe, too.’

I ran up behind the bushes to the hose and stretched it out to the willow tree then ran back up to the faucet to turn it on when he was ready.

‘OK!’ he said.  I turned it on.  He took a sip out of the hose. I ran down and took a sip, too. 

Now wash that shoe!’ he said.

I moved away from where he was sitting and took off my shoe and with a small stick and water… got most of the poo off.

‘Stanley!’ came a voice from the home.  ‘Are you drinking water from the hose again?’ 
‘No, I was just helping the boy wash doo doo off his shoe,’ he replied looking at me winking. 

The nurse turned off the water and started rolling up the hose. 

I put my shoe on and sat next to Stanley on the bench.  Thank you for that, sonny,’ he said.

He reached into his pocket, pulled out a dollar and stuffed it into my hand.

Why?’ I asked.

‘Well, you’re a good little man helping out an old fart like me.’  Then smiling wryly he added, ‘and dontchya know it’s good luck when you step in doo doo?’

‘That’s what my grandmother said,’ I exclaimed.

‘She sounds like a smart woman.  Now you run a long and come say hi when you see me outside here reading.’

I thanked him and ran back home.  The kids were in the backyard playing whiffle ball. 

Hey Poopy!’ they hollered. I held out the dollar. 

‘I have one dollar and thirty-three cents!’

‘How?’ they asked

‘Cause when you get pooped on by a bird or step in dog poop you have good luck and can make money…. And I did!’

About a half hour later seven children with poop saturated sneakers were at the backdoor, looking down at their shoes as Grandma shook her head.

‘Goodlawd, what did you all do?’

 They pointed at me.

‘Paul said we’d get rich if we stepped in poo.’

‘That’s what you said Gramma!’ I stammered.

‘I just wanted to make you feel better,’  Gramma replied.

I showed her the dollar and all the change I had as a result of my poo hunt.

She feigned anger and disbelief, but I caught a quick smile as she turned to report to my mother, aunts and uncles what had happened. 

We all heard laughter erupt from inside the house.

My uncle came out and told us to take off our shoes.  He helped us clean the poop off in the garden (and told us poop was good for vegetables… it took me months before I could eat a tomato again).

‘You all play barefoot for the rest of the day’, he ordered.

We all laughed as we called each other Poop Queen, Poop King or poopy head.

Looking back on it now, my grandmother was right. Stepping in poop did seem to bring good luck.

 And even when there was no good luck… I still have these good memories.

Thank you Jessica Martin for asking:

“Does anyone out there in Facebook Land have a story of being pooped on by a bird and it actually bringing them good luck (Yes, a bird did just poop on my head)?

…and bringing this memory out of the cobwebs of my mind.

You are my TAM (Tuesday Afternoon Muse).


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A Child, His Mother, God & Shit

Marquee for Blog Post

I was about eight years old when I thought I was a big man and blurted out the word Shit to show my younger brother and sister what a tough guy I was. I loved to use the word ‘shit’ and often spit the word out lavishly and with venom… out of earshot of adults of course. My brother would gasp “ooo… mommy better not hear you say that!” Smugly, I would say it a few more times.

I didn’t care who heard me. Not even God!

One summer afternoon, after lunch, I was playing with my brother and sister in the yard. We were probably arguing about something mundane – a toy perhaps – but to a child, it was of earth-shattering consequence.

Sure that I was out of earshot of my very Protestant Evangelical Fundamentalist Christian Mother who had been known to not spare the rod on occasion, I yelled out Shit! thinking that would end the earth-shattering dispute.

Immediately, I heard, PAAAAAAAAUUUUULLLL! emerge – breaking the sound barrier – from inside the house.

I cringed.

It was not the ‘PAAUULL! where are you? – come home from dinner’ yell.

Nor was it the ‘PAAUULL! Come home, it’s getting dark!’ yell.

This was clearly the ‘Oh shit, you’re in big fucking trouble’ yell.

Sheepishly, I walked into the house. My brother and sister followed cautiously behind me to see what would happen. They knew that ‘PAAUULL!’ yell all too well.

My mother called me into the living room.

“What did I just hear you say?” she asked looking me straight in the eyes. I looked away.

Ship,” I said.

It did not sound like ‘ship’ to me,” she retorted.

It wasn’t!” My brother and sister betrayed me.

Go stand in the corner,” she commanded. I walked past the piano to stand in the corner. As punishment, she told me I must repeat the word Shit for ten minutes.

This was something new! She was actually going to let me say the word Shit for ten minutes?


It started out fine and dandy and I began strong: SHIT! SHIT! SHIT! SHIT! SHIT! SHIT! My younger brother and sister were trying to stifle their laughter as I repeated SHIT! over and over.

My mother had gone to the kitchen… but was still within earshot.

This was way better than my Evangelical Christian Mother not sparing the rod!

For the first few minutes, it was cool. I got to say the word Shit ! and I would look over my shoulder intermittently – and cautiously as one could only stare at the wall in the corner and was not permitted to look around – at my younger brother and sister complacently as they stood by watching and grinning.

After what seemed like an hour – but was in fact only five minutes – Shit stopped sounding like word.

My younger brother and sister – not able to contain themselves anymore – were laughing hysterically.

Another minute or so passed, and Shit not only stopped sounding like a word it had also lost all its meaning.

My tongue, the roof of my mouth and even my teeth began to feel numb. I did not know where the [sh] sound began and the [t] sound ended.

My mouth muscles had begun to cramp up and I stopped for a moment to try to form the word.

Did I tell you to stop?” My mother called out. “I’m adding on two more minutes!”

 I cried out. My smug smirk had long faded into an agonizing grimace.

Shit – shiiit – shi – tish – tish – shshh. shitishtishitit… I struggled.

As the 10 minute mark came and went, the word Shit fumbled out of my confused mouth as I prayed to God – whom must have been listening and looking down on the situation with glee – to have mercy and speed up time.
Finally, my mother came back to the living room, “turn around,” she ordered.

I turned slowly around.

Did you learn a lesson?” she asked.

I nodded and tried to say yes. I heard myself say Yesh instead.

I tried to say yes again. Yesh, I sputtered. I gave up and just nodded.

I vowed never to use the word Shit thereafter and indeed it was quite a while before saying the word felt natural and good again.

Once I realized I could say Shit without stuttering or feeling strange, I vowed to only use the word sparingly… and out of earshot of Mother.

A couple of years later, when Shit no longer gave me that big person feeling, I experimented with the word Fuck… but that is a whole other story.


You can Follow the Militant Hippi/Boston Paul on Facebook:

You might also like to read some other short stories by Boston Paul AKA The Militant Hippi:

  1. About a Great Grandfather and his Great Grandson:My Great Grandfather: When Cultures Clash. Ass kicking, long hair and Hard Knocks

    2.  This is my weapon and this is my Gun, based on real life events, a young man finds himself in Central America:

3. Hate waiting in line?  This is for you:

4. The Would Be Patriot:

5. A bit of Horror and suspense… never blow this guy’s candle out!

6. Getting Stoned at The Fair



Where The F@#$% are my Socks? A Riveting Story About Searching


True Story…

(as true as a story based on reality can be)

Some friends of mine and I went to the art museum one night – at about midnight – to lay on the museum’s perfectly manicured grass and have a smoke or two, drink a few, and have a nice chat under the full moon.  It was kind of an after-party from a show we had all been at earlier in the evening.

One of the friends was a trumpet player named Wesley. Wes and I were with a couple of other friends named Vera (a singer) and Lenora (an artists and translator) and James (another artist and videographer).

We  looked at the moon, talked trash, laughed a lot, took our shoes off and let the grass caress our toes.  We drank, we smoked some more. Got deep. Laughed more. Did somersaults and cartwheels down a gentle slope and took goofy pictures of ourselves.

And then, all of us on our backs, stared at the midnight sky in silence.

Then we all hugged, said goodnight to each other and parted ways.

I’m not sure where everyone else went, but Wesley and I went back to his place as it was near the museum. He had a bit more booze at his house… so we spent much of the rest of the night drinking and making music…  then we burned our ideas onto a CD.

Then I passed out on his couch sharing it with all of his stuff.

Strewn about the couch was his laundry – including pants, boxer shorts, a towel, a couple of shirts and some brightly colored ties;  some musical instruments – mostly percussion type instruments like shakers, rattles and a tambourine; there were a couple of books (can’t remember the names of the books, but I think I liked one of the authors); and a couple of pillows.

I used some of his laundry as a blanket.

Then I woke up.

I opened my eyes and was blinded by the blaring sunlight – that wasn’t there when I passed out – flooding Wesley’s living room (which was also his dining room, study, studio and part of his kitchen).

