Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Finley Drops the "F" Bomb...in Guideposts?

I think it was 100 below zero last night, and pretty much the entire state of Minnesota is in hibernation.

I knew that my calling was to go to the gym, but that little cartoon devil that lives over my left shoulder whispered in my ear.......

"Call Finley, he'll be home, and who knows...he might distract your intentions and you might not have to go back into the cold."

The conversation started with....

"Hello, Mike Finley here."

But in no time flat, we were discussing the unthinkable.

I think it started with a joke about a religious book of poems. A parody where Christ and his friends would be featured in a roast like fashion.

Perhaps the project would start off with the Jews getting hyped up before the big Psalm Sunday / Passover Parade, you know....the one where Jesus enters into the city on a donkey while everybody tosses leaves into the street..

The Jews (from my recollection) weren't that excited about heaven as much as they wanted to see Rome pushed off the rails......

Anyways, Finley suggested that a good title might be.......

"Christ Without An Ass."

And in our featured story, we would talk about the pain even a Messiah can encounter when they suffer the equivalent to us losing their car keys on the moment of a big event.

I guess you had to be there, but none the less.....we were entertained, and I would like to think a host of angels smiled as well.

Then we starting talking about Billy Graham, and both of us voiced our concern as to his current state.

It's been awhile since his upstart kid took over the ministry, but for whatever reason....the Billy Graham Foundation seems to be pulling the old buck out for photo ops, and truth be told......

The pics that the shooter is getting of are not all that enticing.

These images appear like cardboard cut outs of a confused and bumbling man.

It's hard for me to hold them in contrast with..................

The man who led crusades across the planet -

The man who served as spiritual advisor to American Presidents -

The man who saw beauty in Nixon -

The man who answered the little girl who asked "Do puppies go to heaven?" to which he replied "If you want them to, I'll bet they do." -

So now Finley shifts the topic once again........

"Remember his publication Guide Posts? I wonder if they even publish that anymore, anyways...I actually had one of more stories published in Guide Posts."

So now I just sit there in the hum of silence, because in person Finley can lead you down the trail of well intended deception, but over the phone......

I remarked how much I enjoyed reading about Martin Sheen's conversion. It was appealing to me since Guide Posts seldom pointed towards Catholics, they were more "Born Again" in ideology. So when they reported on How Sheen (a.k.a. Captain Willard) had a real life heart attack, mental breakdown and survived a typhoon, all on the set of Apocalypse Now...I really dug this.

Finley listened to my entire take, but when I was finished, he returned to his own..................

"In the submission I sent to Guide Posts....I had the word (FUCK) in my story. As you can guess, they edited it out, but the process was awkward. They knew I was a professional writer, and they knew that the (FUCK) word made sense to the story, but Guide Posts is Guide Posts which meant they had to take a moment to contact me and act unaffected by the editing."

I can't tell you how hard I laughed, in fact...now I felt justified for skipping my workout.

"Only you would F-Bomb Guide Post." I said, but Finley returned a logical explanation....

"It's not like I wrote the story specifically for them, so when I sent it out, I never stopped to think they would be getting a story with the word fuck in it."

Over the course of the next hour, we talked about other world changing topics, but I think you've heard enough for now.

The following is the story that inspired the F-Bomb story....however, the obscenities have been removed for your comfort....enjoy.

Sometimes the future and the past switch places in our lives. What went before foretells what is to come. And the future smiles back, and explains the past. My family experienced a tragedy when I was 11 -- my sister Kathy, who was born with a leaky heart valve, passed away. Her life had been tough in many ways. She could never exercise, her baby teeth never fell out, and her skin was grayish from poor circulation -- she was called a "bluebaby," and kids made fun of her for that. It's a condition that medicine found a simple cure for, to be administered at birth -- a few months after she was born. Kathy was a girl of great gentleness and sweetness. She was a painter and drawer, and a lover of horses. All my childhood, my job, and my brother Pat's, was to run and fetch things for her, because she did not have the strength. She was a sophomore in high school when she went into a coma and died. Her death made for a stormy adolescence for me. I stopped going to church, I got into trouble with the law, I became a bit of a hard case. Now fast-forward into the future, to my 15th high school reunion, in 1982. I returned to my small town with a bad attitude, determined to show people how far I had come -- not financially (I was broke) but in daring and worldliness. I drank with old girlfriends, I kissed my old prom date on the lips. I pissed off their husbands, on purpose. I had too much to drink, and I saw, at the bar, a big kid I remembered from grade school, Jack Mussina. He was the class psycho, built like an adult even as a kid, with a brutal jawline and a dead look in his eyes. In sixth, seventh, and eight grades, Mussina made my life miserable, chasing me on the playground, throwing me up against walls, and slapping and pummeling me. He hated me for some reason I didn't understand, and saw me as an appropriate victim. That's what bothered me the most -- I did not want to be a victim of anything. Taking courage from the liquor, I challenged him. "Mussina, what made you hate me so much in grade school? I wasn't a bad kid. What did I ever do to you?" Mussina winced. "Hey, man, I'm sorry. I was so crazy in those days. I had all kinds of problems." But I wouldn't let him off so easy. "OK, but why me? Why did you choose me to pick on?" He looked at me levelly, and I could tell something still bothered him. "Because you laughed at your sister's funeral." I flashed backward. I was excruciatingly self-conscious the day of the funeral. I was upset about Kathy, and I didn't want people peering in on our problems. But the funeral was a big event in the town. My whole school, St. Joseph's, was taking time off to attend. I remember glancing about during the service, looking for reassurance from my classmates that they wouldn't always know me by this moment. That this wouldn't mark me forever. I'm sure I tried to smile. It was a terrible day. Back to 1982. "Jack," I told him. "I wasn't laughing. I loved my sister, but it was no one's business but mine. I must have smirked, but you have to know I was dying inside. " "I know, Mike. I loved her, too." So that's what it was. When all the other kids called Kathy bluebaby, or warned her about the purple people eater, Mussina was her avenger. He beat up a dozen kids, and some of them must have said something. He showed his devotion the only way he could -- with his fists. When she died, he transferred his enmity to me. Out of love. Mussina went to Vietnam and was a behavior problem there, spending time in the brig. Now he was better, and counseled other vets with emotional disorders. And me, after what seemed like a lifetime of being alone, I met and married my best friend Rachel. Rachel, too, went through the mill, losing her father at 16. It's been an interesting marriage, because we are so gentle with one another, so aware of the old pain. Sometimes it seems like we are brother and sister. Now fast-forward to the present. My daughter Daniele, whose face so resembles my sister, is now her age, when she died. When I think of my sister's terror at that age, I can't help crying. I have a good one about once a month. And as I try to prepare Daniele for the long future ahead of her, I am so grateful for her health. You can not believe how rosy her complexion is, on a crisp December day like today. Or how embarrassed her brilliant color sometimes makes her. Or how beautiful it looks to me.

-   the end   -

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