Wednesday, April 27, 2016

New Normal

I can’t imagine how long it took the kid to screw up the courage. It was 1971, the first year of forced busing in Wichita. Probably as an experiment leading to an experiment, our 7th grade science teacher had given us a week to find a lab partner.

One of the kids bused to the Land of Baloney on White Bread with Miracle Whip had no friends. He was shy to begin with, so when he approached me on decision deadline day and asked if I’d be his lab partner, I felt like a schmuck. I’d already struck a Bunsen burner/beaker bond with a kid who lived down the street. 

I’m sitting in an airport in Tucson after three days observing a civic engagement conference. Over my right shoulder a woman carries on a telephone conversation in Spanish. There is an overtly friendly 20-something clerk at a nearby coffee stand, chatting up all comers, a little bright spot in the day of stressed, harried travelers.

She asks a little boy, “You have any muscles?” He shows off his 3-year old guns and walks away grinning. 

At the conference, within our name badges were meal cards. Until I sat down for dinner the first night, I gave them no thought, then I noticed the cards of my table mates. “No red meat” on my right. “Vegan” to my immediate left.

(I feel bad for 21st century event planners and caterers. The choice used to be simple: Rubber chicken or... uh... nothing).

When she’d set out candy and nuts during the holidays in Plainville, Kansas, my grandmother matter-of-factly referred to Brazil nuts by an epithet today we would consider obscenely racist. Her daughter, my mother, a generation more culturally aware, made certain my siblings and I understood that even though we love her dearly, on this point, Grandma was just flat out wrong.

I travel, live in Manhattan, spend a lot of time in Wichita, the city where I grew up and see the evolution from the days of forced busing. Firmly ensconced in the precipice of middle age, I have become more aware of social injustice and societal disparities. 

Ubiquitous dollar stores and payday loan outfits on every street corner are simply a reaction to the market. All things being equal, the free enterprise system will exploit opportunities and find its center. Politicians do the same thing. Sanders’ populism and Trump’s anger are not new phenomena.

Presidential politics and the free enterprise system are reflections of societal evolution, they are not societal evolution. All things are not close to equal. In the second decade of the 21st century in the United States, I can make choices to become more culturally aware. To move beyond my otherwise middle-of-the-country sensibilities.

The change, the adaptation, the evolution happens in individual human hearts and minds. And stomachs, too. If someone insists on being served a vegan meal, I’ll always be the red meat yang to their yin.

The action of the black kid asking the white kid to be his lab partner in 1971 was a manifestation of the hopes and dreams of the duly-elected members of the Wichita school board, who were, no doubt, anguishing over how to move beyond ‘separate but equal.’ They had no clue whether it would work, but they made a choice to change, to adapt, to try.

Gotta go, they’re calling my flight.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Troopers

It was a luncheon banquet similar to dozens. Ranch or Italian dressing, then the entrée. I serve on the Board of a substance abuse prevention concern and we’re handing out awards to assorted do-gooders to reward the good they’ve done since last we gathered for the rubber chicken nosh.

In a ballroom in what Richard Ben Cramer called “that ratty Ramada overlooking the highway,” (it’s not that bad) there’s a state trooper sitting across the table. He’s wearing the familiar crisp French blue shirt with buttoned pockets, necktie, navy blue pants with a blue stripe. He’s packin’ heat and looks vaguely familiar. 

“Hey Mike, remember me?” During post-banquet pleasantry exchanging, extending his right hand. “Uh...” I respond intelligently, buying time. Glancing at his name plate and badge, the lights flicker and I rocket back a couple of decades.

Now, he’s Deputy Superintendent of the Kansas Highway Patrol. Then, he wore a suit and tie, drove an unmarked Crown Vic and would have taken a bullet for the Governor. One of a half dozen or so state troopers who comprised the Governor’s Security Detail.

Rocketed back to 1995. (CJ Online)
Young, fit, stoic and clean-cut, service on the Governor’s Security Detail differed vastly from traditional highway patrolling in the blue and grey cruisers. A constituency of two to protect and serve. Our guy and his wife became parents of a baby girl just months after taking office, adding another human life, layer of seriousness and responsibility to an already challenging task.

A command post at Cedar Crest, another just outside the Governor’s main office on the second floor of the Statehouse. A fully functional system within a system within a system. These guys answered to a Kansas Highway Patrol chain of command, while working side-by-side with the Governor’s staff.

