I have a letter here from Kyle that reads, “Dear Sean, I have the ring, I have the girl, but every time I try to ask her to marry me, I chicken out. Please help.”

Dear Kyle, so there I was, wearing a safety harness and standing atop a 318-foot tall iron structure with the world’s largest rubber band attached to my butt. My wife was standing miles below, in a river gorge, shouting things like, “WOOO! YAAAY!”

I was going bungee jumping.

The first thing you discover when bungee jumping is that everyone tells you there’s nothing to worry about. “You’ll be fine!” everyone insists. “It’s mostly safe!”

I had to sign waivers, of course. Lots of waivers. And if you take the time to actually read the tiny print, it will chill your blood into a raspberry slushy.

Here is some of the actual language from the waivers:

“The participant is fully aware that bungee-jumping and all associated activities contains inherent risk and dangers (including serious injury or death), that no amount

of care, caution, instruction, or expertise can eliminate. The participant hereby voluntarily chooses to incur any and all such risks and dangers in the event of death.”

This should have been my first tipoff that what I was doing was supremely idiotic. They do not, for example, make you sign waivers before you go mini-golfing.

Truthfully, I wasn’t sure how I ended up here. I have never had a desire to hurl myself from 35 stories. I was only here because my wife talked me into this inane stunt. She can be very persuasive.

Her line of reasoning was: “You regret one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.”

This is exactly the kind of thing a loving spouse will often say once you have purchased decent life insurance policies.

So I, the participant, hiked to the top of the tower. When I reached the…

I get a lot of mail in the form of letters, texts, emails, and subpoenas. Many of these messages are questions, which I am not always able to answer. So I’ve answered some here by compiling the most commonly asked questions. Let’s get started.

Q: Do you receive hate mail?

A: This is the Age of the Internet. Everyone gets critical mail. I get it all the time.

Q: Really? What do these people say?

A: I don’t want to talk about it.

Q: Did someone once Tweet about how you were a stupid hick with a head that was “unnaturally big for his body”?

A: Maybe.

Q: How did that make you feel?

A: I measured my head in the bathroom mirror.

Q: So I thought you lived in Alabama, and then I read that you lived in Florida. Which state is it?

A: I live in the Florida Panhandle, which is a unique region we natives lovingly refer to as L.A. “Lower Alabama.” My house is a few minutes from an Alabama town called Florala, if that tells you


Simply put, every truck in my neighborhood has either an Auburn-University bumper sticker or a University-of-Alabama tag. Also, I actually own a pair of camouflage underpants.

Q: Really?

A: They were a birthday gift.

Q: So which team do you root for, Alabama or Auburn?

A: I may or may not have a tattoo of Nick Saban beneath my camo skivvies.

Q: You have frequently written that you don't like calling yourself a writer. Why?

A: Being a writer in America is one of those occupational categories nobody understands.

You know how when you’re a kid and your teacher asks what you want to be when you grow up? If you were gutsy enough to tell this teacher you wanted to be a writer, chances are she stared at you as though you had said, “I want to…

My phone rang. Unknown number. I answered and expected to hear a robo-recording about important information regarding my automotive warranty. But it was a young man who I am going to call Bobby.

“Hello, is this Sean?”


Bobby had a story he wanted to share, and apparently I was the guy he was going to share it with. He was adamant about this.

“Do you have a pen?” were his first words.

“How’d you get this number?” I said.

“Your wife gave it to me.”


“I’m on my lunch break,” Bobby went on. “I’m kinda in a hurry. I don’t have long. You’re gonna wanna take notes. I got a lotta cool stuff to tell you.”

Only, it bears mentioning, Bobby never actually used the word “stuff.” Bobby prefers another famous word beginning with the letter S. This word, I quickly learned, is one of Bobby’s favorite expletives. But since this is a family column, I will use “stuff.”

In the background I could I hear factory sounds and industrial noises. “Where are you?” I asked. “I can hardly hear


“I work at a mill.”

I got my pen ready. “Go ahead,” I said.

Bobby said he was coming home late from work one night six years ago. He was speeding when a vehicle pulled in front of him on the wet pavement.

He slammed his brakes. He fishtailed on the rural highway. He doesn’t totally remember what happened, but he remembers the sound of the tires screaming.

He was thrown from the car, then pinned against a tree by the same vehicle he was driving. The odds of this happening are almost five trillion to one. Even the emergency workers couldn’t explain how this had occurred.

“It was some really whacked out stuff, man.”

Bobby was alone in the middle of the woods, trapped against a tree by his own bumper. And did I mention he…

My interview was scheduled for noon. It’s not every day you are a keynote speaker for Miss Bernice’s fourth-grade class career day, via video call. I wore a necktie.

Miss Bernice’s class has been interviewing a lot of people lately about their careers by using video calls. She has been introducing the kids to people with different occupations from all over the U.S.

So far, her class has welcomed guests from all fields. The class has interviewed PhDs, celebrated journalists, famous musicians, chefs, well-known songwriters, people who work in finance, pro fishermen, doctors, and anyone else who drives a Range Rover.

I was scheduled to go on after the decorated navy pilot.

While the fighter pilot gave his presentation, I started to feel like a an idiot. I looked at the little camera image of myself on my laptop screen and cringed. My red hair was disheveled, my face looked tired. The bags beneath my eyes could have been used for a Samsonite ad.

