“We Meet Again” (Part 1)

`

Ever since late last December, an ex-classmate has been doing her damnedest to call attention to our… correction… THEIR… 50th class reunion; has been overburdening my landline’s aged answering machine; of late, has also been farming out this onerous (odious) task to a confederate, who is now snailing me similarly themed, junk mail appeals. All to NO avail. So, why my disinterest?

Stated diplomatically… not everyone has fuzzy fond memories of their K thru 12 experience.

Stated exhaustively… from 4th thru 8th grade, inclusive, that bygone student body’s bully faction had rendered my life utterly miserable; my avoidance of their verbal abuse and physical assaults depending upon how well I could “sell”, to my folks, my allergy related raspy voice, runny stuffed up nose, sneezing and asthmatic wheezing as an affliction of a more serious nature; my ability to parlay such cold / flu / pneumonia like symptoms into the perfect excuse to cut classes.

And, typically, my Academy Award worthy performance art would prevail; provided my folks didn’t whip out a thermometer.

Had both of them not been college degreed educators; fully capable of home schooling me (dad’s disciplines the Sciences and Math; mom’s expertise English, Lit and History), I could’ve easily wound up falling behind, flunking (perhaps even dropping) out.

Eventually and inevitably… my father had eye-witnessed, from afar, these bullies physically attacking his son; resulting in his outrage fueled letter; next-day delived, by me, to my school’s secretary.

However, rather than the principal extending me a helping hand, he publicly humiliated me. While angrily wagging his finger in my face, he vociferously accused me of being a liar; the venue for his fury fueled tirade being my school’s lunchroom; eye-witnessed by multiple hundreds of my stunned into a dead silence classmates; among them, the very bastards who were bullying me.

Returning to the here and now… that these people would even try to reconnect, I view akin to a testimonial; either to their forgetfulness or, far worse yet, a further demonstration of their thoughtlessness.

Let’s keep this all real… I’ve never attended any of our… correction… THEIR earlier reunions. Even chance encounters (grocery store, auto service waiting room and at my former workplaces) have been limited; our (lack of) quality time, grand total, amounting to approximately fifty minutes, tops. That’s 50 minutes out of the past 50 years; which begs the key “Q”…

Having not missed me for a freakin’ half century, why start now?

Beyond that… quite telltale is how, prior to past reunions, the organizers’ missives have included entreaties for locating hard to track down classmates; that roster, invariably, naming the very people I’d want to reconnect with. Hey, if they’re not gonna show up, why the hell would I?

Truth be told… there is one former classmate, in particular, who I really do miss; would love to see once more. Alas… long sigh… that’d be impossible. I’ll relate more about her once…

“We Meet Again” (Part 2) merges with the www within the next seven days…

`

`

`

Stay Publicly / Properly Masked!
Stay Safe at Home!
Stay Healthy!

-30-

`

`

`

`

`

`

`

Yawwwnnn… Uh… Excuse Me…

`

Since late November, my landline’s answering machine has been working overtime. Nearly lost within the phalanx of telemarketers, robocallers, interest rate slashers and revenuer scammers, has been Sharon, a former classmate, who’s taken on the task of organizing our 50th high school class reunion.

Admittedly, even her mentioning her maiden name had failed to ring a bell. I had to blow off a thick layer of yearbook dust just to stir a vague recollection. Had I actually picked up the handset, that would’ve been our very first conversation, ever.

Well, since then, she’s called two more times; perhaps more, considering all the logged, no-message-left hang-ups. Hmm, might her persistence indicate she’s been encountering other classmates’ yawns, too? I dunno.

So, why my own reluctance to talk to her? Well… let’s just say that not everyone winds up with fuzzy, fond memories of their K thru 12 public school experience.

Unless one has a yen for PAIN, who’d ever yearn for the “good old days” of being subjected to snooty, snotty, yer-not-good-enough-to-be-in-our-clique ‘tudes and, worse yet, getting bullied into prolonged stretches of emotionally devastating, social isolation.

Granted, I don’t believe Sharon to have been an ally of my tormentors; she may have even been oblivious to all that crap. While I am tempted to return her calls to clue her in, truth be told, I’d much rather have her equate my telephone silence to my no-show intentions. Having yet to attend even one class reunion, why would I start now?

