Jane Slotin pegged it best. It was a very simple and accurate explanation of how things are.
She was my first female friend after I enrolled at the University of North Carolina in 1972. We met the day before Thanksgiving that year at the Raleigh Amtrak station. She was on her way to Savannah. I was on my way to Jacksonville. The train was three hours late arriving in Raleigh. And Jane kept us entertained. She went around the entire terminal, making friends and building a traveling party.
She gathered together a few other students, mostly from UNC, and a couple of professional people from up north who were working in the Research Triangle Park. And there was one Dookie, a guy who was attending Duke University in Durham. He wore a suit and tie and trench coat. The rest of us wore jeans, sneakers, and sweat shirts – even the professional RTP folks.
Now, why is this important right now? Because the past couple of weeks were grueling ones for Dook and Carolina guys. A couple of Wednesdays ago was the current college basketball season's first scheduled game between arch rivals - The University Of North Carolina and Duke University. The game was to have been held on Carolina's campus in Chapel Hill. But a major snow and ice storm hit the Chapel Hill – Durham area that afternoon. Throughout that day, fans for both teams traveled through the snow and ice and the threats of such to make it to the game. So did the game officials and ESPN crew. Of course, the Carolina team was there. But at around 6:30 the evening of that 9 o'clock scheduled tip-off, Dook officials decided it was just too unsafe for their team to travel the 8 miles from Durham to Chapel Hill to join the out of town fans, game officials and television crews who had all traveled mostly hundreds of miles to get there earlier in the day. The game was postponed for a week and a day. The smack from the Carolina and Dook fans that night on social media was brutal. Fun. But brutal.
The following Thursday was just as brutal for all involved. It was a hard-fought game on both sides. And while the students from Carolina displayed paper snowflakes to antagonize the troubled Dook team and to highlight the visitors' rather timid response to a simple and very workable weather situation the week before, my team eventually won convincingly.
It just seems appropriate to, at this time, tell the rest of the country why Tar Heels hate Dookies so much. This is especially true because those same two teams meet again on Dook's campus this coming weekend. That is, unless a few flurries keep those pitiful Dookies in their dorm rooms again Saturday night.
Now that day before Thanksgiving in 1972, after we
finally boarded the southbound Silver Star out of Raleigh, we all
gathered, at Jane Slotin’s direction, in the club car. All of
us had just regular seats in the passenger cars - small and only
slightly reclining nasty upholstered things in very cramped
quarters. Well, all of us except the Dookie. He had a
compartment. A private compartment.
“More power to him,” I thought at the time. “I’d have a compartment, too, if my parents could afford such a thing.”
But as we all sat and drank and laughed and talked and laughed some more in that club car during the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning, a stark difference between Carolina students and Dookies became apparent – at least to Jane Slotin and me. She and I were talking with some hot shot scientist from Connecticut. He was one of the RTP guys, and he was on his way south to spend the holiday with a grandparent or something. He was curious about us students, so he asked, “So, why do you Carolina people hate Duke people so much?”
Jane and I looked at each other, then cut our eyes toward the lone Dookie in his suit and tie and trench coat. He was resting his chin against his chest , and his head was slumped between his tightly folded arms. I remember hearing a slight snore coming from his direction as well. Jane and I smiled at each other. Then she looked at the RTP scientist from Connecticut, motioned her head sideways and toward the slumbering Dookie. That's when she pegged it.
Jane Slotin simply answered, “Well...
just look at him!”
In between the laughter that was as uncontrollable as a February snow storm, the RTP guy nodded in agreement.
Shortly after that exchange, the Dookie woke up and had a conductor show him to his compartment.
Jane Slotin, the RTP guy and I ordered another round in the club car.
It's personal. To me and to many. But it's possibly more personal to Tucker than to any other.
Tucker was an undergraduate at The University of North Carolina when I met him. I think it was during the summer of 1981. That was some five years after I took my last class at the school, so Tucker would have been anywhere from five to nine years younger than me. He was a kid at the time.
By the time I went away to college, the four ...<< MORE >>
I call him Sweet-P.
