God is Great, Beer is Good, and People are…

…well if you listen to the song by Billy Currington, the lyrics go…

This old man and me, were at the bar and we…
Were having us some beers and swappin’ I-don’t-cares
Talking politics, blonde and redhead chicks
Old dogs and new tricks, and habits we ain’t kicked
We talked about God’s grace, and all the hell we raised
Then I heard the ol’ man say
God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy

Anybody disagree?  Naw, didn’t think so.  What made this song come to mind was a flight I had last Friday.  It was the first leg of my flight home from Oakland…an early one at that.  The first leg of the flight was Oakland to LAX on Southwest Airlines (which by the way is the best, seriously).  I thought, a short beginning flight will give me a quick nap.  I really do not engage other passengers on a flight.  Usually I am tired, and with my hearing being all screwed up, it is easier to put on the headphones, read a book, or get in the quick nap-nap.

Most every flight is full these days…especially so in the summer.  I was the first passenger to board at Oakland, and the larger of the two “exit rows” was occupied.  So I started to take a seat in another row when the flight attendant asked me if I wanted an exit row seat, and she pointed me to a vacant seat.  She told me I could “have it as long as I wouldn’t be a trouble-maker”.  (Me?)  I replied, “contrary to what my wife might say, I am not a trouble-maker”.  To which the flight attendant chuckled and said, “yeah, I am not so sure”.  Then a voice from the row I was to be sitting in chimed in with a “You better be careful what you say, wives have terrific ears!”  And in spite of it being a tad too early in the day and me already on my way to nap-napland, I enjoyed that comment and we both laughed.

The comment came from an older gentleman.  His hair was white, and thinning a bit (maybe that is why I liked him!)  And his clothes were simple.  He had on a shirt with a large geometric print that seemed like it would go up in flames quickly due to the material it was made of…and the shirt had a collar as large as elephant ears.  He wore slacks that seemed to be “double-knit” similar to what my Grandfather used to wear, with a pair of simple black shoes with a rubber soul…the shoes, not the Beatles album.  Across his lap he folded a sportcoat with a herringbone pattern.  He came across warm, friendly and for whatever reason I felt comfortable with him…felt I could trust him.

He asked me were I was headed?  Vegas? Denver? Albuquerque? (I had on a pair of jeans and cowboy boots with my western-tooled leather briefcase)  “No, I told him, I’m headed home…St Louis.”

So of course I asked where he was headed…and he told me to LA for a few days.  He has two sons there and he will stay with one near the airport.  (He also has a daughter in Texas)  So I asked if this was a special trip for a birthday or something?  He replied that this was a business trip.  (Schreeech…whoa pardnuh… wait a minute, business, I thought?  re-read my description of him if you are not sure what I mean by this…)  Before I could wish him luck, he said he was meeting with a Hollywood producer about doing a movie(give me another, whoa!)  He told his wife he was going to get three blondes and a bottle of champagne in Hollywood!  His wife said “if you drink the champagne, the blondes will be lonely because you will fall asleep”.  (okay, now I am really trying to act natural, not asking too many questions, just simply engrossed in talking with this man…and wondering “What the Hell?”)  Like the song says…

We talked an hour or two, ’bout every girl we knew
What all we put them through, like two old boys will do

LR,  (that is what I will call him for now) said that he retired about 25 years ago, but didn’t want to sit around doing nuttin’.  Plus he wanted a little extra coin just so he could have a beer or two every now and then.  He wanted a hobby…so he enrolled in a Creative Writing class at a nearby Junior College.  ( lives in Spokane he told me)  He enjoyed the writing and thought it wasn’t bad.  So he took it to a local publisher, who seemed to like it.  That was 30 books ago!!! Seriously…do the math, retired 25 years ago, and now he has written, no published 30 books.  He said they weren’t much, just little thoughts on life.  All he has to do is get in his car a drive, pick up a newspaper, or draw on his own life for inspiration.  He really does it for fun, doesn’t make much money, just enough to buy some beer.

God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy

He told me about one of those life experiences as a child that contributed to his writing a book…

He wondered what would happen if the Japanese had successfully taken Pearl Harbor and Hawaii.  (actually he used the term “the Japs”, so forgive me when I use it if it offends anyone…not meant to offend.  This is a gentleman in his 80’s)  Then they went on to attack the West Coast and invade the US.  So he told me he bought a couple of six packs of beer and went to a military base near his home to “do some research”.

“LR” said that he was a sophomore in High School when “the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor”, living in a small town in Idaho.  He recalled the Mayor called all those with phones back then, and asked them to spread the word of an emergency town meeting.  When they met at the Town Square, the Mayor told everyone of the events of Pearl Harbor.  Quickly word spread for all able-bodied men to meet back at the square within a few hours.  LR’s father told him,”son, you better come too.  You take the .22 and I’ll take the deer rifle”.  The town square was a buzz with excitement and concern.  The men were taking this very serious while LR’s high school friends were excited to be there and be a part of it.  World War I vets took charge and lead everyone through “training drills” and target practice…even archery practice.  He recalled paranoia setting in when people would say they heard the “Japs” were getting close, or that they were approaching the bridge.  So everyone had to go into action and “man their posts”.  He said that looking back on this makes him laugh every time…it was a hoot!  But it ended up  serving as a reference for one of his books.  You never know when inspiration will strike or how long it will take to hit.

Before I could pull out my headphones, book or even close one of my eyes for that nap…we were landing in LAX…and I was a little disappointed.  Time went by too fast and I felt there was more…to tell…to hear…to learn.

So Loren, that is his name, and I exchanged names and bid each other good-bye, safe travels and good luck with the producer, the champagne and the blondes…

Unexpected lessons in unexpected places.

If you get a chance, check out Loren Robinson at   http://goodtimesinthedepression.com/

One of his books, “Hold Until Spring”, is about the order given to a guerilla unit to hold the Japanese advance in the mountains of Idaho and Montana until relieved…


God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy

…they can also be an inspiration.

Published in: on July 29, 2011 at 5:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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