An Announcement

May 31, 2009

File this under “Old dog, new tricks.”

I haven’t published a new column in a few weeks. I took a break while I figured out a few things.

Turns out, I’ve been sort of stuck in the past.

Expect some changes to “Burger to Go.” I hope they will be good changes.

When I started writing, I confess, it was mostly for my own amusement, in a journal written on an ancient manual typewriter.

Anyway, the point is that for more than two decades, I have been writing on the same treadmill, my columns typed out to the rhythm of somebody’s printing press. Sometimes daily, sometimes weekly, but always with that big mechanical clock thumping away in the subtext.

And then I had one of those “DUH!” moments.

Four years ago, I stopped writing “Burger to Go” for a newspaper, and began writing it for myself and for whoever else wanted to read it. But I was still writing as though I still had a bunch of presspersons standing around waiting for it.

Meanwhile, the digital world was spinning all around me and had taken off with social networks like Twitter and Facebook, and everybody worth his salt, and many who are not, started a blog.

I never liked the word blog, by the way, a contraction of the term “weblog.” It sounds like a term for boggy ground.

But that’s just me. The thing is, bloggers are not strapped to the gears of a printing press. Bloggers blog daily, even several times a day, and often, it appears, they blog when they have nothing useful or entertaining to say. A price to pay for this opportunity, I suppose.

So, starting now, I will use my blog to, well, BLOG. I don’t mean to stop writing my regular columns. I’ve been doing that so long now I don’t think I could stop anyway. But woven in between them will be short, pithy (I hope,) funny, (I hope,) comments on whatever comes to mind. God knows what else I’ll toss in there while I’m coming to terms with this new, to me, format. Jokes. Photos. Poems. Bear with me, please. This will be a new adventure for me. Despite being a bit of a luddite, I find that I am really looking forward to it.

© 2009 Marsh Creek Media, Gettysburg, Pa.
“Burger to Go” is a product of me and my company, Marsh Creek Media and, as such, I am solely responsible for its content.
Check out the two “Burger to Go” blogsites:


Little Terry and the very odd Pants
There is much to envy in the youth of today.

I’m serious. I mean, aside from wearing any damned thing they want and making it look good, at least to them.

For example, when I try to wear the least thing different than usual, I get that “dressed before coffee” kind of thing going on. People ask me if there was a power outage that morning that caused me to dress in the dark.

I hate that feeling, and with good reason.

What I envy about kids today is they don’t have to worry about what to wear to express their absolute individuality. All they need to do is to watch the ads on TV, on the ‘net, on billboards, to know exactly what to do.

I’m not kidding. It’s tremendously liberating to know that you can dress up in, I don’t know, shirts that only come down to here, and pants that slide all the way down to there if you’re not hanging on to them, if you know that everywhere across the civilized world, there of millions of other kids who look just as stupid.

This is very liberating. (Here comes that “when I was a boy” stuff)

When I was a boy, communications weren’t quite up to today’s standards. Fads would get fired up in some urban area like New York City and Los Angeles, and totally peter out before they ever found their ways to the Deep South, where I grew up. This was long before satellite TV, and way, way, WAY before the Internet and texting and all that. It was way back when a Blackberry was a fruit and cells were something you studied in biology class.

But, while I didn’t have access to any of that stuff, I had Shirley, Polly, and Audrene.

They were my aunts, my mother’s sisters, and they were nothing if not fashion-conscious.

That’s fine, for the most part. For boys in their pre-teens, like my brother and me, it was a little bit like tap-dancing in a minefield. You just never knew when something was going to blow up in your face in the guise of a present from the bowels of metropolitan Pittsburgh, the Constantinople of the Steel Belt, where the three ladies liked to shop.

Oh, at that time, David and I were the only two small children in the entire extended family, so the three ladies’ urge to play dress-up on us was not diluted at all. Our cousin Tom was older and had already lived through the fashion barrage. Besides, he lived near Pittsburgh, so the clothing he got was similar to the stuff his friends were wearing at school. So, for a few years, until my Uncle Bing had a little girl to take away some of the pressure, David and I were in point-blank range of the sartorial barrage. (Thank you Lynn!)