Just a couple of years ago, Sweet-P was born. He entered his world in one of the most raucous ways imaginable. His mom, my daughter-in-law, was in labor for nearly 14 hours before he finally came to her. And my son and his wife's mom were by her side for every minute of that ...<< MORE >>
The man once got so angry with his wife that he threw a pimento cheese sandwich at her. Lucky for Mama, she decided to get out of her chair just as the Merita, red spice, white condiment and yellow dairy stuff smacked and splattered the wall behind where she had been sitting. I don't quite remember what happened next. Part of me recollects that Mama made Daddy clean the wall that night. Another part of my memory recalls pimento cheese staining that wall for a week or ...<< MORE >>
There are so damned many things I could have done better. I had role models who counted on much better outcomes. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, in-laws, and my own failed parents to some extent. The idea from all of them was to build a happy life full of wealth and contentment that would be easily shared with all the children and grandchildren that followed my days. That idea is all about legacy.
My failures are well documented. They haunt me still. Poor business judgment. Poor money management. Poor personal choices. A mortgage foreclosure. A couple of bankruptcies and rental evictions. A dark time during my son's teenage years when I mostly disappeared. And unless I win the lottery before I die, there will be no legacy of wealth.
Look, I grew up believing that I was a victim. None of the undesirable stuff that happened to me was my fault. It was all bad luck. I coined the phrase, “Moon luck.” I believed it. With all my heart. And when good things happened? I questioned those things. Why? Where did those good things come from? And why do I deserve them? I expected bad stuff at every turn. And bad stuff never disappointed me.
At some point decades ago, I adopted as my own a quote from an old George Segal film. “God, I hate my life.” I spoke that phrase often – many more times than did the George Segal character in that movie. I even tried to start the “I Hate My Life Club.” It was silly, but saying that helped. I guess it helped validate that while I felt mostly helpless, I still had enough control over things to at least hate my life.
I am still struggling and failing on rather regular schedules. And I worry about the “Dave Moon legacy” with which my child and his family will be left. How they see me is very important to me. That notion pretty much occupies every ounce of my ego. So bear with me, okay?
Because of my upbringing and of the low self-esteem that I chose for myself during all those years, naturally I never believed that I had a personality at all. In my mind, I was mostly a dolt. And I mostly believed that I was a bitter and harsh guy just waiting for his luck to turn. A good friend of mine changed all of those notions for me. I took her very hard lessons to heart. And I have tried very hard for a number of years to make my teacher proud. At the very least, my teacher, I think, has allowed my son and family to read about a very real legacy. One that is substantial at least.
Some things have been said to me during the past few days. They are things that have never been said to me, and things I have never heard said at all. They are good things. Really good ones. After I heard and read them, I reverted back to my victim days a bit and wondered where the hell those words came from. I am still in somewhat of a quandary.
I have been in touch with a woman who worked for me for a while when I first moved to Charlotte. She has chosen to keep in touch with me even after I was fired from the job that brought us together. The other day she wrote, “You are as encouraging as ever.”
Last week, during a meeting at the store where I work, one of the assistant managers stood up to discuss the garden center where I work these days. She said that everyone at the store is anxious to see my “wonderful personality” at work come Spring.
A long-time and dear friend of mine and I have reconnected lately. We worked together thirty years ago or more. She thanked me. She recently wrote, “Not all friends stay with you through life, but the ones who do are the ones we learn from. Thanks for the lessons of gentleness you have taught me.”
“Encouraging as ever?”
“Lessons of gentleness?”
Words like these are not spoken or written to failures. I get that. But they sure caught me off guard. And while I will leave my son, his wife and their children with little more than a few words from a few folks, I want the lesson of my legacy to them to be this: When a life-long survivor of self-doubt, discouraging environments and unfavorable choices can hear and read words like these, well.... Anyone can.
I have so much to write and say. I have some good stuff nesting inside me right now. And I am wrestling with that stuff. I want to share it. But I want to save it. I want to write it. But I want to hold it close for a while.
A couple of nights ago during my daily wrestling match, I read some old Lunacys I had written. You know – doing what I could to try and break the choker hold ...<< MORE >>