This cold, icy weather suddenly got me thinking about someone I knew back in 1972 while overseas in the Army. He was from Ohio and his name was Francis Hooplaw. In the service, no one calls you by your first name. You’re either known by your last name or a nickname. For instance, because I originally come from Louisiana and I am Cajun, my nickname was “Frenchy.” Hooplaw was nicknamed Crazy Plato by the guys in my unit because he was a very smart and studious type, but sometimes he just came up with the weirdest things, but somehow they made sense.
For instance, I remember one particular Friday night while playing cards in the barracks, Hooplaw laid his cards face down on the table and announced, “Hey, I just had a couple of things pop into my mind. I want you guys to hear this and tell me what you think.” Well, we all sat back, awaiting the latest brilliance from his warped mind and hoping he said something of value. Hooplaw then unleashed his thoughts. Okay guys, this is the first one, “Whoever said money don’t buy you happiness just didn’t know where to shop!” Hooplaw sat back and smiled like he had just written a philosophical gem. The rest of us looked at each other grimacing. “What’s the next one Plato?” I asked. He replied, “If you think no one cares if you’re dead or alive miss a couple of car payments.”
“You came up with that all by yourself did you?” I asked. “Yep.” he replied. I said, “Now you know why we call you Crazy Plato don’t you?” He made a sad face and asked us, “Do you guys not recognize the brilliance of my thoughts? Remember me telling you that I have been married twice already and I’m just twenty years old, well I have a few thoughts on marriage. Instead of getting married again, I’m going to find a woman I don’t like and just give her a house.” We all chuckled at that one. “The next one is, I’ve had bad luck with both my wives. The first one left me, and the second one didn’t. Here’s the last one. A psychiatrist is a person who will give you expensive answers that you can get from your wife for free.”
My friend Torres picked up his cigarette, took a long pull from it, and blew the smoke at Hooplaw’s grinning face. “You know what Hooplaw? You are full of beans. Nothing you say makes any sense. Did your mama drop you on your head when you were little?” Torres asked. “C’mon guys, think about it, everything I’ve said makes perfect sense!” squealed Hooplaw. He drew a deep breath and said, “Listen to these next ones and if you don’t like them, well I’ll just shut up and we’ll go back to this boring game of cards. Who ever heard of using matches for stakes? That’s boring. Here’s the next ones. Don’t imagine you can change a man… unless he is in diapers. And how’s about this one? If a woman asks you if she is your first, be honest, tell her she could be, she looks familiar. Good women are like unicorns, everyone talks about them but nobody has actually seen one.” My friend Stoney from Gadsden, Alabama threw his cards at Hooplaw and yelled, “Plato, please shut up! We don’t like your sayings so please either shut up and go away or shut up and play cards.”
Crazy Plato got up and said, “Yeah I’m going. Who wants to hang out with a bunch of guys who don’t get me?” Hooplaw left the room that night with his feelings a little hurt, but in the end, he had the last laugh. After the Army he attended college, went on to get his doctorate, and then teach Philosophy at UC Berkeley. Guess he wasn’t so crazy after all. Have a great weekend and may God bless!