For fleeting moments, I’ve even entertained the notion that some of those bullies may have outgrown their odious, immature personae. Yet, why risk facing down further disappointments; indignities? To flesh that out, who’d ever want to hobnob with Mister Mike, who I’m sure still sports his permanently plastered on, I-know-something-you-don’t-and-you’re gonna die, menacing, ear-to-ear sneer.

Transcending all of that psychodrama enters the coronavirus, marching in lockstep with the ever-growing phalanx of deadly, batcrap contagious, cohort variants. Who knows, the “festivities” could all play out as a Zoom Reunion Yawner.

There’s no way in Hell that this 50th reunion will be 2022’s “to die for” event… well… unless Covid-19 crashes the party.

And ya gotta know that bugger WILL be eagerly RSVP’ing its YES!

Soooooo, Sharon, if you, somehow, get to read this, know that I’ll be RSVP’ing my NO!

`

`

Stay Publicly / Properly Masked!
Stay Safe at Home!
Stay Healthy!

-30-

`

`

`

`

`

`

`

Rosalie Trombley’s Power and Tower

`

Preface: Today, we’ll be revisiting a rough stretch of my life’s path. But worry not, I’m only doing so to illustrate how an insufferable situation can morph into something far more transcendental and (quite literally) upbeat.

Some six decades prior to the coronavirus pandemic, elementary and middle school bullies (and adolescent acne) had introed me to social isolation.

Picture this bygone boy entering such a pivotal stage of life; yearning for peer acceptance, yet, instead, discovering how, to a fault, ex-chums had alienated him from the student body (inclusive of kids who hadn’t even known me and vice versa). My only means for avoiding their verbal and physical assaults had become feigning viral assaults; my allergies to airborne irritants oft making my symptomatology so indistinguishable from that of the common cold / bronchitis that unless my folks had taken my temperature, I knew I’d be home free.

It was on one of those very skip school sick days, circa early 1963, when my father had lent me his pocket transistor radio; i.e, to cheer up his son / make his “illness” more bearable. His favorite station being WJR a.m. 760 and my serendipitously advancing its tuner 40 kilocycles had become the two key factors in spurring one helluva a life changing, eureka event.

It was at that precise moment when I first heard the Canadian station CKLW (later known as “The Big 8”); their format more attuned to a much younger listenership. Their captivating new music was getting spun by DJs Bud Davies (6-10 a.m.), Joe Van (10-3), Dave Shafer (3-7:30), Tom Clay (7:30-midnight) and Ron Knowles (midnight-5).

That morn, music had become my very salvation; my lifeline / means of escape. In essence, recording artists and disc jockeys had become my surrogate peers. In time, the songs, themselves, had taken on that very role, too; so much so, that, to this very day, when a beloved recording that I haven’t heard in “eons” gets aired / streamed, I oft react in a manner one would expect during chance encounters with long absent loved ones.

Unbeknownst to me, 1963 was also the very year that Ms. Rosalie Trombley had applied for a receptionist / switchboard operator position at CKLW. And once hired and, toot sweet, promoted to musical director, she had also successfully cracked and shattered the glass ceiling of that male dominated field.

Trombley’s keen ear for what is and what isn’t great music, eventually, earned her, her “hit maker” reputation and I fully credit this wonderful woman for opening my own mind and ears to our vast, worldwide, musical spectrum; nearly every life enhancing concept that the dotted treble and bass clefs have to offer humankind.

She had presented the robust diversity of Sixties / Seventies Top 40 music, itself; e.g. Motown, Folk, Psychedelic, Surf, Garage, Blues, Progressive, Bubblegum, the British “Invasion”, Latin, Japanese, etc.

Case in point… Trombley had turned us on to Kyu Sakamoto’s track, Sukiyaki – Ue Wo Muite Arukou, which he sang entirely in Japanese. I mean, few, if any of us dummy, monolingual Americans could understand even one syllable of song composer Toshinobu Kubota’s lyrics; yet, we loved this vocalist’s soulfully delivered rendition all the same [read lyrics and hear original and cover performances HERE].

