Out of the Wilderness

Stories from an unmarried guy navigating through dates, owning a couple of dogs, being a good brother, son, and friend, and trying to make you laugh along the way.


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The Kindness of Strangers

I recently read made up a statistic that for every ten Justin Biebers there’s one Ginny Mayes. Don’t know who Ginny Mayes is? I’ll explain. While Justin Bieber is a good example of poor choices and selfish ambition, Ginny Mayes is the perfect example that there are still good people in the world. And while saying “the world” sounds good, it should be noted there are still good people in the U.S., too, no matter what we hear from our friends on Facebook the news.

It was a normal weekday when I left the house. It was a normal weekday when I took the interstate to downtown Nashville. But then it became anything but normal. I pulled into the parking garage at work and buh bam! I didn’t turn sharp enough into the parking spot and this happened to the car next to me:

This car was spotless. No scratches, no dings or dents. Sharp. So I left a note then called the bank to set me up with a loan! As I waited for a call from the owner, I decided I wouldn’t pray for God to magically get me out of the situation, because it was my fault, my responsibility. I don’t think that’s fair to ask God that. It’s sorta like eating fried chicken and drinking a milkshake, then praying for God to bless my health. Well, uh, you just ate horrible food so no, no that’s not going to be good for you. What I really wanted from this is a reason to believe people still have good in them.

All afternoon felt like a cliffhanger waiting for the rest of the story. So a few hours went by and then Ginny Mayes called. Would she set it up through insurance? Would she inflate the real cost of the fix? Well, it turns out… neither. She was confident the marks left on her car could be washed and buffed out. What? You’re not trying to milk this? Hallelujah! There are still good strangers around. She’ll never make the news with her act of kindness, but when she could’ve taken advantage and didn’t, she made an impression on me that will last longer than the 30 minute evening news. Even weeks later she texted me to say everything was fine. I’m glad she didn’t go the way of the greedy drones we hear about too often. So the next time you have the chance to be like Ginny, do it! You might be doing a lot more than it seems.

-Out of the Wilderness


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11 Things You Can’t Do in School Anymore

…and all these were found in 2 of my junior high yearbooks from 1991 to 1992. God bless Stafford Middle School in Stafford, Virginia!

"forced at gun-point"

“forced at gun-point”

white kid with blackface.

the first case of someone wearing “blackface”? …and no one was bothered.

young boys with no shirts on is just asking for some kind of lawsuit in 2014!

young boys with no shirts on is just asking for some kind of lawsuit in 2014!

another shirtless boy.

another shirtless boy.

Halloween, but also a brave young man.

Halloween, but also a brave young man.

how many middle fingers can you find?

how many middle fingers can you find?

no digital camera means no one discovers this till it's developed. Or never, in this case.

no digital camera means no one discovers this till it’s developed. Or never, in this case.

more guns.

more guns.

a scary Jason mask and another concealed weapon.

a scary Jason mask and another concealed weapon.

6b

pointing a toy gun at someone's head. and this made it into the yearbook! so imagine how much this happened without cameras around!

pointing a toy gun at someone’s head. and this made it into the yearbook! so imagine how much this happened without cameras around!

You can’t say bomb on a plane!

"terrorist tactics"... um, yeah, that's a no no.

“terrorist tactics”… um, yeah, that’s a no no.

cap gun.

cap gun.

who wants to play a game in the back of my van, kids?

who wants to play a game in the back of my van, kids?

10b

praying... maybe kids still do it in school but it's certainly not listed in the yearbooks.

praying… maybe kids still do it in school but it’s certainly not listed in the yearbooks.

And the honorable mention goes to virus-free Apple computers… some things never change I guess. 12


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Matrimony and El El in Nashville, TN

Hey there! If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a fan of music and boy, do I have a story for you! It starts with a guy who’s sort of a dork (me) catching 2 bands at Nashville’s 3rd and Lindsley (making me a little bit cooler?). I’d only heard of one of them from listening to “Nashville’s independent radio” Lightning 100. The band Matrimony has a great song out called “Last Love” and when I heard tickets were on sale for this weekend, I jumped at the chance. I suppose it can all be summed up this way: both bands delivered! Very different in their music and I came away from it with an appreciation for both.

