Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

June 16, 2010

The valuable gains with dirty old men

Confessions of a Dislocated Texan

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Daily Democrat

Pauls Valley — As I've become increasingly dislocated in recent years, I've found the classic cliche, "you never know what you've lost until it is gone" may not sound as silly as I once thought. In fact, in my move to Garvin County in Oklahoma I've found that as usual I try to replace certain voids that appeared when I was in my last journey location.

One area I never really thought was apart of that filling the half full glass is when it comes to my association with dirty old men. I mean really, these perverted gems of society are not in short supply, which should mean I could just check it off the list. However, the recent passing of my Uncle, Robert Barnum, has made me realize how special that gritty attitude is in our lives.

Sure, at first glance, most respectable people from Pauls Valley to El Paso would  limit their children's exposure to that occasional visit, which was always sure to result in a lot of awkward questions on the ride home. Even if these grimy relations are married, their ideas of the opposite gender and the conversations rarely lack shock for their siblings or the rest who probably weren't all that innocent as they try to pass their own childhood off as.

Yet, when you peel away the surface of not to be repeated in front of grandma jokes you find that dirty old guys are far from being not human. Mind you, it takes a saint in any town to put up with the antics enough to find the heart underneath, but it is well worth the struggle. Those who get dirty themselves, find that these people are at least more genuine than those that would only show disgust.

I'm certain that like those that shared blood with Uncle Bob, people in every state have wanted to slap the idiot out of at least one person in each family. Don't look at me and lie and say that frying pan hasn't looked pretty darn good upside that person's noggin (my own mother certainly had enough reason to go postal with her brother), but you've for the most part shown restraint.

The truth is, when given the chance, dirty old guys can work harder than almost anyone else around them to give someone they love a life better than they had. They know they've made mistakes like we all have and want to spare that pain they found the hard way. But in the end if you look around at what good has come out of the sweat and tears, you may find you have more to learn than you ever would admit before.

There are people like Uncle Bob for everyone, though each of them are so unique that they will never be able to be replaced. You can't replace that creepy laugh they have and you can't replace that I gotcha grin that comes with it.

I doubt the world would even be all that interesting if there weren't for a steady supply of dirty wit to mix up environments that would otherwise be horribly bland. I can't imagine myself without that inherited sarcasm and it will not be the same not being able to be inspired by him any more. The most fitting tribute I can offer is to not let this world think it's so great being clean.