It was approximately a decade later when Michigan’s native son and hard rocker / recording artist, Bob Seger, in his (futile) attempt to get his early songs aired on CKLW, even composed his aptly titled track, Rosalie; where one of his couplets acknowledges…

“She’s got the power
She’s got the tower”

Bob Seger • From the LP Back in ’72 • [Read full lyrics HERE]

That power and tower, of which Seger was referring to, involved CKLW’s 50,000 Watt transmitter, which, once the ionosphere did its post sundown shift, dramatically increased “The Big 8’s” audience, who resided within the vast expanses east of the Canadian / American Rockies.

In a sense, that atmospheric anomaly, had been radio pioneer Trombley’s early brush with something akin to a scaled down version of today’s World Wide Web.

Alas… long sigh… it was soon after the Canadian powers-that-be had passed legislation requiring more Canadian musical content on their nation’s stations, that Trombley’s airwaves wound up suffocated. Big government had silenced “The Big 8’s” / her We are the World spirit. Consequently, CKLW’s turntables took a turn for the worse.

Mind you, I’m not bad mouthing the vast legions of know-no-limits, talented Canadian musicians / singers / song writers. I’m only saying that nationalism, when taken to such extremes, SUCKS!

But, let’s end this post on a more positive note.

Tho I never actually met Ms. Rosalie Trombley, the way her tower had so powerfully influenced my life makes it seem as if I had. For as long as my consciousness exists, I’ll deem her my primary musical mentor. What a unique opportunity, privilege and honor it has been for this once-upon-a-time, loyal CKLW listener to have played a small role an entire bygone radio era; to have experienced, in real time, her success story.

`

`

Stay Publicly / Properly Masked!
Stay Safe at Home!
Stay Healthy!

-30-

`

`

`

`

`

`

`

Nearly an Eternity in Lockdown

`

Almost sixty years prior to the coronavirus pandemic, my own peers had made it their Job #1 to bully me; demote me to the rank rank of second class citizen; these sickos’ nonsensical and merciless verbal, physical and emotional attacks robbing me of the carefree, fun times, which is (should be) (must be) each and every kid’s birthright.

And, upon factoring in how much school I had skipped to escape their torment, they also committed similar grand larceny by denying me my education; which, btw, is (should be) (must be) each and every human’s birthright, too.

Oh, eventually, after four long years of this harassment, these schoolyard and neighborhood hoodlums / hooligans did grow a tad weary of tormenting me, but their timing could not have been worse. You see, by then, puberty took over; it’s Job #1 being to deface my face.

While my parents (by profession, both high school level educators) did attempt to defend and console me, they could no more effectively open my principals’ eyes than my clogged pores.

My only, bygone coping mechanism, summed up in two words, had become: Social Isolating

Not showing my face in public, eventually, became a way of life; if “life” is even the operative word, here.

Ironically, my leading into 2020, New Year’s resolution had been to get off the bench and back into the game of life; to make the most out of whatever time I have remaining on Earth.

Needless to say, we all know how well that went, don’t we?

So, what has nearly a lifetime in lockdown taught me?

In pre-pandemic times, I could take some solace in my belief that life’s parade was still marching onward; to be joined in progress when the time was ripe.

However, with the pandemic still marching and rampaging onward AND the revelation of the ever-evolving, far more contagious and deadlier, coronavirus variants (of late, discovered, right here, in my home state of Michigan) AND the slow down of the vaccines’ distribution (due to both logistical and pharmacological problems) it’d appear that life’s parade has been canceled indefinitely.

My greatest concerns:

  • By the time this running amok, global scourge is finally in our rear view mirrors, so too, will be my above mentioned, days of yore, ill-timed, ill-fated New Year’s resolution.
  • Considering how a huge chunk of my Earthly existence can already be seen within my own, personal, rear view mirror, my road ahead, indeed, doth appear short.

My best coping mechanism (hopefully yours too), summed up in ten words, continues to be:

Stay Publicly / Properly Masked!
Stay Safe at Home!
Stay Healthy!

-30-

`

`

`

`

Bully Bullsh – –

`

April 2021 marking the 25th annual celebration of National Poetry Month, my 60+ years overdue submission…

`

How the hell did damned hellions ever decide?
To single out ONLY me, to bully; deride
To bodily punch out and verbally chide
My self-esteem tanked; on life’s steep downward slide

Ringleaders morphed our schools into the circus ringside
Where their non-amusing abuse, was known far and wide
Where their world and mine; were bound to collide
Where few ears ever heard woes, I’d try to confide

Teachers’, principals’ counsel, proved non-helpful bromide
I could not stoically wait for the hate to subside
NO, I could not simply take bully bullshit in stride
Had my folks not had my back, I’d have tried suicide

`

`

Stay Publicly / Properly Masked!
Stay Safe at Home!
Stay Healthy!

