The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective


Archive for the ‘Gary’s Favorite’ Category

High School Sweethearts…

Fall; October; football; high school; Homecoming – do you remember your first high school sweetheart?  High school is a very special and memorable time for teenagers; it certainly was for me.  And I always enjoyed the autumn season when I was in high school – Homecoming; Halloween; dating; parties (most chaperoned, some not).

Forty six years ago, this very time of the year, I asked the prettiest girl in my high school out on a first date.  I guess it went well enough because here we are forty six years later and I’m still awe-struck by the glow of her beauty.

I hope you enjoy this opening to Chapter XII True North, of my book, The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective © as much I enjoyed writing it:

Dedicated to… a crisp night in October; with a slight breeze blowing through bare trees – waiting for the coming winter.   Close your eyes.  Can you smell remnants of autumn leaves burning? 

To winning the homecoming football game.  To being carefree. To a Saturday night party at the teenager’s house whose parents are away.  Can you hear the kids having fun in the kitchen; the basement; and the backyard, all to the beat of the Rolling Stones?

To couches, blue jeans and sweaters.  To the floor lamp reflecting on her blond hair making it shimmer with silvery streaks of light.  To the nervous small talk of a teenage boy in the presence of a varsity cheerleader.  To the patience of the teenage girl sitting on the couch with the captain of the varsity basketball team.  Can you remember when you could actually hear your heart throbbing?

To throw pillows, which come in handy when the small talk runs out – what else can a young boy do?  And to playful pillow fights; which lead to gentle wrestling and ultimately to that first kiss. Remember how delicate she felt in your arms – the hint of her perfume – the taste of her lips?

To first dates – dinner and a movie.  To the movie Catch 22 and the Oriental Theatre in downtown Chicago.  To dating the prettiest girl in your high school; to falling in love; to asking her father’s permission for her hand in marriage.  Were you ever so nervous?

To the tears welling up in my eyes even as I write this short memoire.  To all those emotions; all the happiness; all those hopes and all those dreams; some fulfilled, some yet to be; and all that I can remember today as if it just happened yesterday – that I will remember everyday, as long as I live.  How can someone be so lucky?

To 1970 – and that Saturday night in October in Elmhurst where I kissed Debbie for the very first time.  And to the friend’s house whose parents were out – to their couch, their floor lamp, to their throw pillows; and to the Rolling Stones music.  Can you imagine being so young, so infatuated, and so in love?  I still am.

Gary A. Pokorn

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Passionate People…

I read an interesting article recently, Critical Things Passionate People Do Differently .  I’ve been receiving articles like this from TalentSmart regularly (check ‘em out ).  To me, they are portraying an effective way of leveraging social media marketing by providing me consistent, useful thought leadership.

I think that anyone who quotes Galileo offers a different and interesting perspective:

Passion is the genesis of genius. 


And as I read the article, I found myself doing a self-assessment.  Want to try it?  Here is the Author’s list:

  1. Passionate people are obsessed (In a good way LoL!)
  2. They don’t waste their time
  3. They’re optimistic
  4. They’re early risers
  5. They’re willing to take big risks
  6. They have one speed – full tilt
  7. They talk about their passions all the time
  8. They’re highly excitable
  9. They’re all about their work

On the 1st point, when it comes to my work and sports, I am definitely obsessed (hopefully, in a good way).  On the work side if you have been reading me for a while, then you know I am fascinated by the business of business and passionate about the profession of sales.

On the sports front, I am definitely passionate about football.  In fact, this time of year I love to bring out one of my favorite video clips that brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it.  To me, it represents the amazing things ordinary people can (and do) accomplish when they simply, but passionately “give their best”.  See what you think.

Here’s the 6-minute movie clip about high school kids, an underdog football team, and their coach’s passion about “giving your best”:

Probably not a management technique that transfers into today’s, modern business world – but his message and his passion does, true?  Although the sporting world is different than the business world, there remain many cross-over principles that apply.  Passionate owners, executives, coaches, consultants, managers and mentors can help us instill the drive and make the extra effort towards reaching our goals, yes?

One with passion is better than forty who are merely interested. 

