Fifty Shades of Ray

fifty shades

I’m not one for sharing a lot of personal stuff, but I need to come clean about something.  Public confession is all the rage these days, so here goes.  Stick with me to the end here, no matter how revolting these revelations may seem, because this is something I really need to get off my chest.

1. I was just a little kid the first time, but I was hooked the first time I tried it.

2. Most guys like breasts.  They’re good, I admit.  I don’t care how big they are as long as they are firm.

3. I’ll always remember that time when I had it at the baseball field.  Twice in the same day.

4. On the table in the kitchen is probably my favorite place.

5. When I can’t get it, I’m thinking about it.

6. I’m thinking about it now.

7. I’m a leg man.  I like to start at the bottom and work my way up.

8. Sometimes I start slowly.  Other times I attack it like a hungry wolf.

9. Sometimes it’s so good I lick my fingers when I’m done.

10. I’ve had it so many times that I wouldn’t even wager a guess at the number.  Thousands.

11. Once when I was driving.  Yes, driving.  I know that sounds dangerous and crazy, but it can be done.

12. I’ve never had it at the theater, but I’ve fantasized about it.

13. Having it with family is OK by me.

14.  I don’t have any qualms about having it with perfect strangers.

15. Occasionally I’m all by myself.

16.  When I was younger, I could have it every day.  My doctor says I shouldn’t do that now — not good for my heart.

17. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to take my time and enjoy every minute.

18.  Sometimes it takes an hour to finish.  Really.

19. Some are better than others, but they’re all good to me.

20. It’s always better hot — and I mean smokin’ hot.

21. Smooth skin.  My heart skips a beat just thinking about it.

22.  Some guys would say that the younger they are the better.  They don’t know what they’re talking about.  Trust me on that one, guys.

23. On the couch is good — with the T.V. on.

24. If you haven’t tried it outside under the stars you don’t don’t know what you’re missing.

25. You know it’s hot when you start to sweat, and I usually do.

26. I’ve had it early in the morning, before breakfast.

27.  I’ve had it late at night, just before going to sleep.

28.  I’ve had it on a Tuesday afternoon.

29.  I’d get some right now if I could.

30. You can have it on the beach, but that’s over-rated as far as I’m concerned.  Sand can ruin the experience.

31.  I’ve had it in a cheap hotel.  More than once.

32. Sometimes when I have it I think about my grandmother.

33. I’ve tried to quit getting it, but I can’t stop.

34. I never had a sister, but I’ve often wondered if we would have enjoyed it together.

35. I like to just nibble on the neck.

36. You ever had it in the back seat of your momma’s car?  I have.  Had to be really careful not to leave a mess.

37. I’m not opposed to public places.  I don’t mind if people watch.

38. I don’t go in for a lot of talk during.  Maybe an occasional “Oh baby, you’re good.”

39. Sometimes when I’m finished I get sleepy.

40. I thought my appetite would diminish when I got older, but it hasn’t.

41.  My wife’s is good, but I’ve had better.

42. Ever had it at a church picnic?  I have.

43. I’ve even had it at a family reunion.

44. Dark or white — makes no difference to me.  I like ’em both.  Dark is juicer.

45. Sometimes a little music creates a nice atmosphere, but it’s not essential.

46. Country music can work, but there’s nothing like having it with Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lot of Love” blasting in the background.

47. I can quit anytime.

48. I lied.  I need it like black coffee and nicotine.

49. This feels good, sharing my secrets.

50. I’ll have it with you.  Send me an email.  Anytime, anywhere.

Yes ma’am, I love me some good fried chicken.  It’s my favorite thing to eat.

What did you think I was talking about?





He did not like to go out on the gray days, and this winter there were just too many.

Gray days were gray where he lived.  He reckoned they were grey days over in England, but he wasn’t in England.  He wondered why the difference?  Didn’t the English eat curds and whey?  Maybe there was a connection between whey and grey.  He’d never seen curds and whey, but the name sounded gray — or grey, as it were.

There weren’t fifty shades where he lived.  It was all one shade.  It was just gray.

Once, long ago when he was a child, he had asked his uncle what the gray days meant.

“They don’t mean nothing,” he said.  “What kind of dumb question is that anyway, boy?”

His uncle was a practical man.  He had not come from sensitive, artistic-type people, which made the whole gray-day-feeling-thing kind of a mystery.

He went out today into the very heart of grayness — but he hadn’t wanted to.

He thought of his uncle as night fell and gray turned to dark.  Gray days probably didn’t mean anything.

He had the feeling he’d get to think about it again tomorrow.

When Pigs Fly


I heard that “The Pig” had closed in Dadeville, AL.

Piggly Wiggly grocery stores have been an icon in the South for nearly one hundred years.  The logo is as Southern as sweet tea or grits.

They are small-town.  Independently owned and operated.  Places where the produce most likely came from down the road a piece rather than from across the world.

If you grew up in a small Alabama town, you probably learned a thing or two at “The Pig.”  Things like “PUT IT BACK.”  I imagine you may have even got your little backside warmed if you had a stubborn streak.

No need to be embarrassed, though, because everybody knows “What happens at The Pig stays at The Pig.”

I was surprised to learn that the stores were the first of their kind when they appeared back in 1917.  First to organize into sections and aisles.  First to price items individually.  First to introduce the shopping cart (or “buggies” as we call them around these parts).

Innovators.  The big chains all owe a debt to these original concepts.

It would be easy for me to lay the blame on the Pig’s demise on these big chains.  But I think it’s more than that.  It’s a symptom of a disease that is killing the small towns and the old mom and pop stores.  Main Street is boarded-up — the American Dream has moved on down the road.

I keep hearing and reading that the economy is getting better.  Prosperity will soon return.  Main Street will thrive again.

Yeah, maybe.

When pigs fly.


The Grifter

I’ve been working on a piece for a magazine the last few days (a rare “paying” gig).

Here’s one from the past…

Words Not On Paper

Gray is the color of north Birmingham in late Winter–black and gray.

The landscape is gray: gray streets, gray trees devoid of leaves, gray buildings that once produced commerce but now sit empty and idle. A few little gray houses that once were homes for workers but are now occupied by old folks with few possessions other than memories of the good old days. It has a forlorn look of hopelessness. I imagine I can hear the clang and clatter of a product that once defined a city: iron and steel. The Pittsburgh of the South is no more. I am in the shadows of Sloss, now a rusting relic that once fueled the magic in the “Magic City.”

The faces are black, except of course mine and one other traveler on this cloudy February day.

I am passing through at lunch time. I have options: fast-food fried chicken or…

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The Fireman

forest fire

He had just turned seven when he stole a box of his daddy’s matches from the ash tray of the pickup.  He ran out behind the shed and squatted in the dirt, beads of sweat already forming on his forehead, tiny fingers trembling.

Something like wonder with the first strike.  All senses loose electricity, yet still focused in the moment.  The scratch of the match-head across the smooth blue strip, the almost inaudible pop, the sulphurous smell as the flame appeared from nothingness at the end.

He held the first one until he could feel the heat on his finger and thumb, eyes transfixed by the beauty of the transparency of flame as it descended.  Dropped it in the dirt, childish mind already grappling with the mystery that something solid and tangible could be transformed into something that was almost not — gray ash that swirled away with a puff of wind.

He struck seven in succession, reliving each moment with the wonder of the first.  By the eighth his forehead was dry, and his fingers no longer trembled.

Some little boys dream of growing-up to be a fireman.

A few are destined for something else.