Carroll Dale Short

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Winter Can Be Rough on the Feelings

By Dale Short

(This column was originally featured in the Daily Mountain Eagle [Jasper, Alabama] on March 15, 1981.)

It's been a rough winter, as winters almost always are.

Not “rough” as in particularly cold; we got off fairly lucky in that regard.

I mean rough on people's feelings. There's something about bare trees and gray sky that seems to worsen problems we might just grin and bear, otherwise, in some softer season.

The proof of the damage is in a small classified ad paper I picked up in Birmingham this week—even if you do have to read between the lines for the bad news.

On the front page alone are four sets of wedding dresses and wedding rings whose owners are willing to unload them at a very low price. Apparently they've rethought their intended spring weddings.

And there are other ads, by the dozen, that raise more questions than they answer. They're interesting reading.

Even though the scenario isn't as obvious as the unneeded wedding gear, you begin to suspect that they're the untold versions of a lot of dreams and plans that managed to bite the dust, during the dreariness of February.

Such as a wheelchair, a walker, and a hospital bed, all for sale by the same family. You'd like to believe that a miraculous recovery took place, but reality tells us that there's probably a less happy reason.

There's a five-string banjo somebody will take $75 for. If the seller's fingers operate like mine do when they encounter a stringed instrument, the lucky buyer will probably discover that the banjo is little-used.

Somebody else is selling eight brand-new filing cabinets and a business telephone system. It's possible the business outgrew its equipment overnight, but it's a lot more likely that the good folks couldn't bring enough dollars through the door after the Christmas shopping season was over, and had to fold.

Or maybe they just noticed the ad that promises you can make $100,000 a year betting on the horses with a simple system, which can be yours for less than $20. And here I sit in an office, working for a living.

There's also an ad placed by a psychic who promises to help you at a reasonable rate if you're having problems, but adds the disclaimer that “all help comes from God.” (Whether God gets a cut of the prophet's profits, he/she doesn't say.)

There's an ad offering a “pre-recorded Bible message” that it promises will brighten my day. The message turns out to be about Paul and the Galatians, which is usually second only to the Corinthians in my assessment of Paul's greatest hits.

But the preacher veers into the relationship of a good conscience to actual, verifiable godliness, and apparently he's convinced that the two qualities don't bear any relationship whatsoever. His point keeps getting more and more complicated, until he jumps off into the Old Testament to quote scripture that reinforces his opinion, and I get irritated and lose my train of thought somewhere along the way.

At the end, the taped preacher invites me to leave my name and number if I have any questions. But I decide to pass.

As near as it is to springtime, I think I can just tough it out from here.

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