Tom Connellan

Moving on to point #2 time wasting, the Author obviously has under estimated one’s passion behind the popularity of football as a pastime, agreed?  Point #3 – optimistic – for me, absolutely every day and twice on Sundays!  As my slogan states:

When life gets tough, you can get a helmet… or arm yourself with the peace & power of a positive perspective. 

Point #4 – early risers – for me, again absolutely!  This point brings to mind a famous football player’s quote I enjoy quoting:

Be happy today and every day because you’re dead a long time. 

Johnny Unitas

Point #5 – taking risks – maybe others think of me this way, but I don’t.  I suspect my optimism overshadows any perception of risk.  Point #6 – full tilt – yes, I guess.  When it’s one speed we don’t think of it as “speed” at all, do we?  Point #7 – yep, as my readers (and my wife) can attest.  Point #8 – again, “guilty as charged”.  Thank God I have a patient Manager who tolerates my occasional out bursts of excitement because he knows how much I care about “doing my best”.

And finally, Point #9 – regarding this point, I hope it doesn’t apply.  On a daily basis, I actually try to balance my work passions; seek new interests; have some fun in my life; and try not to drive my wife and family too crazy.


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April 20, 1999 never forgotten…

Seventeen years ago today, my hometown experienced the terror that two teenagers, feeling a sense of hopelessness, can bring to their high school, their community and our nation.  It was considered a rare event back then – unfortunately, it has become increasingly more common today.

Life is hard and can often seem hopeless for all too many youths in their teens and twenty’s.   If you have a son or daughter; grandchildren; nieces or nephews; or neighborhood kids; hug them today.

Tell them today that you love them and will support them as they make their way in the world to adulthood and self-sufficiency.  And if they are struggling to make ends meet – give them a few bucks.  Help them find a job.  Today, help them feel they belong.

Let’s reverse our society’s violence.  Let’s use our power of self confidence to increase the sunlight for those heading towards darkness:

It takes the sun to create a shadow – accept that the dark and the light live side by side in all of us.                           

Chellie Campbell

It’s not just my home town of Littleton – We are all Columbine:

May you feel peace – and share the power of peace with others – today, and everyday!



I think it can be hard to discuss successful sales professionals in a positive, uplifting light.  The best of the best earn recognition and rewards that can stimulate envy amongst others in the village.  Nonetheless, permit me to offer this salute to the few, the true, “hunters”.

Throughout my career I’ve enjoyed interacting with and learning from that rare breed of sales professionals.  Maybe I learned too well.

I never enjoyed the materialistic rewards of hunting as much as I enjoyed the intellectual challenge of winning the deal.  The fun of being a hunter for me was the hunt – the kill was actually anticlimactic.

That mentality served me as a buffer from a common frustration hunters face.  Best stated by my friend (and a terrific hunter) John Kleinhenz whom I paraphrase;

There’s nothing worse in the sales profession for a hunter than to kill the proverbial elephant and before being able to enjoy the feast of the kill have the villagers drag the carcass off to feed the masses of those incapable of feeding themselves leaving the hunter no choice but to return to the jungle in search of another elephant.

Now the metaphor of “hunting” in the sales profession is not intended to be disrespectful to our customers.  They are not the “enemy”; nor really the “prey”.  I believe the term hunting simply reflects the reality stated by many including our favorite Unknown Sage:

Nothing happens until somebody sells someone something.

It takes a hunter to initiate the action, without which the company (and every employee) will “starve” from lack of revenue.  In fact, there have been a variety of studies conducted over the decades that conclude the #1 cause of business failure is lack of revenue (aka successful hunting expeditions).

Yet, before assuming that the solution is simply to hire a few hunters, I always caution my clients.  There are downsides to having hunters hunt for us.

Hunters are often outliers – in the village but not really part of the village; nomadic by nature.  In my case, I was never a great fit within my companies.  They enjoyed the elephants I killed.  But I never drove the right car; wore the right jewelry; had the right haberdasher; made the right sacrifices of riches over family.  I’m awkward in most social settings; no particular reason – just always preparing for the next hunt.

