All posts by Dale Young

The Ghost Of Sister Mary Catherine

My family’s yellow Labrador retriever is the reincarnated soul of my sixth grade teacher, a nun named Sister Mary Catherine.

There, I said it. So begins the road to redemption.

Oakley 3
I know she’s in there…

I know you must think I’m crazy and you’re in good company. Everyone thinks I’m crazy for believing that the soul of a nun is living inside our dog Oakley. But I know it’s true, and Oakley knows it’s true. Every night he sits by the couch and stares at me with those… eyes. I try to ignore him and focus on the television but it doesn’t do any good. Sister Mary Catherine is in there, and she wants me to know that she knows all about what I did in sixth grade.

I’m convinced that Oakley is repayment for the sin that I committed in sixth grade. He not only stares at me for hours at a time, he also destroys everything he can get his paws on in our backyard. He has ripped every piece of lattice from underneath our deck, torn long strips of vinyl siding from our shed, and dug so many holes in our backyard that it looks like a huge Whack-a-Mole game. The only person it aggravates is me, because I’m the only person it is supposed to aggravate. I’m sure you’ve seen the movie Marley and Me. I can tell you that Marley has nothing on Sister Mary Catherine.

So what did I do in sixth grade that was so bad that I am now being haunted by the ghost of a nun? I broke a Commandment, that’s what I did. More specifically, I broke the one about bearing false witness. In simple terms, I told a lie. But I didn’t lie to just anyone. Oh no, I had to lie to a nun. No one, and I do mean no one lies to a nun and gets away with it. After all, they have friends in high places. Very high places…

I remember the day it happened like it was yesterday. I was standing by the condiments table in the lunchroom of St. Patrick’s Catholic school putting ketchup on my hot dog. There is a hooligan inside of every Catholic school boy and I was no different from the rest. When I finished putting the ketchup on my hot dog I quickly turned to see if anyone was looking. When I realized the coast was clear, I unscrewed the top on the squeeze bottle of ketchup and then sat the bottle down on the table, along with the loose lid, where it could lie in wait for an unsuspecting victim.

I had no idea that the victim would be Sister Mary Catherine.

Before I could stop her, Sister Mary Catherine walked up to the table, picked up the ketchup bottle and gave it a hard squeeze above her hot dog. The resulting explosion of red ketchup splattered across the white material of Sister Mary Catherine’s long sleeved habit from her elbow all the way down to her wrist.

She stood there speechless in her black patent leather shoes with her white shirt sleeve covered in red ketchup. Then she calmly looked over at me standing there mortified. Anyone that has been to a Catholic school knows that the nuns have written permission to whoop ass if the need arises. Visions of Sister Mary Catherine doing Kung Fu on me right there in the cafeteria bolted through my mind. But instead of striking a classic Grasshopper pose, Sister Mary Catherine instead just calmly asked me a question that still haunts me to this day.

“Dale, did you do this?”

The next words out of my mouth sealed my fate.

“No Sister Mary Catherine, I did not.”

There you have it, seven words that changed my life. Forty years later I’m still paying for them.

Oakley on deck

So every night I sit and try to watch TV while Sister Mary Catherine looks at me through the eyes of a yellow Labrador retriever, eyes that tell me that she knows that I lied to her about the ketchup and that she will repay me for the lie by eating the cover on the gas grill or maybe chewing the handle off of my favorite hammer.

But the guilt is becoming more than I can bear. It’s time to release Sister Mary Catherine so that she can go on to a better place. Besides, she can’t possibly like living inside of Oakley. He stinks and does unholy things with his tongue. The poor woman has suffered enough and so have I. It’s time to confess my sins.

The next stop for me is the confessional. I have not been in many years but I still know the words to use. Every good Catholic knows them by heart.

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned…

Where are all the ugly country music singers?

There is a dire shortage of ugly singers in Nashville. Has anyone else noticed?

In a previous post I talked about how today’s Country music bands are not sticking it to the Man the way the Rock bands used to. Now it’s time to point out the other big problem in Nashville – the lack of ugly people.

Don’t get me started about how pretty or handsome all the Country music singers are nowadays. There really must be a shortage of ugly people in Nashville. Every female Country singer is drop dead gorgeous and every male singer is handsome and comes complete with the requisite cheek scruff, cowboy hat and a pair of old faded jeans torn across the knees. And they’re all singing about beer and pickup trucks.

muddy pickup truck
Time to write a song…

With only a few notable exceptions, almost all of the male Country singers look the same nowadays. The only difference is that some of them wear black cowboy hats, which I guess promotes the bad boy image, and some of them wear white cowboy hats to signify, you guessed it, that they’re the nice guys that can be taken home to meet mama.

As for the female singers it amazes me how the record companies in Nashville seem to be able to find some of the most attractive women in America that just happen to be able to sing. What a coincidence. My heart breaks for the ugly chicks in Nashville that have great singing voices. They might as well keep waiting tables at the diner because no chick that looks like a road mule is ever going to be given a shot at the limelight in Nashville.


