Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Tuesday, April 30, 2019


For over sixty years
I worked for pay
The first years and the last years
were only part-time work
but they were the best
In them I made real money

Not the invisible money
that goes directly into a bank
or multiplies in the dark
of a pension hoard
but real hard money
Cash on the spot

Ready to exchange
for a cold drink
on a hot and hazy day
or a gallon of gas
to take me beyond the limits

There was such satisfaction
standing there, hands held out
as a supplicant ready
to accept the host
of communion, receiving
the daily bread

As I prepare
for my last pay
I hold me hands ready
in Eucharistic pose
and pray, “Give me this day…”

John Robert McFarland

“I can’t help but wonder where I’m bound, where I’m bound…” Tom Paxton

Monday, April 29, 2019


I was appointed to be the part-time pastor in the UMC of Tampico, IL—20 miles from where we lived in Sterling--in 2003. As befitted a part-time pastor, the church had a part-time secretary. Before I had even preached a sermon there, I drove out to check in with Tracy.

She told me of Archie. He was then about the age I am now. He was depressed. A life-long faithful member of the congregation who no longer came to church. His wife had died. The previous part-time pastor had done a truly awful job in conducting her funeral. Everyone agreed that he was a nice man but a terrible preacher. Archie had been devastated. They had been married for sixty years, and the funeral led him not to good grief but to despair. Tracy did not tell me to go see him, but the message was clear.

Tampico’s main claim to fame is being the birth place of Ronald Reagan. But it is not a large place. Archie’s house was easy to find. We sat in his living room and talked. That was easy; Archie was a good conversationalist. Before I left, he told me the same story Tracy had, about his wife’s funeral. “Now, though,” he said, “I’m okay.”

He was one of my main supporters through my time there, always in his usual place in worship, often with his twin adult daughters. He liked to take Helen and me to lunch at the country club in the next town. A pleasant, thoughtful, “good old boy.”

Probably the least important thing in the total scheme of the pending court fights and break-up of The United Methodist Church over homophobia is what it will do to my funeral, but I feel like I’m an Archie in the making.

I have felt good about my funeral. I don’t much worry about it for myself, but I’d like for it to be a decent and healing experience for my wife and children and grandchildren. It won’t be a big funeral. My long-time friends won’t be there—either because they are dead or live too far away—but there will be a few new, local friends who might come. Not a big funeral, which is a comfort in itself for a family, to know their loved one was appreciated, but even so, I have felt good about what my family will get from my funeral, however small, because of the image of our current pastors conducting it. They’ll do a good job. Except…

…they may not even be there. What if they get disbarred for doing a wedding for a gay couple? What if the denomination divides and St. Mark’s is in the wrong half…or third? What if Jimmy and Mary Beth are sent some place else? What if St. Mark’s church doesn’t even exist anymore? Will my loved ones be led into good grief or into despair through my funeral?

All the possibilities for the church’s future have implications far beyond my funeral, but it is wise for us to remember, as we debate the grand schemes, that each of those broad, theoretical decisions affects real people in ways that are highly significant to their lives, even if not to the wide sweep.

Archie was okay after we talked just because I listened to his pain and his story—the simplest thing we can do for one another. It would be nice if church decision makers now would just listen to the pains and the worries and the stories of the people in the pews.

John Robert McFarland

Both sides in great contests claim that God is on their side. Both may be, and one must be, wrong.” Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, April 28, 2019


[A couple of months ago, our pastors were both gone one Sunday, so I preached, about how Christians live in the Christ story, which is the story of how God loves us, how we love God—by loving what God loves—and how we love one another. I had intended to include the following in the sermon, but I realized that the service was running long. When that happens, the preacher has to cut the sermon short. So I left this out.]