I immediately got that oh shit, I’m late feeling and scrambled to pack up my stuff: a jacket, a helmet, my guy-purse, the keys to my motorcycle, my shoes and other tidbits.

Then I realized my socks were missing.

I looked around for them.  Under here. Over there. The socks were black, I told myself… or perhaps dark blue. I stood in the middle of the room and tried to recall where I had put them.

Then I woke Wes up to say goodbye.

Then I looked for my socks again. I looked under the couch, in his laundry still laying on the couch  – some of his laundry still with the imprint of my body on it. I looked in my shoes (again) and the bathroom (as I may have taken them off as the floor was a bit wet).

I found them not.

I spied a pair of socks on the floor next to the trumpet, but decided not to borrow them as I wasn’t sure if they were clean or not and didn’t want to do the smell test.

I gathered up my belongings and barefoot, carrying my shoes, walked down six flights of stairs (no elevator) to my scooter.

I got on my scooter, waved to the taichi people practicing in the park as I pulled out onto the street, went back to art museum and looked there for my socks.

I looked under the tree we had been sitting under, behind the bushes where I relieved myself of those whiskey apple cider things that I now wish I had not drunk. I looked up and down the hill we had done the cartwheels and somersaults on; the approximate area we had been on our backs looking at the stars…  still… no socks.

Barefoot, I walked back to my motorcycle, as the sun dared to glare brightly at me (I could not find my sunglasses either).

I put on my helmet and with bare feet, I headed slowly north on my motorcycle – back to my home in the big valley wondering if my socks were still resting at the art museum or hiding at Wesley’s place or sitting alone on a sidewalk somewhere  – waiting for my return…

…or perhaps – just maybe –  I did not wear socks out in the first place.


You can Follow the Militant Hippi/Boston Paul on Facebook:

You Might also like to read some other short stories by Boston Paul AKA The Militant Hippi:

  1. About a Great Grandfather and his Great Grandson:

    2.  This is my weapon and this is my Gun, based on real life events, a young man finds himself in Central America:

3. Hate waiting in line?  This is for you:

4. The Would Be Patriot:

5. A bit of Horror and suspense… never blow this guy’s candle out!

6. Getting Stoned at The Fair



Published in: on January 31, 2016 at 12:49 AM  Comments (2)  
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My Great Grandfather: When Cultures Clash. Ass kicking, long hair and Hard Knocks

My Great Grandfather: When Cultures Clash


Great Grandfather and his Rake.

It was the day before my Great Grandfather’s Birthday – his Life Celebration – when he died. 

He would have celebrated his hundredth birthday and it would have been celebrated on a Sunday.  Now I know he is somewhere in the Spirit World angry as hell that he missed it by one day.  Just one day!

My Grandfather would not be angry just because he died.  Everyone dies someday, he used to say.  But you see, he had this thing about him – these things actually. But there was one thing about him, and everyone who knew him would agree, he liked things just right.  And dying on his birthday at 100 years old would have completed the perfect circle.

My Great Grandfather was a bit quirky, a Renaissance Man and what a pop psychologist may even call a bit anal-retentive. Things had to be put in their proper place. Labeled. Cleaned. This however did not show so much when dealing with other people, it was just a little quirk in his own life.

For instance, if you opened his refrigerator, everything was arranged just the way he liked it. Food that may spoil first (and his favorite treats) were placed at the front of the fridge followed by food with a later expiry date and food less preferred (he hated beets, but knew they were healthy… which is probably why he lived to be so old). Things that didn’t spoil were arranged by size and color. Ketchup, mustard and relish were arranged in that order because that’s how they were aligned in a visible (light) spectrum. I told him it was because deep down he was a Rasta and he told me to shut the hell up.

Now I feel that his refrigerator habits made sense.  And even now I do the same thing. Which to anyone who knew the both of us, this was no surprise. They all used to say (and still do) that I was just like him. Down to the bone, they’d say. 

Maybe that’s why we got along so well, my Great Grandfather and I.

My father and I were a different story however.

My father and I were also much alike in a few ways – stubborn, temperamental – and perhaps that is why he tried to kill me one day. 

If not for my Great Grandfather and a rake, I might not be writing this now.

To begin, I should mention that my Mom and Dad got divorced when I was very young. My younger brother was a year and half old, my sister was just born and I was three.

He wanted to move to a warmer climate (sick of those New England winters) and my mother would not leave her family (a townie through and through)… so they parted ways. To be fair, my parents were very young when they married, so I can’t blame either. We do dumb things when we are young… and if it wasn’t for their dumbness, I wouldn’t be writing this now.

So YAY for that. 

We had not seen my father for a few years, and then one day, he came back.  

I got to see Dad on the weekends.  I was still young and it was a thrill to have a “dad” again. We would go out on his motorcycle, or drive around in his Cutlass.  He taught me how to fight and protect myself and when the bullies on the playground came around, I had something for them. 

Having a dad again was great (even though it was just the weekends)… until I started getting older and realized he did not know the first thing about raising kids. But still, he had his own ideas.

  You see, the older I got, the more I wanted my own identity… to be my own person. Some called me rebellious, but I wasn’t thinking that way.  I grew my hair longer and changed the style of my clothes.  My father took this all in stride at first.  But he was only tolerating my behavior for the time being. 

My father was what one would call Old School. He said he was brought up at the school of Hard Knocks, and that my generation didn’t know what it meant to be disciplined and respect their elders.

Little did I know that it was just a matter of time before Old School of Hard Knocks dominated any guilt feelings he had about leaving his children so many years ago.

Just a matter of time came one Saturday morning when he came to pick me up.  I was still eating breakfast when he came in. 

My Mother had gone upstairs and my brother was in the back yard playing with the dog.  My sister was standing in the kitchen door watching my brother.  I had stayed out late the night before with a few friends and had climbed back in the window of my room during the wee hours. I was still feeling a little drowsy when my father came in.

He stopped and looked at me.

“Hi Dad,” I said.

“What the hell is that in your ear?” he asked. 

My hand shot up to my ear.  A sudden cold washed over me as I started to sweat.  I had forgotten that my friends and I pierced our ears the night before, a kind of bonding thing I guess. 

I pierced my ear first with a sewing needle, and then I helped my buddy with his and he helped another with his and so on.  Then we all celebrated by drinking until we passed out (it didn’t take much, we were only fifteen).

“I asked if it was real,” he said.  I swallowed. 

(How come the only time you realize you’re swallowing, is when you are terrified?)

He grabbed my shirt and shook me. “Answer me!” he yelled

“I…I…” I couldn’t get the words out.  He let go of me.

“Take it out now,” he demanded.  I began to reach up and take it out. 

Then I stopped.

“No,” I said.

“What did you say?” my father said astonished.

I swallowed again (damn it!).

“No,” I repeated.

“You will take it out of your ear, or I will rip it out!” he bellowed. 

Fear gripped me, but at the same time I was angry.  I didn’t want anyone telling me what to do. 

He can’t tell me what to do, he doesn’t live here. I thought.

“Did you hear me, boy?”

“Dad,” I said, “why are you doing this?”

“I am not going to have a sissy faggot for a son,” he replied.

“I am not a sissy faggot,” I had to defend myself. You try piercing your own ear with a needle!

“Then take the earring out of your ear.”

“That has nothing to do with being a sissy faggot, Dad.”

“Take the goddamn thing out now, boy.”

“No!”  I yelled. “You can’t tell me what to do!”  I struggled to my feet, but my legs felt like Jell-O.

He began to roll his shirt sleeves up.  “Are you talking back to me?  I believe you need to be disciplined the old fashion way. Your mother doesn’t discipline you enough.” 

He began walking towards me.  I backed up.  My sister turned and saw us. I prayed that she would run and get Mom, but she just stood there watching. I backed up into the kitchen and scanned the counters for something I could protect myself with.

WHAM!!  He backhanded me.  I reeled around.  The whole kitchen began spinning as I fell.

“Get up you chicken shit sissy.” Dazed I grabbed the door knob to the kitchen door and pulled myself up.  He reached for my ear and I turned my head.

“Don’t you turn away from me, boy!  Now are you going to take that thing out of your ear?”

“No!”  I cried.  He grabbed me by my long hair, my shirt and that extra bit of skin on the back of the neck and hurled me out the kitchen door into the back yard.  My brother stopped playing and looked at me.

“What’s wrong?” my brother asked.

“Nothing,” my father told him, “get in the house.”  My brother was still looking at me as he went into the house.  My Father jerked me to my feet. My legs were shaking, but I managed to stand.