Truth be told, many (not all) of the most financially successful hunters I know are assholes.  Now I mean that in the most kind and respectful way LoL!  It’s just that they have invested supreme efforts to gain their success, while being labeled as “born salesmen”; wooing business over lavish lunches and golf outings.  Thick skin and ego are prerequisites in our profession.

In reality, it’s usually the customer that acts as if it’s my duty to provide extravagance in exchange for their business.  And as hunters, we learn how to leverage such extravagance even if it’s really not our personally preferred style.

No, hunters are “a little different” because hunting is so competitive; so difficult.  The hunt becomes consuming as we narrow our focus to compete for the prize.  It’s a zero sum game:  I must win while every one of my competitors must lose.  And we are always on the clock – we must win and win quickly.  With success, the villagers eat; without, we all starve.

So here’s to you fellow hunters – not everyone can do this for a living.

Now let’s get back out there and sell somebody something!


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Christ’s birthday

Merry Christmas to all!

Wishing you a day of peace, hope, joy and celebration with family and friends.  Thank you in advance for permitting me to re-post this little ditty – it’s one of my favorites.

Of course, Christmas is more than just one day, true?  Whatever our spiritual beliefs, may each of us find meaning to our life during this season in a way that lasts throughout the entire year.  So here’s to looking back and celebrating 2015; and to looking forward to an even better 2016!

Lest there be any confusion, may we be reminded of that which was important this year, and that which wasn’t.

We are reminded by bankers to be of good cheer:

A little boy received a new drum for Christmas.  Shortly thereafter, his father came home from work and the mother told him, “I don’t think the man upstairs likes to hear Georgie play his new drum, but he’s certainly subtle about it.  “How do you know”? asked the father.  “Well, this afternoon he gave Georgie a knife and asked him if he knew what was inside the drum.” 

Herbert Prochnow

We are reminded by strangers not to lose sight of our common sense:

On most brands of Christmas lights:

“For indoor or outdoor use only.”  (As opposed to…what?)

Unknown Sage

We are reminded by the gospel to be satisfied with who we are not what we bought:

You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are – no more, no less.  That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. 

Matthew 5: Verse 4

We are reminded by the novelists to remember (and be thankful for) our “fortunes”:

Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. 

Charles Dickens

We are reminded by the politicians (of all people) to remember why this is a holiday to begin with…

How many observe Christ’s birthday; how few His precepts.  O ‘tis easier to keep a Holiday, than Commandments.

Benjamin Franklin

I am reminded to offer His blessings to you and yours from me and mine.

And to all a good night!



While returning to my Alma Mater for homecoming last week, I attended the class: Intro to Religious Studies 101.

It amuses me to no end during my annual return, what a better student I could be now than I was when I was actually a student back then.  Of course my Professors weren’t as amused back then – and I have the grades to prove it!

During this class, Dr. James Thrall reviewed an assignment with about twenty undergraduates; each had written a short paper on a place they had visited that had a spiritual, sacred impact on their life.  Because this was an Intro to Religious Studies class, most of his students reflected on Christian-oriented sites such as cemeteries, church buildings, and religious services.  Others took a more intellectual approach and reported on the majesty of Mother Nature as witnessed from mountain tops, lakes, and forests.

Some of these young men and women related their view points in a recent context; a few added the historical, biblical context of ancient Jerusalem.  I suspect the course was in the “western religion” section of their text book because there were only slight references to non-Christian ceremonies and rituals.  However, occasionally diversity from other circumstances and stimuli as related to things that are “scared” was brought up adding depth to the discussion.

In addition to reviewing textual excerpts from each student’s paper, a few chalk board drawings as well as PowerPoint pictures were leveraged – adding sights to the sounds.  In fact, Professor Thrall reviewed many examples of stimuli human beings of all cultures in all times have used in seeking spiritual experiences including the power of color; sound; music; dance; dogma; and mystery.

As an alumnus and observer, I was in the “easy seat”.  I could simply listen; observe; and speculate without any further responsibility to the Professor or his class (just like attending church).  No one asked me to present my point of view on the places I hold sacred.  In this case, such detachment served me well.

As I watched and listened in a self-reflective way, I was able to identify a common theme running through each individual’s interpretation of the assignment:

Sacred experience is the spiritual process of being stimulated to “move” from my current state of consciousness to an alternative (yet still current state) of another, more meaningful, consciousness.

