Small Stories for a Big World

Back when I worked for the newspaper, my friends would sometimes end up in one of my columns. Joe Stinebaker was one of them. He was in the column about the time I discovered, to my horror, that the bald spot that had first appeared at the back of my head had expanded so far that I could now see it from the front. Those were the days, eh? when I was a just guy with a bald spot and not a guy who is totally bald.

When I was a kid, I knew that I was doomed to be bald one day, so I prayed that I would find a wife before that day came. I didn’t even come close, but it worked out well, because it saved me from having to worry about Garnet leaving me when I go bald. I was already that way when she met me.

In another column, when someone came into the kitchen at a party at my house one night to tell me that some guys were on the front porch shooting bottle rockets at a neighbor’s house, Joe proved to be one of the culprits. It worked out okay, the co-culprit was Mr. Perryman, the neighbor who lived in the house. They were shooting the bottle rockets at the window where Mr. Perryman’s wife was sleeping.

The other day, Joe sent a note to tell me that he had read that column to his son Will, who is almost 11. The note put me in mind of those days. At the time, a couple of friends in our circle were married. Mostly, though, we were a bunch of single guys hoping to be married with kids one day.

As we scattered to Houston, Phoenix and Los Angeles, that has happened.

Back in those days of wishing, I had no idea how fortunate I would turn out to be. In retrospect, I can see that, even after they came into my life and they were right there, I still had no idea. As time passes, I have come to respect and appreciate Garnet, Sparkle Girl and Doobins more and more.

When I met Garnet, she was an artist. Now she is an artist and a writer and speaks to groups about her art and how it illustrates aspects of her relationship with God. Sometimes I feel petty and envious, because I will find myself thinking: “Wait a minute! It used to be that I was the writer and she was the artist, and now she is a writer and artist and I still can’t draw.”

Mostly, though, I’m impressed as I watch new gifts emerge and flourish.

And Sparkle Girl continues to develop as a person and as an artist. On a recent Saturday, she disappeared into her room for a couple of hours and emerged with several watercolors. I was impressed not only with the art, but also her ability to stay focused for so long.

Doobins’ gifts are faster paced. As we talk, he will come out with some witty remark on the spot that I couldn’t have come up with after serious pondering. After one of my failed quips, he will occasionally say, “Is that all you’ve got?”

Mostly, though, he just lets them pass.

It’s all a lot of fun. And since I received the note, I have enjoyed thinking about Joe and our other friends having their own versions of that fun with their own families.       

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