“Now, do you think you are man enough to hit me?” he asked.
I clenched my fists.

SMACK!!  He hit me again.  “You’re not a man.  Now get up boy…  I said get up!”   

The inside of my mouth was filling with blood.  My head was spinning.  I got back up.  I licked my lip, it was cracked and bleeding.

“Now you are going to take that thing out of your ear, and then we are going to go to Ernie’s.”

GOD, no!  Ernie was the town barber.  Probably the last of his kind.  I think he was a barber in the military before he opened his own shop. I knew that I was NOT going to go to Ernie’s.  He would have to kill me first.

“Dad, you can hit me all you want, but I am not going there,” it hurt when I talked and blood spattered out of my mouth onto my shirt.

“Oh, now you are telling me what you’re going to do?  Well, I’ll tell you what, I am going to beat you senseless.  Then I am going to pick you up and take you there.  When you wake up, you will have a proper haircut and that thing in your ear will be gone.”

“I am not going!”  I raised my fists to fight back.  Anger took over fear. Instinct. 

He hit me again knocking my fist into my nose.  Then I felt another blow and then another.  I was bleeding and mucus was all over my face. My eyes were filled with water, and then the hitting ceased. 

I heard a noise and some muffled shouts. My eyes were shut, but everything was still spinning. I was in the fetus position on the ground.

I opened my eyes. I stared at the ground and saw how the grass moved when I breathed. I lifted my aching head and turned my stiff neck toward the house and saw mother in the doorway with a look of horror on her face.  My brother and sister were watching from the window. 

My father was holding his knee in what looked like pain.

“You son of a bitch!” he cried. “You can’t stop me from disciplining my son!” 

I looked to see who my Father was talking to, but heard my Great Grandfather speak before I saw him.

“Ya wanna try to hit me, boy?”  My Great Grandfather asked my father.  I looked over at Gramps and he was holding a rake he had just used to hit my Father in the knee cap with.

“Hit an old man?” My father laughed and then grimaced, “I’m not going to hit an old man.”

“Why not?  You’re hitting a young boy, why not an old man?”

My father looked at him and then looked at me. 

I stared at my father – hating him and feeling sorry for him at the same time.

“Come on, now!” My great Grandfather taunted. 

My father looked at him.  My Great Grandfather smiled holding the rake firmly and with confidence. 

His smile wasn’t a happy smile or even a sinister smile. I am not sure how to describe it.  Perhaps it was a smile that conveyed, I don’t have a care in the world.  I can kick your ass or have a cup of tea, it’s all the same to me.

“Well, ya gonna stand there rubbing your knee contemplating hitting me or are ya gonna apologize to the boy and your ex wife for whatchya did, then get on out of here?  And if you’re calmed down by next week, maybe ya can come back.”

“I’m not apologizing to anyone,” replied my father as he limped away. 

He went around the front yard where his car was parked.  I started to get up.  My Great Grandfather leaned the rake against the house and came over to me to help me up.  I could feel the strength. I would say that he was strong for an old man, but he was strong for any man – young or old.  A strength that I hoped to have someday.

“Let’s getchya cleaned up,” he said.

We didn’t see my father for a month after that day.  He called a couple times to talk to my brother.  It didn’t matter.
For the time being, I still had my hair – my long hair –  and my earring. 

Later on that month, I switched from the silver stud earring to one with a feather – a small feather – just like the one my Great Grandfather had in his ear…



You can Follow the Militant Hippi/Boston Paul on Facebook:

You Might also like to read:

What is a Friend?

The Music of Birds and Humans:

Ride … a poem by a younger me:

This is My Weapon and This is My Gun

Airborne tat chest 2

It’s the mid 1980s and I find myself in Central America. I’m young. I’m passionate. I’m a Brainwashed Minion. A Pawn. A Robot. A Lean Mean Fighting Machine.

It’s hot. My uniform is soaked with sweat. In the distance I hear munitions exploding. I hear sirens. Helicopters overhead. Jets scream by.

I am counting boxes filled with bombs and bullets.  Ammo Detail they call it. I’ll be doing this mundane shit until they figure out what we are all going to do in this lovely Central American country.

Getting ammo ready for issue. How did I get stuck doing this shit job?
Like peeling potatoes or mopping the floor in the latrine. You have to fuck up to get stuck doing this shit. Soon, perhaps I’ll move to the front where the action is.

I finish loading boxes and sit on the ground and relax with my M-16 rifle.

This is my Weapon and this is my Gun, this is for Killing and this is for FUN.

I’ll rest. Rest and Wait. Wait for what? To fight maybe, to go home. I don’t know.
Being here though, gives me a lot of time to think, to confirm and develop philosophies.

I have butterflies in my stomach.

I am scared and excited at the same time.

I volunteered to fight for my country.
“Would you die for your country?’ has always been a morale boosting question.
Military men have asked me that many times.

And my answer is always the same:


“NO?” They blurt out. “WHY?”

They are always astonished at my answer and probably think I’m Communist until I tell them:

“Comrade,” I always begin, “I am going to Live for my country and give some other poor bastard the opportunity to Die for his.”

(What good will I do for my country, if I’m dead…?)

My, it is a spinning world. Spinning out of control in my part of the universe. I’m holding on tight. Keeping a strong grip until this universal whirlwind subsides.

I try to make the Calm in my mind. I try to subdue the tempestuous state in my world. My universe within.

I am me.
I am the Black Sheep.
I am the Shepherd.
I am the Freak Show.
The biker.
The once Born Again Christian, The Buddhist, The Taoist. The Agnostic.
I am the Spiritual One.  The Metaphysical Bum.

I am me, and yet I ponder:
Who am I?
What am I?
I am someone different to someone everyday.

One minute I am floating to earth having just jumped from an airplane… the next I am huddled next to a comrade in arms, listening to explosions.

I am violent and soft.
I laugh and cry.
Part of me is born, everyday, part of me dies.
Am I the same person I was ten years ago?
I dare say, Hardly.
Does anyone know who or what they really are?

Are we living or existing?



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Boston Paul’s 20 Year Taiwanniversary & How it Happened

It is indeed my Twenty Year Taiwanniversary!

Has it been that long? Twenty years? Time flies indeed… not like a bird, but more like a supersonic jet.

The last few days, as I realized that my Taiwanniversary was approaching, I began to reflect on how many people I’ve met over the years and all the things I have done.

I have learned so much.

It’s been an adventurous, fun, experience living in Taiwan – AKA Formosa – these last twenty years.

I’ve lived in Taiwan just under half my life… and what a whirlwind!

I’ve seen people come and go and come back again.

I’ve seen people, learn about themselves get confidence then spread their wings and fly.

I’ve seen the Island go from a handful of foreigners to a force to be reckoned with.

I was here for the very first presidential elections.

I’ve seen political turmoil. I was here when China shot missiles right off the shores of our Island Paradise to intimidate the government… and not just once either.

I witnessed Peaceful Protests by the Taiwan People in the Wild Strawberries & The Sun Flower Movements (and with great risk I played music for the Wild Strawberry Movement while the KMT police took my picture).

I’ve experienced Earthquakes Galore including the Big One in 1999, that not only shook the Island, but my very soul.

The list goes on and on… I might even write a book about it one day.

Today – January Seventh – marks exactly twenty years that I have officially lived in Taiwan.

For the Occasion, I decided to write about how I actually got here, the crossroads I encountered during my pre-Taiwan days and why I finally chose to make Formosa – Beautiful Island –  my home.

Taiwan: the place I hang my many Hats.

I have always had an interest in Asian culture and it started at a very young age. Perhaps my interest in various Asian cultures caught hold as early as six years old when I was taking martial art classes with my father then going to our favorite Chinese restaurant (owned by a couple of brothers from Hong Kong) where I quickly mastered chop sticks.
Perhaps this interest in Asian culture was perpetuated by my Uncle Ed when he married a Korean woman in the 1970s. She spent a lot of time with me when they visited as her English was not so good and she preferred hanging out with us kids who wouldn’t judge her.
Perhaps it was because I watched a lot of Bruce Lee (and other martial art) movies.

It seems that it was just a matter of time when I would find myself in a country where I felt at home.

I thought that matter of time would be in 1992. I took a month off during the summer and visited Japan. I had met a few Japanese friends at University who had moved back to Japan and invited me to visit. I was already trying to learn Japanese (on top of Chinese) and thought this would be a good chance to hone my skills.

I was also a big fan of sushi.

I was working full time around this time and going to school at The University of Massachusetts in Boston. I had been out of the military a couple of years and decided I would like to go to another country without aiming an M16 at anyone.

