The Charlie Bravo Story

The power of life and death is in the tongue


Dad here, kind of… When watching the video of Charlie’s first ride on the new Honda, it became apparent that I don’t mount a bike as easily as I used to; as a matter of fact, I looked downright geriatric.

Today I turn the big double nickel. Many younger than I have already passed, and I have myself faced what should have been certain death on more than one occasion, but for the Grace of God. When I was in third grade and slipped and fell on my lunchbox, rupturing my spleen, or on a desert highway in Colorado, or in an icy creek in the Ozarks, and last but not least, rupturing my colon in the Ouachita Mountains. Nothing snaps life into perspective like watching your son’s tail lights vanish into the woods as he goes for help, and you have to face the realization that this may be the last time you see him, or anyone, for that matter.

Roll the credits and turn out the lights.

Today is a day for honesty; I’ve always been a small guy, and my dad more of a studious sort, so sports and physical activity didn’t play a part in my younger years. As a result, I experienced a good deal of bullying when we relocated to Arkansas and I was enrolled in a “Christian” school where sports reigned supreme. This was during the mid seventies, and I found the model for my defense in the cut downs and witty banter of TV shows like “Welcome Back Kotter” and “MASH”. I quickly learned to fight verbally instead of physically, but the wounds are just as grievous. To this very day, I remember distinctly some of these words, and I fear immensely that I still have this blood on my hands.

There is a quote in The Last of the Mohicans: “Magua’s heart is twisted, and he would turn into what has twisted him”, and I can relate; I found myself becoming the bully verbally that I so despised physically. It’s been a long road, trying to relearn to curb my tongue, and the road continues.

This is why I can’t tolerate bullies to this day, whether they be found in the media, entertainment, politics, religion, sports, a marriage, anywhere where the “weak” would be oppressed by the “strong”. In the words of Woodrow F. Call, “I hate rude behaviour in a man; I won’t tolerate it”.

Whether bullying is a inferiority complex exhibiting itself as a superiority complex is a discussion for another day, but the result is that one party is made to feel that their contribution doesn’t matter. We ALL matter, and can all make a difference; we all have a seed, but how can it grow and flourish if it’s not being watered and nutured, but constantly being trampled underfoot?

But for every negative, there is a positive; I’m immensely thankful for the experiences of my younger years, as they have given me a peculiar empathy for those that I view as having been “picked on”. If I were to subscribe to the belief of patron saints, I would surely choose St Jude, the saint of lost causes, as my favorite. If not him, then maybe Don Quixote, who while not a saint, was willing to loftilly ignore ridicule to pursue his own dreams of gallantry.

Johnny Cash wore black to show empathy for the inmates, the addicts, the conscientious objectors, etc, of his day, and this is one of tbe reasons why Charlie and I ride; not just some sort of adventure seeking, adrenaline inducing cry for attention(although we have to admit that it is one of the perks), but more importantly, it’s our way of showing that there IS life after the crate, whatever your particular crate may be.

See you down the road…


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