​Taking Time for a Laugh

Several weeks ago, our family company Don Carter Realty launched its new website…..DonCarterRealty.com. Under normal circumstances, I would encourage you to spend hours if not minutes exploring it. As a part of the new site, it calls upon me to start writing a BLOG. I sense though this is not the time to share such mind blowing insights like buy low and sell high, clean your house before trying to place it up for sale, or remove your shrine to Elvis as part of your staging. No……our lives have been changed in so many ways over these past few weeks with the pandemic.

This terror is now impacting so many with such devastation. I have no doubt that before it is done, all of us will experience some personal loss through the virus or through its impact on our businesses, our communities, our state. Over the past two and a half years, I suffered through the loss of my father and the loss of our son Shaw who had courageously battled congenital heart disease for 24 years. We had a long, wonderful, marvelous 24 years with Shaw and 87 years with my father.  I started thinking though … if Shaw were alive, what would he be saying? As one of my dear friends once said about Shaw, “God didn’t give him a strong heart, but he gave him a strong jaw!” If the Olympics had talking as a sport, he would have been world class.  Shaw used the gift of humor to get all of us through many difficult and dark days. He never complained… he said he did not have enough time on this earth for that. I can hear him right now though…. ”Dad, we need to have some laughs together. Dark times call for rays of laughter. Sit down, get off Amazon, and write that BLOG and share some positivity.” I am listening, Shaw, so here it goes.

All of us have a fear right now of what is happening in our world. I have to admit that looking back through my life, I have had many fearful times/events/experiences that I had to face down. Many of them seemed to center around fashion sense or lack of it. One of my earliest remembrances of this was a particular pair of overalls that I was dressed in by my wonderful mother. They were based on the old T.V. show HEE HAW. I have no doubt that those old enough are now envisioning the striking figure of a 6-year-old being forced to roam the back roads of Gainesville, dressed in cult-like patterns from this show. I particularly remember that buck-toothed donkey played a rather menacing role on my BeSpoke overalls. I swear that donkey could eat an apple through a picket fence.

When I finally started to grow, I knew that this terror would end when my ankles started to show below the leg bottoms. Alas, fate stared me in the eye and said, “Not on my watch.” For you see, Lucile Carter grabbed some scissors and made them into shorts, thus extending the life of the dreaded HEE HAW scourge on my fashion sense. Only a massive rip in the seat of the pants prevented them from being turned into a tie or trailblazing HEE HAW winter scarf.

One of my next periods of fashion sense that now terrorizes me was my sports look during the early days of my tennis career. I was not blessed with the legs of an athlete, but I was creative enough to use my hunting skills in order to “camouflage” them.  Thus, the incredible invention of the tube sock entered my life. And not just any tube socks … they were long with multiple bright bands of blue, yellow, green and red. I would hike them up to about my kneecaps. They provided such marvelous tan lines.

But it gets even better. I had matching wrist sweatbands and a headband to accessorize. Coupled with my “Jimmy Connor” shorts, I looked like a candy cane that bred with some of that Fruit Stripe gum. And yet, the scariest thing of all, I thought I looked good … damn good.

Enter the Disco era. In 8th grade I was forced by Lucile to take ballroom dancing. I cannot tell you how many times in my life that I have fallen to my knees in thankfulness that I can dance a box step and a Cha Cha Cha. The memories of one…two…Cha Cha Cha still haunt me. I have no doubt that Bruno or Lynn would give me high marks for my effort though, if I was ever invited on their show. The one shining part of this experience was learning the dance from Saturday Night Fever. I know what you are thinking …. what a tragic life this child was leading. Yet there was something magical about learning the moves from a movie that none us were even allowed to see … it was dangerous … it was taboo. And this living on the edge led me to one of my next great fashion decisions … the Leisure Suit.

The Leisure Suit. I capitalize its name out of fashion respect. I didn’t just have a Leisure Suit, I possessed the complete Holy Grail ensemble. Picture if you will…baby blue with contrast stitching of the finest chemist-made polyester, silk shirt with a scene of Mt. Fuji on it, collar from said shirt carefully placed over the jacket collar, white Naugahyde belt (wide) with a buckle that said VOTE on it, and the shoes. Oh, who could forget those bad boy brown platform shoes that just paired perfectly with blue of baby. The piece de resistance….? My St. Christopher protect me necklace.  This look coupled with my moves, a splash of Brut by Faberge……you can understand how tragic indeed.

The NFL jacket … the envy of every kid who was a sports fan. The NFL jacket … complete with its faux leather sleeves, pockets, colors and logos of your favorite teams. I would study the Sears and Roebuck catalog for days picking out my jacket. For you see, in addition to the Falcons, I was a huge Dallas Cowboys fan. I even had a poster and jersey of “Bullet” Bob Hayes, #22. Lucile decided at Christmas, though, that we would go to Rich’s in Atlanta and ride the Pink Pig, and I would pick out my Cowboys jacket. The day arrived and I was already picturing strutting into the middle school in that sports fashion icon. Only one problem existed … Rich’s was sold out of Cowboys jackets. The atrocity ….  What was one to do? Could you be the only middle schooler without a jacket?

Lucile to the rescue …. the colors of the Dallas Cowboys were blue and silver in those days. There amongst the pitiful lone rack was spotted a beautiful blue and silver jacket of … the Detroit Lions. I say again … the Detroit Lions. I admit now to my weakness and fear of not having a jacket and there that day at Rich’s … I caved … I gave in … I agreed to a Detroit Lions jacket. I sold out America’s team to Motown … and life was never the same.

Until next time my friends, we are still working, and we look forward to a new normal. Until then, stay home … stay safe … never underestimate the power of laughter and don’t take yourself too seriously. I don’t.


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