Japan was beautiful. I traveled all over. Kyoto was probably my favorite. I didn’t want to leave.

At the time, I was dating a Sociology major who also happened to be Taiwanese. We met in 1990 and her name was Chin-lan. We had taken a couple of Chinese literature classes together and got to know one of our teachers who was born in Beijing but had fled to Taiwan with her family as a little girl when the KMT lost the civil war to the Communists. Her name was Ms. Mao. She was an awesome professor and we became friends.

I took quite a few classes with Professor Mao and learned a lot from her. I decided to give up learning Japanese and focus on Chinese – as Chinese came much more naturally to me. This would help complete my core getting me a minor in East Asian studies.

I kept eating sushi though.

At the end of 1992, I had an opportunity to work as a police officer in Chinatown. The pay would be good and the job would be exciting. Of course the one main requirement was that I had to speak and understand Mandarin Chinese. The few polite words I had managed to learn from my then girlfriend, her friends and Chinese classes a couple of times a week would not suffice.

I spent a lot of time in Chinatown as I bought things I needed for a martial arts school I had opened … and I loved the culture. I spent so much time in the various restaurants and shops there, that many of the shop owners knew my name and would politely giggle when I blurted out a few sentences in Chinese. “Very good Mandarin!” they would say. I knew they were just being polite, but I liked the encouragement. I thought working in Chinatown would be perfect and took my Chinese courses that much more seriously.

As 1993 rolled around, I was still taking Chinese classes at Uni a couple times a week. One day, Professor Mao told me that if I really wanted to learn Chinese I should immerse myself. She suggested I take a summer semester at Donghai University in Taiwan. It so happened that Donghai and UMass were ‘sister schools’ so getting into their program should not be a problem.

That sounded good to me.

I enrolled in the summer program. I arrived in Taiwan for the first time in June 1993. I spent the summer with Taiwanese roommates at the dorm at Donghai.

I took classes with students from all over the world and who were far more advanced in the language than I was. They ended up making a special class just for me. I joked that I was in the special needs class and needed to take a short bus to school. In fact, it turned out not be a joke at all. Everyone there would laugh at the jokes teacher made in class. I would smile and nod my head and try to decipher what was being said.

I felt like a big stupid doofy head.

But, where some may have quit (and some did), I became that much more determined.

I met a guy named Mike Brennan from St. Louis. He was an artist, a bit on the quiet side and his Chinese was really, really good. He made things easier for me and helped me with my homework. We became friends.

I left Taiwan at the beginning of September, just in time to start taking classes again at UMass. I was asked by my employers if my Chinese was good enough to start working in Chinatown.

It wasn’t. I kept up my Chinese studies for another year.

As 1994 popped its head up in the dead of winter, I realized I only had a couple of semesters to go before I graduated. I could then focus on my career and hopefully get that job in Chinatown. Mike wrote me a letter (this was before Email really kicked in) and said he was thinking of another summer semester in Taiwan.

I thought, why not?

I enrolled in the ‘94 summer semester at Donghai and spent another three months in Taiwan. I felt much more relaxed than the first time I came. I had a little bit more Chinese under my belt. I felt more comfortable speaking –  and my listening had improved… as long as it was easy, polite conversational bits of conversation, I could handle it.

I also didn’t need to be in the Special Needs class anymore.

It was great to see and hang out with Mike again. He and I lifted weights and practiced gongfu together. Went out on the town (not that there was much of a town back then, but the tea houses were nice and the girls were pretty!), we studied together.

We sat on the library steps at the university often and drank a beer or two and talked about life, love, art and music.

One particular warm Taiwan night, we had moved from the library steps to a patch of grass in front of the library. We lay down, a bit buzzed from our drinks and continued chatting as we took in the starry night.

“What are your plans when you graduate, Paul?” he asked.

“I don’t know. I guess focus on my career. Keep learning Chinese and see how far that gets me up the ladder,” I replied.

“Is that what you see yourself doing? Being a policeman working in Chinatown?”

“I guess so. I have my girlfriend, we have a good life. I’m making lots of money…. why do you ask?”

Mike thought about this for a moment and said, “I just don’t see you being a cop… to be honest.”

“Oh,” I replied.

We were quiet for a few moments. We both got up and brushed the grass of our pants and shirts.

We had to be up at 7:30 in the morning for classes… so we shook hands and said goodnight.

I didn’t go to sleep right away. My mind was filled with uncertain thoughts of the future.

Could I live in another country? Could I be away from my family and friends?
Would Chin-lan come with me if I moved to Taiwan? Could I make a living here?

The next day I went to class and told my teachers about the possibility of coming back again next year and staying for a year or two. They seemed to think it was a good idea, though they asked if I wouldn’t miss my family and friends in the states.

For the rest of the summer semester I mulled it over.

Perhaps I could stay a year, maybe two… get the language down, then the world would indeed be my oyster!

I went back to Boston and tried to pick up where I left off before the summer. I trudged through my last semester at UMass and got my degrees. I worked, but not with the same gusto I had before. I didn’t care about climbing the ladder anymore… at least not the one I found myself on.

The night I decided to move to Taiwan would have been sometime in October ’94.

I took Chin-lan out to dinner and told her my plan.

It did not go well.

“One or Two years?! What the hell have we been doing then? You are basically telling me you’re breaking up with me, right?” she spat.

“No… I’m not!” I paused… “why don’t you come with me?”

“I don’t want to live in Taiwan! I’ve been living in America since the 6th grade! This is my home now.”

“Well, we can keep in touch. Visit each other. I just want to do something different… do you know what I mean?”

“No! I don’t know what you mean… we have everything we need here. We both have good jobs. We’re making money… we have a house, cars… why would you want to leave all this?”

“If I speak Chinese, I can work in Chinatown… you know. The reason I went to Taiwan in the first place.  This move opens up a lot of possibilities for me – for us – as a couple… don’t you see?”

She didn’t see.

We got into bed that night. No kissing. No cuddling. I don’t think either one of us slept. I stared at the shadows on the ceiling.

November came and went. Chin-lan and I grew further apart… then it was Christmas and we went to see my family.

Little did I know that it would be the last Christmas Dinner I would share with the whole family.

By this time, most people in my family knew that I was going to live in Taiwan for a while. I told everyone I would probably spend a year or two until my Chinese was fluent then come back and be a cop in Chinatown or perhaps even get a job in government since with my military training, degrees and Chinese skills, I could probably secure a pretty good career.

We had a good family gathering. Chin-lan and I agreed that we would try a long distance relationship and that two years would go by in a jiffy. This Christmas Dinner was also a Good-bye I’m Going Away Dinner.

I told my supervisors I would take a leave of absence and that I would come back fluent in Mandarin.

Then I packed up my stuff. Put a bunch of stuff in storage and said goodbye to my house and most of my friends.

On January 7, 1995, my family and a few friends saw me off at Logan Airport in Boston.

I arrived in Taiwan on Saturday morning January 7th and chuckled to myself how I could leave my country 24 hours previously and show up in another country on the same day.

That one or two years turned into five years.

The ten years…. then fifteen.

And now it’s been twenty.

The long distance relationship with Chin-lan didn’t work out. They almost never do, do they?

The leave of absence I took became a resignation.

I don’t have any regrets about this life changing move, though I do miss some of my friends and family.

Learning that some of my family – and friends – have passed away while I’ve been living in the Far East hurts indeed.
But I still believe that I made the right choice living here.

I have done a lot in Taiwan in these twenty years. Perhaps more than some do in a lifetime… but that’s another story…

…a story I’ll write – perhaps – when I’ve reached my thirty year Taiwanniversary.

Cheers Taiwan!

Cheers Friends from all over the world I’ve met over the years here in Taiwan!

And last – but certainly not least – much Love to my wife Sandra and my son Raiden – for making my life here in Taiwan that much more awesome.


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What is a Friend… Really?

Family Love Friend


UPON GRADUATING FROM UNIVERSITY WHERE they saw it fit to award me with degrees & certificates, my Journey Path brought me to a Wonderful Island Paradise.

New Country. New People. New Culture.  Taiwan is rife with friendly people – several of whom would eventually become my friends.

Within a few hours of stepping onto Taiwanese Soil, I secured employment in a very Taiwanese bar with a very American name called 9th Street Pub. It had a 30 foot Masonic Statue of Liberty out front that looked down on its Guests as they sauntered through the entrance.

My days working at The Pub are a bit of a blur, but a few synapses have fired up and I bring you these Reflections armed with hindsight & thought.

I was the only foreigner working at this disco pub. My duties consisted of dancing, drinking, occasionally mixing drinks behind the bar, and door person.

