The Sheople


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    The Sheople have spoken, The Sheople rejoice! The Sheople are flocking round their orange maned choice! Tiny little titmouse who thinks he’s a man; Lion longs for old days of feudalism.

     Behold, mangy predator with excess of pride, whose very motto is, “Fuck you! I got mine!” His law of the jungle is be biggest prick; hard to be good ruler tripping over your dick. A lion in winter, a lion in spring; this lion’s no Aslan and great discord brings! Lion speaks of greatness and prosperity? Lion longs to rule thru personal loyalty. Lion who was reared from a tiny cub that grabbing all the marbles shows great righteousness is now head of our nation, placed there by sheople, who chose a robber baron and decency snubbed.

     The Sheople have spoken, The Sheople rejoice! The Sheople are flocking round their orange maned choice! The Sheople bought into draining D.C. swamp, their uncivil engineer may as well be Bane.

     This lion who pledged to desiccate wet lands instead goes on tweet storms early in a.m. Disdainful admonishments of petulant child? With smoke screen of deceit, he’ll make us great again. Lion’s a master at conquer and divide, pits one group ‘gainst another; promises belies. To uphold Constitution was his sacred vow but lion he can’t even alt-right disavow. Lion loves his Russians and they love him too. Kremlin backed our Donald to rule red white and blue. James Comey was a watchdog lion longed to spay; Donny just screams, “Fake news!” to make story go away.

     The Sheople have spoken, The Sheople rejoice! The Sheople are flocking round their orange maned choice! The Sheople ripe for fleecing gave lion his shears; viewing country’s madness is driving me to tears.

     Off tip of Manhattan Statue of Liberty, with promise of hope to those yearning to breathe free. Huddled masses, wretched refuse, lion damns to hell, is it color of their skins that tones their death knell? Hatred, fear and anger we have in abundance, lion loves to feed on this walking among us. First Amendment guarantees religious liberty, lion demonizes Islam but embraces Nazis. Lion needs a mirror, quick reality check; answer to our problems ain’t playing with full deck. Pussy grabbing egotist living in White House is no kind of lion and all kind of louse.

     The Sheople have spoken, The Sheople rejoice! The Sheople are flocking round their orange maned choice! The Sheople are flocking round their orange maned choice! The Sheople are flocking round their orange maned choice!


January Sixth: Part 30 of 48


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John and Jacob stopped where the pews ended and watched while Father Chris, Mike and Jamal arranged Lottie and her casket. The men from the funeral home locked the wheels of the gurney, added a floor length, white ruffled skirt and then opened the top half of the casket, revealing Lottie in her embalmed state. Jacob inhaled deeply when he saw Lottie’s face and then turned away from John, covering his face as he unsuccessfully tried to keep his grief under wraps.

Someone, a florist, or perhaps Mike and Jamal, had already caused flowers to appear and the two men arranged them around the outer edges of the dais while Father Chris supervised. When they were done Mike and Jamal walked over and Mike said, “I’m very sorry for your loss. Will you two be pallbearers?”

John nodded while Jake confirmed that they would. “Okay,” Mike continued. “Well, once Father’s done with the service you’ll need to come down and collect the deceased. Father will close the casket before he begins his service. There are six of you, right?”

“Yes,” Jake confirmed. “The two of us, two more men and two women.”

“Okay. Shouldn’t be any problem. All you’ll need to do is lift Mrs. Hagans and carry her out the front door. We’ll have the hearse waiting and will assist at that end. You should decide in advance where each pallbearer is going to go. I would suggest putting the four men on the four corners and letting the two women take the center positions. It usually works out best that way; okay?”

“Yes,” Jacob replied, nodding. “I think we’ve all done this before,” he added.

Mike nodded back. “Okay. That should make it easier. Physically, I mean. So, if you need anything just let me or Jamal know; okay? We know this is a difficult time so don’t hesitate; right?”

“Right,” Jake replied. “Okay. Thanks, Mike, thanks, Jamal,” he said, shaking first Mike’s and then Jamal’s hand.

Jamal nodded and said, “Sorry for your loss,” and then the two walked out of the chapel.

