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We all have our flaws.

Every once in awhile, Isabel and Micah return from church still reeling from Rev. Calvin's ongoing assertion that they, as well as all of their human counterparts, are truly flawed in the eyes of our Maker. These aren't necessarily fatal flaws, but flaws just the same. Since I know that I'm nearly perfect, why should Isabel and Micah be any different? The other day, thoroughly challenged with this revelation, I sat down and tried to make heads or tails (excuse the pun) of this broad indictment, at least as it would relate to my friends at Faded Glory. I had to dig back into my memory a bit to access their flaws, but here goes.

Louella has a weakness for men in uniforms.

If someone was really observant, they would instantly notice that Louella softens a bit and responds in a kindly way to Matthew Tipton in his crisp tan Rangers' uniform. Okay, she's putty in the hands of any man in uniform. Georgia State Patrol officer Pete Warren usually scores a biscuit or warm piece of pie when he 'happens by' Louella's kitchen at any time of day. On the rare occasions that Sheriff Kenny Payne gets into full-regalia, Louella just seems to melt; Sheriff Kenny, I think, is her favorite. Even our rather stout UPS driver, Jason Crowley, never fails to attract her attentions. These days, late-comer Ranger Flynt Timber is the apple of her eye. Yes, Louella really has a thing for men in uniform. A flaw like that could get a young lady into trouble. Thank goodness, Louella is 78 years old.

Isabel loves her creature comforts; her automobile!

Maybe I'm getting a little personal here, but when it comes to automobiles, Isabel is a real snob. When Ray was alive, Isabel selected and drove her own Ford Taurus. But, from the day that she bought the Taurus, she really had her sights set on that elusive, more expensive Lincoln Town Car that had been sitting on the showroom floor at Miller's Lincoln Mercury. After Ray passed and Faded Glory became wildly successful, Isabel moved to the American "marque" in personal driving luxury -- her dove-gray Lincoln Town Car. Although she seemed to love the Town Car for a time, it was only a little over a year before she moved up to her ostentatious Rolls Silver Spur. If this indulgence is a flaw, I think that I we should take a closer look at flaws and embrace them more fully.

Hank Beavers dips.

Hank Beavers dips. He doesn't smoke cigarettes or drink indiscriminately like many young folks; he walks around a good part of the day with a pinch of compacted (smokeless) tobacco between his lower front teeth and his lower lip. Hank's daily 'buzz' comes from a tin of snuff. Hank's snuff of choice is Copenhagen, and sometimes Grizzly when his favorite convenience store runs out of Copenhagen. The first time Hank accidentally dropped a pinch of his dip onto the floor, I got to it before he did, only to discover that it is some NASTY stuff! I was sick for two days while it passed through my system.

I heard Micah talking with Hank about it one day, and Hank sure seems to understand the risks involved. But, like most young folks around here, he doesn't look ahead to the consequences. He figures he will beat the odds. Hank has an addiction to nicotine just like any smoker, and the jury is out as to where it will lead him. I guess this is one flaw that could prove fatal if public statistics are correct. Maybe when he finally marries Willa Jean Turner, she might bring an end to his habit. Isabel doesn't like him spitting on the property, so he usually carries a spit cup. Spit cup? Spare me!

Ray Whitlow always loved Snickers Bars.

The other day I got a real hankering for a snack, and because it was mid-week, there were no guests on the property. I was in a real quandary as to where I could get some instant satisfaction. Since Louella was finished in her kitchen, I figured that if I hung around by the door leading down to the basement, somebody heading to downstairs would leave the basement door ajar long enough for me to slip through it and make my way into our bulk food-storage area.

My wait brought back an old memory of Ray Whitlow when he was alive. Ray had his neat and tidy workshop next to the walk-in freezer, and up until the day he died, he kept a large stash of Snickers candy bars hidden in the huge, locked bottom drawer of his wooden carpenters' chest. He knew all too well that Isabel would have taken a dim view of his candy addiction because she had constantly worried about his weight, as well as his wildly fluctuating cholesterol levels.

Yes, Ray was a 'closet' Snickers addict, and I wouldn't be surprised if, to this very day, that drawer would yield a couple dozen very stale candy bars if it were to be opened. Every time Ray would pack up to go hunting, he would usually stuff a half-dozen Snickers bars in his coat pockets, and, like any good friend, he never failed to share them with me. Lucky me! Ray was diligent about disposing of those telltale candy wrappers, and to the best of my knowledge, Isabel never knew about his illicit sweet tooth. Well, since Ray died in a tractor accident, it certainly wasn't sugar and cholesterol that sealed his doom. Who would have guessed. Maybe Ray had the last 'snicker' after all.

Micah lives with his demons.

There are Sundays when Micah visibly withers under Rev. Calvin's "we are all flawed" message. Micah has quietly accepted responsibility for the accidental death of his best friend when he was young, and although he hasn't touched alcohol or driven since that fatal DWI accident 50 years ago, Micah still regards himself to be an alcoholic and has never really forgiven himself for this one tragic error.

Also, Micah served with the army in Guam, but he has never discussed his memories from that segment of his life. Isabel claims to have read newspaper accounts of the indescribable carnage during Micah's years there, and she often says that he is still burdened by the cruelty and the killing. Guam was the last outpost for Japanese troops at the end of WWII, and Micah's battalion was there for that horrific cleanup. The Japanese were formidable adversaries; and once cornered, they became bitter and unrelenting in their desire to prevail. My friend Micah is a sensitive, caring man, and I guess that we will never know what transpired there.

Matthew Tipton always has a toothpick in his mouth.

If you were to observe Matthew Tipton when he was not engaged with other people, he would usually have a serious and determined look as if he was working on a plan. And even though he isn't eating, and hasn't eaten in hours, Matthew always has a toothpick in his mouth. Not a mint-flavored toothpick or a brightly colored hors d'oevres toothpick -- just a simple, generic, wooden toothpick. Sometimes when conversing, he rolls it from side to side across his lower teeth, but most of the the time, it just wags up and down as he talks. Strange habit; I have never seen him without one. Maybe a simple flaw, or maybe just a simple pleasure.

Pauline and Rita love each other.

Relative newcomers to Faded Glory, Pauline Patrick and Rita Gonzalez, have been working as our in-house cleaning staff for almost two years. They began sharing a small rental house together about a year ago after Pauline left her abusive husband while Rita was in the process of looking for a larger living space closer to her employment at the Inn.

Isabel has always marveled at the fact that they work so well together as a team, and they can be depended upon to handle even the most complicated cleaning issues with aplomb. Guests who sometimes drink too much at our Guest Appreciation Happy Hour sometimes make "deposits" in the strangest places, and in those situations, time is of the essence. As a dog, I really don't know how to describe their situation, but they really seem to love each other. A lot. I'm not sure that Isabel and Micah would totally understand their relationship, but because I can't talk, they'll never hear about it from me. Pauline and Rita are two very fine people, and I am very happy to have them as my friends.

And, as for me, I really love to have my belly scratched.

As for me, I'm easy. If I like and trust you, I will roll over and present my nice, warm, itchy belly so that you can scratch it to your (and my) heart's content. Micah, Matthew, and Flynt Timber are my favorite scratchers. No dog's life is complete without a good scratch once in awhile, and I'm no exception. Ray was the best scratcher of all, but, of course, things change, and in this life, we all have to adapt.
Yes, I suppose we all have our flaws -- large and small -- but aren't our flaws what make us interesting?

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