How I got invited to a corporate business convention isn’t the story here. But let’s just say there are lots of people wearing nice suits and finishing sentences with: “Did I already give you a card?”
There is a guest speaker. He is famous. I don’t care for him. His talent: complaining.
He complains about America, religion, the economy, pro-sports. About lukewarm fried eggs.
The people love him. They applaud after each purple-faced rant.
The woman next to me says, “Oh, I watch his show on TV all the time. Don’t you just love him?” She grinned. “By the way, did I already give you a card?”
I do not love him. If you ask me, he needs considerably more fiber in his diet.
I leave the main event and make the long drive back home. The sun is setting. It is a stunning sky.
I don’t know what’s happening to the world. People are angry. TV personalities earn seven-digit incomes by getting peeved.
Well, maybe I am feeling particularly inspired by the guest speaker. Because I have a mind to make a list of my own complaints.
My first complaint: sunsets.
Sunsets don’t last long enough. They only give a few minutes of sky-painted glory, then it’s goodnight, Gracie.
I know. That’s not a real complaint, but give me time, I’m new to this.
Complaint two: puppies. They grow up too fast. There is nothing half as marvelous as razor-sharp puppy teeth. This, I know.
I’m also complaining that there aren’t more barbecue joints.
I don’t mean the fancy kind where waiters wear all-black and use iPads to email copies of your receipt. I’m talking concrete-block joints with ugly bathrooms, decent service, and food that your doctor warns you about, served in red plastic baskets.
Something else: I wish people gave more compliments for no reason.
Hardback hymnals. I’m not happy about their disappearance. Give me elderly Miss Betty on piano, and forty-six choruses of “Just As I Am.”
And speaking of old people. I’m complaining that there aren’t more old folks on television.
Yesterday, I scrolled one thousand and five TV stations in my hotel room, and I didn’t see one stitch of white hair. That’s a shame. The smartest woman I ever knew had sugar-white hair and answered to the name “Granny.”
I wish every girl loved her own body, hair-color, and personality.
I’d like to see people throw more backyard cookouts, fewer rocks.
I wish more porches waved flags. And I wish God that wasn’t a controversial statement. I wish the word “God” wasn’t a dirty word.
I wish the six-o’clock news didn’t love crime scenes so much.
I want Willie Nelson to live forever. And I’d like it if the lady who throws my newspaper at three in the morning would inherit a million dollars.
I hope Bradley, a six-year-old with foster parents, finds a forever home. I pray Lonnie and Meredith get over the death of their two-year-old son.
And I wish anyone who complains about the weather, or gas prices, or current events could watch a sunset in Brewton, Hartford, Graceville, Wewahitchka, Fadette, Jackson’s Gap, Eight Mile, Chipley, Coffee Springs, Level Plains, or Geneva. That might cure them—at least for a little while.
I know. I’m supposed to be complaining.
But I can’t do it while I’m watching this sunset.
By the way, did I already give you a card?
Karen Golden - July 26, 2018 5:46 am
Sean, I’d like to add something to complaint #2: Puppy Breath doesn’t last long enough. I wish they could bottle Puppy Breath. It’s such a sweet, lovely smell. It’s smells better than the expensive stuff you can get at the perfume counter at Belk.
Sandi in FL. - July 26, 2018 8:52 am
Good post, Sean. And I like it when you add a sketch of your own. You’re wise to sign your art, like this drawing of the sneakers. Someday your artistic talent might make you even more well-known than you already are!
Katherine - July 26, 2018 10:25 am
I love your artwork as well, Sean. I look forward to it every morning.
sbrussell - July 26, 2018 11:13 am
I just love you and your stories. If you were here, I’d give you a hug! I’m glad I added this comment because I would have missed the tennis shoe sketch without it. I’ve been reading your posts in e-mail. You are a multi talented artist.
Clayton L Hare Jr. - July 26, 2018 11:21 am
Wonderful post! Not too many folks know where Wewahitchka is. The other town I like over there is Wausau, the home of the annual Possum Festival! Northwest Florida and south Alabama should have been a state!
Gerald - September 21, 2018 1:08 pm
I know this sounds funny but I taught math one year at Meigs Jr. Hi. (way back when they were still called Jr Hi’s) in Shalimar, Fla. and we had a kid on the football team called Wewa. I thought that was a strange nickname and when I ask one of his friends in my class how he got that nickname he said it was because he was from Wewahitchka. Yup, funny but true.
Gerald - September 21, 2018 1:38 pm
And another funny. The town of Brasstown NC is the home of the “possum drop” each New Year’s Eve celebrated by lowering a possum (in a cage) from the roof of the local store “Clay’s Corner” at midnight. They made national news a few years ago when the SPPCA had a court order issued to stop the practice because of the stress on the possum during the celebration. I have to add here that the possum was usually stressed to the extent that it would sleep through the whole thing. Anyway, they still have the celebration attended by a couple thousand each year using a “teddy” possum. Biggest event of the year in this town of 200 and home of the John Campbell Folk School folkschool.org
Nicole - September 22, 2018 11:58 am
Yes, they do! We stayed with Bass and Sandy for a month one late spring. One of the trips I wish I could repeat. I love your writing. I am so sorry I missed you here in Palatka when you spoke at Florida School of the Arts as a benefit. I can only imagine how great and uplifting the talk was. God Bless.
