GET A LAWN, MR. WILKINS

The Green, Green Grass, by Rich Paschall

Rusty liked to get out and walk around the neighborhood.  It was a pleasant community with quaint old houses.  In fact, some of the houses were over one hundred years old, as were the trees planted in front of them.  Many homes were kept in fine condition by their owners, while others showed the sad effects of the many years they had been standing.  Rusty always spotted something new or different to enjoy during his walks.  One thing he could usually count on, as he strolled down Wallace Street on a weekend, was the presence of one particular old timer tending to his yard.

“Good morning, Mr. Wilkins,” Rusty exclaimed as he came upon the old house with a grand porch and nice lawn.  “The grass is looking very good this Spring.”

“Thanks, my friend,” Mr. Wilkins replied.  Everyone Mr. Wilkins addressed was “my friend” or “neighbor” or perhaps “sir” or “ma’am.”  Mr. Wilkins was very bad at remembering names no matter how often he heard them.  He was usually just fixated on the care of the old house and his beautiful lawn.

“I must say, Mr. Wilkins, I am surprised you are still at it. I thought you mentioned a dozen years ago that you would give this all up and retire to a warmer climate where there would be no lawn care.”

That is exactly what Mr. Wilkins had said.  He told many people that.  He wanted to retire to a nice area where a lawn service would take care of all the outside surroundings.  He wanted to relax in his old age and pursue his favorite hobbies.  He wanted to read more books, watch more sports and visit more museums and art galleries.  In his mind, he could envision a life different from the one he had for many years.  Nevertheless, he was still active in the same tasks that had now filled decades of his life.

“Yes, that was my plan, but as I approached retirement age I found I could not retire.  There just is not enough money there if I should live a long life.  I guess I will have to work as long as I can, then hope for the best.  I don’t think I will ever leave here.”

“Well, I guess I am sorry to hear it Mr. Wilkins, but you should feel good about this grand old house.  I believe your hard work had paid off. You have a lovely yard and a beautiful porch from which to admire it.”

“Thank you, neighbor,” Mr. Wilkins responded with a tone of true gratitude.  Complements on the lawn were always well received.  “There are some in the neighborhood with perfect lawns.  They have thick green grass and not a weed in sight.  I often wonder how they do it.  I hope I have such a lawn before my time is up.”

“This looks like the year of the perfect lawn, Mr Wilkins.  Now don’t work too hard.  This is the time to enjoy life.  Have a nice day.”  Rusty was off on his neighborhood journey.

Mr. Wilkins spent the Spring and early summer in pursuit of his favorite hobby, the lawn and garden.  His grass got the spring “weed and feed.”  He had tried various products over the years in search of the one with the best result.  A few bare spots got extra attention as Mr. Wilkins got down to loosen the dirt and then sprinkle his favorite grass seed.

Mother Nature cooperated with Mr. Wilkins like she had never done before.  The rain held off when certain products needed to be applied in dry weather.  The showers came when the seeds needed it and the grass required moisture.  Everything was coming along as Mr. Wilkins had always dreamed.

One day in early summer, Rusty was wondering down Wallace Street during his usual walk around the neighborhood.  “Good morning, Mr. Wilkins.  How are you this morning?”

“I am doing quite well,” the old-timer lied.  “How are you?”

Mr. Wilkins was tired, very tired.  He was pushing himself to do the things that came easy in past years.  He desperately wanted to do all the chores he felt were necessary to have a fine lawn and beautiful porch.  The work did not come without great effort.

“I am enjoying my walk past the many nice homes,” Rusty explained. “I must compliment you on the nice flowers and exceptional lawn. I think this is not only your best one yet, but perhaps the best one in the neighborhood. I should know. I have seen them all”

At that, Mr. Wilkins perked up. There were no better words for him than the ones expressed by his kind neighbor.

“Thank you so much, my friend. I am so happy to hear it,” Mr. Wilkins stated with a great deal of pride. “I believe the weather has been a big help this year.”