What is “sacred” to me are those stimuli that enable me to think of me within a greater, more powerful context – albeit time; historical significance (or insignificance); the physical universe; or other dimensions beyond my simple, current state.  Or, as the sign in my neighborhood coffee shop says;

Don’t take life too seriously; nobody gets out alive anyway.

As I sat in Professor Thrall’s class amidst those bright minds, I was spiritually stimulated to remembering my graduation day thirty nine years ago on the lawn outside one wing of the very building I was now sitting in.  I remembered why I hold sacred that day; that lawn; this building.

You see, on that day in 1975 I reached a goal of my Mom – she wanted her son to earn a college degree.  That goal was so important to her that she worked much of her adult life while enduring indescribable sickness to help fund my college education.  Although ultimately losing her battle with cancer nine months before my graduation day – she was there then; at this sacred place; where I returned today.


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Special Moms…

Moms are special, aren’t they?  My Mom was – I bet your Mom is, too.  Today, in mind; in memory; or in person; be sure to make it a special day for Mom, OK? My wife is a Special Mom.  She continues to lovingly mother our grown boys, their spouses, and our grandchildren even while their father asks, “How do I get all of these kids off the payroll?”  But I digress. Our Moms have a special sense of humor – just ask our Unknown Sage:

A wife invited some people to dinner.  At the table, she turned to their six-year-old daughter and said, “Would you like to say the blessing?”  I wouldn’t know what to say”, the girl replied.  “Just say what you hear Mommy say”, the wife answered.  The daughter bowed her head and said, “Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?”

Our Moms are special teachers.  I bet you remember many of the life-lessons you learned from your Mom.  And our Mothers’ special lessons last a lifetime, yes?  Back to our Unknown Sage

What my Mother taught me: 

My Mother taught me logic;

“Because I said so, that’s why.”

My Mother taught me irony;

“Keep laughing and I’ll give you something to cry about.”

My Mother taught me about the science of osmosis:

“Shut your mouth and eat your supper!”

Even Bill Gates has a take (giving more credit to “parents” than “Mom”, perhaps):

Excerpt from Bill Gates’ speech to Mount Whitney High School, Visalia, CA:

Rule 1 – Life is not fair; get used to it…

Rule 7 – Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now.  They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were.  So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parents’ generation, try delousing the closet in your own room. 

And our Moms have a special and immeasurable reservoir of power.  I bet your Mom has power; my Mom did.  She was stricken with cancer when I was 6 years old.  In fact, I no longer remember a time when she was not ill.  The last 15 years of her life were spent undergoing cancer treatments. 

I watched my Mom’s great power, which she needed in order to deal with a new cancer treatment in the late 1960’s that was so unimaginably harsh – that the administration of this treatment was solely based on the primitive science of trial and error – where the doctors’ routine consisted of observing how much of a dose could she tolerate without dying from the treatment.

It was an experimental treatment back then; offered only as a last resort for terminally ill cancer patients. This wasn’t a cancer cure; just a radical option to extend one’s life another year or two.  It was due to her staying power (and that of many other patients like her) before she finally succumbed in 1974, that has helped pave the way to the development of the commonly used, life-saving cancer treatment we all know today as chemotherapy.

How many special Moms have died fighting terrible diseases (and brutal treatments) so the rest of us can benefit from the overly exaggerated term, “modern medicine”? Mother’s Day – make it special for your Mom if she’s living; make it special for you through your memories of your Mom if she’s not.


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How’s your day?

May you feel peace & power today – and every day. 

Have you ever had “one of those days”?  It started with a missed wake-up call; only a few minutes to glance at the morning newspaper.  Bold headlines: “Market Down!”; “Unemployment Up!”; “Cost of Living Highest in a Decade”; “Today: Mostly Cloudy”; and “Cubs Lose Again”! 

Nothing we would want to read about any further.  Besides, we’re already running late for an “emergency meeting” with the boss.  About what – not quite sure. 

Just spilled a McDonald’s coffee in my lap pulling out of the drive-through.  Not only will my stained dress pants look bad in front of my boss, but I don’t think my private parts are burned enough to win a multi-million dollar law suit.  (There’s never a little old lady around when you need one.)  And my wife called to say, “The kids are sick.”  Perfect! 

