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Wish I Knew His Name.



My wife and I vacationed recently. HAVE I TOLD YOU HOW MUCH I LOVE VACATION? Sorry, I’m not screaming AT you…just TO you out of excitement. Yesterday, we made it back from a 2-week hiatus at the Florida Gulf Coast and then a couple’s cruise.

Now, let me tell you one story that sticks out most clearly in my mind. You’re reading this thinking…I don’t want to hear about the Caribbean, or, Brian’s encounters with sharks, but I promise this is that “other” experience abroad. Just follow along. It goes like this…

We arrived at Port Canaveral on July 4th (mid-afternoon) to check-in at the Radisson. I stand in-line and await my turn. There’s an Asian American man of medium build wrestling with a couple of youngsters (I assume they are his), and he’s sweating profusely. The attendant helps him check-in, and he departs with the anxious Lilliputians in tow.

I check us into the hotel. We rest. We eat Subway. Nothing too glamorous here. (Are you still with me?)

We awake on July 5th, after having slept a restful, fireworks bombarded night. I check us out of the Radisson. We are shuttled to Port Canaveral and our new home, a big ship.

It’s ginormous, my wife says. It’s magnificent, I say. The embarkation goes smoothly. We set sail at 5pmish EST. We dine at 6pm. The ship is like a city. You forget you’re moving, plowing towards Caribbean-filled air at 21 nautical knots.

Then, I spot the same Asian American man wrestling with two elderly folks at the Schooner Bar on deck 4. Where have the two younger rapscallions gone? I wonder. He’s yapping at the two elderly folks, and I know he’s trying to get to dinner just like we are. It’s a big ship, I tell myself again. Plenty of room to not be disturbed. 15 stories. C’mon. Maybe I should just introduce myself and make it less weird? I don’t, but move into the dining hall and feast on salmon.

Day 2–a day at sea.

We lounge on the top deck, my wife and I. I plant my face in a waterfall of cascading agua and threaten to not remove my head until we arrive in Haiti. Leah humors me, says “You’ll drown.”

Again, I see the man with the two young kids sitting across from us on the 11th floor, the sunbathing deck. Here, I also see the two elderly folks with him. At the Solarium bar, I see him order a drink. Still, it’s gone too far for introductions. I chalk it up as “we just happen to travel in the same circles” and laugh it off.

Have you ever wondered how you and someone else could literally travel in the same circles? Even at sea on a boat that’s colossal in size?

Day 3–Labadee, Haiti. We dock. We swim on a beach. The same Asian American man walks in front of our chairs 7-10 times in the course of our 2 hours there. I kid you not!

Day 4–Falmouth, Jamaica. We dock. Leah shops. I shop. We board the boat quickly. Jamaica isn’t a place to linger, unless you have a shore excursion. (I do not see the man, the kids, or the grandparents, I assume are his.)

Day 5–Cozumel, Mexico. We dock. The family leaves the ship right in front of us. We see them in the shops. I spot them walking past Carl’s Jr. (Yes, that’s the same franchise as Hardee’s, but with a different name. And, yes. There’s a random one in Mexico. And, yes again. They do serve the Loaded Omelet Biscuit in Mexico as well.) Leah says innocently, “Where have we seen them before?”

I remain silent. Shocked that this phenomenon has happened and equally so that no one else is noticing it but me. Does God want me to talk to this man or what? Wow!

Then, Day 6–day at sea. We see him, his family. It’s gone too far to strike up a conversation at this point. On a ship with 3,000+ guests there’s no way to fathom how I’d strike up a conversation at this point without seeming touched. It would go something like, “So, I’ve seen you. I know, you’ve seen me. Where are you from?”

And silence would follow. He just wants to enjoy his vacation. I’m enjoying mine, I say to myself. Just let sleeping dogs lie.

