Tag Archives: comedy

Oh Captain, My Captain!


Scene of the crime. Note the harmless looking buoy that mischievously refused to be hooked up at ride’s end.

He never aspired to greatness when it came to navigating bodies of water. Salt-laden or spring fed, large or small, Atlantic Ocean or Plymouth pond, it didn’t matter. He knew his place in the world, and it was not in a vessel afloat on water wearing the captain’s mantle. His destiny was that of a passenger or crew member. His comfort lay in never making decisions that affected the well being of a boat or the safety of its passengers.

And now, at the tender age of 69, he suffered a temporary loss of self-awareness that saw him purchase an inflatable boat so small as to be unfit for carrying more than three slim and motionless passengers at the same time. Though if they weren’t so difficult to bring on board, he would have preferred his passengers to be comatose, which guaranteed their weight would never shift. But then again, he correctly figured, the inflatable dinghy had little room to cater to the needs of supine or prostrate passengers.

And so, on a recent morning, he boarded his craft and set out by himself to voyage on a nearby pond where the craft was moored.

How easy to blithely declare “he boarded his craft and set out by himself to voyage on a nearby pond.” Much easier, it turns out, than it actually was to board his craft or voyage on the pond. For one thing (and remember we are speaking about a 69 year old sailor) our brave adventurer had considerable difficulty jumping into the boat at the depth it was moored.

The only rock  visible on the 62 acre pond. Can you sense it's magnetic pull?

The only rock visible on the 62 acre pond. Can you sense it’s magnetic pull?

Before he could board his craft, after numerous attempts, he needed to guide it into shallower depths where he could essentially step into the boat one foot at a time. Fortunately, the electric motor allowed for such shallow depths, its shaft and propeller easily pivoting out of the water. Once, of course, he finally remembered to release the catch. This the same valiant motor, which had lately survived an ignominious submersion when the inflatable boat had flipped upside down in unusually blustery, if not hostile, winds.

Clearly, to those with eyes to see, casual boating was not for the faint of heart or those fully ripened in their years.

And did I mention the wind?

Yes, there was a wind blowing this fateful morning. A strong wind that created a current he could see rippling across the surface of the pond. A wind so strong, he quickly surmised, that his modest motor could not easily steer the flat-bottomed, lightweight boat in any direction that resisted the wind’s steady resolve. And so after a brief excursion to the center of the pond our venerable skipper decided to cut his voyage short.



As if to prove the danger inherent on the water, and the wisdom in his decision to cut and run, our captain entangled the motor’s propeller in an errant coil of rope—“IT’S NOT ROPE, IT’S CALLED LINE,” his wife, who grew up on boats, repeatedly told him—and found himself magnetically drawn to the three hazards that surrounded his cottage’s shoreline.

First, he ran over a giant branch whose spindly grasping limbs reached out from the water like witches’ fingers issuing a stern warning. A warning he was unfortunately unable to heed, much as he and his fouled, struggling motor would try.

Next, after safely untangling the propeller and feeling newly invigorated, he and his boat were inexorably drawn into the rough facing of the only rock that stands above the surface in the entire expanse of the pond’s 62 acres.

Lastly, as if to end his voyage on a note of poetic irony, he was swept into, and half across, the buoy whose mooring line he was desperately reaching for.

The day before he had taken his 5-year old granddaughter for a boat ride without noticeable wind or incident except, as he explained to her mother, “I have trouble parking,” which he proceeded to prove at journey’s end by ingloriously falling out of the boat. This day was no different as he attempted to dismount the boat and ultimately found himself falling head-first into the shallow depths and struggling once again to regain his footing. Almost immediately, as he surfaced, he realized the boat’s electric motor was still engaged, or had re-engaged by accident, and quickly and energetically—for a man his age—chased the boat down and turned off the motor.

No applause, please!

And so we leave our stalwart senior once again on land and once again shivering in his wetness in the wind. Nothing seriously hurt except perhaps his vanity. In the last few weeks he has spent more time in these pond waters than he had the six previous summers. First there was the mooring that had to be set up; the knots that had to be tied and re-tied. Then the rains came, sending him out twice in two days. First to rescue the battery that was dangerously close to having its plastic case breached by the accumulating rain water. Second, to bail out the rain water. Next, he had to go in to rescue his overturned boat and motor. Then lastly, once again into the water to restore the boat to its mooring.

