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WILSON: Truth behind the words

A few evenings back, I went to dinner with a couple of my buddies from the He-Man Group. As a matter of explanation, the He-Man Group is a half-dozen (give or take) great friends, that get together once a month (at least) for food, libations and deciding who should be blamed for whatever world crisis we happen to be enduring. As always, solutions to such matters are nowhere near as important as knowing whom to blame. Our motto is, “If we solve all of the world’s problems this month, what will we do for fun next month?”

We are a group of guys that have gained a little bit of wisdom, by weathering a bunch of storms. These wise and learned men are the inspiration behind my essays about the Circular Congregation Breakfast Club (appearing every morning for breakfast at Sarah’s Diner). The beauty of a flower is often enhanced by fertilizing it with a little manure — and our most “beautiful” conversations are, usually, well-fertilized.

Despite the wisdom of our years, we are still just a bunch of working-class stiffs that have trained for decades in the pure language of truck drivers, constructioneers and world-class sailors. This literary vehicle allows me to take our (albeit, oft times, unintentional) brilliant conversations, and sanitize them for print. It also allows each of our membership plausible deniability (“Nope. I didn’t say that. He made that part up”).

However, that evening’s conversation was unusually respectable and (mostly) printable. We were able to (almost) comfortably transport three grown men of “solid girth” to the restaurant in Esquire’s new-to-him Buick Encore. For a tiny car (albeit, with a surprisingly spacious interior) it did not warm up very quickly. Esquire’s explanation for this paradox — without a moment’s hesitation — “This car moves too fast. It moves faster than the speed of heat. Warmth just can’t keep up.”

I tried to work the math in my head. Usually, I am pretty good at that. I know the speed of light (186,000 miles per second) and the speed of sound (767 mph), but was having trouble calculating the speed of heat (I based my calculations on the Second Law of Thermo-Dynamics — specifically, the movement of energy between two zones). Regardless of the math, no one questioned the validity of his statement — what would have been the fun in that?

Our food was good, the prices were reasonable, and the service was superb. We were hailed by name as we entered, and were seated off by ourselves in a quiet corner — (still not sure if that was for our benefit, or for the tranquil comfort of the other patrons).

We bent elbows and lifted forks. In between the clanking of tableware and the primal grunts of feasting males, our conversation meandered from complaining about U-of-M’s football program and the third-string quarterback for the Bears to wondering about the salt content in the pork chops, cucumbers in the salad causing heartburn, and “fru-fru” restaurants that serve a little bit of food on big plates for exorbitant prices (some people will pay high prices, as long as there is a little glaze drizzled over the entree). All topics of major importance, requiring absolutely no solutions.

As the feeding frenzy subsided, our conversation wandered to the subject of old ways vs. new technology — specifically, longer-term time management. Each of us still uses a wall calendar, and are proud of it. Being of a particular age and status, our busy schedules rarely have more than one entry per day, often only one per week, and usually doctor related. However, we have noticed that fewer businesses, organizations and institutions are handing out calendars. Yes, we all have cell phones that can keep track of every moment of every day, but Mike said it best, “With everything that is changing — does my calendar have to, too?” We all nodded in unison as we silently rebelled against the tyranny of the machine.

These stories were written by my friends — I just tried to organize (and sanitize) their words. It is a great honor and joy to hang out with folks that enjoy observing the human condition — and enjoy sharing those observations, even more.

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