For most of the time, I was kept quite busy drinking with the patrons.

A diminutive but significant parley happened with a particular patron one evening, that after a considerable amount of consideration, I’ve realized greatly influenced the way I look at words in my Mother Tongue – particularly how the word friend is used.

That evening, after a few drinks with a group of business men, the loudest of them (with limited English skills) – surrounded by satellite sycophants – put his arm around my neck in passive aggressive fashion and introduced me to newcomers at our table.

My new friend!” he exclaimed.

While I sat there (my neck fixed in the crux of his forearm and bicep, suffering the tugs & jerks in rhythm to his repeated use of new friend) it dawned on me that the meaning of the word friend had lost its significance.

Growing up, I believed a friend meant extended Family. A friend was family without the blood ties… someone you could depend on any hour of the day – or night. Someone who got your back. Someone quick with advice or at least a little bit of sympathy or better yet empathy.

I asked my new acquaintance to lend me $1000 dollars.

He stopped jerking my neck and released me.

Said he, “1000 dollah? Why?”

Said I, “We are friends. Friends help each other in need. I also need a ride home when I get off work at 4AM. Can you wait for me?”

Said he, “But I leave soon. My wife want me home by 3!”

Said I, “Could you call your wife and tell her you are helping out a friend?”

Said he, “But she do not know who are you!”

Said I, “I am your friend! I need your help. Friends help friends.”

Said he, “But first time just meeting you!”

Said I, “Ahhh, so we are not friends then?”

Said he, “More whiskey!”

The terms Friend & Acquaintance are as confusing as the words Love & Infatuation. Interestingly, as I will explain in a moment, the words love and friend are related.

But I am obliged to digress a moment and offer a cursory meaning of Love.


Love At First Sight (LAFS)

We hear of people having LAFS all the time.

In one’s Lifetime, is it possible to have a few LAFSs?

My Answer is a simple but resounding NO.

Without delving too deeply into the semantics of love… no one loves anyone at first sight. It may feel that way, but often words are not a good medium to describe feelings… are they?

Indeed, when Paths cross and one encounters someone new, one may initially like what they perceive. After all, almost everyone exhibits their most favorable side – especially when a First Impression is involved.

Presented is the new acquaintance’s utmost politeness, wittiness, and even tastes in clothing – perhaps flouting their plume not unlike a peacock. We are attracted to the pretty wrapping on the gift-box. A good First Impression, after all, is of the essence in a first meeting, isn’t it?

When such charms are flaunted, it is no wonder we like what we first observe, but it is hardly love.

When Mammalian Urges & Impulses are ablaze, however, and those three words (those three words!) are uttered (often in the heat of passion) what is being experienced is not love, but infatuation.

Infatuation may fade as Love is nurtured, just as fat withers as a regularly used muscle develops.

When homo-sapiens meet for the first time and ‘make love’ how is there real love involved? Aren’t they just have a mammalian f*ck? Merely Copulating? Having a Mating Moment? How then is a joyous one night stand defined?

We don’t fall in love in those early moments, we fall in like. We are infatuated…or maybe just horny.

But we humans need words to convey our feelings. We search for words in our heads and often blurt out what we think we feel in that moment – often without considering how what we say is perceived by the listener.

When engaged in wonderful conversation, a first outing, sexual congress or chance meeting, who hasn’t felt Passion Fascination, Obsession, Fixation, Ardor, Excitement, Delight, Enchantment, Pleasure, Amusement, Delight (did I say delight already?), Enjoyment, Gratification… and so on?

With that in mind, I don’t believe in friends at first sight either.

 Which brings me to the use of:



Etymologically, a friend is literally a lover. The relationship between Latin amīcus “friend” and amō “I love” is unmistakable, as is the correlation between Greek philos “friend” and phileō  “I love.”

In English though, we have to go back about a thousand years before we see the verb related to friend.

As most of us know English has some of its roots in the Germanic.

The word frēond, is the Old English word for ‘friend’ and was simply the present participle of the verb frēon – to love.

The Germanic root of the verb was ‘fri-’ which meant ‘to love, or be affectionate to’.

We can still see the remnants of this verb one day of the seven day week- Friday or ‘day of Frigg’ is devoted to the Germanic goddess of love – Frigg.

Friendship is one mind in two bodies.  ~Mencius

Why is the term friend becoming a nonspecific word used simply for someone another may be acquainted with? What has caused the decline of the original meaning?

 One of the culprits is indeed any one of these social networking sites on the internet. I propose that these sites – though they have their advantages – have turned the word friend into a generic expression that is becoming ever more ambiguous.

The word friend is now tossed and bumped around the social networking lexicon and used without much thought about where the word comes from and how for a millennia has enjoyed quite a meaningful status… until now.



I read a comment on a more popular networking site that asked, “who de-friended me?”

I’ve heard statements like, “I’m going to unfriend him because he doesn’t like my posts..”

I would have LOLed if it wasn’t so painfully pitiful.

I’ve also heard it said that ‘so & so is a bad friend!’

Bad Friend?  What is that?

Forgive the digression while I get Oxy-Moronic:

 How can anyone have a bad friend? .
A bad friend – is this a serious joke?  Or is this a real fantasy some people have? When I hear this, my brain bubbles with silent screams so deafening, I can’t hear myself think. It’s a sweet kind of sorrow having a bad friend – like having a friendly enemy or a Holy War! The concept is just simply complicated in its simplistic complexity.  Having a friend who is bad is like having a war that is civil… that’s Military Intelligence for you. The Simply Confused users of the term bad friend should be shot with a Peace Keeper Missile while eating Vegetarian Meatloaf. For the term belongs in a TRAGIC COMEDY!


Ahem… Moving right along…

And what about these websites that post how many friends you have? Has it become merely a popularity contest? Or a place to find like-minded game players?

These social/connecting sites have a variety of functions. Some use it to meet new people; others play the ridiculous time wasting games & quizzes; for others it is a simple networking or PR tool… but how many real friends do you have on these social networking sites?

 Something I find especially entertaining – and significant – is when an actual long time friend or a family member adds me to their friends list.

The website posts that we “…are now friends” on my Cyber-space corner for all to see.

What was our relationship before that then?

Can it be stated – tongue in cheek – that no one is a friend until the Corporate Entity ( AKA they) says so?

 On the flip side, if someone whom I find interesting and knows some of the same people I do, adds me to their friend list, we are now friends though we have never met in person – and perhaps never will.

What is our real relationship then?

Are the masses self-esteem so low that they look to a social site to give them that warm fuzzy feeling a true encounter with a real friend may have given them – had the opportunity presented itself?

Friends, friends, friends.

Who needs them then with all the politics involved?

Perhaps it is because of the murky meaning and the looseness of the usage that many of us do not see eye to eye with what a friend actually is.

Thus the confusion.

The Buddhist Monks may be right: shave your head, give up family & friends and go meditate in a cave… Unless… unless we take back this word and give it its meaning back.

What is a friend?  A single soul dwelling in two bodies.  ~Aristotle


What the hell is a New Friend then??

So if it is agreed that we should take the word friend and give it its original meaning back – what then exactly is a new friend?

When does a friend become a friend?

When do we make the cross over from acquaintance to friend?

Cultivating relationships takes time. Trust must be built. If one is first an acquaintance, when does one become a new friend?  Perhaps I should have put the word New Friend in the Oxymoron section of this essay, eh?

Food for Thought!


                                  Friendship in B.C.E. Rome

Cicero (January 3, 106 BCE – December 7, 43 BCE) had his own beliefs on friendship.

Cicero was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He is widely considered one of Rome’s greatest orators & prose stylists. He is now appreciated primarily for his humanism and philosophical & political writings.

Cicero believed that in order to share true friendship, one must have complete honesty & trust. Friends do things for each other without hope of remuneration. If one friend is about to make a mistake, the other should explain what is evil about the action, and help to do what is right.



The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words.
Philip K. Dick

 Has the English usage of the word friend gone the Path of NewSpeak in Orwell’s 1984?

For those of you unfamiliar with Orwell’s Newspeak, instead of adding words to the lexicon, words were taken away or meant to mean several things but taking away from the original meaning. The objective of Newspeak was to remove all shades of meaning from language. In Newspeak they took pride in the Destruction & Elimination of Words. Synonyms & antonyms were at the outset expunged. Adjectives were also some of the first to be eliminated.

Bad becomes ungood.  Something really bad becomes double plus-ungood.

Thus in Newspeak nothing could be bad.

 The underlying theory of Newspeak is that if something can’t be thought then spoken; subsequently, it can’t be considered.