“I wonder how many times those guys say that in a day? ‘Sorry for your loss’?” Jake said. “I guess it’s like somebody at McDonalds asking if they can help, huh? Don’t think I’d want to do that for a living.”

“Yeah,” John agreed, “me either. Imagine walking on eggshells all the time? And people with frayed nerves; right on the edge? Got to be very difficult. Speaking of which, do you think I should apologize to Amber?”

Jake’s head shot back in surprise. “Huh? What for?”

“Well, what I said about angels. That was pretty mean spirited.”

“What in the hell are you talking about? You mean that stuff about people not becoming angels when they die? That’s the truth, isn’t it? I mean, that’s what I remember being taught in church.”

John bobbled his head back and forth. “Well, yeah. I mean, that’s certainly what the bible teaches us but I just said it to prove how superior I was to her; how I know more about angels? Pretty hypocritical thing to do, don’t you think?”

Jake blew his breath out hard and said, “Geeze, John, I don’t know. Amber’s a piece of work sometime. I can tell you that what you said ain’t nothing compared to what we all said.”

“Hmm. You may be right. I just don’t like it when my base side comes out. That’s not what Jesus wants.”

“Yeah? Well he walked the Earth, what? Thirty something years as a man? Pretty sure he’d understand.”

John nodded but before he could reply Father Chris walked up to them, checked his watch and said, “Nine-twenty. If you two are okay, we should get everybody out front for the receiving line; unless you wanted to pay your respects to MS Lottie first?”

Jake and John looked at one another and John shook his head slightly. “No,” Jake said, “we can wait. Let’s go find the rest of the clan and make sure everything’s ready first.

“So, Father, how long were you in the army?” he asked as the three men headed toward the back of the church.

Mental Clarity


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Got me a belly
that shakes like jelly,
I’m kinda old and smelly,
dream of dancing with Grace Kelly.

Once was a boy,
now I’m a man,
afraid hairs on my head
have migrated to Siam.

Getting bald like Yul Brynner,
as anyone can see,
I’m afraid time’s passing
has not been kind to me.

It ain’t that I’m unthankful
for all the things I got
but I’d give away possessions
if it would clear up my dry rot.

All the rot that time
and living does accrue;
I enjoy age’s wisdom
but old age note’s coming due.

Due to difficulties
beyond our control
afraid my mental clarity’s
been sucked into a wormhole.

Events on my horizon
are not looking good,
I been looking for life’s meaning
since days of my boyhood.

Though I’ve been a seeker
for such a long, long time
seems to get my juices flowing
I need Manischewitz wine.

A little drunkenness,
followed by debauchery,
can’t be all that sinful
if it’s done kosherly.

Kosher and halal
are two sides of same coin,
they both are food restrictions
that don’t apply to goys.

A goy’s not a MOTT,
that’s a Member of The Tribe,
and upon a MOTT
we should find no tattoos inscribed.

Leviticus comes third
in books of the Bible;
second of Ten Commandments
says Yahweh wants no rival.

We got books, we got dances
and ancient rituals
if we don’t render unto Caesar
then life can be a living hell.

Circles in the sand,
circles in the crops,
can’t compare to circle logic;
okay, I swear I’m gonna stop.

Stopping this progression
that’s not going anywhere
next time my mind is tripping
try to be a bit more doctrinaire.

Got me a belly
that shakes like jelly,
I’m kinda old and smelly,
dream of dancing with Grace Kelly.




January Sixth: Part 29 of 48


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As John and Jacob stepped through the all-purpose room’s doorway Father Chris, along with two men in black suits, were just arriving at the glass door that partitioned the classroom area of Our Savior’s from the two public areas. The men were pushing Lottie’s remains on a gurney and John hurried to the glass door through which they needed to pass. He held it open, stepping to the side as his mother-in-law and her entourage of three passed through to the other side.

Father Chris smiled and nodded, “Thank you, John. Mike and Jamal are going to take MS Lottie down to the edge of the chancel in preparation of our Mass.”

In response to their names the two men, one an older, short white man, the other a tall, athletically built African-American, nodded to John and Jacob. The black man mumbled, “Sorry for your loss,” as he and his partner continued on their journey with the gurney.

