Fearless Checkers

by Tim Suddeth

It’s funny the places walking your dogs can take you. Often, not so much physically, but mentally. Sometimes it’s a wonder I find our way home.

This morning we were walking down our street when I saw a large calico cat in one of my neighbors’ yards. It was sitting up in a defensive posture, fur fluffed out, well before we got near it. Then it backed up like it was about to run. I’m used to cats calmly watching us walk by, so this got my attention.

But it wasn’t looking at us. It was looking at the ground a couple of feet in front of it. When I got closer, I saw its attacker––a teenage chipmunk. Was it Reepacheek from the Narnia stories? Theodore from the Chipmunks? It was standing up to the much larger cat, showing its front teeth.

It reminded me of something I saw almost fifty years ago. Then it bothered me that I have memories that old. Does this mean that I’m getting––anyway I was two doors down from our house at Grandpa Suddeth’s playing checkers. He had a homemade checker board painted on wood. We used Coca-Cola caps for checkers. One player played with his caps turned label side up.

At his house, it was Coke. Next door to us at Mrs. Burnetts’ it was always and only Pepsi. I don’t know if they ever spoke to each other.

Grandpa Suddeth sat in his chair, chewing on the always present plug of Red Mule tobacco, spit can in reach. This was when they sold the tobacco products at the checkout counter without ID. It was in the summer so his black iron coal stove, that kept us sweating during the winter, wasn’t lit.

I was in one of the early grades. Grandpa was in his later eighties.What? He won the last game we played when he was 91. I can’t remember who was winning this game.

I looked outside and saw a German Shepherd running for all its worth across the field. On its heels was his calico cat whose babies lived in the barn. My daddy had named her Calvin (Oops.) Calvin always greeted my grandparents when they came outside by rubbing against their ankles. You use who for that kind of cat

I said, “Grandpa. Cats don’t chase dogs.” (Ah, my public education paying off.)

“Mama cats do,” he said as he took my king.

Just goes to remind us that we can do amazing things when we choose to stand up to our fears. Like me, playing checkers with Grandpa.

How about you?

As The Male Representative Let Me Interupt for One Minute…

I need to interrupt this blog for a short, personal rant.

Mine! Mine!
Mine! Mine!

Because of the workshops and classes I attend, I am often in the minority as a male, sometimes the only one. I am then looked upon for the male point of view; what do I as a male think. Yes, I am a male, but, and listen closely, THERE IS NO ONE MALE POINT OF VIEW! Just as there is no one female point of view. We are all different. Some guys love and worship sports, some guys would rather work on their car. Other guys may want to hang out with their friends or spouse. We are different. Some guys like to dress up, others like to wear their favorite jeans until they rot off, some would rather go naked.

And there is no male club. We are as llkely to stab each other in the back as women. We each have our own agenda. Sometimes it’s just to get under your skin.

My sweet, precious wife often ends our discussions with, “If you were a woman you would understand.” But I have spoken to women and I know, many times you do not understand each other. Now you have more empathy and often don’t say anything, but you are just as likely as a guy to walk away from the conversation shaking your head.

Group of Young People at a Party Sitting on a Couch with Champagne
A group of males and females getting along.

So, let’s slow down on the us and thems and let’s start actually listening to each other. Your husband is a male, and maybe a Neanderthal, but what makes him a caveman? Listen to what he grunts, I mean says. And if you ask him do these stripes make me fat…just don’t ask.