How can we communicate the need for Freedom or organize a Revolution if we don’t have the words for either?

“The limits of my language mean the limits to my world.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein


If we cannot think it – at the very least in our individual Reality Boxes in which we all individually reside –then it cannot be.

 This seems to be what is happening to the English language.

Inaccuracies abound because often our random thoughts are inattentive, careless and inconsiderate (Public Education may be the culprit for that) thus the lackadaisical route English has taken makes it easier for foolish thoughts to flourish.

One hopes that this careless process is reversible.

 A word is just a sound with no meaning until it is given a meaning through experience, association and a general agreement throughout the general population.

There’s lots of gray area there, and within that gray area, we are mired in semantic confusion.

Perhaps we should keep Newspeak in mind when talking about the meaning of the word friend.



 The language of friendship is not words but meanings.
~Henry David Thoreau


Webster’s describes Friend as: a person whom one knows well and is fond of.

One can hardly describe a perchance brief interaction resulting in the beginning stages of a relationship – a real friend. Especially if one digs deeper than the dictionary.

The Meaning of Friend, Its Associates & Some New Acquaintances

I’ve listed the original meanings of words discussed in this essay. I have also constructed a few acronyms that may be useful in describing what relationships are and with hope that by using these acronyms we may keep the original meaning of our ancient, beloved words.

I propose we make good use of the these words in regards to relationships. I also propose that some of these social networking sites change their use of the word friend to one of the acronyms I have created.

But first –  the real meanings of Friend & Acquaintance:

Friend: A relationship with another person that may be best described as family without the blood-ties. An extended family member (which being an expat I know all too well).

Acquaintance: A relationship with someone that you may or may not eventually become friends with. You may know this person for years and are indeed acquainted with them, but still – hardly a friend.


And then the Other Terms:

Buddy:Someone you are affable with. A very good acquaintance. Someone you might participate in activities with. Examples: Golf Buddy. Fuck buddy.

Pal: 1680s, from Romany (English Gypsy) pal “brother, comrade,”

Mate: “companion, associate, fellow, comrade,” late 14c., from M.L.G. mate, gemate “one eating at the same table, messmate,”

 Frenemy: …Seriously?

Proposed Acronyms for The Internet:

 NetCon: Network Connection.  Relationships that have been formed on an internet networking site – this can be in the form of PR or your social site popularity contest; a relationship with another individual based on similar business interests that may not require the energy, time and devotion one would give for a friend.

InterBud: Internet Buddy. A relationship formed on the internet. You may meet sometimes, but most interaction is done via internet.

PIK: People I Know. This all inclusive acronym can be used for anything from Family Members to someone you met at a bar last night… I think I like this one best!

Should there be clear distinct definitions on how we define relationships in general? Family, Extended Family, Friends, Acquaintances? Buds? Pals?

What guidelines should we follow so that we know that we are all on the same sheet of music?




What gives value to a friendship is often the result of the friend – on a consistent basis – demonstrating the desire to do what they feel is best for the other. A friend, like a member of a Loving Family, shows sympathy, has empathy, is honest & truthful, even in situations where it may be difficult to be so. A friend then lovingly points out perceived faults with a willingness to discuss them so that they both may have the learning benefit from one’s folly; a true friend is not spiteful, and seeks mutual understanding.

 My hope is that one be careful how we use Words. Think about their meaning. Think about how others may perceive what you are saying. Though we all share a common accepted reality, still we are all wired slightly different and individually perceive reality slightly different than those around us.

What I might be feeling in my heart and understanding in my mind when I share a first kiss and express what I am feeling with someone is going to be slightly different than that of whom I am sharing that kiss.

 Life is so much better when there is Good Communication. Let’s bring the real meanings back to the words Friend & Love and save the World!

Peace and Love

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The Express Lane: 10 Items or Less

I was going through the 10 item lane with 11 items.

I had 10 items, then I picked up a pack of gum while waiting in line… (I almost picked up a package of razors, too.)

The Cashier said, “I’m sorry sir, but you have 11 items.”

I said, “you actually counted?”

She said, “yes sir, this is the 10 items or less lane, you will have to go to the next lane.”

(I looked at the next lane, it was a long line)

I said, “seriously? I just grabbed this pack of gum, just now.”

She said, “it is still 11 items, sir.”

(Meanwhile during the banter, the ‘express 10 items or less’ lane was growing longer)

I said, “look, we could have already been done by now, could you just ring it up?”

She said, “I don’t make the rules sir.”

I said, “Stop calling me sir please. It doesn’t sound right. You can call me New Acquaintance. It’s a mouthful, but I think it is better than sir.”

The woman behind me wearing a large, printed blouse said, ” could we get a move on here?”

The Woman with a double chin behind Large Blouse said, “Just get to the other lane, you have too many items!”

I said, “I just picked up a pack of gum! IT’S GUM.”

The Man, unshaven, behind Large Blouse and Double Chin said, “it’s just a pack of gum! Ring it up!”

The Cashier said, ” I don’t make the rules, sir.”

(I put the gum back)

I said, “OK, I have 10 items again.”

(I noticed the slightest hint – almost imperceptible – grimace on her bland almost emotional-less face).

She began to ring up my stuff.

(I looked at the 12 people in the ‘express’ lane and shrugged my shoulders… the express lane people waiting in the express lane seemed exasperated.)

I looked at them sheepishly and said, “it was just a pack of GUM.”

Large Blouse behind me said, “you should obey the rules.”

I said, forcing a peace-loving smile,”it was gum! That is like less than half an item… it’s like I had 10 and 1/2 items. Maybe even 10 and a quarter items”

Double Chin said, “it is still more than 10.”

I said, “but it still has the number 10 in it.”

The Cashier said, “that will be 18.50, please.”

I asked, “do you get in trouble if you ring up more than 10 items? Are they watching you?”

(I looked to see where the cameras were)

She said, “I don’t know… I just follow the rules.”

(I gave her the 18.50 – Exact Change – you know, to save time.)

I grabbed my 10 Items (exactly) and got another 50 cents out of my pocket. I picked up the gum and asked Large Blouse “could you get this for me – here’s the money. I see you only have 7 items, this gum will make 7 and a 1/2 items which is still less than 10.”

(Large Blouse ignored me.)

I asked Double Chin. She only had 9 items.

The Unshaven Man behind Large Blouse and Double Chin spoke up, ” Christ, I’ll get your gum for you, pal.”

I said, “looks like you have about 10 items, though.”

He said, “damn, you’re right.”

We all looked at the Cashier.

The Unshaven Man put his razors back and grabbed my gum.

He said, “I didn’t need to shave today anyway.”

I walk out of the Store, gum in hand, triumphant.


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Published in: on February 11, 2011 at 4:14 PM  Comments (14)  
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A Good Young Man (or Locke’s Socks) The Would Be Patriot

This is a story of a Good Young Man.

We all know good young men.

This particular good young man was esteemed by his family and admired by his community.

He was Smart.

He was Considerate.

He did well in school.

The Good Young Man was taught to love his country.

He said the Pledge of Allegiance every morning – Monday through Friday – for roughly twelve years as he was indoctrinated in his country’s Education System (he even said the Pledge in front of his mirror – hand over his heart – before school and on Saturdays before he went out).

Like everyone else in his country, he watched movies at the local cinema where the Villain was the latest Enemy of the Country (In the 80s the Villains were Russian. Now they’re Middle Eastern).

This Good Young Man went to a religious institution with his family. He learned the ways of his Religious Community.

He was taught to Love his Deity.

Being a Good Young Man (GYM), he helped his neighbors (especially the frail old man who lived next door) frequently …and always for free. Often, he did this in the name of the Deity he worshiped, but some surmised he may have done good deeds anyway because that’s the way he was as long as I can remember.

“He is a good young man,” everyone said.

GYM (Gym) decided to join the Military. It was – after all – the godly, Patriotic thing to do. He had to give back for all his country had done for him. He never made a list of what his country did for him… but he supposed it must have been a lot.

Indeed, Gym (Jim) loved his country (why does one ‘love’ their country?) and believed (through the media) that it was under ‘attack’ (or could be under attack at ANY MOMENT) and it should be defended at all costs.

Perhaps he also wanted college benefits.

When Jim said good-bye and left for Army Basic Training, Jim’s Mother wept and his father – chest swelled with Pride – stealthy wiped a tear from his eye.

Army Basic Training is where they ‘break you down to build you back up’ Jim wasn’t thinking about the implications of this ‘breaking down’ and the subsequent ‘building back up’.