The Superintendent of the KHP serves at the pleasure of the Governor, so we eased into the midst of a decades-old culture of cooperation and mutual respect between a pair of essential state government systems. It was clicking long before and after our eight years.

Like most Governors, our guy chafed a bit at first, but with an appreciation for their responsibilities, quickly settled into a comfortable pattern. He made it a point to always ride in the passenger’s seat, because he respected their job, cared about them as people and did not want them to be seen as, or feel like, chauffeurs.

Since our guy was ‘effective and efficient,’ he’d use the passenger seat time for paperwork or phone calls. If he was going across town, as his spokesman, I’d often hop in the back seat and use the face time to gain clarity on our line or share intel. After leaving office, our guy joked he knew he was no longer Governor, when he got in the Crown Vic and it didn’t go anywhere.

When you serve at that level, the pace and schedule is often grueling. A Governor works all day, and can have an appearance every evening. Everywhere he’d go, a trooper would accompany and another trooper would have advanced the trip to provide a lay of the land. Your time is not your own, but you’re serving the greater good. 

                                               (KSN)
One lone, somber plainclothes trooper standing between our guy and harm. That’s a helluva lotta responsibility. State troopers do much good.

Those of us on the Governor’s staff would often joke about taking a bullet for the Governor (I once took a cup of hot coffee in my lap for the Governor on the jump seat of a jam-packed King Air high over Great Bend.) But around the troopers, no such joking.
 
Because they probably would.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Man Who Collapsed in Mass

The priest was about halfway through his benediction when he stopped mid-intonation and looked worriedly over at the east side of his congregation, where something was amiss. Vestments flowing, he made his way there quickly. A parishioner had collapsed and the faces of those nearby revealed... fear. 

Without being too obvious, given the circumstances, I strained to get a better view of the goings-on, and see my sister-in-law, a nurse, bent over the collapsed man. How’d she get there so fast? Just a couple of seconds ago she was three people down from me.

Easter Sunday Mass at St. Joseph’s in Arma, Kansas started at 8 a.m. My mother-in-law wanted to be there early because it tends to fill up fast.

By the time we got there, the back three pews were full, so we peopled the next closest to the back empty pew. Ubiquitous blue, gray and silver hair. Walkers, canes and hearing aids abound. Like my mother-in-law, most of these parishioners have been coming to Mass since it was invoked in Latin.

In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti... 

Legion baseball, Camp 50 and Easter Mass.
There’s a duffer whose job for decades has been to place the cardboard numbers on a board, denoting the page numbers of the hymns. He needs some help from his wife. 

The organist/cantor clanks a few chords and sounds like Edith Bunker when she cuts loose on the alleluias, but bless her heart, she serves.

Here’s how small the world is:

The Man Who Collapsed in Mass is the younger brother of a man who carpooled to K-State and played American Legion baseball with my father-in-law way back in the Crawford County day.

When I knew him, the brother of the Man Who Collapsed in Mass chaired the Kansas Senate Ways & Means Committee and was one of my best sources, when I patrolled the Statehouse in search of news. Off camera, he’d confirm, deny and point me in the right direction. On camera, he would obfuscate. 

On the way home, chatting about the family, we passed through Camp 50, just a few miles east of where my father-in-law grew up and where his bride and two of his daughters still live. The family of the Man Who Collapsed in Mass helped settle Camp 50 as a mining camp when immigrants extracted the coal and zinc from below the surface of the land.

One of the things I like most about Crawford and Cherokee counties is their uniqueness. They’re arguably the only two counties in Kansas with a heritage rooted in something other than agrarian agriculture.

The Man Who Collapsed in Mass was alert and attentive as they loaded him in the ambulance. But at some point, he will die. One day, my mother-in-law, my mother, my wife and son will die. One day, I will die. Of all the... fears that tend to cloud our judgment and rule our lives, they don’t seem to get much bigger.

The Man Who Collapsed in Mass rocketed me back to reality, to Easter and the essence of Christianity. A human being died. But after he died, he came back to show his peers and colleagues that as scary as it is, death is not the end. That we need not... fear.

Jackie and I will be back with her mother next year for Easter Sunday Mass at St. Joseph’s in Arma. We’ll pass through Camp 50 to and from. When we arrive at church, we’ll sit as close to the back as possible, where we’ll part with our inequities and seek to be made pure in heart.