-30-

`

`

`

`

The Pattern Should Be Self-Evident

`

Nearly everyone who has ever suffered thru public school bullying is amply qualified to weigh in whenever they become eyewitness to the onset and metastasization of similar sickening scenarios.

In my own case, from fourth thru eighth grade (inclusive), my public school system’s principals and teachers unwittingly(?) indulged my tormentors; hell, even laughed off my reports of their verbal and physical assaults; pooh-poohed all of this antisocial behavior as what? A mere extracurricular activity? An acceptable rite of passage?

My gawd, one teacher, Mrs. L., in lieu of sternly lecturing and punishing my tormentors, even had the freakin’ gall to suggest that I was, somehow, at fault; hence her dismissive, unsympathetic admonishment, “It takes two to make a fight.”

The one and only thing that these “educators” had taught me was how incredibly simple it had been for nearly an entire, overly impressionable, sycophantic student body to mutate into a bully idolizing, private army that was ready, willing and able to always do their ringleaders’ bidding; i.e., attack me.

By the by, that I have been able to make it nearly two hundred words into this post without typing the worst obscenity known to humankind, namely, Donald J. Trump, does not diminish, in the least, the existential threat that effing bully is to my homeland and our entire world.

The pattern, here, should be self-evident, namely, how incredibly simple it has been for nearly one half of an overly impressionable, sycophantic voter base to mutate into a bully idolizing, private army that is ready, willing and able to always do ringleader Trump’s bidding; i.e., attack America.

While the following conclusion doth qualify as a “well duh” moment, it is still worthy of mention.

Every time an insufferable bully goes unpunished, he becomes further emboldened.

In Trump’s case, his base simply laughs off his indecorous, barbarous, felonious and treasonous conduct; e.g., his 01/06/21 deadly, destructive and disloyal act of fomenting insurrection. His ongoing stranglehold on nearly 1 out of 2 members of the American electorate, is all too real and that doth not bode well. The resultant, perhaps irreparable, psychological damage he inflicts could easily batter society into submission.

Unless / until citizens wise up, rise up PEACEABLY to flat out defy Donald J. Trump, and I mean damned soon, I can only question whether or not my blogging here, at WordPress, is even sustainable any longer.

Why bother when such pleas for help go unheeded, or worse yet, get laughed off?

`

Stay Publicly / Properly Masked!
Stay Safe at Home!
Stay Healthy!

-30-

`

`

`

`

Bygone Bullies Prepared Me For 2020

My younger self would’ve never believed it possible that, come 2020, I’d actually be able to put a positive spin on being bullied from the 4th grade thru the 9th grade (inclusive)… in other words, for 46% of my K-12 pubic schooling experience.

What I learned from being verbally / physically assaulted… even spat on… had actually given me some firsthand insight into discrimination and brutality issues. And my retreat from that ugly scene had even better prepared me for coping with a pandemic shut down world.

You see, my tormentors had unwittingly taught me what it feels like to be discriminated against. In turn, feeling sorry for myself had actually taught me how to feel empathy for similarly persecuted individuals. So, whenever / wherever I see oppression rearing its ugly head… well… my heart sinks and eyes tear up.

To put a face on wretched discriminatory conduct, we look no further than Donald J. Trump’s insensitive, in-your-face and online bullying… all for the express purpose of devaluing precious human beings based upon their ethnicity, religion, orientation, physical attributes and disabilities. And as if that weren’t bad enough, already, there are also his stunningly childish, vicious, ad hominem verbal attacks.

But let’s dig deeper into to the specifics of my days of yore M.O. to avoid bullies. To put it into pandemic parlance… this involved none other than social distancing / isolating. Other than my parents and only sibling, my only after school contacts with humanity had been listening to my transistor radio in my bedroom. The affable DJs and the recording artists they featured, during their broadcasts, had become akin to my surrogate friends.

