To (verbally) cave someone’s chest in

It is exceedingly rare and  hard to get me into moments in which I’m tempted to give my not-so-better-angels full rein. Moments when I’d like to (figuratively) cave someone’s chest in, through the use of well-aimed words.

Now, I know caving a chest in is something of a harsh visual. I learned the phrase in late December 1969, in reform school, the New Hampton Training School for Boys. It was located, not surprisingly, in New Hampton, part of New York State’s, Orange County.

Learned the phrase only days after my arrival. I heard one boy, my age, say to another boy, who’d angered him, “Say that again, I’ll cave your fucking chest in.”

Right away I realized that my big threat when angered, “Say that again and I’ll punch you in the nose,” sorely lacked the drama and breath-taking imagery his did. I’ve never ever threatened to punch a person in the nose since.

The impulse to verbally “cave a chest” in is infrequent for me these days. Has been for many years. 

However, blatant human cruelty can push my buttons.

I’ve verbally caved White Power Icon Stephen Miller’s chest in many times, Trump’s too.

It’s much harder, though,  when the blatant cruelty you are facing has been aimed at you by someone who would swear to the high heavens they love you (and you genuinely love and care about) who will, lose their shit, as the saying goes, at aim sentences at you that are rooted in heartlessness, absence of any empathy, and,  reeking of so much self-absorption you’re thinking, not without reason, narcissist.

The challenge, at least for those in my position, is what to do. One thing is for sure, not tolerate an iota of cruelty from anyone, much less one who claims to love you, is the place to start, and understanding, massively hard as that is, that another person’s unhealthy and destructive behavior does not deserve so much power in your life, it leads you to make choices you’d later regret having made.

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Too many friends & in-loves?

“Holy crap! I’ve got way too many people who love me and care about me in my life!” is something I’ve never heard another living soul say.

Truth is, I don’t know, and have never known anyone who complained, at least within earshot, about having too many people who love them and care about them. Close friends, in-love folks.  I’ve never known a soul to fret over being overstocked on either front.

The bonds of friendship and in-love are the very veins through which love and friendship flow; they are also the veins through which loyalty flows.  

The absence of loyalty always poisons bonds between friends and in-love ones. 

I love my friends. How can I not? They’re my friends!

Someone once told me, “You know, you tell a lot of people you love them,” in a tone that led me to think the speaker believed my character trait might be something I should reconsider keeping, or, at least, tone it down a bit. 

Not a chance.

First of all, I can’t help it. And, if I could, I wouldn’t. I instinctively feel love and compassion for my fellow beings, until they give me reason not to. Even then, I mightstill care, I simply don’t act on it. T

There are rare instances when someone’s choices and behavior are so repellent and dangerous, I am unable to feel anything other than anger. Years ago I played in role in helping to put a man behind bars who had raped and sodomized a number of boys, grammar school ages. The brutality that man inflicted on those lives, and the lives of their loved ones, cannot be put into words. At least, I can’t do it.

But these folks, thankfully, are in the minority. 

There’s a man, in his fifties I would guess, who works as a checkout bagger at nearby supermarket. His name is Vincent. Vincent has neatly cut and combed gray hair and a full, well-shaped gray beard. He is small in frame and wears glasses with dark frames over a pair of the kindest eyes you can imagine. 

Always, Vincent is attentive to you, the customer, hopes your day is going well. Means it. Vincent glows with kindness. Now, when we chat, as I leave I’ll sometimes say, “Love you, brother,” and I mean it.

How can you not feel love for someone who brings kindness into the world?

Last year, or maybe it was the year before, I decided, on a whim, to go for a 18- to 20-mile walk on a really hot day, without enough water. I ran into trouble (duh, Peter) and had to call for help. 

The first responders in the ambulance were all about making sure I would be okay with every fiber of their being. These, men, in this case, who did not know me from Adam, were heart and soul committed to making sure I kept my life.

Of course I felt love for them, then and now.

One of the most heartbreaking, and, in a very real way, tragic realities, are the number of friendships and in-loves that implode because one or both could not, did not, or would not, or were incapable of recognizing and accepting the presence of some unhealthy behavior patterns they might be stuck in. Patterns they deserved to be free of!  

When a child gets raised, one way or another, getting the message that he or she is poor example of how he or she should be, and are supposed to me, that child’s self-image gets damaged. Moreover, what “supposed to be” might mean can be a whole other world of hurt for the child.

You don’t come out of these experiences without some unhealthy patterns in your repertoire. Chances are, these no unhealthy patterns were the very ones you had to use in order to survive your childhood. Absolutely. Fair enough. 

Nevertheless, you are responsible for getting free of them, now that they are toxic. Is this fair? Hell no. It’s not fair. It’s reality.

Here’s another reality. You deserve your freedom. And tell some folks you love them while you’re at it.