            The Christ story is the story of love, not just for some, but for everyone. The problem is, when we tell this story, we leave out so many people. We are especially aware right now of how we leave out LGBTQ folks. But because we are Methodists, those quintessential people of Christian action, we tend to leave out just about anybody who can’t keep up with our frantic pace, who are only Christian beings and not Christian doings.
            When Helen and I became Bloomarangs 4 years ago, we could do everything we had always done, only slower. I filled in for 3 months as the pastor in Oolitic. We worked food repack at the food bank. We went to IU basketball games and climbed many steps. We drove all over the place after dark.
            Then something happened. We got old. Our first daughter tried to comfort us by saying, “Well, at least you won’t get early-onset anything,” which was funny—which is its own reward--but that didn’t help much. For our whole lives, we had been useful Christians, and suddenly we were useless Christians.
            My mother’s four brothers were handsome men, but even in that group, Jesse stood out, with his wavy hair and his gorgeous, easy-going smile. He stood out from his brothers in another way, too, for Ted and Claude and Johnny were basketball stars at the tiny Francisco, IN high school, but Jesse was widely acknowledged as the worst player in the history of basketball, not just in Frisco, but anywhere. But it was a small school, and they had only seven other boys who could play ball, and he looked good in those short shorts, so he was on the team. Except he never played in a game.
            Until the last game of his career, with the score tied, and down to the final minute, and a second player fouled out. There was no one left but Jesse. The movie, “Hoosiers,” had not been made yet, so the coach did not know that he could say, “My team is on the floor,” so he put Jesse in.
            But he told him, “Just stand there. Don’t touch the ball.” But, of course, as Murphy’s Law would have it, an errant pass sent the ball directly at Jesse, and more for self-protection than anything else, he threw up his hands and caught it, and then remembered he wasn’t supposed to touch the ball, so he threw it up into the air, and it came down, right through the basket. Of the other team. And the horn sounded, the game was over. The only basket of Uncle Jesse’s career he had scored for the other team.
            When McFarlands gather, their idea of humor is telling corny jokes. When my mother’s family gathered, though, their idea of humor was to humiliate one another as much as possible. So the story of Uncle Jesse’s only goal was always told, along with much finger-pointing and many Bronx cheers.
            I was a high school basketball player myself then, and I couldn’t imagine having to endure the shame of hearing that terrible story over and over. One Thanksgiving day, I took Uncle Jesse aside and said, “How can you stand to hear that story?”
He smiled that wonderful smile of his and said, “I always knew which side I was on.”
            Even if you are too young or too old, too handicapped or too sick, too depressed or too distressed, too addicted or too afflicted, you can always know which side you are on, which story you belong in, which story you live in. That is the beginning point of the Christ story, and that is the end point of the Christ story. That is the beginning point of love, and that is the end point of love.

John Robert McFarland

“Because spiritual love does not desire but rather serves, it loves an enemy as a brother.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Saturday, April 27, 2019


“How odd of God to choose the Jews.”

“But odder still are those who choose the Jewish God but spurn the Jews.”


A cursory internet search reveals the first line’s author as Howland Spencer but does not give a name for the one who made the far more significant response.

Sunday, April 21, 2019


I have a young [in his 50s] friend who is an actor. He’s done some TV [Law and Order, etc] and movies [in a film with Robert DeNiro and in the Matthew Broderick remake of The Music Man, etc] but he’s chiefly a Broadway actor. A solid but not spectacular career. No star on his door. Then he got a break. A Neil Simon play! Opposite Mary Tyler Moore! Except… MTM was old [and her diabetes was probably finally catching up to her]. She could not remember her lines. Simon was old, too. He got disgusted with her and just gave up on the whole project. Both MTM and Simon died not long after. There went David’s big chance.

I have another actor friend, in her 70s. She acts in the same town where David grew up. In fact, David’s father was once the board chair of the community theater where Ann acts. She appears not only in regular productions of the theater but in an “old people only” acting troupe she founded. She’s the same age MTM was when she could not remember her lines. When Ann’s in a play, she runs her lines every day. Some days several times.

I have learned from them, learned the importance of knowing our lines in old age. So I run my lines every day, the lines that are important for me to remember, like “Just do the next right thing” and “You don’t have a soul; you are a soul,” and “Our Father, who art…”

A couple of Easters ago I encountered Brenda in the fellowship hall of our church. I greeted her with “The Lord is risen.” She said, “Wait… I know this one… wait for it… He is risen indeed!” she exulted, so happy she remembered her line.

That’s the line for today. Let’s run it…

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!

John Robert McFarland

Life must be lived forwards but can only be understood backwards. Kierkegaard

Saturday, April 20, 2019


Facebook told me
that I could
for only ninety dollars
learn from Billy
Collins how to write
a poem.

Nobody can write
like Billy
no matter how much
cash you offer
the poetic muses
or even Billy

For ninety dollars
I can sit
in The Pour House
coffee shop pretending
to be a poet
for a month

That way Billy
won’t have to worry
about the competition

John Robert McFarland

“The key to living; just do the next right thing.”