Now, it bobs gently on the water, pretending to be easily boarded and safely steered wherever whim or whimsy might take it. And maybe someday he’ll believe that’s true.

But for now, it seems truer that—to quote the poet—“Home is the sailor, home from the sea.” To which I would only add…

“And the clumsy captain free from his pond.”













“I Am A Rock”, (How To Train A Rock, Part 3)

Dear Paul Steven Stone:

 I have been reading with great interest your articles on how to train rocks, and especially enjoyed your insights into the complexities of our inner workings (yes, I am a rock myself). Unfortunately, most of what you say is very silly and far from true. More like supermarket tabloid trash than hard rock reality.

graystonePaul Steven, I don’t believe you could recognize a real rock if you tripped over one in your kitchen.

In any case, the time for sitting back in stoic silence has passed. As a tribal elder, I have been asked to write and clarify  a few basic truths about rocks.

And, yes, to offer you a friendly warning.

For millions of years we rocks have lived our lives in quiet harmony with nature and its creatures, with the exception of one particularly troublesome species. I refer, of course, to you humans who can’t seem to live in harmony with anyone or anything except your own hubris and unquenchable appetites.

Many centuries ago, it was decided by the Council of Rock Elders that we rocks would conceal our highly evolved spiritual and intellectual development from your species until such time as you were able to relate to us as equals. Since it will take at least another millennium before human beings can evolve to even the lowest of rock levels, and since you persist in writing about us as if we were semi-conscious, emotionally volatile household pets, the time has come for rocks – humbly represented by myself – to step out of the closet.

To begin with, and forgive me if I appear immodest, but rocks are actually the most consciously and spiritually advanced creatures in the universe. I’m sure even you, Paul Steven, must have heard about The Big Bang; that cosmic explosion some billions of years ago that hurled matter in all directions and created the universe? But did you ever ask yourself what it was that actually exploded on that momentous day?

(With my extra-sensory perception I sense an answer already forming in your mind.)

Yes, Paul Steven, it was a rock! One giant, inconceivably humungous rock. The first inhabitant of our universe and Great Great Granddaddy to the entire worldwide family of present-day rocks.

Interestingly enough, that first colossal rock was originally called “God” until your species took up the term and used it as an excuse for heaping indignities and abuse upon each other. You can be certain rocks never kill each other, or fan the fires of hatred and intolerance, in service to our God. Occasionally, no doubt, someone gets hit in the head by a rock, but that’s usually a function of the natural laws governing moving bodies rather than messianic fervor or religious intolerance.

If I were your God and saw the way everyone behaved in My name, I’d sue you all for defamation of character.

As for all your innuendoes about our being dense and dumb, suffice it to say we rocks are deeply connected to our inner selves, which is why we sometimes appear heavy or immovable or, perhaps even “stuck” to imperceptive mutton heads such as yourself. No matter how we appear, however, the truth is you do not know us. You do not know what gentle, kind spirits we can be, even though time and again we have proven our innate rigidity and toughness. You do not know that we live our lives without envy, greed or acquisitiveness. Or that riches bore us as much as fancy attire or faddish styles.

You also don’t realize that once we were the rulers of this beautiful and fragile planet, but in our humility stepped back to allow others their chance at the wheel.

Paul Steven, I am a rock. Unadorned and unashamed. As we used to say back in the quarry, take me as I am or toss me at a ham.

And another thing . . . you write that rocks are quiet creatures, often silent because we have little or nothing to say. Another patently false assumption based on your species’ inability to hear the high-pitched frequency at which rocks normally speak. Once again, it is your failings that cause you to infer our deficiencies. Were you able to hear rocks speak, you would not believe the high level of our discourse.

From time to time, when we wish to purposely inject elevating rock influences into the human zeitgeist – say through philosophy or literature — we employ human savants, secretly tutored by rocks, as vehicles for our messages.

With whom did you think Plato was actually conducting his dialogues? And the Immortal Bard? The truth is, without the assistance of his Rock Muses, Shakespeare wouldn’t have been able to come up with a rhyme for spoon in the month of June!

But now we are traveling through worrisome times, Paul Steven, both rocks and humans together. Evil energies have been set loose by the collective madness of your pitiful race and if they are not soon put in check they will destroy all that we rocks have striven to create and preserve.