Father Chris extended his hand to Jacob and declared, “And I’m so sorry about your mother. Remind me again which son you are?”

Jacob took the priest’s hand in his and delivered his customary, bone crushing grip. Father’s eyebrows rose and then immediately fell before a tiny, quixotic smile appeared and immediately disappeared on his face. The men stood looking eye to eye and Jacob emitted a small grunt. When they separated John saw Jake grimace and surreptitiously rub his right hand with his left.

“Good to see you again, Father. I’m Jacob. Or Jake. Nice grip.”

“Good to see you again, too, Jake,” Father said, taking him by the elbow and walking toward the chapel. “Despite the circumstances. How are you holding up?”

Without pausing for a response Chris added, “Oh, and about that grip? I think I’d tone it down to maybe ten percent of that for the receiving line? And that’s for the men. Maybe go down to five percent for the ladies.”

Jake emitted a cough. “Well, just so long as I don’t run into anybody with a grip like yours.”

“I find that folks tend to reflect the welcome with which they’re received, don’t you? Today we want folks to feel the warm and loving embrace of a forgiving and welcoming God, not an Old Testament prophet,” Chris said with a smile.

“Yeah, you may have a point there,” Jake said as the entered the chapel. “So where’d you get a grip like that? Seminary school?”

“Seminary school? No. In the army. What? You think I was born a priest?” Chris replied with a grin. “Excuse me a minute,” he said, breaking away and hurrying to catch up to Mike and Jamal. “I’m going to make sure Mike and Jamal are squared away. Last thing we want is poor MS Lottie careening out of control.”



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     I’d like to say none of it matters, all the ways I am ignored, like to say I have enough strength to weather heartache and storm. If I said it I’d be a liar, claiming apathy to audience; I got words of wit and wisdom but my words just can’t find credence.

    Like Elijah in the desert I hear voices in my head, they call not for hate or violence, they wish neither man nor woman dead. But though I cast pearls of sunshine into a cold, dark, starless night, pearls are cast before boars feral who seem to thrive on flee or fight.

     Salome danced before Herod and her seven veils removed, we all live behind vast veils that separate us from His truth. Parochial, opaque vision causes us to act beastly and there is no man blinder than he who just won’t see.

     How can we not see hate and anger are things that hold us all back? That there is strength in listening rather than in attack? That shouting at each other and insisting that we’re right, sheds not a lumen of illumination to dispel fear from darkest night?

    There’s a chasm between tolerance and acceding to a view; and how can we ever understand each other if screaming’s all we ever do? We should break bread with our brothers rather than bashing them on their heads; this is both common sense and also what the good Lord said.

     Unclench our fists, open our hearts, and take just a little time to address one another civilly and then we all shall find, that we can disagree without being disagreeable; I swear there’s common ground and room at table.

     I’d like to say none of it matters, all the ways I am ignored, like to say I have enough strength to weather heartache and storm. If I said it I’d be a liar, claiming apathy to audience; I got words of wit and wisdom but my words just can’t find credence.

January Sixth: Part 28 of 48


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When John started walking over toward Imani she began walking to him. “Hey, Mr. John. Everything alright over there? You all look kinda, I don’t know, tense? You needs more easels?”

“They’re alright. Just emotions running high. I don’t think we need more easels but if we do I’ll come running. And what’s with this ‘Mr. John’ stuff? You’re making me feel awfully old. Just John, okay?”

“Okay, John,” she said with a smile and a nod. “Hey, Father Chris said to let you know the hearse is here. With MS Lottie? Thought you all would want to know, that’s all.”

“Oh. Oh, okay. I’ll let them know. Thanks again for your help, Imani.”

“Shoot. Ain’t nothing,” she said, a smile spreading over her face as she turned on her heal and went back to her preparations.

Deb, Dave and Joni were sifting through Joni’s box of photos, placing them on, and oft times removing them from, the poster board as they tried different layouts. “Father Chris wanted us to know that Lottie’s here,” John said. “I guess they’ll be bringing her into the chapel?”

Joni looked up and nodded. “Yes. One of us should go there. Do you mind?”