First up was a band called El El (like the letter… L L).

El El on stage.

El El on stage.

This band was great. My friend there with me said they had a Jamaican/islandy vibe on some of the songs and I’d agree. Tonight they had 8 band members playing everything from the bass guitar to the triangle to trumpets, a sax, drums, and cowbell (Christopher Walken would’ve been so proud). They put on a good show, and of course, when you have 2 drummers, that’s an automatic win in my book. At one point they even had 3 guys banging it out, so that was really cool. They reminded me at times of a band from the 80s I only came across recently, Boney M. Like music that could be popular all over the world, that kind of appeal. A lot of their songs were anthemic. Not to mention they were really fun to watch: the bass guitarist was so animated, the guys playing brass (and the triangle, can’t forget that) were great, keyboards, drums, they all did great. I also thought the song they finished with was about as perfect of a choice as I’ve heard in a long time. But for the life of me I can’t find the title. It was about bees and beehives and girls. It was really good. If I can find the title, I’ll edit it in here: [ ]

Once El El finished it was time for Matrimony.

Matrimony on stage.

Matrimony on stage.

They call themselves a family band and without getting into my sappy personality (remember I’m a dork?), I’m big on family so I love that they’re all related (most by blood, one made it in through marriage). I had only heard “Last Love” on the radio and purposely didn’t do much online listening before tonight’s show. I like to hear music for the first time live so I have limited expectations going in. So for this band, since I’d heard one song, I was expecting something along the singer/songwriter lines. But what I got was so much more… it was rock! All their voices matched well with their style, and the lone girl, her voice definitely has a great singer/songwriter quality to it, which I love. Think Duffy mixed with a little Taylor Swift. Plus, when you can toss in a guy who plays banjo really well it’s pretty much an automatic score, especially in Nashville. It’s like, yep, pass Go and collect $200!

Not to mention they all had a lot of tattoos that looked awesome. If I had to pick one song that stood out, of course it would be “Last Love” but if I had to pick two, it would be the anthem “I Believe in Love.”

And since you’re still awake, might as well take a look at this video from the show. It’s Matrimony performing “Last Love.” Enjoy and thanks for reading!
-Out of the Wilderness


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A 5th Grader’s Habit

There are scenarios where having your tongue out is a good thing. For instance, when it’s snowing and you want to catch the snowflakes. Or if you’re Jordan. Or when the doctor uses that wood stick to “get a closer look.” So can you blame Miley Cyrus for letting her tongue hang out like a labrador? Yes, yes you can. But as silly as she is, I’m a victim of the same exact habit.

Stafford, Virginia. It was my 5th grade year and I noticed I had a habit of sticking my tongue out when I was concentrating. Not knowing how to resolve this, I enlisted my friend Robin’s help.

me in 5th grade sporting a Semper Paratus shirt, next to Whitney Williams.

me in 5th grade sporting a Semper Paratus shirt, next to Whitney Williams.

Robin Wallis.

Robin Wallis.

I said, “Every time you see me with my tongue out, laugh.” I was sure when I heard Robin laughing at me, I’d know why and it would trigger a positive response. Let’s just say she laughed  a lot. In hindsight, I should’ve expanded the team of helpful volunteers to more friends. Like JR, Chris, Meghan (who I still owe $5,000), Michelle, Joey, Whitney, Heather (who I loved?), Carson, and Lisa. All that laughing surely would’ve helped!

But I guess if Aristotle is right, that “we are what we repeatedly do,” then I’ll always be exactly like Jordan, in every way, especially basketball.