By the time my rebellious teen years arrived, I opted to appear so radically different from my oppressors that I grew my hair long. Interestingly enough, my winding up in violation of my school’s stringent grooming protocols, left the assistant principal few options but to suspend me! And this was to punish me HOW? Anyway, in time, long hair styles became my lifelong preference. And that certainly doth work out well when a pandemic shuts down the barber shops.

Granted, about three years into the new millennium, I began entertaining the notion of seeking and experiencing the life I had never had… i.e. to make the most of whatever time I have left… but how doth one quickly kick lifelong, hermitlike habits, such as mine? Of course, the Trumpian Flu soon rendered that Q a moot point.

Ergo, I’ve now come to the realization that that life may never happen… mainly because the powers that be… drawing on the abundance of their density and rapacity… have opted to prematurely re-open our world. And… long sigh… the resurgence of COVID-19 is already underway.

Now, whether or not we’re ordered back into our bunkers, that’s where I’ll be. These days, I won’t even need to rely on radio DJs anymore.

You see, yearning for a career that would jibe with my reclusive lifestyle, I had chosen Communications Arts for my college major… i.e., in hopes the radio station studio might, someday, become my new hide out from a bully saturated world.

And, when that plan didn’t pan out, I set up a modest home studio… where in the months of corona sequestration, yet to come, I’ll be spinning my own LPs / CD’s for an audience of one… moi.

 

Stay Safe… Stay Home… Stay Healthy…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practicing What MLK Preached?

I can certainly relate to the story of Memphis Tennessee, High School freshman Michael Todd. As an eons ago public school student, I, too, had been verbally abused by bullies.

However, unlike Todd’s situation, [1] my poverty “fashion statement” was not what had attracted my tormentors’ attention, [2] I wound up cutting so many classes, one school year, that I almost failed to get promoted to the next grade and [3] it took six long years before my story concluded with a not so happily-ever-after outcome… i.e., my emotional / psychological wounds have never really healed, completely. BTW, it’s doubtful that even my tormentors could’ve even begun to explain their “rationale” for bullying me.

But, to return to Memphis…

Todd’s bullies turned benefactors, seniors Kristopher Graham and Antwan Garrett, eventually, were able to tap into their consciences… to the point of apologizing and also donating some clothes to their newfound friend.

Seeing how they attend classes within a building named Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School, might what happened be akin to a practical application of Dr. King’s message? To be sure, he would’ve approved of Graham and Garrett’s sudden change of heart and good deed… their commitment to end bullying.

 

 

 

 

My Brother’s Keeper

 

FULL DISCLOSURE: My being only a casual reader of the Bible, I’ve never deemed it a page turner worthy of a cover to cover read. Admittedly, my interpretations of scripture can stray unto paths less “traveled” by the major league, professional theologians.

Nevertheless… hopefully… you and I can still lace up our athletic footwear and… upon tying all of the required double knots… go for a walk through life. I think you’ll find our journey enjoyable be the road you’re upon secular, devout or somewhere in the middle. So… are you with me?

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” is rooted to the Biblical Story of two brothers… Cain and Abel… that very question attributable to the fratricidal sociopath, Cain, who uttered those words to God with a haughtiness and hostility that… well…

Let’s just say that had this involved a vengeful, small “g” god… such a deplorable attitude would’ve invited… at the very least… one hurled lightning bolt. Indeed, could we not envision such a PO’d deity gleefully training his glowering, evil eye’s “crosshairs” on “home plate”, winding up his throwing arm and delivering the perfect, strike-three-and-your out “pitch”? ZAP! Cain’s miserable hide reduced to a pile of smoldering ashes?

To help bring this “brother’s keeper” issue into better focus, let’s apply it to a more contemporary setting. It’s regrettable, but true, that we are facing down what has become our “What’s in it for me” society, where we’re discovering way too many individuals who… either unwittingly or willfully… are unleashing Cain’s arrogance and aggression.

Whatever happened to that sense of obligation to humanity? That eagerness to look out for the well-being of one another? That desire to keep each other out of harm’s way?

When we really think about it, aren’t nearly all of us living examples of how humanity’s very survival depends upon these vital to life, unifying attitudes? I know I’ve benefited from them. Indeed, when I had least expected it, one selfless soul had rushed to my rescue.

This all gets backdated to my early childhood, when I first met Danny. His being one year older hadn’t gotten in the way of our becoming best friends. Being next door neighbors, too, meant we could spend countless hours of quality playtime together. In essence, he had become my big brother, I, his little brother.