“I am sure your hard work had everything to do with it. Well, enjoy your fine yard and don’t work too hard anymore.” At that, Rusty wandered away and left Mr. Wilkins beaming with pride.

With complete satisfaction at his front lawn and neat row of flowers, Mr. Wilkins gathered up his gardening tools and headed back behind the house. There he set down his garden implements and just admired the lawn.

Related image
The green, green grass of home

“After all these years,” he said to himself, “I finally have a beautiful lawn. I wonder what brought it to me this year.”

As the sun was warm and the lawn was lush and inviting, Mr. Wilkins decided to lie down on the green, green grass where he drifted off peacefully.

No one found him until the next day.

WAXING NOSTALGIC – Rich Paschall

My Top Albums On Vinyl, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Those who have lived through the eras of music on vinyl, reel to reel tape, 8-track and cassette tapes, CDs and digital formats may tell you that the best of all was the vinyl era.  Yes, audiophiles will tell you that the best sound actually comes off of records, not the other formats.  As records and recording equipment, speakers and headphones evolved over many decades, the sound steadily improved.  Before the giant rush to tape formats, recordings on actual vinyl records became quite advanced.  When mono became stereo, and stereo advanced to multi channel sounds, people were piling columns of speakers around their rooms in order to make it feel like the music was being played right there in the room with you.

record player

There were people who could tell you which albums had the best “channel separation” and would place speakers where certain instruments would appear in one place, while others could be heard from elsewhere in the room.  As recording techniques became sophisticated, so did the listeners’ equipment.  If you had a great turntable, receiver, speakers and headphones, you probably needed an equalizer so you could balance your sound perfectly.  I had a friend who loved classical music.  His many speakers were placed strategically so as to have the symphony orchestra placed perfectly.  With a little mixing magic on the equalizer, you might feel you were hearing the music live.

Those days are gone and no matter how much you insist the sound is better today, no one with a “sophisticated stereo system” in the 1970s will agree with you.  Why that diamond needle riding along groves in vinyl produced such a great sound is definitely a wonder I do not understand, but it did.  Every now and then I heard a CD in my last car that impressed me with some channel separation that produced different instruments from different speakers, but that was rare.  It did not compare with recordings of older times.  Now I must plug my phone into a USB port to get music, or revert to FM radio, which sounds like the old AM radio stations to me., but I digress.

Albums continue to be released on vinyl but they do not match the numbers from the eras before cassette tape.  I must remind you here that 8 tracks were a “flash in the pan” and I am pleased to say I never owned one.  In 2016 more albums were sold on vinyl than any year since 1991, still, the numbers are paltry compared to the decades before that.

You may be surprised to learn the biggest selling vinyl album of 2016, according to the VinylFactor.com hit 68,000 copies.  It was Twenty One Pilots’ Blurryface . If you said “Who?” you are probably not a Millenial.  With their other album in the top 10, Vessel, they sold over 100,000 albums.  Apparently, 10,000 copies is considered a hit today.  Boomers may be pleased to find The Beatles on the top of the 2017 vinyl sales with Sgt. Pepper.  Nevertheless, the vinyl era is gone.

So, with that in mind I offer my eclectic selection of 5 vinyl albums I have for decades and still think worthy of playing often.  The first is from my dear departed mother’s multitude of records.  Her collection featured show tunes, which I guess is appropriate for me, as well as Caruso and Mario Lanza.  I can not tell you how many Saturday afternoons were filled with Mario Lanza.  Perhaps that was to drive us out of the house to play outside, I am not sure.  I still have an album called Andy Williams Million Seller Songs.  They were not all his million sellers, but a few were hits for him.  I like the whole thing.  It was released in the fall of 1962 and hit Billboard’s Top LPs in January 1963 and stayed there for 43 weeks.


If I loved a group, I inevitably wanted their Greatest Hits album.  A lot of my early favorites were by The Hollies.  The group was formed in 1962 and have continued on with various members. They had so many early hits they actually put out a greatest hits album in 1967.  Some of the songs were co-authored by one of the founding members, Graham Nash.  He left the group in 1968 to form another group on my list.