David and I lived in Georgia at the time, the early 1960s, when most people bought their clothes at Sears & Roebuck or at regional department stores.

So, the stage is set. It is, I think, Easter, or thereabouts, and I am in the sixth grade.

A package arrives from our birthplace, a still-thriving steel town 60 miles north of Pittsburgh. David and I exchanged worried glances. NOW what?

We didn’t have long to wait to find out.

Inside the box were two brown paper packages fastened with cellophane tape. Inside each of those was a pair of pants.

Now, you need to understand the narrow range of butt-covering that was allowed, then and there, for young men.

Blue jeans were to be worn for work and play, but not to school or church unless you lived on a farm and then you could get away with it but people would look down their noses at you. Old people still called them “dungarees,” which always sounded to me like some sort of small marsupial, but never mind.

For school and church you were supposed to wear something dressier, meaning a fairly limited array of fabrics in somber, serious colors. Nothing bright. Nothing patterned, checked, dotted, striped, or plaid. It just wasn’t done. It wasn’t as though somebody posted a written rule about these things. Everybody just knew it, the way they knew not to break wind in Sunday school.

And so, when we opened the crinkly brown paper packages, my brother and I knew instantly that our standing at the Alps Road School and the Homewood Hills neighborhood was about to go straight to haberdashery hell.

Each package contained a pair of calypso pants, a type of sartorial disaster that I blame on the singer Harry Belafonte, who had hit the charts with a couple of Caribbean-flavored hits and suddenly everybody wanted to look like they lived on the beach of a tropical island, doing whatever it is that people who live like that do.

Keeping in mind what was acceptable then and there, understand that calypso pants came to about mid-calf, with a narrow bit of piping that ran down the outside of each thigh. Each pair had a white rope belt and a sign across the buttocks that said “please beat me up and tease me mercilessly.”

Ok, I’m kidding about the sign. The beat-me-up-and-tease-me part was just understood, in much the same way one understood that it was bad form to stare at amputees and lunatics.

David was lucky. His were dark blue.

Mine were a bright, throbbing red. You know, the color of imminent death.

I really only remember the initial stages of the reaction we got at school. Oh, yes, we wore them. It is one of the immutable laws of family dynamics that one has to wear items of clothing sent by dear relatives, even if said items resemble casual wear sported by bug-eyed-aliens on some frozen beach on Ganymede, even if you only wear them once and thereafter fall into eye-rolling asthma attacks at the threat of ever having to be seen in them again.

All I remember is sitting on the bus on the way to school that morning, suffering from tunnel vision and traumatic hearing loss, waiting for hell’s chorus to get tuned up. The boy in the aisle seat across from me was staring. So were a lot of other sixth-graders who filled the bus. But he was closest, and the largest, and had the most tattoos. I think he was about 19.

“Hey,” he said.

I just looked straight ahead.

“Hey,” he said again, poking me with a finger the size of a kielbasa.

I looked over at him, resigned to the inevitable.

“What?” I asked, in a tone that said, essentially, that I did not need a blindfold, thank you very much.

“What’s wrong with yore britches?” he asked.

That was the beginning.

There has been a lot written about the nature of time and how long eternity is. Nobody has even come close.

I confess, I think I wore them just the one time. That was sort of the unwritten rule. You wore whatever haberdasher’s hallucination showed up in the mail, and then you hid it under everything else in the dresser-drawer and hoped nobody ever noticed that you didn’t wear it. You couldn’t throw it away in case the relative who bought the gift came to visit, at which point you gritted your teeth and put the damned things on for show.

So, whenever somebody says to me, “Gee, wouldn’t it be great to be a kid again,” I give them a very stern look.

“Only if I get to pick the wardrobe,” I say.
© 2009 Marsh Creek Media, Gettysburg, Pa.
“Burger to Go” is a product of me and my company, Marsh Creek Media and, as such, I am solely responsible for its content.
Check out the two “Burger to Go” blogsites: