If there were an Olympic medal for love and inspiration, Tank Schottle would hold the record for most gold medals.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: In this crazy world that we live in, sometimes simple, positive messages can easily get lost in all the "noise" … but they're there, and sometimes even the most pragmatic people (that'd be Black) feel the need to share them (much to Red's surprise).
It began when Black sent Red a screenshot of a Red & Black tweet that "we" posted (no one should be surprised that Black does the tweeting), "Guess who is throwing out the first pitch at tonight's @astros game … so excited for @TankSchottle because Special Olympian spreads message of love". At first, Red thought it was because Black knew Red's younger daughter had helped coach a Special Olympics volleyball team (the Fort Bend Falcons) but soon learned that Black's interest in Tank had nothing to do with that.
It turns out that for one of the least likely "warm and fuzzy" people you'll ever meet, Black was nevertheless inspired by Tank's "warm and fuzzy" attitude and approach to, well, just about everything. Suffering from an intellectual disability (or DIFF-ability as Black would say, but that's another post for another day), Tank came into his own when he was introduced to Special Olympics as a child, which led to his not only developing a greater sense of self-acceptance and pride but spreading his message of love based on his experience,
I love to spread love and hope for our country and our world. We should all love one another and bring hope and inspiration to other people.
Not someone you'd expect Black to follow, so Red asked, "Why?" (knowing that's Black's favorite word) and wasn't surprised how it started,
Some twit on Twitter decided to take issue with the punctuation or grammar of one of Tank's tweets, and I happened to follow one of the people who vehemently came to his defense, which got my initial attention. Now, I am one of the thousands of Tank's Twitter followers who finds the simplicity and sincerity of Tank's positive messages not only worth reading, but worth sharing.
Well, the more Red learned about Tank, the more she was struck at how one person can make such a difference. And there even was an instance when Tank could accomplish something no one else could with a 97-year-old veteran. And although Red initially found his words overly simple, as she watched her daughter (the one who volunteered with Special Olympics) get ready for college, she found herself echoing Tank's words (from a video that went viral several years ago),
Never give up on your dreams. Do what makes you happy. Do what makes you smile.
Some things never change, like our Thanksgiving routines. But that’s ok, as Thanksgiving’s about traditions, so it seems only appropriate that we’d like to repeat what we’ve told you before …
We'll keep this simple and to-the-point … Happy Thanksgiving!
Comic strip or reality show: A group of bachelors participates in a foot race, and whoever's caught by the single woman in the race will become her husband.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: We may be sisters, but except for growing up with the same parents in the same house in New York, that may be where the similarities end; especially in terms of dating "protocol" as Black never thought twice about asking boys (and later men) out on a date, while Red never gave it any thought, accepting the convention that boys did the asking. (She did make an exception for her senior prom but was shocked when he accepted.)
When it comes to Sadie Hawkins Day, we both agree it's a quirky holiday that makes it "acceptable" for girls to ask out boys, but of course, we have very different perspectives. For Red, it conjures up images of Sadie Hawkins Day dances, although she never went to one and doesn't even remember how she knows about them. While Black's fascinated by how it all began with the cartoonist Al Capp and his popular "Lil' Abner" comic strip and quickly became a pop culture phenomenon.Now, over 80 years later, if you were to analyze Sadie Hawkins Day, you would probably find it outdated and sexist. But why not just laugh at its silly beginnings and enjoy the day. The funny thing is Red still thinks men should ask out women, while Black always believed that every day's Sadie Hawkins Day.
Tomorrow’s Election Day, and our thoughts about the importance and challenges of voting haven’t changed since last year (see below) – although the stakes may have gone up. (Think Roe v. Wade and how the Supreme Court has sent it back to the states.) Black wishes more states offered referendums so we could vote on specific issues instead of trying to find the candidate that most closely represents our positions and then actually stays true to their word. Which, unfortunately, makes voting much harder than it needs to be …
So many people have fought for the right to vote, yet so many don't even bother to vote.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Like many of us, Red can come up with a whole list of reasons why she didn't plan to vote this Election Day, but what she thought was a sarcastic comment from Black would point out the challenge of balancing philosophical beliefs with reality.
Red, being that former straight-A student, remembers the first time she voted and how she felt it was her civic responsibility, but that she'd never just vote by party line (for her, it was never that simple, especially not these days). That each vote needs to be a conscious one. But that takes lots of "homework", so unless it's a presidential or gubernatorial election, she tends to sit out most of them. Which she felt was just fine, until Black pointed out,
The prior few presidential elections aside, I could argue that non-presidential elections have a far greater impact on our lives. Because state and local issues, such as school board elections and amendments to state constitutions, can make a huge difference to your daily lives.
Now, Red thought, there's an understatement. Especially in the state of Texas. But even on a local level, as Red had recently found out that one trustee on her local school board has created such a huge uproar that all the other trustees called for her resignation. When she first heard the news, she couldn't quite believe the accusations, except most of them were officially "on record", but then, as a parent, Red was appalled that such a person was sitting, of all things, on a school board. But until Black's comments, she didn't connect the dots between that and her responsibility as a voter (not to mention a parent) to take future school board elections more seriously.
Of course, Red still feels an obligation to research the candidates and learn not only what they claim to believe and intend to do, but to try to have a better understanding of who they really are. Which given the times we live in, and the power of social media to spread misinformation, is more challenging than ever. And when she asked Black what to do, she heard a familiar analogy, but with a different spin,
You can eat an elephant (and I am not referring to the GOP/Republicans) just not all at once. Same holds true in terms of the candidates and issues. Review the ones you feel strongly about and then vote. Remember, you are not required to vote the entire ballot.
Well, Red realized that although she hadn't prepared to vote, ironically, it was her desire to make the right choices that led her to make no choices. Now, she realized it was not only her civic responsibility to vote but something that was truly important. For her, her family, her community.