Many years ago in the lovely village of Fultondale, Alabama (It's not a village, it's actually a city, but village sounds more pleasing to the ear) a young lad committed a sinister act of vandalism that will live forever in the lore of Bessie Avenue. This young lad will forever pay for his crime, and the memories of his dastardly deed are still etched in his conscience to this day. Ok, enough with the vivid description, what happened involved me, my father, the entire neighborhood of Bessie Avenue (the street I grew up on), and a green tomato. My father had recently started to grow a few tomato plants, and they became very important to him. He cared for these plants day and night, and waited with much anticipation for that first sign of a budding tomato. Finally, after much time and effort had passed a lovely green tomato appeared on one of my father's tomato plants. The excitement level reached a fever pitch around the Perry house, and my father made an attempt to spread this excitement throughout the entire neighborhood. He invited several of our neighbors over to our home to view this lovely green tomato. My father had the kind of hands that were rough and hard from years of difficult work, and they had they looked like you could strike a match in the middle of them with no problem. I remember watching those rough hands gently touch this tomato, and show it off with pride. While I watched this event I was suddenly possessed by something sinister. A voice in my head said, "Pick that tomato!" I tried very hard to suppress this evil, but it continued to hound me with this whole picking of the tomato idea. Once the lovely tomato celebration was at an end I once again came to the side of the house the tomato was on..this time alone. I looked at the this innocent tomato, and once again was possessed to pick it. I can't tell you what made me do it. It was pure evil I feel sure, and like they say, "The Devil made me do it." I walked over to the plant, and picked this green tomato from its comfortable position on the vine. I left it on the ground for all to see. My father discovered the tomato later that afternoon, and for some reason there was not a big investigation. I was the guilty party, and he knew it. I don't really remember why it was so easy to figure out that I was the culprit, but it could have been divine inspiration that led to my comeuppance. It was quite a comeuppance let me tell you, because punishment was much different back in the day. The severity of this punishment was only rivaled by the "Peeing in the Street Incident of 1980." I have always felt awful about what I did that day, and I still don't have a good explanation for my crime. All I've been able to come up with for my reasoning was, "It was there." My father was able to forgive and forget, but the crime never really fades from memory. On a lighter note, Mama fried that fine green tomato and it was pretty good.
The back to school process has begun with the purchasing of supplies and the preparation of the children. I am personally really excited about my own school experience, and I can't wait to begin again. This past year while attending The University of Alabama at Birmingham as a 41 year old college senior I have enjoyed every single minute of it. I've walked the streets of Birmingham in the 19th Century, shared a cup of coffee with Henry James, learned from Plato and Socrates, admired an amazing Athenian scoundrel named Alcibiades, got chills listening to the re-telling of Leonidas and his 300 Spartans last stand at Thermopylae, and felt really sorry for poor Louis XVI who was probably just the wrong king at the wrong time (Off with his Head!) I have tried to get Jesse and Maddie to become as excited about school as I am, but Maddie majors in the Playground Sciences and Jesse is more concerned with anything but school. Jesse is a smart kid and he is in the RLC/TAG class which is supposed to mean he's gifted or something, but I've seen the kid try and work a lawnmower and I remember thinking, "Yep, he's gifted all right, gifted at trying to get out of work." But I digress. Jesse did get excited about a project he had in the RLC class last year about Bigfoot or as the Native Americans call him Sasquatch. He did a really fine job on this project, but he forgot that he has an Amateur Cryptozoologist living in the house with him. I am a self-proclaimed expert on the subject of Bigfoot, and have been since I was a kid. My fascination with anything Bigfoot began when my childhood hero Steve Austin the Six Million Dollar Man had to fight Bigfoot. The Bigfoot on TV fighting the Bionic Man was a scary one, and my fascination began. I have studied about this creature, and I have always rooted for there actually being a Hairy Man Ape roaming the forest. I told Jesse that he has to learn to use his resources more wisely, because I could have helped him write a humdinger of a report about Bigfoot. Any version of the legend, Bigfoot, The Skunk Ape, Yeti, Sasquatch, Yowie, Big Hairy Man, Abominable Snowman, Wood Booger, and I could go on and on. I can be just as goofy and act just as stupid as those guys on TV looking all around the country for Bigfoot, but never really find him. I think Jesse realized that I was an expert on the subject and he should have consulted said expert, but come to think of it he has yet to ask me about anything he does in school. He pretty much avoids me all together with his school work, and goes straight to his Mother for help. Wonder why? It's a mystery I tell ya, kind of like the compulsion to act goofy when you try on a funny looking hat (See Pic Below.)
Finally, I would like to mention one word. This word means a great deal to me. Integrity. Integrity is defined by Merriam Webster as: A Steadfast adherence to a strict moral and ethical code. I've seen this quality appear less and less in recent years. It is much harder to find Integrity. My life hasn't always been what I would call a Church Social, but I try to show my kids some Integrity at the very least. My father had this quality, and I admired him for it (even if I picked his green tomato.) My wife's parents have this quality, and I admire them for it. Many of my teachers and coaches from yesteryear have this quality also, and I admire them. Point is more people should have Integrity these days, but they just don't seem to care as much as they used to. My hope is that enough parents today have it, and they pass it on to their kids. Maybe the next generation will be the best one yet. That's what I'm trying to do. That's all for my soap box, and I will step off it now. I hope everyone has an awesome remainder of their summer vacation and soaks up some more rays before school starts. By the way, the title of this post mentioned Alcibaides vs. Bigfoot. I'm extremely fond of both of those guys, but I give the edge to The Athenian Renegade Alcibiades. Mainly, because we actually know he existed, and Bigfoot probably wouldn't show up for the contest anyway.