One group I have mentioned before in The Time It Is Today.  The Association were known for songs with a message.  I just about wore out their Greatest Hits album as it is filled with my favorites from the late 1960s.

I actually had the next album on cassette first.  Later, someone gave me Willie Nelson’s Stardust on vinyl.  This 1978 album was a revelation to me as I heard Willie sing standards from other eras.  Willie picked his favorites and did them proud with his unique interpretations.  This is a treasured piece of my surviving vinyl collection.

In my humble opinion, one of the greatest vinyl albums of all time is actually a double album by a group formed of David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young.  The 1970 album 4 Way Street was recorded live at the Fillmore East in New York, The Chicago Auditorium, and The Forum in Los Angeles.  All four individually wrote the songs on the album.  The harmonies were classic and enduring.  The messages were timeless.

Sources include: “US vinyl sales hit record 13.1 million in 2016,” thevinylfactory.com
“2017 was the highest year for vinyl sales since 1991,” thefader.com

ONE WONDERFUL MOMENT

1968 Edition, by Rich Paschall

Many musicians toil away at their craft hoping to break through the mass of musical acts and reach success with a hit recording.  Following endless rehearsals and low paying jobs, some of the best, or most interesting, will land recording contracts.  These artists wait eagerly for the day when one of their songs will be heard on the radio and climb the pop charts.  In 1968 there was no shortage of new acts to reach the Top 100.

Success may mean interviews and television appearances.  In an era with many television variety shows and, of course, American Bandstand, a chance to show off in front of millions could be at hand.  After finally having made it, performers looked for the next hit.  For many it would not be.  They would go down in music history as “one hit wonders.”

Just one hit song

Some golden songs will be 50 this year but will anyone come to the party?  As a one time triumph, the tunes may have faded from memory.  Some of you may still have the vinyl recordings on hand and listen to these songs with great fondness, despite the pop and hiss on your old record player (Millennials should go look up “record player” before reading on).  Others of you may have forgotten these completely.

In order to bring back some memories, I will give you my top 10 “one hit wonders” of 1968.  I promise you all of these really did hit high on the pop music charts and they are songs I still like.

Some of these songs sing out “Give Me One More Chance,” so come over because it “Ain’t Nothin’ But A House Party.”   You will find us “At The Top Of The Stairs” where “Sally Had A Party” with the “San Francisco Girls. ”  You might discover the “Smell of Incense” at our “Soul Meeting,” “Thank U Very Much.”  Don’t worry, “I Got A Sure Thing.”

10. Fire, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.  This song charted in many countries and sold over a million copies.  If you see the video, you will think Arthur is indeed in a Crazy World.

9.  In A Gadda Da Vida, Iron Butterfly.  The album version of this psychedelic hit played over 17 minutes.   The song was edited down to 2:53 for the single.  By the way, the song was supposed to be “In The Garden Of Eden,” but the drummer could not understand it when the singer first played it for him (he was drunk, apparently), wrote down the wrong thing and the title stuck.  It’s just another strange rock legend.

8.  Green Tambourine, The Lemon Pipers.  The song was released in late 1967 and hit number 1 by February 1968.  Status Quo, also on this list, covered the song on their 1968 album. It was not their one hit wonder.

7.  MacArthur Park, Richard Harris. The Irish actor and singer had his one big hit with this Jimmy Webb song.  The tune was written with the group The Association in mind.  They did not do it, but there were many covers, including a disco hit by Donna Summer.

6.  Nobody But Me, The Human Beinz. This was a cover of the 1963 Isley Brothers tune which failed to hit the charts.  Released late in 1967, the song made number 8 for The Human Beinz in 1968.

5.  Pictures of Matchstick Men, Status Quo.  This psychedelic rock tune was the only song by the group to chart in the US.  The group did have some later success in the UK.