Of course, once my family had moved out of the neighborhood, everything changed… and not always for the better. You see, in the meantime… or maybe I should rephrase that to say… IN THE MEAN TIME… a handful of my public school system’s bullies were having a grand old time sadistically and mercilessly targeting me with their verbal abuse and physical assaults. They had totally demolished my sense of self-esteem… had literally driven me into abject, social isolation… demoralized me to the point where my already infrequent returns to my (one mile distant) old stomping grounds (to visit Danny) soon became non-existent. Had these bullies severed our brotherly bond, too? Only time would tell…

As one would expect, the passage of time didn’t diminish my tormentors “visits” with me. One day, with my streaming tears further fueling their viciousness and uproarious laughter… just as I was feeling that I could not possibly take it any longer… a raised authoritative, familiar voice began sternly ordering them all to stand down. Nope, it wasn’t the school principal or even a teacher taking charge.

It was none other than Danny!

Factoring in my distraught state of mind and my blurred with tears vision, I had almost deemed him a too-good-to-be-true apparition. I don’t know where he had found such bravery. His being outnumbered FOUR to ONE, I seriously doubt he could’ve stood his / my ground, had this actually come down to physical blows. Indeed, mere moments later, both Danny and I were saved by the bell… the ringing school bell… that had sent us all hurriedly scurrying off to our designated classrooms.

My biggest regret has always been how I had neglected to thank Danny, my big brother on two levels. For his [1] I’ve got your six schoolhouse corridor intervention and [2] imparting upon his little brother… by example, not by intent… his “I’m my brother’s keeper” sensibilities.

To keep all of this real… I do know there’s very little chance that Danny will ever read these words. In fact, he may no longer even be amongst the living. Even so, I’ll say this anyway…

My eternal gratitude to you, Daniel H.
Last known locale: Bremerton, Washington

 

 

 

 

Bully For You? Bull $#!+

 

For an unbearably long time, my homeland’s K-12 schools… and their worldwide equivalents… have been the breeding grounds / training camp sites for bullies. Considering how the inter-generational cycle of abuse tends to kick in (pun intended), what becomes of the once-upon-a-time abused when they become… oh… say… today’s public / private school staffers? Well… in that capacity / incapacity… they oft either practically wink their approval at each new crop of bully bastards… or turn a blind eye to them.

It’s almost as if some educators’ measure of “scholastic achievement” focuses upon how effectively bullies can irreparably scar their victims (both emotionally and physically). Hmmm… instead of the failing grade bullies deserve, do they award them with an A+? Is extra credit assessed if the victims need [1] hospitalization… [2] a shrink… [3] a visit from the undertaker?

Adding insult to the victim injuries… on the rare instances where a tormented student does strike back… almost invariably… school personnel punish ONLY the retaliator (to the further delight of each bully). Hell… were school staffers’ favoritism any more blatant, the playground and hall monitors would be charging admission to the bullies’ verbal and physical attacks.

Perhaps such assessments are too cynical? Too harsh?

Let’s be fair here. Let’s look at this from the teacher’s side of the desk. Many underpaid educators are so overworked and over-stressed, it’s inevitable that they’d become nose-blind to the bully stench… to the point where the victims start falling through the cracks.

And, when victims’ only remaining options boil down to fight or flight… especially if it’s the latter… that’s when further damage kicks in (again, pun intended). Once these kids start feigning illness to avoid going to school… this all but guarantees both academic and developmental stunting / stagnation.

Let’s consider what happens once abused, stunted students eventually enter… no… strike that… DON’T enter grown-up society…

Social isolation… their learned response… to varying degrees… becomes their way of life. Such deep-down emotional stains don’t fade with time, either. And most assuredly, that’s no way to go through life! Hell… that’s not life at all!

Long Sigh….

I’m certain there are hundreds of thousands of bullying victims spanning our entire globe… each one waking up each new day wondering…

“Who might I have become… how much further ahead in life might I have gone… had insensitive school personnel heard my literal cries for help… had they come to my defense instead of enabling my tormentors’ indefensible, socially unacceptable behavior?”

How can I be so certain? Well… did you notice that above blockquote’s beginning / ending punctuation?

That’s me talking. That’s the very question I’ve been asking myself for the past 50+ years!