Life of Hardin in Paraguay

Laugh as you travel through life with Josh Hardin.

Location: Spring Hill, TN, United States

Josh Hardin began writing in high school and published his first novel when he was twenty-two. He won an EPPIE award for his mystery novel "The Pride of Peacock." His non-fiction work includes "The Prayer of Faith", a book aimed at making personal prayers both powerful and effective. He has traveled widely and taught a summer philosophy course at the International University in Vienna. Hardin grew up in Tennessee and moved to Paraguay in 2006. He moved back to Tennessee in 2008.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Life of Hardin Vol. VI, No. 5

Blessing or a Curse?

It is a fine line between precious natural resource and a plague on mankind. Many of the most lovely, the most useful, the most uncommon, the most sought-after commodities become a scourge and a curse for that very reason. Men want them, and will do almost anything to get them. Take gold, for instance. Now at a record high of $1,100 an ounce. On seeing this, normal, calm, rational men transform into raving, wild-eyed, blood-thirsty, gold-feverish lunatics who will kill for just the touch of a nugget. Many a man has spilt his blood and that of his fellow man for gold.

Take another such naturally occurring substance: curly hair. Apply to it the same questions. Precious and sought-after natural resource? Or bane of man’s existence? As with many things, it depends on who asks, and how they look at it.

For young and dapper gentlemen between the ages of ten and seventeen, it is most certainly a bane. It refuses to be tamed, refuses to lie down, refuses to simply not call attention to itself at a time when boys just begin to realize that girls are paying attention to them and wish they wouldn’t if it means noticing that shock of wooly overgrowth that springs wild from their scalps. And so the only viable option is a process known as “scalping,” a drastic but necessary measure.

Once a young man reaches a more mature age, where the girls have a suitably more mature viewpoint on the matter, naturally curly hair is possibly the most valuable asset a man-about-town can have. It needs neither comb nor brush, and at the proper length takes less than two minutes of preparation. It knows what to do and does it; and no matter what it does (so it appears) it becomes an irresistible attractant to the opposite sex. This is partly due to the fact that all girls want naturally curly hair and spend hours fixing it to look right if they have it, and hours making it look like they have it if they don’t, and partly (and more importantly) due to the fact that it just looks this good and any guy man enough to wear it must be some kind of dude. The result is that they can’t keep their hands out of it.

HOWEVER (!), this effect does not wear off. As long as the hair is curly, it will attract women of any age with irresistible force. No matter if she is two or ninety-two, the female must and will run her hands through it. This is fine and lovely, up until the point that said curly-topped male has his own wife. Then his curly hair is worse than dynamite. She (his wife) has access; but be aware, young man, that others (not his wife) will without fail attempt to gain a touch of the now forbidden fruit. This is not all their fault. It is a reflex, an instinct, a hard-wired response too strong too resist. Allow this at your own peril!

A not-isolated example: A woman of experienced years (her hair was white and permed) spoke to me one day. “Oh, your hair is just so pretty.” And her hand, of its own accord, reached out to tousle it.

I replied: “Yes, but I have hardest time keeping girls’ hands out of it.”

Her hand snapped back to her side and continued to twitch, as though it were an effort to control it. Yet I had saved her (and myself) from the dangers of a jealous wife.

And so I put it to you. Naturally curly hair. Precious and sought-after natural resource? Or bane of man’s existence?

Who says it can’t be both?

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Life of Hardin Vol. VI, No. 4

Safe Halloween Tips

As this paper’s circulation expands and its number of readers increases, it also receives more and more letters to the editor. A small number of these are in the manner of adoring fans; a larger number are from readers offering not-so-adoring constructive criticisms (who are entitled to their opinions since, at the moment, we still allow freedom of speech in this county) that the Editors certainly appreciate and would appreciate even more if they would keep them to themselves; and then there is the tiny number who write in to seek wise counsel. This last section has grown to the point where the Editors feel it is their duty to address the needs of the public, and have thus hired an advice columnist to answer the questions of a thoughtful populace.

Our new columnist is Mr. Ray Clapp. He is a retired freelance plumber with over thirty years experience dealing with people. Here, in his first installment, Mr. Clapp will address a letter that could not be more timely. (The opinions of Mr. Clapp are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of this paper.)


by Ray Clapp

Dear Ray:

I am the mother of a six year old and a four year old. I don’t like Halloween and have put off taking them trick-or-treating. They have begged and begged and so my husband and I are going to take them this year, but I am very concerned. What do I need to do to keep them safe?