If it works the way it’s supposed to, we’ll be a little less... fearful.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Evergreen

“It doesn't matter who my father was, it matters who I remember he was.” 
                                                    --Anne Sexton 

A pair of pine trees tower over the Blue Valley Mobile Home Community in northeast Manhattan, Kansas. My father planted those trees more than 50 years ago. 
 
There’s no more vivid milestone on the path to the precipice of middle age than the death of a parent. Pop died six months ago today. His death, while accidental, was not unexpected. It culminated three years of shared, purposeful one-on-one conversations. He saw the end and was downloading his troubled childhood.

Evergreens in a trailer park.
Those conversations led to a book I’m writing, creative non-fiction, chronicling 25 years of the lives of my father and his parents (1931-1956). My older sister, Viki, is my sounding board as I write. Our own childhoods, recollections of our father and his mother are remarkably similar. The book is currently in the hands of beta readers and I can let it go for a while.
  
My father grew up amid the dysfunction of alcoholism, and would consciously remove himself from the domicile du jour. As a child and adolescent, he spent hours alone outdoors, fishing, camping, hunting, exploring the places his father’s work and later, his mother’s husbands, took him, throughout the west. Figuring out how to escape. Thinking about a plan. A straight line between where he was and where he wanted to be.

Never got a chance to ask Pop about his motivation in planting those trees in Manhattan, but it’s not difficult to figure out. While he distanced himself from the people of his childhood, especially his mother, he was drawn to the places. Pop spoke with fond remembrance about the Manastash Ridge and the Cascade Mountains of Washington. The Columbia River, the Sacramento River, trooping off to the third grade in the dark in Anchorage, Alaska.

By the time he got to Kansas in 1947 at age 15, he had lived in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Alaska and Minnesota. He and Mom got to Manhattan and K-State the autumn of ’55 after Pop’s four-year hitch in the Navy. From my father’s memories:

“The G.I. Bill (of Rights) paid $160 a month to cover everything – books, tuition, and living expenses. Trailer space rent was $20 a month, as I remember it, so I got the job dumping trash in the trailer park to pay for our rent. The trashcans were 55 gallon drums. I lifted those over my head into a trailer pulled by a jeep. I used muscles I didn’t know I had.” 

I drive through the Blue Valley Trailer Park today and imagine my 23-year old mother trying desperately not to go batshit crazy chasing two little kids, two cats and a dog around a dinky-ass trailer. I visualize my 25-year old father schlepping 55-gallon trashcans, worrying about his agronomy studies and missing his beloved west.

Me and Viki in the trailer. She still helps me with books.
Planting those two pine trees reminded him of the good things from an otherwise crappy upbringing, half a lifetime and half a continent away. Pop talked often of his desire to return to the west.

I’ve been back in Manhattan since Jackie and I got married here in 1998. Our connection to this place is as strong as Pop’s was to the west. What are the odds I would wind up where I was born?

Why are those twin pine trees my old man planted more than a half century ago in a trailer court in this very community still standing? Twenty-five years after my own last drink, I’m writing a book about 25 years of the lives of my alcoholic grandparents. Mere coincidence?

I see the pieces of the puzzle coming together. Genetic predisposition, alcoholism skipping a generation, my father’s childhood pain and turmoil, his behavior as a young parent, his downloading with me at the end of his life, my sister as a sounding board, each an essential building block to right here, right now.

By standing next to a pair of evergreen trees my father planted more than a half-century ago in the town where I lived then and now, I am beginning to see why it had to happen the way it did.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

My Wife's DiCaprio Disdain

Leonardo DiCaprio may win the Oscar tonight for Best Actor, he may not. Regardless, it will not change my wife’s mind.

I recently saw The Revenant alone. Lotta grimacing and grunting. Hugh Glass mauled by a bear was intense, but as far as cinematic depictions of humans attacked by wild animals, I prefer Chrissie Watkins clinging for dear life to the bell buoy off Amity Island. 

I went by myself for one very simple and compelling reason. My wife refuses to watch any movie featuring Leonardo DiCaprio. Her logic and reasoning? 

“The man can’t act.” That’s a direct quote.