A little music might lower the blood pressure.  But no – the only thing on the radio is commercials; commercials on all eighteen FM stations and all twelve AM stations.  What?  Are the broadcasters in collusion to run their commercials at the same time?  No station-hopping to find music?  How do they do that?  

The car ahead has been absolutely crawling for the past five miles.  Finally, there’s enough of a break in this heavy traffic to pass.  But the next sign says, “Slow Down: Road Construction Ahead”.  I’m pretty sure I just broke a crown grinding my teeth! 

So – How’s your day? 

There is both peace and power in knowing and understanding who you are, where you’re from and where you’re going.           

Doug Burgum 

Is there any doubt that we could all use a little help in finding that inner peace and personal, self-confident power to carry us through our day?  After all, a positive attitude is priceless, yes? 

I’ve been blessed to have been around rare combinations of peace and power my entire life.  From childhood, to participating in sports; the business world; my family, friends and acquaintances; I have observed and been impacted by great feats from famous, as well as everyday, people. 

In addition to Doug Burgum, former CEO of Great Plains Software, and his quote above, I have collected other quotes and short stories pertaining to living life with awe and enthusiasm. 

I was at Doug’s key note speech to the Great Plains’ worldwide resellers at the 2000 convention in Fargo, North Dakota which they called “Stampede”.  (It was my first, and to-date, only trip toNorth Dakota.)  Doug was the very first person I heard use the phrase “peace and power” when talking about the balance we need in our business (and personal) life.  And by no coincidence, his words were particularly applicable at the turn of the century; remaining so today. 

How about you?  Who do you turn to when you’re have “one of those days”?  Keep things inside do you?  Perfecting the art we call “Cowboy Up”?  As Dr. Phil might ask, “How’s that working for you?” 

Yes, yes, we’ve all read the bumper sticker: 

            Life’s a bitch and then you die. 

But there’s so much more to life, isn’t there?  If we can just find a way to prevent daily challenges from spoiling our enjoyment.  If we can just commit to living each day with awe and enthusiasm. 

So, may you feel the peace and the power of a positive perspective today – and every day! 


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“4-A’s” and Aligned Principles…

We touched on Approach last week: 


Today, permit me to share a few thoughts on the “4-A’s”: Approach; Activity; Ability; and Attitude, plus a few related Principles. 

I’ve noticed successful sales professionals take time to write out their annual business plan – their Approach to pursuing a successful year.  They consider it the first key to their sales success.  Successful Producers don’t “hope” to succeed – they plan to succeed. 

If you’ve read my previous posts about how to write an Achievement Plan, you know the importance placed on measurable tasks and observable milestones.  I learned this concept from the way Josh Weston led ADP during the 1980s and 1990s.  Through a quarterly “operating review” process, we all looked at our weekly and monthly performance results-to-date.  Josh liked to say we were three months smarter each time we looked at our milestones; still had time to adjust our Approach, if necessary. 

In the sales profession, a second key to success, I believe, is Activity.  Yep, I’m talking about good, old-fashion sales-prospecting.  With sales-prospecting, we can apply the Principle of Game Theory and the Principle of Personal Best to our Activity plan, too.  

The Principle of Game Theory means just that; treating sales-prospecting as a game.  Sometimes our prospects cooperate, other times they don’t.  It’s like some days we have stellar workouts at the gym; feel like we could go all day; get stronger as we go.  Other days?  We’re tired after our warm-up; lucky to get through a minimal workout.  But we still take pride in showing up, because: 

            Sometimes just showing up is half the battle. 

                          Unknown Sage 

And by “showing up” for sales-prospecting; putting in our reps; using the Principle of Game Theory; successful Producers maintain the level of Activity necessary to succeed. 

The Principle of Game Theory is closely aligned with the Principle of Personal Best.  We can learn about this principle from observing interviews with Olympic Athletes.  Even when they don’t win a medal, they are joyous with their performance when they are able to say that they accomplished a “Personal Best”, true?  It’s their pride in the Principle of Personal Best that leads to their unbelievable commitment to the work needed just to be an Olympian.  And Olympians are the epitome of athletic success, yes? 