Day 7 arrives–sadly. The debarkation. We are one of the few EARLY ones that choose to lug our bags off before the maddening crowd awakes. I spot a trio of dolphins in Port Canaveral. Leah says, “There must be a lot of fish nearby.” I agree. Then, the same man with his family marches past me in the line, and he’s sweating again. The kids are a bit calmer at 6:30am–maybe just grumpy now. The grandparents are stoically staring out at the sea. The soon-forgotten trip is in everyone’s mind.

But, I don’t forget anything yet, because we are suddenly shuttled back to the Radisson parking lot. Leah offers to drive, and we take a different road northwest towards Chattanooga. This one offers countless toll roads. We stop 5+ times and shell out the extravagant payments that keep Florida highways looking so pristine. We try to make it around Disney, Orlando, the mice infestation. We succeed. And, when we’ve finally struck highways with numbers we recognize, Leah exhales and decides to stop at a Dunkin Donuts. When we exit, I run to the restroom like one of those mad children from earlier. Leah follows behind me. The ladies room is unoccupied. We recognize a sign on the men’s room which reads “Please knock before entering…Door doesn’t lock!” She laughs at me and ducks into the women’s room. I hesitantly knock on the door, where the wood is off-colored, because so many other fists have knocked before. I wait. No answer. I call out, “Anybody in there?” Nothing. So, I throw open the door and…

Who do you think should be squatting there?

Yep. You guessed it! The same man from our previous jaunt across the southwestern Caribbean. The same man of 9 days previously! The two wild children were in the lobby with the grandparents, I guessed. It was just he and I. I said, “Oh, I’m ssss-so–ssorry!” and slammed the door shut on his bewildered face.

He mumbled, “Aaaaghhh!” and tried to block his face from view. I shut the door so quickly, his face hadn’t registered with me yet. I was too focused on the embarrassment from seeing another grown man indisposed. But, the seconds ticked by as the door remained closed. I heard a flush. I thought about the previous 9 days.

“No way?!” I mutter under my breath, stifling a laugh.

A lady behind me says, “Don’t you just wish you could just clear those images from your head?”

She was really funny. We both cracked up, but I tried to keep my voice down, because he was literally on the other side of the door. My doppelganger of sorts. We traveled the exact same circles and now we were in a random Dunkin bathroom in southern Georgia at 10am or so after all of our time together…and I still didn’t know his name.

He exited and laughed nervously with us.

I said, “I’m sorry about that.”

He waves it off with a smile, says, “The sign clearly reads that the lock doesn’t work. It’s not your fault. It’s no one’s fault,” and he laughs again.

I think I should say, “Hey. I know you from somewhere,” but I know it’ll open a can of awkward worms. Over a week’s worth.

He doesn’t admit our connection either, but marches to the front, orders, and collects his family.

What if we lived in the same exact city and didn’t know it? Pretty odd, huh? How many people have the same circles and just don’t know it? Maybe it takes a 9-day voyage to realize it? I still don’t know his or his family’s name. But, I imagine they live right here in southeastern TN alongside me.

We made it back to our apartment last night, and I still have an odd mix of vertigo and disorientation going on inside my head. The realization that this man and I were so similar is unnerving. He’s out there, and he’s busy. I can only imagine that if we ever have children, and we go on another trip like this, and my folks come with us, I’ll be sweating and running around exactly like he was.

I just hope I’m not trying to use a Dunkin Donuts’ bathroom without a lock and laughing off the intruders as they enter my brief bit of solitude.

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Best Road Trip Ever!


Think of your favorite road trip.

Do you have yours?

What’s the best *spontaneous* trip you’ve ever taken?

Not a vacation. Not a pre-set engagement. Just a “get-in-the-car-and-go” moment.

Mine happened in the Spring 2007. March. (I remember, because it was 2 months before I got engaged to my beautiful wife.)


My buddy, JT says: “We should go somewhere.”

My pal, Danielle confirms, “Somewhere with a beach.”

This was the extent of our plan.

1._ We should go somewhere. & 2._ We should find a beach.