Relationship Jail Cells

Many years ago I wrote a script that went nowhere called It Was Your Heart I Wanted. The story was about a woman confronted with the possibility of entering a relationship but found herself fearfully hesitant because her last relationship had been such a brutal one. An all too common reason for hesitancy many have when facing the possibility of new love. And so, in a very real way, they are trapped in the jail cells of prior relationships. I called the piece It Was Your Heart I Wanted because I do believe most of us can say that and mean that when we enter into a relationship.

But there is another kind of relationship jail cell. The relationship we are are already in, we know are not happy, and yet we stay in them anyway. The love may be gone, if it was ever there, and the environment is toxic, but we stay. Blessedly, I am not in this situation and after nearly seven years of sobriety would disengage from a situation like this were I in one. But, believe me, I’ve been in toxic relationship jail cells before.

I know a few people who are in them now.

I know one extraordinary person who is an American History buff. I mean this is someone who really knows and loves American History. But their spouse stops them from any involvement with history clubs or other people who love history. I know another person who is in a relationship with someone they like but don’t love but figures the person is good to the kids so why not.

I level no harsh judgment towards anyone who is trapped by their history in a way that stops them from daring to love and daring to be loved. What I will say is this. All of us have the right to love and be loved, and no one’s history deserves so much say it stops them from experiencing the heart-and-soul wonder of a relationship that works gloriously, and believe me, there are relationships like this in the world. I know people who are in them.

I don’t know about you, but I think I’ll take the risk of loving and being loved. My history be damned. If the possibility of a deep-in-the-heart relationship is there, I don’t want to miss it, at least not because of my history.

Tell the Truth and Don’t Dribble

– She’s a kneebuckler, I’m sure of it.

– A what?

– Kneebuckler, you know kneebuckler?

– Not personally.

– No no. A kneebuckler is a woman so beautiful in who she is she buckles your needs. Retaining the ability to stand can be an issue.

– You mean it’s more than looks.

– Can be, of course.
– So meet her sitting down.

– That’s not all though.

– All what?

– That’s not all kneebucklers do to you.

– I don’t understand.

– When you meet someone you’re supposed to talk.

– That’s what they say.

– Who says?

– I don know, it’s an expression, that’s what they say, an expression.

– You’re supposed to talk –

– When you meet someone.

– Right. But if she’s a kneebuckler that can be difficult.

– Talking?

– Apparently you think I’m a kneebuckler because you’re not having an easy time talking yourself right now.

– I don’t think you’re a kneebuckler. Nobody’s think that.

– Then try concentrating on what I’m saying here.

– Okay.

– You meet a kneebuckler, retaining the ability to speak coherently is at risk.

– So what do you do?

– Try not to stare.

– That doesn’t make any sense, you have to look at her.

– I know I have look at her, but I don’t have to stare.

– Stare meaning…?

– Your eyes glaze over, you hope to God you’re not dribbling. And you try to remember to nod when she says something.

– What if she asks you a question?

– Tell the truth, always tell the truth.

– Tell the truth and don’t dribble.

– There ya go.

– Then maybe that’s the way you approach things like this.

– Tell the truth and don’t dribble.

– There ya go.
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Getting Free of Your History

Seems to me if you’re going to be in a relationship you might want to make sure you are free of your history first; at least free enough so you don’t wind up, consciously or unconsciously, holding the other person accountable for wrongs that may have been inflicted on you along the way. Watch out for judgment too.


While none of us, this writer included, are free of judgment, we are wise to hone our self-awareness skills in the hopes of noticing when we are engaging in patterns of judgment. Judgment can and does muck up clarity and can, if we’re not careful, cause us to lose sight of the person we are with, and then, if we don’t get hold of it, cause us to lose the person.


No one wants to be treated as someone they are not, or have cookie-cutter definitions inflicted on them because of their gender, their nationality, their sexual orientation, their religion, their height, weight, skin color, or other components of their make up, their history.


The truly breathtaking wonder and glory of each person is their individuality.


Sentences that begin all men are, all women are, all gays are, all blacks are, all whites are, all fill-in-the-blanks are, sadden me. They doom the speaker and listener to the seeing a forest without seeing the trees, and the loss inherent in that event is tragic.


John Steinbeck more than once talked and wrote about the danger of mass thinking and mass production, and warned of a dangerous result, a diminishment of the individual.

In my life I have experienced homelessness, a bit of fame early on, violence, a brain injury from getting shot, loss of family and so forth. When I am with others who have had like experiences, we are not mirror images of each other, swearda God, man. Yes, we are joined in some common experiences, and, as a result, have a bond of sorts, but we are not identical.



If individuality is lost, whether through mass thinking or those still hamstrung by their histories, the results are all of sad and tragic.


Something else just dawned on me. If we inflict generalities on those around us, without realizing it, we are denying ourselves the very real chance of fully connecting with someone. Generalities can seem to be their own defense system; but that is an insidious falsehood if ever there was one. Because the very generalities designed, consciously or unconsciously, to protect you, will be the very things that rob you of ever being fully with another person in life. In that case, your history wins.

You are the one who deserves to win

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