During the week, I bought stuff at various department stores around Piccadilly Square to send back home. Like most Americans, I was almost run over a few times because I kept looking the wrong way before crossing the street. One time, I wandered into a pub for a cool drink of something other than a Guinness which tasted horrible — still does, most likely — and it is not very cool at all. Pub patrons eyed me suspiciously when I set my backpack down. Is this an Irish terrorist blowing us up? He looks right Irish ta me...


Bought a brown bathrobe which I still own. Why? I thought it was cheaper than an American one. Wrong. Ten years later I replaced it with a blue one bought at a yard sale for 50 cents from Gilly the English lady living next door to me in Nashville. Irony? Also, bought Russian dolls for my cousin Bettye. Each doll contained a smaller one inside. You've seen them.


Sent all this stuff, along with the two Italian suits, back to Nashville in a large box that took a month to arrive. Daphne, I supposed, had a problem finding someone to carry it to the post office, or else Pat the Postman was not picking up parcels. On arrival in Nashville, it was obvious the box had been opened for inspection. Apparently, Russian dolls are a smuggler's delight. The inspectors must have thought so too.

I made a major faux pas of lasting consequence when I asked cousin Bette to pay for the Russian dolls. They should have been a gift of gratitude for the Coca Cola patch she sewed onto my backpack. The patch made me look a bit more friendly and probably caught me a few more rides as well. But youth is ignorant of the hands that feed them and takes for granted that the hands will always be there. Cousin Bettye was my favorite cousin. She was the big sister I never had. Within a year or so after my return, Bettye had come to the conclusion that in her world I would forever remain a hopeless freeloader, and she was likely correct, so she dumped me when I hinted at moving into the rooms vacated by Kelly and Kyle when they initiated their own reproductive agendas. Her exact words were We don't want you. I understood, and quietly withdrew from cousin Bette's world. In our modern times, who needs a medieval monk loitering around the house?

And why would anyone want to associate with someone so scared he would not share his resources (i.e, $$$)? Such a person shows a lack of faith in himself to provide for his own survival, so how could he provide for anyone else's? As years go by and you find yourself surprisingly still alive, faith in yourself increases. You've lived this long. Why not a little longer? The habit of surviving gradually replaces the faith once needed to survive. As habit replaces faith, habit becomes belief, a belief that, come what may, you will continue to live based on your own skills. Forget about yo mama telling you how pretty you is. To increase your confidence you must solve actual problems before a belief in self manifests. That's what fathers do; they provide the challenges that guarantee the development of confidence. Pity the poor boy or girl without a challenger dad.


1928 — 2013

Cousin Bettye died this year.
Wish I had known sooner.
I could have said goodbye
and sorry I was so cheap.
Perhaps we would have patched things up.