Friday, April 19, 2019

Monday, April 15, 2019

AFTER THE RACE [M, 4-15-19]

So this must be the way
it is to be old, this morning
after the race

when my muscles are a map
of warring nations
none of them winning
only engaged in mutual
self-destruction, MAD

with weary mind
and steps so slow

This must be the way
it is to be old, this morning
after the race

But I have not run a race
in a long, long time

John Robert McFarland

Sunday, April 14, 2019


 There are no songs
about Jesus in the rain
Holy lands are dry
better to preserve
words writ down
from right to left

but in the early hours
still dark, he comes
and sips his coffee
fittingly unadulterated
speaking not at all
as we listen
to the rain

no temptation, no evil
on earth as it is in heaven

John Robert McFarland

“No pain, no palm. No thorns, no throne. No gall, no glory. No cross, no crown.” Wm. Penn

Saturday, April 13, 2019

JOHNNY JUMP UP—The Indicative, not The Imperative   [Sat, 4-13-19]

I wrote recently of how I tried in high school to change my name from John to Johney, in part to distinguish myself from my father and uncle and cousin, but also because the name “John” has so many negative connotations, mostly, I hope, because it is such a common name.

In fact, it is so common that when they ask me for my name at a restaurant, I say “Ambrose,” because if I say “John,” when they call out for me to come for my order, every old man in the place gets up and tries to grab my food, and there’s hardly ever another “Ambrose” present. Besides, I like that name because Augustine was converted when he heard Ambrose preach.

But negatives around “John” abound: There is “Johns” as the customers of prostitutes. “Long Johns” for that stupid-looking long underwear. “The John” for the toilet. “Dear John,” for a break-up letter, especially when she has sent your saddle home.

But today as I walked, in a nicely unkempt yard, there were those little volunteer purple flowers called “Johnny Jump-Ups.” All around were magnificent yellow forsythia and daffodils, big full trees flowering bright white, new green and red leaves appearing, pink magnolias—a beautiful array. But down deep, at ground zero, humbly but proudly, sprouted those little purple Johnny Jump-Ups.

They alone, I think, make up for all the disrespectful ways the name “John” is used.

Johnny Jump-Up McFarland

“In what place is it OK to shoot the sheriff as long as you don’t shoot the deputy?” Forgotten Comedian.

Friday, April 12, 2019


 I appreciate the work of all sorts of scientists. Most recently I have been reading brain science and astrophysics stuff, having conquered quantum physics last week.

I conquered physics when I came across Neils Bohr’s observation: “If you think you understand physics, you don’t.” I don’t think I understand it, so I guess I do.

There is a big difference between explaining and understanding. We can explain how the world works—atoms and molecules and all—and how it got here [Big Bang] but that does not answer the question of WHY it is here at all. Or WHAT was before the beginning. Or what will come after THE END. Or what is BEYOND THE LIMITS.

Our brains are good enough to explain, but not to understand.

“Jesus did not say, ‘I have explained the world.’ Instead he said, ‘I have overcome the world.’” Leslie Weatherhead.

Jesus overcame the world, conquered it, by accepting the mystery and living it.

Neils Bohr explained the world and all its atoms better than just about anyone else, but he knew explaining is not understanding. “It’s not our job to dictate to God how he should rule this world,” he said.

He also said, “A physicist is just an atom’s way of looking at itself,” which is irrelevant to this discussion, but is one of the best quotes of all time.

If there is any of this stuff above you don’t understand, well… accept the mystery and go on living.

John Robert McFarland

No, this isn’t writing; it’s just accepting the mystery. And there is no post-script quote today because there were so many good ones up above.

Thursday, April 11, 2019


I was having coffee with the Crumble Bums yesterday. I call us that because we meet at the Crumble bakery each W morning for coffee, and as a play on “stumble bums,” of course. Except it was full of other bums [1], so we went to the Starbucks at the monstrously large Kroger store near the mall. They have a very nice lounge-dining area.

Glenn was missing, having a CT scan, but Charlie and Tony were there, and they have lived in Bloomington forever, and so know everyone, and introduced me to Mark when he came by. “John’s a great story teller,” they told him.

That is interesting. I’ve lived here only four years, and they’ve heard me speak only three or so times, but they consider story teller to be my identity.

I had that reputation even in high school, when I wrote for the “Oak Barks” school newspaper. At that time I thought I wanted to be a writer. That was because I loved stories, and you write stories, don’t you?