After his Initial Training, Jim, whom everyone loved back home, was assigned to his unit.

It was Airborne Infantry.

NOW living and working with his Comrades, some of them seasoned vets with rank, he is hazed and further indoctrinated through peer pressure. Being a subordinate, he wants to please his Commanders and those who outrank him.

Jim is now part of a Machine (a lean mean fighting machine is what they call themselves).

To Jim, life becomes Us and Them. More often than not – Us Versus Them.

Sentimental feelings or feelings of empathy for them (the Military vs. Everyone Else) are now obsolete or if not, they should be.

Everyone is a potential Enemy.

They use words to deHUMANize the Enemy. It is easier to kill something that is not Human (we all remember various points in History: Gooks or VC for Vietnamese; Chinks or Dogs for Chinese; Wetback for Mexicans; Japs for Japanese; Niggers or Coons for Blacks; Kraut for Germans – you get the Gist).

During the Occupation & Rape of Nanjing, a Japanese Commander said, the Chinese are Pigs… but actually Pigs are more valuable because one can eat a Pig!

Once the Enemy is not looked upon as Human, they are easier to torture then kill.

Jim (Gym) finally gets the opportunity to fight (and possibly die) for his country. He gets shipped to an ‘enemy’ country – let’s say Iraq – for the final nail in his indoctrinated coffin.

The training has hardened him; and now he is living with like-minded individuals in a Reality Box. They think alike. They look alike. They act alike.

He goes to combat with his Comrades.

Now the Enemy that Gym has been taught to hate – the Towel Heads, the Camel Jockeys – are shooting at him. This clinches it. These animals really are bad!

Gym becomes a seasoned vet. The appalling becomes mundane. The shocking becomes ordinary. He laughs at things that would have turned his stomach years ago.

He does things he could have never done before. Heinous things.

Through school, through the Military, and through his church, he has been taught to obey orders.

Do what you’re told private!  If I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you!

The once Mindful becomes Mindless. Don’t think… just do!

All for Love of Country.

All for Defending his Country.

(how does one defend one’s Home by invading the Home of others?)

All for National Pride.

Gym (GYM) is a True Patriot.

But is this Patriot still the Good Young Man he was, once upon a time?

Is he like Plutarch’s Ship of Theseus? Perhaps Plato’s Carriage or Locke’s Socks?

The original Young Man has been slowly broken down (psychologically/socially) piece by piece only to be built back up again. Is he responsible for his actions?

Who is doing the breaking down? Who is doing the building back up? What is their intention? Their motive? Do they care about all the GYMs in the world?

What of the residual repercussions?

Is our Hero the same Good Young Man he was before?

Was he ever a Good Young Man in the first place?



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You Might also like to read:

Proud to be American? Why?

Support The Troops!  Why?

Published in: on October 5, 2010 at 5:00 PM  Comments (7)  
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SHORT STORY: The Flame That Softly Danced

The Flame That Softly Danced

By: Boston Paul


I SAW A CANDLE BURNING IN A WINDOW OF A HOUSE DURING one of my midnight walks.  The roof of the house sloped down until the corners of the house pointed up, like a temple in China or Japan or one of those far away places I read about in books. I liked to venture out late at night in this small town, situated right outside of suburbia. I liked to go out at night when the World was quiet and asleep. I was glad that I changed my usual walking route that night.  Had I not, I would not have seen that Dwelling and this would be a tale that would not have been told.

A cliché Moon enshrouded in see-through clouds, hung in an ink black sky. She (the Moon) told me that it might Rain tomorrow. I imagined this Moon to be like the Moon during Ramadan.  How she shone!  I did not know when Ramadan was.  But I like how it rolled off my tongue. It sounded Romantic to me.

The Moon…

Indifferent to the Armies below that hustle and bustle about.

Planning strategies.

Intimidating the populace.

Pillaging the masses.

The Moon was indifferent to those below that tried to give their lives some meaning while succumbing to their insecurities. She was indifferent to the race that the Rats seem to be winning. She was indifferent to the conspiracies the powers that be wielded. It was a quiet night and I could almost hear the flicker of the flame as the candle burned.

I sat down against a tree across the street from the house.  It was a special house. No doubt, the owner had added the sloping roof after a visit to the Orient or after looking at pictures in a magazine.  It was a bit out of place in this quiet neighborhood, so I stopped to look.

The Flame in the window of this house was Hypnotic.  I lost myself in thought as I stared at the reds, yellows, and oranges that flickered and danced in the night, through the window, in the room of that house, that Warm house.

Those moments I watched the Flame, I felt Peace.

Floating Peace.

Warm blanket Peace.

For a moment, I forgot what so many others try to forget in their day-to-day struggle.  My insecurities, for a fleeting moment, vanished.  At last, I was the Ruler of my own World and the Master of my Destiny.  I saw my future expand with every quiver of that small Fire in the window, dancing just for me.

Dancing for me to see…

I do not know how long I sat there, but at once, the Flame went out, and I was jolted back into Reality’s grip. What blew out the Fire?  Did a small breeze blow through a crack in the window perhaps? It was then I saw a Silhouette in the darkness of that room draw the curtains closed.  The Moon at last had disappeared while I had been reveling in contemplative thought.  And the Rain decided not to wait for tomorrow.

I stood up.  Did the Silhouette see me?  The Rain must have been soaking my clothes, but I had not yet noticed as I struggled to hold onto that Peaceful feeling I had as it ebbed like the tides. And alas, the bitter cold Rain reminded me that I was not in a Peaceful world, after all.

The Rain.  From inside my Dwelling, I can hear the pitter-patter on the roof above. So inviting, so comforting.   From inside my room, I can hear the Rain hitting the street, the rooftops, and the leaves of the trees… how soothing!

It was not soothing then as I stood in it, clothes soaked.  The Peaceful feeling that had been slowly fading, vanished all together.

I decided to kill the person who extinguished the Flame.

I had never killed before, so I was not quite sure how to do it, but I had thought about it many times.  So many nights I lay in my bed.  Thinking.  If I were to kill someone, could I get away with it?  I always came up with a Master Plan for every situation I conjured up.  I would read or hear about others who had killed and had been caught.  How stupid they were!

In order to kill, it seemed essential to have a Plan.  Think the Plan over.  Play your own Devil’s Advocate.  Perhaps go through a trial run or two, and then execute… the Plan that is.

Execute the Plan.

I forgot how wet I was.  I walked away from my spot.  I was not sure if anyone had seen me from within that Warm house or not.  The Shadow that blew out my Peaceful Flame may have seen me.  So I had to be careful.  I walked a safe distance from the house to where I was almost out of sight.  Then I circled back around.  I walked down another side street keeping my eyes on all the houses I passed.  Making as sure as I could that no one could see me.  When I was positive that I could not be detected, I made my way back towards the dwelling.  I went straight to the backyard.  Stealthy, I made my way to a window on one side of the house. I did not dare look directly into the window.  I could see that it was dark inside. The Rain, still pouring down, once my Foe, now became my Friend and disguised any sounds I may have made.

I stayed at the side of the Warm house and listened for any sounds coming from within.  I heard nothing.  But then I surmised that the same Rain hiding the sounds that I may be making, might be hiding the sounds that the Silhouette that blew out my Flame may be making.

I sat at the side of that house for a long time.  It could have been a very long time.  When I was sure (I am not sure of what), I slowly stood up and took a  peek in the window.  I saw Blackness. I could not make out any light or anything.  I tried to open the window, but it would not budge.  Locked, I surmised.  But it could very well have been stuck from not being opened for so long.  I crept to the next window.  It would not open either.  Locked or stuck.  Hhhmmm…

I moved around to the back door.  I turned the doorknob and then pushed ever so lightly on the door.  It resisted and then at once opened!  There was a little vibration from the corner of the door and a squeak sound.  I froze.  Could someone have heard the sounds?

Adrenaline peaked as I thought about what I was doing.  I began to get excited as I slowly pushed the door open and then… CLUNK!  The door was still secured by a chain.  One of those blasted chain locks!  Who uses those anymore?  Discouraged, I sat down on the step leading to the locked door.  Damn!  The Rain beat down on me, but I was still sweating.  I lifted my face towards the Heavens and let the ever-increasing intensity of the Rain fall on me.

Miserable Rain.

The thunder was sporadic and the lightning fantastic, but they came at long intervals.  I sat their wondering what to do.  When I was a boy, my Mother used one of those chain locks for the front door of our rented house…  then I got it!  Maybe if I opened the door and pulled the chain over to me, I might be able to unlatch it.  After all, these chain locks were only designed to keep the honest people honest.  I tried it and indeed the chain unlatched.  I opened the door fully and  entered.  I stopped in the doorway and listened for any sounds. I was in the kitchen.  I heard nothing but the refrigerator.  The Rain seemed to muffle the sounds of the night.  I closed the door ever so gently and sat down on the floor.