We love movies and I suspect we see more than most middle class American Midwest couples. We have the refillable popcorn bucket, the Carmike Cinemas rewards card and a penchant to sit close to the screen. 

Easier to see, duh.

We go to chick flicks, bio pics, superhero tales, romantic comedies, summer blockbusters, suspense thrillers. We tend to stay away from slasher films.

We also watch a lot of movies at home. Certain directors whose work I admire. DePalma, Scorsese, Kubrick. Among today’s generation, I’ll pay good money for any Nolan or Shyamalan movie. I’m especially fond of Hitchcock, Wilder and early Spielberg. I’ve loved the noir genre since my very first professional job in the broadcast industry. Soft spot in my heart and high expectations for period pieces, set in the 1950s, 60s and increasingly, the 70s. 

My all-time favorite performance is probably Ray Liotta in Goodfellas.

(Long pause while eyeballing Tommy DeVito warily) “Get the f--- outa here, Tommy!”

Depp, Bullock, Marky Mark, J-Law, early Pacino. I’ll watch any Travolta movie. Who doesn’t like Hanks and Streep? McAdams seems to have come a long way since Mean Girls. 

But DiCaprio? My wife would rather watch a blank screen. Claims the man has no depth, that he’s the same guy in each of his motion pictures. I feel sorta the same way about Keanu. Johnny Utah in Point Break is Jack Traven in Speed. Johnny Mnemonic and Neo. 

I kinda liked DiCaprio in Gatsby, Wolf of Wall Street, Django Unchained. He was solid in Catch Me if You Can, though Hanks and his horn rims stole that show. Put me down as ‘meh’ on his bio pics. Believable and hackneyed moments as Howard Hughes and I still don’t understand DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover. Truly awful.

Which reminds me of the only movie during which we consciously and purposefully fled the theatre because the on-screen performance was so dreadful. I simply could not stomach Madonna as Eva Peron.

Go ahead and cry for me, Argentina. Please.

I think my wife’s DiCaprio disdain can be traced to Jack Dawson. She’s also not too fond of Kate Winslet or Celine Dion, so I suspect the combination of the three of them offering up their talent, time and treasure in the same cinematic work of art was simply too much for her finely tuned and intricately calibrated motion picture sensibilities.

Someone once said beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That’s what makes it art. One man’s Rembrandt is another man’s crap. Sharks over grizzly bears. Anyone over DiCaprio.

I kinda hope DiCaprio wins, if for no other reason, so the poor bastard can get off the schneid. On the other hand, maybe Leo goes another 10 or 15 Oscar-less years. Then when he finally wins, the narrative can be truly revenant-esque... ‘DiCaprio back from the dead...’ 

Either way, I suspect my wife’s heart will go on.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Pogo's

Shoulda realized when I saw the address. Signing up for TSA pre-check, mostly online, but they need my fingerprints and first-borne male child. The former I carry with me, the latter saves lives in Denver.

2021 Amidon Avenue, Wichita. The TSA fingerprint place occupies the same exact physical space that once was Mecca for a generation in Wichita who will go to bed (early) tonight comfortably ensconced in the precipice of middle age. 

Back then it was Pogos, Wichitas destination disco.

Your blogger at 19. Polyester, platforms and turquoise socks.
I often find myself defending disco to the younger generations who can’t get past the polyester and platforms. Haters gonna hate. Precipice approachers gonna own their disco. Those of us who came of age in the late ‘70s didn’t choose it. The music and the culture just sprung up around us. And as young people are wont to do, we embraced it.

(INSERT TIME TRAVEL NOISES AND EFFECTS HERE)

Dozens of us lined up on the sidewalk to get in. Girls in rabbit fur waist jackets. Guys in platform heels, skin-hugging polyester shirts. Bouncers on the left. I turned 18 six months after graduating from Heights, but was getting in on a fake ID long before that. On the right, coat check girls. 

Pay the cover charge, walk up a half dozen steps, blue (or was it red?) shag carpet on the floor and on the walls and after a few steps it just sorta swallows you up. The entrance opens to a dark, cavernous warehouse-sized space.

It’s dark, but the bars are lit. Two of them flank the entire space. In keeping with the times, the architecture is split level. Bars and tables up top, with a game room for those not inclined to shake their groove thing. The deejay booth on the lower level. 