The story telling reputation followed me into ministry. When I left the Wesley Foundation [campus ministry] at IL State U to do doctoral work at U of Iowa, the WF students gave me a little loving cup inscribed with “World’s Greatest Story Teller.”

I’ve always had that reputation as a story teller. But I think it’s not quite accurate.

I’ve been fortunate through the years to hear and experience a lot of great stories. I’m not really a great story teller. I just tell great stories.

John Robert McFarland

1] Wi-Fi free-loaders is an increasing problem for coffee shops. As I looked over Crumble yesterday, there were many four-person tables occupied by one person, with a laptop and one cup of coffee. Especially since Crumble gives free refills, they lose a lot of money when a single person is occupying a four-person table. And those single lap-top workers usually stay for a long time, too. I’m sympathetic both with the users of the tables and the owners of the coffee shops. I have no solution; just pointing out the problem. That’s what old guys do best.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019


Each day
I think that this is the day
I’ll get it right.
It never is.
But there’s always
Until there isn’t.
Maybe then
I’ll get it right.

John Robert McFarland

“In Senegal the polite expression for saying that someone has died is to say that his library has burned.” Susan Orlean, The Library Book

Tuesday, April 9, 2019


In that languorous spot of golden grace
When the sliding moonbeam sips your face
A distant music fills all space
Then every grace note knows its place

I never learned where the elephants go
To dance at night by the river’s flow
Hoping to star in a Broadway show
Humming a waltz, precise and slow

When a prisoner springs out the jailhouse door
His face turned south to the sandy shore
He never thinks of less or more
There is just that moment of the open door

There’s a tape to break when the race is run
A medal to wear when victory’s won
This is the day that was made for fun
And even God points toes to the sun

John Robert McFarland

“I don’t ask for the sights in front of me to change; only the depths of my seeing.” Mary Oliver

The depths of my seeing tell me that Katie Kennedy’s Learning to Swear in America is the best YA novel ever.

Monday, April 8, 2019


 Our pastor at St. Mark’s UMC, Jimmy Moore, asked me to do the pastoral prayer yesterday. After I added to the prayer concerns list, I said, “Sing with me, please,” and started into Every time I feel the spirit, moving in my heart I will pray. I was pleasantly surprised. I think most of the choir members were with me half-way through the first word, and most of the rest of the congregation was with it quickly thereafter. I don’t have much of a voice anymore, and my ear is shot, and I was especially croaky yesterday, which was all good. My thinking is: If I can stand up here and sing into the microphone like this, you out there have no excuse not to sing.

In the prayer I tried to take up the motifs from the scriptures for the day: the story of the manna in the desert in Exodus, and the story of Peter denying Jesus three times in Luke. And also it was communion Sunday.

Here’s the prayer…

We know, O God, that your Spirit is afoot in this universe of your creation. But your Spirit is too high, too wide, too deep for our small human minds to comprehend, and so we ask you not for knowledge, but for faith.

We thank you for the gentle way you have sprung this spring upon us, for we are fragile and vulnerable in times of transition, easily distracted and led astray. These are desert days, and we are hungry for even morsels of truth and justice.

Our vision has been glazed by the hypocrisies of power. Our hope has been drowned out by the howls and yowls of greed. Our compassion has been wearied by the constancy of troubles. In the midst of the chaos of the whirlwind, it is difficult for us to hear your still, small voice.

So we complain. So loudly. So often. It is just easier for us to speak than to listen. We confess that we are much better at saying what we want from you than we are at listening to hear what you want from us.

Lead us, O God, through the desert of this present age, lead us to the table full of manna, full of grace, communing with You, together with your children from every age and nation.

Those of us who are climbing the mountain from strength to strength, help us to hear your voice as you tell us how to use our strength in the service of your love. Those of us who are sliding down the slope from weakness to weakness, help us to hear your voice as you tell us how to use our weakness in the service of your love.

Help us now, in the silence of this place, the silence that is not really silent but full of the little sounds that remind us that we are not alone in this vast universe, help us now to hear in those small sounds your own still small voice that will tell us where to find bread.

[Followed by the Lord’s Prayer in unison]

John Robert McFarland

“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” CS Lewis

Friday, April 5, 2019


As I have mentioned previously, I have been going through and getting rid of old stuff no one else will need or want when I die. So I have been re-reading, for the first time in 64-69 years, old copies of Oak Barks, the school newspaper of Oakland City, IN High School, where I toiled for five years, since 8th grade was in the high school, and I wanted to be a journalist.

