It’s prom, and my daughter is trying on adulthood

My daughter has become the person she hoped she would be at age seven. We should all be so lucky.

“When I was seven, I had a vision of my junior year in high school,” she said. “I wanted a car, a boyfriend and a nice dress for the prom.”

Owen Gibby calls roll for the last time

The first time I met Owen Gibby, he immediately reminded me of my favorite television character of all time, Deputy Barney Fife, and as I got to know him, that impression only intensified. They are about the same size and are both prone to exaggerated bug-eyed facial expressions, double takes, and dramatic pauses. I suspect that they learned at a very young age that being the funniest guy in the room has a lot of advantages for smaller guys trying to find their way in the world. Not only is being funny disarming, it turns out to be a better way to meet girls than anybody could have guessed.

Make the most of every day

When I was a student at Appalachian State University, I could have made the walk from Anne Belk Library to Sanford Hall in my sleep and often did, or nearly so, on those mornings after a late, coffee-drenched night writing a paper on one of Flannery O’Connor’s short stories, or working through the impossible genealogy of a William Faulkner novel, or racing the sentences of James Joyce toward the dawn.

The best reason of all to play

It’s one of those late March days that can’t make up its mind whether winter is really over or might hang on for another of weeks. When the sun elbows through a patch of low, gray clouds, it’s warm enough to take off your jacket, but then the wind picks up and you put it back on.

Can’t we just talk about gun legislation?

Last week, a United Airlines flight attendant forced a passenger with a small dog to put the dog in an overhead storage bin during a flight, even though there were no vents for the dog to breathe. The dog did not survive the flight, and in less than a week, legislation was introduced into Congress to prevent such a tragedy from happening again. The bill is called the WOOFF Act — the Welfare Of Our Furry Friends.

When a defenseless puppy dies on an airplane, Congress is almost instantly roused to action. Why then, are our legislators so reluctant to provide the same level of care and concern for our children, when we have already lost so many to gun violence? How many mass shootings will it take before we see some meaningful legislation that could begin to turn the tide and make our schools, theaters, malls, and other public places safer?

‘Your everlasting summer. You can see it fading fast’

Half the battle is just getting out of the house and on the road. Whenever we travel, we all understand that if we need to leave at 8 a.m., we will pretend that we really have to leave at 7 a.m. so that we can actually lave by 8:45 a.m. 

We set the alarm clock an hour earlier than any sane person would deem necessary, more than enough time to pack the car, eat a nutritious breakfast, run through the checklist of things that need to be turned on and things that need to be turned off, water the plants, leave a note for the house sitter so excruciatingly detailed that it resembles a manuscript, and say ‘goodbyes’ to our pets in a fashion that is so cute and so urgent that they seem confused, and probably alarmed, at what is unfolding here in front of them.

We can change, as the past has shown us

My grandfather loved guns. He had a magnificent collection, including a dazzling array of pistols, shotguns, and rifles, some very old and exotic. These he kept locked in a gun cabinet that was strictly off limits not just to children, but to anyone. Most days, he wore a pistol strapped to his side just like Wyatt Earp, though his was more likely to be used to shoot a copperhead or water moccasin than some rounder in a saloon.

New Yancys album strikes a chord

A southern gothic love triangle set in the age of Trump? Or maybe J.D. Vance’s bestseller Hillbilly Elegy as a postpunk concept album? How about a singer/songwriter coming off a ten-year hiatus, provoked from a peaceful period of dadhood into sounding his barbaric yawp over the roofs of rural Appalachia and the rest of “the solid south”?

Whatever you think honey, really

“I’m absolutely starving,” my wife says, digging through her purse for something as I walk into the kitchen, clearing my throat to get her attention. “Wow, don’t YOU look nice!”

I do feel pretty spiffy. I am wearing my new brown pants and a striped blue shirt. My belt and my shoes match. My hair is combed and sprayed, though it is really not so much “hair” as the suggestion of hair, a few brave and resilient strands that remind me on darker days of crabgrass growing in the crack of a sidewalk. She finds this preferable to the way I used to wear my hair, which is not at all — in those lonely days before she came into my life, I shaved my head, fancying that I looked more like Yul Brynner or Mister Clean than Uncle Fester.

I can’t stomach the hypocrisy of Trump’s enablers

Imagine, just for a moment, that it is 2010 again. The economy, which was on the verge of a catastrophic collapse just over a year ago, has pulled out of its nosedive and is now showing some tentative signs of recovery. President Obama, the first year of his administration now in the books, is beginning to find his stride and looking forward to a new year.

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