Technology in Its Infancy

We have come a long way with using technology in courtship. Romance is enhanced by texting, sending pictures, and other communication methods that we never dreamed about years ago. And of course these have presented many embarrassing moments. But there were challenges in technology in past generations as well. Here is an example from the sixties.

At the end of their first date, a young man takes his favorite girl home. They have had a good time so he decides to try for that important goodnight kiss.

With an air of casual confidence, he leans with his hand against the wall and, smiling, says to her, “How about a goodnight kiss?” 

Horrified, she replies, “Are you mad?  My parents will see us!”

“Oh, come on, there’s nobody around, they’re all sleeping!”

“No way! It’s just too risky!”

“Oh, please, we had such a good time.”

“I agree, but my family teases me enough as it is.” 

“Pleeease…”

Out of the blue, the porch light goes on, and the girl’s sister, in pajamas, hair disheveled, flings open the door .

In a sleepy voice the sister says:  “Dad says to go ahead and kiss him. Or I can do it. Of if need be, he’ll come down himself and do it. But for crying out loud, tell him to take his hand off the intercom button!”

Surprise in the Cellar

Most people under 40 are probably not familiar with cellars. When I was a boy, the cellar was a main way of preserving food for rural America. Dad had carved one for our family out of the side of a hill near our home. Because of the earth around it, this little room was cool in the summer and relatively warm in the winter.

I loved being sent to the cellar in the summer for vegetables from our garden or canned goods mother kept there. One July day in the mid-fifties, when I was nine or ten years old, my mother sent me to the cellar for a fresh cantaloupe (that we called muskmelons in the country). I looked forward to the coolness of the room as well as the unique aroma of different varieties of vegetables stored together. The muskmelons were on top of an old pie safe used to shelve canned goods. There was a ventilating space between the concrete slab wall and the roof just inches above what I was going to pick up.

As I reached, I saw curled up in the cool ventilating space a three-foot copperhead snake. I screamed and began shouting and ran out of the cellar without the muskmelon! A neighbor heard me and came quickly with a shot gun and pitchfork and made short work of the potential danger.

That day I learned a valuable lesson: look before you reach.

Cat Challenges

Cats are not my favorite animals and they do not like me either.  Cats and I work to stay clear of each other.  However, this story of the cat and the husband makes me smile because I could have been the husband. 

A husband hated his wife’s cat. One day he decided to get rid of it by driving two streets from his home and leaving it at the park.  As he arrived at home, the cat walked up to the front door. 

The next day he decided to drive the cat ten streets away and the same thing happened again.  As he drove into his driveway, there was the cat!

He kept taking the cat further and further, and the cat would always beat him home. 

At last, he decided to drive a few miles away, turn right, then left, past the bridge, then right again and another right until he reached what he thought was a safe distance from his home and left the cat there. 

Hours later the man calls home to his wife, “Sarah, is the cat there?” 

“Yes,” the wife answered.  “Why do you ask?” 

“Put him on the phone!  I’m lost.”

The Dirty Window

My father-in-law loved telling jokes. The problem was that he could never tell a joke he’d heard without either laughing so hard he couldn’t finish the joke or messing up the punch line. The way this story was told could easily have happened to him. 

A wife asked her husband, “Have you heard the story about the dirty window?”

“No, what is it?”

“Oh, well, you couldn’t see through it anyway.”

The next day the husband thought he would repeat this to a neighbor, so he asked, “Have you heard the story about the window you couldn’t see through?”

“No, replied the neighbor, “How does it go?” 

The man responded, “Oh, well, it’s too dirty to tell anyway.” 

If you are going to tell jokes you have heard from others, be sure you remember the wording of the punch line.  Another time when effective listening is essential!

A Gun Won’t Help

My wife grew up in a rural area of Middle Tennessee. As in most country communities, everyone knew everyone else very well. One of my wife’s favorite stories about her maternal grandparents’ neighborhood happened to Mr. Nate and Miss Minnie Green, who lived down the road from Grandmama and Granddaddy. 

Everyone knew what a nag she was.  Even though they had lived together for many years, she was very hard to get along with. 

Finally, she became quite ill.  One night she was in such misery that she said, “Nate, just get the gun and shoot me.” 

His legendary answer: “Minnie, there ain’t a shell on the place.”  

When you are speaking of having the right word at the right time, you might include this story.

Mo’s Life Advice

A number of years ago, my family was vacationing in the Northeast.  We had an extra day in Maine and my son Josh and I decided we wanted to go fishing.  We looked in the yellow pages and under fishing guides, we found a guide whose name was Mo.  He sounded like just the person we wanted. We called and he said he would be glad to take us fishing for trout. 

Early the next morning he took us 30 minutes beyond electricity access.  I did not know such places still existed in our country.  We walked toward a delightful trout stream. This time of day the ground was covered with heavy dew.  The grass was thick, and Josh and I were gingerly walking through the heavy grass.  Mo stopped us and said, “OK, guys, to enjoy this experience you must learn to embrace the wetness.” 

That changed everything for us. We now took in all the beautiful sights of the countryside and forgot about the dew. 

We need to develop that same approach to life.  Embrace life.  Don’t miss opportunities. As Horace said long ago, “Seize now and here the hour that is nor trust some later day.”

Light This Candle!

I’m always looking for quotations I can use in a presentation. I have found that historical events often provide stories that include powerful quotations.

We were all reminded this past week with the death of Neil Armstrong of his famous quotation as he landed on the moon. I also found in the many articles about previous flights one that told of the first flight into space by Alan Shepard.

On May 5, 1961, he crawled into his small Mercury spacecraft with very little room to move around. One writer said that it would be like sitting in the driver’s seat of a small car with two heavy raincoats on.

Because of weather conditions and minor repairs to his radio system, he remained cooped up in the small space for four hours as NASA pondered whether to launch him or not.

Finally, tired of waiting, he said, “Why don’t you fellows solve your little problems and light this candle?”  Shortly after, they launched Shepard for his l5-minute flight. (This vivid and powerful statement, “Light This Candle” became the title for a biography of Shepard by Neal Thompson.)

This story could be told to emphasize that at some point you must take action on a problem you have been working on. It also shows that you never know if something will work unless you try.

Pay attention to significant historical events. You might find a story and a great quotation to use in your next speech.