I have posted items I thought other old Acorns might want to see, on the nostalgia Facebook page called Oakland City Acorns, but some columns [I always wanted to be a columnist.] are too long for FB, and since this blog no long makes any pretensions to being wise or useful, but is just a place for me to toss anything I come up with… here is a column that started being about an Oak Barks from 1951 and ended up as a point of personal jealousy of James Burch. I was a freshman reporter then. I’ll put the address for CIW on the Oakland City Acorns page on FB so “kids” who are interested can find it…

The Thanksgiving edition of Oak Barks in 1951 was dated Nov. 16 and numbered 4. It had the usual gossip and jokes, but much more serious material than usual. I did an article on how to write to kids in other countries, “International Correspondence,” using my older sister’s correspondence with German kids as a lede. Asst. Ed. Phillip Fischer did an article on “How Clean is Your Water?” Editor Benny Albin wrote one on “Scientific Progress,” and Carolyn Waller wrote a reflection on “Respect.” Charlene Bassett wrote about the new prayer group meeting every Wednesday at 12:40 in room 205.

Then came a column on “Heaven Here on Earth,” in which various students were asked their ideas on that topic. Typical was Linda Luttrell’s definition, “Looking at Jack Dye.” Jack was cute, but, really?

The Oak Barks staff worked very hard to improve our school and society. I wasn’t the only one. In addition to running long gossip columns, we often printed long screeds by one staff member or another against gossiping. We touted civil defense and the military. We gave tips on how to have a better personality—well, they were more criticisms if you did not already have the ideal personality. We were very much into ideals—naming various persons in one class or another as the ideal freshman boy or senior girl or whoever.

James Burch was listed in this issue as the ideal freshman boy for grades. He was the ideal “grades” boy every year, which was disgusting because I knew I would never be the ideal for looks or athletic prowess or eyes or hair or the other categories high school students thought ideal, and so I wanted to be the smartest boy. [Although I did make it for “personality” as a freshman and “friendliness” as a senior, which is like being Miss Congeniality.]

I really wanted to beat “Wally,” even though he and I were very good friends, and often went to the Ft. Branch Dog n Suds of our Oak Barks sponsor and office practice teacher Manfred Morrow, trolling for girls, because the girls who are 17 miles away are always prettier than the ones close at hand, where the aforementioned “Wally,” named such because he resembled Mr. Peepers, the Wally Cox TV character, would use pickup lines on the car hops like, “Hey, baby, you want to hear me pronounce otorhinolaryngology?”

Even though he was the ideal boy for grades every year, I maintained the monstrous illusion that I could outdo him in practical smarts. When I took the employment exam for the Potter & Brumfield factory in Princeton, I set the all-time record, missing only one question. It was the all-time record, that is, until Wally took it the next week and got ALL the answers correct. When we had our senior comprehensive exams, over everything we had studied for four years, sitting all day in the gym, spaced way far apart so we couldn’t possibly see anybody else’s exam papers, I set the all-time record. It stood for twenty minutes. Until Wally turned his exam in.

I’m glad he’s never come to any of our class reunions. As long as he’s not around, I can think I’m smart.

John Robert McFarland

I was smart enough to buy several copies of There’s No Wrong Way to Pray, written by ten-year-old Kate Watson, and her Lutheran pastor mother, Rebecca Ninke, to give to kids and Sunday Schools. You can be smart, too, and get a copy from publisher Beaming Books, or Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Target, etc.

Thursday, April 4, 2019


Midnight rain calls forth
poems the same way a pungi
calls forth a cobra
from a basket

The poetry muse looks
on from the crowd
her feet still beautiful
from a stint
upon the mountain

Wait, what?
The rain is falling
and it is midnight

Does she not have enough
sense to get out
of the rain?

John Robert McFarland

“You can observe a lot by just watching.” Yogi Berra

Tuesday, April 2, 2019


Granddaughter Brigid spent her break from the U of Chicago with us, even though her MA thesis was due the day she got back. We left her alone as much as possible, so she could complete that thesis, but she is our tech person, so Grandma had her change the ring tones on her phone so that each of her frequent callers would have a distinct tone. That way she can know who is calling just by the sound. I wanted a quack sound for my ring, but Helen vetoed that for fear it might go off in the Crazy Horse bar and get her thrown out.