So, we embarked South on I-65. No beach criteria other than it’s warmer than Kentucky, in March, and there were some good times ahead.

Pedal down.


JT’s Mercury Sable shook intermittently, as we drove sometimes above and sometimes below the speed limit.

We made the coast in record time.

What coast? Gulf.

What beach? We’d thought Gulf Shores, but discovered Orange Beach was, in fact, this one.

We were ecstatic to hit water!

The skies were dreary, but our moods wouldn’t be controlled by some foul weather.


We RAN to the water. Our plan looked to be a success. We figured 3-4 days at non-Gulf Shores would be just the trick for our poor, post-Winter, pre-Spring blues.

The skies…did I mention they were dark? Well, they were.

The water was FRIGID!

I remember Danielle had a really awesome camera. She thought JT & I were crazy for risking our necks in barely above freezing water.

Not only was the water almost frozen, but the coastline was empty. It was JUST us. The 3 amigos. (Adam and Lindsey had been too cool to join us in no-man’s land, this time.)

The coast looked like the set from the Cormac McCarthy novel-to-movie adaptation of “The Road.” There was nothing but rough waves, and we yelled to try to hear one another.

JT did something I’d never seen him do. He swam farther out…(Jo Carol, if you’re reading this, please know that I would’ve done my best to save him, had he drowned.)

Yes. JT, the doctor, swam farther out to sea in 40 degree-Farenheit water. I did the only thing a best friend should do: I followed. Plus, I had an ego the size of Texas and had been growing a Jesus beard and couldn’t be out-done. So, out we went.

Danielle snapped pictures and watched from an ever-increasing distance. Our ill-planned trip was all right, if you didn’t count the hypothermia, and “water-so-cold-it-burned” component. But…

The waves pulled us out farther. JT didn’t seem to mind. I noticed the swift current and started to resist. (Again, my Texan complex should not go unnoticed.) Well, the waves were winning, and I couldn’t just LET them. So, I resisted.

JT seemed to wait for the waves to crest at just the right moments and eventually, he decided to “tuck-tail-and-surf” back into the mainland. I tried to follow, but the rip current caught me and pulled me out farther. The timing was off. I was only about 3 feet behind JT, but it resulted in a constant drag outward to sea. I fought mother nature, and she won. I was so tired, I started to think I wasn’t going to make it back. I began to think “Great. I don’t think I even told Mom where I was going,” and started to panic at the turbulence.

When I looked up and saw JT almost back to Danielle on the beach, I decided I couldn’t let THIS be the end (ego rejoined). This was life or death. Orange Beach couldn’t be the end.

I swam as hard as I could with each swell, and even kicked through the rip currents, until finally I was pushed onto shore with a burst that drove me into sand. JT and Dani looked down and hadn’t noticed how much I’d worked to not die. They hadn’t been able to see my panic. (Truth be told: it’s the closest…2nd closest…I’ve ever come to dying.)

But, we survived our first rendezvous with Spring Break.


Fast forward to dinner that evening. (We’d placed our bags in some hotel that had availability. Actually they all had availability. Apparently, Gulf Shores, Panama City, and Pensacola were the Spring Break hot spots. Not Orange Beach. So lodging had been no problem.) At dinner, we found a nice seafood restaurant and JT ordered gumbo.

I remember the gumbo, because Danielle and I had commented on New Orleans and made small talk with the waitress. She’d gone on to tell us that Orange Beach wasn’t usually too popular during this time of the year. We added bits and pieces to the conversation about where we were from (small-town USA, Kentucky). She admitted that Kentucky was a place she’d always wanted to visit. The rain kept falling HARD against the metal roof of this establishment.

Her comment about this not being a touristy destination didn’t register right away with us.

Danielle had said, “With this being so close to Gulf Shores, AL, I figured there’d be more people over here.”

The girl had re-filled our waters and nodded. “You’d think that, but I meant because of the storms, and the weather.”