“No. I don’t mind. Not at all. I’m going to tell the others,” John said, heading over to where Jacob, Bilhah and Payton were busy arranging photos of their own.

“You know what we should just do?” Bilhah stated, “Instead of worrying about making this all perfect like little Princess Prissy over there, let’s just cover the board, you know? Find the pictures we like best and plaster them on here. Let ‘em overlap some and all that? If we combine all our pictures we’ll just about cover this board, don’t ‘cha think?”

Payton nodded. “That’s a good idea. Let’s just do that. Hey, John,” he added, “what’s up?”

“Lottie’s here,” John said. “I’m going to go to the chapel just so I can, you know, be there for her. Just wanted to let you know.”

“Okay,” Jake replied, nodding. “You two okay doing this? I’d kinda like to move around some; if that’s okay?”

Payton shrugged and nodded and Bilhah said, “Sure. Go. We got this,” she said adding pictures to their display. “What time is it?”

John checked his watch. “Almost nine-fifteen. When do the, the guests, arrive?”

“Nine-thirty,” Jake said. “Come on, let’s go.”

“Oh!” John said, speaking over his shoulder as he walked toward the exit, “If you need more pics Joni’ll probably have plenty.”

“Cool,” Payton said. “Thanks.”

All Good Things


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I could say it wasn’t you and that’d be half-true,
don’t matter how we got here, it’s obvious we’re through.
Through with all the heartache, through with all the pain,
through with just pretending; now’s time to live again.

Happens to the best of us, all good things must end
can’t say that I’ve enjoyed myself but now’s time to rend.
I’m tearing off my fetters, shackles I’ve unclasped,
last thing that you’ll see of me’s my retreating ass.

Square peg in a round hole’s been my contorted life,
I’ve struggled to endure it, to smile through the strife.
Ain’t no use pretending that we’ve another hand
I’m now adiosing this godforsaken land.

Thought you were queen of diamonds, facets I adored,
wish I’d had a jeweler’s loupe, wish I’d known the score.
Mistaking you for royalty, exposed heart and soul,
seems I fell for silver tongue and power of cajole.

For though you walk in sunshine you’re lady of the night;
kneel before high bidder, him you’ll treat just right.
But we of modest means with sense of propriety,
you mark as unworthy as you writhe in ways obscene.

Courtship it was blissful, sweet, short honeymoon,
soon our pasture grew thistles, saw my soul consumed.
Consumed by lovely succubus with whom I shared my bed,
you sucked marrow from my bones and left me half dead.

Though my name’s not Lazarus I have been reborn;
Daniel’s freed me from this lioness and her bed of thorns.
So many things she’s taken but I leave with pride,
tail may be between my legs but I’ll no longer hide.

No more hiding behind a curtain of deceit and lies;
future is uncertain but release is drawing nigh.
For with the morning’s sunrise heading out of here,
I’m heading for horizon, yeah, my direction’s clear.

Goodbye to the mantle where I’ve sat for far too long,
wrapping new mantle around me and singing fresh song.
I know it’s no garden path down which I must tread;
leaving you this instant fore one of us winds up dead.

I could say it wasn’t you and that be half-true,
don’t matter how we got here, it’s obvious we’re through.
Through with all the heartache, through with all the pain,
through with just pretending; now’s time to live again.

January Sixth: Part 27 of 48


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John’s reaction to Amber’s completed memorials was almost as strong as Joni’s had been but he restricted his outward display of displeasure to a pursing of his mouth in Cheshire Cat fashion; half an inch tighter and his lips seemingly would have followed the Alice in Wonderland cat’s disappearance. “Hey,” he said, “you really did a great job with these, Amber. I really like the way you took the mat board and cut out a spot for each of your photos. It looks super. You must have devoted a lot of time to this. I especially like that center picture of you guys with Lottie. When was that taken, at Danann’s baptism?”

“Yes,” his sister-in-law said, tight smile on her face, “and thanks for saying so. I was glad to take the time to do a good job for Mom. Like I said, therapeutic; you know?”

“I bet. And these drawings? The kids did those?” he asked, pointing to three intricately colored in, eight by eleven, matted pictures.