Cathi - July 26, 2018 12:02 pm
Sean, you always make me smile!
Jan - July 26, 2018 12:06 pm
I wish everyone appreciated life and people the way you do, Sean. You see through all the extraneous stuff right to the heart of the matter. Thank you!
Peggy Savage - July 26, 2018 12:29 pm
My complaint: having to wait until tomorrow morning to read your next column….
Jeanne butler - July 26, 2018 12:30 pm
You always make me smile. I wish there were fewer complainers and more people like you in this world. I love sunrises. I watch them from my porch over the Delaware River. They are beautiful. Love you Sean
Jackye Thompson - July 26, 2018 12:35 pm
Thank you for making an “old white headed lady ” smile and say that’s right.
Loved your story today.
cronkitesue - July 26, 2018 1:15 pm
I wish more people smiled at each other, and at least said “howdy” once in a while.
Paul E Click - July 26, 2018 1:16 pm
You need to come sit a spell on the front porch with us and share. We’ve got some complaints, kinda along the same vein. Sweet tea and hot, black coffee to quicken the mind and loosen the tongue. Sorry we don’t have any cards-except rook!
Paul & Elaine
Jack Darnell - July 26, 2018 1:25 pm
Well I must be honest, I ain’t crazy about ’em razor sharp teeth puppies have and I am glad they don’t last any longer. Just sayin’.
Lori Stull - July 26, 2018 1:41 pm
I agree wholeheartedly Sean!! And I have watched many a sunset from Level Plains, the best ones being when I held my newborn baby girl in my arms!!
Carol - July 26, 2018 1:49 pm
My complaint is Where’s Thel??
I haven’t seen enough of her lately!!
Martha Williams - July 26, 2018 1:52 pm
My complaint is that I wish I had learned of you much earlier than I did. Thank you for always bringing a smile and a brighter day to those who read your posts on Facebook or in email. May God bless you, and may your tribe increase!
Diana - July 26, 2018 1:59 pm
Sean, I’ll happily take your “complaining” any day. It centers me back to what really is important in this life,
Robbie Striplin - July 26, 2018 2:06 pm
Yes I wish I could here 42 verses of Just As I Am and 4 verses of When We All Get To Heaven. I sure miss it!
Edna B. - July 26, 2018 2:22 pm
Can I wave my flag alongside you? I love sunsets and sunrises. I don’t watch the news much or listen to talk shows because there’s too much negativity on them. Your complaints make me happy. Mine are much like yours. Sean, you have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.
John - July 26, 2018 2:26 pm
I’m sorry your travels through South Carolina did not bring you to Greenville this time. I’m still looking forward to taking you to OJ’s Diner one day. Or Henry’s Smokehouse, a BBQ joint just like you described.
Speaking of things you described… My TV station airs MeTV on our digital subchannel. You can even pick it up with an antenna. You don’t need cable or satellite.
Andy Griffith is on every day from 8-9pm. We run Gunsmoke, The Big Valley, Bonanza, The Rifleman, Gomer Pyle, MASH, Perry Mason, My Three Sons, Leave it to Beaver, and you can even see Granny on the Beverly Hillbillies every morning at 7am!
When you come to Greenville I hope you will join us for a cookout (Anita makes amazing ribs & baked beans). You can meet Maddie, our nine year old granddaughter who lives with us, and pet Rosie, our yellow lab.
After dinner, we can sit on our front porch (right above our American flag) and watch the setting sun nestle into the bosom of the Blue Ridge mountains.
I can tell you about the time I took my mother see see Willie Nelson in concert. All she knew about Willie at the time was his Stardust album. Of course, he opened with Whiskey River and she was never the same after that!
And one last thing… I wish there weren’t so many crimes scenes too. We report them, but I can assure you we do not love them.
Sorry for the long note. I love your writing and your approach to life.
And I do truly hope you will drop by for a visit some day. If you could give me a little advance notice I can talk to my news department about a potential interview (if you are into that sort of thing).
janiesjottings - July 26, 2018 2:29 pm
Love this! Once again you write so eloquently about the way many of us feel. I’d much rather hear your kind of complaints than those shouted out on the nightly news. We just stopped watching that mess. If I could just get my dear husband to stop watching those judge shows on tv where the plaintiff and defendant fuss and argue I’d feel better. I can’t understand enjoying watching arguing. I’d rather focus on positive things like being in Chipley, we loved our stay there.
Jack Quanstrum - July 26, 2018 3:03 pm
I beautiful rebuttal to those on the local, but especially National news. You made excellent points through positive humor. Thank you for the story!