Then.
And then you hear the music. Continuous, uninterrupted music. The songs change, but the beat is constant, deafening, throbbing. An ocean of bodies – a generation of Cold War babies coming of age on a lighted dance floor, bound together by 127 beats per minute and feathered hair. You feel it in your bloodstream.

Pitchers and pitchers... and pitchers... of Lite Beer from Miller (Tastes great, less filling).

Not one, but two (maybe three?) mirrored disco balls, reflect the rotating spotlights. The dance floor takes up nearly the entire lower level, colors changing with the beat of the music. It was exhilarating, pseudo-sophistication. Travolta and the Bee Gees got it right. It’s a fever. 

Satisfaction came in a chain reaction. I never found Ms. Right at Pogo’s, just Ms. Right Now. We’d close it down and pour ourselves across the street to another Wichita icon – Kings X restaurant, for 3 a.m. chicken fried steak.

Now.
Today, I couldn’t Hustle or Bus Stop my way out of a wet paper bag at gunpoint, but back then... 
 
I felt compelled to mention to the millennial TSA fingerprinter that she’s working in hallowed space that means a lot to those of us aging gracefully. She was polite, but I’m not sure she got it. When I walked out, I lingered for a while on the sidewalk and reminisced. It was a gorgeous day in the city where I came of age. 

Rain. Shine. Don’t mind. We’re ridin’ on the groove line tonight. 

Whoop. Whoop.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Dogs Are People Too

Why can't I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold, cold heart?
                                                   --Hank Williams, 1951
  
For the first three or four years she wanted absolutely nothing to do with me. We had reached a manageable détente. I’d feed her twice a day but otherwise, I was persona non grata.

Screw it, I thought. You go your way, I’ll go mine. I can be stubborn, too.

We finally determined it wasn’t me and it wasn’t her. It was exigent circumstances traced to her first few months. We rescued Rover from a heartless prairiebilly, deep in the Flint Hills of Wabaunsee County. Her first five puppy months were spent in a cage with little or no human contact. 

Jackie was hip. “You have to make the first move,” she counseled. The gifts I have received from this woman since we first met in 1994 cannot be counted, but among the most cherished is this notion that dogs are people, too. 

My wife was right and it was to be a watershed moment of clarity on my glidepath to the precipice of middle age. I tried harder and slowly, incrementally she warmed up. Turned out Rovie had every bit as much emotional cognition as me. Who knew?
  
Rover. January 28, 2004 - January 7, 2016.
We entered each other’s orbits and taught each other. The canine and the human each acquired knowledge and understanding through experience, judgment and reasoning toward an eventual full blown rapprochement. We each gave, incrementally at first, all in at the end.

The Cold War was over. Nixon went to China. Mr. Gorbachev tore down the wall.  

I first got Rover as a birthday gift for my wife. But the offering Rover gave me, through Jackie, will stay with me all the days of my life.

The last couple of years, we settled into a comfortable pattern. Rovie preferred to dine in and amongst the chairs under the dining room table, so that’s where I served her. While she was enjoying her breakfast or dinner, I’d be in the kitchen, preparing an insulin syringe. She’d finish eating, find me and then trot to a very specific space between the coffee table and couch in the living room.

She’d plop down and without complaint, receive her insulin injection. Then she’d stand up, position herself with her front paws on my left leg and allow me to administer daily eye drops. Then, this dog who once wanted nothing to do with me, would lick my hand.
 
Somewhere between 4 and 4:30 each afternoon Rovie would find me, regardless of my location in the house and purposefully place herself directly within my line of sight. Just sit there and stare at me, accompanied by the occasional low growl.

“Chill, Rove. It’s another hour and a half until chow time.” 

More staring. One blue eye, one amber eye drilling into me. Predictably, I’d give in and 6 p.m. chow time became 5:45, or 5:30. She had me figured out, Rovie.

We first noticed the blood in her left ear Tuesday night. On Wednesday, our veterinarian diagnosed spontaneous bleeding. By Thursday evening Jackie and I forced ourselves into the dreaded ‘quality of life’ conversation and made the heartwrenching decision.

Rovie often slept on my side of the bed and as I arose, I’d hear her tail thumping on the floor in the darkness. She would literally herd me out of the bedroom, down the hall toward a morning routine, sustenance and another day of thawed, cordial relations. Another days gift of mutual love and respect.

I got up this morning by myself. This is the time of day I’ll miss her the most.

