Cherry binging is a thing

One of the things I like the most about summertime is when the cherries begin showing up in the grocery stores, gallon-sized plastic bags filled to overflowing with Bing cherries nearly as big around as golf balls. It’s my own private version of the return of the swallows to Capistrano. The return of the cherries to Ingles.

Our daughter’s gone, unleashed on the world

I can hear her up there in her room moving those enormous, orange storage bins around. They make a scraping noise that nearly drowns out her sing-a-long with the Dixie Chicks. “Wide Open Spaces.” It’s about a girl who’s leaving. Like our girl is.

There are six of those storage bins, each of which she is filling to the brim with clothes, towels, make-up kits, bathroom accessories, school supplies, assorted decorations, prized possessions from her friends, her family, and her childhood. Duckie is in there, a bedtime companion since she was 4 years old. She would clutch Duckie under one arm each night when I came in to sing the bedtime song I wrote for her to chase the demons out of her closet and out of her head.

A great teacher is like a poem: inspirational, direct

My fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Pattyrae Busic, used to say, “Why, Chris, you’ve got your teeth in your mouth and your mind in Arkansas.”

I didn’t know exactly what that meant then and I still don’t. Where else would my teeth be, and why should I be thinking about Arkansas, a place I’d never been and had no interest in visiting?

The years pass, but Edisto remains

This year, it was the deer and the pelicans. We see deer every summer on Edisto Island, but never as many as this year. We saw them every day. Early in the morning, a mother and two fawns, crowding around the gazebo of the house we rented for the week. Late in the evening, on our bike rides through Wyndham Resort as they strolled the dark, empty roadways and pathways, freezing for a moment as we approached and locking eyes with us to determine whether we constituted a threat or were just part of the evening scenery. Sometimes we stopped, just a few feet away, and everything was just utterly still for a few moments, like being in a painting. I thought of Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn.”

Our people are acting crazy again

Our people are leaving. Again. We’ve seen this all before. We see it every year around this time. It’s hot outside. The days are longer. Then, one day soon, they start pulling all the suitcases out of the garage. The folding chairs. The huge canopy. The inflatables. Those stupid-ass pool noodles. Bungee cords to tie all this crap on top of the Subaru.

The dog’s eating our daughter’s college fund

I think our chihuahua has an eating disorder. He’s a rescue, and since we rescued him, he’s twice the dog he used to be — that is, he is twice his original size, maybe more.

We’re afraid to weigh him. We’re concerned about his self-esteem. We tell him he’s “filling out.” We notice that he hurries by mirrors now, instead of pausing — like he used to — to stare down his reflection, as if to say, “Wow, looking good,” or, on his angrier days, “What are you looking at, butt-licker?”

A prayer for Mike and all who served

I wish I knew where Mike is. I haven’t seen or heard from him in 10 years at least. I like to think of someone reading this column, connecting some dots, and then sending him a link, or maybe scissoring it out of the paper and mailing it to him. I like to think of him waiting to get his teeth cleaned at the dentist, picking up the paper and reading this column that is for him, because the memories I have of the stories, the essays, the poems, the short stories and the songs he wrote in my classes haunt me sometimes. He shared his stories with me, and the least I can do his share his story with you. Well, at least part of his story. I wish I knew the rest. Or at least I think I do.

The friend everyone needs

Let’s be honest for a minute. Most of us lie to our friends on a fairly regular basis and are, in turn, lied to by them. Furthermore, that’s the way we want it. It is an unwritten contact that we rely on to keep our friendships burnished to a nice sheen, as well as a way for us to continue to perpetuate certain kinds of delusions that make us feel more comfortable in various areas of our lives.

We’ve got the nicest house in the campground

We are not a camping family. It’s probably my fault, if there is a need to assign blame. I joined the Boy Scouts when I was a kid mostly because some of my friends did. Also, I liked some of the Patrol names. For example, I was a member of the “Screaming Eagles,” which sounded fierce, intimidating and patriotic, all at the same time. But I hated the uniforms, which seemed goofy and slightly effeminate to me, with the scarves and the khaki shorts and all the bling for the more highly decorated scouts.

Golf’s prodigal son gets some redemption

Twenty years ago, a friend and I would get together on the weekends of the major golf tournaments and bet an enormous Japanese take-out meal on whether Tiger Woods would win against the field. He would take Tiger and I would take the field. If you know anything at all about golf, that bet is nearly unimaginable — one golfer against 156 of the best players in the world — but Tiger Woods was so dominant in those days that the odds seemed just about even that he would win any given tournament, especially the big ones like the Masters and the U.S Open. I won a few of those bets, but I also paid for quite a few of those prodigious meals.

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