Of course, Ability is a key to sales success, too.  Top Producers tend to be the most knowledgeable; the most able; usually the type of successful business professional that our prospects prefer to do business with.  Whatever our current level of Ability may be, the good news is we can always get better if we apply the Principle of Continuous Improvement, don’t you agree? 

And the Principle of Continuous Improvement is often linked to – Attitude.  The best of the best in the sales profession tend to have the most successful Attitude.  They are mentally committed to their profession; don’t waste time; remain focused; are psychologically tough.  

You may know some of them – their Attitude tends to stand out from the crowd.  They can be pleasant, but maybe not sociable.  They can be coached, but don’t want to be “managed”.  They are committed to learning, but find being “trained” a waste of their time.  Sound familiar? 

Attitude is the foundation that Approach, Activity and Ability are built on.  And I believe these 4-A’s are linked together by a set of aligned Principles that all of us can leverage for a successful 2012.  Bon Chance! 


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August 6, 2011…

It was an event one dreams about, and: 

Who wants a dream that’s near-fetched?

                                  Howard Schultz 

Memories of this day will last a lifetime – my son and daughter-in-law’s wedding.  And their wedding day was definitely not near-fetched. 

An August wedding; hot; in the mid-90s; nothing exceptional about that.  An outdoor ceremony at Boettcher Mansion on Lookout Mountain; for the Denver area, that was not unusual.  The reception was at our house (as you might already know from my earlier posts about our home landscaping project of the decade.)  Pretty near-fetched, so far. 

The bachelor’s party was a little different, I suppose.  We bought a shopping cart of ammunition at Wal-Mart and twelve of us went to shoot in the national forest for the day.  Although it was far from my personal comfort zone (I’m not really a “gun-guy”) it was a lot of fun for my son, and after all, it was his bachelor’s party.  

The morning of the wedding had scenes played out like most weddings.  The bride was up before dawn to get ready; photographer on hand to capture the moments.  Her hairdresser arrived at 6 a.m.; she had to wake her family and friends – guests at her house (many hung over from the rehearsal dinner the night before.)  You know – all the usual stuff. 

My son?  When we roused him and his hung-over groomsmen (who had slept over) they headed back to Wal-Mart to buy T-Shirts.  (A far-fetched, wedding tradition?)  A second photographer was on hand, – but let’s say their immodesty was not a great fit for their future family wedding album.  Boys will be boys, but again, still near-fetched, yes? 

Their wedding was an Irish-Cowboy kind of theme – kilts for the wedding party; and a cowboy hat for the preacher.  My son is 1/4th Irish (with rumor of a Scottish horse thief in his ancestry) and I’m 0/4th’s (but look pretty good in a kilt).  They had a bag piper perform at the ceremony; while the gazebo was decorated with beautiful green and white flowers coupled with their cowboy hats; ropes; and chaps – leaving the realm of near-fetched. 

Before pronouncing the couple wedded, the bag piper added in a quake; ever hear of that?  Me either.  It’s a 2-handed, triple-sized “shot”, filled with Irish whiskey, that the bride and groom took turns downing and then holding the quake upside down over their heads as a sign that they properly completed their vows.  And the preacher?  He is also the hay hauler my daughter-in-law uses for the equestrian center she manages.   (You can’t make this stuff up!) 

Immediately after the ceremony, it was lunch at the A&W in Golden.  We stopped in Golden so the wedding party could walk through the monthly antique car show.  (Doesn’t everybody?)  

Arriving at our house for an afternoon/evening reception – it wasn’t actually in our house.  The only building large enough for 100 guests is our riding arena, which provided welcome shade from the afternoon sun.  Our horses hung their heads over the gate to join us (naturally).  

Of course, this Irish-Scottish-Cowboy-Car Show wedding was catered by – who else?  – the Giggling Greek.  And dessert was provided by their friends who baked an “elk cake”; chocolate frosting on the outside; blood-red cake on the inside; just like any other wedding. 

Yes, the details of their occasion were a bit far-fetched – just like the kind of dreams that a lifetime are made of. 


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