4.  Classical Gas, Mason Williams.  The instrumental piece was composed and performed by Williams.  Fun Fact: Williams was the head writer for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and premiered the piece on their program.

3.  Angel of the Morning, Merrilee Rush and the Turnabouts.   A number of artists found success with this composition.  Rush received a Grammy nomination.

2.  Soulful Strut, Young-Holt Unlimited.  It’s another instrumental piece for our list.  The jazz musicians Isaac Holt and Eldee Young from Chicago had no further success with their trio and gave up by 1974, although they still played around town.

1.  Grazing in the Grass, Hugh Masekela.  It is another jazz instrumental. This time South African trumpeter Masekela takes the lead.  The Friends of Distinction would add words and have a hit with the song the following year.

Click on the title of any song to go to the video, or hit up the entire playlist here.

Are we missing any goods ones?  Check Billboard or wikipedia for one hit wonders of 1968.
Sources include: 1968 One Hit Wonders & Artists Known For One Song, hotpopsongs.com

See also: “Those Were The Days, My Friend,” The Golden Age of Rock Turns 50.

THROWBACK THURSDAY – Rich Paschall

Keeping Old Memories Alive, Rich Paschall

Let’s face it, there are a lot of annoying things about social media.  Even worse than the fake news and memes being spread, making us dumber by the day, is the proliferation of new games, rituals, groups, pages, chats, instasomethings, broadcast thyself and say nothing.

You Tube channels (I have 2), Google +, Twitter and twitpic and tweetchat, YouNow, Ustream and the list for You is growing.  You can write it, sing it, chat it, pin it, post it, paste it, repost and reblog it.  The glut of personal pages and activities is beyond gluttonous.

Among the millions of pages and posts lies some golden moments if only you can find them.  Sometimes it is like finding a needle in a haystack, but sometimes a needle is found.  Perhaps you put the golden needle there yourself, hoping others will find it.  If you look hard enough, you may find gold too.

I have used Facebook, WordPress and YouTube to uncover new (or not so new) and interesting talent. In some ways, it has replaced some of my television watching, although I have uncovered more crap online than can ever make it through to broadcast television.

If you have been following along on Sundays, you will notice that I have pointed out some of the good young talent online.  There are some young people doing good as I pointed out when I asked if it was A Screwed Up World? I also mentioned up and coming talent here and on Sunday Night Blog. Recently, I profiled Tom Law in Laying Down The Musical Law, Steve Grand in All-American Boy and my You Tube favorites in Singers on Demand  So you can tell I am not completely down on the social media world.

One practice that has grown up on several social sites in recent years did not interest me at first.  In fact, I thought it a rather self-indulgent way of posting your old photos for people who really did not care on a medium that is so overburden with posts few would notice anyway. This now common activity is called Throwback Thursday.  Have you taken part?

The idea behind Throwback Thursday is that you post an old photo, video, or article from the past, and tag it with #tbt. Thus you will have made some sort of contribution to remembering something important or historical. It’s an interesting idea that has, of course, produced a lot of junk. Seriously, I do not need to see your video of you and your precious cat from 2003. It may bring tears to your eyes, but that doesn’t make it an historic document.

After this practice had gone by for a few years, I began to see the worth hidden in hashtag TBT. Items of merit were coming to light of social, historical and even personal value.  Now I gladly participate.

I still love cake

My personal photos of my charming self at a young age may be of no value in the social media world, but I have many friends and relatives on Facebook. I don’t see them often, so they may be of interest to those who knew me at nine.

We are sharing old memories through weekly postings. I’ve been amazed by the relics some folks have uncovered. Perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to see old photos and videos that bring a smile to your face.

The Pajama Game is the game we’re in!

A few years ago I started a Facebook group for former students of Mrs. Laurette Kittler. She is a retired high school drama teacher whose instruction and guidance touched the lives of generations of students. I was proud to include myself in those who could celebrate this teacher’s work. I thought maybe, over time, I would find 100 students.