Rovie lived three weeks shy of a dozen years. During her time on the planet she survived the heartless prairiebilly, allergies, diabetes, temporary blindness, eyeball surgery, various and assorted infections, doggie scrapes and my stubbornness. 

Our hearts are broken and sadness permeates our home on Sunnyside Drive this winter weekend, but we know this too, shall pass. 

I can’t pinpoint the exact date, hour and minute God’s will entered our hearts, Rovie and me.

I can only judge by the results.


Sunday, December 27, 2015

'86 the Socks

AN ACTUAL CONVERSATION is just that. Actual words spoken as a means of communication between my wife and I (my wife and me?) Verbal cross sections, snapshots of our existence. When shared via social media, they’ve sorta become a thing. Here are a few o’ my faves from 2015:

(While picking up our recently-serviced Ford Escape) 
Mike: “Hey, look! A fire engine red 1989 Camaro RS..!” 
Jackie: “Don't get any stupid ideas.”

Mike: “Who’s pitching for the White Sox?” 
Jackie: “Danks.” 
Mike: “You're welcome.”

Mike: (Making car collision noises while pulling into a tight parking space).  
Jackie: “You're such a boy.”

(Encouraging her to '86 the socks in favor of just feet in tennis shoes).
Jackie: “You were right, this feels much better.” 
Mike: “What was the first part of that sentence again?”

(Driving past R.C. McGraw’s in MHK)
Mike: “Man, lookit all the cars in the parking lot of that night club.” 
Jackie: “Night club? How old are you, anyway?” 
Mike: “Whaddayou call it?” 
Jackie: “A bar.” 

Feta, bleu, gorgonzola, et al. Sans goat.
(On the phone) 
Mike: “They have feta cheese crumbles, bleu cheese crumbles, gorgonzola cheese crumbles. NO goat cheese crumbles.” 
Jackie: “Where are you?” 
Mike: “Standing before an immense dairy case with cheese as far as the eye can see.” 
Jackie: “You’re in the wrong place.” 
Mike: “Of course I am.” 

(During my post-dinner kitchen cleanup)
Jackie: “Anything I can do to help?” 
Mike: “You can cheerlead my efforts.” 
Jackie: “Gimme an ‘M,’ gimme an ‘I...’”

(Preparing to do a load o’ laundry) 
Jackie: “Tide, Downy, ‘normal wash’ setting.” 
Mike: “Please bear in mind, I was doin’ laundry long before you entered the picture.” 
Jackie: “Yeah, but not very well.”

(As Alex Gordon tries to take an extra base)
Mike: “DON’T GO!” 
Jackie: “When you’re aggressive and take risks, sometimes there are costs… and sometimes you go to the friggin’ World Series.”

(Via text)
Mike: “Golden State 22 Cleveland 20, 3 minutes and change left in 1st quarter.” 
Jackie (in Topeka): “Thanks. Sitting on pins and needles awaiting those NBA updates.”

(Handing over my brand new Surface Pro 3, ostensibly for one specific task)
Mike: “You're just dorking around with it. I coulda done that.”
Jackie: “It's not ‘dorking,’ it’ strategic problem-solving.”

(Cruising Nashville for a specialty game store)
Jackie: “If we strike out, we can try Toys R Us in the Opryland Mills mall we passed last night... and maybe stop at that Ralph Lauren Polo store.” 
Mike: “I didn’t see that in the dark.” 
Jackie: “I did. I can see that pony from a long ways off.”

(Following a mild health complaint)
Mike: “Do you feel feverish?” 
Jackie: “I donno.” 
Mike (hand on her forehead): “A little bit, but then you always tend to run a degree or two hotter than the rest of humanity.”

(Me asleep, apparently. Her awake)
Jackie: “Are you OK?” 
Mike: “I just don't wanna hafta go to prom again...”

Mike: “D’you see that Tom Cruise announced today that he's running for President?” 
Jackie: “You mean Ted Cruz?”

(Discussing clubs we belonged to in high school)
Jackie: “...of course, there was FFA.” 
Mike: “FFA? Isn’t that more like a cult?”

Jackie: “Wanna see Fleetwood Mac in concert?”
Mike: “I think I prefer to remember my rock stars in their youthful glory.” 
Jackie: “Then I guess I won’t give you your Valentine’s Day gift.”