Les is More

More from Present Tense, Vol. 2


Les. His name is Les–in bright, white, shiny-stitched letters on a red oval just over the pocket. Dark gray uniform.
Mr. Les. Our elementary school janitor/maintenance man.

Les has a smiling face even when his lips may not be turned. His eyes are perpetually up/happy/sweet/youthful. Light blue, effervescent, smiling icicle eyes. Mr. Les takes our tickets at lunch. He takes our tickets and gives out winks and smiles.
He pinches the small carnival ticket between his thumb and the fleshy lower section of his curled up index finger. He does this with kindness, gentility and ease; as if heโ€™s softly
offering his hand to a nervous dog.
His job does not diminish him in spirit or in body. He energetically does his tasks even
though his perfectly white hair reveals his age. And his pride does not grimace at the simplest/basest of tasks. He sprinkles magic janitor dust on vomit, pee and all manner of stains. Dutifully.
He is friendly to all. He is especially nice to me. I respect him. I have no reason not to. His humility and warmth are rare. He is decent. He is tender.
He is an uncommon man. Hero.
The air is crisp. The wind is swift. He carries me from the playground when I twist my ankle and can’t walk. He carries me all the way to the healthroom. I’m at least 100 lbs.

The air is warm. The wind is still. He puts his arm around me, pats my back, reassures me that I am loved and respected when a girl threatens my friends and me at recess. “We’re going to miss you around here when you leave.” Tears.


I love you, Mr. Les. I don’t know where you are, or if you’re even still here, but you were/are a good man. And you made this child happier. Thank you.

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Loving-Kindness

According to Wikipedia‘s article regarding loving-kindness in Judaism:

Loving-kindness is used as an English translation for the Hebrew word ื—ืกื“ (chesed). This term is used often in the book of Psalms, and refers to acts of kindness, motivated by love. It is used primarily in reference to God, rather than people. One example is found in Psalm 107, where verse 43 reads:

“Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving-kindness of the LORD.” [11]

The term is also used in Pirkei Avot, with the quote “The world stands on three things: Torah, the service of God, and deeds of loving-kindness.”


I’m not a very kind person sometimes. I am downright irascible (easily angered).

I love the word irascible. It reminds me of a word that Mark Twain would utter about Pap.

I love words. No matter their meaning, good or bad. Especially when they perfectly define an attitude, feeling or experience.

I mumbled yesterday morning about applying my makeup for an interview. “Best apply a modicum of makeup, so as not to look a fright.”

Who talks like that? I do. Mostly. Enough to confuse and irritate the natives. Much to the cringe and chagrin of my associates.

“Who are you?” question my befuddled, and mildly-impressed, acquaintances.

A writer.

But I found another person who loves words and their sounds as much as I do and I married him. And together we sound like a ridiculous Noel Coward play. But some people like that.

As much as I love words, I don’t love people. I am not full of loving-kindness. I cling to loving-kindness with desperate fingers, but cannot claim it. I want to love others but I so often fail. Strange. Because I think, at the core, writers do love people. Maybe from afar? I have to love people to love words because the words are describing the lovely people. What the people are doing, where they are going, how they are loving or not loving.

Maybe I should write about animals. LOL

Loving-kindness, as a theory, is often a writer’s goal. How often they achieve loving-kindness IRL is a Hemingwayan mystery. We write about the ideal, but do we live it? I don’t usually. But, in my writing and in life, I strive for it. Is that enough though?

I do tend to write about my successes of loving-kindness and not my failures. I try to be fair in that, but writing can often be the Facebook of experience. We only see the shining examples of behavior and not the gritty underbelly of daily meanderings.

Well, in the interest of writing fair, I fail at loving others, especially my husband, on almost a daily basis. That’s the truth. I snap and snip at the slightest pressure, but mainly because…no. I won’t make excuses.

I can be a ripe jerk.

I’m an alligator. Waiting. And if you trip? I attack.

If you trigger my snap warning, I’ll eat you alive. Once an alligator bites, he can’t let go. Even if he wanted to. And why would he want to? Those jaws are locked. And loaded. Clamps down on your neck, thrashes around, and down you go. Drowned. Ground into a fine hamburger. If you whimper, complain, or try to negotiate? It’ll just take longer.

I don’t want to be an alligator. But when you grow up in a swamp, do you have a choice?

I’m evolving. At least I feel guilty about it now.

I have brilliant moments of loving-kindness shine through and save me. For others and from others. But maybe that’s most people’s experience. Those are the moments we live for. And when there’s not enough of those moments, sometimes, what we die for.

In a world of growing hate and difference of opinion, we most certainly need loving-kindness. Certainly. But if I can’t succeed in my own daily life, what hope does the world have?

We’re evolving. Let’s drain the swamp and love others. Simply and completely.

I can’t eat another alligator. Someone I recognize as being my kind. So we just have to look for the human. How can you hate someone who looks and acts and thinks like you? We all have eyeballs. We all have fur. We all have 2 arms, 2 legs, a brain and a heart. Usually. ๐Ÿ™‚

With all my anger, flaws and ugliness, I still want to be loved. So I need to love. Even unlovables in their anger, flaws and ugliness. And do so out of kindness. It requires vulnerability and humility. Being open and humble.

Who are you?