Say what you want about Rock music but it has always had its share of ugly people. Let’s face it, few guitarists will ever top what Jimi Hendrix gave us but everyone knows Hendrix wasn’t exactly a teen heartthrob. But it didn’t matter what he looked like, all that mattered was what came out of his Fender Stratocaster. It was amazing to say the least and has yet to be equaled by anyone, pretty or ugly, Rock or Country. But if he were alive today and wanted to sing and play guitar in Nashville, the record executives would laugh him right out of town because he wouldn’t fit the template.

And in its heyday Rock music also had its fair share of singers and guitarists that had their lives cut short by booze, drugs and plane crashes. It just came with the lifestyle. Most Country singers nowadays are such upright citizens that they couldn’t say the word shit even if they had a mouthful of it, much less die in a puddle of their own vomit with a coke spoon up their nose. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Country singers should go out and do that stuff, I’m just drawing a comparison. The squeaky-clean image today’s Country singers project is commendable, and I know many of them are good role models for our young people so I applaud them for it. Honestly, I do. But call me old school. Sometimes I like to hear music from a singer that went out in a blaze of whiskey-fueled glory or cashed in his chips in a fiery plane crash.

beer cans
I just know there’s a song idea in there somewhere…

I’m not the only one that’s on to the scheme being played out in Nashville. People are starting to notice that almost every single Country song nowadays is about drinking beer and riding in a pickup truck. And some influential people are starting to talk about it.

Nashville has got to break free of the template that it has drawn for today’s Country bands. If it doesn’t, pretty soon Country music will just degenerate into nothing more than pop music with a twang. Sadly, it is more or less already there.

And to the record company executives, please, I implore you – give some ugly people a shot. What could it hurt? Who knows, they just might have something to sing about besides beer and pickup trucks.

The Garter Belt

Let me clear something up right now for the men out there that still don’t get it. Victoria’s Secret is the greatest store in the entire world. One of the items they sell makes the world turn on its axis.

And what item is that, you ask? The answer is simple – the garter belt.

Garter belt

The garter belt is the greatest invention in the history of the world. Wars have been fought over less important things. If it weren’t for women, and more specifically women in garter belts, we’d all still be living in caves and cooking food over an open fire. The garter belt is the crowning achievement of the civilized world. That simple little lace belt is what makes the world turn on its axis.

Last week I was sitting in my office listening to my fellow coworkers lament about how they had no idea what to buy their wives for Valentine’s Day. Roses and candy were all they could think of. How original. Apparently they needed a little help so I offered a suggestion.

“Victoria’s Secret,” was all I said. But they all just looked at me like I had snakes coming out of my ears.

“Uh, yeah… I’m not going in there,” replied one of my male coworkers.

“Not gonna happen,” replied another. “My wife buys her stuff at some department store and only when it’s on sale.”

On sale?

Bargain basement bloomers do not make the world turn. The garter belt does, and more specifically, the fancy garter belts sold at Victoria’s Secret. I could care less if they’re on sale or not.


So the next day I hit my local Victoria’s Secret on my way home from work. Sure, I could have used the website but I would much rather be in the store.  I was kneeling down next to a drawer full of lace garter belts and rummaging through them while trying to match one to a pair of panties and bra that I had already picked out when I noticed a woman standing close by. She was watching me intently while holding her hand over her mouth.

“I wish I could get my husband to come in here and pick out something for me,” she said as she lowered her hand and frowned.

Just then a young girl who worked in the store walked up carrying an armload of colorful bras. Given her age and body weight she could have easily modeled any of the lingerie in the store, including some of the more slinky stuff. She overheard what the woman said to me.

“I hear ya,” she replied as she began to sort the bras into their respective size drawers. “I get a hefty employee discount and I can’t get my boyfriend to step foot in this store. He’d just as soon die as come in here and pick out lingerie for me, especially one of those garter belts.”

Say what?

The problem in America today is that men have forgotten what makes the world turn. Trust me, it’s not golf, watching football or playing poker with your old college buddies. It’s not climbing the corporate ladder, 80-hour workweeks or getting an office with your name on the door. And it’s not sitting in a tree stand waiting on a deer to walk by. All of that crap pales in comparison to the heavenly sight of a woman in a garter belt.

Garter belt photo

I have traveled the world as a U.S. Marine and believe me when I tell you that if there was anything out there better than a woman wearing a garter belt I’d have found it.

So put up the golf clubs, turn off the damn football game, pull your head out of your ass and drive down to your local Victoria’s Secret and get busy shopping. You will soon learn why it’s the greatest store on the planet. And if you need a quick class on buying lingerie before you go, you can find it here courtesy of GQ.

Your woman will appreciate your effort, and will waste no time showing you just exactly what makes the world turn.

Growing Up In Today’s America

As my son nears the completion of his senior year of high school, I’m reminded of a conversation I had with his sixth grade math teacher years ago. It was a conversation that, at least to me, revealed a lot about what it must be like to be a young kid in today’s America.

“Mr. Young,” she said as she peaked over the top of her glasses, “studies have shown that as early as sixth grade children are thinking about becoming architects and engineers. It is very important that they complete high school-level algebra during the seventh grade.”

