I was sitting in a bar the other night in midtown Atlanta, seeking a little relief from the boredom of my tiny accommodations.
But there were fewer people in the bar than anorexics at a Golden Corral buffet. Boredom hung over the bar like a Sumo wrestler hovering over a fallen opponent, poised to finish him off.
And then in walked a guy who within minutes had let slip that he raises honey bees, has three hives in his backyard in midtown. The few assembled around the bar verbally pounced on him like a junkyard dog on an intruder. I later got accused by one patron of monopolizing the questioning like any good journalist would do.
It turns out he was the Encyclopedia Britannica of beekeeping. We in newspapering call this the "mother lode," that one person who knows everything, every statistic, every historic fact, the trees and forest of a subject. You would be surprised how many people are not like this; they scoop ice cream for a living but don't know what's in it, who invented ice cream and have no thought on the best kind of ice cream scoop.
Anyway, it turns out the average honey bee lives 40 days and nights (he allowed as how this is kind of Biblical) and that the queen can live several years. The bees can roam up to two miles in search of nectar but if you the hive slightly they can't find it when they buzz back. The reason a bee becomes docile when you blow smoke on them is they gorge themselves on the honey to save it and then are full. When things are calm they put the honey back. There is even a system for replacing the queen if she is not up to the task.
Fact after fact rolled off his tongue and he painted a picture of a very ordered society, workers who readily accept their drudgery. There is a system in which they have a dispute and take their swarm away and split the hive. The Creator planned this out perfectly and every bee as soon as born accepts its lot in life, without as far as we can tell any coaxing or training from other bees. Ants apparently are just like this and thus the popularity of the ant farms when I was a kid, a glass housing in which you can watch the ants go about their ordered duties.
I think it is kind of funny that people will accept that something as small as a bee is born with its whole life stamped perfectly inside it, but still debate the nature versus nurtured argument for human beings.
You know that argument. Are you born creative or dull, a bad ass destined for trouble or headed to a bright future, good at sports or bad at it, or gay or straight or left handed or right handed.
I have always been a Calvinist, a firm and total believer in predestination and therefore have no problem accepting that my life is set and I just need to relax and let nature takes its course. I firmly believe Beethoven would have been composing in the womb but he didn't have a piano in there.
Last year I was at a festival and this Free Will Baptist, opposed to everything fun, was handing out pamphlets.
We Presbyterians have a saying: You can always tell a Baptist?.but you can't tell him much.
So it seemed inevitable that we would clash as soon as I said I didn't need his pamphlet because I believed in predestination. The concept appalled him. You mean you wake up in the morning and it is predestined what you will have for breakfast, he asked. I said I didn't have to be told I didn't like liver, I never did, I was born not liking it. And no I had not given much thought to picking out foods or what colors I like in clothing or anything else. I was born left handed and accepted it. I never made a conscious effort to become a journalist but just relaxed after selling newspapers as a kid and it took its course.
So the basic concept is don't get in the way of what is planned, accept it and move on.
It is a hard concept to grasp sometimes and I don't stand on street corners like some Bob Jones juniors handing out leaflets of my believes. Value systems and beliefs are very personal things.
Random thought 1
Recently I had the pleasure of spending two days in downtown McDonough, my first trip. A more pleasant Southern town you will not find. It has its Confederate soldier watching over the square, the great imposing courthouse, big oak trees and little storefronts. Many of Georgia's towns have this same layout and it beckons back to a slower, more genteel time when people had time to stop and chat and had taste and restraint.
Both days I ate at Gritz on the square, a restaurant of plenty of good cooking, large portions, endless ice tea and friendly atmosphere in which all the attractive and vibrant waitresses wear Gritz tee-shirts. I told a friend of mine that it is sort of a Hooters with lard. If you are feeling like life is moving too fast sometimes, drive down to the square in McDonough and enjoy the good life.
Random thought 2
George Bush has concluded that as traumatic as it was for NASCAR fans, they still will not believe that Dale Earnhardt is really dead. They are in total denial. They come to the races still expecting to see him climb into No. 3 and rev it up.
"It is essential that fans get past this and move on," Bush said, being serious and smirking at the same time as he is wont to do.
So the President has ordered that Florida release the autopsy pictures of Earnhardt, cut open and laying on a slab. Forget that his wife didn't want them released or that there was a court battle or that there is such things as humanity and some self-control.
"We have turned a corner in America where we not only CAN do what we damn well please, we WILL do what we damn well please," the president said. "Killing is so much more fun when you can see the bullet-riddled bodies."
Bob Paslay is assistant managing editor of the News Daily and Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.