“Yes,” Amber replied with an eye roll plus a head shake. “Computer, you know? They select an image and can color it in? That’s how Sean and I create cards for people; we’ve sent them to you guys for Christmas, but maybe you haven’t been around when Joni got them.”

“Hm. Maybe. Whose angel is this?” he asked, picking up a picture of an angel.

“Gersemi’s. She’s fascinated with angels. We’ve been studying them; that’s one of the things I was talking about last night as far as sending her to Sunday school is concerned. Do you like it?”

“Well, it’s beautiful,” he said, “but there is one thing you should let Gersemi know.”

“Oh? And what’s that?”

“The inscription you printed at the bottom? ‘Grandma Is An Angel Now’? People don’t become angels, they just get to go to Heaven and live with them. Angels are spiritual beings, created directly by God. People can’t become angels. Common misconception,” he added, over emphasizing the word common.

“Is that so?” Amber returned with a big smile. “Well, luckily this is America and we can all believe what we like; right?”

“No argument there,” John said with a nod. “So, what were you thinking? Put the kids pictures together like a tri-fold and set them on a table next to the registry?”

“Registry? What is this a bridal shower? It’s called guestbook, dear,” Amber said, giving John a patronizing triple pat on the back.

“Oh, that’s right. Guestbook. Of course this is the USA so it’s okay if I call it a registry; right?” he returned.

“Well sure, John,” Amber replied, “just like it’s fine to wear a tattered old tan suit to my mother’s funeral; right?”

“Well God bless, Amber! You’re always so sweet and loving. Oh! Hey,” he continued, looking up and catching sight of his new friend wiggling her fingers in a come here gesture. “looks like Imani needs something. I’ll be right back.”

January Sixth: Part 26 of 48


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Deb and Dave Knopick stood huddled together, shoulders drooping, while the four Hagans siblings, each of them dressed in the full palette of colors from dark gray to black, gesticulated broadly, voices hissing like sibilant snakes. “You know,” Amber hissed, “this is not a contest. I have more pictures because A, I take more pictures, B, I have more children, C, I live close by, and D, I started preparing my montage as soon as I got back from comforting Joni. It was therapeutic.”

“Oh? Is that what we’re calling it?” Joni demanded, “Therapy? I thought it was called rewriting history. Do you know who Trotsky was? If not, you should look him up. I’m the one who lived with Mom, cared for her, helped her. I did it and I was glad to, but I’m not glad to see you try to make her funeral into your shrine.”

John and Bilhah looked at one another as they walked across the all-purpose room, John shaking his head and Bilhah raising her eyebrows. “Hey!” John hissed, “You’re making people uncomfortable here, you know?” he said, flashing a hand toward the four volunteers who watched the Hagans bicker among themselves. “Can you two just calm down enough to tell me what’s going on?”

“I’ll tell you what’s going on,” Amber declared, “Joni has lost it. I’m sorry to be the one who has to say it, but there it is. She’s making a mountain out of a mole hole. No! An ant hill! I have one prepared poster of Mom with my family and I brought three empty ones for everyone else. Now it seems like I’m a bad person for being prepared and I guess for bringing the three other boards.”

“Oh, please!” Joni retorted. “First of all, you forgot to mention the three ‘bonus’ poster boards you brought that your three children ‘made!’ Amazing work for three children so young, don’t you think, John?!” she demanded flinging a hand at the displays.

John fluttered his hands up and down in an attempt to dampen, rather than fan, the hot emotional flames of the room. “Okay, please. Can someone tell me what’s going on?”

Payton stepped forward and said, “Amber seems to have brought a pretty extensive memorial that she’d like to display; four displays for her and one each for the three of us. We’re just trying to iron out the presentation details. Right, Amber?”

Amber smiled. “Yes. That’s exactly right.”

“Of course, somehow the quality of poster board for the four McConnell displays is quite a bit nicer than what’s left over for us Hagans, but that’s just a coincidence. Right, Amber?” Payton asked again, this time with a more demanding tone.

“I already told you, I got what was available at Dick Blick. How was I to know that you people would have a hissy? I guess this just proves that no good deed goes unpunished; right, Payton?” she demanded, crossing her arms under her breasts and taking a quarter turn away from her family.