“You have got to be kidding” I replied. “Sixth graders want to be architects and engineers? Is that so?”

“No Mr. Young, I’m not kidding, and yes, they want to be architects and engineers,” the teacher said as she leaned back in her chair and peered down her nose at me. She was serious.

“That’s funny,” I said. “Because when I was in the sixth grade all I wanted to do was be Spiderman and marry Olivia Newton-John.” Then I folded my arms across my chest and gave her my game face.

You should have seen the look on the woman’s face. It was the last thing she was expecting to hear.

“And how did that work out for you, Mr. Young?” she said, making little effort to contain her sarcasm.

“Well,” I replied as a grin worked its way onto my face. “I haven’t foiled any bank robberies lately.”

“And Ms. Newton-John?”

“I managed to find and marry the one woman that I love more than Olivia Newton-John.” I then turned and winked at my wife who was sitting next to me.

“Well then, I take it you never went to college?” Her tone had a snarky air to it. She thought she had me.

“Oh yes,” I said. “I went to college. I have a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. But when I was in the sixth grade if someone had asked me what an engineer was I would have told them that an engineer drives a train. And it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Like I said, life in sixth grade was all about Spiderman and Olivia Newton-John.”

I could see the woman deflate right before my eyes. I had just debunked all those fancy studies about what a sixth grader has to do to be successful academically.

“Well, I, uh…” The poor lady was speechless. I decided to give her one more little jab.

“Yep,” I said. “I went to college. But not before I served four years in the Marine Corps. Talk about an education… The Marine Corps taught me things I would have never been able to learn in college.”

The woman inhaled a deep breath and then exhaled sharply. She obviously could not believe what she was hearing. Not only had I not taken high school algebra in the sixth grade, I had not gone to college immediately after graduating high school.

The point of my story is that kids nowadays are not allowed to be kids. What is wrong with wanting to be Spiderman when you’re in 6th grade? What’s wrong with daydreaming about a pretty singer with an angelic voice like Olivia Newton-John? I was just a kid. And thankfully my parents let me be a kid. They didn’t feel the need to rush me by making me finish half of my future high school classes while still in elementary school. They knew I only had one chance to be a kid so they let me daydream about foiling bank robberies as Spiderman while having a crush on Olivia Newton-John.

It was the best childhood a kid could ever have.

The Problem With Today’s Country Music

There is a huge problem with today’s Country music and it’s not a lack of singing talent, pretty faces or cowboy hats. And it is not a lack of guitar playing talent either. Nope, it’s something far more serious.

So what’s the problem, you ask? It’s pretty simple. The problem is that today’s Country music bands are not “sticking it to the Man” like the Rock bands used to do.

The purpose of Rock music, when it was still alive, was to stick it to the Man. This was covered and covered well in the movie School of Rock.

Ask anyone that is old enough to remember the Sixties and they’ll tell you how the rockers of that decade loved to stick it to the Man. In the song Fortunate Son, Creedence Clearwater Revival, one of the greatest bands of their era, covered the Vietnam War, lying politicians and rich people that cheat on their taxes. CCR knew how to stick it to the Man.

The only thing the Man truly fears.

But sadly, those days are gone. Rock music is dead and today’s Country music is boot-scooting on its grave. And as a result the Man is running wild.

The rockers of the Sixties were so successful at sticking it to the Man that they drove LBJ from office and brought down support for the Vietnam War. I’m not defending the Hippies from the Summer of Love but rather just giving credit where credit is due. In short, the rockers of the Sixties, most notably the singers and guitar players, were able to communicate with the young people of that decade and motivate them to rebel. This is the essence of sticking it to the Man.

LBJ was the Man during the Sixties and he got what was coming to him courtesy of Rock music.

Elvis_Presley_Jailhouse_RockBut this idea didn’t start in the Sixties. If you go back to the Fifties you’ll find Elvis. He was the epitome of sticking it to the Man. When Elvis shook his legs on TV, something no one was allowed to do at the time, young people went crazy and began to shake their legs along with him. When Elvis started in with Jailhouse Rock the Man could not contain the rebellion.

What gave Rock music its power in the Fifties and Sixties was that it held the collective ear of millions of young people. Today’s Country music has the same power – it holds the collective ear of millions of young people. But what do Country music bands choose to do with this power? They sing about mud on their trucks, ticks on their girlfriends, bar fights, tailgate parties or their poor old broken hearts. I’ll give them credit for supporting our troops in some of their songs but if they really wanted to support our troops they’d stick it to the Man instead.

Music has always been the most effective way to communicate with young people. They just won’t listen to anything else. Country music bands today should be using their power to awaken our young people and make them aware of the decline of America and of the corruption all around them. Instead of singing about mud on their truck or how the rain sounds on that old tin roof, they should sing to today’s young people and tell them they’ll be lucky to have an old truck or even a tin roof over their heads if America continues on its present course. Using their guitars, today’s Country music bands could stick it to the Man by opening the eyes and ears of millions of young people.

Or should I say, millions of young voters.