Young people probably think this business of distinctive ring tones is some new thing that came in with cell phones, but it’s old hat. When I was growing up, each of the 14 families on our “party line” had a distinctive ring.

Our phone was a wooden box on the wall, with a crank out the side. You cranked once to get “central,” the operator in town, who could connect you to any other phone in the world—if you had enough time and were willing to pay enough—and you cranked some other number and combination of “longs” and “shorts” to get another family on the line.

We were the poorest family on the line, the only one without a car, the only one on welfare, the one with the smallest acreage [five], but there was one way in which we were superior to everyone else: we had the coolest ring tone. Perfect symmetry, two longs and two shorts.

John Robert McFarland

1] In one of his routines thirty or so years ago, dead-pan comedian Stephen Wright said: “I couldn’t find my socks.” [Pause] “I called information.” [Pause. Some laughter.] “She said, ‘Look behind the sofa.’” [Pause, laughter really building by now.] “She was right.”
            It was hilarious, in a way it would not be if he tried to do it now with Siri, because Siri is general information. It’s reasonable to ask her anything. But “Information” was specific information—telephone numbers. It was ludicrous to ask her anything else. Siri is really just information and would say, “I have found four sock stores within five miles of you.” Information said, “Look behind the sofa,” because she was a real person.

Monday, April 1, 2019


I have been going through old copies of “Oak Barks,” the school newspaper of the Oakland City, Indiana High School. I was the editor for the issue of February 4, 1955, [coincidentally, my 18th birthday].

David Lamb, “Oak Barks” art editor, and the creator of the “Super Snooper” cartoon page, became one of the premier ad men of the late 20th century, and he started early, right there in Oakland City as a high school junior. The second headline on the 2-4-1955 front page proclaimed:

Lamb Wins: Now Known as “Relish King.”

Dave had won the contest for naming the Hosmer Company’s new relish as “Spiced Rite.” Hosmer was giving him a free trip to Mardi Gras plus $100 worth of groceries, and he appeared on Evansville’s WFIE-TV.

Another article noted that Don Falls had scored 55 points against the Haubstadt Elites, the second highest individual point total in the state so far in the season. I assume this article was written by our Sports Editor, Russell “Rowdy Russ” Riddle, but for whatever reason, I did not give him a byline. [He was known as “Rowdy” because it would have been impossible to find a less rowdy boy in the school, except for James Burch.]

Asst. Editor Peggy Hunt wrote that we were sending 125 contestants to the solo and ensemble contest in Evansville.

Otherwise we just ran a few senior biographies and a lot of gossip. I don’t know who was doing our gossip column then, but one of the items said, “I hear Bob Wallace is having a gay old time as of late.” These days that would have raised some eyebrows, especially later while he was in the Mississippi State Police and head of the security detail for the governor.

Since Valentine’s Day was coming up, we had a whole page of couples listed, inside a big Valentine heart outline that our art staff had done nicely. Must have been close to 300 kids altogether—almost the entire school. I can’t remember who did the list, but I remember being in the office practice room, which was also the “Oak Barks” office and production headquarters, by myself one lunch hour, laboring to get the paper ready, when I saw the dummy for that Valentine page for the first time.

My girlfriend was a typist for the paper, and I scanned down the page to see our names. I found hers, but not mine. She had typed her name in with a different boy! Mine must have been the only name in the whole school that was not in that heart.

I was shocked. How could she do that? I was the perfect boyfriend! I operated by assuming she would be available any time I wanted a date and otherwise ignored her so she could spend time with her friends. What more could a girl want than that?

What made it worse? The guy paired with her name was better-looking than I. My girlfriend had traded up!

At our 50 year high school reunion banquet, I accidentally ended up sitting between her and my wife. No problem, because my wife likes her. Her husband, seated on her other side, was good looking, but not the guy from the Valentine’s page in “Oak Barks.”

I was pleased to have the opportunity to thank her for being such a good girlfriend back then. She really was a good girlfriend--kind and pleasant and undemanding. She was my “beard.” Not the way we usually mean that, a girl a gay guy dates so he can pretend to be straight. She helped me hide the fact that I was the world’s worst boyfriend. But her patience that February 50 years before had finally worn out.

Thank goodness. Dumping me was the best thing she ever did for me. At least, that’s what Helen tells me.

John Robert McFarland

 “In theory, there is no difference in theory and practice. In practice, there is.” Yogi Berra