Carolyn Woods - July 26, 2018 3:30 pm
Right on or should I say write on!
Penn Wells - July 26, 2018 3:31 pm
I just wish there were more porches. With rocking chairs. You can have the flags.
Haskel JP - July 26, 2018 4:06 pm
Sunrises don’t last long enough either but witnessed a lovely one between Port Saint Joe and Wewahitchka a few weeks ago heading home from a fishing trip at Apalach.
Nancy Bruce - July 26, 2018 5:37 pm
Gale - July 26, 2018 5:39 pm
My grandparents lived in a neighborhood in the city in a duplex. For a time, we lived upstairs. Every evening they would sit out on the front porch. That is how they met their neighbors. When we were kids, we moved to the suburbs. The street we lived on didn’t have front porches. It was all about the backyard decks and patios. Sadly, the adults didn’t really know each other. They rarely needed to walk their dogs because all the yards were fenced with those tall privacy ones. Dogs and kids stayed in the safe backyards.
In my mind, that is when America started becoming selfish and isolated and lonely and paranoid. ANGRY. When you interact with your neighbors, you find out we are all from the same race – the human race. A simple smile, a nod of respect and manners is what we need more of.
I am now off my soap box and ready to take a walk around the block.
June - July 26, 2018 7:00 pm
South Alabama/Florida panhandle sunsets are sooooooo much better than complainers.
Lisa Snuggs - July 26, 2018 7:48 pm
Shelton Armour - July 26, 2018 8:18 pm
No card needed. And God is not a dirty word, now or forever. I say “God bless” to people lots of times during the week and have gotten anything less than a thank you back.
Scott - July 26, 2018 8:26 pm
Would you please quit writing about me!
Judy Riley - July 26, 2018 11:23 pm
I’m complaining!! You left out Marianna in the beautiful sunset list!! I hope Thelma Lou messes up your bed!! (You know I’m kidding.) …but don’t let it happen again!!
Jim Curry - July 27, 2018 1:18 am
Amen on the hardback hymnals, I miss them every Sunday,
Nedetria Talbot - July 27, 2018 2:29 am
Or Phillips Inlet…we had a place on this lake before people discovered 30A. We looked at beach property over 30 years ago, I wanted to buy on Thomas Drive, my SMART husband said, I want the kids to enjoy the lake AND the beach. So thankful for a smart man…nothing to do with an investment, everything to do with my family.
Anne Robinson - July 27, 2018 3:42 am
Love reading your posts each day. The world is sad but people make a difference, common folks. My grandsons uncle passed away. After working a 12 hour shift and instead of going home to his own family, my grandson went to the hospice and spent some time holding on to his uncle. When he passed away his wife and kids did not have enough to pay for a simple cremation. I’m just praying enough kind hearts donated to help these folks out. Hard working folks, shes a waitress since forever and he was a hard working man, kicked down and passed away from double crude cancer. You know the kind of folks I mention.
I am not too impressed with TV morans and their complaints. I’d rather watch a sunset or a sunrise. I have to agree with you all the way here. God paints a much brighter picture than this world.
We are always wanting good barbeque. My niece recently told us about one that doesn;’t even have a name, just the words BARBEQUE on a sign. SHe said it is better than any other she ever ate. Now we are curious.
You inspire me. When I feel sorry for me I think of the homeless men our youngest son works with and the stories they have to tell. He always tells, mom every one of them has a story. They just want someone to listen.
God bless you Sean, keep writing. HUGs and BLESSINGS
Penny Rooks - July 27, 2018 5:18 pm
Sean, how is it that you started out beautifully and you just get better and better? Your voice and messages are wonderfully woven together by your gift. I am so grateful my husband discovered you. Probably because he is southern, too. As a native of the north, I am so glad we have you southerners to thaw us out and warm our spirits and souls with your sweet talk. Please write FOREVER. You do far more with your columns and the lessons in them than you will ever know.
Gale Smith - September 21, 2018 7:53 am
No complaints here….life is good. My Doxie is snoring beside me and I am winding up my day reading my Sean. Thank you Lord for blessing me!
Carolyn K - September 21, 2018 10:17 am
Darla Dunn - September 21, 2018 11:01 am
Agree, agree, agree…wait for it! Except for “getting over the death of a child”…parents cannot, but they can learn to cope and live with it. Ask any parent who has lost a child. You, Sean, have learned to cope with your own daddy’s demise, BUT you have never gotten over it. You have learned to live with it as much as you hate it.
Ned - September 21, 2018 1:58 pm
I enjoyed this immensely ! I used to have the same attitude as you ! I need to get that back again.
Thank you ?
Benny - September 21, 2018 4:16 pm
Thanks Sean for all of your stories I really enjoy them. Thanks to my son I just recently discovered you. I love to read about your adventures and yes the sunset is beautiful in Geneva, I live here,….keep em coming!
Bellinda Davis - September 21, 2018 7:50 pm
Eight Mile. The community where I grew up. It was a great place with great people. A good place to grow up.