I thought about how I would carry out my Plan. Should I use a gun?  Maybe not.  That was too messy and besides, I didn’t have a gun.  A knife?  No, that was messy and too violent as well.   I do not think I could ever bring myself to stab a person.   Poison then?  I did not have any and I was not much of a chemist.

Suffocate them?  Strangle them?  Yes, yes, this sounded better.  It was clean.  No blood or guts.  Except that… when if this person was stronger than I was?  When if it was some big construction worker or someone who knew some kind of martial art?  No, suffocation or strangulation put me in Danger.  That only left one other option… I could bludgeon them to death.  I would have to be careful to hit them in places that would not explode with Blood, like a nose.

One good blow to the head would give me total advantage. I could then beat them at the place where the neck meets the back of the head. That’s how I would do it.  I looked around the house for something I could use.  I tip toed around, gently opening closets and cupboards, careful about getting fingerprints on anything.  I looked for something heavy, like a baseball bat perhaps.  I found nothing.

I walked into what seemed to be a living room and saw a Piano. Upon close inspection (as close an inspection one could do in the dark), I found that it was a beautiful Piano with a beautiful bench.  I admit that I am bias in that all Pianos are beautiful to me.  Then a thought occurred.  I could use a leg from the Piano bench.  It should be heavy enough.  Yes, the leg!

It took a while, but as quietly as I could, I separated the leg from the bench.  It seemed to be cherry or mahogany.  It was nice, hard, heavy wood.

Mission accomplished, I took my new tool and set out to complete my Task.  I paused for a moment trying to adjust my eyes to the darkness.  I couldn’t make out everything, but it seemed to be a very nice living room.  I would have liked to sit and play the Piano for a while.  I was quite good actually. I am self taught. Some called me a child prodigy.  The living room was Warm and perhaps with the lights on, it would have had a nice ambiance.  Warmth.  The feeling of Warmth.  I imagined sitting with my Sweet-heart as the Rain fell outside.

Romance, then Fallen days and Saddened nights.

The Sweetness still bitter on my Soul.

I walked out of the living room and came to a closed door.  I opened it slowly, it creaked and I hesitated a moment.  I pushed it open a little more and it creaked again.  It must have taken five minutes to open that door.  At last, I peaked in. Total blackness. I crept in and as my eyes adjusted, I looked around.  I did not see a bed. I saw books and a desk.  Nothing else.

I crept back out.  I contemplated closing the door.  I did not want anyone to know I had been there.  I left the door open and found my way to another closed door.  I slowly turned the knob.  So slowly.  Thank a god it was Raining out.  The door did not creak as much as the other one did and I pushed it open.  I stepped inside the room.  I saw the outline of a bed in the Shadows and I heard breathing.  Slow, deep, slumber breaths.  I could hear my own Heart beating and wondered if my Heart beating could be heard in the Silhouette’s dreams.

I went to the side of the bed.  I saw a bump in the shape of what seemed to be the fetus position under many blankets… or were they quilts?  I raised the Piano leg high over my head as I tried to determine where the head was.  I focused my eyes to better my aim for a lethal blow upon my target.

I had to do this just Right.

The bump moved.  I froze. There was a grunt and a small fart followed by the smacking noises one makes whilst sleeping.  The slow breathing from this Soul continued and I stopped holding my breath.  I let out a quiet sigh.  I had not lowered the Wood.  It was still high above my head ready to strike.  Every muscle in my body was flexed and ready with anticipation.

Once again I focused and was about to swing down with all my might when I paused and thought…. When if this is an old woman?  A child?  A pastor of a church? I thought and thought some more.  How can I beat an old woman?  How can I beat a child? Then I thought: Wait! To beat them would be wrong. But I did not come here to beat anyone.  I came here to Kill.  I have no idea who this is.  I have no idea about their age, gender, creed, or color.  I don’t know about their physical condition… and it doesn’t matter.

Death does not Discriminate


We all Die.  It is just a matter of how and when.

When your ticket’s up… they say.


I thought back to when my Childhood friends and I would talk about Death.  We talked about an Afterlife. What our funerals would be like… who would read whose Eulogy.  We decided that when it’s your time to go, nothing could be done about it.  Then I reminisced how we would all get drunk together as teenagers and laugh, go on long drives and go skinny dipping in the nearby lake on hot summer nights.  Those days when my Life seemed to be full of

Love and Surprise…

I don’t know how long I stood there with that piece of wood poised above my head, ready to attack, recalling my younger days.  But then, the body moved again.  I did not move.

Who…?” the body said.  The voice was a bit gruff.  The just woke up voice that could have belonged to anyone.  I swung the wood down in the direction of the voice.  A sharp crack rang out and then a sudden expulsion of air from the body’s lungs.  One hit.  I listened carefully and heard no breathing.  I wanted to turn a light on and see, but then decided that lights were out of the Question.  I swung down again.  I was sure that I hit the skull from the blunt crunch sound that it made.

The temptation to look was so great, I wanted to see if I had finished my work, but decided instead to hit again and again… and again.  Each time I swung down, the feel, sound and crunch were unique and different.

Drenched with sweat and wet from the Rain, I finally put the wood down.  The Silhouette  just had to be Dead.  I sat down on the bed next to the silent bump under the quilts and I wiped the sweat from my forehead with my Rain soaked shirt sleeve.  The bed was quite comfortable.  I wanted to lie down and sleep for I was quite exhausted.  I sat and waited for feelings of Guilt to wash over me.  Feelings of regret or remorse.

None came.

I decided that we are all animals.  Darwin came to mind as I pondered the survival of the fittest theory.   Fittest not necessarily meaning strongest, but perhaps smartest, most cunning.  Yes, I believed that I was smarter than this Soul.

I stood up and stretched.  It was time to leave.  I had to get some sleep.  I walked out of the room taking the Piano leg with me.  I went back into the living room.  I really wanted to play a tune on the Piano. I decided maybe another day.  I went over to the window where the Candle was.  There was a box of matches on the window sill.  I re-lit the candle and sat down on the floor.  I watched the candle for a long time.  I felt that Peace again.  That Warmth.  I knew eventually that I would have to go back out in the Rain, but for now, listening to the Rain outside and watching the Flame softly dance… I was at ease.  Momentarily consoled.  Satisfied.  A roaring Fire could not have given me the Warmth that candle gave me.  It danced.  It flickered… it sang

I drifted in and out of a light sleep and had dreams mixed with memories until at length I knew it was time to go.  I got up, went to the back door, and let myself out.  I still had the leg of the Piano with me.  I wasn’t sure what to do with it, so I took it with me.

The heavy Rain became a light drizzle as I mused and made my way home. Home?  Actually, it was a room where I merely existed.  I left Home a long time ago. Home is the place I hang my hat, I heard some say.  I did not own a hat.

I pondered that night’s Events. What is the difference between murder and killing?  Both involve taking a life.  The accepted idea generally is that Killing is to cause the Death of something.  Murder is to kill unlawfully with malice.  It seems that I did both.  But did I really kill with malice? Does an animal murder?  Aren’t we just that?

Four legged creatures that stand up on two?

I went home. And as I made my way back to my hovel, I turned to take one last look at the house, now ablaze.  I turned back and walked quicker as I realized that the candle might have caught the curtains, setting the entire house on Fire.  The Flames grew bigger and danced in the Rainy night sky. Now I would never get the chance to play that magnificent Piano.

For weeks, I stayed in my house.  Coming out occasionally only at night, very late at night for my walks. I changed my walking route once again. I whittled the Piano leg into a fine statuette of some Asian Goddess.  For those random rare occasions that I saw someone else, I had to wonder if one knew or suspected.  It seemed they all looked at me with accusing eyes… I looked back with knowing eyes…

I followed the news on my black and white TV that needed a bent coat hanger for an antenna.  I read the papers I found in the garbage.  I listened to the gossip at the diner and the radio when I sat on my porch.

It has been a quarter century now and nothing has ever pointed to me.

I still feel no remorse

I feel no guilt

There was no face for me to remember

No windows of the Soul for me to see

No post traumatic syndrome this time for me

Just a memory

A Candle and a Flame

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Other Cool Bits to read:

1. What is a Friend? How many do you have…. Really?

2. Waiting in Line… a funny little tale we can relate to:

Published in: on July 24, 2010 at 9:55 AM  Comments (9)  
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