The group has close to 340 members, some of whom have been posting pictures and bringing smiles to everyone.  While many members of the group haven’t seen each other for decades, they’ve been putting up pictures others may have not seen since the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s.  Maybe they never saw them at all.  Now there are thousands of pictures.

When the formation of this group led to a “dinner and drinks” outing, I casually mentioned that among the many pictures I have and I have seen, I have no pictures from my Senior Class play.  I could have purchased them from the high school at the time, but I let it pass. It was my big regret.

During the week that followed, pictures showed up on Facebook, including one of me front and just left of center in a picture I do not think I ever saw.

South Pacific

Throwback Thursday has become a favorite activity. Sometimes I post a picture then look for items from others which will remind me of my high school days, my family and my youth. Nothing brings the past to life like seeing it. This is the value of #tbt.

My departed mother took a camera to many events in her life. In the 70’s and 80’s there is no telling how many rolls of 110 and 126 film she went through. Some months after she was gone, I sent many hundreds of pictures to my brother. I have thousands remaining.

Nowadays, I have a use for these photographs, on #tbt.

THOSE WERE THE DAYS, MY FRIEND

The Golden Age of Rock Turns 50, 1968 by Rich Paschall

Everyone will look back on their youth with the belief that the hit music of their time comprised the Golden Age of whatever genre was on top.  We will, of course, make the same claim. In fact every genre of our time hit the pop charts.  Many of those songs have not lost their golden shine 50 years later.  I know you are eagerly awaiting my top ten list of songs having a golden anniversary. You will be pleased to know I initially wrote down so many (46), that I will have to give you a top 20.

The Beatles

Some iconic rock and roll acts had come to prominence and charted singles and albums.  Rock legends Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Tommy James and the Shondells, The Doors, The Moody Blues, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Janis Joplin and many more were thrilling their fans as they pushed rock across new vistas.

Pop stars of the day Tom Jones, The Monkees, Beach Boys, Three Dog Night, Dion, The Fifth Dimension, Bee Gees, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Bobby Goldsboro, The Lettermen, The Turtles, and The Vogues were only a few of the acts to sing their way up the charts.

Irish actor Richard Harris scored with an unlikely hit (MacArthur Park).  The Rascals wanted you to see People Got To Be Free.  Archie Bell and the Drells told you to Tighten Up and the Delfonics explained La-la Means I Love You.

Acts like Cream, Vanilla Fudge, Iron Butterfly, Status Quo, Deep Purple and even Donovan gave us a commodity called Psychedelic Rock.  On the other side of the pop spectrum we had something we dubbed “Bubble Gum Music” from artists like The Ohio Express, Tommy Roe and a group that helped bring on the title, The 1910 Fruitgum Company.

As always a couple of instrumentals were to be found: “Classical Gas” (Mason Williams) and “L’amour est bleu” or Love is Blue (Paul Muriat).  These also fall into the category of one hit wonders.

The sounds of jazz came through the air with Herb Alpert, and Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66.  The Mills Brothers found their first big hit in a dozen years.

Some movie songs hit the charts in 1968: “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,” “Mrs. Robinson” (The Graduate), “The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde,” and “Theme from The Valley of the Dolls.”  You can add a couple of TV shows whose themes are well remembered, “Mission Impossible” and “Hawaii 5-0.”

It was a great year for hits from R&B and Soul music icons Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Sam and Dave, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Otis Redding, The Box Tops, The Temptations, Jerry Butler and a list that stretches all the way back to 1968.

Country Western singers had cross over hits that climbed the pop charts including Glen Campbell and Tammy Wynette.  A song by Jeannie C. Riley, “Harper Valley PTA,” spawned a movie of the same name.

If you are quite ready, call the “Cab Driver” and come down to “Indian Lake” where we will be having our “Stoned Soul Picnic.”  “Simon Says” it’s “A Beautiful Morning” and we will be joined by “Lady Madonna,” “Lady Willpower,” “Delilah,” “The Mighty Quinn,” and even “Suzie Q.”  If you see “The Unicorn,” perhaps it is because of that “Bottle of Wine.”  Feel free to play your “Green Tambourine” and “Dance To The Music.”