“It’s March.” JT added, “You’d think it’s kinda understood that bad weather happens.”

The girl nodded again. “Of course. It rains a ton. Thunderstorms when there’s not hurricanes. But, I didn’t mean just the weather. I meant what the weather brings with it…” she trailed off.

We just stared at her. Waited for her to continue.

“The sharks,” she said matter-of-factly.

None of us spoke. JT finally piped up, “Sharks? C’mon.”

“Seriously. The bull sharks. They come up close during these thunderstorms and feed close to the shoreline.”

Danielle looked at me. “But, they’re not that dangerous are they?”

The waitress went on, “Only the most. They’ve attacked a few people just a few weeks back. That’s why they’ve asked people to stay away from the water. Until…it clears up anyways.”

JT swalled a big gulp of now colder gumbo.

“You’d have to be insane to be out there in the water. If the waves didn’t get you, the sharks would.”

“That’s why the beach was empty,” I said out loud. “That makes sense,” I tried to laugh, now in a cold sweat.

“You all weren’t in it were you?” she asked.

JT shook his head yes and told her we had.

She called us N-U-T-S and told us we were lucky to be alive.


The remainder of that impromptu road trip was spent watching it rain, singing random songs the 3 of us knew, and playing frisbee against some tropical winds.

Safe to say, none of us swam the rest of that trip. We were alone on a beach without any traffic, any commitments, and plenty of bull sharks watching us.

JT looked for the fins poking out of the water. I worked on my Jesus beard. Danielle (camera amateur-turned-pro) took phenomenal pictures of the storms raging power.

It was a road trip unlike any I’ve ever had. Do I miss Orange Beach? Not at all. But, would I delete that memory and the dangerous elements of that trip? Not in a million years.

It was a season I’ll not soon forget. Thank you for the adventurous camaraderie guys!

Share your story today!

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Hat Fetish.

I have an obsession with hats.

See Figure 1 below for proper em-phasis (on the right syl-lable).


Call it temporary, and I’ll show you a progression. This is compliments of Facebook and its record-keeping self. (Scary, I know.)

2004: (80s party)


2005: (Halloween shindig with JT and Adam at Campbellsville University)


2006: (Residence life at UK and Burger King at 2, 3, or 4 am)

1910092_518873466380_2775_n and 1927681_518631561160_1863_n

2007: (Pool table at Casa de Silvers)


2008: (Honeymoon on the open seas and dry land and Illinois with the Mrs.)

1909712_582937671200_9580_n and 1909712_582935061430_652_n and 1929655_521086905824_118_n

2009: (Halloween in Monticello at the Pyles’ residence)


2010: (Mexico and Ohio)

35405_698516136312_5751690_n and 625672_10100838105267250_2097907668_n

2011: (Mexico again)


2012: (Gun range with sister-in-law and Florida and Kentucky)

317564_10100347720681890_390089136_n and 391541_10100838067492950_1127156725_n and 394869_10100471228291650_1548253637_n

2013 – Present:

Is, of course, still being written. The lesson learned from the above images?

I have entirely too many hats and…have worn them all to the best of my ability.

I’d like to thank Facebook for this field study in accessorizing. (Maybe the first one ever completed via social media.)

It has helped me learn 2 very important lessons:

1.) All hats are not created equal

2.) There’s a right time and a wrong time to wear a straw hat. There’s NEVER a wrong time to break out the Viking helmet. EVER.

*The Viking helmet shown above was worn during the Writer’s Residency in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. However, it was also a helmet worn during the cruise of January 2009 and was a great conversation starter.

**The golfer hat above was worn during New Year’s celebrations with friends in Lexington, KY.


Do you have a hat that you wear almost every day of the week? What makes this the “go-to” hat?

I know I write this with light-heartedness and humor, but I really do look back fondly on all of these silly excursions and appreciate the times shared with good friends.

May you find any (and all) opportunities possible in 2015 to be yourself and celebrate the “less formal” arenas of your life.

God bless!