That is why I have been asked to write this letter. As a friendly warning that we rocks will once again resume management of Earth’s planetary affairs if you humans aren’t up to the task.

This is not a threat by some hostile alien force, Paul Steven.

 This is a promise from the rocks of the world.

Either clean up your act, or take the next train out of town.

Don’t make us play hardball, Paul Steven.

You could get hit by a rock.


Sincerely yours,

Graystone Of The Back Garden


This was the third in my rock trilogy of essays detailing “How To Train A Rock,” which coincidentally is also the name of my story and essay collection. To read the first essay in the trilogy, go to here; you’ll find the second essay here.. For more information about “How To Train A Rock,” go to Amazon or my web site.




How To Train A Rock

The first thing one notices about rocks is they are essentially quiet creatures. Adverse to long discourses or extended bouts of conversation, they nevertheless are quite engaged in life.train rock Constantly pondering the deepest and densest of life’s mysteries, thereby distracted to an apparent state of inertia, they are thought to be dull companions and highly unsuited to racquet sports or most other forms of physical activity.

Here at the Stone International Rock Training Institute we have discovered, and proven, I believe, that rocks are far more capable and sentient than we humans generally believe. In fact, it’s the rocks’ very ability to conceal their considerable capabilities from the general population that underscores the scope of their hidden powers.

So, what to expect when you bring home one of these seemingly inanimate creatures as a pet?

Expect love. Lots of love. Pound for pound, there isn’t a more loving, open-hearted creature than a rock, though they can be fickle at times. Until recently it was thought rocks heated up in the sun because of the sun’s rays. After much research, we now know their rising temperatures are psycho-romantic reactions. Rocks tenderly exhibiting warm feelings for their cousin, the Sun. Similar to the way their temperatures will flare-up when they’re with their masters. Unfortunately, such displays of affection often go unnoticed, leading to a deep-seated fear of rejection and humiliation in most mature rocks.

As unfortunate as that may sound, this fear of rejection will prove an important tool in helping you train a rock of your own. A simple example will prove the point.

Let us pretend we are training a rock to keep us company while watching TV in the evenings. Right off, most of us would make the mistake of placing the rock on a nearby chair or perhaps on the TV itself.

Ask yourself, could you watch TV if you were sitting on top of the TV? Of course you couldn’t. And neither could a rock.

As for the chair, it demoralizes the intimacy-starved rock to be placed so far away from you. It derails the very trust and intimacy you were seeking to instill. Far better to place your rock on a nearby coffee table at the beginning of the training cycle. The idea being, of course, to gradually inch the rock closer to you on successive evenings. By tantalizing the trainee rock with your increasing proximity, you enflame its desire for closeness, and will soon find not only a docile rock sitting on your lap, but a companionable one as well.rock drill

The majority of rocks that visit the Stone International Rock Training Institute come here for our “Good Companions” curriculum, which trains rocks for companionable relationships with all types of masters except toddlers, who need to be first trained not to eat rocks or stick them in their playmates’ eyes. We also offer a curriculum focused on “Security” for rocks being channeled into careers as Watchrocks or, possibly, projectiles.

Training a rock requires, well, rocklike patience. Much like human beings, rocks form impressions and psychological patterns in their early years that help shape their entire lives going forward. These impressionable “teen” rocks should be treated with great care and with great tolerance for their periodic mood swings and narcissistic bingeing. Should you discover you’re in possession of a teen rock rather than a mature one, don’t expect to win its trust anytime soon.

Unfortunately, we won’t have time this week to discuss “strays”, the wild, untamable rocks you find scattered most everywhere. Suffice it to say, many of the wild stories one hears about these highly independent rocks are true. They are unstable creatures to say the least. Unfriendly, sharply cunning and not very trustworthy. I would not want a stray rock living in my home, not even with my children fully grown and out of the house.

More about strays later on. For now, I’ll close this week’s “A Rock’s Throw” by inviting you, as always, to send me your questions about rocks and their proper training. Again, I must sternly request you do NOT send me the rocks themselves. And whoever threw that rock through the Institute’s lab window yesterday, I should warn you your rock has already conveyed your vital information to the police who are now on their way.

I forgot to mention, rocks are notoriously disloyal.


With the world growing ever more chaotic and worrisome, I felt the need to share a laugh or two. This essay is the first of a trilogy (humorous I hope) from my collection, “How To Train A Rock.”