“Oh grow up why don’t you, Amber?” Joni commanded. “Hard to play princess and victim at the same time; isn’t it?”

“Okay, stop!” Jacob demanded. “Amber, that means you too. It is what it is and this is bullshit. Let’s just make our picture thingies and concentrate on what’s important; okay? Hell, we didn’t bring enough pictures to fill a whole damn board anyway.”

Bilhah stroked Jake’s arm and said quietly, “Language, sweetie. We’re kinda in a church,” she said with a wink and a smile.

“What!?” Jake said with a tinge of anger. “Oh,” he added nodding slowly three times. “Right. Sorry. Thanks.

“Hey, partner,” he continued, looking at John and opening his arms wide, “good to see you. You holding up?”

John stepped into Jacob’s embrace, returned his firm, three hand slap on the center of the back hug and said, “So far. I hear you write one mean eulogy.”

“Shit,” Jake said with a smile and a small blush, “I just wrote the truth. Now we’ll have to see how well I can speak it.” Jake’s voice cracked with suppressed emotion as he added, “Whole lot easier writing that stuff without crying than it is saying it out loud.”

John nodded and said, “No doubt. So, let’s see what you guys came up with for your montages.”

January Sixth: Part 25 of 48


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“I swear this family just gets more and more bazar,” Bilhah declared. “You should see the way they’re carrying on back there. Bazar, bazar, bazar. How you holding up?”

Unsure if his sister-in-law had said bazar or bizarre John blinked four times, decided against asking her to repeat the word yet again and then turned to her. “Hey, stranger. Long time no see,” he said, picking up her left hand in his right, bringing it to his lips for a quick kiss and then releasing it. “Say that again about a lectern, please.”

“Joni told Jake to put his eulogy up on the lectern and Jake handed it to me and asked me to do it. Only trouble, is I don’t know what the hell a lectern is,” she said, leaning in closely for the last sentence. Pointing toward the altar she asked, “Isn’t that thing called a podium?”

“Oh. Got it,” John answered. “And no, or at least it isn’t supposed to be. Although that’s what most people call a lectern these days; a podium. It’s kind of like calling your head a foot? We stand on a podium, we read from a lectern.

“You know the word tripod? Three feet? Podiatrist? Foot doctor. Pod means foot and a podium is the thing people stand on, although in church I call it a dais.”

“I thought that was called the altar?” Bilhah said.

“Nu-uh,” John said shaking his head. “The altar is that stone table.

“I had a communications class at Kirkwood and the instructor expressed a few pet peeves about words and two that I remember are lectern and peruse. You know what peruse means, right?”

Bilhah looked at him for a second, eyes narrowed and her tongue pushed hard against her lower left, lateral incisor. “Well I thought I did. It means to look at something quick; right? Just to kind of glance at it?”

“No,” John said with a grin. “But that’s what I thought too! Actually, it’s supposed to mean the exact opposite; to look something over carefully? Isn’t that bizarre? How a word can totally flip flop? I mean, crazy, huh?”

“Huh,” Bilhah said. “That is weird. I know they say words change over time and I can see the lectern, podium thing because they’re, you know, grouped together? But how does a word get so turned around as to be its own opposite? Bazar is exactly the word for it.”

John nodded, thought about asking her if she had just said bizarre or bazar, but instead decided to simply answer her question. “So, yes. That’s the lectern up there on the podium and that’s where Jake’ll read from. Why’s he nervous? I mean, a eulogy just needs to be heartfelt.”

“Oh, I agree! And what he wrote? I had no idea he could come up with that. I mean, it’s good; you know? He just doesn’t like talking in front of big groups, especially strangers. Just nerves, that’s all.”

“Oh, sure. That’s how I felt when I started that class with Mr. Skaggs. It definitely takes some getting used to. What if we tell Jake that the family will all be up front and he can just read to us? Do you think that’ll help?”

“It might. We’ll have to tell him. Let me put this up on the lectern,” she said, emphasizing lectern and rising up from her seat, “and then we need to get to the cafeteria. I was supposed to fetch you, plus you’n me might need to go put on some striped shirts; you know? Go act like referees?”