Stand By. Look Sharp.

Published 3:20 pm Tuesday, May 4, 2021

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We really live in a neat little village. Last Thursday we welcomed a sitting president to Sumter County. Why? Because he was visiting another president who lives in Sumter County. The fact we share a Wal-Mart with a president is something we tend to forget. But isn’t that amazing? At any moment, I might find myself buying Twinkies right next to a president. “Excuse me, Mr. President, if you could pass a box of those cheap cakes filled with wonderfulness we are supposed to think of as crème, I’d be most appreciative.” Twinkies are, in fact, the great equalizer. Leader of the Free World or Leader of Fat Frank the Cat, Twinkies are found in everybody’s buggy. Need a friend? Buy a box of Twinkies. Twinkies have been uniting Democrats and Republicans since the day somebody decided to squeeze goodness inside little golden cakes. This is fact, ask anybody. Another fact: right now, “those people” are showing up. Some person, somewhere is popping up in my Presidential Twinkie Dream hollering, “Not all folks like Twinkies!” Another person is spouting off logistics, telling me Secret Service would never allow me to linger in the Wal-Mart aisle with the president. There is a time and place for these people.  But for right here and right now, I reject their ability to destroy dreams. I am bold today. No doubt, it is the lingering effects of having two presidents hanging out down the street.

You know what else lingers? All the conversation about a presidential visit. Of course, it does. It was a once in a lifetime day complete with overwhelming pageantry. Everybody loves a chance to tell their view of the day’s events. I followed it all on the scanner. Scanners are a must have for any respectable Prying Polly. They allow us to put our nose in our first responders’ business.  You might not think I had a fabulous view, being I couldn’t see it, and you would be as wrong as a Presidential Twinkie Dream killer. I got to see the show through our beloved law enforcement’s eyes. Every moment was recorded in voices I love. The best moment? The moment the president arrived. Our Sumter One, Sheriff Eric Bryant, came on to announce we officially had two presidents in the county. His announcement was short, and powerful. In the middle of silence, Eric’s voice rang letting us know President Biden had arrived. Then he gave his deputies instruction. “Stand by. Look Sharp.”

Four words. Simple instruction for not only our deputies, but for all of us Sumter Countians. “Stand By. Look Sharp.” The sheriff’s voice has been ringing in my head ever since. As I was leaving church service on Sunday, I about mowed down a sister in Christ in my quest to beat the Baptist to the fried chicken. Eric’s voice rang out in my head, “Stand by. Look Sharp.” On Monday, I caught a glimpse of a Lee Street Walker I wanted to say hello to. Again, with the sheriff’s voice telling me how to proceed. “Stand by. Look sharp.” Lastly, Fat Frank the Cat stopped dead center in the hallway for a quick bath as I almost ran over her. Here is Eric’s instruction haunting me again, “Stand by. Look Sharp.” It was on the third occasion I realized how good the sheriff’s instructions are. Taken out of law enforcement cadence, I began to hear the point. Put a little meat on “Stand by. Look Sharp” and you have “Just be here, take it all in.” How many times have you needed such simple advice? There is power in simply being fully present and soaking it all in, savoring the seconds. A graduation announcement from one of my favorite cotillion students, Will, graces my refrigerator door. When I first met Will he was in peewee football and learning a box step. Now he is trekking into who he will be as a man. I can barely stand under such a fact. I’m certain his parents feel the same way. As time flies around them, I bet they are realizing all they can do is “Just be here, take it all in.” I have sat with friends as they received news their health was fading fast, the only thing I could do, the only thing needed was to “Just be here, take it all in.” My friend Stacee, directing a wedding, watched as a young lady turned into a wife, I am sure at some point she probably focused on her own wedding vows and thought, “Just be here, take it all in.” Neighbor Bill, having literally run to my rescue after my porch attack, lingered as he watched me process through the event. Had he asked me what I needed, I would have told him, “Just be here, take it all in.” I have seen daddies take their daughters on their first waltz. Knowing the moms were fast forwarded to the daddy/daughter wedding dance, I asked about them. Mom always responded with something close to, “I am just here, taking it all in.” My handsome Chase is leading his baseball team as they work towards taking a state championship. I’ve no doubt his coach has told him, “Just be here, take it all in.” I have sat with recovering alcoholics as they navigate through their first party without vodka. They would tell you their plan of attack is to “Just be here, take it all in.” Mary Margaret is a beauty queen who leaves thousands of hours of practice on the pageant stage. She waits to hear if her efforts will earn her a crown. No doubt her parents have told her, “Just be here, take it all in.” My daddy, as he sat with his mama for the last time, there were no words. There were no words needed nor could they have been big enough. He would simply just be there, taking it all in.

I will go sit on my porch today. I will watch my little village ride by. I will say one-line prayers for the Lee Street Walkers.  I will live off the remnants of this blustery day. I will feel the first fruits of a summer brewing. I will wish for more days to sit on my porch. I will give thought to who will be mayor after Barry. I will think of Russell. Undoubtedly, I will hear the laughter of past porch parties. And as sure as Sumter County is home to a president, I will wonder what the months ahead will bring to my life. But ultimately, if I am really smart, I will quiet my mind, breath from my belly button and remind myself, “Just be here, take it all in.”