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  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Nov. 20, 2020 - 4:20 PM

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Showdown

Alex McRae is a writer and ghostwriter and author of “There Ain’t No Gentle Cycle on the Washing Machine of Love.” He can be reached at: alexmmcrae@gmail.com .

The other day I came across a news story that rocked me harder than my first glimpse of Disney Mouseketeer Annette Funicello.

The headline screamed “Iceberg headed for South Georgia!”

I’m not a climate worrier, but I am practical. I did the smart thing. A quick web search for long underwear and snowsuits produced plenty of items.

Before I hit the “Buy Now” button on Amazon, I decided to recheck the iceberg story to make sure I didn’t need something else. Like a snowmobile.

That’s when I read the second sentence of the story, which explained that the rogue iceberg was headed for South Georgia ISLAND in the Antarctic Ocean. The iceberg is expected to annoy some penguins. Humans will be fine.

I felt better, but not quite back to normal. I decided to go for a walk.

It was a nice afternoon, and I wasn't expecting to run into trouble. But there it was — sitting on a stump and staring right at me. I stared back. Nobody flinched.

After a few seconds, I started to get itchy.

I felt like I was on the street in downtown Tombstone, Arizona in 1881, and the famous Gunfight at the OK Corral was about to be reenacted. Only this time it wasn’t going to be gang on gang, but one on one. In this case, almost nose to nose.

I thought I was ready. I’d seen the movie “Tombstone” enough times to know my play.

I thought back to the scene where Kurt Russell, playing Wyatt Earp, confronts Billy Bob Thornton to see who’s going to run the high-stakes card game in a local saloon.

An argument ensues. When Billy Bob reaches toward his gun, Kurt says, “Go ahead, skin it! Skin that smokewagon and see what happens.”

Billy Bob backs down and is run out of town.

I replayed that scene over in my head, waiting for the stranger on the stump to flee or fight. Finally, he looked to the side.

Got him, I thought, He’s nervous now. I raised an eyebrow. The stranger looked the other way. I could almost taste victory.

Then the stranger looked straight up. I did, too.

The fattest hawk I’d seen since last summer was circling overhead. The mockingbird on the stump took off before I had a chance to show him who was the boss.

I reholstered my mental six-gun and took a deep breath.

If I was freezing up over an iceberg and having a meltdown over a mockingbird, I had to admit the problem was me. An attitude adjustment was in order.

I went home and blew off a few hostilities by cutting the cord on my unreliable TV streaming service. Then I did some Bible reading to calm me down.

A few hours later, I felt almost normal. But old habits die hard, and before I wandered off to bed, I opened the laptop and scanned the headlines.

I saw that during the November 3 elections, residents of Washington, D.C., had voted to decriminalize “magic mushrooms” and other organic psychedelic drugs.

Legal dope in D.C.? That kind of news should be enough to freak anybody out. And a few hours earlier, it would have set me off.

It didn’t. I figured if D.C. residents were under the influence of psychedelic substances, most of us wouldn’t even notice the difference.

I closed my laptop and slipped right off to sleep. The next morning a mockingbird woke me up. I just smiled.

Alex McRae is a writer and ghostwriter and author of “There Ain’t No Gentle Cycle on the Washing Machine of Love.” He can be reached at: alexmmcrae@gmail.com .