Daniel (Danny) Lance Wright, Author

Friday, January 29, 2016

To Wait or Not To Wait

It’s spoken of and written about all the time: As we get older, the less we care what other people think about how we look, what we say, or anything that would have driven us into a frenzy of self-loathing in our younger years. So, to all you people out there over sixty I want to pose a question aimed directly at you: How’s your patience holding up?
I spent over two decades in television sales and during those years it would be difficult to put a number on the months, even years, lost while waiting in lobbies and reception areas for clients to see me. I never put a calculator to it, but it would not surprise me in the slightest to discover that I had spent four forty-hour weeks a year sitting on my behind waiting for someone to do something so I could get on with my day. Or, in my personal life, waiting in doctor’s and dentist’s offices, or just waiting in the car for my wife, whose promised five minute trip into a store turned into an hour. Needless to say that by necessity I learned to be extremely patient and endured those years without a whimper. Well… there might have been a few whimpers. The point is, these are just examples. The list alone with no narrative could go on for several pages, I’m sure.
Ever-increasing impatience now defines me. And, I really don’t give a tinker’s damn if people think of me as curmudgeonly. Here’s the thing, and the reason I’m writing this blog at this time, I’ve always responded to someone’s direct request for help, and quite often immediately. I would not have been asked for assistance if they didn’t need it at that moment, or so I wish to believe. Here’s where the crotchety kicks in; when someone asks for help and I leap up and walk or drive to them ready to offer assistance but they decide I should wait patiently while they take care of something else first. Sorry, but I’m not going to wait patiently, or at all.
Several times in the past week this has happened. The way I have chosen to handle these situations is to simply say, “Okay,” and walk away without explaining why and not be there when they finally get around to actually needing the help. Let’s call it my version of a teachable moment about when to request the help. If they’re dumbfounded; good.

As we age, what would be the incentive to wait for anybody or anything? I know that to say “life is too short” is cliché, but it does fit quite nicely here. The clock spins faster as we age, or so it seems, and whatever our remaining goals are have to spin equally as fast to fit them into this lifetime. So, I hope you will excuse me when I refuse to wait until you get around to it… whatever ‘it’ happens to be.

Friday, January 15, 2016

You Can't Say That!

Yesterday, as I scrolled the Facebook timeline, I ran across a post by a dear old friend. It was a share from somewhere else. You know the type; a bit of text that is philosophical, advisory or, perhaps, just plain old clever word play. This particular post said something like (paraphrasing), If you can’t carry on a conversation without using profanity, you’re not much of a conversationalist—or I don’t want to hear it—or talk to someone else… something along those lines, followed by a, can I get an amen or a share. Well, I did read it but scrolled on to other things. Later, I thought about it and when I did, I remembered the “7 Dirty Words” bit that the late great comedian, George Carlin, performed a number of years ago. So, I logged onto YouTube and listened to it again. It’s just as funny and thought provoking now as it was the first time I saw it many years ago. Although Carlin played his performances for laughs, the man was a master at putting things the world takes for granted into perspective.
I’ve been a novelist since 1998, full time since 2002. In the early years I was schooled many times by editors, agents, and publishers much smarter than I am about word choice—over usage, wrong usage, or the evils of adverbs. I also learned that using obscure words requiring the reader to pull out a dictionary is a fast way to break a readers flow and yank them right out of the plot, distractions a novelist certainly does not want to saddle their fans with. Other heinous distractions are typos, grammatical errors and, sometimes, the use of profanity. And now we’re back to dirty words.
The subject of profanity has always fascinated me. When I was a child, growing up on a cotton farm on the South Plains of Texas, I spent much time among farmers hanging out at a cotton gin office near my boyhood home. It was the de facto place to socialize, usually around a domino table. The language I was fed a steady diet of were all of George Carlin’s 7 dirty words, plus quite a few more, broken up by mumbles and grunts. So my tolerance for profanity is very high. I have to reel my own tongue back in occasionally. Salty language comes far too naturally to me. That said, I do attempt to be respectful of folks attitudes against its use and not spout obscenities willy-nilly in any crowd, like some I know.
Now for the good stuff—the questions: What makes a word, any word, profane? For every bad word, there are a number of others that mean the same thing. Why aren’t those profane? At what point in our history were certain words labeled as dirty, and by whom? Did popes, ministers, preachers, and politicians all get together one day around a conference table and agree on an ooh-ick factor for certain words? Or, maybe, it wasn’t words defining certain acts, but the acts themselves. That makes some sense to me. Maybe people were embarrassed by talk of sex, fecal matter, bodily functions, etc. Therefore, various descriptors were not to be spoken of. If so, it simply goes in a circle and we’re back to the question: Why? What makes any of these things taboo to talk about, using any language form?

Fascinating subject, I believe. And not without hard opinions, I’m sure… just not from me.