20. (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay, Otis Redding
19. Wichita Lineman, Glen Campbell
18. I Heard It Through The Grapevine, Marvin Gaye
17. Elenore, The Turtles
16. Goin’ Out Of My Head/Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You, The Lettermen
15. Turn Around, Look At Me, The Vogues
14. Stormy, Classics IV
13. Crimson and Clover, Tommy James and the Shondells
12. White Room, Cream
11. Sealed With A Kiss, Gary Lewis and the Playboys.

10. Born To Be Wild, Steppenwolf.  Released in 1968, this song became part of the soundtrack of “Easy Rider” the following year.  I love this song so much I did it a number of times for karaoke.  Fortunately, none of those performances exist today.

9.  For Once In My Life, Stevie Wonder.  A number of artists recorded the song prior to 1968 and Tony Bennett had some success with it, but it was Wonder’s upbeat version that scored big.

8.  Hooked On A Feeling, B. J. Thomas.  Released late in the year, you will find this song as a top hit of both ’68 and 1969.  An electric sitar gave it a unique sound.

7.  Everybody’s Talkin’, Harry Nilsson.  This artist had minor success with the song in 1968.  The following year it was featured as the theme song to the movie “Midnight Cowboy,” was re-released and became a bestseller.

6.  One, Harry Nilsson.  This song was written and recorded by Nilsson.  Three Dog Night also recorded the song in 1968 and had a much bigger hit with it the following year.

5.  Mony, Mony, Tommy James and the Shondells.  Yes, Tommy James got the title from looking out his New York City apartment window and seeing the initials on top of the Mutual Of New York building.

4.  Hello, I Love You, The Doors.  Written by Jim Morrison, the song was recorded from February to May of 1968.  Due to his excessive drinking, Morrison became difficult to work with and recording took time.  The song hit number 1 in the US and Canada.

3.  Jumpin’ Jack Flash, The Rolling Stones.  The chart topping hit is reported to be the Stones most often played concert song.  It was such a hit that it is always on their set list.

2.  Hey Jude, The Beatles.  Paul McCartney originally conceived it has Hey Jules, for John Lennon’s son Julian, but he claims he never actually gave it to him.  Later he decided Jude would sound better and changed the lyric.

1. While My Guitar Gently Weeps, The Beatles. This hit was written by George Harrison, reportedly about the discord in the group. The Beatles VEVO music video contains the acoustic recording by the band. On the original single released in 1968, the distinctive guitar was provided by Eric Clapton.  That’s the version below.

Click on any song title in the top 10 to go to the video or go to the entire playlist here. 

Check out the top songs of 1968 at Billboard, wikipedia or others and let us know if we missed a good one.
Sources include: “Top 100 Hits of 1968,” www.musicoutfitters.com

THE PROMISE OF LOVE

The Reality, by Rich Paschall

When George made his visit to South America to meet the handsome young man,  Jon noticed their large age difference. He decided it did not matter if George would help him.  After all, this could be a way out of his situation in the poor suburb of the large South American city. So late each night he would steal the WiFi signal from a neighbor in the apartment next door and talk with George. This way he kept him close to his heart.

South American city

Jon was tired of being poor. He was sad he could not buy nice clothes and jewelry.  He was unhappy with his dismal living conditions. He was heartbroken he could not help his mother with her expenses.  He just wanted to get out.

Since his time in an acrobatic troupe did not result in much money, Jon took one job, then another.  Nothing satisfied him as he always worked long hours for little money.  He could not spend much time at the gym.  He could not enjoy the nightlife of the nearby city.

“Help me, George,” Jon pleaded one night.  “I want to keep going to the gym.  I want to have enough food to eat.  Please send me a little money.”  Jon’s stories may have been a bit of an exaggeration, but he was certainly very poor.  He was determined to tell George whatever seemed to convince him to send some money.