Captain America wowed his audience, and I was trying to remember when

and why I became a writer in the first place.

Truthfully, I don’t know when exactly I first wanted to be a writer. I can’t remember ever NOT wanting to be one.

Still, I think it must have happened officially for me in the fourth grade. That was the year our teacher read “Where the Red Fern Grows.”

She would read aloud to us after lunch period, every weekday for an hour. And she did all the voices.

It takes real talent to do the character voices right.

That beautiful woman with the cat-eye glasses and the coiffed hair possessed such talent. I can never forget that period of my life.

We would file into the classroom after gorging ourselves in the cafeteria. She would turn off the lights, sit by the window, and read to us.

Students would gather around her like disciples…

Yesterday, I jumped on the trampoline with my cousin’s kids. We hopped around for hours until I ruptured L4, L5, and S1. It was great.

I remember when my old man bought a trampoline for me and my kid sister before he died. Trampolines were a big deal in Kid World. My family had never known such shameless expenditures. A trampoline was a novelty such as had never been seen before by our kind.

The view of my people was that trampolines were for rich folks. They were luxury items for the well-off.

Moreover, my old man was tighter than a duck’s hindparts. We never expected him to splurge on a piece of equipment intended for something as unproductive and wanton as acrobatic play.

I come from a modest family of humble fundamentalists. We bought our bread from the day-old bread store. We saved our newspapers. We donated our used teabags to missionaries.

We never left lightbulbs on in rooms unless we were physically inside the aforementioned room.

My father inherited his frugality from

his grandfather. When my great-grandfather was on his deathbed, half blind from diabetes, he squinted into the darkness and said, “Is everyone here?”

“Yes, Daddy,” the family said. “We’re all here, gathered around your bed.”

“But, if you’re all here,” he said, “then why in the name of God are the lights still on downstairs?”

I remember the afternoon my father put the trampoline together in the backyard. It became the hottest news to ever hit the Kid Telegraph. One boy came all the way from Greensboro just to see it.

Within the span of one day, my backyard became the most popular place in six counties. After that, on any given weekend you could see a single-file line of runny noses stretching from our trampoline into the street.

We kids jumped for twenty-six hours per day until we either fell from exhaustion or sustained a…

Remember when you were little? Remember how whenever you were sick your mother made chicken soup? Remember what culinary pageantry this was?

Your mother would go to great lengths to boil poultry in a giant stockpot, filling the kitchen with steam so that the wallpaper started to peel. And she did this for you.

And even though you were as sick as a cup of warmed over manure, remember how wonderful that felt?

Remember how whenever you were scared, your beautiful mother would cradle you and tell you everything was going to be okay?

Remember how you would always ask her, “But how do you know it’s all gonna be okay, Mama?”

Then, remember how she would answer by pinching your little nose and singing “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” until your tears evaporated?

Of course you remember all this. And so do I. We never forget the people who made us feel protected. We were helpless kids with perpetually runny noses and unclean underwear, living in a dangerous world. But within Mama’s

embrace we were safe.

“He’s got you and me brother, in his hands…” she would sing, rocking you gently.

How about your teenage years? Remember those? Remember how you thought you were a tough little cuss? Nothing could harm you because you were Billy the Butt Kicker.

But inevitably something unpleasant would happen to you because that’s how life works. Someone would break your heart. Some hapless kid would call you stupid, ugly, or, God forbid, chubby. Your tough-guy façade would shatter, and you ran crying to Mama.

Because deep down you just needed to be held. You needed Mama to wrap her two wondrously soft, non-health-club arms around you and tell you that it was all going to be okay. Maybe even hum a song into your ear while swaying back and forth.

But then you got older.

Suddenly you weren’t a baby…

Here’s what I want you to do. Go outside and open your car doors. Now gather all your earthly possessions and shove them into your backseat. After that, strap the rest of your belongings to the roof, including your dishwasher, La-Z-Boy, lawn tractor, and all three of your children.

Now you know how my wife travels.

The only major difference is that we don’t have children, so our lawn tractor usually rides shotgun.

Packing the car is always a major challenge for us inasmuch as my wife does not travel lightly. My wife’s idea of travel is to bring everything but our window treatments.

Thus, whenever I prepare our vehicle for vacation mode, I painstakingly pack our car so that no space is wasted. When I’m finished packing, our automobile interior usually resembles the jigsaw puzzle from hell.

Even so, it never fails to amaze me, once our trip is finished we can never manage to fit everything back inside the car.

This often means that before we travel back home, my wife has

to make the difficult decision of leaving certain things behind, such as, for example, me.

This morning we awoke early to leave Birmingham after vacation. We have been staying in Alabama for a few weeks in a small rental cottage. We had a long drive ahead of us. But before we could hit the highway we had to pack our car.

(Cue Hitchcock music.)

As it turned out, the biggest challenge wasn’t physically loading the car. The worst issue was The Hill.

Birmingham is a hilly city in north-cental Alabama, nestled beneath the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Most residents have to use rappelling equipment to check the mailbox.

Our rental house was located on the summit of a steep hill which the locals loosely refer to as Mount Concussion. There were approximately 43,118 concrete steps leading from the curb to our porch. You could actually…