Here it Comes

I am on my porch, covering the arrival of an afternoon rain. It’s a downpour on a warm spring day. And I love rain.

But I can’t focus on writing because my cats are driving me insane. Rain makes my cats totally nuts. I can’t write a single sentence without them jumping on my keyboard and pouncing on the keys and L4eij2- 94t2pgw;g.w -2t

So we are on the porch together. Them, acting like they’ve escaped from the psych ward. Me, trying to write something meaningful. But before I can write a single word about the rain, the weather changes.

Soon, the rain has stopped.

Now the sun has popped through the clouds. The birds have started singing. I can’t believe how fast it all happened. I wasn’t even finished with this column’s opening paragraphs and the clouds have already parted. Now what I am going to write about?

Welcome to Florida, where the sky changes every few minutes and it rains three times per day. And, of course, we also have mosquitoes. Some Florida breeds of mosquitoes grow big enough to have their own congress representatives

It’s a little bizarre, this weather. It has gone from dreary, to suffocating, to full of mosquitoes. Only a few seconds ago, the clouds were black, like something from a cheap horror movie. Now it’s Beulah Land.

The air has become humid and hot. There is steam rising in the distance, between the millions of pine trees. This happens whenever rain hits the warm soil in the woods. The result is a magnificent steam that looks like something from a storybook. This usually happens during very hot weather.

And it has been HOT lately. Yesterday, for instance, it was so warm outside I saw a Baptist funeral procession pull through a Dairy Queen.

I’m sorry.

You’ll have to forgive me. That was just a little warm weather humor to lighten the mood. You probably didn’t find that joke very funny, and I wouldn’t blame you. But my cats seemed to like it03t203pijg[b qemll~22@

When I was a kid, I used to love corny jokes from drugstore joke books. I had millions of them memorized.

Q: What do you call 48 straight hours of rain in Florida?

A: Sunday.

The reason I loved jokes was because they cheered me up, and there were times when my childhood was a literal hell on earth. Namely, because I was raised by evangelicals, who were not known for being sunny people.

We Southern Baptist children were not allowed to leave the house with our shirts untucked or our shoes unshined. Our hair was to be parted on the side, and we were never to—I repeat, never—wear jeans to my fundamentalist school.

We weren’t allowed to wear jeans to class unless nuclear war had taken place and the nation’s supply of Dockers had been wiped out.

I am not kidding. We had rigid dress codes. I can still remember the day when the school announced that they were loosening up and allowing girls to wear pleated jeans.

This was groundbreaking news in Kid World. Previously, girls had been wearing dresses or wool skirts that fell at least three inches below the heels. But suddenly, girls were wearing acid washed jeans with tapered legs and so many pleats that the pants came with PG-13 ratings.

Not long thereafter, the teacher announced that boys could wear jeans. Several of us boys almost had cardiac events when we heard this. Our school uniform had always been khakis and wrought iron chastity belts. But JEANS?

I will never forget the first day I wore jeans to school. It was recess, all my friends were wearing denim, and it felt illegal somehow.

But anyway, that’s just one tidbit from my unhealthy fundamentalist childhood.

All kidding aside, my formative years really were crummy at some points. When I was a kid my father took his own life and my family became sort of outcasts. People don’t mean to blackball you after something terrible happens to you, they do it by accident sometimes. It’s human nature.

If you don’t believe me, just imagine this scenario: You’re planning a super fun barbecue. Who do you invite?

Chances are the first guests who came to your mind weren’t the suicide survivors down the street.

The thing is, at first, people are being nice by giving you space. But then, everyone gets accustomed to giving you lots of space. Pretty soon, you need an astronaut’s extravehicular mobility suit just to get around in all that space people keep giving you.

In other words, sometimes your proverbial sky can get all cloudy and rainy. Sometimes you wonder if the sun will ever come out again. Sometimes life flat stinks.

I have gone through periods of living when I believed the sun had disappeared for good. But I am older now. I am not any smarter per se, but I know more stuff.

At this age, I know that even though the sun disappears, it’s still there. I know this sounds so painfully simple, but I haven’t always known this. There were times I doubted it.

But make no mistake, the sunshine will return faster than you think. And when it does, it will blow your mind. Quarantines will fade into ancient history, pandemics will turn into textbook footnotes. One day, you will sit on your porch during a rainstorm, but the sunshine will cut through the clouds and light the entire world on fire. You will be wearing blue jeans at the time.

And there will be a couple of dang cats on your laptopPPUIt uB$!1^ow3ot2ringg you64&

14 comments

  1. Cathi Russell - May 22, 2020 9:21 am

    Thanks for the smile, Sean. Happy Friday!