“OK, Jon.  I will send you something on payday.  Do not worry.” The periodic investment in the handsome Hispanic man seemed to bind them together, as least George thought so.

Jon also thought they were bound together, not just by a few US Dollars, but also by his constant declarations of friendship and love.

When a few months had passed since George’s impulsive visit, Jon wondered if the time was right to push his plan further along.  One warm night, Jon stood on the roof of his building and looked down on the poor buildings below, with their cheap block constructions, and old metal roofs.  It was a depressing site.

poor suburb

The bright lights of the city in the distance were a reminder he had not achieved his goal.  He could wait no longer. This was the night for action. He called George.

“We should get married, George,” Jon declared with confidence.

“What?” George said in a surprised voice that shook Jon a little.

“You should come here to marry me and we can live together in America.”  Jon waited for a reply, but there was nothing for a long minute.  Then George said Jon only wanted a way to come to America.  He did not actually want George.

The response upset Jon.  As he lay in bed in his tiny apartment, he decided he must not lose George now, after all the time he invested.  So he spent weeks declaring his love and asking for marriage without success.  George said he had no other boyfriend, so Jon did not understand why they could not be married.

When Jon felt the situation lasted too long he said to George, “You must tell me if we are boyfriends or no.  If you will not marry me, I must find another boyfriend.”

The conversation that followed last a long time, and after Jon insisted over and over he would be a good roommate and stay “as long as God wills,” George finally agreed.

Jon immediately researched what they needed to do to get married.  George gathered the documents Jon requested and sent them express.  The papers were filed and the waiting game began.  Almost the entire summer went by before Jon got the marriage license.

George came as promised. The wedding was held with only one friend of Jon’s in attendance to take pictures, and a translator for George to know what was happening.  When the ceremony was done, George, Jon and his friend Vanessa all went into the city to celebrate.  After just two married nights together, George was gone.

return to airport

The long process of getting a visa began.  Jon could not believe the complexity of the procedure or the number of documents he had to send to George.

“I have to get certified translations into English, Jon.  Then I will submit all.  You must be patient.”  It was hard to be patient, but George sent a little money every month and Jon could buy the food he wanted.

When the process had gone from Immigration, to the State Department, to the American embassy in Jon’s country, the nervous young man met with his good friend, Vanessa.

Jon told her everything that had transpired and they seemed to be getting near a decision.

“And you will leave here to go to this strange place you have told to me?” Vanessa said.

“Yes, of course,” Jon said.  He could see the disappointment in Vanessa’s eyes.  He could not tell if this was because he might leave his close friend or because he would leave his country for a foreign land.

“Are you crazy?  You are with him only a few days and for that you would leave us?” she asked.

“But we are working on this for a year now.  It will be my chance for a better life,” Jon said, but Vanessa replied with a look of doubt. After a short silence, she asked the important question.

“Do you think you will stay with this gringo once you get to America and meet other people?”

Jon’s eyes narrowed as he gave the matter serious thought.  He placed his right hand over his mouth and rubbed the left side of his face with his fingertips.  After almost a minute, he removed the hand from his face, smiled a little and said, “No.  Of course not.”

Then Vanessa laughed, but only a little.


Previously, in order:
I LOVE YOU (No You Don’t)
A SOUTH AMERICAN LOVE, A Romantic Player
A SOUTH AMERICAN PROPOSAL, The Deal

A SOUTH AMERICAN PROPOSAL

The Deal, by Rich Paschall 

After meeting the younger Jon on a language learning website, and seeing him for just four days in person in South America, George was surprised that Jon acted as if they were boyfriends.  In fact, Jon asked George several times if he had a boyfriend in America.

“No,” George always said and Jon would smile.

“You should have no other boyfriend,” Jon would say.  “We are boyfriends.”

This was astounding to George.  Jon lived in South America and George, now in his 50’s, live in a Midwestern USA city.  George was all of 30 years older and felt they could not have much in common.  But Jon kept reminding  George of his visit the previous December and what great fun they had.  This should prove their love!