-Out of the Wilderness


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Never Pegged Me for a NASCAR Guy

It wasn’t that long ago that I scoffed at the idea of NASCAR being the sport with the most fans. All they do is go around in circles! I can’t imagine that being fun to watch. But then, for some reason my sister became a huge fan of Jeff Gordon. To say she’s a die-hard fan is an understatement! Not sure why. Especially when there are guys like Jimmie Johnson out there. Yes, I’ll admit it. I’m a Jimmie Johnson fan. Would you believe I rush home from church so I can hear the famous quote, “Gentlemen, start your engines!” … well, I do. But it hasn’t always been that way.

vegasIt was only a few years ago that I had my first NASCAR experience. It wasn’t a Sunday race, but I was there for the weekend on the company’s dime. The show I worked for at the time had a deal with Lowe’s so we went out get shots from the Kobalt Tools 400. Ok, ok, I won’t bore you with all those details (because I bet you’re not a huge NASCAR fan like I– I mean, my sister, is– right?)

Today at the time of this posting my guy Jimmie Johnson is leading the pack, and my arch nemesis Jeffy Gordon is #2. It could come down to a photo finish, but Jeff will need more Pepsi Max if he wants to keep up with Jimmie!

jimmiejeffy2jimmiejeffy3


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Becoming a Vegan

I’ve toyed with the idea of giving up meat, but only for about a half second. It’s not that I love eating chicken, or turkey, or burgers too much. It’s just that I can’t imagine only eating vegetables, fruit, and bread and only drinking water and juice. Vegans don’t drink milk or eat cheese either. Or eggs. Actually the more I think about it, my diet is everything the vegans isn’t.

How am I supposed to have a ham and cheese sandwich without ham and cheese?

I have a friend, Nick Shell, who’s been posting extremely convincing and very sensible reasons why going vegan is (in my own words) not just a thing hipsters do. He and I caught up a bit on Sunday and he challenged me to go a weekend without dairy. Why didn’t he just stab me with a knife? I love cheese and all things cheesy! Like, what did the guy say when he walked into a… Oh, nevermind. I’ll stick to cheesy food.cheese1Nick’s reason for giving up dairy is simple: allergies. Since he’s been off dairy, his allergies have vastly improved. He could’ve said anything else but allergy conversations get my full attention. Because it’s crazy out here, y’all! Tennessee’s got to be one of the toughest environments for allergies. Pretty much everyone and their brother suffers a few times a year. And my brother’s in Orlando so I’m suffering for the both of us here! But Nick links dairy consumption with allergy symptoms which is radical to me. Just radical enough that the scales of my curiosity are tipping in favor of giving this no-dairy-weekend thing a shot.

I share some of Nick’s enthusiasm for being healthy, but I know for me it’s a slow process of changing my diet, and giving up food I enjoy (Coke floats!) to replace it with food I’ll learn to enjoy (cherry tomatoes, yuck!). That time is not right now. I will take his challenge though, and anyone who’s reading feel free to check back periodically for an update. I can tell you this, the first post after going vegan cold turkey for a weekend, (isn’t it ironic, don’t you think? Going vegan… cold turkey!) will include some sort of rant on how great milk is and how drinking it gives me strong bones and helps me say Aaron Burr whenever I need to.

-Out of the Wilderness


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Since I Have You: A Poem

There’s not much about you I don’t like,
you’re the coolest gal around.
Even when I lose you in the night,
as you chase a rabbit your nose found.

I know you’re needy,
but that’s not bad.
You could be greedy,
or have issues with your dad.

I know you’re not a gold-digger.
You’re more of a mole-digger.
Because the yard is full of holes with no gold.
But also no moles.

And I don’t mind that you don’t shave,
or that all four of your armpits have hair.
Or that you have hair all over your face,
and legs, and feet, and everywhere.

It could be worse,
like if I brought home your sister and you said you hate her.
Then went on to say every taboo curse,
and confessed that you’re a Gator.

I love you but I’d give you away.
It’s not illegal,
but you see, my darling beagle,
There are just certain things we don’t say.

One is anything good about the Gators,
Or the SEC, but we can get into that later.

Now I don’t know if you know this yet,
but your ears are pretty big.
All the better for hearing my pet,
I mean, would you rather be a pig?

I wonder if you could speak,
what you’d tell me when you bark.
I hope it would be,
“I love you with all my beagle heart!”

And I would say, “I love you, too, Piper!”

Snow day: Piper and I

me and Piper, 2010

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