    Reply
  2. Nancy Shields - May 22, 2020 11:49 am

    I needed this this morning 😊❤️

    Reply
  3. June Gibson - May 22, 2020 12:15 pm

    You make my heart smile every day. Thank you, Sean

    Reply
  4. Christine Washburn - May 22, 2020 1:07 pm

    I love kitties and they’re smart.
    Thanks for the smiles this AM.

    Reply
  5. Marc Beaver - May 22, 2020 2:06 pm

    Outstanding!!! Especially today, Sean. You painted an enduring picture in my mind.

    Reply
  6. Katherine - May 22, 2020 5:16 pm

    Love your comforting words. My brother’s suicide when I was 12 wrecked me for a long time, too… Would you please balance the scale & reference some obnoxious canine caters? Remember the initial Zoomba ads where, at the end you could hear a cat screaming as it hit him/her? No such ad using a dog crying out in distress would have even been conceived of! Though many of us love them both, cats regularly fare worse, or, often, far worse in our culture.

    Reply
  7. Linda Moon - May 22, 2020 5:18 pm

    You don’t often write about your cats. Cats cheer me up. I have a refrigerator magnet with a funky-looking-cartoon-cat on it that reads, “home of psycho cat”. Looking at it right now brings me even more cheer. My excursion into Fundamentalism required me to sign a pledge to NOT PLAY CARDS. After a discussion with my spouse, giving up ROOK would have likely led to divorce, which the Fundamentalists would not have approved of either. I joined another religion that allowed ROOK; the marriage was saved. My age, Sean, is older than yours is now. I know stuff….some of it silly like Psycho Cat and some of it more challenging that I ever imagined. But a lot of it is the Right Stuff. Life. Itself. Beulah Land is one of my favorite Fundamentalist Hymns. You are invited to sing it at my funeral, Sean, but not anytime soon!

    Reply
  8. Becky Souders - May 22, 2020 6:49 pm

    Q: What do you call 48 straight hours of rain in Florida?…. An Oregon weekend. 🙂

    Reply
  9. Ann - May 22, 2020 7:43 pm

    Having read your wonderful book I understand much more of the between the lines of your writing….I’m still digesting “ your story”…. In the meantime you always find a rainbow somewhere trvsz$#+not… ( oops haven’t had a cat in years)….. I went to public school and no one wore jeans…especially girls!….wow, has that changed!…and living in Florida, it’s a god thing I like the “ smell of rain” because the season has begun and you help wash away the not so great stuff…..thank you

    Reply
  10. Steve Winfield [Lifer] - May 22, 2020 8:00 pm

    You may not believe it having gone through all you have but I feel ya. Mom left when I was 5. Barry & me stayed with dad. Don’t think for a minute that don’t make you a weirdo in 1965. We showed up at Shannon First Baptist next Sunday like nothing ever happened. And the next, and the next. That’s the way Andy, aka Mr George, done things.
    Mom got back in touch when I was 18 & all worked out. Sorry that wasn’t in your cards. But growing up hearing kids whisper, “Stevie ain’t got no momma”, behind your back.
    I do feel ya & I’m sure you feel me.
    And another thing. I grew up 4 1/2 hrs from Panama City. I know about that rain thing.

    Reply
  11. Steve Winfield [Lifer] - May 22, 2020 8:17 pm

    And another thing Jamie. I got my book yesterday. Thanks! Gonna start as soon as I finish reading “Good Dog”. I bought it on eBay for $4. Y’all really need to check it out.

    Reply
  12. Berryman Mary M - May 22, 2020 10:15 pm

    Thanks for the smiles today, Sean. I needed it. You see tomorrow is my birthday and 2 years ago on the Sunday of Memorial Day (May 27th) weekend, my brother and only sibling passed away. At that time I was so very thankful that he didn’t pass on my birthday, but I seem to be having a really tough time this year, because both days are smashing up together. I don’t know any other way to put it.
    Living in Alabama, I know all about heat, humidity, steam rising off the asphalt, and rain every afternoon, which to me is God’s way of telling us to go inside and rest awhile. Have a very happy Memorial Day, Sean. Love to Jamie.

    Reply
  13. Nancy M - May 23, 2020 5:50 am

    I didn’t know you had cats! We’ve had 8 cats and one dog in all our years of marriage.
    When the one we have now was a kitten, he jumped on the keyboard one evening and turned my laptop off! Then I couldn’t turn it back on! That danged cat had pressed both caps lock and numbers lock!

    By the way, what’s happened to Edna B? I miss her.

    Reply
  14. Linda Moon - May 24, 2020 12:25 am

    To Nancy M: I just read your post from yesterday, and I’ve been thinking about Edna B. today. She usually posted with “Hugs”. So if anybody out there in Seanville knows her or where she’s been, post a comment and let us know.

    Reply

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