Harrowed Halloween Mom

Well, Mom, I don’t know why you’ve waited so long let the kids out on Halloween. Other than Christmas, Halloween is the highlight of a kid’s year, what with the candy and all, and honestly I’d say keeping them in is pretty close to mental abuse. But anyway, I’m glad you’re sending them this year, so here are a few common sense tips to make Halloween enjoyable.

  • Be sure to send a cell phone with them. Modern technology makes Halloween safer than ever.
  • Give them a curfew. You’ll probably say nine, Mom, but I’d give them until ten. Halloween only comes once a year, after all.
  • Don’t dress them in dumb ghost costumes. Nobody likes them, and they may trip on them if they have to run after pulling a “trick” because somebody didn’t give them any candy but gave them a dang penny or toothbrush instead.
  • Speaking of “tricks,” be sure and send some t.p. and eggs with them if necessary. They probably won’t need them, because most people like to give out candy, but you never know.
  • Also, if they wear something black and not too baggy, like those skeleton suits or maybe even some type of pirate outfit, they can run faster 1) away from houses without being seen and 2) to get out of the way of cars without tripping.
  • Send some type of weapon with them in case they meet a weirdo. With so many kids around, most goofballs will stay away, but you never know when one might be brave. I recommend something from around the house and easy to handle, like a pipe wrench.
  • Be sure to check their candy when they get home. Your kids are first-timers, so they don’t know about the nasty orange-and-black peanut butter cheap-o candy some people give out. There might be something said for letting them make their own mistakes on this, but I’d just as soon save them the trouble. Weed out the crap.

Above all, Mom. Don’t worry and don’t baby them. Halloween comes natural to kids, so just let them use their common sense and they’ll be fine and you’ll have a happy Halloween for the whole family. Just don’t eat their candy when they get home.

Ray Clapp

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Life of Hardin Vol. VI, No. 3

Something New

The human animal astonishes all those who gaze upon it; and his need always for something new is one of those little eccentricities which make people look at each other (or themselves) and scratch their heads. What is this fascination with having something new?

Marketing gurus understand this urge. At the least, if they don’t understand it, they know how to manipulate it. They put the fancy new products right in the aisles of Wal-Mart and Target, where you can’t help but walk over them. They know that if they have the new line of blenders, of juicers, of automatic coffee makers, off to the side in their proper place, they won’t get noticed and no one will buy them unless they actually need one and go looking.

BUT! . . . But if they dangle them out in front, make you trip right over them, you realize, “I need that new Cuisinart. I am sick and tired of that old one; pushing its old, boring buttons; plugging in its old sticky cord that has six year’s worth of chocolate syrup and peanut butter residue gummed up on it. I need a new one!”

It often does not matter what that new thing is. We get excited anyway, so long as it is new. On Christmas morning, at birthdays, at weddings, we open presents, we complain when we get socks or ties or garlic presses--but we’re still happy that we got something. We opened something new! It was better than opening nothing at all!

Just the other day, I ran out of toothpaste. So I bought two more tubes, on sale for a dollar each (new is even better on sale). When I got home I put them next to the old, almost empty tube. The next morning faced me with one of the most difficult dilemmas of my life. I had this old, worn-out, squeezed down, beat up, crinkly, tube of toothpaste; and this wonderful, shiny, full, smooth, tube of new toothpaste. Joy of joys! Something new! But I still had the old. I stood with the old tube in my left hand, the new tube in my right hand, and faced myself in the mirror. I don’t want this old beat up tube. I want this new tube. It’s New! Eventually my miserliness won out, and I squeezed two more day’s worth of brushing from the old tube. But it was difficult.

Sale papers recognize this phenomenon. Never am I so happy in life as when I miss a Sunday paper and forget that “something I don’t know about but absolutely need” might be on sale today. When I happen to see the paper, I can’t help but pore over the ads. How pitiful I am once I have seen all the new things of which I was unaware, but thence having seen, must have but cannot afford.

Last Sunday my wife carelessly left a JoAnn’s circular on the table. You might as well leave out a loaded gun. My eyes could not turn away. Just look! NEW: Straw Bale or Indian Corn, 9.99 each. My choice! NEW: Cinnamon-Scented Pine Cones. Take me away! NEW: Floss Bobbins. What is it? I don’t know! But I must have it now. NEW: Gaudy purse handle things! Of course I’ll need a new purse to go them. And finally, fifty percent off a NEW Clay Conditioning Machine. Add textures to clay, soft metal sheets, and some design paper. I have not yet lived!

There should be a Betty Ford Clinic for this sort of thing, but there wouldn’t be enough rooms, and everyone would check out once the newness wore off.

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