A South American city

Feeling rather awkward about the whole thing, George thought that perhaps he should break off the daily chat.  He could not imagine where this relationship would go and the boyfriend talk just seemed wrong somehow.  Jon started to add he loved George and they should be together. Then one day Jon pushed the matter a bit further.

“We should get married, George,” Jon declared.

“What?” a stunned George said.

“You should come here to marry me and we can live together in America.”

After George collected himself, he thought about what he should say.  The response was not immediately in his brain.

“You are just saying this because you want to come to America.  You do not want to marry me,” George told Jon.

“No that is not true,” Jon protested.  “I will be with you as long as God wills.”

So, the conversation continued in a similar manner for a few weeks.  Jon would ask for marriage, and George would say “no.”

As time went on Jon seemed to be winning George over to his side, so he demanded an answer one more time.  “You must tell me if we are boyfriends or no.  If you will not marry me, I must find another boyfriend.”

On the one hand, George could not imagine this was a great idea; on the other, he suddenly felt he did not want to lose Jon.  They did indeed have a good time together and maybe they would make good roommates.  Perhaps Jon really would stay “as long as God wills.”  So they reached an agreement and the deal was made.

The South American destination

To be married in the South American country, George had to send documents with certified Spanish translations to Jon, so he could go to the notary public, more like a Justice of the Peace there, and request permission to marry the foreigner.  George waited anxiously for months to hear if their application would be accepted.

“You will come immediately when we have permission, and make the marriage?” Jon asked.

“No, Jon, I must ask for time off work.  I will come as soon as possible,” George assured Jon.

From April until late summer, George and Jon waited and chatted like nervous kids.  Finally in August Jon sent a message that they would get married on the 15th.

“No,” the startled George replied.  “I can not get there so quickly.”  They decided on September 2 and the arrangements were made.  George would fly to South America again.

On the first day of the trip, George took Jon shopping for clothes and rings for the wedding.  On the next day they got married and on the third day they explored the neighborhood around their hotel.  George headed home on the fourth day.

Road to the airport

Upon his return, George and Jon started the long process to get a spouse visa.  They were surprised to learn that after the long and expensive process, there were no guarantees Jon would actually get the visa.

Many documents for Immigration and then for the State Department were required.  After that, documents had to be presented to the embassy in South America.  Speed was not the government way.

After the marriage was done and the process for immigration was well under way, George finally decided to tell someone about it. So he called on his friend Arthur to meet him at the local bar and grill.

As George detailed the story, Arthur sat quietly with the most incredulous look on his face.  When George was finally done with his story, Arthur shook his head and said, “Are you crazy?”

“Well, maybe” George replied rather sheepishly.

“Why didn’t you tell me about this before you ran down there and got married, especially since you were waiting for months to get permission?” Arthur asked.

“Because you would have told me then I was crazy and I shouldn’t do it.”

“You’re right, that’s exactly what I would have said.” Arthur blurted out with a tone somewhere between firmness and annoyance.  He kept shaking his head and looking at George as if he had done the dumbest thing in his fifty something years.

“We discussed the matter at length.  He will help me and be a good roommate.  We have a deal.”

“A deal?” Arthur asked.

“Yeah, isn’t marriage really a deal between two people about friendship and living together?” George asked, as if he wasn’t too sure.

Arthur had a doubting look that George understood.  Then he asked George, “Don’t you think this young man is going to leave you once he gets to America and meets other people?”

George’s eyes narrowed as he gave the matter serious thought.  He placed his right hand over his mouth and rubbed the left side of his face with his fingertips.  After almost a minute, he removed the hand from his face, smiled a little and said, “No.  Of course not.”

Then Arthur laughed, but only a little.

Previously, in order: I LOVE YOU (No You Don’t)
A SOUTH AMERICAN LOVE, A Romantic Player
Next: THE PROMISE OF LOVE, The Reality